Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Flash Fiction Collections

Category Archives: Flash Fiction Collections

Peering From the Woods

Peering from the woods, we feel the watcher. Friendly? Curious? Dangerous? The woods around the world can be jungle, bush, forest, a backyard. It’s a tangle of shadows, a spot to hide.

Writers contemplate the watcher’s next move. They craft the place and people involved. Peering from the woods, stories emerge. (Photo Credit: J. Madland)

August 9, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes an act of “peering from the woods.”

PART I (10-minutes)

Ed in the Woods by Charli Mills

Ed was peering at me again. I could feel his gaze crawl across my shoulders. Let me finish the chapter, Ed. The Legendary Leaphorn is in the arroyo. The tickle continues. I persevere, finish the chapter and set down Tony Hillerman’s latest southwest detective book.

Snagging a sip from my gin, tonic, and blueberries, I grab a fresh-husked corn.

Ed still peers at me from the edge of the woods. His ears twist like radar. Slowly I raise my offering. He hesitates, leans in and nibbles from my hand. The deer dashes off, leaving me to read in peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Into the Forest by Jack Schuyler

I peered into the woods and the woods peered back.

“Enter into my respite.” Said the woods. It spoke in tongues of wind and beckoned me with all the rhythms of the earth. “Walk beneath my shade, swim in my streams, eat of my harvest.”

“But mother told me no.” I replied, “She says beasts of night roam your shadows and sweet poisons wait beneath your trees.”

“All true,” growled the forest, “and you would do well to heed her advice. But if you stay in the shelter of the village, do not expect to share in my treasures.”

🥕🥕🥕

Mountain Lion by Heather Gonzalez

“Aren’t there mountain lions in these woods?” Samantha shivered as she pulled her sleeping back closer to her body.

“Stop worrying so much and just enjoy it.” Jack turned off the lantern and settled in.

Noises kept coming from beyond the clearing. Jack had fallen asleep and no amount of whispering for help would wake him. Samantha slowly unzipped the tent to peer out upon her fate. She saw the eyes peering from the woods and froze in fear. There was nowhere to run.

A soft meow came from behind the bushes.

“Some mountain lion you are.” she laughed.

🥕🥕🥕

Luminesce (from “Lynx Valley Biohabitat”) by Saifun Hassam

Valerie and Carmen tracked Luminesce to a tumbled mass of boulders and ledges. The bobcat’s den was hidden by tangled vines and woody shrubs.

Lynx Valley Biohabitat was a mix of woodlands and open scrub land. Tall grass grew along the Lissoire River. From the Rover, Valerie caught the glint of eyes peering from the woods.

Luminesce stole into the tall grass. A panicked rabbit shot out. Near the river, the red deer froze. With powerful strides, the bobcat pounced ferociously on the deer. She dragged it through the tall grass, to her waiting cubs at the woods’ edge.

🥕🥕🥕

Sad Cat Diary: Wildlife Edition by Robert Kirkendall

The mountain lion came up to the forest’s edge drawn by the scent of food. She peered from the woods at a flock of livestock in a nearby pasture.

One of those sheep could feed me and my little ones for a week, the mountain lion thought as she longed for the forbidden sustenance, but if I take one, the humans will come after me and kill me! I only want one, the lion moped, and they have so many, it isn’t fair.

The dejected feline slouched in defeat. Why must the humans be so cruel? she wondered piteously.

🥕🥕🥕

Lone Ranger by Nancy Brady

Going crazy, our cat saw something in the dark that she felt shouldn’t be in her territory. At first, I couldn’t see anything, but her night vision is better. But then I noticed the glint of dark eyes staring at us from the wildflower garden. A tangle of weeds and flowers blossom on the edge of the property, allowing for fauna hiding within, and on this night, the masked bandit was hiding inside.

Why the raccoon was there wasn’t apparent until the next day when we discovered our sweet corn was decimated, a tasty snack for a midnight marauder.

🥕🥕🥕

Watching Out for the Birdwatcher by Anne Goodwin

Birdseed on the fence post again. My heart skips. Who would dare feed animals when people starve? An ornithologist, that’s who. Another forbidden word.
Scrambling over the layers of barbed wire, I pick my way through a soggy carpet of mashed leaves into the shelter of the trees. Birds flit from branch to branch, their sweet song sweeping all worries from my mind. Then I hear it, smell it: someone’s stopped at the fence.

Peering from the woods, I must be dreaming. Whacko has a gentle side? Something to use against him the next time he brandishes his cane.

🥕🥕🥕

Possum by kate @ aroused

Polly swung through the forest
of large macadamia trees
drawn by the scent of ripened fruit

She spied a woolly alpaca herd
grazing contentedly with a horse
Buster watched on from a distance

But Polly was blinded by the sun soaked
fields as she was accustomed to the dark
yet the orchard beckoned heavy with fruit

She would have to wait until dark
to scamper across those open fields
to gorge on a gluttonous banquet

Alpacas and horse would by asleep
but Buster might be on alert
so she would need a sprinting spurt!

Polly’s long peep was fruitful!

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Di @ pensitivity101

Here’s Looking at You.

Did you hear it? That gentle rustling in the leaves.
Did you see it? A quick flash of a white flagged rump.
Did you catch it? Yes, but only on film.
Did it see you? Most definitely, it was looking right at me.

I often wonder what animals think of us humans when they see us intruding on their domain. I am certain there are more creatures looking at us than we realise.
The woods are alive with insects, snakes, animals and birds.
It is their world, and we abuse it. In fact, we’re killing it with our pollution.

🥕🥕🥕

The Heat of the Day by Carol Keefer

The clearing in the forest was so bright, filled to the rim with hot sunlight suddenly free of trees to beam down and touch the earth with its heat. I had had enough of the sun’s heat and wanted only to observe this quiet, serene oasis from a point in the shade of trees so I peered from the woods. Suddenly, a black grizzly and a doe sprang from the trees on the other side. What could be pursuing them? They were running together. It was only a few minutes later when I smelled the smoke wafting towards me.

🥕🥕🥕

Fox Cub by JulesPaige

Seeming to be always at as well as on edge;
creeping closer just to see if it was safe. Like
her namesake, senses on high alert – always.

They had left her to fend for herself. Was there
a lesson to be learned? Distant from community,
yet wanting to be a part – included, but always
to some extent excluded.

They made up excuses for her lack of cooperation. Dim-witted, ignorant, lame; would limping be her way of life.

The forest had felt safer when the sun was out.
But there were predators everywhere. Perhaps
that was the lesson They taught?

🥕🥕🥕

The Fawn by Rosemary Carlson

She watched him when he was a fawn. Come summer, he grew spikes. A young buck. He was unafraid of her. He grew accustomed to her apples. He came to the porch and snatched the food from her hand. She grew to love him that winter. She was alone.

The next summer, he was a four-point buck. He came to the porch. She tried to make him go away, fearful he was too accustomed to people.

It’s been ten years. An old buck comes to the porch. He takes the apples. She knows by his eyes that it’s him.

🥕🥕🥕

Peering Through by Peregrine Arc

Mary stood in her bedroom, staring closely into the antique mirror hung on the peeling wallpaper. Music crackled on the radio from across the hallway.

An oil painting hung behind Mary of a lake and cabin scene at dusk. A man was smoking a glowing pipe patiently, peering from the woods. She could smell the smoke.

But every night, after Mary finally turned away from the mirror, the man vanished. The painting returned to normal, barren of any figures.

But the light was left on in the cabin tonight. And its front door was left open, quiet and inviting.

🥕🥕🥕

The Connection by D. Avery

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“What? The research? The constant camping it requires? Or…us?”

“All of it. I’m just done.”

“Ok. I’m sorry if this crazy venture made our relationship impossible. I’ll hike out with you. I’ve given up on ever finding Sasquatch. I’m done too.”

It wasn’t just his obsession with his work. She’d never felt a strong connection with him. She knew now that she could have more.

While he packed up the equipment, she hid the tufts of hair she’d found under a stone, brushed over a footprint.

Sasquatch peered from the woods, relieved and sad.

🥕🥕🥕

Knowing by D. Avery

They trudged to the logging road together, loaded the equipment into his truck, rode in silence to the general store where her car was parked.

“I guess he doesn’t exist”, he said to her as goodbye.

“I guess not”, she replied, and went into the store as he drove away.

Resupplied, she returned to where she had seen the signs and had felt Sasquatch’s presence. She was learning that finding Sasquatch doesn’t require any electronic equipment, only being fearless and open-hearted.

She smiled to find wildflowers left for her on a log, smiled that he’d known she’d be back.

🥕🥕🥕

Surprise! by Norah Colvin

She parked her car beside his and grabbed her bag. As she locked the car, she looked around. Where was he? He said he’d be watching for her. Cicadas buzzed louder than her footsteps crunched the gravel. A bird startled as it squawked and flapped overhead. Where was he? He must know she’d arrived. Even with the fairy lights, it was darker than she liked.  Peering from the bushes, he willed her to be brave, to open the tent, to find what he’d made for her. Finally, tentatively, she pushed aside the flap. Her screams silenced the night chorus.

🥕🥕🥕

Feral Natives by Chelsea Owens

The small natives, unkempt and unruly, peer from a shadowed arch. They stop, keenly watching an inert female creature just ahead.

The first whispers, “What’s she doin’?”

His companion checks. “Nuffin’. Sleepin’, most like.”

Urrrrhaghaaah! She moans. They scamper back to shadow’s safety.

“Did she see ya?” The younger sucks a finger.

A quick peek. “Nah. I think she’s fakin’.”

One second later: “Now what’s she doin’?”

He looks again. “Rolled over.” He scowls. “-Wait! I saw a light. She’s got her phone!”

“She’s awake!” Excited, the younger boy grips his brother’s arm.

Drat, she says.

“Let’s get ‘er!”

🥕🥕🥕

Becoming Wild by Paula Moyer

February, 1966: Jean’s family did a suburbs-to-small-town move. Home was a two-bedroom rental at the edge of town. Behind the house, a woodsy spot. Jean was 13, Sam 11, Donny 9.

When summer came, that spot grew dark with leaves. Sam and Donny disappeared into it every morning after breakfast. They would grab lunch and vanish again. Jean ignored them, practiced the piano.

“Jean, go get the boys,” Mom called from the kitchen. “It’s supper time.”

Sounded easy. Jean stood at the trees’ edge. “Guys, supper!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Taste of Wisdom by Molly Stevens

Mary tapped a forbidden cylinder from the box. She couldn’t believe her good fortune, having found half a pack beside the road. She peered through the woods at her home, struck a match, and took her first drag.

I didn’t even cough. I knew I’d be good at this.

Later she shuffled home, wondering how to conceal her headache and nausea.

At the sound of the screen door, her mother said, “What have you been doing?”

“Does God give you what you want to teach you stuff?”

Her mother smelled cigarette smoke, observed her daughter’s pale countenance, and smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Peering by Floridaborne

“You say you’ve never been camping before?” He asked, with a twinkle in his eye that I didn’t like.

I looked down at two sleeping bags thrown on top of ferns and bristled.  “We don’t belong here.”

“Don’t worry about that rusty, no trespassing sign,” he scoffed.

“She told me we’ll die here tonight,” I replied, pointing at a deer peering out at me from the bush.  “We’ll be thrown into a mass grave.”

He threw his sleeping bags into the back seat and we drove to the paved road in silence.  Yet another relationship ruined by my gift.

🥕🥕🥕

Caught In The Act by Ritu Bhathal

“Well Annie, that was fun! We should make these meetings of ours interesting more often.”

Petey unzipped the front flap of his yellow tent, allowing for a slice of light to cut through the darkness of the forest.

He stepped out and stretched, post-coitally, opening his eyes to the beauty of nature.

And stopped.

What was that?

Peering from the woods, he swore he saw the face of his wife, Susan, eyes open wide in horror.

A rustling sound followed.

“Come back Petey honey, we’ve still got time.” Annie’s voice brought him back.

Petey feared his time was up.

🥕🥕🥕

Ready by The Dark Netizen

Cadet Billy peered from the woods.

Perseus’ bullet had missed. Medusa had spotted them. Things were not going well. This was his first field mission, and he already felt that he was out of place. These were not mere humans. What chance did he have of contributing at all? He could see Medusa approaching, almost gliding towards them. He began to feel numb. Was he turning into stone? No. This was fear. He watched as Perseus drew his heavy pistol drawn. Keynes caught Billy’s eye, and nodded at him. Billy could not let his mentor down.

Billy was ready.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minutes)

Devastation by Diana Nagai

Night fell over the property. A leather lead dangled useless in his hand. He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and he looked up. The firefighter shook her head. So, his horse had not been found.

“It’s time to evacuate.” She paused, then added, “Please.”

His heart constricted and he wiped a tear.

As he turned to the flames engulfing the barn and beyond, he could have sworn he saw eyes peering from the woods behind the fire line. God, he hoped so. He screamed a silent prayer. Run! The eyes disappeared. He never saw Diamond again.

🥕🥕🥕

Fawn Within Fawn by Late Night Girl

“Oh deer! No headlights this time; Just eye to eye”, I thought to myself when I encountered this beautiful beast unsuccessfully trying to camouflage as a tree. Its two-leaf ears gave it away! My green coat may have equally looked like food, too, but I actually was looking for some game, yet couldn’t bring myself to break it to the fawn, gun in hand!

What now?! We could both pretend neither is here or just hop on to the next best eatable opportunity down the food chain.

I leave it to the reader to decide what happened next.

🥕🥕🥕

Imagination – Another Strange Meeting by Gordon Le Pard

“Then they looked out of the wood – and saw dinosaurs!”

The novelist put the papers down. “A good way of ending the episode?”

The palaeontologist nodded, “Wonderful, what an imagination you have.”

“You too must have imagination, to create lost worlds out of fragments of bone.”

“But not like you.”

As he left he thought of the bones in his workshop. His imagination had created something very special, the Missing Link, but no one would realise it wasn’t real for many years, if ever.

His friend was just a great writer, however he was the greatest scientific hoaxer ever.

🥕🥕🥕

Dashing by Miriam Hurdle

Peering from the wood, something got its attention. It dashed across the road.

Thump, thump, thud!

“Oh, no. I didn’t see it coming.” Sid and Cindy jumped out of the car.

“The impact was forceful. It crushed the front of the car.”

“Is the deer okay?” Cindy looked at its head.

“Let’s wait. It’s trying to get up…”

“It’s limping across the road.”

“It went across okay… No, it flopped and lied still.”

“Do we want to go camping?”

“The engine suffered the impact. Let’s go home.”

* * *

“Our car took the last breath getting us home.”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard

‘You can’t see the woods for the trees, eh?’

‘That’s another stupid expression. All I was saying was I saw something in there.’

‘Ghost? Phantasm?’

‘Seriously, it was alive.’

‘Ent? Tree-sprite?’

‘It could be that weirdo.’

‘Any specific weirdo?’

‘I’m going home.’

‘Don’t be a wuss, Morgan. Probably a deer.’

‘Or a lion.’

‘In Surrey?’

‘You know they say a tree makes no sound if there’s no one to hear it when it falls. Do you think you can see a lion if you’re not there when it appears?’

‘You’re a moron as well as a coward, Morgan.’

🥕🥕🥕

The Deadly Hunt by Anurag Bakhshi

Travis looked at the cute, round-as-buttons eyes peering at him through the woods, and smiled.

He had spent half his life searching for the Ringa-Tinga-Ling, the mythical oldest animal species in the world. Today, he and his cameraman had finally found him.

Still smiling, Travis raised his rifle, and took careful aim. His cameraman saw what he was doing, and shouted, “What the…” But before he could finish, Travis had fired.

And even before the cameraman had hit the ground, Travis took out his handgun, and shot himself.

The Ringa-Tinga-Ling looked on with his cute, round-as-button eyes, and smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle

Going on a picnic was a treat for the family. Dad carefully cleared a circular patch in the undergrowth while the children collected rocks. Dad packed the rocks around the cleared patch to ensure that the fire he was building was well contained. Everyone was busy preparing for the fun of cooking their lunch sausages on sticks over the open fire.

“Where’s Hayley,” Mom asked.

She was nowhere to be seen. She must have slipped away while they were all working.

Sheila smiled with relief when she saw her peering from the small copse of trees nearby. Thank goodness.

🥕🥕🥕

Who’s Watching Julie by Oneta Hayes

Four-year-old Julie, intent on filling her basket with flowers, wandered from camp, unaware that eyes were peering from the woods. She walked deeper and deeper into the brush and trees. Julie – as sweet and innocent as Little Red Riding Hood going to her grandmother’s house.

Fortunately Julie’s Grandmother was not sick in bed; she was in the camp. Where’s Julie? She sounded the alarm and campers began the search. Aha! It wasn’t long before Grandmother herself found Julie. Neither was aware of the Wolf who slunk away without a sound except for the hungry growling of his stomach.

🥕🥕🥕

Pee(r)ing Through the Woods by Deborah Lee

Jane hunkers down in the foliage. Her knees already ache from the awkward stance. She checks her pants and shoes; both should be out of the splash zone.

Just as she relaxes her muscles, feels the stream start beneath her, of course that’s when she hears voices.

She’s been here for hours, hoping for someone who might buy a paper. Naturally, it’s not until she can’t hold it anymore, with the nearest public restroom an hour away, that anybody comes along.

Jane narrows her eyes, peering through the bushes. If she can’t see them, they can’t see her…right?

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by a story forms my mind

Startled. Her eyes snap open. The right side of her face and mouth pressed into wet pine needles. Above her the sky, barely visible through the dark canopy of spruce.
Her arm aches and somehow her dress has been torn. She unfurls herself from the forest floor, searches for her phone, her bag, anything that will explain why she is here.

Nothing.

The only sound, the creaking of trees as they move in a wind she cannot feel. She sees eyes peering brightly from the trees and hears the roar of traffic from the highway.

Then nothing but cold.

🥕🥕🥕

Those Two by Reena Saxena

All the persuasion by his friends failed to make him participate in a jungle picnic. He looked petrified, and his wife insisted that he be left alone. The friends decided to take him to a counsellor later.

Nobody realized that he was consumed by guilt. It was a crime committed in the first flush of youth. He finished college, found a job and married a beautiful girl.

But, those two eyes never stopped peering at him from the woods. Those two eyes spewed fire, and swore revenge. He did not know if those two eyes were dead or alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Silhouettes by Bill Engleson

At that time, the lake was more a swamp.

Stumps rose like rogue cannons, wooden effigies of flooded farmland.

We hiked the deer path that edged the water.

Eventually, we found a grassy knoll that afforded a cushion of comfort and privacy.

Our adolescent fumblings did not betray us.

Soft sun bathed my lover’s skin.

Still, something, real, imagined, concerned her.

“Are you sure we’re alone?” she whispered.

I was sure of very little then.

“Why?” I asked, looking into the nearby bush.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It just feels creepy.”

That did it.

We hightailed outta there.

🥕🥕🥕

Cache Only Memory Access by Deepa

I could feel Thomas hands intertwined in mine. I could hear him. He was telling me about the memories of our adventures. I am not sure how long I had been lying in the coma.

Thomas gently caressed my hands and peered into my eyes, “the auburn color of your hair reminded me of the woods, and now it shines like the snow. You ask me why I didn’t seek adventure over the years.”

How could I do it without you? We are partners in crime.

Thomas was an adventure freak. Tears trickled from my eyes.

🥕🥕🥕

Sanctuary by abhiray59

Deer calf was peering through the bush. It was looking curiously at the movement of humans down the trail. Other members of its family and friends were nearby having their daily feed of green grass. This calf was curious.

Sam raised his rifle to aim at the deer. “Don’t shoot. This is a sanctuary. Wild animals are expected to be safe here”, said Sid, a fellow hiker.

A leopard pounced on the calf. Curious calf was enamored with humans. It forgot about other lurking dangers in the sanctuary. After all, it was a sanctuary for the leopard too.

🥕🥕🥕

The Hollow by Kati MacArthur

It was a dim, dark forest. I stood on the edge, looking in at a large green fern, solitary in the darkened clearing, spotlighted by a single dusty beam of filtered verdant light. No crickets here, no birds. Just sunlight and darkness: cool, green, quiet.

I see these things when my serenity is threatened. They are images from the hollow where my friend goes to mourn her horse.

In times of strife, I remember this: melancholy sunshine with cool, green quiet a few steps away. Two separate worlds, one before me, one behind me. Which way do I turn?

🥕🥕🥕

From the Woods by Allison Maruska

I crawl through Darkness, the ever-present being, one I can’t touch but knows me completely.

Darkness wants to keep me here, in these woods, surrounded, lost. If I have no hope of escape, Darkness gets her wish. But if I find the way out, Darkness is powerless to stop me.

So I crawl, unsure of direction. I could be heading farther into her depths. But then, I see it: a light. It’s a pinpoint at first, but it gives me direction. And so I crawl.

Finally, I find Darkness’s edge, and peering out from the woods, I see hope.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Anita Dawes

About an hour into the woods, I thought I heard a sound. Just ahead of me, peering through the trees I could see 12 standing stones with a large stone table in the middle. I had never seen these before so I took dozens of photographs.
The air seemed to whisper with strange sounds, almost words I could not hear.
I reached home and downloaded them. My breath was taken by the sight of King Arthur and his knights. There had been no one there. Had my imagination imprinted these images, or was it my desire to be there?

🥕🥕🥕

Silence by oneletterup

She likes it here. How the breeze blows her hair as she swings. Back and forth.
The soft sweat pants protect the scabs on her legs.

“What’s your name?” the little boy keeps asking.
But she keeps shaking her head. Silent.

The little girl asks “Ya wanna swing with me?”
She smiles and nods.

In mid swing she sees it.
A flash of red. Movement.
In woods across the street.
Foot down scraping grass.
Swing slows. Jumps off. Stares hard.
Fists clench.

Someone is peering at her from under a tree.

Turning around, she runs.
The little girl follows.

🥕🥕🥕

Unwelcome Guests by Susan Sleggs

“My Dad told me the new people in the fenced mansion belong to the Mob,” Rock said.

“I heard it was some rich old guy with a sexy young wife,” Dude answered.

Crazy, always needing excitement, suggested, “Let’s sneak through the woods to see what we can see by their pool.”

Shortly the rowdies peered around dense manicured bushes at scantily clad young beauties.

A body guard turned their direction saying loudly, “I can feel eyes on us.” He reached behind his back bringing a gun forward and fired a shot above their heads. “Next time I won’t miss!”

🥕🥕🥕

Fred’s Confession by Sherri Matthews

Fred peered out from behind the garden shed into the steely-eyed glare of Ethel through the kitchen window. He froze.

‘Hello my sweet, you look lovely today,’ Fred squirmed.

‘Get yer hairy arse back inside, now!’

Fred padded gingerly into the kitchen and gulped. ‘Ethel, me and Mavis…’ He caught his reflection in the mirror, distracting him from his confession. Funny, the dentist hadn’t mentioned how long and sharp his teeth had grown. And his hair, so grey…

‘Shut up yer gormless twit,’ Ethel fumed, ‘Mavis is a slut, but you…you’re a bleedin’ werewolf and it’s full moon tonight.’

🥕🥕🥕

The Lewis and Rebman Expedition by TN Kerr

Lewis increased his pace to catch up and have a word with Rebman, “I expect our way will be blocked when we round the next bend. Have you seen them?”

“Seen whom?” Rebman asked. He glanced about, now noticing flashes of bright crimson and deep indigo between the dense trees. He asked, “Who are they?”

“The locals here are autochthonous,” Lewis advised. “They claim to be descended from Lellages, the purported elder son of Belabub. Who, in turn was a Philistine god. The Hebrews called him Beelzebub, the Christians, called him Satan.”

“Dangerous?”

“I believe so, Rebman? I believe so.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Target by Patrick O’Connor

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Better focus.

Small adjustment.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

The wind is negligible.

No one would be able to see me from this perch as I peer from the forest.

I am a good mile away anyway.

Looking through the scope again.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Don’t move at all.

Last check. I’m ready.

Big inhale. Slow exhale.

Squeezing the trigger until…

BAM!

Three, Two, One.

Looking through the scope again.

Right on target.

That guy won’t be a problem anymore.

Lone Wolf to command.

Mission accomplished.

On to the next target.

🥕🥕🥕

Outlast by Kerry E.B. Black

We’ve always lived in the woods. Of course, back in the day, woods stretched for acres. Now they’re confined to a small patch surrounded by manicured lawns and asphalt.

Few venture here. They linger along the outskirts and peer into the cool depths beneath the leafy canopy, as though they fear once they enter, they’ll never return to their civilization.

They’re right.

We wait here, sneering at their brash attempts to confine us. We bide our time.

Soon, they’ll become negligent groundskeepers, and with quiet tenacity, we’ll reclaim land, break through turf, swallow structures.

We will outlast, as always.

🥕🥕🥕

So They Say So by D. Avery

“Hey, Aussie!”

“G’day Pal. Where’s Kid?”

“Hmmph. I ain’t too sure. Still tentin’ I reckon. Complained last week about yeller tents and then takes off fer the woods totin’ one.”

“Look here, Pal, a note. It says, ‘See ya later Pal. Shorty says I am to appear in the woods.’ Seems Kid has misread the prompt again.”

“’Appears so Aussie. Dang!”

“What’s wrong, Pal? Kid does just fine in the woods.”

“Normally, yeah, but who knows what these ranch hands is gonna put inta the woods with this prompt. Why, they even say there’s a Bigfoot out and about.”

**********

“Oh, I hope Kid doesn’t come across Bigfoot!”

“Me too, Aussie, poor Bigfoot doesn’t deserve that. Hey, do you feel like we’re bein’ watched or somethin’?”

“Yes, I do, Pal. Why, who is that peering from the woods there? Kid!”

“Aussie! Pal! I’m back.”

“We kin see that. Where ya bin?”

“I been appearin’ in woods all over. Went west. It was wild. Saw fossils an’ artsy facts an’ muse-icians.”

“You call that campin’?”

“Call it vacationin’. Guess who I spied peerin’ from the woods when I was tentin’?”

“Bigfoot?!”

“Frannie Hooe. Least they say it was her.”

“Phooey!”

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tents

Bright as egg yolk, yellow tents hold stories from fortune-tellers to cowards. You can’t miss a brightly colored tent in the wilderness or the backyard. But what is going on inside?

Writers stepped up to the challenge like queueing up for the circus. Some rogues found romance, some yearned for Yellowstone. The dialog, tension, and humor flows from the imaginations and shared memories of writers from around the world.

The following are based on the August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent.

PART I (10-minute read)

Boxing Up the Past by Heather Gonzalez

They say you can’t go home again. Lucy and Rick had to deal with what to do with their childhood home now that their parents were gone. Covered in cobwebs and memories, it was like stepping back in time to the 80s. Boxing up the past, Lucy came across a box of photographs.

“Hey, Rick! Come look at these!” Lucy held up a photo of them in their homemade fort as children.

Using a bright yellow sheet, they recreated their childhood. Under that tent, they felt young again, letting the loss of time melt away into the linoleum floor.

🥕🥕🥕

The Crawlspace by Bill Engleson

“Help me?” she pleads.

“Sure. With what?” I reluctantly query.

“The crawlspace…under the back porch. It’s a fire hazard.”

The world is ablaze, I think, and she’s worried about the dank confines of the porch.

“Okay,” I concede. “I’m too big to slither in there, though.”

“Fine,” she says, ticked. “I’ll slither in…hand the stuff to you.”

Delighted with my negotiating skills, I wait while she inches in.

“This is heavy…smells to high heaven.” She shoves out the old canvas tent, once khaki, now splotchy yellow.

“Full of sweet memories,” I opine.

