Home » Flash Fiction Collections
Category Archives: Flash Fiction Collections
Every ranch has chores from simmering beans to growing carrots to soaping saddles. Chores are universal.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
PART I (10-minute read)
Tales Out of School by D. Avery
She loved the pedagogy, the art and science of teaching children, of engaging all learners. When she taught she learned, delving deeply into the topic when developing units of study. She led her students by following their lead. She relished helping her students make connections and demonstrate their learning creatively.
Then came the canned curriculum, the boxed units.
“This will be easier for all teachers.”
Easier isn’t better. Let me do it my way, she said.
“Curriculum delivery should all be the same. You can do your thing as long as you follow the program.”
Teaching became a chore.
Tales Out of School by R. V. Mitchell
“Okay Marines, liberty is scheduled to commence at 1100. Unless this field day is finished, not a single one of you wastes of space is setting foot out of this barracks,” the sergeant snapped, before turning on his heel and heading back to his office.
“You heard him,” Corporal Chin said to his squad. “Meissner and Reece empty those shit cans. White and Cortez get this deck swabbed. Doc, you and Smitty get the head swabbed.”
The head was a daunting proposition, but Hospitalman Davis used Navy ingenuity, finishing on time by overflowing the toilets to speed the mopping.
The Power of Dusting by Eliza Mimski
Since the quarantine, Darla had assigned herself one chore per day to keep from losing her mind. Normally, when working, she never had time to do anything but make her bed and maybe do the dishes. Now, months into the Covid, she’d become a dust aficionado. She hunted down dust on the tops of doors, in the corners of rooms, behind the couch, and other secretive places where it tried, unsuccessfully, to hide. Try as it might, it couldn’t escape her suction vacuum cleaner, her dustag and Pledge, her paper towels and water. “I’m coming for you,” she screamed.
Slipping by Deborah Dansante-White
Before Anita’s perceived organic emancipation from reality, she had, as a child, been required to balance a book on her head; to diligently RSVP, no matter how much she disliked the inviter and to make her bed each morning. Anita remembers this as she places the shiny box behind the bin row, carefully unfastening then squaring each corner precisely upon her once inconceivable pillow. Anita is pleased with her find and decides easily that cobblestones are almost buttery when laminated. Anita’s housekeeping chores completed for the day, she slips into restless sleep and into dreams of discarded shopping carts.
Blueberries by Charli Mills
Blueberries spilled to the ground. “Like this, Kev.” Fran righted the bucket, setting it between the toddler’s bare feet. She knelt behind him, gently covering his hands with hers to pull fat, round berries from bushy strands. It was a bit like milking a cow, she mused. Kev pulled berries on his own, squishing a few into crimson juice. She smiled at her nephew and knelt to pick enough blueberries to make a pie. She didn’t mind babysitting his parents could vacation. Maybe country life would stall the creep of urban shadows. Her sister never did like the farm.
Another Planet Maybe by Donna Matthews
“I don’t want to set the table,” Nicole wailed.
“Why not love?” I asked while trying to grab her up in a hug.
“Well…if we don’t set the table, how will we eat the food?”
Nicole scoffs and stomps off.
But I get it. The table setting IS tedious, AND the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and all the other chores on the list. I wonder what it would be like living a chore-less existence? But please – a ridiculous proposal. Maybe on another planet or in another lifetime, but this one right here, dinner isn’t gonna cook itself.
The Bored Teen by Ruchira Khanna
“Pick up your plates, Nate. That’s the least you can do around the house,” I shouted at my teen in a high decibel.
“Mom! I get tired doing the same chore three times a day.” he retorted.
I stopped stirring the pot and gave him a confused look as if he had just declared that he has graduated from college; without going to one.
He saw that look and muttered, “A teen’s life is all about being with friends, and in these times, I’ve been eating home-cooked food. That is such a chore,” and he let out a sigh!
Listening by Doug Jacquier
Listening to our adult kids when they whine about how the world never gives them a break is a chore. Listening to politicians whose tin ears and stone hearts belong to the funders who put them there is a chore. Listening to teenagers who sheet home all the world’s ills to our generation and opt for despair is a chore. But listening to the magpies caroling to each other as they feed their new screeching chicks and listening to the whispering of the veg patch growing and listening to the desultory traffic of our village is not a chore.
Chores by kathy70
Never called chores in my house as a child, just the price you paid for the joy of living here. We were a house full of people, 10 plus the birds. Saturday chores/baths/laundry day. Descriptions on a paper slip went into the chore jar. Oldest picked first. We all watched and secretly cheered when our least-liked was gone. Today I have the dining room, dust 1st, then sweep next wash the floor. Now my favorite, polish the wood, I still like the smell of the polish on wood. Funny how a smell brings a happy memory to a tough time.
Domesticity drove her crazy. Or was it merely my muck made her mad? A ten-pound food-processing system: in went puréed parsnip, out came puke and shit. Now she’s the one in nappies, I flutter around her in kid gloves.
I left her once; guilt made me boomerang back. Or perhaps the hope she’d finally love me, now she had time to spare.
People say I’m saintly. I say I’ve no choice. They don’t see how easy it is, behind the cooking and cleaning and laundry. How easy to mess with the mind of someone you’ve known your entire life.
Chores by Simon
Why aren’t you taking her?
She was a care taker, we can’t trust these people?
These people? frowned, She tied an apron herself, pay me then!
You shouldn’t do any chores, undo this apron!
She raised her voice, She had the world’s toughest job, taking care of old people. She lost beautiful soul’s front of her eyes, Knowing they will leave, she loved them, served them from heart. she is jobless now, I want to help her & I will.
Sigh, whatever, undo your apron, and stop hurting yourself, she is appointed!
She hugged her mom, said “Thank you!”
Made To Tend by Michelle Vongkaysone
I tend to my home.
Only I occupy it now.
My family has left me.
They seek better things.
I’m left with their housework.
I clean, wash clothes and cook.
It dulls the pain within my heart.
Even living is another chore.
I can’t thrive without my kin.
I’m not enough for myself.
I want to live for them.
Without them, I toil vainly.
My life is a series of chores.
However, I adhere to them.
One day, they’ll return home.
Then, we can live like before.
I tend to my fleeting hopes.
Only they share my home now.
Tea and Biscuits with the Carer by M J Mallon
“That’s the blueberries washed!” she said with a smile.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Put the kettle on,” she said.
“Don’t you want to leave anything for the carer to do?”
She didn’t answer, instead she said, ““Get the pavlova and cream. Mini ones in the cupboard over there.”
I opened the biscuit tin and arranged them on a plate.
“What time’s she coming?”
“Now! Better wipe the table,” she said.
The carer bustled in.
Ten Again by Gloria McBreen
Norah’s room gleamed. Mamma will be pleased with her. She’s quicker at doing her chores now. Not like last year, when her mother cancelled her birthday party because she didn’t get them all done in time. Silly girl Norah. That won’t happen today. Her friends will soon be here and it’ll be the best party ever.
‘How’s Norah today?’ Nurse Annie asked her assistant.
‘She’s happy. She’s ten today…again!’
‘Bless her,’ Annie smiled.
‘I’ll nip out for a cream sponge.’
Norah blew out all ten candles on her cake as her companions in the nursing home sang happy birthday.
Vacuuming by Hugh W. Roberts
Having murdered his chore-loving wife, Herbert did the unthinkable and scattered her ashes throughout the house.
“That’ll teach you,’ Herbert chuckled. “Lived-in. Not a showhouse.”
On getting home from work the following day, the house was spotless. Unbeknown to Herbert, his wife had employed a domestic help to come in once a week.
That night, the sound of hoovering woke Herbert. Yet downstairs, the hoover was unplugged and stored under the stairs.
Questions: Had Herbert’s wife come back to haunt him? Was it time to buy a new vacuum cleaner? Or should he empty the cylinder of his wife?
Occupational Hazards? by JulesPaige
daydreams are cut short
my cat visitors seek out
attention from me
I pet, they sometimes purr but
mostly demand attention
one more week before
they make a return trip to
their adoptive folks
At the top of my chore list this past week and for next is to take care of my interlopers, two cats about a year old. They belong here, briefly. I am their chef cook and bottle washer, litter box cleaner, comforter and entertainer. Occasionally I get rewarded with a delicate cat purr. I’m behind on other chores, inanimate things can wait. Living things first!
PART II (10-minute read)
Chores by Joanne Fisher
It had been a busy day for farm chores, Cindy thought. Aside from doing the housework, she had been planting new rows of carrots, checking how the corn was doing, getting rid of weeds, and clearing land for a new project.
Now it was mid-afternoon and she decided to sit in the sun for a few minutes. Just as soon as she had, Jess appeared.
“It’s alright for some!” Jess said with a disapproving look. “If you’re not doing anything, you can always help with the fencing.” Cindy rolled her eyes, but slowly got up and followed her wife.
Getting Things Done by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa looked disgusted. “Would you please help me with the laundry and dishes. I have a meeting tonight.”
With a twinkle in his eye, Michael responded, “I’ve got my own chore of getting fast enough at the fingering on my new tin whistle to be able to keep up with the band.”
She swatted his arm. “How about I take the whistle with me and when I get home you’ll have the other things done.”
“Dear woman, please, don’t start sounding like your mother making threats.”
Tessa laughed, “That’s on unfair analogy. We’ll share the chores.”
“Yes’m,” he grinned.
Preptober Chore by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She stared at the first run, several scenes of a promising short story. She sighs at the hand-written rollercoaster of initiating events, triggers, resolutions, a final dramatic crisis, and a resolution that leaves the reader both satisfied, and wanting more. There’s also the novel…
This story is for Nano. Her usual mode of running after the muse, pants afire, has been foresworn. The project begs more consideration. She scribbles more notes, crumples paper, and digs through a messy drawer for colored pens. Prep and planning is a chore.
The cat strolls by, looking for dinner.
Hungry herself, she bails.
Lynn Valley by Saifun Hassam
Shirley was dog-tired from her job as sous-chef at Hannah’s restaurant. She returned home to find her sister Carole fast asleep on the living room couch. Terry, 12, and Pauline, 13, were curled up in sleeping bags.
Shirley soaked dirty dishes in the sink and wiped the counter clean. Kitchen greens went into a bag for the mulch patch. She hugged and fed her tabby Cricket.
Carole and her daughter Terry moved in with Shirley and Pauline after Carole lost her librarian job in the pandemic chaos.
When all was said and done, it was good to be together.
Chores by Anita Dawes
Picking blueberries would not have been a chore
Ironing my stepfather’s underwear definitely was
As a ten-year-old, I thought it ridiculous
But mother insisted
Another, was polishing his shoes plus my brothers
At least they were smaller
Sitting beside my baby brother’s cot
Stroking his head, trying to get him to sleep
With the sun shining
through my mother’s bedroom window
Reminding me I should be playing outside
That day, something broke in my heart
I felt a strange kind of dislike towards my mother
That grew over the years
Today I decided to bury that memory…
The Sweeper by Allison Maruska
I open the closet and lug out the vacuum for the third time today. Creeping around my heels, Rylie grabs the dustpan and 3-year-old sized broom. “I seep!”
“Yes, you sweep and I’ll vacuum.”
She toddles to the kitchen, where spilled Cheerios wait for us. Humming to herself, she pushes them around, yelling in victory when a piece makes it into the dustpan.
I plug in the vacuum.
Rylie claps at getting three Cheerios into the pan at once.
Laughing, I abandon the vacuum and sit at the table.
Best to let my daughter enjoy chores while she can.
Lost in Translation by D. Avery
“I learned a new word at school today.”
Hope’s dad continued scooping beans with his bread. “In the classroom or on the playground?”
He held his bread and looked up. “What word?”
“It started with a /c/ I think. Melinda made it seem like a bad word.” Hope continued while her parents exchanged glances. “It has to do with doing things you don’t want to do, and not getting to do fun things. Chores! That’s the word.”
“But Hope, you tend the chickens, and the garden; help us both out around the farm.”
“That’s fun! Mommy, what’s allowance?”
Autumn Afternoons Are for Fun by Kerry E.B. Black
Sunlight filtered through golden leaves as Byron’s footsteps crunched to Oma’s. Momma sent baked goods for Old Oma and told him to do Oma’s chores, but who could work on a day like this?
Once there, though, Byron’s heart sunk. The old lady held a rake in her crippled fingers. Begrudgingly, he handed her the cake and took the rake. Grumbling internally, he scraped the leaves into a pile nearly his width and height.
Oma smiled as she sliced the cake and poured tea into autumn rose decorated cups. “Now hurry and jump in. This cake’s cooling!”
A Lick and A Promise by Norah Colvin
Lisa dropped her bag, discarded her shoes, and darted down the hall.
“Where are you off to, miss?” called her mother.
“You’ve got chores first.”
“Did them this morning.”
“Did them? Ha! Was no more than a lick and a promise.”
“But, Mum. I’m up to the last chapter.”
“No buts. You’ll do your chores before anything else.”
Lisa muttered as she stomped to the broom closet.
“And don’t give me any more of that lip or you’ll be reading on the other side of your face for a week.”
When I’m an adult … Lisa promised herself.
A New Day by Chel Owens
Back and forth. In and out. Sun to down. Winter to winter, for thirty years.
The children changed. The house aged. The horses and cows and chickens and that mean old goat -all ended up at slaughter; to be replaced by horses, cows, chickens -but no more goats. For thirty years.
She stood while the priest spoke about the dark shadow she’d known for so very long. This and that. Bless his soul. Rest in peace.
Veiled and black. Grey and old. No more back or forth in or out sun to down. Clouds clearing, she smelled the spring.
Chores by Frank Hubeny
While raking leaves Bill thought back to the farm his parents had with asparagus, pickles, pumpkins, corn, hay and soybeans. The chores back then were not so bad. He hoed corn from the beans and stacked baled hay. There was the busy time of harvesting, but harvesting had to be done.
The worst were those chickens. He’d reach his hand under a sitting hen to gather eggs only to have it pecked. Sometimes he’d shoo them off the nest. Sometimes they wouldn’t go.
He wouldn’t want some hen doing that to him, but he had to get those eggs.
Chore Bores by Geoff Le Pard
‘Morgan, can you pick up your clothes? This place is a sty.’
‘Yes, mom, I’ll get right onto my chores.’
‘I know we’re in the States and I said we should embrace their culture, but in what world does ‘culture’ encompass their bastardised version of English?’
‘Hey, who yanked your tail?’
‘Everyone wishing me a good day and not meaning it.’
‘Like you always say you’re sorry and you don’t mean it.’
‘That’s different. Anyway we don’t do ‘chores’, any more than we do yard work.’
‘You liked it when that blonde said you had a cute accent…’
Thick As Thieves of Time by D. Avery
The call to chores went unheard and unheeded by Pal, for Pal was on vacation, an unprecedented October Rest. But visiting Cuzzins Ash and Dusty Trales at Turnip Farm was not restful for Pal. Ash and Dust’s idea of catching up meant using Pal’s help to harvest their crop, working from sunup to sundown. Speeding along in the overloaded turnip truck, Pal felt lucky to have not fallen off.
“I’m headin’ back to Carrot Ranch, cuzzins.”
“Stay. Blood’s thicker ‘an water Pal.”
“Yep. An’ water is life.”
And Pal rode back to where the wells ran deep and fresh.
En Garde, Le Pard by D. Avery
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, Kid worried about the kids. The billy goats had sampled Shorty’s manuscript and even ate write out of the story collection bin. Kid knew they didn’t have a chance against a champion goat wrestler like Shorty, who also had a thing for kid gloves.
Worried and desperate, Kid almost didn’t notice the rental car parked along the trail. Almost. Before Logan and Morgan returned from vista viewing or whatever chore had taken them away from their vehicle, Kid had those kids stowed in the back seat, knowing these two would care for the goats.
A situation that calls for kid gloves requires careful handling. Those who wear fine leather crafted from the skin of kids (goats, not children) protect soft hands and perhaps perform unexpected tasks.
Writers had the option to explore all the possibilities and their creative insight expanded the phrase. Parents, wolves, and more feature in this week’s collection.
The following are based on the October 8, 2020, flash fiction challenge: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes kid gloves.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Home On the Range by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Cal coiled up his riata. He had no goals to improve on his already impressive rope skills, but granddaughter Flora required kid glove treatment these days.
Grandson Jeremy had passed him up, carrying on the vaquero tradition through competition and education. Kids today wanted an excuse to put down their cell phones, to raise their faces to the sun. It was an unexpected but welcome blessing from the quarantine.
Flora had kicked him out of the house early, even before his morning coffee. She wanted him out from underfoot while she attempted to wrangle the internet and home schooling.
Kid Gloves by Pete Fanning
He never takes the gloves off. Ever. And if I try to make him a wrestling match ensues. “Germs are everywhere, Zia,” he warns. My brother, the six year-old scientist. He should have been outside, playing in the dirt. Instead this Covid thing has really messed him up. I mean, it messed everyone up, but for him I fear it’s irreversible. When he’s asleep, Mom peels them off, washes them with our masks. When they’re dry, she carefully works them back onto his stubby little fingers. Says they make him feel safe. Hmm. Maybe I should get a pair.
Kid Gloves by FloridaBorne
“Handle it with kid gloves,” Mom said.
“What does that mean?” I asked while washing a crystal plate.
“Don’t break my favorite serving dish.”
Unsatisfied with the answer, I consulted the public library’s encyclopedia. Gloves made with baby lambs or goats? Outraged, I ran a half mile home to yell at my mother.
“They kill babies to make kid gloves!!!!” I shouted. “Don’t ever tell me to handle anything with kid gloves again!”
“It’s only a saying, dear. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater is only a saying, too.”
I never ate another bite of meat again.
Kid Gloves by Joanne Fisher
When my daughter Jill announced she was taking up boxing, I was skeptical. She had already been through horse riding and karate.
Nevertheless we went to the sporting goods store. I tried to imagine her in the boxing ring, but this was still a girl who has soft-toys in every available space in her bedroom…
“Excuse me madam?” the store assistant broke me out of my reverie.
“I’m looking for gloves.”
“For my daughter.” I replied. “Boxing.”
