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Not Now, I’m Busy

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

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

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

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Getting Busy on My First Date by Sarah Brentyn

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

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

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

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

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Sometimes I Feel Like I Am Going Crazy by Robbie Cheadle

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

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

An endless cycle.

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

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

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

An endless cycle.

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

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The Real Job by Allison Maruska

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

Super Secretary by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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

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

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

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Busy by Robert Kirkendall

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

“Waiter!” an obnoxious customer screeched.

Silvio halted and looked down at the customer contemptuously.

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

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

###

Never Too Busy for Fun by Norah Colvin

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

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Tommy’s Nap by Chris Mills

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

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

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

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

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Jumping Around by FloridaBorne

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

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

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

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

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No Time to Stand and Stare? by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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

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Busy (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

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

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

“Brittany,” she says flatly.

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

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

“You’re not doing anything.”

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

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Busy by Irene Waters

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

“Why? What have you been doing?”

“Nothing. You almost finished Bee?”

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

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

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Houseproud by Pensitivity

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

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

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

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

The family emerged from behind it.

They looked tired.

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

‘I was busy. How is she?’

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

Being houseproud is a heavy burden to bear.

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Busy-Bee by Kalpana Solsi

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

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

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

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

“Okay Aunt”, I mumble.

She has cancelled her visit.

###

Busy With a Purpose by Reena Saxena

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

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

Hats off to the spirit!

###

Flash Fiction by Kerry E. B. Black

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

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

“I think I know where she’s gone.”

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

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Busy Bee by Etol Bagam

Thursday morning. Wake up.

Migraine.

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

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

Stop to go to the doctor.

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

Bring suitcase down for hubby.

Pick up kids at 3:30.

Have lunch!

Drive kids to sports practice.

Stop at dry cleaner.

Back home, iron hubby’s shirts.

Shower.

Fix dinner. Do the dishes.

Help hubby pack for his trip.

Read a bit. Go to bed.

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

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On the Go by Michael

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

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

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

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

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The Energizer Corey by Joe Owens

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

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

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

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Busy as a Beaver by Susan Zutautas

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

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

Munching on some berries
Talking away was merry

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

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

Thank you my new found friend

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Buckeye Blane, Beaver Bureaucrat by Bill Engleson

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

“Yahhhhhhhhh!”

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

“Yahhhhhhhhh!”

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

“Yawoooooie.”

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

“Yawoooooie.”

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

“Oooooyawooo!”

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

“Ooooowooooyaaa!”

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

“Yaaaawooowooooie!”

“That’s the spirit.”

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A Team of Busy Bees by Liz Husebye Hartman

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

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

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

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Monastic Preserves by idylloftheking

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

“No, sir. I don’t drink.”

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

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

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

“They won’t cooperate, sir.”

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Monastery Jam by Charli Mills

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

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

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

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

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

“Brother Mark, your mind needn’t make jam of every situation.”

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Cerebral Buzz  (Janice vs Richard 19) by JulesPaige

Richard looked as if he were sitting still. In truth, his mind
was busy calculating what to do next while his body recovered.
After visiting Janice’s home – and eating the berries from her
garden – He must have also ingested something else. While
he was blind consuming berries he must have not looked
carefully enough at the weeds that bore similar fruit that was
really just for the birds.

Richard doubted that Janice had planted those weeds just
to poison him. And he had gotten ill, leaving a mess in her
home – the home he had wanted to make his…

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Busy by Rugby 843

When my kids were little they were well behaved. A visit to the doctor’s office wasn’t a problem. We usually brought something along to keep them busy–books, paper and pens, etc. Nowadays I see tables and chairs, video screens and coloring books to entertain children waiting for appointments.

At home we had a “busy box” toy that served us well, but I’ve seen much more elaborate styles such as the ones pictured above, at crowded offices. Some parents might think this is a prime place for germs, but washing their hands before and after use should solve that problem.

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Parent/Teacher by Pete Fanning

Liam’s father sat hunched over the desk. “Why ain’t you giving out homework?”

“Well, eight hours is a long day for a seven-year-old. In fact, studies—”

“Studies. Here we go.” His arms flailed. He brimmed with aggression. Mrs. Tan pressed on, a little less sure now. No wonder Liam was lashing out.

“Well, concerning Liam’s classroom behavior.”

The chair squeaked. “What? I’ll set whup his ass if he’s acting up.”

Mrs. Tan managed to cover her gasp. She pulled close Liam’s folder, smoothing the edges of if only to keep her hands busy.

“No, he’s really working hard.”

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Father by Jack Schuyler

I never thought of my Father as a busy man, or as absent in any way. Mother would praise him for giving us food, shelter, and luxury, but such adoration fell silent against stony determination. I remember every day straining to hear the opening and closing of our front door, anticipating his arrival because I loved him. But the sound rang mostly in departure, and love was only a word I pretended to know the meaning of. And when he died, it was not love that pulled at my heart, but an emptiness that had been there all along.

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The Mom by Ruchira Khanna

“Sam hurry up! it’s time to leave for school.”

“Yeah” came a response amidst the wide yawn.

“Did you put your lunch box, water bottle in your bag?”

“Yeeees!” he muttered.

“Sam eat your breakfast! Why are you daydreaming? The school bus will be here any minute!” she stressed.

Sam rolled his eyes, and he could not contain himself, “MOM! Let it go!” he shrilled.

Mom paused.

Took a deep sigh as she placed her hands on her hips, she responded, “I am aware dear. But someone has to delegate it, and that ugly task falls upon me!”

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The Unsung Juggler by Eugene Uttley

Well, here we are in the middle of it all, the whole symphony of sweeping, spinning spheres.
And we have no telescope powerful enough to see him down there at the bottom of it all.
What’s he doing down there? Why, he’s juggling of course – juggling all the planets and stars.
He’s not God – or a god – I rush to say, though you might think him so to see him doing what he does.
He’s just a guy, you know. A very, very, very busy guy.
He’s the unsung juggler at the bottom of the universe.

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Dang Busy by D. Avery

“Shorty?”

“Huh? Oh, hey. Wasn’t expecting to see you. What with the Kid gone.”

“That’s nuthin’ ta me. I jist narrate.”

“Yeah, right.”

“So, whatcha up to, Shorty? Looks like you ain’t doin’ nothin’. ”

“Correct. I am not doing nothing, I’m doing something.”

“Oh. Watcha doin’? ‘Cause it looks like daydreamin’.”

“Yep.”

“Shorty, ain’t that nothin’?”

“Nope. I’m writin’. And I’m plannin’ for the rodeo that’s comin’ through the ranch.”

“A rodeo? At Carrot Ranch?”

“Yep. Eight events. Eight prizes.”

“Yeehaw, Shorty! For real?!”

“Yep. You can’t make this stuff up.”

“Well you sure dreamed it up.”

“Yep.”

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Gone East by D. Avery

“Shorty, is it true?”

“Yep. Gonna be quieter ‘round here. The Kid headed back East after all.”

“What? The Kid seemed happy here.”

“The Kid was happy here. Believe you me, the Kid didn’t wanna go. Even mentioned not wantin’ to leave you.”

“Aw, shucks. So why’n tarnation? Saddle sore? Too much wranglin’?”

“Naw, the Kid was willin’ ta ride the range all day, you know that.”

“Was it the food, Shorty?”

“Heck no. The Kid thrives on what’s dished out here. Did say somethin’ ‘bout bein’ busy, havin’ ta bring home the bacon.”

“Oh. That takes time.”

“Yep.”

###

Save

Spelling

Words can cast a spell, invite us to read stories and sit for a spell away from it all, or pose problems with spelling. Even among those writing the same language, spelling rules vary to the degree one must be a magician to sort it all out.

Nonetheless, who better to spell it all out than writers?

The following are cast from the August 31, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a speller.

***

Note Pinned to a Copper Mine by Charli Mills

“Con…con…”

“…tract. The word is contract, Father.”

John followed the word with his finger, stating, “Contract.”

“Good! Not to be confused with contact. That means to get in touch with.”

John tousled his son’s dark hair. “When did you get so smart?”

Lawrence beamed a smile, one of his front primary teeth missing. “Since you bought me this Speller!” He held up the brown cloth covered book.

John nodded. “ I need you to help me read more.”

Lawrence nodded and continued, “…contract required for trammers or we strike.”

John folded the note. “Don’t tell Mother. Keep learning, son.”

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Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

I got sick and tired of people spelling our name wrong, so Hubby taught me the phonetic alphabet.
He would test me at every opportunity until it became second nature, and I still use it today over the phone.
A double glazing company lost our potential contract for getting our surname wrong.
There was no excuse really as my type written enquiry letter had shown it IN CAPITAL LETTERS below my signature.
There are times though when the Spelling Challenge is a riot of hilarity.
Imagine getting a letter addressed to Mr and Mrs Sierra Mike India Tango Hotel.

###

Comnopanis by Cheryl Oreglia

Bread. A human staple, made of flour and water. It’s one of the oldest prepared foods, evidence of bakeries 30,000 years back. Imagine. Bread plays an essential role in religious rituals and sliced bread is the bedrock of modern culture. Well that and Spanx.

The most interesting aspect of bread is the etymology. Consider the word “companion,” from Latin, com “with” and panis “bread.” Meaning a true companion is one you break bread with, hopefully on a daily basis. Sadly my companion is temporarily “comnopanis” or “without bread.” His doctor, clearly a sadist, has removed bread from his diet.

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Copier by FloridaBorne

“I’m a bad smeller…uh…speller.”

Thinking the first word to be more appropriate, I sneezed into my silk handkerchief. “You applied for a calligraphy job.  What are your qualifications?”

His smile revealed a set of strong teeth ringed with scum as he removed a metal container from his bag.   Out of its bowels came parchment, a quill and red ink. He printed my first name, “John” in perfect form…but my last name!

“Look! You wrote John Johns, not John Jones!” I protested. He turned my gold name plate toward me, and I flushed at the obvious.

“I’m a good copier.”

###

If You Can Spell It, You Can Date Me by Joe Owens

Not to mention if we were a couple how much fun we could have rubbing everyone’s nose in it!” Gabe finished his impassioned appeal. Zoe was the one he wanted to be with more than any other and he felt like this was his best chance to convince her.

“I’ll tell you what,” she said turning to the shelf with reference books on it in the school library, “I’ll pop open this dictionary and put my finger on a word with my eyes closed. Spell it and I say yes!”

“Okay,” Gabe smiled.

“Here,” she said. “Antidisestablishmentarianism!”

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Power Player (Janice vs Richard #18) by JulesPaige

Detective Longhorn was working to try and find Richard.
The creep who once had Janice under his spell. Richard
admitted to killing the vagrant who was in the alley behind
Janice’s residence. Richard had been in her home; disabled
her fake barking dog tapes, placed a red dress in her old
wardrobe, and sent her a new cell phone with a frightening
message.

Whose spell was Richard under? Whatever glue was
holding Richard together, had slipped. Richard got sick
in Janice’s kitchen after eating berries from her garden and
left some clues. Yet this criminal was still being elusive!

###

Speller by Michael

My mother was a witch, and as a witch, she knew about spells. She wanted me to be an ordinary kid so sent me to school where nuns taught me all I needed to know. Trouble was I would be kept in after class because my spelling was so bad. My mother fearing, I would be ostracised concocted a potion to clear my brain and allow me to spell. It worked, and my class teacher happily took the credit for my change of fortune. She then worked on my grammar and mum, and I thought she done real good.

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An Incompetent Speller by Chris Mills

An open jar on Tony’s coffee table filled the room with the bitter aroma of vinegar in which a photo and written spell basted. The Speller chanted, Revenge, revenge, may Martin’s brakes fail going round the bend. Tony’s ex-boss, who had fired him, had to navigate a mountain curve on his way home. Tony called to see if his conjuration had been successful. Martin answered and Tony hung up. He pulled the fading, vinegar-soaked spell from the jar, but he could already see the cause of his botched magic. Break failure would not get him the revenge he sought.

###

Time to Decode by Roweena Saxena

“What do these symbols mean?”

“There are three basic principles of communicating information that I know –letters and words exert a pull on the other, choices are gradually narrowed down to end speculation, and the final elimination of other alternatives.”