“And fat spiders and mummified mice, sweetheart.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Yellow Tent by Anita Dawes

I have never been camping, nor slept in a tent
But I do know that yellow is the colour of magic.
Maybe I should try sleeping under a yellow canvas
To see where magic might take me.
To an enchanted forest with a babbling brook
Listening to the music made by flowing water
With fairy lanterns to light my way.
A castle where I might find my own Prince Charming
King Arthur and the Round Table
With Merlin by his side.
The golden chalice having been found
Back in its rightful place
Maybe there, I will find my happiness…

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by Reena Saxena

During a session in neuro-linguistic programming, she was asked to imagine the peak of happiness, and visualize being swathed in golden-yellow light. It was like a magic bulb she was supposed to switch on in depressing moments, to migrate to a different mindset. It seemed like quackery, then.

Fifteen years later, she had lost her husband and retired from work. There was not much left to live for. But she brightened up talking about events in her prime, during interactions with her old-age home inmates.

It was the yellow tent she sought shelter in, to protect her against misery.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunny Cindy by kate @ aroused

Most prefer to blend into the bush when camping but not Cindy. When searching for firewood she had a tendency to often wander off completely distracted by an insect or looking for rocks or flowers. Hence she found a bright yellow tent was much easier to spot from afar.

And let’s face it if there are other campers about they cannot wander into Cindy’s by mistake as it’s so distinct. Besides yellow suited her personality as she was a sunny type of lass always smiling and chatting to anyone with the time. Ready to help or listen whenever needed.

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by the Dark Netizen

“You know its a one in a million chance, right?”

The two were sitting in their yellow tent, entrance flap open, hoping for a shooting stars shower.

“You have said this before, Sammy. But, I really want to watch it.”

He wrapped his arms around her.

“I know that.”

She placed her head on his shoulders. And then it happened. Suddenly, the dark sky was filled with a stream of white stars. He held her tighter.

“For once, I am glad I was proven wrong.”

“It happened because we are one in a billion.”

He smiled.

“That we are.”

🥕🥕🥕

With Intent II by Norah Colvin

“I have to work.” She feigned disappointment.

“That’s okay. Come after work.”

“But I’m working late. It’ll be dark.”

“It’s well-lit all the way.”

“But I don’t know the way.”

“That’s okay.” He punched the address into her navigation device. “Just follow the directions.”

“How will I find you when I get there?”

“I’ll be watching for you.”

Conjuring no more excuses, she wasn’t yet ready to explain her attraction to him didn’t include camping.

Later, when entering the campgrounds, deserted but for one yellow tent lit by solar fairy lights spelling the words, “Marry me,” her fears melted.

🥕🥕🥕

The Sunshine Kid by Kay Kingsley

I emerged at dawn to a silence only those who have known solitude in the forrest long for. The sweet dampness of the morning burned the smell of warming Redwoods into my memory as I sat quietly by the fire perking coffee I drank from a tin cup.

The smoke rose into the forrest’s canopy as the fire pit crackled and popped and as peace settled in the sun broke free, cascading a kaleidoscope of light all around and from our yellow tent emerged my favorite person of all, my sunshine kid, beaming a smile from ear to ear.

🥕🥕🥕

Blonde Dreams? by JulesPaige

Yellow was the color of my true love’s hair
Never quite long enough to act as a tent
For me to hide in –
But with hugs and silent strength
(even when a very few times when
patience ran thin)
I’ve always had that haven…

Camping out in a yellow or any tent –
Not high on my radar.
However I hope that when we retire
We can travel in or out of country
(we’ve not yet been to all fifty states –
I’ve been to a few countries)
Maybe the hotel walls will be
White-washed yellow – and that will
Be enough…

🥕🥕🥕

No Vacation by Paula Moyer

Jean was 10 years old when she saw it in the catalogue: a bright yellow tent. It gleamed and beckoned. Oh, wouldn’t it be so marvelous – to live in that tent, with her family, on a vacation?

She sighed and dreamed.

“I’ve camped enough.” Her dad’s flat response woke her up.

Twenty years before: “the war.” Simple name.

Clarence, her dad, served in North Africa, Sicily, France. Like everyone else – “for the duration.” Three years in a khaki tent – no playful yellow.

“I’ve camped enough.”

Years later, in her own yellow tent, with her boyfriend, Jean swatted mosquitoes. Understood.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wretch Like Me by Sherri Matthews

‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…’

Will sang to his heart’s content, as tuneless as he cared to in his truck and no chiding from Pauline back home fixing dinner, no ma’am.

‘That saved a wretch like me…’

The radio cut dead and Will clamped the breaks. ‘Well, I’ll be damned…’ A tent as yellow as Pauline’s lemon pie covered Bud Wilson’s field and not a soul in sight.

Then he heard it again, but from the tent. He walked inside.

‘I once was lost, but now am found…’

Bud found Will’s body next morning, comforted by his smile.

🥕🥕🥕

The Birdcage Cover by Susan Sleggs

My sisters and I were gathered around an open trunk from our family home. Angelina took out a piece of yellow fabric that was shaped like a small Christmas tree skirt but only had a tiny hole and snaps along the open edge. I asked, “What’s that?”

Deanna said, “Do you remember the yellow canary we had when you were little?”

“Yeah, it sang when we ran water and louder when anyone whistled.”

“Mother made this from a tablecloth after Dad put the umpteenth cigarette burn it to cover its cage at night. I wonder why Mom kept it?”

🥕🥕🥕

Luxury Home by D. Avery

If you’ve ever sat and watched a mountaintop succumb to dusk’s misty cover; if you’ve sat long enough to see the fog reveal the mountaintop again but linger in the cuts and valleys; if witnessed a westward mountain reluctantly letting go its grip on the slanting sunlight that battled clouds all day, now trailing yellow rays, grasping at the underside of high branched leaves, streaking yellow ripples across the water, then you know. You’re just a poor camper, with all the riches that heaven and earth have to offer, the late evening sky the roof of your yellow tent.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Judy always loved the countryside drive. All that fresh air, the postcard views, the streams, the tattered American flags—some confederate ones too. She could almost hear the hymns of old spilling from the window-less clapboard church, its steeple at a tilt.

But the yellow tents were new.

Her breath caught. A camp, but nothing like she’d seen, with black and brown bodies, childrens’ hands grasping a gleaming chain link fence. Judy’s foot found the gas pedal.

Judy thought the scene belonged in Europe. In the news. Debated from podiums. Instead it was sitting between cornfields, confronting her scenery.

🥕🥕🥕

Before The Gold Rush by Liz Husebye Hartmann

We’d started loading at the dawning of the third moon. Triage overflowed after the fifth wave from the Kipstanian Crisis. We tried to get the word out to all survivors; transport off our doomed planet ended today.

There would be no more planet to doom.

Flashing a light in the evacuees’ eyes, I direct them to the three loading tents. Green equals “Go”, red “Stop”, and yellow “Caution.” The Kipstanian crisis made id-ing dangerous types easy. Red eyes never made it off the planet. Blue, Brown? Approved.

Then SHE came, one eye blue, one green.

I point. “Yellow tent.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Autumn Leaves by Kenzie Farrington

Autumn leaves wander aimlessly through the breeze
They’ll tell you stories of the trees, if you bother to listen
Hear them pass, hear them humm
Past the city streets they run
Past the children
Past the swings
Beyond the buildings–
To where the river sings
Listen, listen, watch them glow
Green, red, orange, yellow
They’ll bring you something–
Something familiar, but far away
You’ve seen it before
Sometime last May

You were lying in your yellow tent
You met the moon, and she was beautiful
And those autumn leaves made you cry
Because there, you knew you were alive

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by oneletterup

“Are you okay kid?”

The last thing she remembers is a truck door closing.
Then sleeping in this soft lap.
She struggles to open her eyes. So tired.
Where Am I?

“Kid! What’s your name? Who are you?”

She turns toward the voice. A kind voice.
A smooth hand covers hers. Gentle and warm.
Something in her untwists.
Tears escape, sliding down her face.
She feels herself lifted up. Hears a door opening.

She peeks. A blue house. Flowers. Swings.
A little girl. A little boy.
A little yellow tent; flap up. Toys inside.
“Ya wanna play?”
She smiles.

🥕🥕🥕

Solitude, Wait for Me (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

The tide was out. Sand dollars were scattered across the wet sands. Diamante pitched his yellow tent near the broken wood fence, and walked along the deserted seashore. Solitude.

A yellow butterfly fluttered past him. Seagulls swept out to sea from the dunes. A dragon kite sprang into the skies, its tail a ribbon of yellow flags, its eyes glinting with multicolored sequins. Children’s laughter rang out on the warm sea breeze.

Diamante sighed. He loved butterflies and kites. He loved the villagers. And it was time to fix the broken fence. Solitude would have to wait another day.

🥕🥕🥕

Bright Yellow Tent by Teresa Grabs

“Let’s get you guys this one,” Lucy said, picking up a dome tent.

Amber and Gin moaned.

“Girls, the tickets alone were nearly a thousand dollars. I am not buying a top of the line tent for a music festival. Besides, how many people there will have a bright yellow tent?”

They knew she could still change her mind about letting them go and she had a point about the color of the tent. No one wanted a bright yellow tent. When they arrived and was blinded by sunlight lying on the ground they learned how wrong she was.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard

‘Logan, what are you doing?’

‘Trying… what a stupid idea to use this tent.’

‘Why? It’s fine…’

‘It’s so small I can’t even fart…’

‘That’s one blessing. Anyway, you’ve happily spent hours crushed with 100,000 strangers by the main stage, dancing to Metallica…’

‘I didn’t know them. I know you.’

‘Surely it’s the other way round?’

‘No… is that what I think is sticking in my leg?’

‘My elbow.’

‘On the tube, if a stranger stinks, elbows me, I get off. Here, I’m stuck with you.’

‘I don’t smell. Do I?’

‘No Morgan. Are you sure that’s your elbow?’

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Big Yellow Tent by Sascha Darlington

Have you ever heard sunshine in laughter?

It was moments before I saw her, head tilted back, laughing up into the cerulean sky so free-spirited that I was charmed.

But then there was her big scary yellow tent.

“Hello,” I said, always great with words.

She grinned. “Hello, yourself.”

“What’s with the tent?”

“It’s my big yellow taxi.”

“Pardon?”

“Where’re you from?”

“Edinburgh.”

“Scotland. Ever heard of Joni Mitchell?”

I shook my head. Politician? Actress? Reality TV?

“One of the greatest singer/songwriters who ever existed.”

“Oh.”

“My big yellow taxi takes me away.”

And, somehow, it took me too.

🥕🥕🥕

The Porch by Late Night Girl

Reinhold Messner sought the Heights
and found his Porch
No Mansion by the Beach
or Villa in the Hills
can bargain with him
in exchange
for his little Yellow Tent
on top of the Peak
touching Paradise

No incentive of a fake Sky
via a tasteless satellite dish
can pay him to observe
electronic stars and purple rain
sprinkle down upon his Summit

The Snow is his Sand
the Tent his Castle and
the Sky his Umbrella
to protect him from
a moderate Life

The Crisp Air is his Coffee
the Moon his Bread
and the Earth his Bed

🥕🥕🥕

Being Yellow by floridaborne

Two pictures sat on mom’s kitchen counter; my parents standing near a yellow tent, and a rich bitch wearing yellow standing next to my dad taken days after he’d abandoned mom for her when I turned one.

Mom and I lived in subsidized housing. I made straight A’s in school, had a free ride to the local state college, and mom died a month after I received my degree.

The doorbell rang. I opened it to stare into eyes just like mine.

“Go to hell. It’s yellow there, just like you,” I said, slamming the door in Dad’s face.

🥕🥕🥕

Sales Shopping for a New Dress by Anne Goodwin

“You don’t have it in a different colour?” Or a different shape? It could be fancy dress. Marvellous! they’d say. You’ve come as a tent.

“Not at this price,” says the assistant. “But yellow’s definitely your colour.” How does she know? Because of my sunny disposition or because I’m a coward? Or because this frock is taking up space she needs for the winter stock.

“I’ll take it.” If only to hang in my wardrobe along with several other outfits I haven’t the courage to wear. “On second thoughts … Snap off the sales tag! I’m wearing it home.”

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent y Robbie Cheadle

“I bought us a two-man tent so we can go camping.”

“Really,” said Helen, “are you referring to the child-sized, yellow tent you just put up in the garden.”

“Yes, and it’s not child-sized, the man in the shop said it would sleep two people comfortably.”

“Does it have a bathroom and kitchenette?”

“No,” said Dave.

“Does it have wi-fi, air-conditioning and plugs for my laptop, iPad, iPhone and hairdryer.”

“You’re being ridiculous, of course it doesn’t have those things. It’s for camping. We’ll have a great time experiencing the great outdoors.”

“You mean you’ll have a great time.”

🥕🥕🥕

Cowardly, Chloe Goes Camping by JulesPaige

I knew I’d be a heel if I didn’t go camping with him. He said it was a time to heal, being in nature. He’ll provide everything he said.

I dreaded him coming down my lane. All night I
had lain stiffly prone trying to sleep in the comfort of my bed… I tried to dream up some excuse not to go. I couldn’t find any…

Maybe one night wouldn’t be so bad? We got to
the lake and he set up a yellow tent. He brought
an air cushion …

No indoor plumbing. I’d be peeing in a can.

🥕🥕🥕

Wanting to Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni unzipped her tent. Vapors rose from the creek where it meandered smooth and flat across a meadow dotted with daisies. The sun cast colors across the eastern horizon of sharp mountains. She checked each boot, a habit from growing up in Nevada where scorpions liked to take refuge in a cozy shoe. The feel of laced boots gave her confidence to face the day. The volunteers would soon be arriving to camp. Ike had always teased her about how bright yellow her tent was – “Astronauts in space can spot it.” Today, she wished she had his camo tent.

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent for Sale by Peregrine Arc

“Yellow tent for sale, never used. Complete with stakes and poles. Good for camping trips. $99, OBO. Sleeps four comfortably. Inquiries at…”

I squinted at the ad as I picked up the phone. Files littered my desk. Paper clipped photos of children stared back at me vacantly.

“Hello? I’m interested in the tent. Would $70 do? Great, I’ll pick it up today. Cash only–I understand.”

I grabbed my keys and stuck my head into my boss’ office.

“Got another tent for a family. Be back in ten.”

🥕🥕🥕

Misunderstanding by Kerry E.B. Black

They pitched their tent at the top of the hill, its brilliant golden canvas welcoming as the sun.

A hundred other campers went about their lives at the hill’s base. They lit fires and toasted marshmallows, roasted hot dogs, and gossiped around the flickering flames. “Why’d they build their tent atop the hill? Do they think they’re better than us?” “Yellow’s an ostentatious color. Why not pitch blue or grey tents like ours?” “We distrust them.”

Atop the hill, they hoped for visitors. They baked scones, percolated coffee, and fried platters of bacon and eggs to share.

None came.

🥕🥕🥕

At the Midway by D. Avery

It was a yellow tent, not well placed in the carnival midway, but its owner sang out to prospective customers, enticing them to come closer, come curious, come in.

*Come in, come in, all will be revealed
Lived well, or sinned, come see how you’ll be dealed.
Step through the yellow tent
See how your end of days are spent.*

Most went in just for a lark, laughing.
Some came out beaming, said the tent had the buttercup color of sunshine summer days. Others came out shaken, said the tent was sulfur colored, reminded them of lightning, striking close.

🥕🥕🥕

The Fortune Giver by D. Avery

Also on the midway, an exotic red haired Portuguese gypsy woman spun fortunes from words. Her tent was unmistakably the color of sunshine, which drew people eager to spend their 99 cents for the gift of story. In every story the gypsy spun, they heard their own story and left emboldened enough to tell their stories themselves. This yellow tent buzzed and hummed with story as more and more people came to hear and to tell. The gypsy woman glowed, basking in her good fortune, measured not in the 99 cents, but the 99 word stories of her community.

🥕🥕🥕

A Cold Night by Anurag Bakhshi

It was a cold night, and my teeth were chattering as I made my way towards the yellow tent in the middle of the desert.

There was a feeling of warmth emanating from inside the tent that seemed to be calling out to me.

I peeped in through a small hole, and saw a girl, alone.

Unable to resist any longer, I rushed into the tent…and fell right into a boiling cauldron.

And the last words I heard before I lost consciousness were, “Aah, rattlesnake soup will be just perfect to keep me warm on this brutally cold night.”

🥕🥕🥕

For All In Tents and Purposes by Nancy Brady

The truck pulled up and parked on the side of the road. The two men climbed out of the truck. Arrayed in green shirts, khaki pants, boots, and a utility belt to rival Batman’s, they attached their belts and shimmied up the telephone pole.

With the sky looking overcast, the men put up a little safety yellow tent on the telephone line. Looking more like a tiny house than a typical pup tent, it hung there fifty feet above the street. It sheltered the two men as they worked furiously to fix the phone lines before the storm hit.

🥕🥕🥕

The World Through Prismatic Glasses by Chelsea Owens

“When I grow up,”
I say
From too-tall counters, unfair portions, summer bedtimes.

When I grow up,
I hope
For friends, a car, no one ever telling me, “No.”

When I grow up,
I think
Promises will be kept, rules followed; the world blacks and whites.

Grown up,
I see
Crumb-filled countertops, imperfect pieces, little sleep.

Grown up
I wish
For friends, fewer expenses, parents’ good advice.

Grown up
I learn
People are human, rules bend; the world….

Is rainbowed

I take a crayon and draw my mind:
Greening forest,
Glittering sky,
And a yellow tent,

Glowing from within.

🥕🥕🥕

Not What She Had in Mind by Molly Stevens — Shallow Reflections

“What are you watching?” asked Chester.

“The Travel Channel,” said Ruth. “Don’t you wish we could drive an RV across the country? There is so much to do and see.”

“I’m pretty happy right here,” said Chester scratching his ample belly.

But he saw the wistful look in Ruth’s eyes.

“I’m going to run into town,” he said.

When he returned, he was as radiant as a cloudless July sky.

“This is going to be our home at Park’s Pond campground up the road in Clifton,” he announced.

“Oh, Chester, I was longing for Yellowstone, not a yellow tent!”

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by Frank Hubeny

Perhaps it was the sunshine yellow that attracted the bear or the food or curiosity. Bill had a camper over his Ford pickup truck, but he could not stand up in it and so he bought the tent.

He thinned naturally grown trees on clear-cut paper company land. This kept him alone in the woods for a week at a time or until the project finished.

He thought the tent was perfect until the bear came. It pushed its nose into the fabric deeply breathing. Bill swatted it and it ran off.

After that they left each other alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by Miriam Hurdle

“How was your sleep last night?”

“Awful. I’m not the camping type. My back hurts.”

“You slept in a cot. Didn’t it help?”

“It’s just the idea of not having walls around that gave me a nightmare.”

“The tent is our wall.”

“But that yellow color is so light that I could see the moonlight.”

“That should be soothing and relaxing.”

“But, but… it’s like transparent. I felt like sleeping in the open air. I heard growling and saw a bear chasing me.”

“The bear didn’t chase you. We had a bear visit and stole our food last night.”

🥕🥕🥕

Thin Layer of Bravado by Oneta Hayes

Our traditional Kidz Kamp was marked by tent colors: blue for boys, red for girls. Mine, as Counselor, was yellow. I said it meant “courageous” and the young children believed me. Bigger kids would catch on right away. It stands for “coward.”

That was not always so. “Just give me a flashlight and let me at ‘um,” was my motto. I was an owl-chasing specialist. Until the “spider” incident. I screamed. The kids came running to offer their help. Betsy stepped on the spider – barefooted.

Those kids have grown; the story is dead. But it sticks with me. Coward.

🥕🥕🥕

A Beatle’s Wasteland by Late Night Girl

‘How did I get myself into this mess?!’ he thought while trying to find beauty in his surroundings, with freeze burn on his toes.

His mind was frozen from the cold. And in this solitude all he managed to do was to hum a tune to try and stay awake.

All that came to mind in this ironic turn of events was a song he used to sing with his friends under a starry night around the camp fire:

“We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow sub…mmaa….riiinee…”

And then he dosed off into the stars.

🥕🥕🥕

Lovers by Patrick O’Connor

Strolling through the woods on a hot summer afternoon.

We’d been three days in the forest, looking for a place to camp for the night.

Coming to a small clearing, we noticed a tent.

It wasn’t really much of a tent. More like a lean-to.

Looking closer at the material, it looked like a tarp that was once green but now a dirty, faded yellowish, grey.

Walking around the front, we got the shock of our life.

Inside the lean-to? Two skeletons. Obvious lovers, cuddled together.

They must have been there for years.

A sad ending to two lives.

🥕🥕🥕

Watching From Above, Waiting by TN Kerr

peering through his scope at the landscape below
looking at
an encampment, an encampment of one
that almost went unnoticed.
a flax coloured tent with a muted hue, sombre. quietly
blending into the background,
perfectly camouflaged.
a cold camp, no fire and the only sign of life is a yellow dog
stretched out and still
near an assortment of gear, stacked to one side
it has to be him
it must be Munroe
nothing to do now except stand by,
Munroe will be back.
a disturbance from behind, then a voice, whispers,
“Hullo, Sutherland. What took you so long?”

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Light District by Ritu Bhathal

A rustling noise caught my attention.

I trudged through the forest, kicking up the leaves, trying to trace the source of the sound.

A glow emanated from a clearing up ahead.

As I got closer I saw the glow came from the inside of a yellow tent.

It was a hastily erected contraption, and accompanying the rustles were giggles.

The light created shadows.

Two people.

There were definitely two.

The giggles became moans.

The shadows moved slowly, the moans became more intense.

I turned around, embarrassed to be there, until I heard “Oh Petey!”

That was my husband’s name…

🥕🥕🥕

Tent Tense by D. Avery

“Yellow?!”

“Hello?”

“Huh? Oh, hey Pal. Jeez… Yellow tents… ”

“You seem a might tense, Kid. Maybe a might yeller too. Just go where the prompt leads, don’t be afraid.”

“I ain’t afraid, Pal, in fact I prefer ta sleep out under the stars, no tent at all.”

“Don’t Kid, ‘cause I’m afraid I’ll have ta listen ta yer complainin’ ‘bout skeeter bites.”

“Hmmph. Pal, why is Shorty’s tent yeller?”

“It ain’t yeller. It’s transparent.”

“I see.”

“Yep. The midnight oil she burns makes it ‘pear yeller. Claims it’s like sunshine.”

“I prefer moonshine.”

“Jist go ta yer tent Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

Stranded Suitcase

Along the way, you find a stranded suitcase. Could it be a journey interrupted? One just begun? Or the end of the line? You ponder what might be inside, who left the bag behind.

Such was the task for writers who penned stories about the stranded suitcase. Read on to discover what a stranded suitcase can hold.

The following is based on the July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase.

PART I (10-minute read)

Persephone by Jan Malique

Everyone thought they knew the true facts of her abduction by Hades. Only Hekate knew, and she vowed to keep the secret to herself. The Hidden One assisted in every way possible to enable the sacred rite to reach its conclusion

Persephone went as a willing sacrifice, carrying the symbol of her death and rebirth, the pomegranate. It was safely packed in a well used suitcase. her favourite. It took days to reach the mouth of the Underworld. Dark days.

The pomegranate was taken out and offered to Hades who stood at the entrance. The suitcase was left behind.

🥕🥕🥕

Three Sisters by D. Avery

Three sisters came upon a worn suitcase in their path.

“Unattended baggage!” the first cried.

“Abandoned,” lamented the second.

“Lost,” declared the third.

The first sister would not go near the suitcase.

The second sister found the suitcase too heavy to move.

The third sister found that she could manage the suitcase.

All three sisters gathered round to peer inside.

The first sister saw fear.

The second sister saw worry.

The third sister saw hopes, dreams and wishes.

She left the wishes. She took hope and her best dreams. Continuing their journey, her steps were lighter and more certain.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase by Anita Dawes

To some people, I am a simple suitcase, something to put your belongings in to travel.
I am lost and Sally cannot find me.
I have been in the dark hole of a plane, dropped from the cargo hold and left on the tarmac.

You would think my bright yellow colour would help unite me with my owner, but rain or shine, no one sees me. Sally waits for me to be found, to be reunited.
You see, I am her good luck charm, Sally will not travel without me.
Has my luck run out, will Sally find me…?

🥕🥕🥕

Luggage by floridaborne

My daughter laughs at an abused green suitcase. “I remember that thing!”

“You used it for a summer in Morocco. I trusted you…”

“I know, I know,” she chuckles at me. “You kept it in pristine condition and I returned it all beat up without the wheels, BlahBlahBlah… Why won’t you throw it away?”

“Together, we explored the world. I had a career… a life. I met your father…”

“Then you had me, so it’s all good!”

What if I’d told him no?

Too late…

Like this dusty attic, I hold the memories of a lifetime no one understands.

🥕🥕🥕

Life in a Nutshell by Deepa

There lies a suitcase deserted on the tracks of life.

On the top left corner rudiments of past are carefully lined at the bottom only to be taken out when there is a need.

The hidden secrets hide underneath the lustrous covers zipped tightly not to be stripped and found by anyone.

There are also some catastrophes packed into an airtight bag isolated from the colorful facades that occupy the most space.

Isn’t the world too big to be carried into this small suitcase?

🥕🥕🥕

The Suit Case by Patrick O’Connor

“Has the jury reached a verdict?” asked the Judge.

“We have your honor.” replied the jurist.

“Please state the verdict.” followed the judge.

“We find the defendant, Maxwell Suit, on the sole count of fraud, guilty as charged.”

A shocking gasp came across those in the gallery.

Maxwell stood there, dumbfounded. How could anyone reasonably find him guilty?

Maxwell Suit, once a highly respected CEO would surely go down in history as a disgrace.

“Order! I’ll have order!” barked the judge.

“The defendant is hereby sentenced to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1.5M. Court’s adjourned.”

🥕🥕🥕

Abandoned Case by kate @ aroused

The suitcase lay abandoned on the line … would the owner have less clothes at the other end? Had staff been incompetent when loading the baggage? Or had someone tossed it off to be retrieved later?

In 1939 nobody considered bombs or sabotage. Odd things happened in times of war and extreme poverty.

People noticed the case but speculation was preferred as nobody approached it. Reluctance to get involved held them back. Everyone thought the other should investigate the contents yet nobody touched it!

What was in that suitcase and who had lost it … mystery and intrigue prevailed!

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Shreya Punjabi

Since his childhood, the suitcase had been scared of the dark. He had traveled the world, but hotel rooms are comfortable in the dark. The only ghost he met was reasonably friendly.

When the suitcase fell out a train, he panicked. The wind was cold, the tunnel in front of him looked like it would never end. The sun was setting slowly, like it would never stop.

But it did.

There was nothing but the dark.

He heard the familiar horn of a train. The tunnel exploded with comforting light that came closer by the second. The suitcase smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Unopened by Jack Schuyler

I saw the old man down the street in the paper this morning. His obituary was short and assured me he’d left nobody to mourn his absence. I visited his abandoned hermitage on my walk today, either out of curiosity or respect for the forgotten, I don’t know which. I opened the door, stepped inside, and was met with the relics of a lonely past. There were torn doilies, stained armchairs, an astrolabe, and a hundred letters spilling out of an old suitcase. I picked one up. It was light and pale, sealed with a kiss, and never opened.

🥕🥕🥕

The Case by The Late Night Girl

This is the case of a man who walks the tracks, burdened with a bundle that life over time has loaded on his shoulders. He loves the stillness and the protective feel of the walls.

He carries his suitcase and the load on his shoulders as he reaches the threshold of a tunnel, not the light at the end of the tunnel, but the darkness at the end of his life.

He leaves his case on the tracks as he doesn’t need it anymore and walks into the tunnel. This is the case of a man who once lived.

🥕🥕🥕

A Case of the Unexpected by Norah Colvin

“I wonder what’s inside,” said Jamie.

“D’ya think we should open it?” Nicky asked.

They looked around. No one anywhere.

Jamie shrugged. “I guess.”

“Looks old,” said Nicky.

“Probably been here for years.”

“So dirty.”

The rusty catches were unyielding.

“Might be locked,” said Nicky, hopefully.

“Let’s see,” said Jamie.