Of course Jill was already there selecting them. I wondered how long this would last.
The Jokester by Bill Engleson
I remember when it began.
They abandoned me to a mocking mob.
“Play nice. Make friends.”
I tried, but what did they know.
The rabble seemed as one.
Maybe even smarter.
One day, faced with aggression, I pulled off a sweet backflip. Landed it. Came up smiling.
“Funny guy,” the bully said.
My life’s river changed course.
Decades of idiotic hijinks.
“Too much,” each said. “Always over the top! Puns! Interminable, heavy-handed humour! Release me.”
Now I get it.
Both need kidding gloves.
Coffee by R. V. Mitchell
Coffee was one tough hombre. Some said he’d more likely shoot you than look at you. Three things set him apart from other gunslingers though. The first was his refined English accent. This feller could really talk pretty, and used the sort of three dollar words most folks weren’t too akin to. The second was that he made one mighty fine cup of coffee, thus his moniker. But oddest trait of all was them there white kid gloves he always sported. Who would have thought that the deadliest fast draw in the Dakota Territory used to be a butler?I remember when it began.
Kid Gloves by Anita Dawes
A glorious spring morning
I decided to take Morning Glory
For her early run
Racing across the fields as if on wings
I took the low hedge too late
I landed on my backside beside a young man
Leaning there against my hedge
A stranger with a soft smile on his lips
Morning Glory stood waiting for me to remount
Her breath escaping in soft white clouds
He moved with great speed to assist me to my feet
The second thing I noticed, his hands against my skin
As soft as my mothers
When wearing her best kid gloves…
1863 Revisited Written by Kerry E.B. Black
Henry scoffed, an ugly, guttural dismissal. “Sure, you saw a ghost.”
Clara swiped tears from blazing cheeks and stormed to her car.
“Come back,” he called to the thinning taillights, “maybe Casper would like tea.”
Chill breeze brought wafts of rotting peaches, and he pulled his jacket tight.
“Did you offer tea, Sir?” A translucent woman dressed in antebellum finery, from her lace-edged cap and upswept hair, to the hem of her hoop-defined skirts, tapped a tasseled fan in her kid-gloved hands. “But my name’s Amanda, not Casper.”
Henry beat a hastier retreat than General Lee’s exit from Gettysburg.
Unused Kid Gloves by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa called Michael’s sister. “I got my divorce papers today and when I put them away in the hutch drawer I noticed a pair of exquisite men’s goat skin gloves I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t want to ask Michael about them just in case…”
Becca’s laugh stopped Tessa’s comment. “I gave those to him thinking he would wear them while learning to wheel his chair. He informed me he didn’t want prissy hands with no calluses and I never saw them again. I am flattered he kept them. If they’re in that drawer, I wouldn’t mention finding them.”
The Seven Essential Types of Glove by Anne Goodwin
A chair, a couch, the tools of her trade, plus a motley choice of gloves. One pair, snipped at the knuckles, to touch hurt with her fingertips; soft kid gloves to soothe pain. Archaeologist gloves for delving through history; hospital-grade latex to shield her skin and prevent her cuts contaminating theirs. Mismatched heirlooms from her mentors, she traces the left to Rogers, the right to Freud. She reserves the harlequins for those who’ve never learnt laughter, the boxing gloves for those who avoid through jokes. Seven pairs packed, she’s ready to follow her client on a journey into truth.
Unquenched by D. Avery
More than thirst might make his voice crack. He left them in the dugout without speaking. Carrying the shovel, work gloves feathering out of his back pocket, he hoped he appeared confident to his family.
He arrived at the spring, the once muddy surface now flaked, dried and split like old leather. He methodically pulled his gloves on, grasped the shovel and bent to his work, one scoop at a time. Each thrust of the blade was a prayer, each going unanswered until finally he stopped.
Under a blistering blue sky he held his head in his gloved hands.
Kid Gloves for Sale by Norah Colvin
Wolf covered his sinister smile with a pleasant facade as he organised a stall between Little Red Hen’s Home-Made Bread and Pig Brothers’ Home Improvements. Dinner could wait. He was hoping for a killing of another kind — monetary — selling his home-made kid gloves.
When an unlikely pair of cowpokes enquired about the origins of his leather, he was evasive. When asked his whereabout the previous week, he attempted to flee; but the recently deputised Pal and Kid were too fast and snapped on the hand cuffs. “We arrest you for the disappearance and suspected murder of seven little kids.”
Hot News by Simon
She stared at the pic of Kid and Pal duo.
It’s been 18 years since she lost the kids. She shed a drop of a tear and walked out her bedroom. She startled when she saw a man wearing kids costume with a kid’s glove. She remembered the Kid and Pal duo.
Before she reacted there was a tap on her left shoulder, she turns to feel the pain of a long knife shoved in her ribs and the axe from behind chops her head off.
News headlines ‘Murder stories continues in town, people are warned to stay alert!”
A Dark and Stormy Man by Chel Owens
Mabel knew she’d found a winner when she met Shane -tall, dark, handsome. He came into her life on a dark and stormy night. Unfortunately, she’d mistaken his kid glove-approach as a gentleness that didn’t exist.
No, Mabel sighed as she looked out into the storm, there was no more Shane. Her tears matched those streaming down the windowpane.
“‘Scuse me, ma’am,” a deep voice said. Mabel glanced up through wet eyelashes to see a burly man in a plaid shirt. “I couldn’t help but notice you weren’t too happy.”
The man sat. “Could I buy you a coffee?”
Inside Out by Geoff Le Pard
‘Morgan! Where are you?’
‘Hang on, I’m… what’s got into you?’
‘So why do you sound like you’re being mugged and why are you standing on a table?’
‘It’s… there… oh god! It’s coming…’
‘A spider? You’re an agoraphobe?’
‘Arachnophobe. Can you…?’
‘Squish it? Sure. I…’
‘Nooo. Just get it outside.’
‘What is an agoraphobe?’
‘Can we do this later? Please take it outside but don’t hurt it.’
‘You want me to use kid gloves?’
‘You can use lead-lined gauntlets if you’ll just take it outside.’
‘First tell me. Agoraphobe? Or I’m not going outside.’
Eagle Point by Saifun Hassam
Last night another tremor shook the ranchlands. The snowcapped serrated peaks of Stoney Mountain Range glinted in the sunlight.
Carly and Carmen climbed up Pine Ridge Trail to Eagle Point. They dismounted several times to push sharp and jagged small rocks from the trail. Both women were experienced rangers and ranchers. Their kid gloves were as essential as their horses for the trek.
A new jagged crack ran from west to east on Eagle Point’s plateau. This summer, wildfires turned the forests into ashes.
Kid gloves or not, the two women would do everything to protect this rugged wilderness.
Kid Gloves by Frank Hubeny
“You see how those trees hug the shore. They didn’t wear kid gloves to do that. They grabbed on with everything they had. You’re going to have to deal with Bernard the same way.”
“How many times do I have to tell him to stop drinking? He’s like a misshapen piece of fired pottery that can no longer change.”
“Those trees look unchangeably misshapen to me as well. The problem is not every tree that grabbed the shore was able to hold on long enough for strong roots to develop.
“If Bernard doesn’t change he’ll fall off the shore.”
No Kidding? by JulesPaige
The old woman kept her kid gloves on the table under the arc that divided the entryway of her apartment to the living space. It was not her intent to illude anyone. Unable to elude her own aging waiting for her own imagined ark to sail her permanently away into the heavens. She wore the kid gloves when she had company she wanted to allude to the perfect hands she once had, her fingers now knobby and bent from arthritis.
When the young Cub Scout came to interview her, she smiled. He politely did not ask about her gloves.
Mushroom Man by Anonymole – Apocryphal Abecedarian
With a tarp held over my head, I made my way to the Mushroom Man. Noon and the sun would cook my skin without it. The city’s ruins, baked white, provided pockets of shade. I scrambled from shadow to shadow.
Down the subway stairs, rubble clacking away, the smell of loam filled my senses. Darkness gave me pause, my eyes adjusted slowly. The ancient forest smell consumed me.
“They’re not ready,” said the man who grew the mycelium leather.
I picked my way deeper into the gloom. “My kid needs those gloves.”
While others tended to rodeo events or cracked their WIPs, Pal took a vacation, time away from Kid. Just for a while. Pal even left Carrot Ranch.
Just for a while, for it had been such a long while since Pal had seen Cousins Ash and Dusty Trales.
Dismounting at their Turnip Farm Pal was greeted warmly. “Hey there, Cuz. It’s been a while.”
“We gotta git these turnips harvested.”
“You’ll want gloves.”
“Yep. Dang! These are Kid’s gloves! Ugh! I musta in’vert’ly took Kid’s saddlebag.”
Even on vacation, Pal would be burdened with Kid’s baggage.
Misfits (Part II) by D. Avery
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Kid was skedaddling to the Saloon, for as you may recall Kid has some goats out back of the saloon. Bursting through the swinging doors, Kid saw— “Shorty!”
“Kid. Shouldn’t you be vacationin’?”
“Worried ‘bout my kids, what with that prompt an’ all.”
“The kids are alright, Kid, the Ranch and the saloon are safe places for all.”
“Okay.” Kid then took in the quiet saloon. Shorty was so busy writing she hadn’t noticed the goat feeding from a stack of papers. Despite assurances, Kid did not feel safe and vacated, goat in hand.
Dusty trails lead in and out of the arid lands of the American West. Iconic to cattle drives, pioneers, and the Pony Express, there’s more to the west than frontier, dry land, rugged mountains, and big sky. It was a wild place — still is — but it was known long before settlers and ranchers, loggers and miners hit the trails. Where did they come from? What dusty trails lead people to wander and settle? Are we ever really settled, or is our large human family restless to kick up dust?
Writers had a challenge before them, and like the argonauts before them, they set out with just 99 words in their knapsacks to catch a story on the trail. Read where the prompt led them.
The following is based on the October 1, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that happens on the dusty trail.
My Life’s Dusty Roads by Sue Spitulnik
Growing up dusty dirt roads connected friends farms. We drove them to hunt and parked on them to explore life.
In my thirties I drove dusty roads alone into the mountains, looking for me.
Now in retirement, Charli Mills introduced me to Stegnar and Abbey, lovers of open and natural places.
Then Sean Prentiss took me along to Find Abbey and I rode on some of the same roads while driving Rt66.
Now I’m riding the same roads again with the Ghost Rider, who is sharing his knowledge of ghosts, wishing life didn’t have them.
Coincidence. I think not.
Dusty Trail by kathy70
Sally walked along the trail covered with dust, no rain in almost two months along her beloved ridge of mountain. This was where she came to clear her head from all the noise of her family of 11 siblings, all talking at the same time. She knew that she could only have a few minutes before someone was looking for her. What would she find here today? Would he still be here, was he feeling well enough to leave?
As she searched the trees and bushes there was no sign of him. The eagle free from his trap was gone.
Star Dust by D. Avery
“It’s my magical palace, Mommy!”
Taking her mother’s hand Hope twirled and danced in the hayloft until they both fell back into a pile of loose hay, laughing. Dusty trails of chaff sparkled in the shafts of sunlight.
“Stars!” her mother exclaimed.
“Make a wish, Mommy.”
“Does wishing work with this kind of star?”
“Yup. Mine came true.”
“What did you wish for?”
But Hope only grew quiet and snuggled closer to her mother, who stared up into the glittering dust. “I’m so sorry, kid,” she whispered. “But I’m here now, I promise.” Then she wished upon a star.
Grand Canyon Cowboys by Deborah Dasante
Confusion. That’s their game. Starched jeans. Stetsons. So you to think that’s who they are. It’s a disguise. I paid good money to ride a mule in a line with a group of others too lazy or too afraid to hike the South Rim. Paid a store-bought cowboy to ‘Howdy’ and to not look like a fool going in circles unable to move forward. Not a dimes worth of difference between a forty dollar mule and a store-bought cowboy. Cost money to find that out. I should of known better when I read the flyer –
“Grand Canyon, My Ass”.
The Mares of Mars by Anonymole: Apocryphal Abecedarian
Haus spurred his robotic steed. By ‘spurred’ we mean he spoke code into his suit’s helmet that translated to ‘giddy-up’. Within seconds his six legged rover, a cross between a horse, a spider and a stainless-steel nightmare from a 20th Century film, began a sinuous saunter, one that allowed Haus to barely feel the trail.
The pair arrived at a crevasse, one that plunged deep into the dusty crust of Mars.
“The span exceeds safe leaping distance,” said Bray-burry, the mount’s name.
“Bah! This oughta be easy. Back up a bit.” The robot complied. “Now git!”
And over they…
Gold Dust by Hugh W. Roberts
Heading up the dusty trail of the desert city, nine-gallon, cowboy hat adorned and wobbling around on the spurred boots that were one size too big, Barry remembered the words of his now-deceased, bachelor uncle.
“The trail leads to gold.”
But where was the gold? There was no gold here, just dust, some of which was dirtying his new boots and making him sneeze.
Opening the doors of the venue at the end of the trail, Dusty’s, his heart leapt while butterflies flew around his stomach. A brightly-lit room full of cowboys, all line dancing together.
He’d struck gold.
A Barf Story by Simon
He entered the bar, covered with brown sand as he came from a dusty trail. Young boy stared at a guy in whites. He bravely went close to him and asked if you are not eating this, can I take this? he was hungry.
The man nodded. He quickly grabbed the spoon and ate it fast as soon he reached the bottom of the Cup he found a dead rat, he barfs up back in the bowl and stared at the man
The man replied calmly, Gross, I did the same when I reached that bottom.
He barfs again.
Slave by FloridaBorne
Martha Smythe refused her father’s choice, eloping with the man she loved instead.
She remembered little about the siege; her new husband dying from a pirate’s bullet… their ship sinking… being thrown into a hold with other women, faces blank from shock… sails blowing as strong winds propelled them toward the Barbary Coast… huddling in a Morocco slave market.
Her hands bound, she walked a dusty trail to the home of a man with dark face. Instead of a new life in Connecticut, a stranger beat her, used her body, and threw her into a room with barred windows.
Looking for the Comfort of Autumn… (a dream scene?)
(two verses of a Vers Beaucoup) by JulesPaige
There’s a strain on the prairie plane – no hill or dale, putting a strain
On this traveler’s brain – dry ground, no trained hound
On a lead bound to find any water for this daughter
Who oughter have stayed close to home, but did roam
Running from the season, with no rhyme or reason, spirit to be pleasin’
Yet the nose is just sneezin’ – no thirst quenched, arid dry air first
In spiral clouds burst from the not so shy, dust filled sky
The trail far from the shade of the leaves of willow for my pillow…
Scorcher by R. V. Mitchell
It was a scorcher for sure, easily ninety degrees in the shade. Too bad there weren’t no shade. George Mason, took off his hat and wiped his forehead with a sleeve. The dust clogged his throat despite the scarf he wrapped around his face.
He had been doing scouting ahead of the train for about two hours or so, and the water holes were still an hour or so ahead of him. The terrain looked tolerable enough, but he was concerned that the dust raised by the wagons behind him might call some unwanted attention to Captain Little’s train.
The Darnedest Cowboy by M J Mallon
The darnedest cowboy walked towards me. His cowboy boots churned up the dusty road. My heartbeat so loudly I swore it was going to giddy up, catch a ride on a wild horse and land on his Western shirt. His eyes twinkled as he dawdled a few feet away. He kicked a stone, spat some cheeky grits into the ground and walked right past, lassoing my heart with his.
I stayed still until I heard the deafening gunshot. Damn. Wild West gals sure don’t remember no dead cowboy long.
Love ain’t for dead buckaroos!
Histories Hidden Below Layers of Dust by Anne Goodwin
They trod lightly on the earth, but their footprints were visible for those who cared to see. The White Man did not care: fearing their prowess, he stripped them of their language, their culture, their land. Made them a commodity. Robbed them of their worth.
Centuries later, their descendants plough through the dusty trail to dig up the bones of their accomplishments: the hidden histories of science, literature, music and architecture. Scour museums for stolen artefacts, ornaments appropriated when the White Man rewrote their stories, swapped heroes for victim or villain. Let’s be brave now and face the truth.
Carrot Ranch by Anita Dawes
We cannot see the wind
Only the lifting of leaves
The swaying or grass
As it passes
We cannot hear the wind
Only the echo
It leaves behind
The dark curtain of dust
It sweeps from the ground
All but swallows
The four horsemen
Riding from the Starbuck Ranch
Out to recover a few stray cattle
Before the savannah winds
Cover the small town of Starbuck
With a dark blanket from hell
Ask my mother
When she tries clearing it up
The air around her turns dusty blue
The four riders return
Spitting blue dust…
Cattle safe and sound.
Divergin’ Trails (Part 1) by D. Avery
“Jeez, Pal, I’m ready fer a vacation. Where we gonna go, anyway?”
“We? This is vacation, Kid. My vacation is gonna be time away from you.”
“What? Yer leavin’ me?”
“Fer a bit Kid. I’m jist gonna have some quiet time. Mebbe do some fishin’. Catch up with ma cuzzins. Ash and Dusty. Trales.”
“Ya never told me ya had cuzzins.”
“Ya never asked. They run a little farm jist west a the ranch. Raise turnip. At one time they figgered ta give Shorty a run fer her money.”
“Nah. Turnips is too bitter.”
“Kin relate, Pal.”
Divergin’ Trails (Part 2) by D. Avery
“Don’t be bitter, Kid. Whyn’t ya use this time ta go back east? Check out thet fall foliage they talk about.”
“How kin thet be? Ya got here from there didn’tcha?”
“Mean I’ve come too far. I ain’t goin’ back ta where you know who lives. Asides it’s cold there. Think I’d git homesick if I lef’ the Ranch. Reckon I’ll jist spen’ my time up in the Poet Tree. Have ma own quiet time.
Crackling conflagrant hues
Ignite morning frost
Burning campfire memories
Smoke’s dusty trails dream west
Yep, I’ll stay here, tanka anyways.”
Outlaws on the Dusty Trail by Charli Mills
Frankie wiped her glass eye with the scarf she used to cover her face.