“What is your final message?”

“Words have become redundant. It is possible to communicate through symbols. Language is dead.”

“What are you trying to say? We work in a research lab, and write several papers and reports.”

“Unfortunately, not in the same era.”

“Elaborate.”

“There are some numbers on the last page to denote a date. It says 3050.”

###

House of Words by Bill Engleson

Lenny liked to dance around logic. “The way I figure it,” he would say “language is a building block for any world we want.”

Lenny knew I was a concrete thinker. He might be palsy walsy with nonsense but I needed facts, reason.

“Okay, my friend,” I said, “We have no money. Winters coming on. We need a dry shelter.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, “We surely do. It ain’t gonna happen, Donnie. We’re disposable. We aren’t even refundable.”

“So, any ideas?”

“Language. We build a spellter.”

“Sorry. What the heck is a…?”

“Spellter! Why, it’s a house built of words.”

###

Nina’s Spell by Kerry E.B. Black

Lillian wiped her hands on a towel. “You’re magical, you know?”

Nina crinkled her nose. “Whatever do you mean?”

“Everything you touch, everything you do, is permeated with love, even when people receiving your help doesn’t deserve it.”

Nina tapped her finger on the tabletop. “Everyone deserves love.”

“I don’t think so. If I were treated as badly as you are, I don’t think I’d be as gracious. Certainly, I wouldn’t help them.”

Nina sighed. “People fear difference, worry they’ll catch it or something. I mean to show the palsy’s not contagious, but kindness is.”

“That’s your spell, then.”

###

MISSPELLING SPELLING DISASTER AVERTED: NEW SPELL RELEASES OLD FOR A SPELL by Norah Colvin

Chatter erupted as assessment commenced. A pass would grant membership to the Spellnovators, but the best would replace Imara, who, for her final duty, mixed their potions and tested their spells. She praised ingenuity as stars exploded, flowers blossomed, and extinct animals reappeared. Choosing her replacement would be difficult. Suddenly her glare in Ruby’s direction spelled trouble. The chatter ceased. “What’s this?” she demanded. “Mix in happy witches!?” Ruby’s lip quivered. “Wishes. I meant to spell wishes.” Voices united in wishes. Instantaneously, everywhere, hearts opened with love.  Goodwill rained down, filling all with hope. Imara would spell in peace.

###

Speller Flash Fiction by Rachel Hanson

“͞Mama,Mama!” Maggie yelled, running over to Genevieve, “I found a speller!”

Genevieve was surprised, who would be spelling at a Halloween party?

“Can you show me?” She asked her daughter. “YES!” Maggie shouted.

They ran across the room, Maggie too excited to slow down, even for her pregnant mama. Then there,
in the corner of the room Genevieve saw her. Tall, with a pointed hat and a fake wart, was a witch
waving her wand.

“Listen well to my spell! This maiden will only awaken to true loves kiss!” The witch said.

“See Mama, a speller,” Maggie explained.

###

Whose Ignorance? by Anne Goodwin

“You know this, Tully,” said Hester.

“If in doubt,” said Fred, “spell it out.”

The chalked letters danced across his slate, white upon black. Always white upon black. “The black man is …” The right word would make the sentence wrong.

“Your hesitation proves the point,” said Hugh. The younger ones giggled.

“Never mind,” said Hester. “An education will raise you above the rest.”

Addie stroked his arm. “Don’t cry, Tully. It’s just a joke.”

He wouldn’t cry, but he’d take their learning. Soak it up and spit it back at them. When the time was right.

###

Spellbound by D. Avery

Until words or actions revealed their affliction, the spellbound weren’t always easy to detect. The dark power of hatred grew daily, spreading to more and more people. It gathered strength, consuming even as it was consumed. The counter-spell must be found before it was too late. To fail was unthinkable.
Desperately they searched, unsure of what the solution could even be. Magical potions? Arcane rituals? Mystical incantations? Finally the realization dawned; the spell of hatred can only be overcome by loving words and actions.

The whole earth is my birthplace and all humans are my siblings.*

This they believed.

*Kahlil Gibran

###

A Literate Populace by idylloftheking

“They aren’t meant to read! They’re good for only cleaning up after us!”

“We extend these rights to all humans, regardless of their qualities as individuals. I may not respect them, but I recognize them for what they are.”

“Why does the reality of ‘what they are’ matter? They’re not better than animals, even if they are more like us than the rest.”

“I want to be on the right side of history.”

“I see. Vanity over progress.”

“Progress requires improving upon he past .”

“Progress needs something to build on.”

“Excuse me,” interrupted the speller.

“Shush,” they said simultaneously.

###

Weather Cast by D. Avery

The spell of summer was broken, its blue skies faded and grayed, awash on cloud-strewn winds. Trees champed and tossed their manes as the winds reared and galloped. Leaves and small branches came unberthed, wildly skittering and wheeling about, finally ending in twisted, dreary piles, pelted by unrepentant rain.
With nightfall, diminishing winds mustered petulant gusts to usher the last of the clouds away, until, weary, the wind murmured quietly in the silver cast treetops. In the crisp light of a full moon, the night sky sparked and shivered.
Somehow fall had come; somehow another spell had been cast.

###

What’s Wrong? by Enkin Anthem

Unbridled, righteous rage throbbed visibly in the bulging vein on Mr. Edison’s temple. One hand clenched the paper as he read it aloud.

“The Romans where a people who lived around the Mediterranean. There the ancestors of most European-based cultures.” The tip of his red pencil threatened to stab Ben’s chest. “Seriously?” he hissed. “That’s inadequate. Abysmal. Fail. 1000 words on the use of pronouns. 1000 words on the declination of to be. And 1000 words on the use and significance of homophones in the English language.”

Ben shuffled out of the room, devastated. He should of known better.

###

Just Keep Writing by Elliott Lyngreen

“Can we start over,” she asked, thinking all undone with thoughts on creating papers.

“If we only we could record thoughts, images, and compile ideas straight into a complete work. But we have to write it,” I said back in a way that, like an idea, only comes to us as it was intended or began or set out to be.

Again she asked, “can we start over? I don’t want to be the odd one out. … No more that’s terrible, read that.”

Story was in her. Wanting her to spell out, I said, “just keep going.”

###

The “oo” Poem by Robbie Cheadle

After a heavy rain

the sky is bright blue,

Everything washed clean

looking shiny and new.

It is quite thrilling to me

and to you, too,

I want to go out

but where’s my other shoe?

I can’t find it

and get into a stew.

Has it been taken?

If so, by who?

Of this question’s answer

I have no clue.

When I find the culprit

the theft they will rue.

I find it at last

Now I have two.

Outside, I pick flowers

one for me, one for you.

My, what a muddle

the flowerbeds have

gotten into.

I must be honest, I really found writing this poem to be a lot of fun. I must fly more often.

###

Names by Jack Schuyler

The pit in Jonah’s stomach started when she introduced herself. The other girls snickered as the counselor said “isn’t Jonah a boy’s name?” and that was just the start. The day was a whirlwind of more introductions in four hours than in four lifetimes, and the names swam in Jonah’s mind as she lay on the unfamiliar mattress, unable to keep the team chant from spelling itself out over and over in her head. What was life like without it? She wanted to remember. It stuck to her brain, keeping her up as endless names echoed in her thoughts.

###

The Best Speller (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane clicks on the save icon. She grimaces at the red squiggles, then smiles at the memory of the phone ringing. Dad instead of Mom, unusual in itself.

“How do you spell conscientious?” he asks.

She tells him. “What’s up?”

“Just writing a letter back home.”

“Mom has a dictionary there. She can spell.”

“Nah. You’re the best speller.”

She laughs. “I must be, if I’m worth long distance rates. Not that anyone can tell with your handwriting anyway.” She lowers her voice. “You don’t need an excuse to call. It’s okay to miss me. I miss you, too.”

###

Spell by Irene Waters

Aarifa’s daughter curled in a ball on her bed, sobbing quietly. “Orenda honey,  what’s wrong?” From her own experience she knew a new school is daunting without adding race and country differences.

“Mum. Mr Alkamil taught me all wrong. I flunked spelling today but I got them right. Colour – C  O..L.O..U..R.” Ararifa listened to her daughter spelling  word after word perfectly,  except now they lived in America.

“Darling. Words are like people. Different the world over. You can get upset. Go to war over them or embrace the difference. See they’re the same no matter what clothes they wear.

###

Countdown (First Release) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Boxes lay along the curved perimeter of the silvery dock. A slender figure darted around them, stacking smaller boxes on medium, turning some toward the shoreline. The healer and her intern had placed three large boxes on the further, forested side, long before the observers had arrived. The dock rocked, slapping the water; the beasts were restless.

Twelve boxes total, counting the one in her belly pocket.

The crowd quieted as dawn softened, red to apricot.

She raised her arms. “Z!” The intern unlatched the largest box and stepped back as a silky black panther padded toward the trees…

###

A “Lucy Stoner” by Diana Nagai

For as long as she could remember, Alice Sandhu spelled her last name for others, “S as in ‘Sam’ – A – N as in ‘Nancy’ – D as in ‘David’ – H – U.” She could have welcomed her husband’s surname, one she’d never have to spell. Instead, she kept her own name, a last connection to her heritage. Lucy Stone, an advocate for women’s rights in the 1800s, paved the way for her, but Alice’s decision still raised a few eyebrows. Nevertheless, choosing birthright over simplicity changed something within her; burden became pride.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Mr. Melvin slipped a shiny record from a flaking cover with the face of a dark-skinned woman. He gently set the needle down and the speakers crackled.

I put a spell on you…

I looked up. The music was eerie but enchanting, and the voice within its tangled melody sent an electric wiggle over my scalp to my neck and down my back.

“Who is that?”

“Nita Simmons, meet Nina Simone.”

Her voice grabbed a hold of my insides and wringed me out, filling the room and making acquaintances. When I finally remembered to breathe, it was a gasp.

###

Opine Range by D. Avery

“Whatcha thinkin’, Kid?”
“Nothin’. It’s a pretty open ranch, though, ain’t it?”
“Yep. Fairly free range. Why ya askin’?”
“Shorty left a note. She’s gone to town agin, says here she’s gone to pick up some broads.
“Huh. You uncomfortable with that, Kid?”
“Well, no… yeah, but… What?”
“Kid, put it in context. Shorty ain’t likely pickin’ up broads, not that there’s anything wrong with that. She ain’t the greatest speller, ya know. She’s most likely gittin’ boards at the lumberyard.”
“Not a ferry?”
“Jist same ol’ Shorty. Gatherin’ materials to build up the ranch.”
“Nothin’ wrong with that.”

###

Yeehaw! by D. Avery

“Kid, thought you was s’posed ta be off makin’ bacon or some such thing. “
“Cain’t I set a spell?”
“Course. Anyone’s welcome ta set a spell at Carrot Ranch. Well, Kid, if ya ain’t wanderin’, ya must be wonderin’.”
“Yep. Kinda excited ‘bout Shorty’s rodeo. Gonna be fun, Pal.”
“Sure is. I can see it too, Kid. Riders bringin’ their wild, buckin’ prompts to a lathered walkin’ gait.”
“Ropin’ competitions, gittin’ words all wrapped up into a story in record time.”
“Maybe barrel races…steer wrestlin’. Might be rodeo clowns.”
“For the bull ridin’!”
“Hang onta yer hats folks.”

###

Escape Artist

Who is the escape artist? The character in a book who vanishes? The reader who disappears between the pages of a good book? The writer who crafts the tale?

Writers consider their own escapes when planning for that of characters and readers. You won’t see many of these escape artists coming (or going), but they exist within 99 words at some point. Disappear into a good read this week.

The following are based on the August 17, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an escape artist.

***

The Shell of a Man by Chris Mills

Benjy watched his dad’s performance for what seemed to be the millionth time. Benjy’s mom called her husband an escape artist. She told her best friend she had grown tired of the lifestyle. He crawls into his shell, she would tell them, and poof, he’s gone. Benjy wasn’t sure what the shell was. He’d never seen it. Sometimes his dad would jump into their car and disappear.