They pried with sticks, battered with stones and willed with all their might. When the catches finally snapped open, they hesitated.

“Go on,” said Nicky.

“No, you.”

“Both.”

“Okay. One, two, three … open!”

The children’s eyes widened.

“What is it?” asked Nicky.

“Dunno,” said Jamie. “Looks like …”

🥕🥕🥕

Keeping Secrets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Anabelle found the suitcase in the hayloft, upright as if ready to travel. She didn’t see the slim shadow of a boy slip out through the stalls below. She grabbed it and ran to the farmhouse where her uncle was frying supper.

“Uncle Henry! Look what I found.”

“That’s Grandma Mary’s old medicine bag.”

“It’s a suitcase.”

“It’s what she used to tend to the Ottawa. Been missing for thirty years.”

“It was in the hayloft, plain as day.”

“I’ll be. Someone brought it back.”

Annabelle open the latches. A single sketching of Cobb McCanles drifted to the floor.

🥕🥕🥕

Unfaithfully Yours by Anurag Bakhshi

Running away together had not been an easy decision, but they didn’t have a choice. His wife had started suspecting them, and their life could be destroyed any day now.

But right now, he was waiting for her, alone, with the suitcase. Maybe she too had abandoned him, left him stranded, like that suitcase.

His eyes teared up as his thoughts turned dark with despair. But then, someone patted him on the back. He turned swiftly.

“Let’s go,” she said breezily, “Hope you’ve checked the suitcase again. All the money from our last robbery is in there, right Dad?”

🥕🥕🥕

Chaste Case by kate @ aroused

The old bus with no windows slowly wound it’s way up the twisty steep Himalayan road with barely enough space for traffic to pass. The journey was hot, dusty and arduous.

Our luggage had been tossed up with the market produce and locals who all rode on the roof. Well aware that we were overloaded and listing didn’t instil confidence.

Watching in disbelief I saw my suitcase fall from above to tumble down the mountainside. So I had no choice but to disembark and follow the windy road back to where I could see my case laying far below.

🥕🥕🥕

My Denied Destiny by Roger Shipp

My heart is lightened remembering the first time I had pulled this old thing from our attic. Its ebony wool was frayed and one of its brass corners had been removed. It had be Great-Aunt Gertrude’s carry-on for her train-ride to the West.

For me, it was my get-away bag. My denied destiny… the rodeo.

Girls weren’t to climb trees, bust horses, or chew…. according to Father. But I was better than brother at all three.

I was packed and gone – three whole hours- when Grandpa found me headed toward Tulsa.

We compromised.

But I never did unpack it.

🥕🥕🥕

Quantanelle: Stranded in Space by Saifun Hassam

The stranded suitcase glowered at the receding spaceship flying through the wormhole. Andromeda Alice was so excited about finding the Looking Glass, she jumped and forgot to activate the suitcase. But Quantanelle was no ordinary suitcase: she was an automaton, and that suitcase was a brain that worked at lightning speed.

Quantanelle was not one to sit and mope. She was a suitcase who had traveled vast interstellar spaces. She measured her existing activation energies.

The nearest spaceport was on the planet “Carrot Ranch”. Quantanelle beamed an SOS with her co-ordinates. She would follow Alice on the next spaceship.

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

The suitcase lay in the weeds at the side of the tracks. Today, the mischievous brownie had been discovered and tossed away like yesterday’s newspaper.

The satchel scrutinized the desolate landscape. The brownie, a shapeshifter who could change into a suitcase to mingle with the humans, waited. Someone would come along. They always did.

“Well, I’ll be darned,” the old man said. “Look Ethel. Isn’t that the bag you saw in the general store?”

“It is. You said we couldn’t afford it,” she pouted.

“Well, you can afford it now.”

The valise grinned. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.

🥕🥕🥕

Rose’s Suitcase by Nanct Brady

Rose packed her bag as she was told. Underwear, socks, dresses, and, of course, her teddy bear Samuel, who knew everything. Sam listened, comforted, and kept secrets. Samuel was her best friend.

Her parents and Rose walked to the train station; she carried her whole world in that suitcase.

The men made Rose put her suitcase with the others. “They’ll be on the train,” they said, herding everyone into train cars.

As the train pulled away; Rose saw all the suitcases still on the platform. Her little suitcase was dumped, contents rifled, and the bear tossed onto the bonfire.

🥕🥕🥕

The Respite Suitcase by oneletterup

She is so very tired. Of walking and walking.
The sun blinding as she emerges from the woods.
Dirty. Legs scratched. Cotton dress torn.

Cars roar by. A motorcycle backfires.
She jumps, turning to go back.
Then she sees it. It looks kind of familiar.
Grimy and gouged, its rusty metal corners bent in.
An old suitcase stranded in the brush.

She stumbles over to it, considering.
“I’ll just rest here for now. It’s okay.”
She cleans a spot for sitting, picking off dead leaves.
Carefully lowering herself down, she sighs; eyelids closing.
As a truck pulls over. Unnoticed.

🥕🥕🥕

Matty Resists the Call by Ann Goodwin

Clark Gable is pinning a red rosette on the bodice of her second-hand dress when the maid shakes her none too gently by the shoulder. “I wasn’t asleep,” she lies. On the parquet beside her feet sits a battered brown suitcase. “Are you leaving us, dear?”

“No, but you are, they’ll be here any minute to escort you to Tuke House.”

“Tuke House?” Matty knows of the Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall. She knows of the Folies Bergère, despite its salacious reputation. She has never heard of Tuke.

“Thank you, dear, but the current arrangements are perfectly acceptable.”

🥕🥕🥕

No Child Left Behind by Kerry E.B. Black

Melanie studied her students as they completed their exams. Threadbare clothing revealed malnourished limbs. Although clean, the children sniffled and coughed. Melanie bet most hadn’t visited a doctor in several years.

Poverty stunk of limited opportunities and unfair challenges. Concentration waned when stomachs growled. While choosing how to spend a small income, most opted for food and heat rather than school supplies. Melanie provided some for the kids, or they’d be without.

She’d experienced difficulties in her life, certainly, but they paled when compared to her charges’ life-threatening situations.

She’d give them skills to help them negotiate life’s perils.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Takin’ It Easy by Liz Husebye Hartmann

I bin standing on this corner in Winslow Arizona since she tossed me out. Well…me, a half dozen t-shirts, some ragged jeans…

The wind blew them sideways –not so far as his nasty boxers, but not hard and vertical, like his Gameboy.

Gravity.

She’d smelled Lulabelle on him late last night. He left for work. She began hers. ‘Cept she treated me gently, even cried a little when she put me out here. I’d been his grampa’s suitcase.

And now, Lord! She drives up in her flatbed Ford.

She slows down, stops. I see she’s looking at me…smiling.

🥕🥕🥕

Recycled by JulesPaige

I am and will always be a ‘valise’. Of a rare heritage. Vintage large blue marble Samsonite.

I held the young wife’s Trousseau – and was passed on for her daughter to use. Though I am heavy, I held all of that little girls things as she was bounced around to different locations.

Until finally I was filled up with old things – Not as old as I. And donated to charity… After all age took its toll, my seams were coming undone and my lining frayed.

I am in an old house again. Filled with blankets, for a Mother cat.

🥕🥕🥕

Message in a …… Suitcase?? by Rosemary Carlson

It was twenty years ago. I was shopping the antique stores looking for unique things to furnish my house. In one store, hidden in a corner, was a leather suitcase. An old one with straps around it. I pulled it out and decided I loved it.

As I was cleaning it up, I felt a bump and heard a crunch under the inside liner. I worked the one-page note out the edge of the liner. Dated 1945, it said, “Meet me by the hickory tree. If you aren’t there, I’ll know you didn’t mean it.” It was a man’s writing.

🥕🥕🥕

You Can’t Be Too Careful by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s that?’

‘A suitcase.’

‘I know what it is…’

‘Why’d you ask?’

‘What are you doing with it.’

‘She asked me to watch it.’

‘Who?’

‘The woman who asked me.’

‘Are you nuts. It might be a bomb.’

‘She looked nice.’

‘Or a body…’

‘Green eyes…’

‘Or laundered money…’

‘Home-knitted cardigan…’

‘Or drugs…’

‘Though her shoes seemed ill-fitting…’

‘Cocaine…’

‘You know, like she got them cheap…’

‘Heroin…’

‘And wouldn’t admit she’d made a mistake…’

‘A mobile crystal meth lab…’

‘And it was too late to take them back…’

‘Blood diamonds… ill-fitting shoes?’

‘Uh-huh.’

‘My mother?’

‘She’ll have a latte.’

🥕🥕🥕

Missing Luggage by Robbie Cheadle

The luggage conveyor belt went around and around. I felt dizzy watching the same bags come into view and then disappear. None of them were ours. Mom’s face flushed red. Her agitation at the missing bags grew by the second. Willy tried to climb onto the conveyor belt and Mom grabbed him by the scruff of his neck.

The crowds of people claiming baggage thinned and soon we were the only ones left.

The empty conveyor belt stated the facts. Our luggage was missing. Dad sighed. “We’ll have to go to missing baggage,” he said.

“Oh no, more waiting.”

🥕🥕🥕

Abandoned Fountain of Youth by Paula Moyer

Be alert to unattended items. We learn this now. But here is a suitcase at the St. Paul Amtrak Station, the new Union Station with its vintage look. Made to look old. And there’s the train – headed points west, so far from the suitcase now. The night train.

The Amtrak employee removes it. The dog sniffs. The security guy opens with tongs and finds … curlers, cosmetics, anti-aging cream. Calls the number on the tag.

The train station tries to look old. The sleepy lady answering? She was peeling away the evidence, but left her accomplice on the track.

🥕🥕🥕

Stranded Suitcase by Miriam Hurdle

“The passengers picked up their suitcases. The one went around in the carousel is not mine.”

“The dark green color and the size look like yours.”

“Mine has a red and green stripe.”

“Let’s go to the customer services.”

~

“I couldn’t find my suitcase. This one has men’s clothes.”

“Let me check… Have a seat.”

“I need things when we get to the hotel.”

“Excuse me, Madam. A passenger has mistaken your suitcase as his. He lives two hours away and is driving home. We’ll exchange them and deliver to your hotel.”

“Oh, well… at least it’s found.”

🥕🥕🥕

Worrying Too Much by Reena Saxena

I wondered, or rather worried aloud why the train stopped between stations.

It was a bomb scare. All rail movement on the tracks was brought to a halt till a detection squad arrived. The sniffer dog ran towards the suitcase, as if eager to meet a long-lost friend. He sniffed and sniffed, and moved all around it. A team member in full armor came forward to open the dreadful case.

The dog stepped forward to partake of the feast, as dog biscuits tumbled out. Did somebody leave it for him, to deflect attention?

Maybe I was worrying too much.

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Michael Grogan

The calls for the next flight were met with mass movement. Beside us sat a black suitcase. We waited for the traveller to return but the longer it sat there all alone, the more on edge we became.

My sister alerted the airport security and immediate there was a clearing of the area. We were questioned to make sure it was not ours.

Within minutes the area was cordoned off, security barriers erected and everyone moved back. Then there was an explosion, and the suitcase was no more.

We often wondered if the man returned to retrieve his underwear.

🥕🥕🥕

In Brief by Sascha Darlington

“There’re two ways to approach this,” Joe says.

Emily shakes her head. “Nope. One. We got to make sure it’s not a bomb. Protocol, Joe, protocol.”

Joe presses his lips together. Thirty years ago, they would have checked to see who the suitcase belonged to. Now they got to check for a bomb. Who’d want to blow up the train station in Tuttle, a town without even a traffic light to its name?

He nods at Emily. “Do what you must.”

That’s how they end up with a blown-up suitcase full of $20 bills and a pissed-off FBI agent.

🥕🥕🥕

Other Peoples Stuff! by Bill Engleson

You see it often on country roads, goods left out at the top of driveways.

Sometimes there is a sign.

FREE!

I scored a nice office chair that way, once.

Well, it had a wobble.

But so did I.

Today, someone’s put out a non-descript hard suitcase, popular back in the day.

It is pale green.

My parents once told me about Jack Graham who blew up a plane with his mother and forty-three others back in ’55.

He put a bomb in her suitcase.

Their advice: “Always pack your own suitcase.”

These are great words to live by.

🥕🥕🥕

Perdu and Dod o Hyd by Chelsea Owens

Henri couldn’t believe his luck, stranded at Aberystwyth with only the clothes on his back.

“Don’t worry; you’ll only need your carry-on,” his wife had said. “You can even put your wallet and passport in there.”

He stared up at the station timetable, trying to make sense of the ridiculously long Welsh words, and sighed.

Gwilym, meanwhile, couldn’t believe his luck. As a pickpocket, he needed to be careful working the stations; and yet, he’d not lifted a single wallet for today’s find.

Once outside the Hereford station, he opened the battered suitcase. “Henri, eh? Merci, mon ami.”

🥕🥕🥕

Possession by Di @ pensitivity101

No more could he take the tormenting dictatorship of his life, the personal sleights, the ridicule.
He packed everything into a battered old suitcase. There was no connection to him and he could walk away.
The train was due in five minutes. This place was perfect and deserted when he tossed the case off the bridge, ignoring the voice from within screaming
‘Let me out! Let me out!’
The train smashed the case into a thousand pieces, the dummy inside with it.
The head landed at his feet, and the sinister smile said it all.
He’d never be free.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase by The Dark Netizen

The suitcase lay abandoned on the forsaken track.

The reason why this railroad was deserted and operations were abandoned was because people feared the cursed area. Anyone who ventured out on the track, would never return. Entire trains had disappeared, simply vanishing into thin air. People believed the abandoned suitcase was the only remaining sign of some poor soul who had joined the ranks of the missing people. However, there always remained some foolhardy bravehearts who would go looking for the suitcase.

They did not know that the suitcase had been placed there, by those living in the tunnel.

🥕🥕🥕

A Bereft Duffle by Susan Sleggs

My son returned from the war in person, but his mind never did. It took me years to understand why he refused to take off that dirty field jacket. I would beg him not to wear it. I even hid it once when he was in the shower and I don’t want to tell you the fight we had before I gave it back and he stormed out of the house to walk the streets, his mind encumbered with the scenes of war. The day I found him hanging, the coat was folded neatly on his full duffle bag.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

They played Three Little Birds at the funeral. Close enough I suppose. Time’s up and my suitcase is full. Not like most of us get a choice, anyway. Though my baggage is spare. stranded memories of work, tuna salad, regret, the real stuff I packed away for safekeeping. My first love’s smile. The kids. That dawn with Dad in the wet grass and the big moon. But you’d be surprised at what lingers for eternity. Mom’s death. The hot lash of her slap on my cheek. Lower back pain. The pulse of summer in the woods. Every little thing…

🥕🥕🥕

The Chase by Late Night Girl

In the stillness, a sudden noise from the horns of a train erupted in the tunnel, followed by a blinding light. Out came the man running for his life. About 20 meters into the tunnel he had second thoughts that were immediately confirmed by an oncoming train chasing the man back out of the tunnel.

But his case was gone already, while his life was found again. Exhausted, he sat by the side of the tracks, feeling the guilt of almost having involved an innocent train driver into an involuntary act. New hope and the chase for life begun.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase of Hope by Ritu Bhathal

Opening the bedroom door, the first thing I saw was the abandoned suitcase, open on the bed. Half packed, it had been left, bereft at not being full, zipped up, and off on another adventure.
I walked over, closed the lid, fastened it and placed it to one side. “Don’t worry, he’ll be better soon, then you can both go on your travels, with no worries at all.”
Pops appeared by my side, having taken a few moments longer to climb the stairs than me.
“It’s okay Pops, rest up. I’ll pack your case when the time is right.”

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting For The Right Train by Teresa Grabs

“There’s rumors of this line,” the old man said, “they say all those lost eventually find their way home.”

“Nonsense!” Charlie knew this line. Who was this old tramp to tell him of this line — his line? “Been here over thirty years and never heard anything of the sort.”

“I would sure love to go home. Go all the way back to Ma, the farm, to Lucy. Back to the day I made the wrong decision.”

A suitcase fell from a train crossing the bridge overhead landing gently in the old man’s lap. He opened it and went home.

🥕🥕🥕

Good Measure by D. Avery

“What’s in that case, Kid?”

“Hee hee, wouldn’tcha like ta know?”

“Yep, that’s why I asked ya. So?”

“Guess.”

“Bacon?”

“Ha! No. What’re ya wishin’ fer it ta be, Pal?”

“I dunno, I jist wondered is all.”

“Are ya worried ‘bout the contents, Pal?”

“Knowin’ you, yeah, a little.”

“Well Pal, I’ll tell ya, some say what’s in here is a treasure. The key ta yer success even.”

“My success? Kid, what in tarnation is in that case?”

“Ah, Pal, you’ve failed in yer quest ta guess. Ow! Okay, Pal. There’s 98 Ranch Yarns in here. An’ now 99!”

🥕🥕🥕

Legend of Fannie Hooe

They say she drowned in Lake Fannie Hooe. They say a bear left behind only a spilt basket of blueberries. They say a lot about a woman who returned to Virginia to live a full life after time spent at the remote wilderness Fort Wilkins in 1845.

Writers imagined between and beyond the facts of the real-life character of Fannie Hooe whose legend and name remains upon a lake at the far reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The following is based on July 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe.

INTRO TO FORT WILKINS by Charli Mills

1844: Fort Wilkins stands to protect the copper. A young nation encroaching further west, the Michigan wilderness known to the fur traders and voyageurs, marks a lucrative spot on territorial maps. From the decks of sea-faring, Great Lakes mariners can trace veins of copper rich ore to the shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula. At its tip where land juts into lake like a bent finger, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company stakes its claim. The garrison of soldiers with memories of the War of 1812 forge a fort. Peaceful as a Sunday picnic. No one badgers the copper miners.

🥕🥕🥕

PART I (10-minute read)

Fanny Hooe, Oh Fanny Hooe by Chelsea Owens

She came from The Virginias and she settled in our town.
Her eyes sparked just like agates and her hair was copper brown.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

She settled at Fort Wilkins, to help her sister’s child.
She settled in the soldiers’ hearts whene’er they caught her smile.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

One night they sought young Fanny but found she had gone away.
The soldiers mourned her memory and call her still today.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

🥕🥕🥕

Where Did You Say She Went? by floridaborne

“Breathe,” Fannie whispered, staring at a man six feet tall. Shiny leather boots … broad chest decorated by rows of buttons, she desired … needed …

With a charming smile and a nod, he said, “Howdy, ma’am.”

“Pray, tell me your name?”

His smile gleamed at her. “General Al Eyeon. And you?”

“Miss Fannie Howe,” she said coyly. “What brings you to Fort Wilkins?”

“Want to see my ship?”

At lake’s edge, he lifted her into his arms and jumped through a door she couldn’t see. Fannie loved his starship’s interior. He appreciated the taste of succulent meat.

🥕🥕🥕

Truth or Fiction: Will the Real Fannie Hooe Please Stand Up by Norah Colvin

Contestant 1: I am Fannie Hooe. My pregnant sister was an excuse to escape my abusive husband. After the baby’s birth, I ‘disappeared’, started a new life in Canada, and never remarried.

Contestant 2: I am Fannie Hooe. While visiting my sister, I was abducted by miners and forced to be their slave. When I escaped, I was so disfigured, I wanted no one to see.

Contestant 3: I am Fannie Hooe. I was pregnant, unmarried, and begged my sister to hide me. She refused and banished me. I started a new life in Virginia as a widowed mother.

🥕🥕🥕

Fanny-tastic Names by Ritu Bhathal

“I’m trying to find Fanny Hooe.”

“Fanny who?”

“Yes, Fanny Hooe.”

“Right… Fanny who?”

“Fanny Hooe!”

“Look, I need the surname for the announcement, mate. So, Fanny who?”

“Listen mate, it’s bad enough her grandma insisted on naming her Fanny. Stop taking the mick with it. Her name is Fanny Hooe. As in H – O – O – E.”

“Okay. Calling out for Fanny Hooe. That’s Fanny Hooe, as in H – O – O – E. Fanny Hooe please come to the service desk. Fanny Hooe!”

“You know they all call me Fran here, not Fanny… Now I’ll never live it down!”

🥕🥕🥕

Straight From The Horses Mouth by Teresa Grabs

The Riley County Ladies Reading Circle met every Tuesday night at Lois’ house, mainly because she had the largest parlor in the county, and made mighty fine fresh sourdough bread on Tuesday mornings. The meetings were more talking than reading, and tonight’s tattling stirred up old stories of poor old Fannie Hooe, who disappeared near here.

“I heard she went out west and a buffalo killed her,” Evelyn said.

“Oh, fiddlesticks,” Lois said. “Everyone knows she drowned in the river.”

“I reckon she just stayed, opened a boarding house, and got married,” Frances said.

Everyone laughed, shaking their head.

🥕🥕🥕

A Sister’s Sobriquet by JulesPaige

Legends
Disguise fact
Fannie Hooe, her
Sister’s helper – was never
Lost

“They say” Lucy Frances’ disappearance was due to bear, drowning or murder. So they named a lake after her… in Michigan. I wonder if she knew…

…a memoir letter…

“I was thirty seven when I went to visit my sister and help her birth her child at Fort Wilkens. I told Richardetta I couldn’t stay long. I had my own beau waiting for me back in Virginia. And his name was Mr. Chester Bailey White. Our brother Thornton thought I’d be a spinster. I wed Chester in 1949.”

🥕🥕🥕

Hiding on the Inside by Paula Moyer

“Who’s my Fannie Hooe?” Jean asked herself after hearing the UP story. “Who’s my lost girl who’s never found?” Of course, it was herself.

Jean was never missing – not for that long, anyway. She hid in plain sight, though. Went through the motions, learned the rules of the party games. But inside, she was somewhere else: riding a magic carpet, soaring like a bat through hidden caves, gliding down a promenade staircase in high heels – never tripping.

Let the birthday girl’s mom spin her. Around and around. Jean would be dizzy, stumble, blindfolded, toward the donkey. Inside? Somewhere else.

🥕🥕🥕

Honey, Don’t Pull a Fannie on Me by Neel Anil Panicker

“How do I know you’ll not do a Fannie Hooe on me?”

“A who?”

Richard looked at his beau from across the window.

Overcome with emotion, he leaned forward and held Janet’s hands.

Her fingers had turned moist, just as her eyes.

“I meant don’t do the disappearing act just like Fannie did eons ago.”

The train’s giant wheels were already trudging forward.

As Richard’s hands slipped out of her fingers his parting words were, “Listen, I know not who or what this Fannie thing’s all about. All I know is we’re going to get married in six months.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Lesser Sister by Nillu Nasser

They say she had hair like spun hay and her pretty soprano voice soothed the most wretched heart. They say the touch of her lips fell like satin on the roughest cheek, and old crones wept when they looked upon her, in mourning for their lost youth.

But I know her legend to be a lie.

Always the lesser sister, the one who hooted at others’ misfortune, interested only in men’s purses, not their hearts. That lake was the making of Fanny Hooe. When she emerged from it, her sins had been washed away.

She finally found new life.

🥕🥕🥕

Fanny Hooe by Anita Dawes

Last day of our holiday Dad said he’d like to drive to Lake Fanny Hooe.
After an hour’s drive, Tommy was still giggling about the name.

The lake was stunning, the bridge even more so.

Dad was here for the legend about the five kids who drowned after daring to jump from the bridge. Dad snapped away, hoping to catch a shot of them. Thing is he was missing the beauty.

The grape design on the bridge was so beautiful.

Tommy slipped his hand in mine. ‘I can hear them, Alice. They’re laughing as they jump from the bridge.’

🥕🥕🥕

A Daughter’s Love by Anurag Bakhshi

All I remember is my name — Fannie Hooe.

And that I’m looking for my Daddy.

Mommy told me that he was a soldier at Fort Wilkins, and I would recognize him if I ever met him.

I’ve met so many soldiers till now, but none of them is my Daddy.

I see another soldier walking past. He seems to be of just the right age.

“Daddyyyyy…” I call out to him.

He turns, starts walking towards me.

Now I just need to wait for him to drown in my waters before I can be sure if he’s my Daddy.

🥕🥕🥕

The Legend of Makwa-ikwe by Colleen Chesebro

They say Fannie Hooe drowned, but my daddy told me a different story. He said she didn’t drown, she transformed. After a bear mauled her and rolled her carcass down the hill to the beach to die, the Chippewa found her.

The Indians nursed her back to health. Daddy said she was deformed after the bear attack. The Indians didn’t care. To them, she was Bear Woman, *Makwa Ikwe.

Fannie fully integrated into their native society and became a powerful shaman. Her magic was very strong. I know, because she healed me, and I lived to tell this story.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Hooe by Frank Hubeny

Fannie disappeared and they searched for her around the lake. Jake went missing as well, but he often went missing. He would pop up again later. No one cared.

Fannie was someone special. She smiled at you and made you glad you were alive.

They searched for days until her sister told her good neighbors to stop. She declared that Fannie was gone.

She never returned except as mythic remembrance. It took them over two months to wonder why Jake hadn’t turned up either. Fannie’s sister suspected why but she let her silence give them a chance to escape.

🥕🥕🥕

Hiding by D. Avery

“They say.” The old woman rocked forward and hocked one off the front porch. “They say old women shouldn’t chew,” she cackled. “It’s unseemly. They say.”
She directed her sharp eyes at the young woman sitting on the step. “They say all number of things, made up things, hurtful things, say them as cowards, after you’ve turned your back on them. They can’t take a turned back; makes them wonder about themselves.”

“Great Aunt Fannie, they say you disappeared.”

Phwoot! She hocked another into the tall weeds. “Yes, they’ve always said that. Because they can’t explain me being here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lingering by Miriam Hurdle

“It’s a perfect day to walk in the wood, Dan.”

“Yes, good that you walk with me, Sally.”

“We can pick some blueberries.”

“Lovely ideas. You like making blueberries muffins, I like to eat.”

“Oh, look. A lady walking by herself.”

“She looks frantic, she must be lost.”

“Let’s find out.”

“Humm… She disappeared.”

“Oh, Dan, it was Fannie Hooe. Some people saw her. She’s still finding her way out of the wood.”

“I thought she returned to the family home in Virginia.”

“See that white house down the hill? She lived there. The light goes on and off.”

🥕🥕🥕

Tiny Fannie by Ashley Oh

Fannie tumbled downstairs to the same blueberry pancakes she’d eaten for forever because of the overproducing blueberry bush outside her house.

To change her breakfast fate, Fannie headed out to a nearby a lake, where her nose led her: a bush. Finding a pink, round berry, she picked it in curiosity and ate it. Suddenly, the sweetest, magical taste filled her mouth. Grabbing some more, she walked in, when suddenly, her body tingled head to toe.

Her grandma call out, “Fannie Hooe!”, and she frantically waved her hands, so she would notice her, but she just passed her by.

🥕🥕🥕

In The Shadow of Fannie Hooe by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know sweet FA, Logon.’

‘You know what FA means?’

‘FA? Eff All.’

‘Nope, it’s Fanny Adams, an eight year old murdered and dismembered in the 1860s.’

‘You’re a mine of irrelevancies. Why’s a dead girl come to mean Eff All?’

‘Navy slang. A euphemism. Navy introduced tinned meat. Sailors loathed it and said it must be the dead girl. Sweet Fanny Adams became sweet FA which then became another way of saying eff all.’

‘Like that Hungarian director… he said, ‘you think I know f**k nothing when I really know f**k all.’

‘You always lower the tone, Morgan.’

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Hooe by TNKerr

Grandma pointed at the faces in the photo one by one.

“That’s Bea, she was my mother. These here are her sisters; Beryl, Fannie, and Clint. Bea became an oilman’s wife and your great-grandma. Clint ran the ranch for as long as she could. Beryl taught at the schoolhouse. She was a teacher of mine when I was young, and Fannie – well Fannie disappeared up north. Some say she was a spy or an assassin. That her life caught up with her, others say she was a gambler; killed in a poker game at a saloon in Kewenaw.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Fanny Bay Butt, What If, Talks: Sponsored by the Fanny Bay Hysterical Society by Bill Engleson

“They say…”

“I bet they do,” she interrupts.