“Gotta mask up, Bert,” she told her horse (who wasn’t listening). “Dang dust.”
The dry storm blew like a devil whirling across the flats. Ahead, Frankie made out the outline of riders that looked to her one eye like two outlaws. They were wearin’ masks, too! She tightened the rains and thought about lunging old Bert to keep the mail safe (Bert had no run left in him).
“Hey, it’s Frankie.”
Blowing dust and relief, she realized it were jist her friends, Kid and Pal.
Too Far From Home by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She’d worn new Oboz hikers and thin wool socks, afraid of snakes on the trail since there’d been none on the plane. She’d strapped on a hip belt with double water holsters, and a chin-strapped billed cap with cape to for sun protection.
She gleamed like a beached whale, from all the sunscreen applied, and wore layers, like multiple skins, to transform from wallowing walrus to near naked nymphette, as the weather deemed. She’d traveled far, with no plans to stay out after dark.
But then she lost the trail, and found two Carrot cowpokes singing by a fire.
Jess and Cindy Stumble Across the Ranch by Joanne Fisher
“If only our car hadn’t broken down. I hope this trail will lead somewhere.” Jess said. Cindy coughed.
“It’s rather dusty!”
The two women came to a ridge. Below them they saw a ranch.
“We’ve been here before! This is Carrot Ranch where Kid and Pal work. I wonder if they’re around.” Jess wondered. They walked to the fence.
“Look at all those carrots they have to wrangle.”
“Maybe we should take some so we can compare them to our ones.” Jess suggested.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Cindy responded. “It may be regarded as carrot rustling.”
On the Trail Down Under by Norah Colvin
The hooves thundered along the trail kicking up a storm of dust. Mary watched the cloud clear the trees and turn towards her across the home paddock.
How often had the boys been told to not push their horses so hard?
“Might as well talk to a dead cow,” her dad always said.
Before they’d reined in their mounts, Mary was outside, ready to give them a serve.
“Mum! Mum! It’s Kid and Pal. They’re here,” they shouted.
Mary sighed. Hadn’t they outgrown imaginary friends?
Her jaw dropped when, out of the dust, two figures materialised. “G’day,” they said.
Saguaro ‘N Seek by Chel Owens
Pal spat into the wind, instantly regretting he’d done so. “Ware be Kid?” he growled as he wiped his face.
“Ware be you?” the wind answered.
Pal whipped around. He slid off the rocky outcropping he’d carefully climbed and scooted across just a few minutes before. His gun flew after him, landing stock first into a Saguaro and shooting its contents sky-high.
“Hey!” yelped the cactus, falling over.
Pal squinted. “Kid?”
“Nah, yer gramma.”
Pal laughed. “Welp,” he said, standing and walking over to his dusty, cactus-clad friend. “I guess you won this here round o’ hide ‘n seek.”
On the Trail: Crater Lakes by Saifun Hassam
Lorena trekked along a dusty trail to Coyote Ridge in the Crater Lakes Habitat. Green Lake shimmered blue in the fall sunshine. To the south were the mudflats of Lizard Lake.
Lorena was a writer and artist. Crater Lakes, with its rich American West history and extraordinary natural beauty, captivated her.
Lorena hiked past cottonwoods, aspens, and majestic lodgepole pines. On the trail, Ranger Carmen greeted her warmly. Lorena grinned at the other two familiar faces.
“Hey, Kid! Hi Pal! You’re a long dusty ways from home!”
Pal was exploring rancher history.
Kid? He was in Poet Tree heaven!
The Morning After by Geoff Le Pard
‘Where did you get to, Morgan?’
‘Those two reprobates, Kid and Pal…’
‘You went drinking with them? Give me you wallet.’
‘I didn’t spend much.’
‘It’s not the money; I’m tearing up your donor card. You can’t expect anyone to want your organs now.’
‘I think I must have dropped my brain and bruised it. Did I disturb you?’
‘How kind of you to worry. As it happens, no, though you did leave a sad trail of shed clothes, keys, burger wrappers…’
‘Sorry, I was feeling a little dusty…’
‘Yeah, I get it. They’re hard to refuse, aren’t they?’
Taking Control by Sue Spitulnik
Katie’s eyes went wide when she saw Kid and Pal standing at the No Thanks bar. “Howdy guys. What brings you here, and, how’d you get so dusty?”
“We’re on hiatus from our Saloon and gettin’ pulled every which way. One writer’s got us drinkin’, one ridin’ the range and another sittin’ at a campfire, so we rode over for a busman’s holiday. Sorry ’bout the dust.”
“Don’t care ’bout the dirt. Couldn’t be better timing! If you’ll tend bar, I’ll go see my students dance at the Irish Festival.”
“We’d love to.”
“Can’t thank you enough.”
“Jeez, Pal, I’m ready fer a vacation. Where we gonna go, anyway?”
“We? This is vacation, Kid. My vacation is gonna be time away from you.”
“What? Yer leavin’ me?”
“Fer a bit Kid. I’m jist gonna have some quiet time. Mebbe do some fishin’. Catch up with ma cuzzins. Ash and Dusty. Trales.”
“Ya never told me ya had cuzzins.”
“Ya never asked. They run a little farm jist west a the ranch. Raise turnip. At one time they figgered ta give Shorty a run fer her money.”
“Nah. Turnips is too bitter.”
“Kin relate, Pal.”
“Don’t be bitter, Kid. Whyn’t ya use this time ta go back east? Check out thet fall foliage they talk about.”
“How kin thet be? Ya got here from there didn’tcha?”
“Mean I’ve come too far. I ain’t goin’ back ta where you know who lives. Reckon I’ll jist spen’ my time up in the Poet Tree. Have ma own quiet time. I’d git homesick if I lef’ the Ranch. Asides it’s cold there.
Conflagrant hues crackling
Ignites morning frost
Campfire memories burning
Dusty trails of smoke drift west
Yep, I’ll stay here, tanka anyways.”
Grab the popcorn or carrot sticks, and cozy up a collection of stories you can munch to. Snacking can happen on horseback, in the car, or hunkered in the old bomb bunker. What is deemed a snack is as important as when to snack. And you know there is going to be wide variances.
Writers took to snacks with snack (perhaps). Some went dark and some aimed for humor. Many snacked on the seemingly unsnackable. No matter the snacking, it became a story.
The following are based on September 24, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking.
Road Snacks Are Special by kathy70
Snacks are serious. No idea when they developed this attitude but they wear the crown well. Road trip snacks are in special categories while still having the requirement of being bad junk food. Healthy snacks don’t live in this world. Trip snacks require a salty brand of chips, chocolate that does not melt, caffeine drink and something with peanut butter.
In my vehicle this is a well proven larder that can sustain me for days. In the past, my excuse was mid-west winters that could be brutal. Now this is just one of those grandfathered laws of my car.
Cheese and Crackers by Allison Maruska
Taking my plate to my desk, I grab the last bit of cheese and pop it into my mouth, lamenting the end of my snack but ready to get busy. My plot points and character maps have been purposeless long enough. Time to start the first paragraph.
I open the document and place my fingers over the keys.
I stare at the blinking cursor, the only disruption on the blank page.
I tap my nails on the letters. The cursor blinks three more times.
Standing, I pick up the plate. That cheese really needed crackers to go with it.
Mushroom Monday by Tyler M Deal
Archibald Portobello, acting CEO of DeCOM Enterprises, popped another cashew into his mouth as the turtle taxi lumbered slowly beneath him. He reached into his coat pocket to retrieve a buzzing cell and shouted to the cabbie before answering it.
“Can you pick up the pace! I have a board meeting at the Log in twenty minutes.”
He flipped open the phone.
“Talk. What? No! Sell! Now!” He slapped the phone shut. “Pfft, analysts.” Then to the turtle, “Can’t this thing go any faster?”
Archibald Portobello, acting CEO of DeCOM Enterprises, sighed and popped another cashew into his mouth.
The Jabberwocky Revisited by Doug Jacquier
’Twas rump-numbing, and the metal seats
Did gyre and gimble in the McClains:
All mimsy were ranch-style kettle chips,
And curds and pears from out the plains.
Beware-ing the unwash-ed ones!
The jaws that blight, the masks dispatched!
She forsook the jujube bird, and shunned
The frumious butterscotch!”
And, as in meringue-ish thought she stood,
The Bar-of-choc, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the nougat wood,
And coated as it came!
But she did slay that Bar-of-Choc
And shouldered arms, her foe now so brittle.
O frabjous day! Get off my block!
She said and scoffed her Skittles.
Crunch Time by Norah Colvin
“I really need this today,” she said.
“Bad day?” asked the waiter, placing the coffee on the table.
“Yeah,” she sighed.
“Coffee’ll fix it,” he said. “I made it myself.”
She smiled, thinking of all the I-made-it-myself gifts received over the years.
With eyes closed, she scooped the delicious chocolatey froth into her mouth.
Then her eyes popped. There shouldn’t be anything crunchy in a cappuccino. She pushed the crunchy bit out on her tongue.
A fly! She spurted the remaining contents of her mouth over the table as a student and parent passed.
“Are you okay?” they asked.
Haunt by Dan Julian
Back at the abandoned lighthouse, using the grudging, jerky, taxing telekinesis which had taken him so many years to learn, the specter of Miles Phillips banged open the heavy, creaky door to let himself in, and with a final herculean effort, whooshed up the decrepit spiral of stairs to the top platform where the beacon used to be. The real and actual sheet and bulging bag he’d been concentrating so hard on ‘holding’ dropped to the dusty plank floor, myriad cheerfully-colored candies and snacks spilling out. Time to feast! Oh, how the specter of Miles Phillips did love Halloween.
Digesting the Situation by JulesPaige
I needed to divorce myself from my fears. The dark dismal city street appeared to be a place where zombies might jump out of doorways to snack on the likes of me. I had to convince myself that all I had to do was use Fifth Avenue as an entrance and Sixth as an exit. Just because I was no longer married and didn’t have a man to hang onto didn’t mean that I couldn’t do this on my own. I’d done it hundreds of times during the daylight hours.
working late, again
paying for independence
fears dominate sense
Cheat-ohs by D. Avery
“One after the other, I couldn’t help myself, even when I knew they weren’t good for me.”
“I know what you mean, Ilene,” Kristof said.
“In the end none satisfied. Too sweet. Too salty. Too full of air!”
“But we’ve made healthy choices now, both of us.”
“Hi girls.” Though late in joining Ilene and Kristof, Marge jumped right into the conversation. “What’s wrong with some greasy finger-licking cheese that goes crunch? With enough beer it’s all good.”
Ilene’s brows went up, but she agreed with Marge. “Yes, beer helps. But Marge, we were talking about men, not snacks.”
Snack Food by Eliza Mimski
From the time she entered middle school, Patty Lay, the heiress of Lay’s potato chips, was teased about her name – classmates, boys of course – saying she was a good lay. Jeannie M&Ms, the heiress of the M&M fortune, had received the same kind of treatment. How many times did she have to hear that she would melt in your mouth, and not in your hands? The same had rung true for Bobby Cheetos. Did he really have to hear one more time that he would be a player, a cheat? And Donna Krispy Kreme. Don’t even ask.
Snacking by Reena Saxena
“#MeToo movement is not over yet, and here comes the drug-peddling scandal…”
“Why does it bother you?”
“Some of us are being victimised…..”
“Are you sure you’ve never done it to others?”
The big time film director looked flustered. He is not used to this kind of a response.
“Well, it affects the manner in which I earn my bread and butter.” He softened his belligerent stance.
“It is high time you think about it. Stop snacking on drugs and girls, and plan a wholesome meal plan, where you need to work for the final taste and output.”
Snacking Curbside by Yvette Prior
“Um, you didn’t tell me club members would be here.”
“There’s so many of them. And look! Look who is at our table.”
They paused as they reached their assigned table.
“Honey, I can’t sit with them for two hours – especially when I’m famished.”
“I just can’t….”
HEY, I HAVE AN IDEA – COME WITH ME.
Jim grabbed snacks from his truck and sat with Maria, talking on the curb, which provided succor.
The ground was hard beneath them
The sky had soft clouds above
READY TO GO IN?
“Yes, Yes I am.”
Nuclear Snacking by Bill Engleson
Jimbo was my neighbour back in the city. Had a bomb shelter. Didn’t build it. It was there when he bought the house. Early 50’s vintage.
“Only one in the neighbourhood,” he’d whispered to me.
“That you know of,” I said. “Read where the first rule of good Bomb Shelter management is…Mum’s the word.”
“I trust you, Buddy. Let me show ya.”
It was cozy.
“Besides water, bandages, stuff like that” he noted, “We’ve got a year’s supply of chocolate bars and potato chips. And Pru’s dried apricots, of course. Trick, Marty, is to rotate. Takes commitment.”
A Culinary Faux Pas by M J Mallon
Vanessa cut the homemade apple pie into dainty, perfect slices.
Rich smiled as he popped one in his mouth. “Did you make the pastry yourself?”
“It’s crumbly. And different. What’s in it?”
“Cinnamon and lemon rind.”
“Oh, from unwaxed lemons?”
Vanessa swallowed. “I… Oh dear!”
Rich picked up the melted candle on the table. “So, we’re eating cordon bleu Apple Pie snacks flavoured with cinnamon and hot wax?”
“It seems so… Aren’t they delicious!”
Autumnal Trip by Liz Husebye Hartmann
They’d packed coffee and sandwiches, heading out, bike trails edging around lakes green with duckweed, geese and duck leaving their own paths as they nibbled, non-stop snacking to prepare them for the winter. The two biked on, through leaf-changing suburbs, under sharp-echoing freeways, until they finally arrived at Jack’s place.
The orchard spread before them, multiple rows of red and green globes of goodness, a cool welcome after their long ride.
“Took you long enough to get here!” called out Uncle Jack from the picnic table. “I was just about to grab a snack from one of these trees!”
Apples by E.A. Colquitt
When he saw them, he knew he had to take them home. One, two, three, four, five: they were small and round, skin gleaming with golden polka dots. The largest even had a leaf pinned, flag-like, to the stalk, just like in fairy tales. He’d never seen that in real life before.
Part of him didn’t want to eat them. It was the smell that won him over in the end: fresh, healthy, reviving. He cut up all five fruits into a bowl.
Afterwards, he fell asleep there, on the sofa, and didn’t wake up for a hundred days.
Food Thrown in by Anne Goodwin
“You’re working for peanuts!”
“They don’t farm peanuts. Besides, peanuts aren’t nuts.”
“But you are, breaking your back for the price of a few rounds of drinks.”
“How much would you pay for an all-you-can-eat buffet?”
“You’re changing the subject.”
“How much? Cos that’s what you’d save, snacking all day in the fields.”
“Do they grow pizza? Do they grow chicken vindaloo?”
“They don’t. But there’s always a premium for the healthy option. Think what it costs to starve at a spa.”
“Are there strawberries?”
“Whopping great strawberries. Blueberries. Apples. Tomatoes. Cucumber. Peas, beans, big juicy pears.”
Lynn Valley 2020 by Saifun Hassam
Jenny and Marie ended their online discussion of upcoming news stories about Lynn Valley and the pandemic. Jenny was a photojournalist. Marie’s knowledge of farming and rural communities was extensive. Their online stories for Lynn Valley News gave people a strong sense of connection.
Their coverage of Hannah’s website “Spuds Restaurant” and her podcast of the Farmers Four musicians struck a deep chord. The Farmers Market was closed but Lynn Valley was a vibrant community and would rebuild.
Jenny relaxed. She dug into her favorite snack: spicy black beans, fresh farm tomatoes, blue corn tortilla chips. Cinnamon rolls. Coffee.
Snacking by Anita Dawes
When I caught my mother snacking
She told me in her sweet mum voice
The one she uses
when she wants to be believed
“It’s rude not to eat the beautiful snacks
When so many people have gone
To so much trouble to get them made.
They must earn their living
It’s our duty to try them out
I love the Homestead Ranch chips best
They’re always fresh
They have the best crunch
With every bite.”
How could I argue with that?
I didn’t want to be the one
Putting folk out of work
So I joined mum snacking…
Busted at Midnight by Charli mills
The crumple of a candy-bar wrapper woke the house. The cat stretched and hopped over to the couch. The dog laid her head on the armrest, silently begging. Martha heard Steve plod down the hall. She quickly shoved the wrapper with the rest down the side of the couch cushions, picking up her geology textbook and hot pink highlighter.
“Still up?” he asked, stifling a yawn.
“Mmm,” she replied, reading tectonics.
The twins and their older sister ran past Steve. Clara, hands on her hips, asked, “Mama, did you get into our Halloween buckets again?”
Martha sighed and swallowed.
Woe to the house with a plague of mice! Black pellets line the pantry shelves as if the rodent version of Hansel and Gretel left crumbs to mark their trail. Insulation, an old romance novel, or your latest homework become shredded nests, all cozy and comfy until the shriek of discovery echoes throughout the region. These are stories of mice.
Some writers imagined the furry pest’s point of view, and others wove tales of invasion. To the credit of characters involved, most showed courage or humor. Some even found compassion.
The following stories are based on the September 17, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story of mice.
Musophobia by Hugh W. Roberts
They weren’t alive, but how had they got here?
Suffering from musophobia, Barbara made a quick exit from the beach that was full of mice.
Turning on the radio when she got home, she waited patiently for the early morning news.
“Reports are coming in of a ship having hit rocks off the coast of North Cornwall during last nights storms. Hundreds of freight boxes containing computer mice have broken up and ended up on the beaches along the coastline…”
Just the sight, thought, or the mere mention of the word ‘mice’ was as much as Barbara could take.
She Likes Critters by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa asked, “Why did Gaylan’s Mom tell us to wear pants to the party?”
Michael hid a grin. “You’ll see.”
“Didn’t she raise mice in high school?”
“Yup. And she still likes critters.”
The huge patio at Gaylan’s was decorated like it belonged outside a bar-b-q joint. Oddly at one corner on the ground sat a pie-pan filled with peanuts, elsewhere there were pans of seeds and nearest the barn, there was an in-ground fake shallow “stream.” Tessa discovered when the humans partied, the chipmunks did too and weren’t beyond climbing a pant leg looking for a handout.