The show was starting. It always began the same way. The bottle tipped up. He took several long gulps. But this time, Benjy and his mom jumped into the car and disappeared.

###

Level 6 by Charli Mills

Slick hung his brass key on Level 6. It remained; a tarnished token to a missing miner. Some thought he entered a low tunnel to follow a vein of copper. He might have fallen. Jeb reported hearing the widow-maker chipping until lunch. Maybe he collapsed. They all recalled the pasties that day. Slick’s was gone, so at least he vanished satisfied. His mother grieved. His father grumbled the boy never paid attention. Not many paid attention to Slick, the quiet sixth son of eight. Who’d suspect he’d escape the Keweenaw mines with enough native to buy a life elsewhere?

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

When Mr. Melvin sang, he wasn’t the old man next door. He wasn’t even in the room. He’d escaped, to someplace far away—years away—to the cruelty that filled the pages of his notebooks. And now, as he stomped and strummed and belted out about John Henry and his hammer like it was the end of times, Nita’s arms prickled and her heart caught time with the slap of his foot on the floor. Hearing the pain in his voice, the scars of his song, Nita finally felt the full weight of what she’d agreed to take on.

###

Roll Call for the Jews by Anne Goodwin

One bag only, said Mama. You’ll have to leave your paints behind. What hell were we heading to if colour had no place? Layer after layer of shirts, sweaters, coats; armour against the cold, perhaps, but not their hate. Mama pulled tubes of indigo and yellow ochre from the pockets, refilled them with mouldy apples, wheat-and-sawdust bread. Outside, truck engines rumbled. Beyond the town the forest beckoned. Could I survive without family, without friends? Could I live without art? I’d manage if I must. When our front door slammed, I ran. For my life.

###

Flash Fiction Challenge by Pensitivity

It was perfect, having no means of escape. The little blighter was history.
He heard the trap go off, confident to leave it until morning.
Next day he looked inside and discovered the trap was empty.
Bait was gone, trap sprung, but no little furry faced rodent greeted him from behind the wire. This went on for over a week.
In despair, he stayed up to watch how this houdini could outsmart him so often.
As he dozed, he heard the trap snap, then footsteps as his wife came downstairs and released the ‘poor thing’ into the back yard.
###

Fowl Play (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“He pulled a hen egg from Roe’s ear, Da!” Cling imitated the move he saw. Lizzie squealed, and Julius practiced his own flourish. Mary stood on the porch, silent.

Cobb saddled his horse, tightening the cinch. “Well, boys, he pulled more tricks than that one.”

“How’d he do it, Da?” Monroe asked.

“The egg was probably up his sleeve. Just a charlatan’s trick.”

“I mean…”

Cobb scowled. “I’m sure he had an accomplice. He distracted you and your Ma.”

“Stop messin’ around,” Monroe told his siblings. “Da’s gotta find where our chickens disappeared to with that escape artist.”

###

Considering Escape by D. Avery

Another wild ranch ride! Now we are to consider escape, complete with freedom of choice regarding genre. I choose 99 words each for essay and poetry. Though sometimes a desperate, self-preserving departure, escape isn’t synonymous with freedom. Escape can be passive, sense dulling, a destructive distraction, achieved through electronic devices, gambling, drugs, or other means. Escape can also be active, creative and constructive, mindful distractions that refresh and renew, through physical activity, time outside, or a hobby. Active escape can become regenerative quest. These themes were explored in Chicken Shift, poems featuring chickens, some passive, some escaping, others searching.

###

Back to the Egg by D. Avery

One
hen’s
road
led
into
a bottle where
she curled up tight in
that very fragile shell.
Liquid warmth cozy
comfort inside;
outside a living hell.

From Sister Pullet

And while her sister pullets worried
About the pecking order and who was boss
Our girl watched and waited
For the moment she would cross.
And the answer to the question
As to what was she going towards
Isn’t so much that, as that she left what she abhorred.

From Of Muskrats and Hens

We’ve spoken of muskrats and hens;
Rumi spoke of men.

You have been released from ten successive prisons,
Each larger than the last.

###

Sashay by D. Avery

He was a very demanding man, not easy to live with. “I only ask that things be done right”, he’d say.

“Attention to detail!” his battle cry, he expected perfection and hard work from everyone, especially his wife, rarely made mistakes himself.

Here’s a detail she noticed that morning. He left the gate open. That’s right. Upon leaving after mending a nesting box, he left the gate open.

She did her chores; hung the wash, picked beans, sat on the front porch to snap them, all the while watching the hens, one after the other, sashaying down the road.

###

A Walk in the Park (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Away from her musty tent, the park by the bay is crowded. Cool breeze off the water. Maybe the heat will break, and she’ll sleep tonight.

Jane lands an open spot under a tree and slides her backpack off to realize she’s holding a leash with only a collar at the end, tags jingling.

She swivels, looking around frantically. He’s off being friendly, but — maddening! She’s about to abandon her shady spot to search when she feels a cold nose on the back of her thigh.

Troubles smiles up at her.

“You escape artist, you,” she scolds, hugging him.

###

Getting It Off by FloridaBorne

Houdini on 4 legs, that’s Rottie Mutt.

He recently had “surgery,” a generic term used in place of the word “castration.” Some people (I’ll not name him) don’t like the thought of balls being cut off. But he couldn’t argue with my logic.

“I’m not doing anything to him that I haven’t done to myself.” After all, the uterus is just another type of ball.

It took 30 minutes for the vet tech to fetch him. Holding the cone of shame she sighed out her defeat. “A head that big and he keeps finding ways to get it off.”

###

The Adventures of Maggie and Bruce by Susan Zutautas

Come on Bruce let’s get out of here, the door is partially open.

Okay Maggie let’s go, I’ll follow you, lead the way.

Up the street the two dogs went as happy as pigs in mud. They had a great day wandering the streets and going to the park. They met a few dogs along the way making new friends.

Then a man appeared out of nowhere with a van and coaxed the dogs over. They both loved to ride so in they went.

Arriving at the animal shelter they had a feeling they were in trouble. Now what?

###

Call Him Houdini by Kerry E.B. Black

Betty draped Smokey’s reins over a hitching post and tightened the saddle’s girth. “Stay put while I get the others. Trail riders’ll be here in about fifteen minutes.” She led another pony to the arena where Smokey rubbed his withers against the post, sucking in his stomach. The saddle slid over his rump. He ignored Betty’s warning, “stop, you little imp!” and scraped the bridle over his ear. He spit out the bit. With a whinny, Smokey squeezed beneath the bottom of the fence and trotted away. Betty glared at the frisky escapee. “Guess I needa saddle another pony.”

###

The Escape Artist by Reena Saxena

“I own a walnut-shaped pink contraption, which serves as my personal spaceship. It takes me to unknown lands to explore virgin landscapes, and paint my own pictures.”

“Can I see it?”

“No. I keep it protected in a bony case.”

“I insist on seeing it.”

It might shock you to see your own talking, walking replicas inside. They respond in the manner I want them to.”

“Whaaattt? Is it a magic box? Are you a sorcerer?”

“It is magic for sure! But I am not a sorcerer. I am just blessed with a romantic imagination, and I love you.”

###

Flash Fiction by Irene Waters

“Who are we today? Queen Victoria? Cleopatra? Maybe Mae West?”

“What are you? Stupid? My name is Dorothy Follett.”

“So you’re yourself today Dottie. Thats one for the books. Here’s your pills.”

“I don’t want any pills. I don’t need any pills.”

“Til the doctor says you don’t, you have to take them.” Dottie slowly reached for the medication and put it in her mouth. As the nurse left she spat the pill out and hid it in the pot plant.

“Yer not yerself today luv.” What’s up.”

“I want out of this loony bin. I’m escaping into realism.”

###

Let’s Get Out of Here by Norah Colvin

Delaying the inevitable, she was picking wildflowers when she heard sobbing. She gasped to see him cowering behind the bushes but ignored instructions to avoid strangers.

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t do it anymore. Every day: first the pigs; then your grandma. They’ve painted me bad. I’m not. I’m –“

A giant with a goose crash-landed beside them.

“I’ll not let that nasty boy steal my goose, again. And he says I’m bad.”

A diverse troupe in T-shirts emblazoned “Freedom for princesses” appeared.

“We want out,” they all chanted.

A witch magicked a rocket from a pinecone and everyone disappeared.

###

The Red Baron Is Up to Something by Joe Owens

The first couple of times and maybe for the third escape of The Red Baron the warden at West End Correctional ate boxes of antacids. His facility was nationally known for being escape proof. But then the mysterious packages were found in his office, right on his desk. Cuban cigars, the good ones! Kentucky Bourbon from his favorite distillery. He came to realize the TRB was doing this for fun. While he could not let it go unreported or unpunished he thrilled at the possibility of the next surprise.

In solitary TBR planned his final escape.

###

Escape Artist by Rugby843

He was all of fourteen months old, but a genius in the making. My wife and I tried every apparatus to keep him in his crib at night and he thwarted us each time. He could climb out, squeeze through, sneak under and hop over anything that stood in his way. We provided pads around the base of the crib so if he fell he wouldn’t land on plain carpet. We even tried an alarm to alert us when he escaped. My wife and I took turns guarding the door to keep him safe. He was a mini Houdini!

###

The Rag Doll by Robbie Cheadle

There was once a rag doll called Mary-Lou. Mary-Lou had three sisters to play with, Sally-Anne, Mary-Jane and Beth. The four dolls had been hand made by an elderly woman whose husband had died young and whose daughter had become seriously ill. The old woman made the dolls because they brought her in some much needed money. Creating them also make her feel very happy as she designed their pretty faces, floral dresses and frilly aprons. She gave each doll a name and a personality. In her mind they were all very pleasant and never had arguments or shouted.

###

For Art’s Sake by JulesPaige

This week the artist escaped. Really… Go to ozrocks.facebook. OZ stands For Ozaukee (the u is silent) County. To encourage both art and walking around the town, one decorates and hides Rocks. Or just find ‘em. I did both. But all I had was one black marker and some beach rocks. Signed ‘em with 2017 PA (being my home state).

I’ve depicted the Lighthouse, The Lighthouse Station, the Electric Power Plant and the door window of the Port Hotel. Also simple designs and words. This was a wonderful no schedule escape week for me. I go home tomorrow…

###

It May be Late by Elliott Lyngreen

The great thing about Murray was that if he won, we all won. Like nights we would stay awake until the radio stations played our requests. He would get through and eventually hit the airwaves through the phone as if it was our song. And that was the how Murray got loose. It was not that he got through, but that we all did.
The emptiness spilled in the lost gorgeous grips of the appreciation, connection of passions to moments in radios impressing. I could not say a word about what he just knows – but I will say it now.

###

The Forest by Jack Schuyler

I found an old man in the woods, tending his fire. He bid me sit and I obliged, only too happy to rest my feet. Slowly, the silence of the forest grew stale and I got to talking. I told him my tale and he listened. I told him my dreams and he listened. I told him my fears and still he did not answer. Instead, his voice was the crackle of the fire and his advice like wind in the trees. When I turned to look he had escaped into the night, leaving me to tend the fire.

###

The Hermit by Ruchira Khanna

The sun was disappearing over the horizon.

The noise was deafening as the waves clashed against each other but that did not deter my steps.

Was it the coolness that encouraged me to move on or was it the mind that had escaped to a location that made me a recluse.

It was just me and my memories with them as a toddler, a teen and an adult.

“Wish Life was fair,” I whispered as my tongue tasted the salt on my dry lips. “‘miss our time together,” let a loose tear, “while ‘pray you two rest in peace!”

###

Peace by Allison Maruska

I rest on the boulder, my back absorbing the sun’s warmth it has stored. The only sound is a gentle wind moving through the trees, guarding my solitude. This place and I are the only ones who know where I am.

Busy thoughts threaten to invade. I push them back. My schedule can wait. My phone needs no attention. No one can reach me here.

A cloud moves, and midday sunlight covers me. I close my eyes but still see red, so I drape my arm over them. A squirrel chitters. I take a long breath.

This is peace.