“As I was saying…they say a woman by the name of Fanny Hooe boarded a freighter in San Francisco sometime in the early 1920’s, disembarked at Victoria…and then took the train up Island to Fanny Bay.”

“So, our little Piglet was named after her?”

“Hamlet. Not Piglet.”

“Forgive me. Was it?”

“Named after her? No. The source of the name, Fanny Bay is murky. Nevertheless, most authorities agree that our…little community…was named long before she arrived.”

‘Did she stay?”

“No. Two days after arriving, she disappeared.”

“Ever found?”

“Not a trace.”

🥕🥕🥕

In Every Rumor by Sascha Darlington

Every rumor holds an inkling of truth. Or so they say.

I never intended to stay in Fort Wilkins. Once my sister had her baby, I’d return to Virginia and the life Jonas and I planned along the Potomac River.

“Miss Fanny, I wish you’d reconsider,” Frederick said.

“I’d loathe these Michigan winters,” I said, attempting to ease my way out.

“I would see to your every comfort.”

While pleasant on the surface, Frederick possessed a darkness I’d seen in men before, a ruthless persistence, which would not end well.

Only my sister knew the truth of my disappearance.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Who? By Ann Edall-Robson

I’m looking for information on Fannie Hooe.

Fannie who did what?

No, Fannie Hooe.

Like I said, Fannie who did what?

No, no! Her name was Fannie Hooe.

Round in circles we’re going on this one. Again, I ask, Fannie who did what? Unless you are willing to share more information than her first name, I can’t help you in your search for this person.

All I know is the name, Fannie Hooe.

Sorry, can’t help you.

Wait, you must, she was related to my grandpa’s wife and I need to find her.

What was her name?

Fannie Hooe!

🥕🥕🥕

Lucy Frances by D. Avery

The summer of ’44? That’s when I visited my brother and my sister out in that God forsaken place. Their eyes shone like copper when they spoke of the Kewenaw, but I couldn’t wait to leave. The summer bugs were fiercer than the bears and wolves. Can you just imagine the winters up there?

I had enough of wilderness, and I had enough of my brother and sister who insisted on calling me, a grown woman of seventeen years, by my childhood appellation.

Let them go west and keep going. I returned East to civilization, happily became Mrs. White.

🥕🥕🥕

Grandma Fannie by Charli Mills

Grandma Sarah rocked with restraint as we drank mint water over chipped ice, a luxury in 1870s Virginia, especially after the War. Grandpa Hooe was a Union officer, commissioned in the wilds of Michigan. Grandma told stories about how they met at Fort Wilkins the year she stayed with her sister. She told me how her nickname was the same as mine – Fannie.

“My bonnet blew off, and your grandfather swore he was bedazzled by the sun on my blond hair.”

All the men from the garrison courted her, but she left the wilds with Grandpa as Fannie Hooe.

🥕🥕🥕

History’s Full Circle by H.R.R. Gorman

Fannie patted off the birthing fluids with clean linen and magically peered into the boy’s eyes. She shivered and examined his future. This boy, born in a fort, was destined soon to die in a fort.

She handed the child to his mother and ran out into the woods. She cried, “Why bring this boy into the world for such suffering?”

The entire company of the fort looked for her, but she returned at her own pace.

She moved to Virginia where her vision directed. In twenty years, Fannie Hooe comforted a dying young man in a Union fort.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Hooe by oneletterup

“Let them think I’m out picking blueberries!”

Fannie’s mind raced as she ran through the woods; not noticing her long dress catching on low branches. Leaving a fabric trail.

“Fannie this Fannie that. Do they think I’m just a servant? I’m mighty tired of taking care of everyone.” She dreaded going back to Virginia. And she loved it here near Fort Wilkins. Beautiful and calm.

“The lake! There it is!” She smiled. Sweat dripped from her face.

“FANNY HOOE!”

Thornton must be looking for her, but she didn’t care.

It was so hot and the water was so close.

🥕🥕🥕

The Hero’s Wife by Anne Goodwin

They hailed him a hero, she called him a fool. Someone had to save the kid, he said.

Maybe, but why you?

She couldn’t look at him at dinner. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t watch the evening news, took herself to bed. But even with her eyes screwed tight, she saw him, grinning, dripping lake water on the shore.

Later, he found her, let her cry in his arms. I’m sorry, he said, I didn’t think. Dived right in.

Why should he think? He never met her father, the hero dead before her teens.

Rescuing a girl from drowning. Fannie Hooe.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie’s New Family by Di @ pensitivity101

Fannie’s game of hide’n’seek had gone sour, and now she was alone in the dark having fallen asleep in her hiding place.

She heard breathing behind her, and turned to see a wolf looking at her quizzically.

She reached out her hand to stroke it, and the animal backed off slightly, but didn’t run away.

She started to shiver, and the wolf came closer, lying down beside her and wrapping her in its warmth. Fannie wasn’t afraid, and curled up against its belly, falling asleep again almost immediately.

When she awoke, she was somewhere else, but she didn’t mind.

🥕🥕🥕

Fanny Who? by Anisha Jain

All of them call the old Japanese woman by the lake crazy. But she’s the only one who knows the truth.

They say Fannie Hooe was the daughter in law of an officer at Fort Wilkins who disappeared mysteriously, either eaten by a bear or abducted by a tribal.

But only she knows the truth. Fannie was a Jorogumo — a shape-shifting spider from Japanese folklore, who’d turn into a seductress and lure young men to the lake, playing her flute before drowning and dining on them.

No one believes the old Japanese woman, who used to be her teacher.

🥕🥕🥕

Frannie’s Disappearance by Nancy Brady

Frannie Hooe disappeared one starry night. What happened to her was pure conjecture, and yet only Tillie knew the real story behind her disappearance. First off, it must be stated that Frannie was an adventurous young woman. Most people weren’t aware of her wild proclivities; frankly, they considered her a mouse—meek, mild, and well mannered. A real milquetoast, but that wasn’t the case at all. Her imagination took her everywhere. Paris to Marrakesh to Rio to London to Singapore and beyond, she traveled the world in her dreams. Until the night, while stargazing, she was abducted by aliens.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wrong Choice by Robbie Cheadle

She was born with a caul. Her mother carefully removed it, dried it and gave it to her brother, a sailor, before he set sail for the Caribbean.

“Take this,” she said, “it will keep you safe from drowning.” The young man appreciated her thought and tucked the wrinkled brown piece of skin into his Bible.

How was Fannie’s mother to know that she was the one who needed the caul. She was the one who would set off on an adventure and be lost in the cold, blue water of the lake. The lake was named after her.

🥕🥕🥕

“Ariel’s Island: Prologue” by Saifun Hassam

Clouds turned deep indigo in the fading light of the setting sun. The last slivers of sunlight shot up through pinholes in the towering cumulus clouds.

Fannie Hooe was aboard the passenger ship The Rosalinda, sailing from the Carolinas to Bermuda. As a novelist and poet she was entranced by the intensifying storm. But the ship’s officers had ordered everyone to remain in their cabins.

Gale force winds buffeted the ship. As darkness descended, a thunderous boom echoed through The Rosalinda, churning in surging, seething waves. In the next instant, Fannie and the ship sank deeper into the ocean.

🥕🥕🥕

Selkie Mom by Wallie and Friend

Annie always wondered why great-grandmother never insisted on the truth. She wondered why the old woman allowed the legend to persist, when the twists to the story were often so lurid.

Then one day as she sat listening to her husband talk to their little daughter, she realized.

“And that’s how I met your mother,” he said. “I told the selkie king I couldn’t live without her. And he saw that it was true. That coat in the closet there, that’s her selkie coat.”

Annie listened to the little girl’s awe. And for the first time, she understood great-grandmother.

🥕🥕🥕

The Talisman by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She held the rock to her lips. Copper and silver shone where her fingers caressed.

For a moment, Gichi-gami rolls beneath this secure Virginia town. A birchbark canoe glides through a long inner lake, a steady plash of paddles dip into dark water. Her strong shoulders stretch in delicious ache of the final reach and scrape to rocky shore.

Two friends part, a talisman given. What had she gifted her?

“Mama! Come tuck us in.”

“Fannie! Where are my silver cufflinks?”

Slipping the stone into her pocket–all her dresses had pockets—she turned away from the gaslit street.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Who by kate @ aroused

The child was born with a lisp so we kindly indulged his impediment by copying his adaptions. R’s and w’s were particularly difficult to pronounce so Muriel became Mooel, Frances became Fannie, and Howe became Hooe.

He’d quickly become attached to Fannie who was a plain but pleasant young lady visiting her sister in Kenenaw before she gave birth. So when Fannie went missing the child could be heard wailing Fannie Hooe, Fanny Hooe.

But Molly, the wise one, had watched the rapport build between Fannie and the local chief’s son. Unacceptable to either race she had silently vanished.

🥕🥕🥕

Legend or Truth by Susan Sleggs

“Dad’s taking us to Fannie Hooe Lake in upper Michigan for a week this summer. He wants to visit Fort Wilkins. Says that he had a relative stationed there years ago.”

“That should be interesting. I wonder how the lake got a ladies name.”

“Legend is she drowned in it, but Dad’s family story is she ran off with a gambler. She was so wild her parents were thankful so they gave her dowry money to the town fathers who had to agree to never tell the truth. The money was used to build store-front board walks.”

“That’s funny.”

🥕🥕🥕

Paparazzi by Reena Saxena

Fannie Hooe came and disappeared in a flash, leaving tales behind.

The paparazzi failed to notice that her sister’s child was not seen after that. Her sister was a single woman, and soon left town, but nobody enquired about the father.

In fact, it should have been about the mother of her child. Fannie Hooe was a celebrity, and her sister had agreed for surrogacy. They had planned to be as discreet as possible, but Fannie’s fame followed her.

Now, the media says that a look-alike had visited the old, dilapidated township to get photographed and create a flutter.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Hooe: Michigan Auto Workers by Peregrine Arc

“We gonna get some overtime, you think?” Earl asked, pulling on his coat.

“Only if they can pay us for it. Otherwise–could be lean times!” a second worker proclaimed.

“We survived the recession, right?” Earl insisted. “It can’t be that bad. What do you think, Fannie? You’ve been here longer than any of us.”

“I’ve seen Michigan get through harder times yet,” Fannie said. “But right now, we’ve all got warm homes to get to. Let’s go!”

🥕🥕🥕

Any Who by D. Avery

“Hoo-wee, Pal, Shorty’s give us a tough one.”

“How’s that?”

“Fannie Hooe.”

“Fannie who?”

“Fannie Hooe. How’m I ta write ‘bout this Fannie?”

“Yer writin’ ‘bout yer fanny?”

“Hooe! Fannie Hooe!”

“Jeez, Kid, yer practic’ly yodelin’. Is it a hootenanny yer writin’ ‘bout?”

“No! Fannie Hooe. An historical figure up there in Copper Country, so they say.”

“An’ I figger yer hysterical, Kid. Jist spin a story.”

“Any clues ‘bout Fannie Hooe?”

“Well, if’n they named a lake after her she musta made quite an impression.”

“I hear tell she brought smoked bacon ta Copper Country.”

“Ya don’t say.”

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fences

What do you do with a broken fence? You could mend it, tear it down, or let it be. It seems that broken fences have much to say about the human condition and relationships.

Writers wrote along the fence line this week, seeking repairs or reasons to fill their stories.

The following are based on the July 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence.

PART I (10-minute read)

Write On Buckaroo Nation by D. Avery

“Aussie!”

“Kid, why’re you sketchin’? That was last week.”

“Thought I’d sketch the Ranch. For perspective. Look, not a fence in sight.”

“I see it that way too Kid. Free range.”

“That’s right, free range! Where ever the prompts lead! No boundaries!”

“While I appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm Kid, there’re always boundaries.”

“What d’ya mean, Aussie?”

“You’re free to range about, explore and express yourself, but within the bounds of societal norms.”

“Oh. Maybe we oughtta fence out the new normal.”

“No Kid, let’s see what comes and goes as we all range freely.”

“Good ideas Aussie! Good ideas.”

🥕🥕🥕

I Threw a Shoe by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She sits on the highway’s gravel shoulder, rubbing her sore, unshod feet. The sun presses hard on her head and shoulders.

She roots through her backpack, amazed at all the crap picked up on her journey, and pushes it away, disgusted; had she truly traveled so far without a sip of water on hand?

She waves to her children, galloping down the same road she’d traveled all her life. Colleagues also pass, clomping by in their own heavy shoes.

She rises, scenting sustenance in free-flowing water and her real tribe, just through that busted gate and across the meadow.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wood’s Wet and Rough by Papershots

A wooden fence. The end of the path? The wood’s rough and wet. The fence’s small, no, hold on, it’s broken. There’s a plaque – cold, steel – then the hand drops. Go back. It says something. Not in your language, though. And friends have always been teasing for trying. For what? “It’s not like you can read “our” books!” Did they shake their heads? Skeptics do that.

E… n..t.. r…a.nce – s.. i.. gn… – f..or.. – e..qu.. i..n.e… – f.. a ..c..ili.ti. es..

There’s more. Will it explain why it’s broken?

S..t..a..bles – f…a..rms –

The mind gets there before the hand.

T..r..a.i..ning.

🥕🥕🥕

Frayed by Sherri Matthews

Exhaustion seeps through me like melting lead. I feel older than my years, stretched too thin like frayed rope. Tie another knot. Maybe it will hold a little longer. Or maybe it will slip and come undone. There is no more space to fill with let-me-help-you. I wander, aimlessly, from one broken fence to another, and my helplessness mocks me in the scrape of splintered wood against my skin. Bleed, then. Stick me again, and again I will bleed. Then I will cuss and rage and come to life, and I will wield my hammer and nails and rebuild.

🥕🥕🥕

Resilience by Anurag Bakhshi

Charli fell on her knees with her head held in her hands and let out a loud, piercing wail.

The fence was broken, and so were all her dreams, hopes, and aspirations. All the horses bolted….not a single one left.

All her hard work…all that waiting…it had all been for nothing. Her life was over…for good.

But then, she took a deep breath and shook her head violently.

No, she would not allow despair to overpower her spirit. She would find another ranch, and prove to everyone that there was no rustler better than her.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by David Wesley Woolverton

He should have been a writer or a con artist. He should never have been both. Being both meant spending too much time in fantasy, losing ground in reality. Now the consequences were beginning to show.

“I don’t have a sister. Wait, I do.”

The fence that should separate lies from the truth was breaking down.

“Or maybe she was a cousin. How many of those did I say I had?”

He mentally flipped through the reference book of his characters, then realized that was the wrong place and tried a family album, then realized the album was forged.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by M J Mallon @ Kyrosmagica

The stony-faced agents sat together in neat chairs, tables locked, faces fixed with false smiles.

As I approached, I imagined an insurmountable stone fence, groaning under the weight of their nervousness and my self-doubt.

My eyes locked on my chosen agent. She gestured to me to come over. I feared nothing could save me but as I spoke the stones tumbled down leaving me with an open gateway, an opportunity to shine.

I grabbed my pitch and went for it, galloping over my doubts. The fence of agents lay in tatters, but my idea was met with cheers.

🥕🥕🥕

Good Neighbor by Sarah Whiley

What miscreant has been here? I wondered, inspecting the damage to the fence.

I was not at all, properly attired, and looked about, seeing if there was anyone who could assist.

Nope. It was just me.

I considered my freshly polished shoes, crisply starched white pants, and my lace detailed silk shirt, and huffed.

I did not need this today, not one bit, I cursed.

Part of me was tempted, to just walk by; pretend I had never seen it. But I couldn’t abandon my responsibilities.

As they say, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

So I got to work.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken with Intent by Norah Colvin

The fence was too high to jump or even see over, no footholds to climb, and palings too close to squeeze or even peer through. It hugged the soil too compacted to dig. It seemed impenetrable, and so intrigued. He stacked boxes for makeshift steps—not high enough. Finally, he hatched a plan—balloons! He blew them big and tied them tight, attached some string, and waited. And waited. Then a gust of wind lifted him high, over the fence, where another, just like him, smiled and said, “Should’ve used the gate; latch is broken—always open to friends.”

🥕🥕🥕

Reckon You’re My Neighbor by Chelsea Owens

Windstorms were frequent visitors to the valley; at least, they had been as long as Beck’s and Kirk’s families remembered. The only thing more frequent than wind, in fact, was their petty neighbor disputes:

Kirk called the police on Beck for some fireworks.

Beck’s wife blamed Kirk’s kids for broken gate slats.

And everyone said Kirk’s dog was just plain yappy.

But the day after the panel blew down between their yards, Beck showed up, right at Kirk’s door. “Reckon you could use a hand with that there rotten post,” was all he said.

And they got to work.

🥕🥕🥕

We Survived by Patrick O’Connor

The wind howled.

Rain came down almost sideways.

Shutters rattled.

Lightning came closer by the minute.

Day became night.

We left to find shelter in our storm cellar. Tornado sirens had been going off for several minutes.

Suddenly, the sirens stopped; but we could hear the wind whipping all around. The pressure change made our ears pop.

Finally, the winds subsided. We waited a few more minutes and then cautiously came out of our hideaway.

Looking around at the devastation, we were happy to be alive.

But – all that was left of our house was a sad, broken fence.

🥕🥕🥕

After the Storm by Saifun Hassam

Diamante and the villagers were stunned at the destruction along the beach. Logs from miles of broken fence were strewn along the sandy cliffs and dunes. The wood piers and fences, strong and sturdy in years past, were no match for the stormy winds of last night.

Inland, the terraced fields of barley and wheat had been flattened. Somehow, the living fences of hedgerows and cedar and pine groves had weathered the storm and sheltered the olive and peach trees.

Diamante prayed at the ancient temple, amid the broken pillars and urns and uprooted plants, for courage to rebuild.

🥕🥕🥕

“Perfection” by katimac

She sits cross-legged on the tumbledown wall in the overgrown lot waiting for the sunrise. The lot is surrounded by a picket fence, grown gray with age. She’s watched the sun beam through the one missing picket to the east as it’s crept across the lot, closer and closer to where she’s currently perched, like an elf on a shelf.

Today’s the day sunlight reaches it. No time until it shows in her missing slat. She adjusts her butt on the wall and raises her camera to her eye. The blaze ignites in her lens and her eye. Perfection.

🥕🥕🥕

Hidden Garden by Kerry E.B. Black

Erin swung the two loose boards of the fencing and scampered beneath, heedless of the dirt grinding into her knees and palms. She shouldn’t enter this yard any more than an errant Peter Rabbit should raid Mr. MacGregor’s garden, but something about the forbidden draws the adventurous spirit. Once she discovered the accessibility of the fence and that it was just her size, she couldn’t resist.

She hunkered beneath a hydrangea to take in the scene. The old lady’s yard outdid any park Erin had ever seen, with fragrant swaths of flowers surrounding bizarre statues. Why did she hide it away?

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fence by Frank Hubney

The Fredericks bought Adkins Estate with farmhouse, barn, and sheds. The farm maintained itself from land rentals to local farmers. There was also a notorious fence separating it from ancient Indian burial grounds.

That’s why they bought it. They planned to rent rooms to people wanting to spend the night in a haunted house.

They repaired the buildings but broke the fence to make it look spookier. They called their website “Visit Fredericks’ Freaky Ghost House.”

Many rented rooms and left five-star reviews until it became known that after changes to the fence, the ghosts no longer felt welcome.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fence: by The Dark Netizen

The fence to her house lay broken. The petulant old woman looked out from the window.

The townsfolk always thought that the house was haunted. They absolutely believed that the old woman was a witch who knew all kinds of sorcery. She welcomed their superstition. She loved her peace and knew that fear kept all the annoying people away from her property. At least, it had managed to until today. Today, some teenagers had broken her fence, trying to show-off.

She removed her pen and wrote their names in her black book. Stupid teenagers.
Her fearful legend would expand, tonight…

🥕🥕🥕

In-Between by Wallie and Friend

The fence had stood between them since they were children. When she was little, Emmy peeked between the slats. She made up stories about the secretive boy-next-door. She decided he was magic.

In her teens, Emmy was still making up stories. Joey wasn’t a fairy or an elf anymore. He was an idiot. The nights they spent fighting over the telephone only to make up the next day, leaning over the fence.

When she came home from college, the fence was broken. Mom told her it was the storm. Seeing Joey waiting for her, Emmy couldn’t have agreed more.

🥕🥕🥕

The Yellow Flower by Susan Sleggs

I was a reservist in Iraq, where everything inside and out of our barbed wire compound was sand colored, including the hazy air. One morning there was an unfamiliar excited buzz in the conversations. The words flower and yellow were prevalent. I listened for details. During the day I made it to the south side of the compound, where outside the fence, sprouting out of a pile of leftover razor sharp wire was a sorry excuse for vegetation. The weed wasn’t even green, but it had the most beautiful yellow flower on top. Hope growing out of the dust.

🥕🥕🥕

The Short Way by Eric Pone

Suzie and Sue made their way along the fence perimeter owned by the Jamison Cartel in Columbia. Suzie was intent in her search.

“What are you looking for?” Sue in a whispered voice.

“There is always a broken section in a fence. And its always out of the way. Be patient love.”

Around the bend, they found the break. A broken section of fence with paint long since withered. Suzie thumb her comm.

“Found a break target acquisition in one hour.” She said.

“Roger That! Standing By” came the reply from Ginger playing sniper and their cover 2200 meters away.

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

Broken Fence by Anita Dawes

Late one night after having a skin full, dad drove through Mrs Mack’s front garden.

Breaking the fence was bad enough, but he took out her favourite roses too.

Dad said he was sorry, that he would fix the fence first thing.

Mum brought roses, but there was no answer when she knocked on the door. She left the roses on the step but watched to see if her friend would take them in.

They died where mum left them.

After a week, mum told us that some fences cannot be mended. That she had lost her best friend…

🥕🥕🥕

Matter of Time by oneletterup

Damn her.

His hand hurt like hell. She’d broken the skin.

Blood smeared onto the bed as he pulled himself up.

Damn her.

He stumbled out the open back door into the yard.

He lit a cigarette and growled…”I know you’re out here. It’s just a matter of time.”

Moonlight reflected off the chicken wire on the old split rail fence. The entire yard surrounded. And overgrown.

He smiled and spoke…”You Know There’s No Way Out.”

Then he noticed it. Mangled wire. Rotted wood in pieces. An opening.

A broken fence had ruined everything.

She was gone.

🥕🥕🥕

The Broken Fence by Rosemary Carlson

Every morning when she took her walk, she passed beside an old, weathered board fence. It didn’t seem to hold anything. No horses, no other livestock, not even a house. Every third or fourth board was missing.

She didn’t know why she came this way. She thought of her family each time she saw that old fence. The family that didn’t want her anymore. The family that was gone that had left her alone. The family that didn’t care now.

Her feelings for them were gone. They’d slipped away like the wind slipped through the gaps in the fence.

🥕🥕🥕

Horses Have Greater Value (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Blast it you duck-billed buffalo!” Cobb lunged at the stock handler.

Despite his injuries, Hickok dodged the charging man better than the bear that tore him up. “It weren’t me,” he said, confronting his angry boss.

“That busted fence didn’t happen on its own accord,” Cobb growled, pointing to the corral empty of horses.

“No Sir, pert sure it didn’t. Found it that way before you showed up. Recon’ Dock rode out after ‘em.”

“Then quit idling and get after that herd!”

Hickok sighed and set out on foot, his left arm hanging as useless at the fence post.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fences: Realised Dreams by Ritu Bhathal

Many an afternoon, I’d sit there, peering through the gap in our broken fence.

It was like a portal to another world.

I’d see them all laughing, playing together, running around freely.

Oh, to be able to laugh openly with friends.

Laughter was in short supply here since my Daddy died, and that new Father had arrived.

He didn’t want no brats running around the place. It was bad enough I existed.

To escape the prison that our home had become, I’d come and sit here.

For the first time in years, my Mummy seemed happy.

I didn’t complain.

🥕🥕🥕

Old Hickson by Bill Engleson

I would’ve come home anyways that summer. There was the job at the mill. This was in the days when a few months work could pay for a full year of edumacation.

So, when mom called and said old Hickson had up and died, I knew there’d be a new layer of remembering.

He was always the old guy next door. On the other side of our fence.

His fence, really.

As a kid, I avoided looking over.

But one year, I was fourteen, I saw the way he looked at me.

The lonely old bugger.

And I knew.

🥕🥕🥕

The Fence by Nandini Jain (Dexterous Writer)

Mocked by the people of the village, those stereotypes scoffed her determination by saying,”what can a girl do?”

To express their rage, they break the fence of their house.

Years later, Sitting beside the banyan tree the proud mother used to stare at the broken fence surrounding the house. When asked, “why don’t you mend it?” She replies,” It reminds me of the force and energy my daughter applied to fly above high, accomplish the goals, chase her dreams and these broken wooden planks remind these stereotypical evil minds that a mighty heart and liberal mind can do wonders!

🥕🥕🥕

The Seagulls’ Fence by magnoliajem

The falling slat startled the roosting seagulls.

“Whadaya doin’, Tommy? Supposed to be mendin’ fence, not breakin’.”

“Damn gulls don’t belong this far inland.”

“They’s travellers. Sea in the morning. Eat. Home here at night.”

“Yeah? They need-a keep goin’ ‘stead-a shittin’ all over granpaw’s fence.”

“Breakin’ the fence ain’t gonna stop ’em from comin’ here, long as that compost sits there.”

“Why? Y’jus’ said they eat at sea.”

“Oh, they’s always lookin’ for food. Don’t always have a taste for fish.”

“We’ll see ’bout that. They need-a leave.”

With compost moved and covered, gulls left. Fence got mended.

🥕🥕🥕

A Gift by Susan Sleggs

“Grandpa, there’s a round green thing growing out back by the broken fence.”

“There is? We better take a look.”

After a slow painful walk, Grandpa said, “I’d say that’s going to be a pumpkin.”

“Can we keep it?”

“Rightly it belongs to the neighbors. It’s their vine coming through the hole.”

“Let’s not tell them.”

“Would that be right?”

“No, but can we wait till it gets big so I can watch it grow?”

“No harm in that.”

A few weeks later they found a note near the big, almost orange pumpkin, “It’s yours. Carve it for Halloween.”

🥕🥕🥕

[trade] by Deb Whittam

The call came in at 2am, waking him from a dream featuring babes dousing their bodies with sunscreen.

For five minutes he had listened to the caller, to their heartbreak and woe … then once he had appeased them, he had booked it in.

It was going to cost him more in time and money than it was worth but there wasn’t any alternative.

When you’re a fencing contractor, and a loose paling comes off at Grandma’s house, you answer the call.

He sighed, then rolled over, perhaps he would catch the babes as they jumped into the pool.

🥕🥕🥕

Emotional Barricades by JulesPaige

Clark could only imagine how his daughter felt. Mainly because he never asked. Then her thick letter arrived. He’d never had the opportunity to answer her questions before. It was about time he mended those fences with truth, even if it was just from his vantage point. Then he died.

While cleaning out Clark’s paperwork, his third wife found the letters relating memories that she selfishly couldn’t cope with. So, she trashed them.

Years later the wife, in a conversation filled with anger, told the daughter what she did. Thus, creating a new unmendable fence cementing their shaky relationship.

🥕🥕🥕

Mend that Fence! by floridaborne

A finger pointed at my middle-aged sister, I yelled out, “I hate you!”

“Why?”  She asked.

“All I ever heard from mom was, ‘Jane is so smart.  Jane is in the honors society.’  She never loved me!”

“All I ever heard was, ‘Susan is so creative!  Why can’t you be creative, too?’  I was never good enough for her!”