My Mouse by Eliza Mimski
Since the pandemic, I’ve been sleeping with stuffed animals. Some are leftovers from my grandchildren, and one is a toy mouse that my now passed-away cat used to play with. They comfort me when I sleep and I am like a small child holding onto them because… well, just because.
I don’t like mice generally, but this one looks so cute and friendly. It’s missing its tail and its right leg is chewed on. One ear flops forward, the other straight up. I even kiss it and tell it goodbye before I leave my house.
Please don’t tell anyone.
Three Fine Mice by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Hickory, Dickory, and Doc have lived with Auntie Dora for near-100 years. A special breed of mouse, they’d been tasked by the besotted wizard Harold to turn back the hands of time. They had done so faithfully since he’d abandoned Dora at age eighteen, astride his interstellar dragon, to restitch the ends of the universe, which goes frazzled every couple millennia.
Dora had understood the need.
And, as the nursery rhyme goes, with a gentle forward nudge of its hands, the clock struck one, and down they ran.
They’d not miss this reunion for a million pounds of Stilton.
I Mouse the Old Days by Bill Engleson
“Go on, ask him.”
“You ask him. You’re the curious one. ‘Sides, he’s always so grouchy.”
“Okay. I’ll do it. You got that crumb of cheese?”
“I ate it.”
“WHAT? That was for him.”
“It was so good.”
” Okay, no cheese. There he is, next to that old cobweb. Hey, grandfather.”
“Welllll, if it isn’t my favorite grand-pests.”
“Grandfather, tell us about…the old days?”
“Doing what grandfather?”
“Please tell us.”
“Fine. We had them by the TV knobs back then, Mighty Mouse. Our own club. The great Mickey.”
“It’s a micetery to me .”
Caught Out by D. Avery
“I’ve always been handy at catching them, but I end up feeling bad for them. They can be so cute.”
“Hi girls.” Though late in joining Ilene and Kristof, Marge jumped right into the conversation. “You can’t feel bad for them Ilene. They’re dirty, they get all through your stuff… there’s no living with them.”
Ilene’s brows went up, but she agreed with Marge. “Yes, I have definitely found that it is easier to live without them than learning to live with them.”
“Don’t be soft, Ilene. You have to kill them.”
“Marge, we’re talking about men, not mice.”
Mouse Rescue by Kerry E.B. Black
Nadia peered into the cage at the panting white mouse. “When did you get her?”
“Not quite a month ago. The other mice were picking on her. I had to get her out of that pet store.” Jenny frowned. “I don’t think they were letting the poor thing eat, either.”
Jenny baby-talked, “Because now she’s plump as a teensy-weensy golf ball.”
Nadia licked her lips. “Hon, I don’t think the other mice were picking on her.”
“You didn’t see them, jumping on her.” She leaned close.“Wait! What’s that? Is Luna hurt?”
Nadia laughed. “Nope. Those are babies.”
Milo by Anita Dawes
Milo, a little grey mouse
With the heart of a giant
He could stare down the largest cat
And get away unscathed
He would be sent out
For the most timid of his clan
His days were long and slow
He wanted more.
Dressed in his best suit
Knapsack on his back
He was off to the cries of “Don’t go
Who will hunt for us, we’ll starve!”
“I will teach Jacko before I go
I must seek my fortune.
If Mickey can make it big
In Hollywood, Then so can I
I will take Hollywood by storm someday…”
Rodent by FloridaBorne
“Isn’t he cute?” my friend Rena asked.
She petted the docile rat inside a large cage, as if it were a cute puppy!
“I hate rats.”
“Why?” Rena asked as if I were insulting her and not that pest in a cage.
Rats got into my dresser, peed on my expensive scarves, used my lingerie for bedding, and destroyed $2000 worth of clothing. They left pellets on the floor everywhere.
“But my Buddy isn’t like that.”
“Let him out of his cage, go on vacation for a week, and find out.”
Sometimes, people have to learn the hard way.
The Mice Ate My Homework by Norah Colvin
“What happened to your homework this time?”
“It was mice, Miss.”
“I thought you got rid of the mice.”
“We did. In the house. But I left my bag in the car last night.”
“The car was in the shed.”
“Should’ve been safe there.”
“It would, except —”
“Tommy forgot to let Rusty out.”
“Rusty usually chases the mice away.”
“Dad accidentally left the window down. The mice got in and —”
“They ate your homework?”
“They thought it was tasty, Miss.”
Bombay Mix and Chai by Anne Goodwin
I felt honoured, in the rural areas, to be invited into people’s homes, conversing through smiles and gesture. But I needed to keep my wits about me: the poorer people were, the more generous their hospitality, and I didn’t want them going hungry because a white woman had come to visit. A simple shack, the bathroom a field, the kitchen a pot on an outdoor fire, yet their few possessions gleamed. I didn’t worry about hygiene until, hearing a xylophone tinkling, I saw mice scurrying along the shelf stacked with aluminium plates and tumblers, and my hosts just laughed.
Two Mothers, Two Mice, a Similar Story (BOTS) by Nancy Brady
In a newly constructed house, a mother sat up late feeding her newborn daughter. Into the quiet crept a mouse. With eyes bright, the mouse watched the mother and daughter. The pattern repeated itself night after night until the mouse disappeared.
Thirty years later, in a newly constructed condominium, a mother sat up late breastfeeding her newborn son. It was quiet, and a mouse ran across the floor. The motion caught the mother’s eye, but she dismissed it as tiredness. The following night she saw the mouse running away. Eventually, the mouse ventured out, was caught, and released outside.
Of Mice, No Men by Charli Mills
In the end, the packrat was her only companion. Clara rode into Vaquero Camp after her diagnosis. What do big city bone-setters know of a woman’s breasts, anyhow? She was born with ‘em and would die with ‘em. Jake said she was foolish. After all, girl babies aren’t actually born with breasts. He’d heard that Flatfoot Bob’s wife had hers reconstructed into perky 20-year-old versions. Clara wanted no men with her. Not the son who left for Portland. Not the dead-beat cowboy who fathered him. Not even Jake, her best friend. Solitude with a packrat set her soul free.
Matteo the Mouse by Tyler M Deal
On a little island in a big ocean, there lived a family of brown mice. There was a papa mouse, a mama mouse, six little mice, and… Matteo. Matteo always felt a little out of place. For one thing, he didn’t look like other mice. He had dark spots around his eyes, his hair was blondish brown, his toes were too grabby, his tail was too wrappy, his snout was too big, and his nose was too pink. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Matteo wasn’t a mouse. He was a mouse opossum. But he didn’t know that.
Mice Artists, Inc. by Saifun Hassam
Mice discovered the fun of jumping in and out of small wells of paint in Jenny’s forgotten palette of watercolors on the patio. Weirdly artistic patterns on the whiteboards wandered down the steps into the grass.
Jenny did not have the heart to root out the mice living near the giant oak. Ultrasonic repellers in the cottage seemed to have kept them out.
Curious, she left a palette of red and orange paints on the posters.
Cerise and Tangerine created another glorious work of art: Scattered among colored footprints were mouse droppings! A budding artists’ colony around the oak.
Suddubsome by JulesPaige
Suddubsome was one of the batch to hatch in the roof thatch.
The seasons were changing but the little grey mouse was careful of following her nest mates.
She stayed clear of cats, hawks, and never entered a human home.
The out building of the farm and the hollow walls where the pipes ran was good enough.
When the barn was struck by lightning, she feared she lost her grain supply.
Suddubsome was clever to not match, (her pace) her patch with (the trap) the catch
and quick wits is all that is
one needs to survive
Some Cat by Joanne Fisher
Cindy took a few slices of bread out of the bag and noticed something had been gnawing on it. She showed the bag to Jess who was sitting down at the table drinking some coffee.
“I think we’ve got mice.” Cindy told her. She then looked in the pantry, and sure enough there were mouse droppings everywhere.
“So why isn’t Rainbow catching them? Isn’t that her job?” Jess asked.
“I’m not sure she’s much of a mouser.” Cindy admitted, as she looked out the window and watched Rainbow lying in the sun seemingly oblivious to everything.
“Some cat huh?”
Two Friends by Ruchira Khanna
“Where’s your other slipper?” Mom inquired as Naina came out from her bedroom, wearing just one.
“Maggie is nibbling on it,” she said with a yawn as she placed herself next to her and brushed her labrador fondly.
Just then, a mouse bolted by, and Maggie woofed along with joy instead of running after her.
The duo was quick to pull up their feet and gave out a shriek.
“I adopted her so that she could keep our house free of critters, but instead, she rejoices on their company and is busy with human objects.” said the enraged mom.
Mouse over Mice by Prior
Are you talking to Romano?
Tell him his agent called. His photo sold for $10,000!
He wants to know if it is was the Golf Swing photo?
Was it the Boxing Ring Power Punch shot?
He wants to know if it was the blurry Runner Catching the Baton or the smooth Wind Glider?
He said he’s stumped. Those are the only photos he had for sale.
Tell him his agent added more to his store. He sold Mouse over Mice.
Silence over the phone.
Then Romano laughingly said, “People today are loco. They bought that one?? Loco!”
Mouse in the House by Hajar / Douryeh
It has always amazed me: Critters around the house
A childhood fav, was this little mammal: The mouse
Every Spring and Fall, we heard just one shuffle
On the attic, where it cleanly slept, without scuffle
There were no others than this one tidy mouse
Later, I encountered more than one mice filled house
It didn’t make me loose sympathy for the mouse
It’s a gentle spirit; at home, it’s relatively harmless
In a domestic environment, it may cause minor stress
Mice Musing by Simon Prathap D
I’m small I’m cute
Yet I’m hated by the most
I can run, I can bite
they call me mischievous
I am hairy, am I scary?
Is that why you hate me?
I am hated by the cat’s
I am chased by the cat’s
But scientists wants me to test
I am brilliant I am smart
You are an evolution of me
Before you give me test medicine
Before you give me food poison
Remember I have a family too
All I wanted is, evolve like you
Remember we all are family
because you were once a mice!
Mice, or Rather the Mouse by Frank Hubeny
“There isn’t much we mice can do.”
“Let alone one mouse”.
“What has a lion ever done for us? He’s probably trapped for a good reason.”
And so they tried to discourage Tamar from helping the lion escape from the ropes binding him.
“If you’re going to help him, don’t lecture him about his diet.”
“He might eat you.”
“Or smash you.”
Tamar recognized him. He’s the one who let her go. A quiet voice told her to gnaw the rope and then get out of the way.
So she did and when she did the other mice helped.
What A Time To Be Alive by Donna Matthews
“Dude, time’s up.”
“No! You had it ALL DAY yesterday!”
“So? I’m working on a project, and you’re just playing solitaire.”
“It’s practice. Mike said it helps with coordination.”
Darren slams his hand on the desk and pushes up slow, glaring. Me? Not bothered. This project is a ticket to promotion. I sit down at our communal Windows machine and marvel once again at the nascent technology. The little gadget, called a mouse of all things, fits snug in my hand. No more c:/ prompt. Just a small arrow, leading the way. What a time to be alive.
Of Mice an’ Shorty, a Contradictin’ Pair (count the previous pompts!) by D. Avery
“Pal, that a high wind a’screechin’?”
“Reckon thet’s Shorty. She ain’t so inclusive, seems like, when it comes ta mice. Screams inside her heart an’ outside too. Dealin’ with them little critters ain’t her crownin’ glory.”
“Huh. What happened ta protectin’ nature, ta justice fer all? This is crazy.”
“Well, she don’t like mice sharin’ quarters thet’s fer sure. I’s wunnerin’ whyn’t she jist go back ta the library cat fer hep? Rainbow’d show ‘em the open road all right.”
“Reckon she’s took charge a her mouse situation. Still… them resourceful little critter’s is jist sayin’, I got life.”
Cruising down the road, and an old song plays over the airways, taking us back to another place and time. Whatever we’ve heard on the radio has an uncanny staying power you can’t forget. Music, or even stories, forge our memories.
With nostalgia — or not — writers took to the radio as a signal for crafting stories. Flipping through the stories in this collection is like dialing in different stations. Hope you tune into some favorites or surprises!
The following is based on the September 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio.
PART I (10-minute Read)
Journeys of a Kind by Saifun Hassam
It was maybe in 1967.
Sitting on the steps outside the kitchen.
Farm fields, wheat rustling in the slight breeze.
Great music pouring out of the transistor radio
Something about a guitar man, wandering the lands.
She cried and she laughed – just like the song said.
She’s now 70?
Those faraway crazy days listening to
Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Joan Baez.
Now it’s the Intenet.
Vivaldi; and Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”.
Great mix of classical guitar and jazz piano by Claude Bolling;
Jazz of Michael Silverman;
And the haunting notes of Eric Tingstad’s “Badlands”.
Tuning In by Norah Colvin
On sheep and cattle stations in outback Queensland in the pre-television and digital era, when mail and groceries were delivered fortnightly, the party line telephone and radio linked families with the outside world.
Mealtimes were scheduled to conclude with news broadcasts. The chatter and clatter ceased the moment chimes announced the start. Graziers inclined towards the radio, concentrating to extract words from the crackle, hopeful of positive stock reports, promising weather forecasts and news of world events.
Unable to affect, but affected by, the situations reported, the graziers returned to the day’s tasks, hopeful of better news next report.
“We Interrupt This Programme” by R. V. Mitchell
Six-year-old, Alice was dancing with her doll to the music on the radio. Suddenly, the music stopped and a man’s voice said, “We interrupt this programme, with an important bulletin. The United States’ fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii has been attacked by air and naval forces of the Empire of Japan. I repeat, the American fleet has been attacked in Hawaii.”
Alice ran to tell her mother.
“Mother, the Umpire of Japan attacked Hawee.”
Her mother instantly went pale, and stared out into their Nebraska pasture.
“Mother, where is Hawee?” the little girl asked.
“Too close, Darling. Too close.”
On the Radio by Colleen M. Chesebro
“Welcome to the Mercury Theatre on Air…” the voice echoed from the radio in the next room.
Rosemary stayed at the sink. She scrubbed hard at a burned spot in the pan. It was her turn to wash the dishes. Meanwhile, her brother and parents relaxed at the table, sipping coffee after dinner.
“…An unusual object has fallen on a farm in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey…” The radio sputtered with static.
Grover’s Mill? That’s where I live! Rosemary felt fear.
The announcer’s voice declared, “…It’s the War of the Worlds. Is there anybody out there?”
The radio went silent.
Radio Ga-Ga by Tyler M Deal
Narrator: Nearly paralyzed with fear, she inches closer to the open window. The cold, night air chills her skin. Closer… closer… hands trembling, she reaches for the window seal. She swallows hard and looks out. A shadow in the darkness; a gruesome disfigured hand reaches up and… and…
Announcer: We will pause here briefly with this ad for Radium Water. Radium Water, it’ll cure what ails ya and leave you with a healthy, vibrant glow. Radium Water! Available wherever NukEx products are sold.
Narrator: And now… for the thrilling conclusion of… The Withered Hand of Rrrrrrrrasputin!
On Being a Believer by Judy Marshall
If you found inspiration today from God’s word, please support our broadcast with a donation…
Grandma rose early Wednesday mornings to hear Dr. Samuel preach. Her battered old radio sat on the kitchen table.
KRST-AM crackled from 8:00 to 8:30 with Dr. Samuel’s soothing voice. Wednesday’s were almost better than Sunday services she attended. She felt renewed from the singing and fellowship of her fellow worshipers.
From these inspirations, she wrote checks. She tithed with a monthly check as God directed She donated to Dr. Samuel and bought his books.
Grandma truly was a believer. RIP with God, Grandma.
October Road by Liz Husebye Hartmann
The sun was a memory, the road a straight line swallowed by an empty horizon. This relic of a rental was so old, the radio was one speaker, with five buttons and a dial to select AM stations. Too late even for radio ministry, too early for the farm report; he cranked open the window for the wind’s whistle.
Rubbing his eyes with one hand, he cupped the wheel with the other.
“Joe? Are you there?”
He started, cranked the window shut to hear the radio
Her voice was clear and strong, as if she was still alive.
It Had to Be a Sign by Anne Goodwin
“Living Doll” crescendoed as Steve pushed through the swing door into Theatre Six. Three figures in scrubs, and no instruments in sight except the whiteboard marker pens held, like microphones, to their mouths. It had to mean something, Jerry dancing in the middle, the father he never had.
He used to jive with his mother when his big sisters were at Guides. “Did he really do that, Mummy? Did Cliff Richard lock a lady in a trunk so no-one else could have her?”
Now he has a house, a cellar, bolts across the door. A girlfriend, threatening to leave.
In And Out On The Radio by Hugh W. Robeerts
“Hello,” said Juliet, knocking the side of the ostentatious object, “Who’s in there?”
“Come away,” demanded her mother.
“How can all those people be in there? Why don’t they come out?”
“Don’t be silly! They can’t come out. They’re not inside the radio. They’re broadcasting from the BBC.”
“I want to broadcast from the BBC and come out on the radio,” demanded Julia.
Forty-one years later.
“Today on BBC Radio 4, we’re interviewing actress, Juliet Greenwood,” announced the radio presenter. “Good morning, Ms Greenwood. Are the rumours true?”
“Yes, they are,” declared the radio soap opera star. “I’m gay.”
True Radio Memory by Sue Spitulnik
A phone call on a weeknight from my UPS driver son wasn’t a common thing. I asked, “What’s up?”
“Every place I made a delivery today the ladies were crying about some DJ dying. Who was he and were you crying too?”
“On my God, yes. Bill Coffey from WBEE dropped dead yesterday after the show. Terry and Billy told us this morning. We all cried together.”
“Did you ever meet this guy?”
“No, but I knew him well. Those DJ’s are my friends.”
“They don’t know you.”
“But I feel like I know them.”
“I don’t get it.”
Lost Daughter by Charli Mills
Clementine heard her mother over the Stockton radio. She’d entered the small house at the edge of farm fields, picking up fallen produce in the road. Harvest trucks left a trail, speeding to city markets. Her landlady called the rental the Road Garden. Clem thought she meant “rose” and was disappointed to find weeds and a weeping willow. Her mother played Rambler on the banjo and Clem recognized the Tennessee picking popular among California cowboys. She recognized her mother’s name but not her voice. One day, maybe she’d meet the woman who abandoned her for a life of music.