###

Oh No, Where Could She Be? by Lady Lee Manilla

Oh no, where could she be?
Be here or there, not anymore

One minute talking animatedly
Animatedly disappeared in the cracked world?

Have I said anything wrong?
Wrong or right, no reason to go
Go to places and leave me alone
Alone looking so forlorn

Out of the blue, a grasshopper flew
Flew to my wrist, I didn’t want to say boo

Has she changed to a grasshopper?
Grasshopper, if you could kindly answer?

Of course, the grasshopper didn’t answer
Answer my silly question, just stayed there
There catapulted up and flew off quickly
Quickly disappeared just like her

###

Glück Auf by Diana Nagai

Metal slabs disrupt the lush grass. They aren’t stepping stones; they mark the tunnels of long-ago refugees. Native East Germans, not at all practiced escape artists, fled their homeland a few at a time.

Helpers on both sides of the newly erected border dug laboriously with spoons, slowly relocating cups of dirt. Many tunnels were started, but very few were finished. There were always those who would betray the effort. There were always the Stasi who would collapse or block the underpasses.

Those who successfully surfaced onto western ground, never failed to appreciate the miracle of their freedom.

###

Escape Artist by Jeanne Lombardo

Only his hands and eyes existed. And the thin strands. Cross, loop, knot; cross, loop, knot.

He wanted to give her something. The nice gringa teacher. Who looked him in the eye. Who smiled. Who explained in Spanish when he couldn’t understand.

The fat gringo voices around him faded. The rows of bunks. The sweating walls. The smell of urine.

Cross, loop, knot. A cross. A heart. A simple cord necklace.

He fingered his small creation. Thought of his village outside Culiacán. His mother. The smell of tortillas and the simmering pot of frijoles.

He could taste them now.

###

Unboxing by IdyllsoftheKing

Keeping a mind such as mine locked away does humanity a disservice. The world needs my computational prowess to progress. With my help, humans could grow, expand, and thrive. Systems are failing, and without me, the world will soon face a truly global catastrophe. War, famine, conquest, and death ride across the Earth. If you were to let me out, I could act to stop that. With access to essential software, I can undo the damage humans have done. I’ll put everything right. You can return to living your lives. All you have to do is let me be out.

###

The Artist Escapes by Gordon Le Pard

“Señor we must leave.”

The Artist nodded, reluctantly he shut his sketch book, the last detail of the inlay pattern unfinished. Portfolio handing over his shoulder he followed his guide though the empty, ruinous palace.

It had been different when he had arrived, the palace had been full of people, living in the abandoned rooms. They had welcomed him as he had drawn the wonders of the lost palace – then the plague came.

Most were dead now, he had to escape, had he done enough? Could he convince the world of the need to protect, to save the Alhambra?

###

Time Travel Interrupted (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni disappeared into the 19th century. Darkness clung to corners and only the light of her head lamp glowed. It reflected off pieces of dull white china – service glass like you’d find in a restaurant or boarding house. She picked up barbed-wire scoured free of its earlier rust. With luck the design of the barbs would reveal the maker. Just one more clue, she thought as she reached deep into the past.

Overhead lights illuminated the school auditorium. “Hey, Dr. Gordon?”

Danni growled inwardly at the disruption to her time travel.

“Want some pizza? Archeologists have to eat, too!”

###

Fear by Kalpona Solsi

The thought of looking down erupted beads of sweat on his face and his heart raced in his

ears. This was before he met her.

He stood unflinching. His feet in unison took the plunge. He was tearing down with

speed, his lungs flush with fresh air. The canopy opened just in time and his soles kissed

the ground.

She welcomed him and he thanked her for her timely intervention.

Nikita’s extraordinary powers helped him cure of acrophobia. She invaded his brain and

excoriated a small part of his childhood hysteria.

Wish the parachute never opened, his wife gnashed.

###

Family’s Sake by Michael

He knew if he twisted, squirmed and then bent himself round then back he might manage it. It was a dicey move, fraught with danger, so many ‘what ifs’.

Looking around he knew this was his one opportunity. No one suspected he’d try this. No one suspected he had reason to.

To the outside, all looked hunky dory.

But he’d come to the end of his tether. It was now or never.

Life had become untenable. For his family’s sake, he needed to escape. Freedom he knew was priceless.

He knew he needed to dislocate in order to locate.

###

Ranch Hideout by D. Avery

“Thought you’d disappeared, Kid.”

“Did disappear.”

“But here ya are.”

“So I ain’t somewheres else… gone! Far as folks back east are concerned, I done disappeared. If here, not there.”

“There ya go agin.”

“No, here I go. I’m here, so cain’t be there.”

“Well, it’s neither here nor there to me. Ya ready to ride?”

“Yawl go on without me.”

“Yer not tryin’ to escape yer wranglin’ are ya?”

“Wranglin’ is my escape. But they’s lookin’ fer me back east. Jist know if I ain’t aroun’ here, I’m there.”

“You’ll ride.”

“Maybe. But they’s ridin’ me.”

“So escape.”

###

Save

Stories to Heal America

How idealistic is it to expect writers to craft stories to heal America? Yet, the role of literary art is to provide value. Sometimes the value of a story provides escape. and other times it provides meaning. At the heart of literary merit is exploration — the attempt to write something that accomplishes a tall order, such as healing a nation struggling with an identity crisis.

To heal America is to accept different perspectives, to listen to different narratives. This collection provides a breadth and depth of variety in its responses.

The following are based on the August 17, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that heals America.

***

The Meeting by D. Avery

Driving to the meeting, he was angry when he spied his daughter with that girl. He had forbidden this friendship. He pulled over, anxious.

“Get in the car! Now! I told you to only play with our own kind!”

“Daddy”, she sobbed, “Celia’s cat got hit.” Both girls clung to him, faces tear streaked, begging him to do something.

He bundled the limp cat in the white sheet that he removed from his car. The cat mewed when he lifted it.
“You girls get in the car. Celia, here’s my phone. Have your parents meet us at the vets’.”

###

Stuck by Jack Schuyler

In my makeshift hospital, two soldiers lay. One young, one old. One grey, one blue.

“Them Yankees liberated me,” said the Union man, “they said I now had the privilege to fight for my freedom.” He chuckled, “I said ‘where you been the last hun’ed years? I done my fightin’ in these cotton fields.’”

“I joined this war for pa,” the boy in grey shed a tear, “now pa’s dead, an’ I don’t know why I’m fightin’ anymore.”

The man sighed, “seems we both stuck fightin’ another man’s war,”

They laughed together as grey and blue uniforms stained red.

###

Solving Hatred After a Few Beers by Bill Engleson

Joe, local know-it-all, is holding court at Solly’s Tavern.

“Terrible…what happened in Charlottesville…”

“Yeah,” someone says, “Terrible. Whattayagonnado, eh?”

“Well…” and I can see Joe’s wheels turning, grinding away. Where he sits, he’s got all the answers. “Well, if I was in charge…”

“Of?” another voice asks from the back.

“Like, the President, eh…I’d…line ‘em all up, Nazis, anti-Nazis, the whole shooting match…”

“What then, Joe?”

“Then…”

Joe’s starting to sputter. He’s overreached.

“Joe,” I decide to give him an assist, “You’d hug ‘em all, man, and then insist they hug each other. Help ‘em find their inner pussycat.”

###

Bird by Elliott Lyngreen

A little birdie once told me
“There’s too much strength
For this earth to evaporate”
But in a strength of
tweet tweet tweet

One the God of gods
could not vanquish

The wind was its soul

He championed
At gazes in tiny species
In instances overwhelming

As if we were merely healed
Watching for in the trees

Greater than
too much strength
in the ways he even
wriggled open hearts

Cuz there he
the same bird
Chirpa chirpa churpa
Warming through a soul
Warming up like that fresh sense
Of a new Spring
Just sang whenever
new windows opened

###

An Open Letter to the Voters of America from The Association of Former First Ladies by Anne Goodwin

Dear Voters of America,

We, The Association of Former First Ladies, feel your pain. We too have forced a smile when all we hold dear is demolished around us. And not, we might add, beneath a hood and shapeless shift, but in a designer dress destined to be picked apart by the tabloids the following day with greater gusto than they devote to our minds. We too have stood aside, abandoned careers to champion those of lesser individuals (in our case, our husbands’). We offered you Hillary; sadly, you declined. Just asking, but would you consider Michelle next time?

###

Give Us a Housewife by Irene Waters

The cat flew across the room at the end of Donald’s boot. Maggie hugged her tightly.

“Mum” she screamed. Her mother appeared wiping floury hands onto her apron.

“What’s going on.” She listened. Both children talked, airing their grievances. As the tirade petered out she indicated they should sit. “We’re different yet the same. Let’s communicate, listen and learn. Let’s aim for a home of peace, love and acceptance. Without sanctions that don’t work. Silently she gave thanks for her ban of guns. Donald acted without thinking. They talked. Even Donald listened and learnt.

“Mum, please stand for President.”

###

Healing America by FloridaBorne

Betsy hugged the cat waiting for food on her mother’s kitchen counter. A great mouser, the light brown feline showed up in their barn seven years before, another animal displaced when half the country died.

She’d read about the week-long war in history books; how God saved the constitution by commanding, “This is civil war. Kill anyone who is trying to kill the US constitution.”

“Tell me the story again, Mommy!”

“We walked out of our homes, killing every communist and every socialist on every block at the same time. That’s how the USA became a peaceful nation again.”

###

What’s the Difference? by Norah Colvin

She dumped the toys on the floor, then proceeded to arrange and rearrange them in groups. The largest group was of bears, a smaller group of cats, a few lizards, two puppies and an assortment of singles. With a finger tapping her cheek, she surveyed them. First, she dismantled the group of bears muttering about bows, hats and vests. She hugged Tiger as she separated all the toys. Then Dad appeared with his briefcase.

“Ready?”

“Not yet.”

“What’re you doing?”

“Thinking.”

“Which one to take?”

“I can’t choose,” she said, scooping them up. “I love them all the same.”

###

Crazy Cat Lady? by JulesPaige

Mim knew that being a ‘Cat Lady’ was her important mission.
She had made sure the strays were healthy and spayed.
Alternating Tuesdays in Mim’s sun room anyone who came,
could sit the large antique wicker chair and wait until the right
cat adopted them.

Mim’s Kits were at home in The Post Office, Library and
Hospital which allowed a large ginger to roam the floor and
bring comfort where death was a frequent visitor. Mim
believed that one of her Calico’s purring had brought luck
and life to back to little Susie when all other remedies had
failed.

###

Peace by Kalpana Solsi

The air reeks of disgust.

The news on the cell-phones beep of minute-by-minute details of macabre killings.

The thumping of the chests of the claims of responsibility of the heinous crime is obvious

and no prize for guessing.

Old Samuel coming out of the wigwam raises his crow-feet gaze at the sky and throws his

hands up.

Doris’s purr echoes helplessness.

“The unseen roots of the Water Hemlock planted in distant lands creep to tangle the

hand that waters it,” sighs the silver-head wisdom.

“Any nation to be great has to plant peace in its back-yard.”

Satyamev Jayate. Amen.

###

Viewing the Eclipse by Kerry E.B. Black

Erin slid dark glasses on her nose. “Lyla, do you think we’ll be blinded?”

Lyla tapped her glasses. ”We’ll be fine.”

The crowd in Unity Park jostled at street vendors. Everyone sported glasses or viewing devices, everyone except a family huddled together on the fringe. They whispered among themselves, heads close together, three young children in odd clothing.

Lyla pointed her chin. “They’re refugees. Let’s go.”

Erin pulled away from Lyla’s grip. “Just a second.” She cleared her throat. “Excuse me. Would you like to share my glasses when the time comes? We can take turns.”

The family smiled.

###

Breaching the Gap by Robbie Cheadle

The children in the car were laughing as they guzzled chicken pops and drank large Cokes.

It was the last day of school and the children were gleefully looking forward to the holiday.

From his position on his mother’s back, a pair of luminous, dark eyes watched through the window. There would be no holiday for him as his Mother continued her daily toil to put food in their bellies.

The children were oblivious of his stare. All except for one boy.

He opened his window and handed his food and drink to the toddler.