We stared at mirrored eyes reflecting the same story.  Mom didn’t believe in praise, only correction.  I was the first to say, “Let’s mend this fence!”

We became sisters that day, choosing our mother’s nursing home a few months later.

🥕🥕🥕

Grandpa’s Fence by Teresa Grabs

It was just an old wooden fence out back on my Grandpa’s property. Nothing to look at, nothing special. Every summer we took a bucket of whitewash out there and painted the fence. Time passed, and when I was thirteen, I refused to go visit. Hadn’t spoken to him in fifteen years. Not until the day Grandma died. I wasn’t invited to the funeral. It hurt, but I knew why. I left the family. I drove all night to get there on time. When he came home, I had the bucket of whitewash ready to mend our broken fence.

🥕🥕🥕

Family Rift by Di @ pensitivity101

The Gap was like a hole in a fence, patched but forever failing.

‘The strength is in the surrounding support,’ the experts said.

Support indeed, carrying, lifting, holding, protecting, but still, The Gap remained.

In desperation, the family closed ranks, thinking erroneously they were helping by providing shelter and respite.

Their unity failed too as the recipient felt trapped, claustrophobic, judged, restricted and stifled, rebelling in anger, spite and bitterness.

So it was agreed to leave The Gap alone, maintain the remainder and leave the open wound to heal or fester. Time would tell and they would be waiting.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fence by Lady Lee Manila

This used to be our garden
We ran, spun and had fun
The old oak tree by the fence
Now the fence is broken and shun

We were brash and made lots of pretense
Quite rambunctious, please no offense
Running till we were all breathless
Between all of us, we had sixpence

The gate used to creak, no fuss
Playing hide and seek with us
Outside until we were tanned
The world was vast, was bonus

This used to be our dreamland
Played everywhere and the sand
We grew up fast, world expand
This was our fence, always grand

🥕🥕🥕

Crossover by Reena Saxena

Jamie Patel had just recovered from a stroke, but was asking for all forbidden foods since morning.

“Let’s celebrate, kids! I guess I survived to only see this day.”

His daughter-in-law faced redundancy in the office, and did not take kindly to his remark. He continued at a high pitch, sensing her mood,

“Check your portfolio. You can bid goodbye to that job of yours. Nifty has crossed the psychological barrier of 10000 today. The only way goes up.”

Jamie was the oldest broker of Dalal Street, and had seen humble beginnings. He had reached the summer of 2017.

🥕🥕🥕

Balancing the Butts by Geoff Le Pard

‘What are you doing, Morgan?’

‘Mending a fence.’

‘Who have you annoyed now?’

‘That’s a stupid expression, Logan. How does ‘mending a fence’ resolve a dispute? If you mend a fence, aren’t you just re-erecting some barrier?’

‘What if the fence is keeping something important in or dangerous out? Mending it would restore the balance.’

‘You know, the only reason you’d ever mend the bloody fence is to sit on it.’

‘There are times when you’re like a fence, Morgan.’

‘How so?’

‘If I spend much time with either of you, you both become a pain in the butt.’

🥕🥕🥕

Strong and Stable by Anne Goodwin

Some party! Guests hurled abuse across a bifurcating fence. But Theresa would get them dancing and use the wooden panels to erect a different fence. Strong and stable to keep the rabble out.

Sipping champagne, she waited for the guest of honour at the porticoed door. Behind her, the factions hollered, whacking each other with bits of broken fence. Theresa’s smile was equally wooden. Just high spirits, she’d tell the POTUS, when he finally arrived. Where was he?

She turned, flinching at the wreckage as Boris shook Donald’s hand. He’d certainly made an entrance, bulldozed through her precious fence.

🥕🥕🥕

A Fence by kate @ aroused

Many build fences to keep others out … boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.
Others build fences to keep loved ones and livestock in, wandering off considered a sin

Fences are constructed of various materials, some attractive others more practical but their purpose is clear to all. Demarcation their vocational call.

Gates can be kept tightly locked, under guard or opened to those of like mind.
But don’t be fooled by those gates coz some are real unkind!

Some mend fences while others are keen to tear them down.
What are your fences for … solicit smiles or a frown?

🥕🥕🥕

Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall by D. Avery

“En guarde, Pal!”

“Put that dang thing away Kid.”

“Foiled again. But Shorty says we’re to fence.”

“We’re ta mend fences Kid.”

“Oh. Didn’t know we had a problem Pal.”

“We’re fixin’ fences ‘round the Ranch.”

“What’s that fence there do, keep the garden from strayin’?”

“Keeps critters out.”

“What about that fence? That keep critters out?”

“No, that one keeps the cattle in, keeps ‘em from strayin’.”

“Oh. Like if they reckon they’s greener pastures on the other side a the fence.”

“Yep.”

“Seems like they’s two sides, in and out.”

“Yep.”

“Seems like that could give offense.”

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons

Buttons hold memories of mothers and grandmothers. They hold space for the unexpected links between life and death. They call for silence, to button up, or to relax and loosen a button.

Writers followed where the buttons led.

The following is based on the July 5, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes buttons.

PART I (10-minute read)

Idiomatic, No? by Chesea Owens

Who’s got the clasp; did they ask for the
Touch of a buckle? My knuckles are
Right on the hook, yet they look so
Bright as a catch and they’re snatched since becoming that
Cute as a zipper, so chipper.
Push my Velcro; I don’t know who’d
Press the panic fastener. The last nerd?
Well, bust my stud, ’twas a dud and
Belly lacing was encasing them all.

Yet

Knob pusher was shusher; he’d
Hasp up, the yup. I say:
Pin it, don’t win it; and
Snap your lip for the trip.

It’s a

Hot clip issue, you see.

🥕🥕🥕

Magic by Kay Kingsley

Her mother’s button box was beautiful and long with a brown paisley silk cover. The clasp was small and silver, perfect for her young fingers, the interior a soft satin pink, a suitable home for magic buttons.

And they were to her, at least. For hours she crouched on the floor beneath her mother’s sewing machine ordering them from big to small, shiny to matte, translucent to black.

It wasn’t until she was older that she realized maybe it wasn’t the buttons that were magic but the uninterrupted time she spent in her mother’s presence.

How she missed her.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Anita Dawes

When I was five years old, I loved my rag doll with her blue pearly buttons for her eyes. I took her everywhere with me.

One day the eyes went missing. My brother Tommy had taken them for his shirt and I went mad trying to get them back.

Mum said she would buy new buttons for Tommy’s shirt and sew my ragdolls eyes back on again, but somehow she never got around to it.

On my 90th birthday, my granddaughter put two blue pearl buttons inside my card and had written. “Now your ragdoll can see you again…”

🥕🥕🥕

Pushing Buttons by Jack Schuyler

Tommy loved to push his sister’s buttons. The more he did it, the easier it became. Before, it took gum in her hair or garlic in her milk. Now, even the slightest sideways look could send her into a funk.

Tommy bulged his eyes and sucked in his cheeks. She glanced his way with a frown, but failed to catch his fishy face before it disappeared.

Tommy pulled back his lips and stuck out his tongue. This time she caught him.

“Tommy!” she wailed. Then she made her own face. It was red and tight and wrought with temper.

🥕🥕🥕

Precious as Gold by Norah Colvin

Two lads, reviewing the previous evening’s campfire conversation, dug stones from the bank, inspected each and competed to land one further in the creek.

“D’ya reckon there’s still gold here?”

“Dad says. Reckons someone found one this big.”

“But that’s ages ago.”

“So. Might be more.”

“What’d you do if you found some?”

“Easy. Buy a car, a yacht and a jet. How ‘bout you?”

He contemplated silently—a house of their own first, then for other homeless people too.

“Whoa. Look!”

“Gold!”

They sprinted back to camp.

“You struck gold all right—a gold button,” the adults laughed.

🥕🥕🥕

Sadie’s Rescue by JulesPaige

The catalog provided a masterful display in the brevity of its pages. Satin edged sheets and pillow cases in a rainbow of colors, that one only needed money to buy.

She created her illusions and dreams with empathy and finesse. Knowing that any Cri De Coeur would never be heard by a real lover.

The central heat had been disconnected. The nostrum she had made to ease her chills would shatter like every other frozen pipe – Cold fingers rested on the gold tone buttons of her wool coat… Thankfully, the new neighbors weren’t afraid to check on old neighbors.

🥕🥕🥕

Button(s) by Deepika

Granny Ruth made the best cookies in the world. They were sweet, crunchy and filled with chocolate chips. Alice was staying at her grand-mother’s place for the holidays, and though she already had her share of cookies for the day, she wanted more. She had seen a cookie box on a table in Granny Ruth’s room, so she tiptoed in and tried to reach the box, pushing from the sides, for the box was too far from the edge of the table. The box fell and all she found were buttons, small, big, patterned and flower-shaped instead of cookies.

🥕🥕🥕

Full by Sarah Whiley

I placed my knife and fork together gently on the plate, and wiped my mouth with the fine linen napkin. I leant back in the chair and sighed a deep, contented breath.

As I exhaled, I felt uncomfortable pressure – my pants, digging into my rotund belly. I furtively glanced around the restaurant, sure that no one was watching, reached down and popped open the top button.

Out of nowhere, I heard a voice.

“Everything ok ma’am?” a waitress asked, as she cleared my empty plate. She looked pointedly at my stomach.

“Oh, yes,” I laughed, embarrassed, “Just full!”

🥕🥕🥕

“Winged Tiger” by Saifun Hassam

Outside the log cabin, Joey gazed at the groves of tall conifers in the early morning sunlight. A pair of great yellow eyes, like enormous buttons, studied him from the dense thick branches of a towering pine tree. The next moment a great horned owl rose into the clear skies like a winged tiger.

With trembling hands, Joey focused his camera. His right eye blurred with grateful tears. His left eye was damaged by a tumor. In his mind’s eye he saw the tiger owl. In his heart he was certain he would create wood carvings and engravings again.

🥕🥕🥕

Reluctant Hero by kate @ aroused

Fastening that top button on my shirt was a struggle in more ways than one. This was never planned or wanted. Yet Gladys looked so radiant in her outfit, I hadn’t seen that glow since she had the kids.

Knowing how much this meant to her was the boost I needed to continue. The kids couldn’t be here but they would see the video. Expected when they all live in different countries.

Seemed wrong to get an AO just because I did my job. Besides two of our unit didn’t make it home, so the mission wasn’t really successful.

🥕🥕🥕

The Doting Grandma by Anurag Bhakshi

Sitting alone in her ramshackle cottage, the old lady grumbled as she sewed torn buttons back onto a shirt.

“Boys these days,” she mumbled in frustration, “they fight like raccoons, and it is we who have to suffer.”

Her rickety fingers were not as nimble as they used to be, and the needle was looking blurred through her cataract-ridden eyes, but she’d promised this very shirt to her grandson, so she soldiered on.

If only,” she sighed, “that boy Ivan had allowed me to eat him peacefully, I would’ve gotten his shirt ready for my Baby Yaga ages ago.”

🥕🥕🥕

Selfishness: A Room of Her Own by magnoliajem

She softly closed her bedroom door, easing the doorknob lock into place. Silently, she slid open the top drawer. Gently pushing aside the pile of socks and undies, she carefully reached under the little shelf holding a jumble of wayward buttons, Girl Scout pins, and badges waiting to be sewn onto her sash. Pulling out the little pink book, she inserted the tiny gold key and sighed. “Dear Diary: Why do I feel so guilty, sneaking to be alone in my own room? I just want to write … ”

Behind her, Mother burst in. “So that’s where you hide it!”

🥕🥕🥕

Big and Shiny by Robert Kirkendall

“Now listen here, swine!” Claude bellowed with inflated self importance. “Now that I’ve put in charge of this department things are going to be different! There will be order!”

The employees looked at him blankly.

“First rule, my cubicle is off limits! Nobody enters my territory! Nobody messes with my stuff! You will respect my authority!”

The employees rushed Claude, tackled him, knocked down all his cubicle walls, overturned his desk, scattered his paperwork, and threw his laptop out the window.

“If you don’t anyone to push your buttons,” an employee reminded, “don’t make them so big and shiny.”

🥕🥕🥕

In Which Morgan Questions The Basic Requirements Of A President by Geoff La Pard

‘It’s not stupid, Morgan. It’s very real. It has a name. Koumpounophobia.’

‘Cool. Why? They’re just buttons.’

‘Mum’s button box. All clicking and cascading as she looked for a match. One time…’

‘Is that why they say you’re buttoned up?’

‘Who says?’

‘No one. Well, those guys from the gym. You can be a bit, you know…’

‘What?’

‘Up yourself.’

‘Thanks.’

‘No, really, if you just…’

‘Button it, Morgan. You’re not helping.’

‘I bet they test Presidential candidates for koumpounophobia.’

‘Why?’

‘You wouldn’t want someone in charge of nuclear Armageddon whose terrified of buttons.’

‘You’re a moron, Morgan.’

‘Thanks.’

🥕🥕🥕

Closure by Reena Saxena

An auditor’s job has never been easy. One has to raise the right objections, make the right recommendations and not leave any point untouched. There could be pressure to keep the warts concealed from public view.

I believe in professional ethics, and writing each word of the audit report was a challenge in that organization.

I stitched and patched up all I could. The final cover was a professional shirt with special buttons – which acted as a closure, yet revealed enough to arouse curiosity and suspicion.

It was the job of the fraud investigators to take up from there.

🥕🥕🥕

Monkey’s Tummy by Miriamm Hurdle

Being self-employed is a luxury. Sam doesn’t set the alarm clock. He goes to the gym at 9:00 a.m. when people honk their way to the exit lane.

Looking at 16,000 columns and 895 rows of data make his eyesight fuzzy. The query narrowed it down to 90 columns and 75 rows.

Oh, no! He pressed a wrong button, missed one zip code. Doing it all over again. No one shares his stress. It’s time going to his laughing buddy.

A button on the monkey’s tummy he pushed. His hilarious is contagious. Sam can’t help but laugh with him.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Susan Sleggs

The fabric artist examined her crazy quilt creation that had an outdoor theme. It needed some bling that would make it more interesting, but she couldn’t visualize anything working.

Her daughter Carrie came to her. “Mommy, will help me with my buttons?”

That was it! Buttons.

They had lunch then went shopping for buttons, not the button-your-blouse type, but the fun ones at the craft store. Carrie picked out trees, a bear, a moose and some birds.

Back home they had a sewing lesson; a child was never too young to learn how to correctly sew on a button.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Cheryl Oreglia

Boy, can she can push my buttons?

I walk into the family room, lean down to fold an abandoned blanket, and start collecting the empty glasses. The room is in shambles.

“Jesus Mom, can you relax, trying to watch a movie in-between your glass retrieval. It’s annoying”

“Pause the movie and help me tidy up? It’ll only take a minute.”

“Here. This might help. You leave and I’ll clean up later.”

“Deal,” I leave the room quickly, step out onto the deck, and close my eyes. Breath, just breath. Someday you’ll wish she was here, making messes, pushing buttons.

🥕🥕🥕

Different Buttons by Susan Sleggs

My cell rang. “Hi Mom.”

“Oh good, you’re home?”

“It’s the babies nap time. You knew I would be.”

“I just finished trimming the hedge and I’m exhausted. One of those Easy Buttons would help with that job. I won’t be able to lift my arms again today.”

“Mom, your hedge consists of five bushes.”

“I know, but I’m not as young as I used to be.”

“You’re starting to push my buttons, what do you want?”

“A dinner invite.”

“But aren’t your arms are too tired to hold the baby.”

“Maybe not that tired. I’ll bring ice cream.”

🥕🥕🥕

Dehumanizing by Peregrine Arc

“Press one to access your account…”

I pressed “1” dutifully on the telephone keypad. I bounced my knee in rhythm, watching the walkers pass by my window. My fingernails were chewed stubs.

“Please enter the last four numbers of your Social Security number…”

Poke, poke. I pressed the buttons, referencing a notepad. Silence while the computers talked to each other.

“We’re sorry, but we can’t access your records right now. Goodbye.”

I threw the phone down, cursing.

“What am I–a series of numbered buttons?!”

🥕🥕🥕

Disconnecting to Connect by Heather Gonzalez

I had nothing left to live for now that people no longer connect offline. I was basically a dinosaur. A generation before the need to connect digitally. So, when I saw the commercial for a way out, I knew I had to buy it.

I was surprised it came in such a tiny box. All that was inside was a red button. I took a deep breathe and then pushed it.

Everything shut down. I sat in the dark realizing how much technology I had relied on, but now I was finally free to connect to my life again.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Button It by oneletterup

“Button it,” the voice behind her said.

All she had done was tell him.

“No, I won’t…” she tried again.

“BUTTON IT.”

She strained to turn around, but he held her too tight. His breath stank. She smelled beer and cigarettes as he whispered in her ear “Button Your Damn Mouth Do You Hear Me?”

She tried to twist away, but his shaky hand now covered her mouth.

She spoke once more. “I will never go back to that…”

He ignored her. “I said Button It…”

She bit down hard. He howled and let go.

And then she ran.

🥕🥕🥕

Unbuttoned by D. Avery

“You’ve lost one of your buttons, and off that beautiful blouse.”

“Oh, I guess I have.” She glanced down at her rumpled shirt then at her younger sister, whose eyes were big, round tortoiseshell buttons. “At least Sissy has all hers.”

Her grandmother frowned. “Well, I should hope so. Anyway off to bed with you both.”

In the room they shared at the summer cottage Sissy now became the hero, gently helping her unmoving sister get ready for bed, speaking soothingly, her little fingers carefully unfastening each button, bravely ignoring the bruising. Silent tears rolled down both girls’ cheeks.

🥕🥕🥕

Unbuttoned Part 2 by D. Avery

“Girls! Breakfast!”

Sissy slipped silently into her seat, her lip quivering as she watched her sister ease carefully into her chair.

“What’s wrong with you?” her grandmother asked the older sister. “You’re lame this morning.”

The girls’ eyes met. “It’s nothing, Granma.”

“Sure looks like something. Are you two going to do more than poke your breakfasts?”
Sissy hiccupped. The older girl hissed at her younger sister. “Button it.”

But the little girl burst. “She wouldn’t let those boys at me Granma, she let me get away.”

Their grandmother made a phone-call before gathering them close, rocking and humming.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Robbie Cheadle

Elsie and her sisters watched their mother prepare for the evening out. Mother took off her worn work overall. Elsie felt happy to see her mother without her old overall which had odd buttons. Buttons were hard to come by during the war, and her mother kept old and used buttons. When she broke or lost a button off her overall, she would even take a grey button off an old pair of men’s trousers which Elsie hated as it reminded her of the war and its horrors.

She imagined Hitler as an old witch all dressed in black.

🥕🥕🥕

Humility by Susan Sleggs

The humble soldier returned to his hotel room after being awarded the Medal of Honor. The President called him a hero because he had saved a few lives and his group had stopped the enemy from using their supply route for days.

As he unbuttoned his uniform he relived the scene as he did night and day; smelly dead bodies strewn around him, cries of pain from his own men and burned shells. Some hero; in the mirror he saw a murderer and a failure. He had killed theirs and not been able to save all of his own.

🥕🥕🥕

And We Dropped to Our Knees…by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It arrived by nighthawk, the final ingredient to heal our planet, corrupted to near-extinction.

Maeve gripped the tiny blue button, chanting:
“First drop of rain, seed in the shell,
Night incantations will do us quite well.
Magical potion, dream-seeming mad,
I swear on this drear day, we shall be made glad.
Drop the blue button, Cauldron’s bright spell,
Blood of Medici, Machiavellian tell.
Goddess Compassion, hear my plea,
As we do pray it, so mote it be.”

A shock wave rolled over the barren plain, unrolling a carpet of bluebells carrying the trill of pond life and buzzing bees.

🥕🥕🥕

Walking Home by Faith Colburn

When my grandma Mae was a young wife, living in Akron, elastic had not yet been invented. She said she was walking home from buying groceries, past the local tavern, both arms loaded with groceries, when the buttons on her underwear popped. She said she hesitated for only a brief moment, glancing at the men lounging against the light poles and stumbling on the street. She never knew if her buttons came unbuttoned or if they popped off—because she simply stepped out of her underpants and walked the rest of the way home, leaving them on the sidewalk.

🥕🥕🥕

Button Stories by Deborah Lee

She’s dreaming, but she can hear them rattling inside the powder box. Grandma’s button box. She feels them between her fingers, sees them with her dream-eyes. Bone ones, feather-light carved wood ones, painted china ones, cloth-covered ones. Stamped brass and pearly shell.

They used them as coins for betting, learning arithmetic playing “21.” They played a bastardization of marbles and tiddlywinks with them. But she loved it most when

“This one came off your Great-Aunt Alice’s wedding suit. She married a rake, let me tell you, we all thought he’d never be more than a fancyman…”

🥕🥕🥕

Dorset Buttons – Saving a Lost Craft by Gordon Le Pard

Lady Lees couldn’t stop looking at it, a large, button, unlike any she had ever seen before, it seemed to have been created by sewing. The farmer’s wife, saw where she was looking.

“Funny old button isn’t it. They used to make them Shaftesbury way, but no one knows how to make them anymore. Have it.” She bent, and cut it from her apron.

She sought out more buttons, and at last a frail old lady, who said.

“Buttony, of course my dear.” And picked up a needle and a tiny brass ring. The lost craft was saved.

The true tale of how the craft of Buttony, making Dorset Buttons, was saved.

🥕🥕🥕

Bonanza Use for Recycling Buttons by JulesPaige

Yard sale buys are bargains true, but not all the pieces came with the multi-layered game. Missing checkers, no problem – got a box from another sale somewhere.Same with chess pieces – no black to whites counterpart.

Snakes and Ladders, Chinese Checkers, Checkers, and Chess along with a modified Parcheesi board too. Old Maid and Go Fish decks also double six dominoes are all good to go. There is Solitaire and Mancala too.

Dice are also an easy replacement, but what to do for Backgammon – fifteen dark, fifteen light discs needed. Dark and light round buttons! Yes, they will do.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttoned by FloridaBorne

With a half-smile, the hallmark of her uncertainty, she reached into an old jewelry box for a series of shell buttons attached by plastic fishing line. He recognized it as a necklace by clasps that screwed together at the end.

“I made this for my mother when I was 10,” she said proudly.

“Looks like it, too,” he snickered.

“You have the face of an angel,” she said.
He bent down to kiss her, she pulled away. Opening her front door she said, “This isn’t going to work.”

“Why?”

No use explaining how badly he’d failed the button test.

🥕🥕🥕

Drowning by Kayuk

The door slams as I drown under the weight of another misunderstanding.

How did this happen? Why? Five minutes ago we were smiling then…the storm blew out and the empty house surrounded me….

I sighed and moved to the bedroom. A pile of mending waited next to the rocker and my hands were as empty as my heart so I sat down, picked up a pair of his shorts, and began to sew the button back on.

Now, here I sit, looking down at the mended shorts in my hands, wondering why relationships can’t be as easy to heal.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by The Dark Netizen

He loved collecting buttons. He called himself a collector, and he was right in doing so.

His collection was quite vast, and quite varied. It boasted of buttons of different colours, shapes, and sizes. It contained buttons from all the parts of the world – Europe, Asia, The Americas, and of course his very own India. However, he was finicky about the condition of the buttons after he procured them. He made sure to give them a wash right before framing them in his private collection.

Afterall, buttons stolen from the clothing of murdered tourists, tend to be unclean.

🥕🥕🥕

Hero’s Nightmare by Miriam Hurdle

“Kevin, you look handsome in your uniform.”

“Thank you.”

“I like to have a copy of your photo with your autograph.”

“No, that’s okay.”

“You gave one to your mum, but you don’t hang it in your home.”

“She asked for one, I respected her wishes.”

“Did Sarah want to hang up your uniform photo?”

“She didn’t ask.”

“Look at all the large and small buttons across your chest to your shoulder. They are gorgeous. You’re a hero.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“What do you mean?”

“Each one tells a nightmare and I don’t want to be reminded.”

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Eric Pone

Ono played with the buttons on her husband’s shirt. He sat on the patio staring off into the wilderness. She had served as his planning lead when they were in the military. He had been all of 14 then. Who appoints a child as a military officer? He had performed brilliantly though but it was all catching up to him now. She smelled the shirt. The night sweats were still there. And the hole in the wall there. She thumbed her phone. He needed help she could not provide. He deserved help, she deserved peace.

🥕🥕🥕

[angst] by Dawn Whittam

As far as it went he was great, he could tap dance, he could sing.  He played the guitar with flare, he could quote Shakespeare, walk dogs while drinking coffee and express himself in five different languages simultaneously.

Woman sighed when he walked past, men glared at him with envy in their hearts, children hung on his every word … all adored him but one.

She knew his secret, he knew what he feared, she was him Mother and to her he was far from perfect.

She had tried everything to change him … but he still feared buttons.

🥕🥕🥕

Raising a Man by April Waldron

Mommy wants to offer snaps but to become a man, he has to learn to use buttons. His hands are small and the process is difficult. How it hurts a mother’s heart to watch him struggle. But the point of learning to use buttons is to overcome the struggle he will face as a child and as a man. She knows that throughout the years, she can’t step in and fasten all of his buttons in life. So, she watches his tiny hands fumble in hopes that the hands of the man won’t have to. A Mother’s boundless love.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Ritu Bhathal

“Sally, love, can you come over ‘ere and give us a hand? These blasted buttons are giving me gyp again today.”

“It’s alright dad.” Nimble fingers made light work of the buttons on the old uniform jacket Frank Beaumont wore every year on Remembrance Sunday. A job her mother used to do. “There!”

Sally flashed a smile at her father, before turning away, tears welling up.

It had been over sixty years since he was last able to do his own buttons up, having lost the digits of both hands whilst serving his country.

Her dad, a true hero.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Frank Husebye

Ryan held the hand-carved applewood buttons. They each had four tiny holes like real buttons.

“Your Uncle Thomas made them for me.” Ryan returned the buttons to his great aunt. He couldn’t see why anyone would have made them.

“He made my wedding dress as well.” Ryan thought that was as odd as those buttons.

“We bought a cake and two rings. I had flowers for my hair.” He heard the story before.

“I forgave him.” Ryan listened. He hadn’t heard that part.

“For dying so young.” He had heard that part.

“I feel him visit me every day.”

🥕🥕🥕

In the Silent Places We Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni didn’t want the buttons. They sat in a jar on her shelf by a faded photo. The night Michael accused her of hoarding artifacts, he didn’t mention old buttons. Today, he asked.

“Mom’s,” she answered, looking away, sitting on the floor.

Michael opened the jar and poured them into his hand. “Sacred.”

After he left, the house echoed ghosts – the mother she never knew, Ike’s booming voice, the dogs barking. She smashed that jar, buttons and glass scattering like those she had loved.

Picking up the pieces, button by button, she resolved to quit hiding in the house.

🥕🥕🥕

PART III (5-minute read)

Tilly’s Parting Gift by Anne Goodwin

Finding the button in the drawer, Henry was six again. He licked the grooves, but he couldn’t taste her. He sniffed the Bakelite, but couldn’t smell her. He smoothed the underside across his cheek, but couldn’t touch her. Still he remembered her folding his fingers around it moments before she left.

Henry’s shoulders sagged. Even in those austere times, a button was a shabby gift for a small boy.

Yet his memory insisted. Tilly crouching in the hallway, her brown suitcase alongside. Entreating him to keep the button safe until her return.

Fifty years on, he was still waiting.

🥕🥕🥕

Stoic Silence by JulesPaige

Claire never really got to know Antoinette, who never used American phraseology when a foreign or sophisticated word would do. When Antoinette wanted quite she wouldn’t use the term ‘Button it’ or put a pretend key to her mouth, or run two fingers across her lips for quiet.

“Écouter” is what Antoinette would say. If Claire was sitting at a table the pinkie and pointer fingers of both her hands had to rest by the first joints on its edge. It was too bad though, that Antoinette never listened herself. Maybe the
Step-mother and Step-daughter could have been friendlier?