On the Radio by Eliza Mimski
I’m sorry, so sorry
That I was such a fool
I didn’t know
Love could be so cruel…
Brenda Lee’s voice bled through the radio. The walls sagged, the lights dim with memory.
Marla could not turn back the hands of time. She was sorry. She had been a fool. And from her end, cruelty had entered into their break-up.
There was only one thing to do. She would buy new makeup. She would get a new haircut. She’d go to her aesthetician. She’d practice her coy smile in front of the mirror.
She would get her man back.
Songs One Can’t Forget by Frank Hubeny
“I hope the kids don’t remember that song you used to sing to them about the bird and the word.”
“I didn’t sing it for long. When they got older, I pretended to be the voice of their doll, Sweetie Baby.”
“You know, we still have that doll in case they ever want it.”
“It’s good to keep stuff like that. Actually some of those old songs aren’t any goofier than the ones they sing today. No wonder we’re all messed up.”
“At least the grand kids don’t know the song.”
“Unfortunately I sang it to them as well.”
Triggering the Howling Stage by Anne Goodwin
I considered myself happy, that final summer of my childhood, playing housewife, home alone. My mother away, securing my future, my dad at work, my brother at play. My chores complete, I’d doze off with the radio in the afternoon heat. Until a sentimental song kicked me into consciousness, ambushing me with feelings I didn’t recognise as mine. A howling thrusting from my bowels and discharging from my throat. An animal sound, alien, drowning the jingle, almost choking me. Arrhythmic breathing, such wild and weird wailing, it made me laugh. A dramatic overture before the symphony of weeping commenced.
OMG by Simon
A man was walking down the road thinking. He was listening to radio station, a hot news on the radio station, it said “Ghost writer exposed, he is none other than Sam from a small village in India, and we will be hearing his success story from him very soon, until then stay tuned.” Everyone celebrated and jumped and lifted him. He did not understood why they are behaving strange, his Mom came outside and gave him a spoon of sugar and said, “You idiot, you never told us you are writer.” Sam gasped and said, “OMG! I’m revealed!”
Live Author Talk by M J Mallon
Those bloody motorbikes can’t they stop! 1 A.M. no chance I’ll get any sleep. Tomorrow’s the live show. Never done this before. What will it be like? I’ll soon know. Introverted writers, tonight at 9 p.m. I’ll talk live. Bound to be a problem with the connection. We’ll get there… I did it! I listen, damn, I can’t see my weird mannerisms, but I can hear them. Perhaps I should have had some water instead of that glass of wine, stupid faux pas, one or two!
PART II (10-minute Read)
Radio Stories by Susan Zutautas
Dan Hill a Canadian pop singer/songwriter was on the radio telling the story of how “Sometimes When We Touch” came about.
A girl he liked was dating a football player and he wrote and sang her his song. She felt he was too intense for his age. Off he went hurt by her reply. He tucked away the song until he was older.
Working with Barry Mann one day he asked him to come up with music for his poem, not mentioning any of the history behind it. It came out in 1977 hitting #3 on the U.S. billboard.
Heard on the Radio by Anita Dawes
I remember falling in love with a song
After hearing it coming from
my mum’s little Dansette radio
Years later I bought it on vinyl
Played it until it became paper-thin
The neighbours banging on the wall
Begging me to play something different
It’s strange how one song
Heard on a tiny radio
Can colour your life
To me the world suddenly
became wonky, off-kilter.
Why do people think they can take
what doesn’t belong to them
Changing Nations with their greed
remains one of my favourite songs
to this day
Driving Me by Joanne Fisher
As she drove me home, she sang along to some song on the radio. I wasn’t even sure what it was. She glanced sideways at me and smiled.
“Hey this could be our song babe!’ she said, and then she abruptly began to sing again loud and off-key, as always. Our song? We had only been going out for two days now, and I wasn’t that sure if we were going to last, yet.
“Sure sweetie.” I replied with a half-smile. She laughed loudly and patted my leg.
“That’s my girl!” she exclaimed. And then she started singing again.
Radio Reboot by Bill Engleson
“He finally bought it?”
“Bloody miracle. Melania kept pounding away at ’em. Know what finally brought him around?”
“The initials. DJT. She kept repeating FDR JFK DJT FDR JFK DJT.”
“Yup. Had him running around the bedroom chanting it. FDR JFK DJT. It was a hoot.”
“And he’s willing to go to the next level?”
“Bet your booties. Anything to get the geriatric vote back. And the younger demographic will be amused.”
“Not quite a fireside chat.”
“No, but ‘Tweet nothings from the Prez’ has a ring. Every radio station we can get. 7:00 am…sharp.”
Mixed Media by JulesPaige
Even those stations that attempt to bring us enjoyment often spouting that they are the best – this is the icing on the cake – we’ll take care of you, we’ve surgically removed all of the calories. A line we fall for too easily because we sometimes just really want to be fooled. We want what was, that simpler time forgetting the long list of woes each preceding decade has had to deal with. And yet we still seek that sugar rush. Looking for a sweet life wanting music that soothes.
frosted, sugar, chilled?
media complicates things
with their bias views
Good News on the Radio by H.R.R. Gorman
David wrote nervously at his desk. He scribbled numbers and added them to prepare other people’s taxes. The radio played in the background, droning out music and ads from a tinny speaker while David waited.
When the news came on he fiddled with a key on his ring. Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, U2 spy planes: one day they’d go too far, and the red trigger would be pushed.
David was prepared. Years of food, fluorescent lighting to grow plants underground, a generator, barrels and barrels of diesel. Just give the word, radio, and he’d leave accounting forever.
1938 CBS Mercury by Kerry E.B. Black
The rich-voiced announcer interrupted our background music with a report. A Professor from Jenning Observatory detected explosions on Mars.
I shared a nervous laugh. “Nothing to worry about, children. Let’s carve our pumpkins.”
The reporter interrupted again. A hideous monsters that had fallen from the skies. I bundled the kids close, jack-o-lanterns forgotten. We crept outside, but nothing disturbed the starry expanse overhead. No Martians. No attacks.
A neighbor asked if we were alright.
We whispered, “Martians are attacking New York.”
“You don’t say?”
“Way I see it, you shouldn’t listen to Orson Wells’ show. Charley McCarthy’s funnier.”
Station To Station by Geof Le pard
‘Let’s have some music, Logan.’
‘There’s nothing worthwhile.’
‘That’s ridiculous. American has more stations than All India railways.’
‘But they’re vacuous. Not like Radio Three on the Beeb.’
‘You mean pretentious presenters widdling on about Bach’s innovative use of the semi-breve?’
‘Exactly. Better than some tight-trousered troubadour bemoaning his herpes.’
‘That’s your summation of a whole genre, is it? Go on…’
And now a word from our sponsors, Artic Deodorant…
‘See, just bloody adverts…’
‘Shush, you may learn something…’
It may be winter outside, but it’s always August under your armpits. Freshen up…
‘You’re right. Turn it off, Logan.’
Beyond by D. Avery
They pulled the door shut against the snow squall. “We made it.”
He fumbled for a switch. “There’s still electricity.” Then the lights flickered out.
“Not surprising in this storm, but look, there’s wood, and there’s coals glowing in the fireplace. The owner must have preheated the cabin for us.” He soon had a fire blazing. She spotted a battery-powered radio.
Roads becoming impassable…
“Radio works… now for this lantern.”
Police have suspended their search for an escaped serial killer.
The lantern beam encircled them like a snare. Stepping from the shadowed edge of light, a silhouette took form.
Time in a Radio by Chel Owens
“The shadow knows…” cassette-crackles our road trip-bound car, forced upon us by ancient parents. I can’t wait for
“That was Mars, The Bringer of War…” intones the always-calm classical voice, soothing from my bedside speaker. I’ll never change to
“Help! I need somebody…” Another sort of Classic, crooning comfort. “Here comes your ghost again,” cannot be replaced by
“Video killed the radio star…” my teenage mouth moves along. Why kill art; why listen to anything but
“The shadow” bzzt “Mars” bzzt “diamonds and rust” bzzt “all that glitters is goooold” bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Dial broken, static cleared; I play them all.
Music by FloridaBorne
The first time I heard the continental divide of music, I was at a stoplight that stayed red for so long it tried my patience.
“Bye Bye Miss American Pie…”
The light turned green just as the song began, and I shifted into first gear. I drove a Nash Metropolitan, not a Chevy, and there was no levee in sight.
Age 21, with an entire lifetime ahead of me, the song was screaming out a message I was much too young to understand.
It’s been almost 50 years. Will our republic lose control of the plane in this battle?
On The Radio by Donna Matthews
I drive across the lot and find a spot. I turn off the engine, head in, and scan quickly for an open seat and friendly face. New writing class jitters.
The instructor opens with the 19th 9/11 anniversary. 19 years! I still remember all that time ago sitting in traffic, hearing the news on the radio, and thinking how surely it was a terrible accident.
Our assignment is to imagine a moment from the perspective of someone there. This is horrifyingly simple. I picture the spouse picking up their car from the ferry dock among the hundreds still there.
Now Why? by Reena Saxena
The road trip was taken against her wish.
A sense of foreboding descended on her, as they drove on the same zig-zag roads climbing up the mountains, but she controlled herself. Teenage children don’t listen anyway.
The familiar refrain of a song brought her out of her reverie.
“OMG! This is not possible. It’s the same song.”
“You enjoy old songs, Mom…”
“This radio channel closed down long back.”
The same figure in black stood on the roadside with an infant in her arms. She had stopped them a decade ago.
She’d died fifteen years ago. Now why?
iAiai by D. Avery
“Pal, do you have a ipod?”
“Should git one.”
“Pal, we’re out here all the live long day, we should have a playlist fer when we work.”
“Yer hardly workin’, Kid. Jist leave the singin’ ta the birds.”
“Y’ever yodel, Pal?”
“Ah, jeez. Who’s there?”
“Little Old Lady.”
“Little Old Lady who?”
“Gotcha ta yodel, Pal!”
Brain KROT by D. Avery
“S’pose all we need’s thet old radio in the bunkhouse, tuned to KROT. Weatherman says them high winds is slacked off. Says the skies are not cloudy all day.”
“Sportscaster says the Rodeo’s comin’!”
And the Ads Played On
“Yep, KROT’s a good station, plays jist what ya wanna hear when ya wanna hear it.”
“How da they manage that, Pal?”
“Reckon ‘cause they’s fictional, like us. Shush listen.”
Come shift or shine ya don’t need no fancy wine but fer a real good time try Ernie’s Corn Juice! Ernie’s Corn Juice— dis still the one fer fallin’ down fun.
“Ernie’s advertisin’ on KROT!”
‘Ello. Dees ees Pepe LeGume of LeGume’s Cleaning Services. Leave a shine behind! For a clean that lingers, hire LeGume’s.”
Frankie delivers da letters with an eye to quality.
“Kid, iquit radio!”
Weather shifts and high winds blow sails and change. Fierce, it topples sunflowers, fences, and rooftops. If harnessed, high winds energize travel and electricity. It’s a phenomenon that can be destructive or helpful.
Such a dichotomy brings opportunity to writers to play between the lines. High winds blow across the stories in this collection, drifting between different ideas and storylines.
The following is based on the September 3, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about high winds.
Breakwater by D. Avery
Stories distracted and comforted her younger sister. “One night a mighty wind banged and tore at the trailer until the trailer lifted right into the air and carried the two girls far away, where they lived just them.”
“No. A big tree killed him. The mom cried and didn’t even notice her girls were gone. But they lived happily ever after in the candy meadow.”
Sudden pounding and roaring stole the younger girl’s smile.
“It’s just that wind, Sis. You stay down.” Biting her trembling lip, the older girl stepped into the hall to meet the storm.
High Winds by Frank Hubeny
The only high winds were Windy, the wolf, so Straw, the pig, built a house of straw. Brick overbuilt with bricks. Stick used what was lying around, sticks. Both annoyed Straw. “It’s not fair!” Straw complained to Windy. He wanted all three houses.
Windy went to Stick’s home and blew it down. Chomp! He ate Stick. Then he went to Brick’s home. Brick gave Straw a key. Straw lent it to Windy. Chomp!
When Windy returned Straw squealed, “Perfect!” Windy, mind-blown as ever, thought: yummy. Chomp! He (gasp!) ate Straw.
Moral: Some high winds can take your breath away.
The Tree of Life by M J Mallon
I encouraged my mother-in-law to venture out for a walk. She hadn’t been out since a fall laid her low before lockdown. We sat by the wise old tree. I had no idea that just a few days ago this area had been the site of a funeral gathering. The family decorated the branches with colourful ribbons, dream catchers, pretty baubles and teddy bears. As we talked, a tremendous gust of wind blew the ribbons, twirling them in a whirl of colour as the baubles and teddies danced.
I heard leaves rustling; it was his last goodbye.
Where The Wind Carries Us by Hajar / ‘Douryeh’
Native American wisdom says, wind is God’s voice — maybe
Wind easily always reminds me of this: The sky
Looking at the sky, is looking at unending history
At daytime, you see the Sun; maybe the Moon
At nighttime, you may see stars, dead since millennia
Also wind, reminds me of history — but, my own
Its sound in the foliage brings me back decades
I heard the same whisper, when walking to school
Wind brings us back to history and to nature
Maybe indeed wind reminds us of our very core
Smoke and Rain (Diamante) by Saifun Hassam
Fierce unseasonal northerly winds drove forest fire smoke over southern coastal villages. Diamante and villagers trekked into the upper valley farms inland for shelter. Like generations before them.
An eerie ochre murky red sun sank into a churning turbulent sea. At midnight calm descended. A silver moon rose over the mountains. The harvest was lost. Shorelines were buried under endless hillocks of sand dunes.
Grit and fortitude was part of survival on the coast. The villagers would rebuild. Like their families before them. Diamante’s spirits lifted. The sea was tranquil. In a few months, southeasterly winds would bring rain.
The Sudden Storm by Joanne Fisher
Eliza, Captain of the The Crimson Night, was asleep when the squall hit. She quickly arose and staggered to the deck. The scene was complete chaos. The high winds shredded the mainsail to shreds, while the mizzen looked in danger of collapsing.
The crew desperately tried to bring the sails down as high waves crashed over them, washing some overboard. Eliza took the wheel trying to keep the ship on course, holding on to prevent being swept into the brine herself.
When morning came, the squall had blown itself out. The ship was heavily damaged, but they had survived.
Eros Wind by Kerry E.B. Black
Mary rested her chin on her hands, framed like a Madonna by the window frame. The day brought challenges, and she wished for someone to love.
The wind stole sighs from her lips and swirled them into intricate hearts until it found its quarry.
Ed rubbed the small of his back, soothing work-weary muscles, and blinked into the setting sun. A breeze brought sweet, perfumed sighs as he drove his Harley toward home.
The winds picked up and whirled.
“Better stop.” Ed parked at a diner.
Mary strolled by – that familiar perfume! Their eyes met.
The wind whistled self-congratulations.
You Are Late! by Simon Prathap D
It’s been three years, I have to propose her’ he said and took a step forward.
A strange noise, a high wind approached them, he looked around no one was there, he quickly removed his long coat and covered then both and took her into his car and Parked his car under a building.
Breathing heavily he turned didn’t waste his moment, her face was crimson red already, our nervous hero finally opened up and said ‘I love you’ with a rose in hand without petals. She shows a new ring in her hand, she replied ‘you are late.’
The High Winds of Temptation by Donna Matthews
My dad was a boisterous one in the morning. He would be whistling a tune with his coffee and pouring over the newspaper. He scoured the want ads, marking those that sounded promising. He had a job, but he believed one needed to be open to opportunities. He’d finish off his research and bounce out the door, signing off with “another day, another dollar, a million days, a million dollars. He never did earn that million dollars. Taken out by the high winds of temptation, he tried his luck in an embezzlement scheme and ended up broke, drunk, alone.
Flare-up by Bill Engleson
The pressure builds. Each second of squall is a minute of gale, is an hour of fury, is a lifetime of rage.
Hoble is the town weatherglass. When he is at peace, found comfort in food, in conversation, in those placid moments most of us can kick into gear with planning, common sense, whatever you call it, then we breathe one of those sighs of relief found when wars end.
When Hoble explodes, when the world twists him pretzel-like, when he steps into an errant cheerless shadow, we cower.
And we wonder, how did we allow this to happen.
Gale Force Winds by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa struggled against the wind to open the front door and once inside, the gale slammed it behind her. She heard no greeting. “Michael?”
The wind squealed through the house’s old window frames with such ferocity she feared they would break. She went from room to room calling, “Michael? Jester?” She saw Michael’s empty chair in the bedroom and discovered him in the closet cuddling the dog under a sleeping bag.
Tessa crouched down. “You two all right?”
“Yeah. Jester buried himself in here when the wind got bad so I joined him. I think we need new windows.”
Last Pass by Charli Mills
In the Sierras, high winds herald snow. A wagon train of weary souls had hoisted beasts and conveyances to the top of Kit Carson’s pass to reach California’s goldfields below. They looped their way around bulging batholiths and high-altitude lakes glimmering like cut emeralds. The air thinned and the wind rose. The wagon master bellowed, and oxen trundled faster, sensing danger. They didn’t stop at night to rest. By the light of lanterns, they battled banshee winds, tarps snapping like sails. Sunrise opened with peaceful silence followed by splats of rain. Behind them, snow closed the pass until spring.
Beyond Bluster by R. V. Mitchell
“How did this happen? You saw the alert, and should have known better,” the superintendent scolded.
“I did my best, and as far as your message, I never got a chance to read it,” the manager retorted.
“And why, might I ask didn’t you read it?” the superintendent snapped.
“The wind! You sent a message warning all camp managers to evacuate the campers to the solid structures based on the weather report back in Capital City. You didn’t take into consideration that those of us on the ground, out here in the west, got the storm five hours earlier.”