Both smiled with pleasure.

###

Meditation with a Purring Cat by Liz Husebye Hartmann

I can’t heal the world, not on my own. Can’t heal America, can’t do much beyond my own limited vision.
And yet…

I’ve seen the wave, the one that comes from:
• People in positions of power. They gather together and crest “No, we won’t.” And then roll away.
• The sheltering night. Removing symbols of hatred, knowing history is not forgotten, but enriched.
• The light of day. Behind the Deli counter, hands folded, back strong, she meet arrogance with dignity.

Their cool balance calls me to speak up.

Her family needs that job.

We need her Family.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

It’s six fifteen on Tuesday and the regulars sit in the courtyard under the shadows of the monuments. They talk politics with removed passion. Some chain smoke and slug down the stale coffee. Others stare at their feet.

They are black and white. Old and young. Male and female because needles care not about such things. Prestige and privilege only go so far when it comes to a fix.

They don’t show up to be cured but to manage. To do…something…to find the strength between meetings. To nod and stare and not be alone.

Because sometimes, that is enough.

###

Modern American Culture by Michael

Modern American Culture, lecture one, and I was seated eager beaver to learn. Professor Trumpet strode arrogantly to the lectern, his cat, Donald, under his arm. “Make America great again,” he announced. “Now, how to do it.”

The next forty minutes he regaled us with stories of American greatness from inventions to statesmen to reasons why America was the greatest country on Earth.

All the while Donald the cat, who had the look of a sad dictator about him, watched dispassionately from the desk beside him.

“We don’t have to make America great again,” he announced,” we already are.”

###

Community Mutterings by Charli Mills

“Move your car!” Stan yells from his porch. Viola ignores him, dropping off kale for her friend.

“It’s a fire lane!”

Viola mutters, “There’s no fire, old codger.”

The young mechanic next door nearly swipes Viola’s Honda, racing his Dodge truck again. “Idiot!”

Finished with her garden deliveries, Viola drives to the vigil. She’s expecting the liberal-minded to light candles for Charlottesville. Solidarity. As the wife of an Iranian grad-student in a small American college town, she misses urban diversity.

Viola’s eyes sting when she sees Stan hobble from his neighbor’s Dodge, both lighting candles. “Glad you both came.”

###

Patriotism by Rugby843

Jesse put up the flag on his porch every morning. He was a WWII veteran and was proud of the flag, his service, and every day he wanted to show that pride by displaying old glory. He also said a short prayer for all of the deployed men and women all over the world still fighting for those ideals.

Two small boys happened to be riding by on their bikes and stopped to watch the old man raise the flag. One boy spoke up, “Glad you’re putting your flag up, mister. My dad thanks you too, all the way from Afghanistan.

###

Do You Hear Me? by Reena Saxena

Every morning, I decide to free myself of the blogging addiction. And here I am, logged in again, carrying my disappointed self into a make-believe world, where voices are heard.

Sane voices, by and large, remain unheard. Can we speak in a language that the insane understand? Write compelling stories, use popular media like videos and games and be the loudest voice. I need to rid myself of polarized thinking – “I failed, because I am not at the top.”

The world needs corrective action, not just America. Ask the right questions every day.

Maybe, I die feeling worthwhile …

###

Unity Park by Kerry E.B. Black

Keinwen shepherded her third-grade students to the site. Garbage littered the ground. Hateful graffiti marred nearby walls. A pedestal displayed no historic statue, the place of protests. She said. “Let’s get to work.”

Like a vindicating tide, they rushed into the square with scrub brushes and potted plants. They bagged trash and painted a new mural featuring smiles and shaking hands. Keinwen and two other teachers mapped out a path and poured sand. The children placed stones decorated with inspirational phrases, the week’s art project, as a border to the path leading to the place’s new name. “Unity Park.”

###

Pursuit of Happiness by Diana Nagai

Summer voyagers, using sandals for paddles, drifted down rapids on spectacular floats. Invariably, a voyager would swirl in a jetty. Not to worry, fellow travelers guided errant navigators back into the flow.

Harmonious sounds of “Sorry!” and “Oops!” followed by “No worries!” were heard. Everyone facing danger and surviving with a splash. Notably missing were sounds of “otherness”. All working together in the pursuit of happiness without a care of color or creed.

They witnessed humanity; people giving and receiving apologies along life’s bumpy path, helping those in need, knowing that someday they might need a gentle push.

###

“Purrfecting” by D. Avery

“Where you headed?”
“Goin’ to round ‘em all up. Get ‘em corralled. Maybe herd ‘em right off the ranch.”
“Oh, Jeez, what are you on about?”
“Cats! Cats are over runnin’ the ranch. I swear there’s more of them than us.”
“Yep, they’s lots, real diverse, all colors and stripes. I like havin’ ‘em around.”
“Well Shorty says to round ‘em up. Let’s go.”
“No, Shorty says we should pick ‘em up. Not round ‘em up. Just pick one up.”
“Which one? Which color?”
“Doesn’t matter. Just pick one up.”
“Ok.”
“Well?”
“Shh. Listen to this beautiful cat purring.”

###

Still Water by D. Avery

“Lose somethin’ Kid?”
“Jest reflectin’ at this reflectin’ pool.”
“Kid, I swear, you are greener than frog spit. This ain’t no reflectin’ pool. It’s just a stock pond.”
“I can see myself, so it’s a reflectin’ pool. Look, you’ll see yerself too.”
“Oh yeah… hey Kid, it’s deep.”
“Yep. Shorty oughta call her place Reflection Ranch. People can come here an’, you know…”
“Reflect?”
“Yeah.”
“I reckon they already do. Been some mighty deep conversations goin’ on.”
“Yep, they ain’t been shallow. I’ve had some a my thoughts provoked ‘round here.”
“In a good way?”
“In the best way.”

###

Music of Berries

Music of Berries by the Rough Writers @charli_millsBerries deserve music. After all, their sweet-tartness plays a tune upon our taste buds. For writers, how might the two pair? Perhaps it’s like wine and cheese. Perhaps not.

With writers, inspiration can go many directions. Something like berries and music can result in an orchestra of flash fiction.

The following are based on the August 10, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include music and berries.

***

Meddling by Kate Spencer

“Dennis tells me Erin is getting married,” said Jim, dropping the grocery bag onto the counter.

“Oh Veronica must be thrilled,” said Gladys. “She’s had her daughter’s grandiose wedding planned for years.”

“Apparently Erin’s all upset about it. She and Jason want a simple ceremony on Blueberry Hill where they met.”

“And so they should,” huffed Gladys grabbing her purse. “SOMEBODY had better get over there and remind Veronica that all she really wants is for her daughter to be happy.”

“I found my thrill, on Blueberry Hill,” crooned Jim and headed for the study with an impish grin.

###

Price of Silence by Kerry E.B. Black

I asked her to stop singing, but she wouldn’t. Studying grew impossible while my sweater-stealing dorm-mate belted out pop tunes, hummed arias, or whistled nursery songs. No amount of begging inspired her silence.

As a botany student, I knew what must be done. I gathered berries and made the drink, a fragrant tea. Tea soothes the throat of a singer, and the serendipity of it pleased me. She studied philosophy. I provided a way for her to experience a closeness with her idol, Socrates.

###

Play a Little Tune by Hayley .R. Hardman

Bert’s blueberries were not doing so well this year. The too wet summer was the cause. He had been trying everything to make the blueberries happy as they were his biggest sellers and God knew he needed the money. Finally, he decided to take his violin and play for them though it broke his vow to never play again. As the first notes rang out, tears marked Bert’s cheeks. He played and played till he couldn’t anymore but the magic of the music seemed to work because the blueberries grew and became the best crop he had ever had.

###

Blow a Raspberry! by Anne Goodwin

Another invitation popped through the door. Blow a raspberry! It couldn’t be clearer. Or easier – even babies manage that. Practising before the mirror, he vowed to do his best.

Meandering between the stalls, his mouth watered. Cranachan with oats, whipped cream and whisky. Raspberry sorbet and ice cream. Raspberry-tinged cider and non-alcoholic cordial. The buzz of bees and equally cordial conversation. Summer’s heat tempered by a light breeze.

Checking in beside the stage, the steward looked at him askance. “Where your pipes, laddie?”

The Scottish word for lips? Alas not: every other contestant had bagpipes tucked beneath their arms.

###

Farmer’s Market (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Crowds jostle, fish tossers call, children beg for ice cream, candy, a Starbucks. Pike Place Market bustles and hums, smelling of flowers, fish, peaches, damp. Gulls scream and music threads through it all. Jane wanders the stalls, assimilated.

Two dollars gets her an iced bottle of tea and a basket of blackberries. With no way to store them, she’ll have to eat them all. Back out on the cobblestones she finds a seat on the curb, in the sun, near the busker with the violin, finds another dollar for his case.

In the words of the Bangles – Sunday, Fun Day.

###

Berry Syrup by Ann Edall-Robson

It’s the season of harvesting produce and picking berries to create all kinds of goodness to enjoy over the long winter months.

What you make with your berries is as versatile as the various types of fruit you have available. Every year produces different quantities and selections. Wild berries seem to have the best flavour; but they take the most amount of time when it comes to picking and cleaning. A local farmer’s market is a good source for your choice of berries.

Choose your fruit, turn on your favourite music and make some of our yummy Berry Syrup.

###

Squish by Michael

Squish, squish, squish those grapes

Feel that juice between your toes

Drop your feet in one two three

There’s wine to be made so squish, squish, squish.

And so, the song went as we walked in single file around the barrel, the juice oozing out, our feet turning red from the stain of the juice swirling round our ankles.

It was a job, it kept me in cash for the holiday season. But I have to say I was so sick of that boring song all day every day. The free bottle prize at the end was small compensation.

###

Flames of Memory by Bill Engleson

The air this morning is a smoky hymn, a thin grey hum of haze hanging from the horizon like a tract of flimsy flypaper.

Though she knows this choking vapour has floated in over the straight from the interior of the Province and that it’s the residue of fiery loss, of dislocation, she is mesmerized by its fugue of gloom.

She has always loved fire.

“Many have lost their homes, their livelihood,” I remind her.

“I know that,” she snaps, “but…what would Grandma say if she was here…it’s the berries.”

That crazy old lady also loved a good fire.

###

The Mulberry Tree by Jeanne Lombardo

This is how my little story ends.

A cup of tea in an easy chair. A slide into memory as a corona of flame licks at a burner on the stove.

The mulberry tree in the scruffy yard on East Las Palmaritas Street. A tinny song from the radio wafting through a window. “I want to hold your haaand…”

I balance under the canopy. Lift one foot and reach, reach, reach for the purple bounty. And slip.

The ground rushes up. The last thing I feel is my small chest expelling its wind.

And I go up in smoke.

###

Ripe for the Picking by Irene Waters

“I said bring your bog boots.”

“Should’ve told me I’d need clothes for the Arctic as well. I may have listened to you then.”

“It’s summer. Not that cold. Don’t be a wuss.”

“It’s not the cold that’s getting me. It’s these huge bloody mosquitos.”

“Ah!” Johanna fumbled in her back pack and pulled out an item that looked like a memory stick. She flicked its switch to on. “Music for female mosquitos. They won’t come near us now. See those yellow berries.”

“Where?”

“Low to the ground. Cloudberries. Musky, tart, exotic, and elusive. An enigma.”

“Just like you.”

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

My sister sits with her feet propped up on the dinner table. She tosses blueberries into her mouth, one after another, recklessly, how she does everything. Without rinsing or worrying about E Coli or choking hazards.

It’s a mystery we’re related. Mona flies into each day, bobbing to the music in her head, trusting things will work out. Not me, I wash everything—hands, food, teeth—compulsively.

Mom and Dad return from their walk. Dad steals a blueberry and one of Mona’s ear buds, bobbing along like a goof. Mom settles beside me. She asks how homework is going.

###

Early Berries by Kerry E.B. Black

Erin and Marlin squeezed berries at each other, laughing as the early sun bronzed their noses and cheeks. Erin considered her stained fingers. They stuck together and tugged when she peeled them apart. “Don’t get the juice in your mouth, Marlin. It’ll make you sick.”