🥕🥕🥕

Mum and Dad on Buttons by Di @ pensitivity101

Buttons of every colour,
Size and shape, and holes
Twos and fours or mushrooms,
Lay hidden in the folds.
Mum had always loved them,
Would save them from an old shirt,
Put them on baby matinee coats,
Or extra to hold up her skirt.
Dad would often hug her
And cheekily give her a kiss
Then handing over a button
Say ‘Sew a shirt on this.’
If ever we were naughty,
She’d tell us to button our lip
Amidst threats of the alternative
Of putting in a zip!

God, how I miss them both and their sense of humour.

🥕🥕🥕

Passing on the Love by Teresa Grabs

When Elizabeth was a little girl and her family lived in the one-room sod house, her father made all her play things. Her favorite was one of Mother’s buttons in the middle of a string. She would flip the string over and over then watch the button spin as she moved the string closer together and farther apart.

She lived with her granddaughter, Katie, and her family for seven years until she passed. Every so often Katie or one of her daughters will find a button laying on the floor or attached to a string. Grandma Liz saying hello.

🥕🥕🥕

Spotlight by Wallie and Friend

This was it. The moment she had been waiting for.

Grace stood looking into the mirror. Her hair was brushed. Her lips were painted. It was a picture-perfect reflection. In the next room she could hear the other band members laughing, teasing. It seemed like an impossible dream that they had gotten this far.

Her face was so solemn, like the face of a Victorian schoolteacher. Her eyes were like wide dark pools. Grace studied that serious, tense face. She was buttoned to the throat. She undid the top button at her collar, just so, and managed a smile.

🥕🥕🥕

Panic Button by Patrick O’Connor

Working with technology can be stressful, especially when you are the one tasked with fixing it when it isn’t working correctly.

Some people handle the stress easily while others become anxious. After all, everyone from co-workers to management wants to know when it’s going to be fixed.

Having people stand over your shoulder just aggravates the situation more.

That’s when I had the great idea to create something that would help with the stress.

I created a portable “Panic Button” to share with anyone who was stressed.

It’s amazing what a little laughter can do to help exasperating situations.

🥕🥕🥕

The Little Drummer Boy by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

The boy hid near a copse of trees. All around him, the sound of gunfire sputtered and pinged. Tears stinging, he pulled the drum closer, waiting for a new command from the general so he could muster the troops.

Scared, he slipped his hand into his pocket and fingered the buttons he had cut from the coats of the enemy. Each button represented a win. He had survived the battles and lived to beat the drums to victory.

Until today. When the men found him the little drummer boy gripped a sting of dirty buttons—his legacy of death.

🥕🥕🥕

Peace by Jan Malique

Buttons. They pressed his regularly without fail. This had been occurring for years. His soul had been worn down to almost nothing.

Some of the buttons were stuck, the wording on others had worn away and some had disappeared, vanished without a sound.

Yet, he still functioned but at a cost. The angel watching him laid a gentle hand on his arm. It was time to heal and receive new buttons. Ones no one would be able to touch.

Light flowed from the angel to the man. He sighed deeply as the healing transformed him on all levels. Peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttonholed by D. Avery

“Buttons ain’t nuthin, without the buttonhole, Kid. Even less without needle an’ thread. Without those, buttons are useless discs, mere baubles. Their usefulness and purpose are dependent on the passage and tension provided by the buttonhole.”

“What’s wrong with baubles? Some folks use buttons as decoration, jewelry even.”

“Same folks keep their pants up with the yin and yang of button and buttonhole.”

“Huh. Ya know, Pal, some a yer yang is startin’ ta hang. So much yin ya cain’t keep it in. Thinkin’ yer buttons are strainin’ in their role.”

“Yeah, these buttons have become heroic, never buckling.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketches

Captured quickly at the moment, a sketch can linger. It teases the mind with what has been included, as well as left out by the artist. But who is the artist? The one who creates a visual on the page or writes the vision imagined in the mind?

Writers took to their sketchbooks this week to draw stories of those who draw. Enjoy the resulting sketches.

June 28, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a sketch or about a sketch.

PART I (10-minute read)

Rainy Day Sketches of a Very Small Village by Bill Engleson

There are two tables and five chairs on the General Store porch.

The location affords a front row seat on not much.

I relish looking at not much.

A delivery truck departs.

Chips.

Our community eats a ton of chips.

I certainly do my bit.

Bite?

There’s no late June morning sun.

Sprinkles nip the air.

“It’s like autumn,” she moans.

“So, you want to leave?”

“Too cold to people watch. Let’s go home. Check on Trump.”

I grimace, say, “Can’t beat cold weather people gawking. You go. Besides, Trump aggravates my hemorrhoids.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Maybe. Tell them that.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketches by Anita Dawes

Looking for something to inspire me, I took a walk through our local flea market and fell in love with a half-finished sketch of a young woman lying on a grave.
I was about to ask how much, when a man standing beside me, said ‘It’s sad but lovely, isn’t it?’

My heart jumped so hard I thought I would join the woman at the graveside.
I turned to see who had spoken, but there was no one standing beside me.
The price was just £40 because it was unfinished work.
Holding it, I could see my grandmother’s signature…

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Jan Malique

The artist’s model sat on the chair, her face reflecting a series of emotions. The sketch was infused with pathos and great delicacy. He had captured her sense of sadness, the yearning to be her true self. His hand had traced the lines of her face with such artistry and, love.

Love, what a loaded word. They always seemed to fall in love with her. She was Galatea to their Pygmalion. A dream glimpsed in marble and paint. Forever out of reach. Alas, unlike Pygmalion, Aphrodite hadn’t answered his prayers. This Muse was strictly off-limits, for everyone.

🥕🥕🥕

Muse Mother by H.R.R. Gorman

My mom taught me she had a superpower: any picture, from a grand work of art to a doodle on the fridge – could transport her.  A wave of her hand and she could travel back in time, speak with the artist, and return instantly to entertain me with the tale.

As I got older, I realized she couldn’t do magic.  Her power was a wealth of art history knowledge and a sensitivity to visual media.  I confronted her about the lie.

She gave me a half-smile and filled up my lemonade.   “Leonardo will be disappointed to find that out.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketchy Perceptions by Norah Colvin

He sketched the outline with chalk then filled in the details, outside-in. Curious passers-by gathered as the image emerged. Was the artist a paid entertainer or busker earning a buck? Some pushed coins into children’s hands to add to the chalk-drawn cap. When satisfied with his work, the artist stood in its centre and tossed the cap and contents high. As they fell, he spread his arms and disappeared into the painting. Perplexed on-lookers reported different perceptions. Many said he plummeted into darkness. Some said he flew on gold-tipped wings. Others described him simply as absorbed by his art.

🥕🥕🥕

Topsy Turvy by Juliet Nubel

The audience watched in silence as the artist swept huge strokes of white paint onto the black canvas.

They were intrigued to see this man on stage. His act was far removed from the befrocked dancing poodles and gangly prancing singers.

The sketch was taking shape, gradually becoming a beautifully abstract snowy landscape, accomplished in three minutes flat.

As the clapping began, he turned the canvas on its head, revealing the unmistakable face of Albert Einstein.

A loud gasp filled the air.

The artist smiled as his message rang loud: look at things differently and all will become clear.

🥕🥕🥕

The Flower by Sarah Whiley

It was the same sketch every time.
A stem.
Two leaves.
Scribbly petals.
All culminating to form a rudimentary flower.

For as long as I could remember, this was the “bored” doodle that I defaulted to.

I briefly wondered why.

I sighed a barely contained, deep exhalation, attempting to communicate the need for a break.

Why was it, that teacher professional development, all about the importance of engagement and best practice, used the exact opposite to inform its audience?

I looked up, hopeful, as the presenter paused.

Disappointingly, she promptly launched into the next diatribe.

Time for another flower…

🥕🥕🥕

An Urban Truth by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He shambles out of the park, swaying side-to-side, shyly dominating the Midtown sidewalk. Sun glints in his blonde-bronze pelt, furry toes squashing—or shall we say “squatching”?—his platform flip-flops.

Not that he needs the extra height. At 6’ 10’’, he towers over everyone he passes, including the tiny Russian grandma and her yappy little dog.
He hears a snatch of French Zydeco from a hipster coffee shop, and hops a quick shuffle and turn. He smiles, tipping his head to the babushka. Hot sun glints off his blinding canines.

She nods. They’re old friends, Sasquatch and Baba Yaga.

🥕🥕🥕

Beware the Man in Gray Teresa Grabs

The man in gray traveled alone. Always alone. He never stayed long in one town and never carried more than his sketch book and pencil that never seemed to whittle down to nothing no matter how many sketches he made. News traveled fast in these parts. Stories about the man in gray in the dead he leaves in his wake. Women in Empty Gulch saw him coming first and hollered for their children. Shutters slammed shut as he made his way through town. The miners quaked watching him sit down under the oak tree and open his sketch book.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s the Eyes by Wallie and Friend

There was no mistaking her pursed lips. It was always dangerous when she frowned at her own work. But for the last week, Annie hadn’t looked at her sketchbook any other way.

He asked what was the matter. It was an innocent question. He didn’t expect to be confronted with his own body.

“Technically, it’s perfect,” she said.

He didn’t know anything about art, and as embarrassing it was to see himself in graphite, he wasn’t about to argue.

His wife’s lips pursed again. She looked hard at his face.

“It’s the eyes. I just can’t capture your eyes.”

🥕🥕🥕

Assault in the Forest by Anurag Bakhshi

The sketch artist looked at me skeptically.

“You are saying the assault occurred without provocation?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” I replied unhesitatingly, “I was just walking home, minding my own business, when…”

The sketch artist shook his head and continued, “And you’re sure you didn’t see a face? I need something so that we can send out a BOLO.”

I screwed up my eyes in consternation, trying to grasp at that fleeting memory….the forest…the axe….

And as I finally remembered everything, I shouted,”It was a human female. She was riding a bicycle, and was wearing a red hood.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketchy b FloridaBorne

A hospital bed elevated her upper body. One son took Lorna’s hand. Too weak to pull away, she tried ignoring the unwanted touch.

Strange the things a writer remembers. One of them was her mother’s plea to save “her children,” framed sketches of family life and childhood home, now tucked away in Lorna’s storage shed.

“Now I understand, mom,” Lorna whispered.

“What did you say?” Her son asked.

“Make sure my editor gets my books published.”

Her sons snickered, the same way she had when she’d said the same words to her mom, “We’ll take good care of them.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Sketch of Jessamine by Lady Lee Manilla

A sketch from a brother who loves her so
She who left us so early in her life
Siblings she left and grew long time ago

Let her soul be in peace in afterlife
Remember her poems, paintings, and art
Singing and dancing, seeing the wildlife

Her memories lingered on in our hearts
Her brother and sister are doing well
Sang like angel, played piano like Mozart

Jessamine was her name, our belle
Legacy of faith, love, and fun
She moved like she was a gazelle

She brought the light to us like sun
Treasured every moment with her

🥕🥕🥕

Picturing Us by Sascha Darlington

I have sketched us in charcoal on stark white. I have obliterated lines, assuaged others. The charcoal coats my fingertips, chin, and cheeks. Lines become blurred as I adjust, change, smooth angles. Your eyes, your smile are not right. I sketch you again, and somehow, my own image becomes fragmented, disjointed, a smear of darkness. Frustrated, I draw myself. Yet, when I peer into the mirror, my eyes haunt me, but I cannot convey this on paper despite my attempts. Ignoring the mirror, I start again. You and me, side-by-side, but somehow, despite numerous iterations, we never come together.

🥕🥕🥕

Raw Romance by kate @ aroused

Felt the need to retreat from every day life,
Check in with myself to see what caused strife

Emotional up and downs yet silence was profound
Words flowed unstoppable, expression without sound

Found my true love residing deep within
Not voicing those words would be a real sin

Our loving connection is like most romances
We have moments but then draw even closer

Soul mates forever, passion can’t be denied
Weaving words to share what’s deep inside

Blogging an outlet for those who wish to spy
On our raw relationship bared for all without lie

Words ignite emotions and unite!

🥕🥕🥕

A Delicate Erasure? by JulesPaige

Stan wasn’t sure what to make of this woman. A Pen-pal who was sketchy at best. He knew she was married. Why did her husband disappear for weeks at a time. Was the gent in the service? Must be hard when there wasn’t any
family around and young children to raise.

While he knew it was a copy – the drawing of her hand, her wedding band clearly displayed, was placed in an envelope for him to open. Had he wanted more?

Then as Stan got involved with local woman. Written exchanges became less frequent. And eventually, correspondence stopped completely.

🥕🥕🥕

Woman Reading by Anne Goodwin

Her province’s a palace, a kitchen, a farm,
the White House, a rocket, a sty.
She’s a thousand years old, she’s black, and she’s white,
she’s a phantom long dead or unborn.
She’s shackled and swayed in the bowels of a boat;
she’s blessed with the freedom to roam.
She’s a boxer, a banker, a beggar, a boy;
a cleric, a cleaner, a crow.
Her lip curls or curves, she wrinkles her brow,
she laughs, wipes a tear from her eye.
Her vista refreshed with each turn of the page;
she’s a citizen of everywhere, a reader, she’s me.

🥕🥕🥕

Memory Scars by Patrick O’Connor

The call came in after 9pm and interrupted movie night with my daughters.
My doctor called to tell me I had a brain tumor. I’ve never been so shocked in my life.
The emotions associated with that phone call are etched forever in my memory.
There was a flurry of activity that took place to find the right doctor for the surgery. Six months later, I landed in Los Angeles to get the best care I could find around the country.

Four years after that, I created a sketch of my head scar. I titled it “Scarred Not Broken.”

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

A Neighbor by D. Avery

We’ve met before on this lake. She’s a big one. Today she’s lazing just underneath the surface, her mossy plated shell a hub for four bumpy, clawed legs that dangle beneath her, for the spiny leathery tail ruddered behind, for her massive craggy beady-eyed beak-tipped head. She dives then comes back to the surface, sticking her snout out of the water, taking air in through flared nostrils. Seeing me, she swims silently away. I feel she’s ancient, wonder at her long life, but cannot begin to say what she thinks or feels. Out of respect, I don’t even try.

********

The Sketch Artist by D. Avery

“Okay, let’s begin,” Officer Mills said, sketch pad in hand.

“He had a round face, with brown eyes.”

“No, describe him. Did he harbor a storm in his eyes? Did his past linger at the edges of his unspoken thoughts?”

“Umm, he was tall… about six foot four.”

“Six foot four?! How tall was he? We need a sketch. Was he simply tall like a tree, or did he walk in that head hunched way that tall people do, ducking through doorways, folding into cars?”

“I don’t know! You’re just writing words! Where’s the sketch artist?”

“Right here, literally.”

***************

Heaven Knows by D. Avery

“Didn’t think it’d be like this. I always heard it was more like a movie, you know, your life replayed for you.”

“I was surprised too. A pile of sketches they hand you. Your own sketches.”

“So, you have to go back too?”

“Ha, you bet I do. Any of us with these skinny little sketchbooks have to retrain and go back for another lifetime. Next time, I’m going to make more time for sketching. For etching deeds and memories.”

“Yeah, they say if you get here with good stories to tell you’re all set.”

“Heaven knows, that’s life.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Sketch of Rock Creek by Charli MIlls

From the barn, you can see across the draw that is Rock Creek. Wagon ruts remain visible on both sides. David Colbert “Cobb” McCanless built a toll bridge across the deep cut. He arrived at this road station along the Oregon Trail in March of 1859. Family denies that a woman, not his wife came with him, but records show her signature as his bookkeeper. His wife and children arrived from North Carolina in September 1859. The women know what happened when two years later a young Wild Bill Hickok shot Cobb. But no one thought to ask them.

🥕🥕🥕

Escape Cave by Paula Moyer

Sixth grade, spring of 1964. Another homework assignment, staring Jean in the face. She couldn’t make herself do it. It would never be good enough for Mrs. O’Neal.

The box of crayons – “64 colors.” The pad of sketch paper, a hobby store gift. Both sang to her, and soon Jean was drawing. The thing almost drew itself.

The cavern appeared in sketch after sketch. An inverted “V” opened to a secret place with pastel walls, alternating blues, and pinks. Oh, secret, soft cave. Safe cave.

If only this place were real, Jean thought. Mrs. O’Neal would never find me.

🥕🥕🥕

Eulogy for Aunt Tillie by Nancy Brady

I remember Aunt Tillie affectionately although she preferred my sisters Sally and Connie more. I think she liked me more once I began wearing glasses. Aunt Tillie was a bit silly, even odd. She always wore dresses and slippers. She loved food, especially collard greens, and haddock, but food had to be served on a platter. She loved puppies and kittens, too, but her favorite pet was her guppy, Freddie. She would watch him swimming around all afternoon long. She was an accountant. Bookkeeping was her life, but she was happiest when reading books, her favorite being Atlas Shrugged.

🥕🥕🥕

Traveling the Hayfields with Pop by Roger Shipp

Humping down the stairs and around the backyard, Pop, his cane waggling in front being used to scatter the beagle and the three strays more than for maintaining any semblance of balance, was headed toward the chariot… a ‘62 Valiant… and into the hayfields.

I raced beside him knowing there was no waiting.

Opening the door, I swung from the roof into the backseat.

“Wait!” I bellowed. My fingers had not released from the roof before Pop had slammed the door.

Exasperated, Pop opened and shut the door. Hard.

“Next time, get’ya whole self in.”

And off we went.

🥕🥕🥕

Sad Regrets by Susan Sleggs

The devastating, but expected call came just before six-o-clock, her father was dead.
The Uber could only get within two blocks of the extravagant condo high rise because downtown streets were blocked for a jazz festival.

She entered the building with feelings in check and said her goodbyes. The music drew her to the balcony where a large sketch book lay on a table. She sat and opened it.
Sketch after sketch of the street below from each year of the festival. She was in each one but had never been there. Regrets swept her; she should have been.

🥕🥕🥕

The Sketch by Eric Pone

Ducky stared at the paper and slowly drew out the neighborhood as he remembered it. He included the storefront the gang used for cover. He drew the small storefront church that was next to it. And he included the trees and other details that struck him. He also drew the little girl who had died in his friend’s arms from a drive-by shooting. “They actually targeted a child…”He got up and lit his first cigarette and thought through what he was considering. He looked out at the harbor and considered the thousand who would die with that nuke.

🥕🥕🥕

“The Psychologist” by Goldie

Another patient.

“I’m Sergeant Phillips. This is Ivy.” – he announced walking in and led the blind girl to the sofa.

Ivy was a witness to a homicide when she was 5 years old. She hid, while her family got brutally murdered.

“Do you want her to sketch the assailant?”

I looked at him wondering how a blind girl could describe, much less draw a suspect.

As she drew, the sketch became apparent.

I slowly looked up at the sergeant, but his gaze was already fixed on me.

“She lost her sight in an accident a couple of years ago.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketching Uncertainty by David Wesley Woolverton

Isabelle studied her sketch of her newly found mother. It’d felt almost unearthly to finally draw the woman who’d been a mystery for so long. The eyebrows still weren’t quite right, though. There was also too much white space beside her, demanding a sketch of the still-unknown father. She lowered the pencil to sketch how she imagined he looked, but fantasy would look wrong next to reality. She forced herself to start the circle for the face but stopped half way. In the end, she turned the semi-circle into a question mark and put down the pencil.

🥕🥕🥕

Raw Draw by JulesPaige

Emma had enjoyed art classes in High School. So taking one in college seemed the right thing to do. It was after all the easels were set up and the charcoal sticks were distributed that the professor called in the model they were to sketch. This was a preliminary exercise that was not going to be graded. Any style would be accepted.

In waltzed Randy. Emma knew him from watching him practice soccer on campus. She, however, was not expecting him to disrobe… while all the students were adults. Young Emma wondered if she was the only one blushing.

🥕🥕🥕

Sketches of Love by Kay Kingsley

Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain played in the background as I poured us another glass of Barolo. With a charismatic smile, he turned dinner into an art form.

All the burners were going, the fan on full blast, steam from the pots flushed his cheeks, his stripped apron danced along with him.

As he danced the moment slowed softening its edges along with the lighting and I was aware that this was an ordinary moment I would cherish forever. The next time someone would ask when was it that I knew I loved him, this moment would be it.

🥕🥕🥕

Beautiful Portrait by Kerry E.B. Black

Young, beautiful, filled with a blend of self-belief and doubt, your expectations of the world dazzle you, terrify me.

I remember staring into the future at your age. I, too pictured flashing lights and red carpets, a mansion of admirers and contented philanthropy.

I suppose I’m in the future, and the artist did not sketch the lines as I imagined. Frayed edges and smudges mar success, but I see the beauty in the simple design.

From its frayed brushstrokes came you.

🥕🥕🥕

A Hospital Sketch by Gordon Le Pard

‘I will bring a sketch’, he said.

The train left Bristol, maximum speed, the genius on board could command anything. But now he would be tested to the limit.

‘A hospital, prefabricated, weatherproof, well ventilated, easily heated’, designed by the time he reached London. By Bath he had the idea, by Swindon he was drawing, in London he rushed to her house, papers in hand.

“Mr Brunel”, Miss Nightingale.”

“Perfect, this is more than a sketch. When can you have them ready? The ship sails in six weeks.”

“They will be ready in five.”

They saved hundreds of lives.

🥕🥕🥕

Forensic Sketch by Chelsea Owens

“You say the perpetrator was female?

“That’s right.”

“And had dark eyes?”

“Yes, and dark hair. No bangs. Not very thick. Or curly.”

“Mmm-hmmm.” *scrrritchh* “Tell me about her face shape. Would you say she had a long face, fat, skinny…?”

“Oh, not fat. Long, pale, serious.”

*shhhushh* *scrrrratch* “How about the eyes? Dark, yes -but were they large?”

“No. She had small eyes. Close together.”

“Mmmm. And, mouth? Nose? Ears?”

“Umm, very small mouth and long, thin nose. Ears -medium?”

*scrrrrtch* *scrrratch* *shhhhsh* “Hm. Ma’am?”

“Yes?”

“This looks like you.”

“Yes, well. I am my own worst enemy.”

🥕🥕🥕

Who Gets In by Susan Sleggs

“I’ve never laughed so much at a sketch in my life. The make-up on St. Peter made him look 1000 years old.”

“Can you imagine some woman with big boobs actually telling him they were her reason to be invited into heaven because they were God’s gift and he would enjoy seeing them regularly? I wonder if they were real?”

“And a toilet at the gates of heaven. It didn’t even look odd sitting there or for the Queen to flush it.”

“And a royal flush beats a pair, so the Queen was granted admittance. Ya gotta love it.”

🥕🥕🥕

Odd Rancher Out by D. Avery

“Why’re ya askin’ me what the ranch looks like, Kid?”

“I wanna sketch the ranch. Ain’tcha been here yer whole life? Who else should I ask?”

“Ya could ask anyone includin’ yerself, Kid. We all see it. How ya see it is how it is.”

“Huh. Reckon we all see it kinda the same. On account of it bein’ so ironic.”

“I think ya mean iconic.”

“Yeah. It’s a hoot though, ain’t it Pal? Folks from aroun’ the world can come here an’ be a buckaroo, git their old west on. Be literary oddests.”

“Artists, Kid.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.”

***
Don’t Take Yer Guns Ta Town by A. Kidd

The scene an old west town, façaded building, lined dusty street, wooden sidewalks, horses tied up outside the saloon where cider flows like whiskey which flows like water. Trouble simmering like the shimmering high noon sun.

An over-eager wannabe steps out of the saloon to face the notorious Nemmy Cyss. Who would draw fastest? Whose aim would be true?

“No! Kid, what are you doin’? Yer not s’posed ta be drawin’ sixguns!”

“Well, Pal, I know it seems sketchy, but Shorty said ta draw an’ so I figgered…”

“No, read agin, Kid, yer ta sketch. With words.”

“Oh. Shoot.”

***
In Line, Outta Tune by D. Avery

“This ranch is yer ranch, this ranch is my ranch, from the cookhouse griddle, ta the windswept prairie!”

“Jeez Pal, yer outta tune.”

“Wrong again, Kid, I’m in tune, in tune with this here ranch. Don’t it jist produce an’ provide! Yep, Shorty sure works fer us.”

“Works fer us? Ain’t Shorty boss?”

“Hardest workin’ boss a ranch hand could ever work for, Kid.”

“Yer right, Pal.”

“All we have ta do is play with words, an’ we don’t even Have ta do that.

“I shovel shit.”

“An’ yer full of it. Now git ta work an’ go play.”

🥕🥕🥕

Not All Is Lost

When disaster slams into neighborhoods and crisis encroaches in the middle of the night, when the waters sweep away all the photo albums and fire burns the family home to ashes when nothing seems to fit including us — not all is lost.

Writers turned to what remains when all seems lost. Differeing perspectives will surprise you.

The following is based on the June 21, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “not all is lost.”

PART I (10-minute read)

Not All Is Lost… by JulesPaige

Less light after the solstice here
Only marginally though as
Summer starts with the passing of the
Solstice – here in the northern hemisphere

Loosened land added by torrential rains
Over churned mud and debris land-
Sliding, slipping and seeping while
Some were sleeping…

Love is given selflessly
Over and over – helping those
Survivors of the unexpected – to them
Salutations – living saints or angels?

Lend a hand if you can –
Over and over, anywhere, then
Somewhere far or nearer to your heart
Stop a moment – and say a prayer…

tears flood, as eyes see;
welcoming community
and all strangers too

🥕🥕🥕

Look for the Helpers by Kerry E.B. Black

Rain drenched everything, as it will during a hurricane. It flooded the storm drains and backed sewage into basements. It bubbled through foundations and drowned landscapes. People two towns over clambered onto roofs and prayed for rescue. I lent my entreaties.

In our home, sewage swept through plumbing until the basement stank of rising refuse. First the bottom stair, then the next, the landing, and still, it climbed. I didn’t know what to do. Busy emergency lines. Sirens. Panic.

Yet after the waters receded, it wasn’t FEMA that helped. It was family and friends who hauled, cleaned and sanitized.

🥕🥕🥕

Starting Over by Sascha Darlington

At 11, her daddy died, taking away the sunshine.

At 15, she destroyed her knee and her chances for a sports scholarship.

At 37, she watched her husband, who didn’t want children, leave for his pregnant, much younger assistant.

Eight years later, as muddy waters careen around the sides of her house and her bedraggled pup is tethered to her, she yells at the sky: “What the fuck do you want from me?”

“To save you to start with,” the Coastie says.

The sun peeks out. Harbinger of hope. Maybe all’s not lost.

She’s very good at starting over.

🥕🥕🥕

Lost And Found: An Argument For Caring by Geoff Le Pard

‘You’ve lost me, Morgan.’

‘I’m just saying it’s easy to be liberal if you don’t have to deal with all the crap.’

‘So helping people, caring for others you don’t know, that only counts if, what, you suffer equally?’

‘I’m saying you can’t really understand if you don’t experience something. Otherwise it’s make believe.’

‘When you broke your leg, my sympathy didn’t count?’

‘I…’

‘Helping your sister after her husband left didn’t count because I’ve never been abandoned…’

‘The schmuck… no, that’s different. I think. Give me a minute… I might have got this wrong…’

‘Not all is lost.’

🥕🥕🥕

Lost and Found by Chelsea Owens

Becky always heard housefires described poetically. Tendrils of curling smoke, for example; or, flakes of softly drifting ash. Looking around; she could only think: burned, smoky, ruined.

Clearly, most poets didn’t stand in the charred remains of their own homes.

“That’s about it, ma’am,” the fire marshal said. Becky turned to him. His eyes were red beneath a sweaty, sooty hairline. Becky managed to nod, to dismiss him and his crew. Sighing, she shuffled behind them through the detritus.

“Ouch!”

A box. Squatting amongst flakes of softly drifting ash, she uncovered her fire safe. She smiled, through her tears.