Worst Storm of My Life by Susan Zutautas
Can’t we just pull off somewhere, I said as I was clutching the grab handle strenuously thinking I was going to die tonight. How the hell can you see anything?
The rain was pounding down with a furry. Turbulent winds were slamming us as we tried to make it further down the highway.
All that could be heard on the radio was take cover and stay off the roads if possible.
We were losing ground trying to keep ahead of the hurricane.
Cars were pulling off to the shoulder, but we kept going until we made it home safely.
Winding Up by Geoff Le Pard
‘You’re not going out, Logan!’
‘Why not? Just a light breeze.’
‘It’s a hurricane. Did you see that trash can fly by?’
‘A tr… oh the rubbish bin. Rather flimsy.’
‘You think British bins are better?’
‘No, it’s just they make such a fuss…’
‘The US gets stronger winds than we do.’
‘Of course. They supersize everything. They call that a lake, but it’s the size of Wales.’
‘It destroyed those sunflowers.’
‘My point exactly. When Sevenoaks was devastated by the 1987 hurricanes, the citizens just changed the town name to Oneoak.’
‘They were lovely sunflowers, though.’
Bettering Michael Fish by Anne Goodwin
His family spent summers camping. Idyllic, except the canvas never dried out. Back home, he kept his sleeping bag beside his wellingtons. Rain equalled holidays to him.
He was five in 1987, when the famous hurricane struck England. Old enough to ask why the weatherman said don’t worry. Young enough to fear he’d be yanked from his bed when the wind took the roof from the house. Now, as climate change makes high winds more common, he’s determined he won’t get caught out. A degree in meteorology got him in front of the weather chart on the evening news.
High Winds by Eliza Mimski
California is burning. Lightning. Sparks. Heatwaves. Rescue missions. High winds. Wildfires, ambivalent, rage up hills.
The house had belonged to them for years – decades. It was their first and only home. They’d collected memories. The photographs on the mantel. The ones hanging on the walls. The bed they had slept in, the table where they’d eaten. Their pets. Their garden.
Before they fled, they watched the house burn, a wall of orange reducing it, their life together extinguished. They lost their memories, their photographs. They can’t find their precious cat.
Winds blow. Fires spread. Trees, land, houses burn.
Blown Away by JulesPaige
The high winds left from the last hurricane pelted Gina and James as they tried to get to the pier. Even without getting into the water sand managed to find its way into every crevice of their bodies. The ocean water had risen to make rivers across the beach and over the sidewalks and onto the road. The ocean had risen so for the safety of the public, the pier closed. The couple made their way back to the ice cream parlor for refuge. What a vacation!
deafening air moved
across their ears; no gulls flew
was nature angry?
Bring on the Rain by Chel Owens
“I am in control!” She screams, gripping fists of invisibility so hard she feels what’s left of fingernails digging against her palms. Forget the past; forget what Steve or Phil or Jack or even James -if that was his name- said. “I am in control!”
Forces more powerful than any touched by man answer, without words. Pushing, tearing, whipping the lake’s edge against her -her, a small, insignificant figure to challenge God’s great breath.
“I am -” she gasps, “in control!” Spray and tears stream down her face;
Till, beckoned by her challenge, the sky-fall comes.
The Void by Tyler Deal
Arture dashed across the windswept plain. His heart pounded in his head; his feet pounded the ground. Sand bit at his face as it was dragged away into the void behind him.
A rocky outcropping jutted up ahead. Perhaps it would shield… Arture faltered and dodged as the mighty wind peeled giant jagged stones away from the earth.
Every fiber of his body strained forward. Then… Arture left the ground. The void pulled him in like a great whirlpool.
Arture set his jaw, tucked his legs, and sped at the void like a cannonball. This wasn’t over.
When the Wind Blows High by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Cora stretched her long neck, beak pecking the fast moving clouds in the pale sky. Twisting, she at last freed herself from her heavy, confining carapace. It’d been necessary protection against wicked solar radiation, brought on by the forebears of those singing blessings to the thin creek twisting through desert, below.
Wind off the melting icecaps ruffled her damp feathers, coaxing the final stage of her transformation to fierce dragon, like breeze to butterfly. When the wind blew high, she would fly to find the rest of her kind.
She eyed the scant group of humans below, stomach rumbling.
Landscapes by Reena Saxena
My heart aches at the thought of what could have been.
I woke up with a dream on the morning of 1st January, like many others, and prayed for a more sane and sensible world. I am a doer, not a vanilla dreamer. There was an action plan in place, in process of implementation.
And then, tragedy struck. Nobody had any control on the high winds which swept the landscape altering the structure and foundation of dreams.
call for new designs
I wait with a pen
but Ink that dried
Is yet to flow again
Erie Kai by Nancy Brady
The cat was roaring…
roaring all night long
I could hear it
in night visions—
a feral cat
In the morning still angry
lashing out its claws,
leaving marks as it paced
and scratched, attacking its prey
with waves and water flying
all up and down the coast.
the wind subsides, turning 180 degrees.
The cat begins to purr,
paws now velvetted,
lapping and grooming the shores once again,
Except in Canada where
winds are high,
blowing from the south, and
the cat begins to roar.
Strong Westerlies by D. Avery
“Seen mighty high winds in my day Kid. ‘Member one time winds was so strong they took the barn apart, all the boards and beams swirlin’ in the air. When it settled down thet wind had put the boards back t’gether its own way, had us a silo. ‘Nuther time it blew fer days an’ days. Carrot greens flew like feathers.”
“Still had the roots?”
“Yep. But the animals was upset, felt thet wind deep inside themsefs. All the hens give after thet was scrambled eggs. Milk cow was so churned up all we got was butter.”
As one writer said, “Pucker up!” The Lemon Queens have stories to share that will have you smacking your lips for lemonade. The right amount of sunshine, the balance of color, and a bit of sweet to balance the tart. Whether sunflowers or bold girls with a lemonade stand, there is something delightful in the name.
Writers pushed their imaginations and found stories full of pucker, pride, and playfulness. Find out who the Lemon Queens are from biscuits to monsters with magic and realism in between.
The following are based on the August 27, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features Lemon Queens.
Canyon Lands by Saifun Hassam
Lightning flickered across golden sandy tracts of the Five Canyons Land. Deep beneath sandy soils, paleontologists discovered extinct microbes and algae with yellow chromophores. Over eons, pigments stained layers of soil with vibrant lemon and orange hues.
Spirals of pinnacles, the Lemon Queens, towered over yellow sandstone cliffs. In the sunlight, the Lemon Queens glowed crimson, fiery red and sparkling citrine.
From dark long shadows, dust rose like mystical spirits in flowing robes of the yellow and red landscape. A rider emerged flying on her steed across the open plains. Topaz jewels and silver threads flashed in the sunlight.
The Lemon Queens by kathy70
In this year like no other in memory, I am spending more time in the garden. The flowers are mostly putting on their last show for this season. All the veggies know their time is almost at an end, how do I stretch the days. Is there any way to keep the sun higher and brighter in the sky. I, the oldest of the Lemon Queens will need help doing this task. I gather all the queens and instruct them on the chant. As we gather an eclipse happens now the sun is really gone for four more years.
Last Words by Simon Prathap D
Mr.Sam would like to share few last words about Madam Bea.
You know, Good people have got very less time on this planet. She is a tall woman, and I’ll call this is a fall of lemon Queen sunflower. Why? you’ll not like her, but, she is a good person, she is a queen in heart, cares for everyone around, she will go any extent to save people she care, like a sunflower, stands tall like a beacon of light and attracts beautiful people like a flower attracts butterflies, we are going to miss her. Rest in peace Bea.
Maybe Even Prettier by Donna Matthews
“What’s this flower called mom?”
“A lemon queen.”
“And this one, mom?”
“This one, mom?”
“Oh, she’s a primrose.”
“Primrose?! I have a friend at school named Primrose. Well, I did. I haven’t seen her in my zoom class this week. Do you think she still goes to my school, mom?”
“I don’t know, honey.”
“Will we ever get back to normal, mom?”
“Certainly. Do you see all these flowers? Each spring, they grow back from hibernation. They look dead, but then they come back. Things look bad now, sweetheart, but they’ll grow back. Maybe even prettier.
A Place for Everyone by Norah Colvin
Rose prickled and turned away from the newcomer. “You can’t blow in here on a breeze expecting to be welcomed,” she whispered to a neighbour.
Sweet Pea belied her name, ignoring the stranger and trailing away to mix with others of her own kind.
Even cousin Marigold wasn’t hospitable, fearing he might spoil their whole bunch.
He didn’t tempt rejection by the glamourous golden Queen outstanding in the field.
Instead, he sailed right by and alighted far from cultivation where his lowly origins wouldn’t raise a brow.
“Look! A dandelion! Do you like butter or cheese? Let’s play!”
The Lemon Queens by Eliza Mimski
The blonde fields. Stalks of lemon queens. Blue skies and clouds that drift.
Marla lay back in the field, worried about her upcoming wedding day. She didn’t love Xavier, but at 45 you had to marry someone. Who wanted to grow old alone? She posed her question to one of the lemon queens, its chocolate face studying her.
“You mustn’t settle,” it firmly said. “Hold out for true love.”
She asked another.
“You can grow to love him,” it said.
“Which thing would you rather be unhappy about?” asked the third.
She smiled. She had her answer.
My Lemon Queen by Ruchira Khanna
“The house looks so clean. Where’s my cyclone?” Dad inquired as soon as he entered his home.
“She’s mostly been in her room since then. Let me get her.” said five-year-old Trisha’s Mom.
“Aha! There’s my Lemon Queen,” he said with glee and was quick to extend his hands towards her. His daughter came towards him with exuberance and landed on his lap.
She placed her tender fingers on his cheek as the dad started to tickle Trisha. Her giggles filled up the room, and the parents’ face radiated like the sun from the happiness that she spread year-round.
Magic Lemon Queens by Ann Edall-Robson
“Nana, what are they?”
“They are known as Lemon Queens. Only those who believe will experience their magic.”
The sound of a gruff voice broke the mystical moment.
“Are you spinning that yarn to her, too? They’re dragonflies, nothing more!”
“Think whatever you like son. I’ve watched you talking to them like you did when you were her age.”
Picking up his daughter, he whispered into her tiny ear.
“Do you think they are magic?”
“Me too! Don’t tell Nana, okay?”
Giggling, she blew a magical kiss to her Nana as they watched Lemon Queens take flight.
The Stand by Pete Fanning
At the courthouse steps, Sergeant Nelson was watching the men with rifles trade insults with the masked skateboarders when his deputy rushed over.
The deputy removed his gas mask. “Sarge, we have a situation on the South Lawn.”
The deputy pointed across the courtyard, where two schoolgirls, one black, one white, both wearing tiara’s, sat hands crossed and smiling at a makeshift cardboard stand. The sign read, Lemon Queens.
“No permit, boss.”
The Sergeant laughed. He sat a hand on his deputy’s back. “You know what, Deputy? I think we could all use what they’re selling right now.”
Appeal by Annette Rochelle Aben
When they were little, people referred for them as the Lemon Tarts as the only treat they ever brought to the church bake sale were lemon tarts. Of course, they had no competition, for no one dared to challenge them they way an ordinary chocolate chip cookie might demand. One must be rather dedicated to perfect a lemon tart!
Over time, the tarts advanced in age and like their bite-sized lemon goodies, they remained favorites of the congregation and fans of the bake sale. To honor their steadfast contributions, and their age, they became, the bake sale Lemon Queens!
The Lemon Queen Festival by Colleen Chesebro
“So, what does it say?” Francine asked.
Rachael stared at the positive pregnancy test results in her hand. “It says I’m pregnant. Now, I’ll never fit into my dress for the Lemon Queen Festival.”
“Mom’s going to blow a gasket when she finds out. What are you going to do?”
Rachael pondered her sister’s question before answering. “I’m not sure. I might have to live with Dad.”
“Mom will never let that happen. Just tell her the truth!”
“Tell me what?” Mom asked from the doorway.
“I’m going to miss the Lemon Queen Festival this year,” said Rachel sheepishly.
Lemon Queens by Frank Hubeny
They call themselves the Lemon Queens, bitter as a lemon and twice as nasty. Don’t get me wrong. I love lemons. I even eat the rind. But those two with their cursing, spitting and hostility give lemons a bad name.
I have no intention of kneeling to these queens to pacify them. That’s just what they want. That’s just what they’re not going to get.
We arrested them last night. They hurled a trash can through a store window. Their lawyer insisted they were peaceful protesters. Then someone bailed them out. Now someone will have to arrest them again.
Lemon Queens by FloridaBorne
It’s hard enough being recently widowed, harder yet to move from your large home of 40 years into a senior community.
The neighbor who owns the backyard facing mine is a “chatty Karl,” a person who asks ridiculous questions like, “Are you growing Lemon Queens this year?”
“No. I don’t like lemons.”
“They’re sunflowers,” he chuckled.
“Gardening is not one of my talents,” I frowned. “If you want to see something die, ask me to tend it.”
Thank God he hasn’t spoken to me since. Perhaps the shotgun next to my rocking chair had something to do with it.
Lemon Queens of Nevada by Charli Mills
Lara, Eugenie, and Jess scrambled up the wooden slats of the corral to watch Big Bones Janey sort the dinks from the keepers. Roundup always smelled of warm sage and fresh horse apples. Wispy sun-bleached hair escaped the matching braids on the young cousins and in the afternoon breeze, their fringe formed halos. Janey trotted past the wide-eyed girls, winking. She called them Lemon Queens and taught them how to settle a stallion without breaking his spirit. Fifteen years later, riding stunt horses for Hollywood westerns, the Lemon Queens owed their skills to the maverick horse trainer of Winnemucca.
Royalties by JulesPaige
Bob and Cora let their seven year old granddaughter run loose in the heliocentric field of Lemon Queens. It would be the last year for that crop. Well, any crop since they’d decided to retire. No one in the family wanted the farm. The developer gave them a very good price. They could move to a warm climate and never worry about shoveling snow again. They could buy or build just the right place to welcome their children and grands any time they wanted to visit.
little princess found
all her subjects heads bowing
as she skip danced passed
Lemon Queens by Sue Spitulnik
When Michael rolled out of the church back door he saw Tessa standing at the far side of the parking lot dabbing her eyes. He went to her. “What’s upset you?”
“Look at Mrs. Staples’ house. It’s run down and her gardens have gone to weeds. Remember those tall yellow flowers called Lemon Queens? It wasn’t summer until they bloomed.”
“I’m afraid she’s gone into a home and her kids won’t sell the house while she’s alive, so it sits.”
“That’s awful. I’m going to visit her and share my memories. I wonder where I can buy lemon Queens.”
End of a Dream by Reena Saxena
A vision in pale yellow floated through the park. This is my new neighbour, Miss Daisy. I would’ve named her Sunflower though.
As if on cue, she turned towards me and smiled. I guess I missed the acerbic expression in her eyes.
“I heard some noise yesterday, and your house help sneaked in on the pretext of asking if I needed something. Let me make it clear, Mr. Whoever-You-Are, I value my privacy.”
I added more sugar to my already sweet lemonade, as she stomped away. Well, now there is a reason I’ll label her Lemon Queen.
The Lemon Queens by Joanne Fisher
In Lana’s dream she was warned the Lemon Queens were coming. Abruptly she awoke and began shivering. You would think Lemon Queens would be something pleasant, but in reality it was a euphemism for humanoid figures with blotchy sallow skin unpleasantly stretched over their thin frames. Their hands had long fingers that ended in sharp claws used for disemboweling their victims. They also had sharp pointed teeth for ripping throats open.
Lana sat up in her bed in the dark her arms cradling her shaking body. On the edge of hearing the door handle to her bedroom slowly opened.
The Rush of The Morn by Bill Engleson
Eyes glued shut,
middle of the morn,
Wobble to the window,
Screen ripped and torn.
Flies buzzing in,
Making for my toast,
Lava butter rolling,
Time for a riposte.
Sun streaming in,
burning up my eyes,
trip on the rug,
crush a dozen flies.
Pick myself up,
grab a cuppa joe,
out on the deck,
watch the morning glow.
Birds peck at seeds,
cats about to pounce
savvy birds fly away,
Watch old kitty flounce,
Morning is so bright,
Best Its ever been,
Hydrangea, blue and rich
Snuggles to the lemon queen.
The day’s fair majestic,
a satisfying scene.
Naming the Biscuit by Anne Goodwin
“We can’t call them that!”
“Why not? They’re lemony. They’re puffy. They’re not lemon crisps.”
“Why not? Because it’s a term of abuse.”
“Nonsense! No-one thinks that anymore. Homophobia’s consigned to history. Along with racism and blaming women for being raped.”
“Remind me of our demographic.”
“Middle Englanders. Conservatives with a C both big and small. People who’d never dip a biscuit in their tea.”
“Unless it’s a ginger snap?”
“They don’t buy ginger snaps. They’re for the hoi polloi.”
“To the core. Loyal to Prince Andrew. Think Harry should be shot.”
“Then let’s call them Lemon Queens.”
Lemon the Queen of Fruits by Ellen Best
When I teach my daughter about Lemons she’ll say, ‘they are sour, and need loads of sugar before you use them.’ I will pour her a homemade lemonade, sweetened with Agave. I’ll tell her how lemon juice can cure heartburn, it’s the only citrus fruit that turns alkaline once joined with saliva. While passing her a slice of my lemon drizzle poppyseed cake, I clean my glass to a sparkle with a used lemon skin as we speak. We will chat about life and love as I slice lemon and freeze them, for days when there are no more.
Lemon Queens by Priorhouse
Lydia and June carried in numerous bags and crates with workshop supplies.
Catching their breathe, they placed the heavy items down and began setting up:
June Spread out a yellow table cloth across the round table in the corner.
Lydia spread out six dozen sliced lemons.
The workshop would have their speciality “lemon-themed” group activity.
There would be a taste test to experiment with sour.
Lemons would be added to water to alkalize the body and provide Vitamin C.
Standing back, they dimmed the lights and smiled.
The Lemon Queens would strike again.