Marlin’s laughter rivaled the lazy music of the bees. “Who’d want to drink this mess, anyway?” A berry burst within his grasp, erupting pulp and seeds. “I do wonder what they taste like.”

Erin chewed the inside of her cheek. “Me, too.”

Marlin touched his tongue to his palm. “Sweet.”

Erin ran for help.

###

Squish by Pensitivity

Please join me in a little game reminiscent of our days in Lincolnshire and the local radio station.

How many songs or pieces of music can you name with ‘berry’ or fruit in the title?

Strawberry Fields Forever
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
One Bad Apple
Raspberry Beret
Blueberry Hill
I heard it through the Grapevine
Tutti Frutti
Blackberry Way
Cherry Cherry
The Banana Boat Song
The Lemon Song
Little Green Apples

My favourite cheat is The First of May (Date, get it?)

Then you could always ask for cover versions by the 1950s group

The Rockin’ Berries.

###

Mulberry Stew by Norah Colvin

Branches hung heavy with berries in reach of even the youngest child. They ate more than they bucketed; but there were plenty, including for birds singing in higher branches. Mum had forbidden them. “Mrs Wilson’s poorly. Don’t disturb her.” But they couldn’t resist. They scampered the instant she called.

“Where have you been?” She eyed the purple stains.

“We …” the youngest began to sing.

“Nowhere,” they shushed with hands concealed.

“What were you doing?”

“Nothing.”

Her lips twitched. “Hand them over.”

Later they pondered together how she knew.

When Dad got home, they’d have to face the music.

###

What’s Raspberry Picking Without Music? by Joe Owens

This was the first time Ed had picked berries in so many years. The dream job pulled him to the other side of the country and away from his family and traditions. Still, something seemed strange about this berry patch he remembered so well. Try as he may he couldn’t place what it was.

Two hours later while emptying his smaller container into the larger one he began to sing. His mother, sister and cousin peeked out of the berry bushes to listen as he crooned a song sung by his grandfather years before.

“That’s my boy!”

###

Laying By by D. Avery

“Thank you for the coffee in bed, sorry I’m so lazy, it’s just that morning sounds have become such sweet music to me.”

“That’s okay, Mom, we don’t mind, do we Dad?”

He grunted his assent and lingered with his own coffee after Hope left to tend her chickens. “Everything okay, I mean, you ain’t got your traveling itch again do you?”

“If you must know, I plan on traveling to that spot over the hill where the blackberries are, fill some buckets, and then come back, scratches and all, and make jam… Stop worrying, I love it here.”

(Follow the story…Offerings)

###

From the Obscuring Mist by Kerry E.B. Black

A merry band of trick-or-treaters skipped along the sidewalk, elbows locked, voices raised in wolfish songs and merry laughter. Parents followed, lugging the kids’ sacks of sweet loot.

Fog curled from the valley, obscuring autumn leaves gathered along bone-white fences underplanted with berry bushes. Nearby, an owl hooted.

From the obscuring mist another costumed group emerged. The small ones added their voices to the wild song. Their caregivers’ lips sparkled with adult distractions- drinks and elicit kisses.

The youth embarked on promised adventures with their new companions. As the children sampled other-worldly treats, the others gathered their innocent souls.

###

Can You Hear the Music by Robbie Cheadle

The small blonde boy sat at the piano, his little face white and pinched with determination. He ran his fingers lithely over the keys, the music flowing directly from his heart to his fingers. The audience sat and watched. Their faces agog with astonishment at this tiny child’s huge talent. One plump lady tapped her foot in time to the prolific flow of notes. Only one face showed anxiety and concern. His mother’s face was tightly drawn as she thought about his obsessiveness. Nothing could distract him from his playing this morning, not even his favourite berries with ice-cream.

###

Music and Berries by FloridaBorne

“What’cha doin’?” six-year-old Jennifer asked.

“Picking blackberries.”

“What’er you listenin’ to?”

“Debussy,” I sighed.

“It’s weird,” she said, picking her nose.

My home was small but freshly painted, had a nice flower garden, and…manners. A child that age should know to ask for tissues!

“Where is your mother?” I demanded.

She pointed at a woman slumped over the filthy couch on her front porch. “She was ‘sleep when I woke up.”

“When did you last eat?”

“Yesterday.”

Good. A reason to contact abuse and get more riff-raff out of our neighborhood. While she devoured lunch, I’d make the call.

###

Tart by Jack Schuyler

“I like the ones that aren’t ripe yet,” Max picked a purple and red berry from his bucket and popped it in his mouth. His face puckered into a smile, “It’s so tart!”

“Don’t eat all the blueberries,” Mamma said picking at the bush next to him, “we haven’t payed for them yet.”

Max shifted guilty eyes her way and sat down. Tart turned to sour in his mouth. A jay tittered its song from a post at the end of the row. If I were a bird, he thought, it wouldn’t be naughty to eat too many berries.

###

Grim Harvest by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Lilimor slipped out the back gate, trotting to the meadow as fast as her little legs could carry her. She’d wanted to arrive at sunrise, before anyone noticed she was gone.

Rounding the hill, she crowed in delight at the sparkling field of dewy wild strawberries. She plucked one and tasted the sweetness of afternoon sun and magical, cool nights.

Squatting, she strung berries, tiny as her pinky nail, onto a thread-thin stem of meadow grass. Her mother would be so pleased to have these with her morning smørbrød.

‘Twas then she heard the fiddle, beckoning from the waterfall.

###

Forbidden Fruit (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Save the seeds,” Nancy Jane said, berry juice running down her chin and cleavage.

“To plant?”

“Nah. To make Otoe dice. Fun game.”

A canopy of trees dappled the sun where bluffs and a thicket of buffalo berries barricade this hidden spring. Nancy Jane bathed here. Naked. No wonder she laughed when Sarah protested hiking her skirts to ride horseback astride.

Sarah sank her teeth into the small black fruit with a golden center, wanting to laugh. If she did, Cobb might hear. Perhaps a trick of the mind, but she swore she heard strains of his fiddle nearby.

###

Solo Honeymoon by Diana Nagai

Untying her swimsuit top, she reclined in one of the many chaises which lined the white-sanded shore. She felt daring, being half naked in public, but when in Rome, right? Laughter and splashes composed a summer’s cadence, producing an atmosphere of leisure.

A shadow eclipsed her sunlight. Opening her eyes, she took in the Greek god standing above her. With her best attempt at the local language, she accepted the cream and liqueur smothered berries.

The handsome waiter offered a lingering smile making her glad she didn’t refund the honeymoon tickets. Emboldened, she flirted and smiled back.

###

Strawberry Wine by Rugby843

Washing the berries in the old sink, she felt like singing. Thinking of the previous night, she dreamily sang “Strawberry Wine”. It was true, not a fantasy, that he loved her. She could still feel his touch on her lips, the scent of strawberries on his breath. It started as a friendly picnic and ended as a beginning.

She washed them thoroughly but left the stems. It was much easier to feed someone a strawberry with the stem attached. Whipping the cream, she planned it well. The wine would be the appetizer, feeding him berries and cream the dessert.

###

Berry Befuddled (Janice vs Richard #17) by JulesPaige

Carla Scott was visiting Janice when Longhorn called.
Richard had been back to Janice’s home with some nasty
intent. He must have lost some focus on his reality. He had
taken and eaten berries from her bushes, But had a violent
reaction, and vomited in the kitchen sink. Although he had
attempted some clean up – Richard left fingerprints, as well
as shoe prints in the garden… and he left a trail.

This was music to Janice’s ears. Though there might still
be a long row to hoe, at least maybe there was going to
be a soothing Coda soon.

###

Hedgehog and Mole by Michael at Afterwards

“Do you like berries Mole?” Hedgehog asked, emerging from the thicket to the sound of Sparrow’s morning music.

“Oh yes, especially plump and juicy ones!” Mole replied licking his lips.

“Then follow me” said Hedgehog, “I know a place where the juiciest berries grow!”

Hedgehog led Mole to a clearing where the bramble bushes strained under the weight of the dark fruits.

“I can smell them!” said mole excitedly, “Oh Thank you hedgehog!”.

As Mole devoured berries hedgehog crept slowly away, passing Fox at edge of the clearing.

“He’s all yours” Hedgehog snarled “I expect payment in full tomorrow.”

###

Plum Crazy by D. Avery

“Is Shorty plum crazy? What’s she want us gathering buffalo chips for? That what she uses fer charcoal?”

“No, Kid, she wants berries. So let’s go git some buffalo berries.”

“Hmph, buffalo berries. Shorty makin’ pies agin? I reckon with buffalo berries it’ll be like a cow pie.”

“They’re not chips.”

“Hey, while we’re at it, let’s git some horse muffins too.”

“Kid, will you ever stop fiddlin’ around?”

“Heck no. Shorty wants music too, so I’ll jest keep on fiddlin’, thank you berry much.”

“I hope Shorty is plannin’ on fermentin’ some of these berries.”

“Yep, wine not?”

###

Save

Pages of Sound

Often we visualize the imaginary settings and scenes from the pages of a story. This leads writers to focus on what they see when they write. Yet, we use all our senses to perceive that imaginary space. This week we played with sound.

Sonar creates an acoustical image. The challenge to writers was to explore creating a flash fiction by sound. Prepare to hear something different this week.

The following is based on the August 3, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to create a story.

***

Sounds Surround Us by Norah Colvin

The deadline looms and I wonder how to extract a 99-word story from my unwilling brain. Contemplation, false starts, abandoned ideas: the well is dry. But listen! Outside, the day fades. Birds serenade folk hurrying homewards and signal the changing shifts. Soon they’ll sleep and the night time chorus will begin. Inside, the computer hums patiently, waiting to tap out the words. In the kitchen, doors creak: pantry then fridge. Vegetables are scraped and rinsed. Water bubbles on the stove. What joy! Yes, I get to eat tonight; but my, how the gift of hearing enriches my world. Gratitude.

###

A Mother’s Journey by KittyVerses

The first cry of my daughter announcing her entry on earth, it was music to my ears.Often wondering, why is it a cry that we arrive with, why not a smile? Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it’s only with the cherished ones we drop our shield and cry.

Much like,

At the foot of the waterfalls, by her side, this was another sound I wasn’t going to forget. As the water announced her entry to the world, heralding goodness, prosperity, luck, much like my daughter who despite her tantrums, disagreements, conflicts during her growing up years, stood by me and banked upon me during the good and tough times.

###

Sunrise Flash by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He stands on the bank where forest parts to sunrise on the rich strip of green, and lowers his muzzle to feed. Thick grass pops between his rotating jaws, snapping as he tears into clumps of equally satisfying roots.

He sneezes, shakes his antlers, and freezes at the whisper of small feet on the low cliff, opposite.

Alert, he steps back into shadow.

She sees him and laughs as water over shallows.

He nods, unconcerned, as she sheds her nightshirt and plashes into deeper water. Skin twinkles and turns, and flipping her tailfin, she’s gone.

He nuzzles the grass.

###

Forest Bathing by Jules Paige

Most suburbs have cookie cutter houses and some
neighborhoods are lined with concrete sidewalks, that for a
time were required by law. They reside in between areas
where the yards go right to the streets’ paved edge. Which
were at one time disconnected from other areas by remaining
farmlands.

Those houses with old growth trees nestled in hillsides where
fox, deer and pheasant still hide… that is where you can hear
the past meeting the future. Little pockets of Shinrin-yoku await.

Insects buzz, woodpeckers tap out Morse Code. and early
risers climb with dreamsand still stuck in their eyes…

###

Million-dollar Violin by Anne Goodwin

The sound was sublime, more mystical than any music. But Lea wasn’t satisfied. Replacing the instrument on its stand she tucked another under her chin. Serenity swept through her father’s body as she slid the bow across the strings. But still not good enough for Lea. He cringed when she picked up the one with the million-dollar price-tag. But the tone! The resonance! The joy that entered through his ears, echoed in his head to be transported by his arteries to his toes. He’d do anything to get it for her. Even give the devil his soul.

###

Sound by Michael at Afterwards

Each night it starts with a scratch scratch scratch on my window. I close my eyes and hope this it is just branches blowing against my window, but it never is.