🥕🥕🥕

Down Under by Carol Keefer

The earth quaked for several minutes of hard shaking. Immediately, the floor fell from under my feet, and then something hard hit my head followed by instant unconsciousness. When I awoke, I was pinned under a file cabinet under concrete. I was hurt and gasping for air. I prayed and expected to die, but how long would death take? Then, I heard an animal sniffing nearby. The rescue dog barked, and I cried out, “Help me. Please help me.” I heard voices outside. They began to move away debris. Someone said, “Hold on. We’re going to get you out.”

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by kate @ aroused

The company hadn’t ensured that safety was paramount. So sixteen men were trapped underground. Poisonous gas was leaking so nobody could go in or out as the fresh air might trigger an explosion.

Distraught families and first response teams were anxiously waiting above ground. Children were confused not really comprehending the threat. CWA ladies were handing out cups of tea. People were trying to stay positive but the underlying tension caused tears to fall and fears to surface.

They heard a resounding crack followed by a loud heartfelt cheer … the engineers had found a way through, miners saved!

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Charli Mills

Annabel retreated from the mourners. Thirty miners, four boys, and her beloved mine captain dead. Fire erupted at level 27 and none evacuated. Men continued to drill, eager to chase the new copper load, believing the updraft would smoother the flames. Greed overcomes common sense, Annabel thought. Ripley was ambitious, a hard-worker and a smart man. He cared about the land and community, but even good men succumb to copper fever. They dug their own deaths. She left the mass funeral and wandered to the falls. Ripley was gone, but his babe grew in the swell of her belly.

🥕🥕🥕

Rock Bottom by Sherri Matthews

He hit rock bottom and I thought it was the end.

“If you keep drinking, you’ll be dead in six months,” warned the doctor.

I was wrong; he stopped, for a few months at least. Then he started again and I feared his next fall could be his last.

I wondered if spending nights hunched up in a doorway might change things, or late night rants down the telephone cursing his dear, beloved father, who he hoped would rot in hell.

It was the years in prison writing letters to his daughter that told me all was not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Anita Dawes

A burning rose lay on the hot desert sand, if not found, I would be next.

I lay there beneath the hot sun, waiting to burst into flame, the voices of the Bedouin tribe close by.

Hope still beat in my chest that someone would come looking for their daily water. Would they walk this way?

Buzzards circle overhead, waiting for a feast.

As I reach for the rose, my eyes beheld a child’s feet. All was not yet lost, she would go back to her people for help.

Much later, I would discover the child’s name was Rose…

🥕🥕🥕

A Fresh Start by Anurag Bhakhshi

As his beautiful wife opens the door, I stare longingly at the ornate interiors of his palatial mansion.

All this could have been mine, if the boy whom I’d raised as my own son had not betrayed me.

Unable to bear the loss of everything I’d held dear, I was on the verge of ending my life, when I recalled his words “Not all is lost, till you lose hope.”

And so, here I am, looking for a fresh start.

Hoping against hope that Aladdin’s wife will exchange that ‘useless old piece of junk’ for a brand new lamp.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tribute to Military Pilots (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs

An Air Force pilot friend shared: My crew and I were walking to our plane for a training run and stopped in our tracks when the base fire siren went off. We looked around and then up. Our hearts jumped into our throats when we saw a plane rushing the runway on fire. It hit with a huge explosion. We didn’t believe anyone could survive, but not all was lost, within minutes six airmen walked from the smoke. We learned the meaning of “any landing you walk away from is a good landing; some are just better than others.”

🥕🥕🥕

I’ve Got You Now by Jan Malique

I’ve got you now, hold on tight. The fall hurt, you’re bleeding. I’m so sorry you decided to take this course of action. I didn’t realise you heard, damn me for being so selfish! I didn’t need help, just acting out like a spoilt child.

I can’t hear what you’re saying. Does your throat hurt? What you must think of me. Your eyes are so sad, I can’t bear to look at them. Hold still, I’ll wipe the blood off you. Sorry, so sorry! Your beautiful wings, torn and charred. Can you ever forgive me, my dear guardian angel?

🥕🥕🥕

The Remedy by Wallie and Friend

He hadn’t wanted her to see. It was inevitable that she should. In his mind he had pictured her reaction, imagining a thousand teasing quips—“I always said you were the handsome one”—but when she came in his humor failed. He saw her shock and it brought the walls down around him.

She went straight to the bed. His heart monitor was racing, but she wrapped him in her arms, her hand soothing his broken face. He felt her kiss as he cried. Her touch was gentle, as steady as her voice.

“My angel,” she said. “My angel.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Crows Secret by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

She was losing control of her powers. Zaria woke up, hovering above the bed staring down at the rumpled sheets twisted below. She fell, landing hard on the floor. Without her magic, she was nothing. She would be banned from the witch’s council.

Zaria arose from the floor. From his perch on the windowsill, crow flapped his wings and landed on her shoulder. He whispered in her ear, “Not all is lost. I’m here to give you the gift of clairvoyance.”

The young witch grinned. She felt the veil lift. Thank you crow, I see what you are saying.”

🥕🥕🥕

That Kind Of Day by Heather Gonzalez

Today has been the worst. It started off like an ordinary Monday, but it definitely didn’t end that way.

My car wouldn’t start right away. I got to work late, but just in time for my boss to notice. If that wasn’t bad enough, they announced that we would be working this weekend.

I made it home later than usual due to the rain. I poured myself a glass of wine, put my feet up, and turned on Netflix. A large cracking sound came from outside. Everything went dark. Not all was lost. At least I still had wine.

🥕🥕🥕

Let It Go by Susan Sleggs

The cocky author had gone to the writing conference feeling he would come away with an agent; the pamphlet said he could pitch them. He listened, open minded, to the various panel discussions and realized he would have to rewrite his whole manuscript so it started and ended with a bang. He decided it wasn’t worth his time, and appreciated the writing he had done had gotten him through a rough patch in his life. All was not lost: the next time he read a book, he read for pleasure instead of learning the craft. He felt oddly free.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Creative Cul-de-sac? by Anne Goodwin

Some days I led the way and, obediently, they followed. On better days, they raced ahead and I trailed after. On bad days, I bribed and begged for their company.
Sometimes, the path unwound for miles ahead. Sometimes, each step seemed virgin territory. Sometimes, we backtracked to try from a different angle. But always moving, discovering, until they abandoned me in darkness, sour and dank, patting the walls but no sign of an exit. Stuck. Despairing. All that effort wasted.
A chink of light that, as I watch, grows. Bigger. Brighter. Braver than before, we leave the cave together.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Robbie Cheadle

She gazed at the results of the board examinations in shock. This was her final academic hurdle to qualify as a lawyer and she had failed one of the three papers. She didn’t know how she would face her family, especially her Mother who had such high hopes for her. Her Mother would say that she would never pass. She knew her Mother’s negative cast of mind.

The conversation didn’t go as she expected at all. “You can re-write the examination next year,” her Mother said with surprising positiveness. “You will definitely pass next time, all is not lost.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Different Way of Being Faithful by Paula Moyer

Jean and Bill had been divorced for 12 years when she got the call. “Your father died this morning.” Her mother’s voice, baffled.

Later that morning, she and her husband Steve flew to Oklahoma. Later that night, Bill arrived, along with the girls, Lydia and Nola. The next day, as Jean and her mother put together the funeral, they needed one more pallbearer. A quick call to Bill’s hotel room settled it: “I would be honored.”

At the cemetery, Jean watched the coffin trundling past, Steve and Bill shouldering opposite sides. After everything, she could still count on Bill.

🥕🥕🥕

Losses and Gains by D. Avery

Ilene was first to the lawn chairs, Marge huffing behind.

“I gotta sit down. Phew. Do your feet hurt?”

“Not even one of them. Marge, stop walking in your work boots. I happen to have extra left footed sneakers if you want to start there.”

“Ilene, you’re something, always joking about your leg.”

“I lost a leg, Marge, not my humor. I’m lucky I didn’t lose my life.”

“Well, let’s have a beer to celebrate. I think I lost another five pounds on that walk.”
Ilene watched her friend bend to open the cooler. “All is not lost, Marge.”

🥕🥕🥕

Believing by Allison Maruska

Infernal wailing resonates. I gulp my drink, wishing it would drown the torture.

A regular beat permeates the mood. One by one, my compatriots take their place. Some surprise me with their poise. Others…well, I need another drink.

But not all is lost. When I think my nerves and head can’t take any more, my name is called. I trudge to the center. Now, others are swigging their drinks, wondering what I’ll bring.

The beat starts, followed by a that famous piano riff. My onlookers groan as I grab the mic.

Screw those guys. I haven’t stopped believing.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tumble in Time by Bill Engleson

“Barefoot?”

“Yes, sockless. Shoeless too.”

“On a damp grassy incline?”

“That too.”

“So, quite slippery, I assume?”

“As slick as a grifter’s tongue.”

“Thanks for that. So?”

“So, why did I do it?”

“Yeah, good guess. Don’t you keep sandals by the back door?”

“Yup.”

“For stepping outside?”

“Exactly.”

“Too much trouble?”

“To slip them on? No. But they’ve seen better days.”

“So have you, it appears.”

“Never fallen like that before. Scared the bejesus out of me.”

“Nothing broke, though.”

“Dumb luck. Still, it took me two hours to crawl up.”

“Learn anything?”

“Yup. Never ever go outside.”

🥕🥕🥕

You Can’t Get There From Here by Robert Kirkendall

A city person pulled into a rural service station. “Excuse me, sir, do you know the way to Davenport?”

“Davenport?” the rustic attendant answered. “Don’t reckon I do.”

“How about Greenfield?”

The attendant pondered. “Nope, don’t know the way there either.”

“Well can you tell me the way to the nearest Interstate?”

“I suppose if you keep driving down this highway you’ll run into one, but I don’t rightly know exactly where.”

The driver became frustrated. “I must say, you don’t seem to know your way around here.”

The attendant chuckled. “Yeah, but I’m not the one who’s lost.”

🥕🥕🥕

And All Shall Be Equal Before the Law by PaperShots

So we walked on, our hands on our friends’ shoulders. We could barely see ahead. From the crowd, some shouted at us, “Where are you going?” – the kids cried. The echo below the vaults was terrifying. It rippled the filthy water! (raises his voice) “Where are you going?” The stench in the sewers was unbelievable. (a thought strikes him) And at the same time on the other side of town the defense lines had been broken through. Those neighborhoods were free. We didn’t know. Communication was so bad. We ended up in a field miles to the north. (laughter)

🥕🥕🥕

It’s a Matter of Getting Up by Miriam Hurdle

It was early December 2017, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California devoured 307,900 acres and 1,300 structures. 230,000 residents described the wildfires in the neighborhood as a war zone. Smoke stretched 1,000 miles across the Pacific.

By Christmas, residents came back to their burned home, found pieces of displaced family photos. They pinned them on a bulletin to find owners. Some put up Christmas trees, decorations to bring cheer to the neighborhood. Strangers hugged each other and shed some tears. Homes and belongings were gone. Yet not all is lost. They wanted to rebuild and be neighbors again.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Jack Schuyler

Heat wafts over the night breeze and the somber smell of wood smoke settles in the neighborhood. Two stories are no more and the once sturdy foundation is now a bed of coals. Amid the destruction, I am struck by an overwhelming wave of gratitude. Not all is lost.

With our arms around each other, we watch firemen scurry like ants over the burning wreckage. The fire dwindles and the light goes out. Sirens cease and the stars return. At the edge of the smoldering ruins, we embrace in the bittersweet spirit of, “at least I didn’t lose you.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Flower Called Hope by Di @ penitivity101

The land lies barren and dry,
Drought is a killer.
Crop fields harvest dust,
Bairns cry in hunger.
The heat shows no mercy,
Hands blistered and sore
Toil endlessly
Until the blood flows.
Animals have deserted
This once bountiful place,
The bones of the unfortunate
Bleach in the relentless sun.
Bowls and vats lie hollow,
Their meagre contents
Rationed rather than shared.
Their days are numbered,
Maybe only single figures.
A tear falls from the sky,
One becomes many
And a lone flower dares
To raise its head.
All is not lost:
Clouds are gathering,
And with them,
Rain.

🥕🥕🥕

Hope by Kay Kingsley

“Not all is lost” he says in a protective, loving voice.

She shakes her head, trapped in an internal conversation between good and bad, like refereeing a match between reality and remaining positive. She chuckles at the absurdity.

What he means to say is ‘All hope is not lost’. You can lose everything but it’s only hope that rescues the lost, only hope brings you back, only hope paves the way through the darkness ahead.

The irony of her name is not lost on her. You have to lose it to find it but she’s been Hope all along.

🥕🥕🥕

Not the End of the World by Norah Colvin

Ever have one of those days? You know—it seems the world is against you, and everything you do goes wrong. Maybe you oversleep and in your rush, you fumble, make mistakes and get even later. You hurry to the stop as your bus pulls away. You flop down reviewing life’s punishments, and some jackass walks by telling you to “Smile, it’s not the end of the world.” What would he know? You open your phone and scroll: trivial drivel. Then this one story blows your insignificancies away. You phone your appointment, apologise and reschedule. All is not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

Stand and Deliver! by Juliet Nubel

‘Gimme your bag!’

She almost laughed at her friend’s attempt at the local thick accent until she felt the hard pull on her shoulder.

He wore a strange trilby hat pulled low onto his forehead and had tied a bandana scarf around his face. All she could see was the shining whites of his eyes and the gun pointing in her direction. Real or a toy? She didn’t want to know.

She handed over the bag. Keys, credit cards, telephone would now belong to this stranger.

But she held onto the gold locket around her neck. And her life.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Sarah Whiley

The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison.

Too scared to move, she realised she was holding her breath.

A single shot echoed off the bricks, shattering clay at her feet.

The shooter had found them.

She couldn’t believe this was happening. This was her high school, not the six o’clock news!

She felt something wet and realised she had peed her pants. She watched the yellow trickle out until two black boots stopped it short.

She squeezed her eyes shut and waited.

The click of an empty chamber told her, not all was lost after all.

🥕🥕🥕

Comic Relief by FloridaBorne

My mind in fog, the car wandered through a mall parking lot the day after New Year’s. A few empty spaces waited near an expensive store and I walked past a perfume counter with one goal.

I needed a black dress.

Passing the cosmetics counter, I hear wailing. No one scrambling to call 911, no sirens, just 2 high school girls consoling their friend over a broken nail.

I laughed at the irony. Should I tell the 3 Stooges, “Not all is lost?”

No. It was the first time I’d felt like smiling since my husband had passed away.

🥕🥕🥕

Signposts by Saifun Hassam

In the garden, Lisa grieved for Aunt Veronica, an artist and illustrator of all things botanical. Lisa’s own interest in archaeology was sparked on a family vacation with Veronica, to see prehistoric rock and cave paintings in Brazil. Not all is lost.

Veronica swiftly sketched the cave artwork, and the prehistoric villages. Lisa caught her aunt’s excitement. She learned how to glean the stories of people, to look for ancient and prehistoric signposts, when there are no written records.

Lisa inherited Veronica’s Library. Not all is lost. Veronica’s generous gift filled her with a deep abiding sense of gratitude.

🥕🥕🥕

Disaster Strikes by Teresa Grabs

Even when times looked their darkest, everyone could count of the sun to rise, and drive away the night and its memories. No one would ever believe that the sun would not rise, but that is exactly what happened on June 28, 3258. Reports indicated a massive black hole developed behind the sun and devoured it, just like one had to Jupiter three years earlier. We had less than twenty-four hours to get off this planet before we all perished. Thankfully though, our global distress signal was intercepted by the Third Intergalactic Fleet. I wonder if they eat humans.

🥕🥕🥕

Grant Gain by JulesPaige

Gather together, permit others
As they offer their aide
In your heart of hearts, fear not – forbid
Nightmares their tight grasp upon reality

Golden opportunities await
Angels in plain clothes to host
Individuals, families – some will
Need less others more…

Grant those who come as a visitor
An opportunity to become family
Include them as repairs begin –
Not all is lost…

healing can take years –
fears ebb and flow like water
mud can cloud good hope

let those in who filter out
dark diteris and debris

focus on mending
both that which is solid as
well as what’s unseen

🥕🥕🥕

Reality Check by D. Avery

“Pal, buy me a beer.”

“Cain’t Kid, spent ma beer money on the Go Fund Me fer Cynthia Riley.”

“Same here, Pal.”

“That’s good, Kid, ‘cause them folks up there really need ta dry out.”

“Whyn’t they jist come shelter here at the Ranch?”

“Ah, Kid, the Ranch is a wonnerful shelterin’ place, but yer always fergittin’ ‘bout the virtual elements of it.”

“Here ya go agin, Pal, havin’ ta remind me we’s fictional characters. But I really wanna help.”

“I’m sure the Rileys ‘preciate you givin’ up yer beer money, Kid.”

“I’m thirsty.”

“Could be worse.”

“Dang right.”

🥕🥕🥕

Ripley House of Healing (For Cynthia) by Charli MIlls

After the river subsided and rubble settled, Cynthia found a photo of her daughter at age nine lying face-down in red mud. Memories flood like the main floor of her 112-year-old home. She came to Copper Country to help the elderly. As a young intern, she worked out of a house below now buried in a debris field. She stayed, married, raised a family, and raised her voice to protect the vulnerable. She looks up at the house still standing, gutted of walls and floors. She stands up for her Ripley House of Healing. Her story is not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

You can help Cynthia Drake who had a Copper Country mountain slide into her house and force a river to reroute through her Ripley Home of Healing where Carrot Ranch was to host writing retreats. GoFundMe: Help the Drakes.

Bouquets

Bouquets capture a moment of bloom — flowers, emotions, smells — and become the focal point. A spring bouquet celebrates renewal, and flowers gathered at a grave mourn a passing.

Writers explored the moments and sensory relationships we have with bouquets. Gather here, we offer a bouquet of stories.

Based on the June 14, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet.

This collection is dedicated to the loving memory of Mark, a brother to Sherri Matthews.

PART I (10-minute read)

A Bouquet of Tears by Sherri Matthews

If forget-me-nots would bring you back, I would grow nothing else.

If an English Country Garden cooled your fire, I would gather every living plant and flower and bulb growing there, tie them together with a bright, red ribbon and send them by whatever means possible across the Shining Sea.

If lilies, white and pure, touched your brow and returned your smile, I would place them carefully in your hand and cry with joy.

But it cannot be.

So I bring my love in a single rose and lay it on your grave and I weep for wasted years.

***

For Mark, dear brother. ❤

🥕🥕🥕

Hope Beneath the Loss by Ruchira Khanna

“Hi, Pink Carnations!”

“Hi, Chrysanthemums!”

“Oh wait there come the Lilies,” said the chrysanthemum.

“I also see Yellow Roses in that lady’s hand.”

The Daffodils, Tulips, and the Gladioli with the yellow and the white carnations come along.

****

All these flowers are placed on the coffin while humans stand in a circle with folded hands.

At first, these flowers greet each other. Excited to form a concoction.

These blossoms together emit a fragrance that makes the Homosapien realize as they cry softly upon the loss that there is hope and promise even when pain and heartbreak surround them.

🥕🥕🥕

A Precious Spring by Saifun Hassam

Eagle Point Ridge was devastated first by a firestorm, then deep winter snows and spring thaw mud slides. Carmen drove up a steep valley road towards the timberline. She gazed at the scorched forlorn firs, spruce and pines among jagged rocks and boulders in the muddy valleys.

Near the road’s edge, a clump of bright green ferns caught her eye. Among the ferns was a bouquet of bear grass, tall green stalks crowned with tightly packed white flowers. The faint fragrance of the vibrant precious bouquet drifted in the slight breeze, a sign of hope for the days ahead.

🥕🥕🥕

Bundled Batch by JulesPaige

It was a cardboard bouquet – with sweet aroma of warm food. The people in the back of truck though they were in the middle of a fairy tale.

They were aliens… unknowns. Some were whisked away by princes who worked in the medical fields. But most were left with just some cool air and water. The stranger on the white horse galloped, after work and hearing their plight on the news – to the local pizzeria and just bought them a meal. Just because he didn’t know when they had eaten last. Could this temporary happy ending continue to last?

🥕🥕🥕

Wild Blooms by D. Avery

A bouquet is more than a bunch of flowers stuffed in a jar. The bouquet pictured is comprised largely of what many see as weeds, plucked from neglected margins. Others see wildflowers, beautiful with varied colors and textures.                 A bouquet is a purposeful arrangement of individual and diverse flowers picked and placed mindfully and with intent. A bouquet is vibrant and beautiful because of the structures and elements combined in the whole. It is a composition, not a single utterance.                                                                                                                A bouquet is a Gift to be given.

 

wild blooms, household jarred

bear witness at the table

everyone belongs

🥕🥕🥕

Tale for a Winter’s Night by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She leaned over the big black cauldron, face partially occluded in the shifting steam. Chopping and shredding, she added a pinch of this, a breath of that. Winter winds buffeted her door, seeking shelter. She cackled, stirring with a long wooden spoon.

Bringing the spoon’s edge to her lips, she took a tiny sip. “Something’s missing…”

Grabbing the glass jar from the furthest reaches of the shelf, she passed her hand over the pot, once…twice. She stirred and sniffed the rising bouquet, and smiled.

She switched the burner to simmer, and took up her Jane Austen.

She loved chili.

🥕🥕🥕

New Bouquets at Cheever’s by Paula Moyer

Sitting in the upscale-but-casual restaurant, Jean could not tell it had been a florist – Cheever’s. Now the restaurant was part of a different bouquet, the renaissance of downtown Oklahoma City.

One by one, flower by flower, new businesses sprouted in old buildings – an art gallery where Fred Jones Ford had been. A restaurant inside Cheever’s. As a salute to the history, each new business took on the name of the old one. Thanks to a city-wide sales tax, new life pulsed through the old part of town.

Jean and Lynn took their seats. Their salads were fresh as carnations.

🥕🥕🥕

Sundown Stroll by Chelsea Owens

Humidity cushioned their sunset movements. Emiline sensed it, always, in the dense Jamaican air.

“I feel like something’s pressing on my arms and legs,” Mark said, though with a smile.

Emiline answered with her own, with a light hand pulling wisps of beach-blown blonde from her eyes. Their aimless ambling soon led them within the resort gardens.

Each breathed deeply in. Clusters of pinkish blossoms blushed boldly against darker green. Snow-white Oleander winked from wall bushes. Their gaze drew skyward to admire a riot of orange.

“Nature’s bouquet,” she whispered. Speechless, he followed her through a tropic twilight.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by the darknetizen

The bouquet of fresh flowers lying in my trashcan looked so pretty, a many-hued mélange.

The red rose from the ice cream vendor, daffodil from the police officer, pink daisy from the little kid who lived down the street. Males have always loved me with such fervor. I cannot even recall most of them. In all candour, I would rather not. My beauty has always been a curse. Immortality even more so.

Centuries ago, my face launched a thousand ships and claimed even more lives. I am glad that nowadays men offer only flowers. I cannot claim more lives.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Robbie Cheadle

In the deep shadows under the stairs you may catch a glimpse of him. The form of Rex Bacon, dangling from the end of the rope he used to hang himself. An upended stool and a bouquet of wild flowers lie at his feet.

The flowers were for this beloved wife. On his last day of life, he had left work early and gathered the flowers for her during his walk home. When he got home, he found them together. In his rage he had killed her lover and escaped to the local pub where he had hung himself.

🥕🥕🥕

Complexity by Reena Saxena

Harvey is a best-selling author who never reads his own books. The interviewer looks perplexed in this episode of his show “Straight Talk with Genius Minds”.

“Sir, do you never feel the need to review what you wrote?”

“No, I simplify things as much as possible for the new age readers. But that is not my cup of tea.”

“And what would interest you?”

“A good, mature wine has a complex bouquet. But nobody has the time or patience to wait till it develops. So, I write micro-pieces for easy assimilation,” smiled the octogenarian legend, having busted popularity charts.

🥕🥕🥕

Finally Blooming by Frank Hubeny

That was the spring Alice turned the lawn into a big bouquet of flowers. It surprised Joe but looking at her face looking at the former lawn with a gentle smile she rarely showed him anymore made him grateful.

The neighborhood wives thought her odd for years. Her newfound gardening energy did not impress them. Alice’s view of them wasn’t pretty either.

That winter Alice died.

Joe kept her bouquet of former lawn going for the next decade as long as his life allowed. He received help especially towards the end and gifts of plants from the neighborhood wives.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer Posies by Colleen Chesebro, The Fairy Whisperer

The Litha preparations had been underway for days. Yesterday, the children had gathered bouquets of yellow daisies for us to carry on our journey to the bonfire which would honor the magnificence of Father Sun. The people were assembled, ready to pay homage to the One.

Excitement coursed through my veins, and I quivered. Tonight, my secret would be revealed. The mother had blessed me with the greatest gift of all. Inside, I felt the first fluttering of my tiny son.

My summer posies—

awash with an early dew

standing sentinel.

A gift of fertility,

honoring the summer sun.

🥕🥕🥕

Flower Power by kate @ aroused

Vibrant colours, sweet fragrance, singular flowers or bunched bouquets thrill with heartfelt joy! Those purchased or plucked make delightful offerings to one we wish to thank or cheer.

Brightening another’s day, claiming they are loved and dear. Garden blooms emit radiance to those passing through our neighbourhoods.

But best of all are those innocently picked by children … to thread a daisy chain; puff at the dandelion; discard petals to the chant ‘he love me, he loves me not’; or gigglingly gifted to a much adored mother. Our inner child beams playful smiles as flowers flourish irresistible profound power.

🥕🥕🥕

Simple, Humble Things by Kerry E.B. Black

The little girl ran to her mother, smile brighter than the dandelions wilting in her grip. She stood on tiptoe to present her gift, and her mother thanked her with a kiss.

Years later, she approached her mother with another fistful of yellow blooms. She sat, heedless of her business suit, and presented her gift. “When I was little, you taught me to appreciate the beauty and importance of simple, humble things.”

Her tears splashed the granite upon which her mother’s name was carved. The dandelions shone like miniature suns in contrast.

🥕🥕🥕

A Mother’s Bouquet (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Mama, flowers!” Lizzie stumbled through the cabin door, dropping her bouquet of Black-eyed Susans.

Sarah cringed as Lizzie wailed, wanting to escape the chores Mary gave her.  Lizzie’s brothers rushed in to help gather their sister’s spilled flowers.

Monroe calmed Lizzie while Jules and Cling gathered her bouquet, handing it back. Lizzie sniffled. Mary knelt with Baby Charles on her hip, and Lizzie thrust the flowers to her mother. “They are beautiful, Lizzie.”

Sarah’s heart ached for a little girl to gather a bouquet for her.  But she left her daughter in the grave in back in North Carolina.

🥕🥕🥕

A Posey Mosey by Bill Engleson

He thinks, “I could do better.”

She thinks, “I don’t require much. Just a sense that I am thought of, some gesture.”

And he thinks, “I’ve missed so many opportunities. I really am a slouch.”

And she muses, “Yes, you are, but that comes as no surprize.”

And he wonders, “Do I offer no surprises, anymore? Was it always so?”

She doesn’t hold back. “You’ve always been fairly predictable. Like I said, I don’t require much, and I expect less.”

And he finally realizes, “I’ve had a free ride, haven’t I? Should’ve gotten her a posey. At least one.”

🥕🥕🥕

Red Roses by Wallie and Friend

Clair had never liked red roses. They seemed to her too garish. Anyway there wasn’t much to be lost our gained in philosophizing over flowers, so Clair never really thought twice about whether she liked red roses or not until that roadside walk.

There he had stood with that rose between his fingers, breathing it in. The look in his eyes was so soft and charmed that for the first time, Clair loved roses. And for the first time she was trimming a bouquet, hoping it would be the first thing he saw when he came through the door.