The Queens by R. V. Mitchell
Vincent sat at his easel and squinted at the majesty of the queens in his vase. The Paris series had been a success. Now a year later, Arles beckoned. The pot – simple, two-toned, was a perfect tool, as was the plain wall of the studio.
“How many sunflowers?” he questioned to himself. “Ten. A dozen more or less.” He grinned to himself. “The public needn’t know how many are actually in the vase, only the number in my mind.”
With that Vincent picked up his palette and began to mix his yellows, as the lemon queens awaited their day.
When Ranch Chores Is a Drag by D. Avery
“Kid, where’d them two towheaded twins git off to?”
“Went inta the bunkhouse, said they’d be right out. They say they wanna work fer Carrot Ranch? Or the Saddle Up Saloon?”
“I reckon the Ranch. Tip an’ Top Lemmon are hardy hard workin’ cowboys. They’ll be a fine hep aroun’ here, ‘specially since yer always doin’ ever’thin’ but yer chores these days, what with thet saloon an’ all.”
“All this mention a the saloon, Pal. Reckon this is a crossover piece, huh?”
“S’pose… Whut?! Kid, who’re them fancy dancehall girls struttin’ along the bunkhouse veranda?”
“Introducin’ the Lemmon Queens!”
From the nest to new ventures, first flights are often fraught with hazzards and delights. Birds test their wings and people test their abilities. No matter what happens next, it is the first time that remains memorable.
Writers imagined those moments. The first leap, jump, departure. Some landed and some flew beyond our gaze.
The following stories are based on the August 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a first flight.
PART I (10-minute read)
First Flight by Charli Mills
The phoenix spent a lifetime reinventing herself. Each experience stabilized the bits, girding future wings. Her thoughts solidified. From dusty ashes, elegance rose. Sometimes her development caused an imbalance—she’d gain strength in one wing, leaving a talon incorporeal, a sooty ghost foot. Failure created more ashes, but ashes packed form like down in a pillow. Soft, at first, the padding transformed to muscle and bone. Fully engineered, the phoenix’s original vision improved with age and wisdom gained. A fire of kindness flamed her fully actualized self and she burned, a sacrifice to the ashes of her next life.
First Flight by Joanne Fisher
She was the strongest and first of her brood, and had eaten her brothers and sisters as soon as they hatched. Now she was perched on the cliff edge and something instinctive began to take over. Without even thinking, she launched herself into the air. As she plummeted, for the first time her wings began to stretch out. She swooped up into the blue sky, the red sun glistening on her scales. She knew she would grow larger and master this element. Nothing could defeat her now. She roared into the wind and the first trace of flame appeared.
First Flight by Colleen Chesebro
The wings were brand new. The two small buds on her back had blossomed into full-fledged wings covered with white feathers. She stretched these new extensions as far as she could, flexing the newly formed muscles taut.
She was sure that they made these new appendages for flying. How long had she wished to fly free like the eagle and the hawk?
She sniffed the air and pawed the ground. From a canter to a dead run, she was ready to spread her wings. At the cliff, the ground fell away, and she flew. It was unicorn’s first flight.
Flying Pizza by Geoff Le Pard
‘I tried to talk to that rock woman again, but she just got in the lake and swam away.’
‘She swam in that?’
‘She could be a mermaid.’
‘More like a nice maiden. Or it could be a version of our hard-wired response to danger.’
‘Haven’t you heard of the fight or flight response, Morgan?’
‘My hard-wired response is different.’
‘Of course it is. What do you do if danger threatens?’
‘I eat pizza.’
‘How on earth did those palaeontologists miss that third hard-wired response? It explains those Stone Age ovens.’
First Flight by kathy70
I’m taking the early first flight out this morning. Handy trick learned years ago that allow options if I miss it. DC is ugly hot this summer. Today’s assignment is to meet an old friend for lunch. Twenty years is a long time, I wonder how he’s changed. Will he know me? My job today is simply gathering information on what’s next years hot clothing color. How does a nice girl from Kansas get in the spy business? Should I have married that farmer? On my flight there is a familiar face in the next seat. “Hi I’m Dorothy.”
Betsy 1965 by Deborah Dansante
Callow listened as the weatherman told her she would wash away in the storm unless she got out now. The siren sounds the radio made when the warm winds blew down to Grand Isle from New Orleans helped Callow to believe this was true. Callow took up her lamp. Kneeling in prayer, Callow repeatedly raised her arms up and down, finally letting them fall gently to her sides. This was to remind Callow of what to do if she was to suddenly to take off flying with the hurricane. Callow fell asleep listening to the buzzing sounds of WWL.
First Flight by H.R.R. Gorman
It was our land which had the wind, the sand, the beach. It was here they assembled the pieces, here they first revved the engine, here they first left land. Here mankind first leapt to the heavens during 26 seconds that shrank the earth. Only five witnesses saw the first moments of mankind’s destiny, a destiny riding upon muslin, and aluminum engine.
Arise, children of Earth! Fly upon wings of intelligence and daring, upon the backs of bloody lessons learned! From a colony lost to the sky found, the Carolina coast is there.
Oh, and Ohio can suck it.
The One by Paula Puolakka
No 9/11. No pandemic. The airplanes could have not worked as weapons of mass destruction and a swift way to spread the virus if the citizens of the USA would have agreed with the One who tried to stop the madness from happening a long time ago. Instead, he was called crazy, locked inside a vault, and quietened.
The first flight can be observed after the first attempt to fly and after the first fall. Just listen to “Learn How to Fall” by Paul Simon, and you will realize that (ad nauseam) the truth will make you try again.
Metamorphosis, Revisited by Jeff Gard
Jerome’s thumbs peck the screen. His eyes burrow through layers of lamestream media to find the Truth. Hunched over his phone, bones strain at skin, T-shirt molting against expanding shoulder blades until leathery wings sprout.
Truth flees sentences, buzzing through air, swarming like gnats. Everything the establishment hides, deep state crimes of pedophilic cannibalism obfuscated by so-called experts – these morsels can only be consumed by minds adapted to bite-sized, carefully coded minutia.
Jerome chases the latest conspiracy out a window in dusk where other believers gather. They speak in stuttering chirps, guiding each other with the sounds of night.
A Flightening Experience from Back in the Day by Bill Engleson
“It was up there,” Ham Slater, the friendly, eager, local realtor said, pointing to the high bluff running along the skyline for a few miles.
“Yup. 1968. Hot summer evening, they say.”
“They?” I asked.
“Yup. Locals. Ones playing golf on the meadow below.”
“The island has a golf course?” I interrupted.
“Wellll…not officially. Mostly farmland. Sheep keep ‘er nicely chomped.”
“Ah,“ I said, not fully enlightened. “So, the bluff?”
“Zeke Buttworm, old time farmer…inventor. Built a glider…also tried…mescaline…young hippie girl Zeke was…courtin’…Lass was devastated.”
“Yup. Killed Zeke dead…and three sheep.”
“Oh! And one golfer.”
The First Flight by The Curious Archaeologist
He stood on the edge of the tower, checked his linen covered wings, took a deep breath and jumped.
They worked! He glided for nearly two hundred yards before the gust hit him, he struggled as he dropped, his wings broke his fall. He awoke in the infirmary with a broken leg. The Abbot beside the bed.
“Brother Elimer, my old friend, there must be no more flying. I don’t wish to bury you next time.”
“But if I had a bigger tail I could fly”
“Not now.” The Abbot was firm, “One day perhaps.”
The year was 1005.
First Flight by Frank Hubeny
The interviewer wanted to know whether Bird was scared when he jumped out of the nest for the first time.
Bird said, “Technically I didn’t ‘jump’. I flew. My wings moved. Soon the nest was far below me. I don’t know how it happened. It’s not like jumping. There’s a difference.”
The interviewer wondered, “Really? What’s the difference?”
He clarified, “You see, any monkey can jump out of a nest. You know as well as I do what will happen. I’m not going to go there. But birds, well – how do I put this? We don’t jump. We fly.”
Earth is Curvy by Simon Prathap D
It was his first time, he was nervous. He looked at the place around, the man at the opposite was busy securing belt all over his body. He took a deep breath and counted one and before he said two he was pushed away from the mountain, his first skydiving. His partner laughed at his screaming. In few seconds he started to feel the wind, the air, the landscape, the beautiful mountains and the animals that was running in the wild, it all said him one truth about the universe. ‘Earth is not flat, it is curvy’ he said.
First Flight by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She shifted her hips, attempting to get comfortable. Elbows on the counter, chin on fist, she gazed at the display, attempting to suss out meaning from the frothy spill of words. All gibberish. She sighed.
And she’d wanted to make a good impression.
He perched, mirror image to this beautiful woman, heels hooked on the stool’s rungs. He’d suggested this venue for its relaxed atmosphere, located between river and train. He also wanted to make a good impression.
“I don’t know beans about beer!”
“Trust me?” he leaned back. “Let’s share a flight. This brewery has a nice selection.”
Viewing the Nazca Lines by Anne Goodwin
“After breakfast is best. The first flight.”
Gulping coffee and empanadas de queso at sunrise before cycling to the airstrip, I wondered if I’d heard him right. My stomach lurched as the plane vaulted the perimeter fence. Just us, our guide and the pilot: no other tourists to block the view. Pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched in the desert: how did they make them? Why?
There’s the dog! The spider! The plane tilts, wings verging on horizontal. Hummingbird. Monkey. Tree. I cup my mouth, breakfast tastes sour the second time around. How did I misunderstand it? Definitely breakfast after: desayuno después.
Take Off, Eh? by Annette Rochelle Aben
The honeymoon flight from Detroit to Los Angeles was her very first. Not knowing what to expect, the young bride allowed her more well-traveled husband to guide her along the way.
He graciously gave her the ilse seat and held her hand gently while the flight attendant covered the emergency instructions.
As the plane pulled back, he reminded her that she should put the chewing gum in her mouth.
“Honey, look we’re climbing into the clouds!”
She leaned forward to take a look, and vomited on the back of the head of the person seated in front of her.
Her First Flight by Ann Edall-Robson
Desk, check. Window, check. Binoculars, check. Camera, check. Water, check.
She sat on a log, enjoying the vista. The sound of the creek chortling over the rocks made her smile. A shadow of a cloud floated within sight. Lifting the binoculars to her eyes she almost missed the hawk lifting of its perch. Its flight taking the predator out of camera range.
Her contented sigh caused a misty cloud in the cool, morning air. Picking up her pencil, she started to write. Her first flight to work from home was a success. Outdoor office days were here to stay.
Arriving by D. Avery
Signs and arrows made navigating the mazelike interior of the airport easier than she’d imagined. Still she was passed left and right by more experienced travelers towing wheeled suitcases, rushing down the wide corridor labeled “Departures”. She clutched her satchel and continued until she was in a glassed in peninsula thrust into a sea of tarmac, roiling with activity. She found her gate, a closed door really, but one that would open for her, take her away. Away at last. Seated close to this doorway she again examined her ticket. One way. She would be transported and then— “Arrivals”.
Just Another Baby Bird by Lottie M. Hancock
Women have mid-life crisis, too. Mine came with a thirty-six-foot wingspan.
Preflight checklist: Ready.
Doors latched. Check.
Fuel valve on. Check.
Butterflies in stomach. Check.
Trim set for takeoff. Check.
Heart raced. Check.
Wing flaps at 0. Check.
I kept the horizon level. The ground fell away.
My instructor stared straight ahead.
Power at 2200 RPM. Check.
The city I grew up in shrank. The sky grew.
I watched the gauges steady and trimmed the elevator.
A flock of geese formed around us. Just another baby bird.
Prepare for final approach. Check.
Regret having to land. Check.
Dear Butterfly, Love Caterpillar by Norah Colvin
You make the impossible seem possible. You inspire our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams. How can I be like you?
Dreams create possibilities but now you are exactly who you were meant to be.
Life is monotonous. Everyone does the same thing, day after day. Shouldn’t life be more than this?
Nothing happens overnight. Patience, determination and persistence will reward you in the end.
I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore. I think I will sleep forever. Goodbye.
Wake up, butterfly. It’s time to spread your wings and fly!
PART II (10-minute read)
Joshua by Saifun Hassam
Joshua was excited as the pilot flew the Aerial Research seaplane over the offshore waters. This was his very first aerial survey flight.
Digital cameras revealed incredible details of shapes and colors of underwater rocks, once fiery molten lava. It was a feast for him as an artist and a geologist. Sea crustaceans, sea urchins and sea stars, jellyfish, and sea horses seemed like delicate otherworldly creatures.
Working with other researchers, he would use aerial photography to probe for undersea archeological sites, search for fine differences in the waters and along the seabed where buried structures might lie hidden.
Discomfort by Reena Saxena
She cringed on seeing the large number of people who had come to see him off. Well, it was nice that his employers were sending him abroad at a raw age of 23, and he was the first in the family to fly abroad, but the crowd was kind of too large for comfort.
It was the first glimpse of a culture gap. They shared too much, they had no concept of discretion or privacy.
Years later, she evaluates her discomfort with his family and finds the same reasons. She needs space, but they are unaware of the concept.
Fallen by Joanne Fisher
in the end I was always
a child of the dark, even though
once I was a shining light
there I was, in Paradise
but my heart was uneasy
never a team player, all I wanted
was a change in the management,
I was cast out, and fell a long way…
Hell was already there, all I did
was make it my own, a reflection
of my own torment
my wings broken, through
the long millennia they began
to heal, until one day
I launched into the air
and for the first time flew
above my own dark kingdom
This Life by Marjorie Mallon
Three years ago, we said our goodbyes at the departure gate before that first flight. How I cried. I wept for a day, and the next day I wept without weeping. My darling daughter gone so faraway. She braved how scared she was. Now, she is adventuring again – not so far this time! And yet her friends miss her already. I miss her already. This is life, young adults are always moving, taking those steps to independence. They never leave your thoughts. They’re always a part of you, wherever they are.
Daughters always remain in your heart.
First Flight by Anita Dawes
As we grow older
We tend care a little more
About the young ones
Children, animals, it doesn’t matter
If they’re young
We acquire a mothering apron
Fussy over their first steps
Eager that they don’t fall
A fall may put them off trying
God helps us when it comes to their
First steps to foraging for themselves
Mother mode goes into overdrive
Unfortunately, we cannot keep the door
Closed to the grown-up world
Wanting to, can’t make it so
You can only hope and pray
That you did a good job
Trust that you have
And let go…
First Flight by Christine Bialczak
When granny died mommy said that she went to heaven I don’t know if I know where heaven is or if it’s really even a place because when mommy told me the tooth fairy came and took my first tooth I think she was lying because I saw my tooth in the bottom of the trash can in the bathroom mommy said maybe the tooth fairy went in the bathroom for a drink and dropped it by accident and that I should just be happy with my dollar bill but I would be happier to know where granny went.
First Solo by Donna Matthews
Charlie was out of bed before his mom came in to wake him up. He’d laid out his clothes the night before, and he couldn’t wait to wear his new tennis shoes. Running down the hall toward the kitchen, his mom intercepted him, leaned over, kissed his head, and asked him if he was ready. “Yes!” he nearly screamed. Barely tasting his cereal, he grabbed his new spiderman backpack full of all the new pencils, erasers, and folders and hopped at the front door. “Let’s go mom!”
She sighed, her baby on his first solo flight known as kindergarten.
What Grandmothers Do by Eliza Mimski
She’d been there with him the first day of kindergarten, waiting anxiously at the classroom door when school was over.
She’d been there with him when he’d needed surgery on his toe, him later laying on the couch with his pain medication and Ritz Crackers on the coffee table.
She’d been there with him at every baseball game, basketball game, and she’d picked him up from his martial arts class.
She’d picked him up from middle school and taken him to get pizza, then to Burger King when he was in high school.
Now he was eighteen. Entering college.
First Flight by Susan Zutautas
It was all set, soon we would become empty nesters. It was sad to see them leave, and I knew we would miss them, but they had to go and start new lives and families of their own. I am sure we would see them from time to time and for visits on birthdays and holidays.
One bright sunny July morning we all woke up and I knew it was the day to teach the little ones how to fly.
Okay kids it’s flying day and we’re all going to go together. Watch what I do and follow me.
Fledgling Dancers by Sue Spitulnik
Before she moved home, Tessa’s sister had kept her informed about Michael’s growing involvement in community activities since his return. Ally had never mentioned a bar called the “No Thanks Needed,” nor the Irish dancing classes being held there.
Soon after she arrived in town, Michael invited Tessa to go watch. She had never seen Irish dancing up close and was surprised the youngest of the dancers were only eight years old. Compared to their teachers, Thad and Katie, the children looked like fledgling birds trying their wings for the first time. They were tittering like young birds too.
First Flight by Michael Fishman
I can’t say he took it all in, but today was a beautiful day for a first flight. The sun shined down from a bold blue sky and lit the runway.
“Ground control to Captain Griffin.”
“We’re a ‘go’, Captain.”
And just like that things started to speed up.
“You got it?” I huffed as I started to run faster.
“I think so.” His voice was a little shaky, but not from fear.
“I’m letting go now, Griff. Hold the handles and keep pedaling.”
“I— I got it, dad!”
And just like that my son was flying.
First Flight by R. V.Mitchell
He was nervous, but the amount he had been offered was more than a mere street urchin could hope to acquire in a month. Now, standing on the rooftop, and the distance to the piazza seemed impossible.
Angelo felt the harnesses being tightened around his emaciated frame, and the canvas and weight of the wooden frame made him wonder if the experiment could ever work.
“Now,” the Leonardo called from the ground, and Angelo felt a shove from behind. He immediately crashed onto the cobbles.
“Not bad for a first flight,” Da Vinci said, looking down on the boy.
Fight or Flight by Doug Jacquier
Every schoolyard has it’s Bomber, so-called for his propensity to drop tucked-legged from the high board at the local pool and make tidal waves that left smaller children spluttering. Big for his age, monobrow hovering over piggy eyes, permanent Band-Aids on his knuckles from the dragging and never short of choices for lunch. I knew my turn at victimhood would eventually come and it did the day I asked him to desist from inserting my friend’s head into a toilet bowl. Leering excitedly at the opportunity for fresh blood, he ambled towards me and my first flight began.