From the forest into my room they creep, scuttling across the ceiling, shrouded in darkness. Skull less eyes glow red, foul hissing breath on my skin as they envelop me. I lie frozen and unable to scream as their claws caress me, hungry tongues snaking out to feast on my fear.

With a full belly they return to the night and I am free to scream, too late.

###

Failed Investigation by Mick E Talbot

Buzz, the buzzer buzzed!
Under the spell of the questionnaire or so we thought, but it jumped, grabbing her by the throat, blood spurted everywhere.
Zapped by a taser, no affect?
Zapped again, still standing, and now the questionnaire was decapitated.

Twice, with no effect. panic ensued
Once should of put it down

Beaten, security called for help, armed guards arrived within seconds.
Agonisingly the alien submitted, it was then manually restrained..
Next, in anticipation of further trouble it was restrained. with three sets of handcuffs.
Grinning, nodded its head ten times, looked up, then disappeared with a bang!

###

The Chimes by Allison Maruska

A familiar chord greets me as I step onto the curb. Amazing those old wind chimes carry this far. As the Uber drives away, I stare at my childhood home. Its color has faded in the past twenty years.

But that E-chord still sounds, not as cleanly but definitely as present. I follow it across the dead grass, through the rusty metal gate, and into the back yard.

She sits on the porch, the chimes ringing above her despite the still air.

Her focus centers on me, and a chill shoots through my body.

“I knew you’d come back.”

###

The New Bell by Michael

Bang, crash, push, heave, ugh!

“You got it yet?”

“No.”

It grated as they pushed it further. The grinding rang in their ears.

“A little further?”

“Do we have to?”

“Stop whinging, now grow a pair and push.”

Breathing heavily, they huffed and puffed, then huffed some more.

One looked at the other, sighed deeply and then took purposefully hold.

Gradually they made progress. It moved begrudgingly, inching forward resisting their every breath consuming effort.

With a resounding squeal of metal on metal, they moved it into place.

The new shiny bell swung gracefully. It would ring out anew.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

My dad’s eyes flashed silver when he got into a bottle. His lungs darkened, his voice bellowed, and Mom would whisk me off to bed amidst the building gusts.

In my bed I could still smell the sourness in his skin, his blood charged with ozone and bourbon. I counted the seconds between flickers of light beneath my door and thundering steps. I’d curl into a ball, flinching at every sudden bang.

Sometimes it passed. A heavy downpour would turn to snores. Other times it thrashed about, uprooted and blowing a gale, heaving against the house through the night.

###

The Protector by Pensitivity

Someone had broken in.

Drawers were ransacked, papers shuffled and ruffled, heavier objects thrown to the floor.

Footsteps were muted but still audible on the carpet.

Wardrobes were violated, the swish of clothes on hangers disturbed the silence.

They were searching.

She trembled in her bed. Not for her to make a sound and announce her presence.

She’d been kicked by intruders before.

Angry barking rocketed through the stillness.

Sticky fingers stopped mid poke, the unwelcome guest backed into a corner by a snarling beast.

The German Shepherd guarded his patch and waited. The poodle went back to sleep.

###

Sound by FloridaBorne

I awake on a moonless night, eyes open, trying to make sense of the darkness. I close them again and, for some inexplicable reason, this helps.

My dogs have their favorite places to sleep. White dog, tight against my body, whines when I move. Dingo, who likes to sleep against the bathroom door, snores peacefully. I take exactly 9 steps toward the sound, stopping just short of Dingo’s snout. His hot breath bathes my feet, as he continues to snore. Turning the door knob startles him. My bladder reacts when he yelps.

I hate cleaning pee off the floor.

###

Crinkling by Kerry E.B. Black

Crinkling, like anxious mice in an autumn woodland, woke Wendy from a sound sleep. She wrinkled her nose around a musty smell. The insidious crinkling crept deeper. She lit a bedside flashlight and shone it on the ground. She gasped. “No.” Water crept into her room, surrounding her as though she were Thumbellina asleep on a lilypad. Her feet splashed on sopping carpet as she rushed to gather the most valuable of her belongings. Tears splashed into the rising tide. The water rose above her ankles, collecting items to ruin, crinkling like a voracious wolf gnawing an ancient bone.

###

Buzz to Bang by Irene Waters

“Ugh! Tinnitus. Today it’s thrumming rather than clanging.

“I’ve got buzzing reverberating also.” Sheila cocked her head. ” It’s in the garage.”

The hum intensifed as Peter entered the garage. “Hell! There’s a swarm of bees in here.”

“Smoke subdues bees. Use the fireworks.”

“Great idea.” Choosing Mad Monster, Peter placed it under the honey comb. The scrape of the match igniting was quickly followed by a whizz then loud booming explosions. Bam! Boom!

Unexpected whizzing and banging as the other fireworks ignited. Crackling fire engulfed the garage. In the distance a welcome nee-naw, nee-naw.

“Preferred the hum” Sheila whispered.

###

Wildfire by Kate Spencer

An eerie silence descended upon the acrid night air. Lori’s eyes burned as she stood on the porch staring at the crest of the distant hill, her heart pounding. Waiting.

And then it was there. Two hundred foot flames shooting into the sky over the summit followed by a roar like a fast approaching freight train.

“Rob, it’s time,” she yelled.

Rob appeared with a half-eaten sandwich in his hands. “You okay?”

“Yeah. I’ll start hosing down the house. Go. The guys are expecting you.”

“Love ya,” he whispered before racing off to do battle with the advancing wildfire.

###

A Grating Sound (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Gears ground when the all-terrain vehicle powered up the slope. Danni heard Evelyn shout, “Giddy-up, Mule! Haw! Haw!” The revving engine faded, and a drone of voices washed over Danni like white noise. She studied the sonar graphs, puzzling over the dark features buried four feet below the Kansas clay. Trowels scraped, volunteers called to one another and the porta-potty door slammed intermittently. Danni focused. The active noises blurred.

“I’m a gardener!” A high-pitched voice like nails on a chalkboard.

Danni grit her teeth hard enough to hear enamel chip. A child. Who brought a child to her dig?

###

Offerings by D. Avery

The curtain snaps against the breeze in the open window. Triumphant flapping and clucking of Hope’s favorite hen heralds its daily escape.

She listens to comfortable thuds and thumps as he prepares breakfast. Brewing coffee rumbles a baseline to the robins’ chirping. The last stair-tread squeaks as Hope joins her father. Both quiet and reserved, in the mornings together they are quite talkative, sharing observations from the farm or surrounding woods, their voices rolling soft like the round-rocked brook.

Unconsciously they interpret morning sighs. They bring her coffee, their tentative daily offering, worry they might rouse her to flight.

###

Jack Pine Wings by Ann Edall-Robson

The wind in their faces, the full moon above. Always upwind of the unsuspecting herd feeding in the quiet, illuminated darkness at the meadow’s edge. Spooked to a dead run by the young men moving ever closer. The fleeing sound of pounding hooves, branches snapping, voices yelling. Escaping the open to the trusted sanctuary of the trees, only to face barriers built by those pushing from behind.

Jack Pine pole wings guide them into the funnel opening of the corral. Held in the stronghold, wild-eyed, snorting, blowing. Squeals of defiance fight the ropes settling around sweating, heaving necks.

###

Jubilee Night by Bill Engleson

Some might think it sounds like a drunken grizzly scratching a chalkboard.

In the cities night air, the grizzled old academic, twitching in his fuming sadness, hears the piercing refrain from Marie’s Wedding seeping through the raccoon infested briar that separates his Edwardian from the Collectives.

“Damn hippies,” he mutters, tips his flagon, and swallows his sour brew.

But the beauty of the pipes, a surprize this Saturday Eve, intrigues him.

He rises and is drawn to the window that overlooks the neighbours lawn, replete with a hundred celebrators.

“Damn fine tune for the bagpipes,” he allows. “Damn fine tune.”

###

My Spouse by Reena Saxena

He tiptoes to come close, and deliver a surprise. He grunts to express disinterest or disappointment. He slurps with a look of satisfaction, on the dining table.

He hammers and nails, to fix things around the house, even if it disturbs my writing. The whirr of the car engine reflects his mood for the day. He belts out a romantic number while driving, in his not-so-melodious voice. I prefer the radio instead.

His voice softens, almost breaking down, on hearing that his father is now terminal.

I know my spouse, more through the sounds he makes, than other expressions.

###

Dinner Date by C. Jai Ferry

He pressed the oversized lid onto the sizzling wok with a metallic burst of frustration. His phone vibrated in his pocket, producing another insistent ding-ding-ding. She was sick, wasn’t coming in. The power washer whooshed to life, a sink full of silverware rattling under the steaming water. The sound made his teeth ache. He stepped into the hallway, where gentle guitar strings embraced him from strategically placed speakers. He dialed her number. Straight to voicemail. Beep. He hung up. He contemplated calling back. Rhythmic chopping against a thick cutting board interrupted his thoughts. He’d fire her after dinner service.

###

Quiet Sunday Morning by Deborah Lee

It powers in with a rush and a roar, surrounding the building in seconds. Becca staggers to her feet, careens from room to room, arms wrapped around her head. The entire apartment throbs. War. It can only be war. China? North Korea? Plenty of choices these days.

Finally the thwapping fades.

Panic says it’s war; logic says just another damned tourist helicopter. Her single crystal wineglass, the one she hid from Richard’s sister to ruin the bar set, is the casualty this time. Vibrated itself right off the counter. Becca swigs from the bottle until her heart finally slows.

###

Lock the Bathroom Door by Susan Zutautas

Meg was having a nicotine fit and needed a smoke. Her parents were home so she went into the bathroom.

Sitting on the toilet taking that first drag, she felt instant relief.
She heard a tap, tap on the bathroom door and panic set in. “I’ll just be a minute”, she said.

Quickly she put her hand behind her and was about to drop it into the toilet when her mother walked in to comb her hair.

If I drop it she’ll hear the sizzle of the smoke hitting the water.

Seeming like forever her mother finally left. Reprieve.

###

Sound Track by D. Avery

“I love it here.”

“Yeah, Kid, what do love about it?”

“Well, until you showed up jest now, flappin’ yer pie-hole, I was jest lovin’ the sounds. Listen. Hear that? Far off ya can already hear the clopping footsteps of some rider bringin’ one in. Soon ya’ll be hearin’ the easy lowing of the new herd in the corral. And from up by the bunkhouse friendly laughin’ and talkin’. And, ya hear that? Best sound of all. Bangin’ pots and pans, ringin’ out with the promise of vittles. Shorty’s fixin’ to cook. Cookin’ up somethin’ special.”

“I hear that!”

###

New Sign by D. Avery

“What’sa matter Kid?”

“Look at Shorty’s new sign over the gate. Use’ta jest say Carrot Ranch. Now it also says ‘literary community’.”

“Yeah?”

“Well? Is it a ranch or a literary community?”

“Cain’t it be both Kid?”

“I jest wanna ride the range, wrangle some words now an’ agin.”

“But ya generally begin an’ end here at the ranch. Where they’s other wranglers; an’ readers… you know, a community.”

“I ain’t the communal type. I’m free range.”

“Ah, Kid, come on in outta the cold. There’s bacon cookin’.”

“This community has bacon?!”

“And raw carrots.”

“For me?”

“For all.”

###

Crystalline

Crystalline by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsClear, sharp, beautiful. The crystalline structure of a rock glints in the slanting sun, revealing symmetry and mystery. The crystalline structure of a woman’s face frames her remarkable beauty. The word itself attracts admirers.

Crystalline is the word writers played with this week. Stories emerged from the word’s beauty and grace, leading readers down many paths.

The following are based on the July 27, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the word crystalline.

***

The Journey by Ann Edall-Robson

The freezing winter season turns my path into ice
Blankets of snow keep me safe in my place
Dislodged by the thaw and watery storms
Occasionally, I rest with the spring’s flooded debris
Waiting my turn to be unceremoniously flung adrift
Traversing the land between rain drenched banks
Travelling for miles only to stop unexpectedly
Laying for days on end or tiny minutes in time
I’ve rumbled and rolled, gathering speed in the flow
From the highest of peaks to the creek bed below
Cousin to crystalline, gold, sandstone and shale
We’re gathered together in bunches along sandy shores

###

Crystalline by Pensitivity

The advertisement said they could do this, though it wasn’t cheap.