🥕🥕🥕

Farewell Flowers by Anne Goodwin

Tulips blooming in buckets outside the florist’s. Should I? Or would it look cheap? The entire stock can’t repay what he’s given me; besides, women don’t buy men flowers.
I walk on. Walk back. Something exotic, like an orchid? Something simple, like a single white rose?

He’d like a bouquet, he’s a sharp-suited metrosexual. He’d be embarrassed, faffing about for a vase. Or worse, he’d interpret it, force it to mean something more.
Squirming like a kid, I hold out the foxgloves, scabious and daisies scavenged from the waste ground. Rather like myself. “Thank you,” he says. And smiles.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet Business by Miriam Hurdle

“My husband buys me bouquet every week,” Sandy blushed. She forgot who bought up the subject.

“It will get old in no time. Guys buy a bouquet every now and then,” Mr. Cole’s deep voice came from the other side of the room.

“They are still on honeymoon,” Mrs. Cole was embarrassed by her husband.

“Kyle is a devoted customer. He came to my floral shop for a special bouquet five months ago. I praised his affection for Sandy. He has been coming every week.”

“Sorry, I’m not trying to ruin your business,” Mr. Cole whispered to Ms. Laura.

🥕🥕🥕

Smart Home by H.R.R. Gorman

Master Ellen left me in my own devices every morning, heading off to work while I – her Smart Home – tended to her domestic needs. She returned every evening with a smile and a ‘thank you.’

A man, I’ll call him ‘Asshole,’ showed up at me with a bouquet. She let him in with his dirty shoes every time he arrived with flowers.

My gardening protocols kicked into overdrive. I grew flowers and made arrangements, leaving them at my door. She cared for my creations.

Eventually, Asshole returned. “Thank you for all the bouquets!”

He stepped back. “It wasn’t me.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquets by Susan Sleggs

When I got home from work the aroma of dinner, a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine waited. I exclaimed to my teenagers, “Wow. What’s the occasion?”

“Your birthday.”

“That’s next week.”

“We know. Surprise!”

“I’m going to cry.”

“Not allowed. Open the wine instead.”

“How did you get wine?”

“Dad took us. He said this Merlot has a great bouquet.”

“So Dad was involved in this?” I hesitated, took a deep breath and added, “You might as well call him to join us.”

“Really?”

“We told you, we’re just taking a break, not getting a divorce.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Wedding Bouquet by Hugh W. Roberts

She’d told all her friends where to stand so that when she threw her wedding bouquet, Tracey would catch it and be the next to marry. She’d told them to get the men to stand in line as well.

As the bouquet flew through the air, the atmosphere in the barracks hall of R.A.F Stanmore was one of happiness, laughter and joy. Not for the bride, though, as flashes of the war-torn country she’d come from went through her mind.

Pressing a small button concealed under her wedding dress, the flowers scatted and mixed with blood, flames and bone.

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

With Love by Di @ Pensitivity101

Her hands were bloody and dirty, nails broken and uneven.

But the smile was a full one thousand watts as she handed the bouquet to me.

‘From the garden’ she announced proudly.

‘I picked them myself, just for you. Sorry they’re a bit untidy and not tied with a fancy ribbon, but I wanted you to have them.’

Mr Robbins looked over at me and smiled sadly.

They were actually his roses, from his garden, but Gran didn’t realise that.

Gone were the days when she tended her own flower beds, but no doubt the memories were still there.

🥕🥕🥕

Love’s Bouquet by Kay Kingsley

She sat on the hot green grass watching him run circles around her with the boundless energy only a two year old possessed.

As an adult we age by the decade but children grow by the day, each blink like the slide from life’s projector, a snapshot of growth. From coo’ing to smiling, from standing and walking to talking, it’s endless discovery ignited.

Her warm daydream is interrupted by a loud “Here momma!” and his small fingers extend a bunch of tiny, squished, grass flowers. Her heart nearly explodes with pure happiness. Love never picked a more beautiful bouquet.

🥕🥕🥕

A Special Bouquet by Norah Colvin

As expected, they found her in her garden with a bouquet of fresh-picked flowers: daisies, forget-me-nots, peonies, zinnias, sprays of bleeding hearts and honeysuckle, a bottlebrush or two, a bunch of gumnuts and some greenery—to make each colour shine.

Her garden was her sanctuary, her confidante, her joy. She said families were like gardens, with beauty in variety. Every special day—birth, birthday, wedding, or funeral—she arranged a meaningful bouquet. In ninety-five years, she’d seen lives come and go. The last of nine, no doubt now who’d be next. How could she know this was her day?

🥕🥕🥕

Death By Roses by Sarah Whiley

“Death by Roses. What kind of a perfume name was that?!”

She selected it from the rows of delicate bottles standing behind glass doors; hoping her sister would like the present.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Ooooooh! Death by Roses!!! How did you know?”

“Just a hunch! Glad you like it.”

Her sister squirted and sprayed herself liberally, before spraying the bouquet over everyone.

Feeling pleased, she didn’t notice at first.

Then her mother screamed, “I thought you’d grown out of your anaphylaxis!”

She faded to black, thinking, “Death by Roses”…

🥕🥕🥕

Love & Betrayal by Anurag Bakhshi

I stared at him incredulously, my eyes and my heart filled with tears of hurt and betrayal.

“You leave me hanging at the airport on the day that we are supposed to elope, then disappear for weeks, don’t answer my calls or texts, and now you suddenly pop up and offer me these pathetic flowers?” I hollered like a madwoman as I stomped on the bouquet of dead poppies lying on my doorstep.

He looked at me with vacant eyes, and then replied in a disjointed voice, “Sorry, but these were the only flowers kept on my unmarked grave.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bitter Bouquet by Mardra Sikora

Dried petals and stems standing in clouded water greeted him.

Never before had these rewards of his affection appeared less than perfectly tended.

She provided tending. Provided status, security. She cultivated his reputation and ambition.

In the beginning, he signified his passion with red roses. Then the bouquets arrived bigger, more elaborate, and overflowed with color, camouflaging the guilt. Each blossom signified devotion, but not fidelity. Well-tended consolation prizes.

Until she realized that a living rose bush, even with all its thorns, better reciprocated the life and beauty she craved, more than any short-lived bouquet he presented without redemption.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Bouquet by Jack Schuyler

Dry stems and wilted petals blow gently in the wind. Jammed into sidewalk cracks and kicked into the street by passersby, the broken bouquet lies strewn beneath the hot sun. I cannot take the brown from the mashed petals and I cannot restore the green to the stems which lay bent like rotting asparagus in the gutter. The decorative plastic has long since blown down the highway, so I gather the carcass into a dirt stained grocery bag. And what was the occasion? A wedding? A peace offering? I gather the last petal into the bag. It’s over now.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Deborah Lee

“You got a job offer! But this is thrilling!”

Jane laughs. She pulls a bottle from her backpack with a flourish. “It’s not much, but we can celebrate.”

“I’m honored to help you celebrate, dear girl,” the old man says. “I wish I had proper glasses, to appropriately savor the bouquet of this lovely drop.” His eyes dance.

“Bouquet,” Jane snorts, uncapping the wine. “Two-Buck Chuck doesn’t have a bouquet. More like a…twang.”

“A pungency.”

“A stench!” Jane squeals, giddy.

Henry drinks, wipes the the bottle, passes it. “I could not be happier for you,” he says quietly.

🥕🥕🥕

There’s Nothing More Annoying Than A Smart-Arse by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know, those guys are so annoying, hee-hawing about the wine.’

‘Morgan, they’re young, they…’

‘What is it about wine that brings out pretensions? “Lovely bouquet” and “it has notes of peach and cobblers”. Why don’t they just drink it?’

‘You’re the same, with your car. All horse-power and litres and torque and…’

‘That’s different. They’re technical terms.’

‘You use them to contrafabulate the listener.’

‘You made that up.’

‘You don’t know though. You’re just trying to confuse people.’

‘A bouquet is a bunch of flowers, not a wine scent.’

‘Actually it’s the tertiary aroma, caused…’

‘Shut up, Logan.’

🥕🥕🥕

Catch Me If You Can by Juliet Nubel

Julia had hovered behind her sister all day, following her like a faithful young puppy. A puppy in teetering heels and an atrociously tight scarlet dress.

She was the older one, surely she should have had a say in what she wore today?

As she lingered she kept a careful eye on the bouquet. The scent from its red and white roses had tickled her nostrils all day.

When was her sister ever going to throw the damned thing?

Julia prayed that her months of training as the goalie of the local female football team would finally pay off.

🥕🥕🥕

[misled] by Deb Whittam

The exchange always happened at the end of the day, that was when most looked the other way.

Her old gnarled hands would clasp the product close, until he arrived and then no words were spoke.

He would take the offering and turn away quick, she would smile not batting an eyelid.

Most thought it a tradition, one of those old family ways.

No one seemed to realise that the weeds he received, were more than they perceived.

Weeds and such is what they said, he just nodded … they chose not to see, let them be misled.

🥕🥕🥕

Offering To The Land by Jan Malique

She stood looking at the expanse of wild meadow with wonder. It was a rolling carpet of vibrant colour and scent, touched with the kiss of golden sunlight. Truly heaven!

The elders of the tribe had chosen her to carry the offering of garden flowers. A gift to the land as thanks for retreat of the great ice sheets, and continual good harvests.

She waited for a sign from the land that the gift had been accepted. Silence fell, then a sweet wind moved over the meadow. The Guardian came slowly forward and kissed her gently on the forehead.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by FloridaBorne

She stared at the bouquet of long-stemmed yellow roses, tears streaming.

The best florist in town, the baby breath arranged perfectly in a cut crystal vase, his intentions unmistakable, she opened the embossed envelope and read the gold lettering on an elegant card, “You were right.”

Yesterday, they’d argued about his late nights at work, and excessive spending. She’d accused him of having an affair.

She’d once quipped, “If you want a divorce, just send me a dozen yellow roses.”

He knew she hated that color. He didn’t know she was pregnant.

He’d learn to hate child support more.

🥕🥕🥕

Hi Noon at the Bouquet Corral by D. Avery

“Pal! Where’s Shorty at?”

“Whoa, Kid, what’s wrong?”

“The ranch hands! They’s all off in the upper meadows an’ in the woods sniffin’ flowers an’ makin’ daisy chains.”

“So?”

“So?! They should be makin’ hay, not pickin’ flowers! We gotta be makin’ hay; sowin’ an’ reapin’. Git ready fer winter. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, whyn’t you relax, go sniff some flowers yerself?”

“Cain’t, no time, gotta replenish the carrot bin, git hay inta the barn. Winter’s comin’. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, go back ta the meadow. Shorty’s there gatherin’ flowers.”

“What?”

“Fuel fer the soul, Kid. Important work, time well spent.”

Man Glisten

A softer, gentler beard — a man who dares to glitter and reveal his man glisten. This sort of man breaks ties with traditions and expectations. It’s vulnerability. And perhaps more.

Writers explored the unusual side of what society expects of men and what men choose to do independently.

The following is based on the June 7, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about man glisten.

PART I (10-minute read)

It’s What’s Inside that Counts – Believe That If You Want by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know, Logan, I thought I’d get a tatt.’

‘Berk. That’s for teens and Maoris.’

‘Just want to be different.’

‘Don’t bother with such fripperies. Just be your weirdy self.’

‘Yeah but that doesn’t make me stand out. What if I dyed my beard?’

‘Call that a beard?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You know, the other day when that guy collapsed at work?’

‘Yeah?’

‘They shouted ‘Man down!’?’

‘Yeah?’

‘I thought someone was trying to describe your beard to someone who’d not met you.’

‘That’s not fair.’

‘It’s bum-fluff, mate. Rub hard with a flannel, and you’d lose it.’

🥕🥕🥕

Glitz Man by kate @ aroused

Mick streaked his hair, wore classy clothes, saw himself as a leader of the Men’s Liberation Movement. Had applied for paternity leave before his wife gave birth, a public service entitlement. Bragged about the number of nappies he’d changed In a radio interview, he had counted every one.

Being a migrant, he took his wife’s name for she was from the landed gentry. Once his kids were at school, he ran for local council with never a qualm that his wife earned more.

Kid sprinkled him with glitter as he left for a meeting, laughing, comfortable with his choices!

🥕🥕🥕

Glistening by Jack Schuyler

Glistening, he took the stage.

I sipped my drink and pushed the pink cherry back into the glass with my tongue.

He was strong and graceful. With all the force of a tribal chieftain, he exercised his charm with the delicacy of butterfly wings.

It was mesmerizing.

Using every corner of the stage, he came face to face with the pulsing audience one second and flew high into the air the next.

When the dance finished, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. In a daze, I rose from my barstool and burst into embarrassing applause.

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten by Kay Kingsley

“What makes you feel good?” she asked him. “I don’t know. Sports? Or maybe working on my car.” He paused, thinking harder about this question than he anticipated.

She smiled a soft, playful smile. He was the kindest person she ever met.

“You know I love you, right?”

Now he was the one smiling, a smile colored with a bit of blush.

Embarrassed, he stroked his chin exposing hidden beard glitter that sparkled in the sun.

Only the strongest men play dress up with their 6 year old daughter and his man glisten is an endearing badge of honor.

🥕🥕🥕

Metallic Man by Juliet Nubel

The tiny drops of water clung to his broad shoulders like sequins, sparkling in the hot summer sun. Some fell to the ground, others were blown dry as he sprinted from the beach to the bike park.

His eyes scanned the dozens of lanes, searching for his space-age contraption, the one he would crouch over for the next five hours, pedalling for his life.

Then would come the marathon, where more pearls of sweat would bejewel his pounding body – this body he had transformed from a large white lump of lard to a lean, tanned, glistening piece of Iron.

🥕🥕🥕

Choosing by D. Avery

Both were tall, strong, good looking. Both had good prospects. Both were getting frustrated over her reluctance to choose.

Wade finally confronted Emerson, demanding they fight each other like men. He demanded this despite her protests for him to stop.

“It’s the only way!” he insisted. “Best man wins!” A crowd gathered around what was sure to be a close and brutal match.

But Emerson refused to fight, said he wouldn’t treat her like a prize purse. He turned and walked away. She caught up. When his eyes glistened with happiness, she knew she had chosen the right man.

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten by Frank Hubeney

Peter’s daughter laughed. She could see the glitter in his hair. Not much, but enough to sparkle.

“You still got it!” She said.

“You gave it to me,” Peter responded.

“You’re glis…glistening?”

“Yeah. I’m glad you let me glisten for a while.”

Peter really was glad. It was not easy for her to throw that glitter on him last week. She showed unexpected initiative. In case showering removed too much of it, he retouched his hair to make sure she would see some before he guided her wheelchair to the kitchen table for breakfast.

What a sparkling day!

Secret Love by Heather Gonzalez

At ripe old age of 99, all Sarah could remember of her true love was the way his skin glistened in the sun every time he got out of the water that summer.

No one ever knew about their secret love affair. They had been so careful. Most of their encounters were at an abandoned part of the river. That summer, they let their bodies intertwine beneath the surface.

To this day, no one knew that her daughter’s father wasn’t her husband.

She could only remember the way his skin glistened in the sun, but that was enough.

🥕🥕🥕

Silver Sparkles by Kerry E.B. Black

They celebrated their silver anniversary on a cruise.

Haley donned a new gown, but nothing disguised the ravages of a hard life on delicate skin. She thought she’d packed her cares, but they manifested in dark bags beneath her eyes. Worries snaked from her temples, dye-defying silver streaks. Translucent powder sunk into laugh lines and danced along crow’s feet.

Larry took his wife’s hand, enamored of her beauty. When she nestled in for a hug, she left some of her makeup glistening in his beard. It caught the light so that when they toasted, not only their smiles sparkled.

🥕🥕🥕

All-Inclusive by Bill Engleson

“Move over,” she directs. I have no objection, so we shift our baking bodies inches deeper into the shade of the giant parasol. Temporarily reprieved from the ferocity of the Varadero sun, she points to the apparition.

“Italian, maybe?”

“Not American, that’s for sure,” I opine, adding, “stupid embargo…”

“He’s not alone.”

A sleek cinder-burnt woman in a leopard bikini joins him.

His leopard briefs are band-aid thin. His body, muscular, with just a hint of paunch, is a Vaseline vision.

“Envious?” she prods.

“If I was an oil spill, maybe. Do you want another Havana Loco?”

“Hmm, yes.”

🥕🥕🥕

Summer Shower by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Her bus was late.

Benny stood under the awning, doing his best to shield his dog with the umbrella. Nevertheless, the pooch was soaked.

“Sorry, Roger,” he murmured, kneeling to stroke the dog’s ears, “We’ve gotta give up.”

Roger whined, licking a runnel of rain off his master’s forearm.

Benny stood, closing and shaking the umbrella. He leaned it against a wall. “Don’t need this, eh boy?”

Together, they strolled into the twilight as the streetlights lit up.

Minutes later, she marveled at her good fortune in finding the umbrella. It would be a long, wet walk home, otherwise.

🥕🥕🥕

After the Adventure by Wallie & Friend

She found him sleeping. The sun through the leaves warmed his skin in green and gold light, his long lashes casting shadows across his cheek.

Ami sat beside him. When she had gone looking for him, she hadn’t expected to find him here like this, but it seemed somehow right that in the aftermath of their adventure he and she should find a moment like this, a moment of apart from the others—a moment of rest.

Ami didn’t wake him. Instead, she settled beside him, her cheek on her arm, and watched the sunlight glisten on his face.

🥕🥕🥕

Magic In The Air by Sherri Matthews

Rumours of the old man living in the woods ran rife through the village, but nobody had ever seen him. Tim, determined to prove his existence, donned binoculars and strode out towards the abandoned house in the woods. Hours later, Tim’s flagging excitement surged when he saw a man walking towards him. The man wore a black cloak with a hood over his black hair, but his white beard glistened in the sunlight. Tim gasped, and the man smiled. “I’m not who you think I am son, but if it’s magic you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.”

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten in the Madhouse by Anne Goodwin

In some ways, Henry found it reassuring. This was a madhouse after all. But the poor man, boogying to a solitary rhythm, would attract derision outside. Someone should restrain him. Was it light reflected from the Christmas tree, or was that glitter in his hair? Was there alcohol in the punch?

At least Henry’s role would be minimal: passing the patients’ gifts to the Mayor. Then home to sanity. Yet his face froze as glitter-man sashayed over, grinning as he offered his hand. “Thanks for coming, Santa, Santa’s Elf. I’m Clive Musgrove, charge nurse. We spoke on the phone.”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

The Last Story? by Di @ pensitivity101

She sat on his knee as she’d always done, waiting for him to begin telling a story.

He faltered, looking into those big hazel flecked saucers, feeling lost, overwhelmed, inadequate, and extremely blessed.

How many more evenings would they share? He was old and tired, time was precious.

She looked at him quizzically, touched a finger to the jewel glistening on his leathery cheek.

‘Granpa?’ she said, ‘Why are you crying?’

He smiled, taking her tiny hand in his liver-spotted and gnarled one, slowly raising it to his lips.

‘They’re not tears, sweetheart. They are the Diamonds of Love.’

🥕🥕🥕

Glitter Smiles Glisten by Norah Colvin

Relentless rain meant no beach for the country cousins. They spent eternity on the verandah, making artworks, playing games, and bickering.

On the last day, when Mum said to clear space for their mattresses, they fought over who’d do what. Toys and games ended up in a haphazard tower with the glitter bucket balanced on top.

When Dad bent for goodnight kisses, he stumbled and demolished the tower. Glitter went everywhere—including all over Dad. The children gasped.

“Your hair glistens, Dad,” smiled the littlest.

Dad smiled too, then everybody laughed.

Dad wore a hat to work that week.

🥕🥕🥕

Prideful Glisten by H.R.R. Gorman

The little girl surveyed her dress and scratched at the crinoline lining. “Why am I dressed up?” she asked.

Dr. Roberts crouched and poked his daughter on the shoulder. “Today is graduation day. It means you’re growing up. You want to dress up nice for graduation, yes?”

“I sure do – thank you, Daddy, for this fancy dress!” She twirled in her sequined skirt, the gems catching the light.

Dr. Roberts reached out a hand and led the kindergarten graduate to the station for the ride to school. He smiled, the glisten of his teeth outshining the sequins’ prideful sparkle.

🥕🥕🥕

Educational Enigma? by JulesPaige

“Mommy why doesn’t Papa man glisten?” Adrianna asked her mother.

At the cliff’s edge, Stan had wanted to clear the debris by their home by the lake. He’d at least asked Junior with him. Though Joan wasn’t sure
that father and son had enough engineering genes between them both to change a light bulb. Joan was curious as to what Adrianna was getting at. “What do you mean, honey?”

“Well,” the five year old daughter proclaimed as if she knew all the secrets of the world,“Teacher said most animals, the boys are show-offs,
like the peacock bird.”

🥕🥕🥕

Pride by D. Avery

William, reaching for his tuxedo, wondered why, of all the birds in the world, men emulate penguins when they dress up. His eyes hungrily took in the myriad colors, and his hands explored the many textures of his wife’s clothes. The teal feathered boa from the masquerade ball complemented her sequin shawl that he had draped over his shoulders. He marveled at how both sparkled, the colors shimmering. Emerging proud as a peacock from the walk-in closet, William joined his wife, still pruning and preening at her vanity mirror. Her eyes glistened as he reached for her eyeliner.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

The ogre woke to fairies jumping on his bed. Pink tutus and wings flapping, giggles, pixie dust dancing in the morning sunlight.

“Get up. We made tea.”

With a grunt, the ogre shuffled to the kitchen.

“One or two sugars, Daddy?”

“Make it a double.”

Two pinches of glitter. The ogre slogged down his tea, wiped his mouth, a rare smile cracking the cast of worry on his face.

Knock. Knock.

The fairies flitted. “Mom’s here.”

The ogre started for the fairies’ bags. The smaller fairy took his hand. “Do you want my wings?”

The ogre nodded. “Of course.”

🥕🥕🥕

Forget-Me-Not by Sarah Whiley

I lit the candle, marking five years since our loss.

A single tear rolled down my cheek, which I indulged with just a little self-pity. Thinking again, of what might have been.

It never got any easier. And to make it worse, this year, my husband had totally forgotten.

I was hurt. He knew how hard this day was.

I heard the key turn in the lock and quickly wiped my eyes. I turned and was greeted by a beautiful bouquet of forget-me-nots.

More beautiful, was the glisten in my husband’s eyes, as he pulled me into his arms.

🥕🥕🥕

Daddy Can Dance (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs

Two years after a bad motorcycle accident, Carl was the only father at the Kindergarten Father/Daughter dance in a wheelchair. He had trouble keeping track of Katie in the crowd, but he came home with a feeling of exhilaration.

His wife smiled at the glitter on his suit. “How did you get covered?”

“Lots of Katie’s friends wanted a ride on my lap, and they had on sparkly dresses.”

“Pretty, but I’ll never get it all out.”

“That’s fine, every time it glistens, I’ll celebrate being alive, and remember twirling with Katie and her friends.”

“Well said, my love.”

🥕🥕🥕

Hair, Skin, Sun by Paula Moyer

Jean and Steve did summer weekends at Mille Lacs – that gigantic, shallow inland lake, smack in the middle of Minnesota. Swimming off the pier was a near-sunset event for Steve. Jean often looked at him and marveled. We’re both “white,” she thought, but Steve? Seriously white.

That evening he lathered up in sunscreen, slid off the pier and floated, belly up.
His chest hair was so thick that sunlight glistened jewel-like on the strands and then refracted when bouncing against his wet, shiny skin. Sunrays danced against Steve’s chest, a giant iridescent opal, resting displayed on satin Mille Lacs.

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten – Progress! by M J Mallon

‘What’s that?’ asked the little girl in the department store.

‘It’s the new Father Christmas. He’s called man glisten because he listens to all the little girls and boys while he glistens.’

‘But I liked the old Father Christmas with the long white beard, fat tummy and the red suit,’ said his daughter with a tear in her eyes.

‘It’s progress, honey. Old Father Christmas wasn’t bringing money into the department store anymore.’

‘Do you want to meet him?’

‘No!’

‘Look! His long beard, psychedelic suit and his reindeer glisten.’

‘I don’t care! I want old, fat, red suit!’

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten by MRMacrum

Joyce looked up at her husband John and said, “Oh great. Look what you’ve done now?”

Oblivious to verbal cues, John just looked at Joyce and grunted.

“Hey, snap out of it. I think we’re done here. ………….. Would you please move. Your sweat is dripping on me.”

“Huh?” John’s eyes said, “Nobody home.” He composed himself. “My Sweat? What about those sweaty handprints you left on me?

Joyce smiled at John. “Women don’t sweat, they glow.”

“I see. ………… men don’t sweat either. We glisten. …. Now let’s move on. These fence posts aren’t going to plant themselves.

🥕🥕🥕

The Roughneck by Teresa Grabs

For twelve weeks at a time, Buck was a roughneck on an off-shore drilling rig. The men were men, and that’s the way they liked it. Leathered skin, often covered in dirt and sweat, only amplified his ruggedness and no one could take a punch like Buck. His beard made him look like he just walked out of a Jack London story of the North.

Daisy squealed as Missy opened the playroom door. “Daddy funny!”

Missy couldn’t help but laugh at Buck sitting on his knees, at a tea party, wearing pink fairy wings, with glitter in his beard.

🥕🥕🥕

Glitterbeard by Allison Maruska

Darkness settles on me, around me, through me. It’s impenetrable. Undeniable.

I shake the bottle. Ten seconds is all I need. Ten seconds to escape.

One last glance outside. I used to feel joy on a spring day. I remember it as a cold fact.

Zach sits on his porch with his preschooler. His chin is lifted, and she’s sprinkling something into his thick, black beard.

Glitter?

I set the bottle down and head across the street.

Glitterbeard looks up as I approach. “Hey, man! You like it?”

I smile.

It’s enough to poke a hole in the darkness.

🥕🥕🥕

The Humble Man by Michael Grogan

The humble man knew he was up against it. The shelter for the homeless was a pie in the sky venture argued so many who coveted everything they thought they had a right to.

Greed and lust prevailed, and it was every man for himself. The homeless suffered the cold, the heat but more so the derision of a society who didn’t care.

He built a rough shelter, it was warm and clean and appreciated by those in need. When he stood back to reflect on his efforts, those who watched were amazed by the glow from within him.

🥕🥕🥕

Lightning Bugs by Papershots

For a long time there had been no reason to do it up. Now it was essential. Who would come to such a secluded spot but with modern conveniences? Inherited deadweight would now sparkle again. The actors checked in a few hours before the opening, to reenact historical deeds. Their makeup glistened in the stage- and moon- light. Somebody’s eyes met and bodies twinkled after the memorized lines and the welcoming of guests. Much later one was still welcoming; the other crying made-up tears in the glare of 19th century lamps. But scintillating coincidences had definitely worked their charm.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Saifun Hassam

The Explorer rafts came swiftly around the bend of the roaring and thunderous Kemper River. Jeff was in the leading solo raft. The old broken bridge had finally collapsed into the torrential waters. Before he could react, an unexpected surge threw Jeff into the churning foaming river. Valerie and Jody rafted furiously towards the right bank, staying close to the man glisten and perilous in the relentless rush of waters. The other Explorer rafts plunged up and down, fighting the downstream surge to form a barrier across the river. Strong hands pulled the man glisten from the raging waters.

🥕🥕🥕

For Our Bearded Buckaroo Bards by D. Avery

“Men listen? They ain’t great listeners Pal.”

“Not like you.”

“Huh?”

“Shorty said ‘man glisten’ Kid.”

“What’s that?”

“Could be glitter in a beard or jist bein’ okay with glitter in a beard.”

“Huh. Well, is it okay? Ain’t ranchin’ cowboy types s’posed ta be rough an’ tough? Buckaroo Nation women are all warriors. Are all the men here good looking?”

“That’s Lake Woebegone. Here men look good if they know when ta hold ‘em an’ know when ta fold ‘em, know that it ain’t weak ta turn the other cheek.”

“An’ if their cheeks are glittered, they’re golden.”