First Flight by Irene Waters
Unaware of the steps his momentum sent him flying through the air, arms and legs akimbo. The letter he’d been reading floating gently in the breeze behind him. His thoughts were those of a drowning man. This is what it feels like to fly? First his childhood, then the small amount of adulthood he’d experienced. Should have told Alison I love her. Should have written a will. A bellyflop onto concrete that’ll hurt.
He landed hard. He momentarily felt like Humpty Dumpty before all thought left him.
Alison screamed. “Don’t die. Not when you’ve just inherited and can live.”
First Love by Kerry E.B. Black
He stared, a heat-seeking missile intent upon its target. She swayed to the music, spellbound, her motion a metronome, unaware of his interest until her friends elbowed her and whispered their giggling observations. She startled at his intensity but didn’t shy away. No, his open desire found in her an equal audacity. Without regard for decorum, she fantasized a relationship. It happened in a flash, an atmospheric conflagration that propelled her heart from its protection into the realm of pre-teen romance. The lead singer proclaimed nonsense and thinly veiled entendres while her heart took its inaugural flight of fancy.
Learning to Fly by JulesPaige
was judgement clouded
when the elementary
student left at lunch
first time run-a-way; gone south
trying to find those who cared
since it was so clear
that one little voice would not
be heard by adults
Over the years; still no one would listen. More attempts were fathomed, planned, engineered and carried out. No real truths were ever revealed leaving the past misted in disillusionment. No real resolutions, except to forgive those striving to do their best for themselves with only second thoughts to those around them. The pain lessens. Clouds parted for true love, laughter and compassionate hope.
A Graduate by Ruchira Khanna
Traditional hat toss. Some motion blur.
He throws his graduation cap in the air while I have tears flowing down my eyes.
He’s no doubt very excited about the ‘freedom’ that he’ll get. That involves no reminders or nagging from my end to do things.
As a parent, I ought to step back and give him wings to make his first flight away from home. Only then, I guess, he’ll realize the importance of all that care, love, attention, and the need to manage time well, that he used to knit brows upon.
As the wise said, “Give them wings to appreciate what they had.”
Basket Case by D. Avery
“Whoa, Kid. Stop. Back up. What’re ya plannin’?”
“Pal, this is gonna be great! We’re gonna fly!”
“Prompt says anythin’ or anyone thet flies, but I’m tellin’ ya, Kid, I ain’t goin’ in any flyin’ contraption. ‘Specially if Pepe LeGume’s runnin’ it. What in heck’s he know ‘bout aeroplanes anyway?”
“Ain’t gonna fly in a aeroplane, Pal. Pepe’s got a more economical idea.”
“Oh, jeez, Kid, what’re you two up too?”
“We’ll be up, up and away in a hot air balloon! An’ guess how Pepe plans on fuelin’ it?”
“Oh, the humanity!”
“Pepe’s an amazin’ human bean alright.”
Hot liquid minerals form the rock we call Earth. The geological record reads of flows, floods, and extrusions that raise and weather. Rocks define a place, such as the Keweenaw Peninsula dubbed the Copper Country. Molten lava can be more than elemental and serve as a metaphor for heat. And more.
Give writers a prompt and they’ll follow it with different perspectives and story ideas. Molten lava flowed through imaginations and stories this week.
The following are based on the August 6, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about molten lava.
PART I (10-minute read)
My Valentine by Deborah Dansante
On that fervid night, long ago, near the brook, you said you would run like a serval, if I kissed you. I kissed you…
I baked a thousand loaves of bread with the grains you grist-ed. You taught me how. I parched peas and canned tomatoes. There were no notes. No cards. Everything came from you. Just you. Your hands were my instruction. Your eyes my recipe. I pleased you. I meant to please you.
I miss our garden. I miss our life. I miss you.
February use to bring paper hearts and seed catalogs.
Dear Burpees, please unsubscribe.
Molten Lava by Anita Dawes
The sudden hot blast as you take
hot cross buns from the oven
Balmy temperatures that drive most people
to the nearest beach
Looking at the sun through dark glasses
Reminding yourself it’s a ball of molten lava
Boiling seas of golden fantasies
Hot pavements, melting tarmac
Car tyres in danger of melting
(It has been known)
Desert sands, hot springs
Shooting geysers you cannot bathe in
Only admire the height it reaches
A falling star so hot
It melts sand into glass
The only heat I appreciate
Is between cool cotton sheets
Should I be telling you this?
Surviving the Storm by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Pace the living room, arms hugging my chest. My growling belly needs comfort and protection, not for need of nourishment, but because it craves. Outside, snow drives sidewise, piling up outside the doors, gathering in dark window corners.
The fire’s lit, has blazed and quieted to embers. Red is poured, been airing and warming for half the day. White rises, bowled, in stiff peaks in the refrigerator. Dinner’s been dispensed with, a thick, hot mess of beans, beef, and tomatoes. Yes, I’ve planned this winter respite.
The timer dings, chocolate molten lava cake is ready.
Bring on the Whip!
Epoch Weekend by D. Avery
The only one more disgruntled by the arrangement than her was her grandson. Sulking in the bow of the canoe, he showed no interest even in the great blue heron. In a huff she planted the paddle and turned the canoe abruptly. The heron, startled, lifted to flight.
They followed the pterodactyl. It landed in the marsh. There, miniature pterodactyls, light as dragonflies, landed on their knees.
They ate Hershey bars by the fire and turned marshmallows into molten lava. The sun slipped low over the mountain. In the fog draped morning it would be a fire-breathing dragon.
Joshua by Saifun Hassam
Eons ago the sea burning with fiery molten lava cooled. Immense rocks spired out of the sea. On a remote peninsula, a lighthouse watched over the rocky seas. Over time more than once lighthouses slipped into the sea as tremblors shook the seabed and coastal lands.
Inland several cinder cones dotted the valleys. Joshua was an artist, a geologist, and an archeologist. His keen observations led to the discovery of ancient villages, boats, and kayaks buried inland. His discoveries found their way onto canvas. His vivid imagination saw a phantom ship riding the waves far from the molten rocks.
In a Guard Tower Cut from the Rock by E.A. Colquitt
New recruits often wondered how it was that, even on dungeon duty, the stone beneath their feet was always warm.
On Initiation Day, they marched into the bowels of the mountain range. The air grew stuffier as they descended. Eventually, the tunnel opened into a vast cavern: black rock walkways, lit by a lake of molten lava.
‘This place is sacred,’ their captain yelled. ‘Without it, we can’t do our job.’
‘And what about Lís?’ someone piped up.
‘Don’t you worry. We’re further down than even their deepest ice caves.’
‘So, what are we doing here?’
‘Crossing the lake.’
Faculties Petrified by Anne Goodwin
First the sting, then smothering, then slugging down, then stopped. Gaze turned inside out to pick the marrow from my bones. Mouth a Munchian scream until the lava swallows that and blands it over in Mona Lisa smile. “How are you?” “Fine, thanks, you?” Frozen, glued to nothing, brain reboots itself to factory settings, erasing hours of therapy. Erasing the adult.
Barbs can pierce the carapace. Kindness can’t. Shelled in ineffective armour, identity fragments. Dissolves. Only I can save me. But I’s in exile, I’s abandoned me. Depression’s being washed in molten lava. Transforming flesh and faculties to stone.
The Floors are Lava by Kerry E.B. Black
The little boy waved his hands, yelling, “No, no, Momma! Don’t step there! The floors are lava!”
“How am I going to get your homework, then?”
“I don’t want you to burn up. Here,” He scootched over and patted the couch beside him. “Let me snuggle you to keep you safe.”
She wrapped him in a hug. He giggled.
“You know I do have to get to the homework, though.”
“It’s a shame, but I’ll have to give up on homework to keep you safe. Can’t have you burn to a crisp.”
“You’re a brave, selfless boy.”
Pāhoehoe and ʻaʻā by JulesPaige
Molten lava once formed the now empty tubes near the bottom of Maui, Hawai’i where the ocean waves rush in creating anywhere from thirty to forty feet tall water spout. The height of a three story building. That lava traveled down Mt. Haleakalā between 1480 and 1600. It was cold when I was at the top of the mountain which is 10,023 feet, in the early 2000’s.
quickly the sun sets
in Maui’s Pacific ocean
the star stays glowing
I prefer the beaches and water warmed by Sol. Yet one is never far to view cooled lava on Maui.
Conversational Gambits by Geoff Le Pard
‘These rocks are incredible…’
‘That woman’s talking to them.’
‘They were made from molten lava…’
‘Do you think she’s dangerous?’
‘Are you listening, Morgan?’
‘Aunt Maisie talked to her knitting. She’s bonkers.’
‘Forget the knitting. This is an agate, and…
‘Colin Airplane talked to his shoes.’
‘He said it kept them pointing in the right direction.’
‘It doesn’t follow that he’s potty.’
‘Prince Charles talks to his trees.’
‘Ok, he’s the exception that proves the rule. Anyway I’d say she’s very sane, talking to her rocks.’
‘Well, it stopped you talking to her, didn’t it?’
Arizona in July by Cara Stefano
One time Hell (Michigan) froze over
Bitter cold and endless winter – Then comes time
Revel in sweet warmth of a glorious Yooper summer that
As a Midwestern girl, born and bred
Rain and snow are in my soul bone deep
Every summer as a child I’d turn my face to sky’s clear blue
Relieved and joyful for the summer’s coming
Surviving, barely, now in the barren burning desert
Cloudless skies, relentless sunshine
All year round
The endless molten blazes make me
Dream nightly of the frozen north.
A History of Rock by Joanne Fisher
“Whatcha doing love?” Jess asked.
“Looking at these rocks. Most of them are extrusive igneous.” Cindy declared.
“They were once molten lava from a volcanic eruption, and formed basalt, or obsidian.” Cindy replied.
“Well you’re the one that went to college.” Jess stated.
“You don’t have to go to college to learn this stuff.”
“I know, but the farm keeps me busy enough.” Jess explained. Cindy smiled and gently threw one over to her. “This is pumice isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s what happens when lava mixes with water. I thought you could use it on your feet!”
PART II (10-minute read)
Molten Lava by Ann Edall-Robson
For over a month water bombers flew through the acrid haze. The old-timers said it was the worst fire season of their memory. Black clouds forming in the West were the only hope of a reprieve. Their empty promises brought nothing but more lightning strikes to bolster the fire stats. Then the wind switched direction, blowing from the East. According to the old boys, that meant moisture was coming soon. Looking east on the morning it rained, the colours of fire silhouetted the ridge, like molten lava wrestling with the skyline. How could a sunrise be so cruel?
Death Stuff by Bill Engleson
Helga was giving thoughts of death a serious think today. In her wheelchair, waiting for our special seventy-fifth anniversary memorial Hiroshima sushi lunch, our little way of marking that event, she was also agitated by the recent Beirut dock explosion.
What with everyone wearing masks, Covid-19 was also painfully present.
I thought if I could find some eccentric examples of death, that might cheer her up.
Chef Pang Pen being bitten by the severed head of Cobra almost got a giggle.
Poor Phillip’s death by glass shard from his exploding Lava Lamp unfortunately sent her into a deeper funk.
The Writing Group by Michael Fishman
Reading in front of people has never been comfortable for me and tonight was no different. I swallowed.
“My love for her felt like hot lava burning in my heart.”
I saw Jean grimace.
“Not good?” I said.
“Well,” she shrugged. As analogies go . . .”
The other three members looked up.
It got quiet.
“What? We know lava’s hot; and it burns, right?”
She had a point.
“So maybe just ‘My love burned’?”
“Better.” Jean smiled
I felt myself blush.
What nobody knew was that the hot burning lava in my heart burned for Jean.
Missed by D. Avery
“All these lipsticks are some shade of red, how do you choose? What’s that called, the one you’re using?”
“Ooh, hot.” She pushed away his attempted kiss, told him coolly to just get ready and not cause them to be late for the dinner party.
He sighed, but obediently moved away from her, got busy with his tie. “What if, just this once, we didn’t go? They’re all alike. We’d not even be missed.”
“We would be missed. And talked about.”
“Does that really matter?”
Her eyes threw sparks. He headed to the car before she erupted.
Molten Lava by R.P. Biena
Henry thought of himself as someone with little self-esteem. In school, he was too timid to ask Vanessa to go swimming. At university, he was too afraid to ask Jessica to kiss him, although she spent the evening with him. In his job, he was kicked out, because he was not brave to argue against others.
Finally, Henry realized that he had too much self-esteem. He had been ignorant at work, narcissistic with Jessica, and self-absorbed to ask Vanessa. He broke free from his cell. The obsidian wall, that had served as a distorting mirror of his self, molted.
My Girl by Eliza Mimski
My girl she is a hottie
You’ve gotta see her body
She’s bawdy and she’s gaudy
She’s rootin tootin naughty
Her breasts they are the best
Her hips so big and blessed
Her stomach is a nest
Her arms so full of zest
My girl she is a hottie
You’ve gotta see her body
She’s bawdy and she’s gaudy
She’s rootin tootin naughty
Her face is like the sun
Her hair it comes undone
She tells me I’m the one
Her skin is sweet as guava
Her lips are molten lava
My sugar is baklava
I’ve simply gotta hava
Summer Geology by Charli Mills
At what temperature do people melt like molten lava? It’s 110 degrees F for the third day, and the swimming pool glistens like blue silica. Doris slathers more sunscreen on her brown wrinkled skin, rubbing the cream in circles as if softening an ostrich leather purse. It’s so hot she could burst, but the swimming beckons, promising a cooldown. Two weeks quarantined at her daughter’s place is better than self-combusting in her Airstream back at the seniors only RV park. She sinks her body and becomes a secondary metamorphic process, a volcano abating. Her bones crystalize in the pool.
Chocoholics by Annette Rochelle Aben
Tension filled the air, thicker than the fragrant deliciousness wafting around the room. Naturally, the young ones were more than anxious as they planted themselves on the floor smack dab in front of the oven door.
One would think they had never been fed. One would think they had nothing else better to do. One would think they had no patience.
You could barely hear the timer bell for the chorus of cheers as Nana grabbed the oven mitts and pulled out the baking dishes. It was her joy to bake molten lava cakes for the grandchildren.
Mother’s Heart by Cara Stefano
As parents we open ourselves up to an extreme range of emotions, all felt in the same day, hour, even minute. We’ve all heard the phrases “momma bear” or “helicopter parent”. I feel like a (barely) dormant volcano all the time, filled with molten lava; ready to erupt at any time, obliterating anyone or anything that stands in the way of my child’s health and happiness – I am always there, just waiting, watching, biding my time. The fiery strength of love I feel for my child eclipses the sun, Mount Olympus on the verge.
Lava Hot by Frank Hubeny
When twelve Brett told his aunt that chickens were dinosaurs. She laughed. What a stupid kid.
Brett’s mind was lava hot, hot enough to melt chaos into understanding. After reading that chickens were dinosaurs he looked at the hens in the chicken house who’d peck when he reached for the eggs they were sitting on differently.
True, they were smaller. True, they had feathers. True, they didn’t really run like Tyrannosaurus Rex.
When seventy another nugget of reality melted in his ever hot lava lamp of understanding. What if his old aunt was right? What if they weren’t dinosaurs?
Molten Lava Macchiatos by Jack Keaton
Larry liked the convenience of the corner cafe—it was an easy walk from his home. The problem was the baristas always made the coffee as hot as molten lava. Many times he asked if there was a way to make the drinks less searing, but he would receive the same icy, “No.” He was tempted to reply, “If only you had a button on that La Marzocco that reflected your attitude, that would surely cool down my macchiato,” or, “The beans are already roasted, buddy, there is no need to boil them.” Alas, he held his burnt tongue.
No Julia Child Here by kathy70
It is a love/hate relationship with a YouTube chef. While I watch the “simple recipes” I wonder was he born with a whisk in his hand. It seems like fun when he has a smile on his face the entire time, his home kitchen is amazing and all the recipes sound like I might actually be able to do them. The ingredients are not overly exotic. It looks like a dance as he adds in new ingredients. This one will taste as good as it looks, maybe.
Now to sit and enjoy my camera ready molten lava chocolate cake.
New Pool by Colby Clay
I’m finally famous in time for the world to end. I burned myself feeling my new swimming pool so I ordered the neighbors to shovel in ice cubes, but it wouldn’t cool. I was stubborn and said my fame money bought this thing so, god dammit, I was gonna swim in it.
I emerged red and peeling, from the sun or the water, I wasn’t sure. Blake said I looked hot like that and I said, “thank you” even though he definitely didn’t mean sexy. I worked hard for this ruined dream. I flipped off the sky in retaliation.
All Things Must Pass (Part I) by D. Avery
“Hey Kid. Kid? Cat got yer tongue?”
“Whut? Ernie’s fallen inta the well?”
“Jeez, Kid, set yersef down, lemme git ya some cool water. Yer practic’ly steamin’. There’s beads a sweat big as marbles on yer face, yer tongue’s all swoll up, an’, not fer nuthin’, this ain’t yer best hair day neither. Here, drink up.”
“Shanksawwahhawtthawtt!! Ow! Wattah makes it hottah.”
“Whut happened Kid?”
“Was at Ernie’s. Ate. Chili. He. Made. Ow. Hurt.”
“Oh, Kid, ya shouldn’t oughtta done thet. Thet stuff’s powerful hot, stuff’s like molten lava.”
“No shit, Pal.”
“Yeah, about thet…”
All Things Must Pass (Part II) by D. Avery
“Pepe LeGume. Long time no see.”
“Keed! I almost deed not see you. Why do you seet in dat stock tank?”
“Ah’m still overheatin’ from eatin’ Ornery Ernie’s hot lava chili. It burned me good, Pepe.”
“Why deed you eat it, den?”
“Didja know he uses bacon? Guess I ate too much too fast. It still burns.”
“Dees weel pass.”
“That’s what Ah’m afraid of, Pepe.”
“My dear wife, Logatha, she would advise you drink lots of milk and eat bread. Dees weel cool things down eenside.”
“Good idea. Ice cream?”
“You might, Keed. Dere weel be an eruption.”