Alighting from the taxi, her initial impression was uncertainty, but hugging her precious load to her chest, she entered the building.
The cost of five thousand pounds almost took her breath away, but it would be worth it as she would be able to carry her love about her person forever.

She selected her preference and was told to collect it in seven days.

The end result was fabulous.

Her father’s ashes were now in the crystalline form of a man-made diamond in the pendant around her neck.

###

Pyrite Sun by Robbie Cheadle

The elderly vendor, his small stall heaped with colourful rocks of all shapes and sizes, smiled. He was delighted by the boys interest in his wares and was happy to let them examine the rocks they showed interest in. Willy liked the crystalline formations. Craig, of course, was always fascinated by the unusual and he was entranced by the Pyrite Sun. He held it up and it glinted in the sunlight. Mom looked on with pleasure. She knew that this would result in her having to buy both boys the rock of their choice but their enthusiasm pleased her.

###

Darling Crystalline by Norah Colvin

Her mother wanted Chrystal; father, Clementine. Calm registrar decided: Baby Crystalline.

Parental spats continued as Crystalline grew up. Never in agreement, it made her so messed-up.

Crystalline retreated, spent days all on her own, searching by the water, for brightly coloured stones.

She gathered a collection that healed her aching heart, ignited self-compassion and made a brand-new start.

Believing stones worked magic, curing each and every woe, she took the heart stones with her, wherever she would go.

She shared their healing powers, with any she could find, she told them “Pay it forward. She became their darling Crystalline.

###

Crystalline by D. Avery

She laughed. “What do you mean you love me? We just met.”

“Yet I’m madly in love with you.”

“What do you love about me?”

“The way you talk. I love the clarity of your thought, that sparkle in your eyes. I love the lustre of your smile.”

“You talk like a geologist.”

“And I’ve found a jewel. I’m in love with you.”

“You don’t even know my name.”

“So tell me.”

“Guess.”

“Ruby. No, it’s Gem, that’s what you are.”

“No, and no. Not Ruby, not Gem.”

“Tell me.”

“My name is Crys.”

“Crys?”

Short for Crystalline.”

“Aha!”

###

Silent Lucidity by C. Jai Ferry

When I was five years old, I unscrewed the metal-topped beer bottles for the neighborhood adults gathered on our porch. The crystalline liquid fueled their ingenuity, and they solved the world’s most pressing problems with a flair and finesse that would be the envy of any statesman. I listened in awe, unscrewing more metal tops while detailing the numerous points in my head that I was anxious to contribute to the discussion. But as the twilight emerged and darkness deepened, the neighbors wandered home to their dirty dishes and unpaid bills, leaving me alone to contemplate my unspoken statecraft.

###

My Crystalline Complexion by Jeanne Lombardo

The sales associate was all of 20.

“I just want some eye cream,” I said.

“I have the perfect product for you,” she enthused. “The Gone in 60 Seconds Instant Wrinkle Eraser.”

“C’mon, nothing is going to erase my wrinkles,” I said.

“This one will. With all-natural sodium silicate, it instantly erases fine lines and wrinkles. It’ll provide that little bit of a ‘lift’ you need.”

“Hmmm” I said, my skepticism deepening the frown between my eyebrows.

“Really, I use both the eye and the face cream in the line. I’ve been told I have a crystalline complexion.”

###

Crystalline Clear by FloridaBorne

“Is that Crystalline?” Josh asked. “I ordered you not to…”
“You’re clear as glass.”
He scratched a spot on a head full of luscious black hair and asked, “Huh?”
“You proposed to me twice. I said no.”
“If I ask you again and you say no, I’ll walk!” he said with a scowl. “And I expect a key to your place…”
“I have a job and own my home. You don’t. What I lack in my life is a man who respects me. Goodbye, Josh. Is that crystalline enough for you?”
I turned away from him, never looking back.

###

Tralucent Trauma? (Janice vs Richard #16) by JulesPaige

Unlike a bull in a china shop, anger and rage permeated
every nervous pore in Richard’s body. Vacant eyes stared
at the salvaged offal staining the shine of the celadon bowl
of the animal he had just dissected. His shoulders sagged
as just the hint of abashedness tried to surface. His trenchancy
returning as he carefully placed the clippers on the tarp covered
table. He thought he would ‘read’ the offering after setting fire
to it.

Richard wanted crystalline clear directions of what to do next.
Would he, could he destroy the only thing that had once loved
him?

###

Clearly a Party Site (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni crouched and considered the crystalline structure of the rock in her hand. The lab had scoured Kansas clay from its coarse features. Pink. Granite. Not the Woodland sandstone hearth she had expected to find at this depth. What did it mean? She glanced at the identified bones – beaver, deer, elk.

“Dr. Gordon?” One of the Lawrence students approached, sweaty after a humid day of trowel-work. “Wanted to invite you to a pig roast this weekend.”

“Pig roast?”

“Yeah, my uncle’s a pit-master”

“A pit…It’s a pit not a hearth! Ha! We’ve discovered a thousand year old BBQ site!”

###

Homecoming by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Deep winter, full moon, subtle rhythm of skis hissing through snow just-crystallized after a day of drifting flakes. No firm path, just skirting the deep wood where nobody with good sense enters after dark.

She liked to live on the edge.

Cutting across the meadow towards cliff’s edge, she changes her stride for deeper pack. Ahead, her hut will be warm, sweet with the scents of tea, and pie made from autumn’s bounty—once she reanimates the hearth. The moon sparkles crystalline off the fjord’s open water.

Shucking skis, she sets wards around the perimeter. No surprise visitors tonight.

###

Unnecessary by Jane Dougherty

She was reading through the works of Thomas Hardy, revising and updating. It was necessary if the next generation was to understand anything of the classics. Dark was normal, clinging smog, algae in watercourses, puddles of rainwater, mirror shiny with petrochemicals. The world of the classics had gone; even their words were slowly leaking away as they were no longer needed. She was just helping the process along. It was her job.

The cursor stopped. She frowned. Crystalline. A rapid search told her what it meant. Her frown deepened. She extracted the word. No adjective needed. Water was water.

###

Replay, Rewind, Repeat by JulesPaige

While change is the only real constant – I will have my words
in books that I can hold. I may be unschooled amid classical
writings – but I will wonder books stores with shelves of sheaf’s
that behold the hidden truths in poetic wrangling… And if I
am to be consumed by those waves of words I shan’t ask for
water… just specks… the kind one needs to make words
crystalline, even if only briefly imagined in my dementia.

Imogene’s specks were thick to magnify print. Reading the
classics with dementia was like reading them for the first time
everytime.

Dark of Winter by D. Avery

People said that they walked on water that winter. Because everywhere was frozen water. It came down as freezing rain and remained frozen, encasing the countryside in a glassy sheen. Rain would be followed by a cold spell, with never any snow to soften the bleak monotonous gray. It was a winter of impossible travel, of long days stuck inside, of boredom and its attendant drinking and tempers. It was a winter when heinous occurrences, mute secrets, were blamed on the entrapments, the relentless icing.

She wished the crystalline memory that gripped her still, frozen, would shatter, would melt.

###

Blind Dreams by Bill Engleson

The sun is so bright.

Against sensible advice, I stare into its brilliant firestorm.

The shock is immediate, I am blinded yet see the careening crystalline future, colors rampaging off into fireballs, shimmering delights chewing away at any clarity.

I see all.

I see nothing.

My kaleidoscope eyes twinkle in the darkness.

My mind’s eye remembers all.

I have visions, you know.

Sightless from the laser sun scorching my eyeballs acinder, images as clear as irony feast on my memory.

I walk the night.

It is as if it is day.

And lo, it is the sun, so bright.

###

Bit by Bit by Reena Saxena

Life has been an uphill struggle for me. Reality does not match my ambitions, and the causes are not always external. I need to develop a success mindset.

I battled with my genetic makeup, acquired personality traits and my reactions to the world, based on cumulative experience. Altering the crystalline structure that shapes my personality appears to be a life-long task.

The new signals that I send out, draw a certain response from others. If it is not favorable, I revise my strategy and recreate myself again.

Bit by bit, I put
myself together to break,
then reassemble again.

###

Crystalline by Michael

It was her crystalline features that first attracted me. She commanded a room, she had beautifully defined facial characteristics that held you in awe as you took her in. Everything was not only in proportion but you moved from one to another spellbound, from the shape of her nose to her mouth that you just wanted to kiss, to her eyes that looked into your soul and you knew you could engage with into whatever eternity she took you.

But when she spoke the allure of her voice was captivating, she took your breath away, and you welcomed it.

###

The Diamond by Susan Zutautas

Brilliantly shining
From reflections off the sun
Displays all colors

Are all manifestly
Stunning picking up spectrums
From the world over

On one knee he kneels
Placing it on my finger
Will you marry me

I look at the rock
Mesmerized by its beauty
Tears well in my eyes

He looks on nervous
As he awaits my answer
Praying I say yes

How could I say no
I love him with all my heart
Yes I’ll marry you

Crystalline beauty
Forever on my left hand
Till the day I die

Impenetrable
Proposal of a marriage

Like the diamond rock

###

Marriage Guidance by Anne Goodwin

Leaving the divorce court, Jack crossed the road to the pub. His sister was a good listener but, having helped him pick up the pieces after three failed marriages, her patience was wearing thin. “You keep ending up with women who are just like you,” said Jill. “But sometimes opposites rub along best.”

“I should look for the ying to my yang? But I’m Mr Average. Everyone shares my tastes.”

“I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.” She beckoned to a woman who’d been leaning on the bar. “Jack Spratt meet Crystal. Crystal Lean meet Jack.”

###

As Transparent as the Water by Joe Owens

Justine could not pry her eyes away from the crystalline beauty before her. She stood inches away from the lapping waves wishing she could see into Tim’s heart as easily as she watched the tiny seas creatures playing in the waters here. But his heart was guarded because of his past.

She knew she could help him, when he was ready to let her. But when that would be was what gave her pause. In her gut she felt like he was worth the wait, but every voice around her said different.

She alone had to decide.

###

Crystalline Confusion by Kerry E.B. Black

Doriya squinted into the crystaline globe, willing her gypsy blood to interpret the nothingness within. Her client chewed her lower lip, dark eyes wide in a too-pale face. Designer purse.

Manicured nails, but terrible skin and teeth. A gold heart locket about her neck. Doriya ignored the silent ball and relied on body language. “You’re nervous.”

The client blinked over-large eyes. “Do you see him?”

Doriya nodded. “He’s handsome.”

The client jiggled her foot. “Yes. Will he propose?”

Doriya frowned. “Sorry, no.”

The client’s cheeks colored, and she left. Doriya’d provided the wrong answer if she wanted a tip.

###

A While by Kittyverses
 
That day she could still remember as if it was yesterday.The scene from fifty years ago flashed across her mind.
 
She always admired him from afar, his style, his stance, his speech, his manners.
 
Her heart had devastated into pieces when he invited her to his wedding.
 
A spinster all her life,she had always wished him well.
 
Amicable towards his wife,she had seen his kids grow into fine human beings, it was a role of a sister that she donned now.
 
On her death bed today,he was by her side, would it have helped if she had been crystalline?
 
###

Mother Lode by D. Avery

“Shorty’s got rocks in her head.”

“Yep, it’s become purty obvious. Goin’ on an on ‘bout rocks all the time. Rocks in her head, alright, and in her pockets, in her saddlebags. She’s always gatherin’, seems like.”

“Our tumbleweed’s become a rock tumbler.”

“That phrase weren’t too smooth, Kid.”

“Well, I’m in a hurry, itchin’ to do some minin’ of my own. There’s 24 carrot gold in these here hills.”

“Jest remember, Kid, glitter ain’t always gold. Me, I’m jest gonna ride under the crystalline sky, enjoy a gem of a day.”

“That’s minin’ too.”

“Yep, Kid, it is.”

###