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Taking Charge

An attribute of leadership includes taking charge. Like a boy herding piglets, leaders must find a balance with other qualities, including awareness, compassion, and a sense of doing what is needed at the moment. For the boy, the moment called for courage to overcome shyness. Taking charge happens in a moment and can have fun results to a lifetime impact.

Writers have a full interpretation of the prompt each week. They explored what taking charge means from different perspectives.

The following are based on the March 26, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge.

PART I (ten-minute read)

Time Trapped by Anita Dawes

Time trapped in a rain drop.
The watch maker said it was beyond price.
More precious than silver, gold, diamonds?
It has been here from the beginning
His wish was to take charge of it.
He did all he could, his experiments.
To outsiders looked daft, a waste of time
The watch maker replied, time trapped there
In one drop could unleash a mind full of magic
Unknown to this world.
Imagine who bathed in it, what could they tell?
Water has a memory
I need to find out how to unlock it
Find the wisdom that hides inside…

🥕🥕🥕

Taking Charge by Joanne Fisher

The explosion tore through the starship. Trisha struggled through the wreckage to access the bridge. Once there, she found most of the crew were either dead or injured. Pushing the Captain away, she checked the starship’s diagnostics and managed to reroute all remaining power to the shields, life support and whatever drive systems still worked so all the crew still left could survive. Thankfully she found the controls were still responsive. She piloted the ship away heading for neutral space. The enemy starships held their fire allowing the crippled starship to limp off. Trisha breathed a sigh of relief.

🥕🥕🥕

Rubble Takes Charge by Cara and Mikey Stefano

“Rubble on the double!” says Rubble. Rubble is rebuilding a broken cabin. It was smashed by a rolling observatory, which is for watching the stars. “First let’s clear away all the rubble!” says Rubble. All his friends rush to pick him up. “No, not me!” he laughs, “all this!” So after they all rebuild the cabin Rubble says “Hey Rocky, can you put some bolts in the walls and the roof so it doesn’t fall down again?” Rocky says “Green means GO!” Uncle Otis says “Yeah! You pups work fast! Thanks”

🥕🥕🥕

If you are offered a bull, do not ask how much milk he will give.
by JulesPaige

Taking charge of the road.
That was what he had to do.
Had to get the son to his father, fast.
Picked up his charge at the airport and flew…
The hour and a half ride was sliced by about half.
Told the folks he was doing eighty…
But the passenger said the speedometer needle
Swayed further right passed that number.
We’ll just call the driver a hero.
One of many in these trying times who
Took the proverbial bull by the horns and flew…

within what limits
we do what needs to be done
riding the wind true

🥕🥕🥕

Taking Charge by Faith A. Colburn

You wouldn’t call her meek, but Hazel avoided confrontation when she could. Standing on the doorstep of the home place, though, an old neighbor told of a time when she didn’t.

“I was helpin’ out at your place at dinnertime. Dad had said I wasn’t to eat there, but she sat me down at the table. Well, here comes Pop, rarin’ mad. Hazel met him on the step. Told him, ‘On this place, if he works, he eats.’

“Now Pop was used to getting’ his way, but he shut up and waited for me to finish Hazel’s apple pie.”

🥕🥕🥕

Taking Charge by Ann Edall Robson

The community came together as it always did when one of their own needed help. Someone organized a social. Food and music were donated. Items contributed for auction were sold, only to be re-donated and sold again. The potluck lunch served at midnight refuelled the musicians. Schottisches, polkas, waltzes, and two steps kept the crowd going until the wee hours of the morning. Finally, as the sun started to rise, the familiar smooth strains of Irene Goodnight took charge. Glide, step, glide, turn, glide, step, glide, turn. The old fashioned home waltz announced the end to the evening.

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Stumbles by Michelle Wright

In the beginning, Liza would admire Jack at the improv class meetings. Admiration escalated. When the improv prompted them to hold hands, the blush on her face was real.

“Mighty fine couple,” Greg said while in character, greeting the newlyweds.

“We should be,” Liza blurted.

“Should be and are,” stated Jack, remaining in character, and clueless to Liza’s mistake.

At the end of the class Liza took a deep breath, marched up to Jack then shouted, “I want to go out with you!”

Jack stumbled around and knocked over chairs. He picked the chairs up, smiled, then said, “Okay.”

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Let Go by Sascha Darlington

Within a week, I called friends, figured out how I could get Joe to Toronto. The one thing missing from my equation was Joe.

“I can’t run,” he said.

Have you ever looked at someone you loved and wanted to beat his beautiful face? I did.

“It’s not running away. It’s saving your life.”

He nodded, his eyes sad. “But, Jilly, if I run away, what will we have? I can’t come home? See the folks?”

I looked up at my cowboy, “We can visit.”

“Aw, hon, my friends have already gone. It’s my turn.”

I let him go.

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Meg Takes Charge by Susan Zutautas

Ian was running a high fever, had a scratchy throat, and had lost his sense of taste.

“Ian, I think you should go to the hospital and get checked out.”

“What good will it do? Honestly, Meg, I’m far better off here with you.”

“Well you have the symptoms of Covid-19 and if you have the virus, I may have it too. I think it would be the responsible thing for you to go. Behind the hospital they have drive-up testing set up, you don’t even have to go in. Now get your coat on, we’re going right now.”

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Ducks in a Row by Donna Matthews

“What are you doing?!?”

“What do you mean what am I doing…I’m moving these ducks over here,” Sally grumbled

“No, no, no…the ducks don’t go here! They go on the north end of the pond!” explained Dorothy.

“The north end?? Are you crazy? The wind is too brisk, and the oak trees have lost all their leaves…the ducks will be exposed if we put them there,” reasoned Sally.

“We put them at the north end, Sally. The north end is narrow, and that’s how we’ll keep the ducks all in a row,” an exasperated Dorothy explained.

“Ohhhhhhh, I see!”

🥕🥕🥕

Taking Charge by D. Avery

She cracked the front door, her face a bruised sunrise. “I walk into doors,” she explained. “I’m learning I should shut them tight or open them wide.”

“I would like to speak with the man of the house.”

Over her shoulder, thin pale legs scampered up the stairs. She blocked the rest of the view into the home.

“He’s not here.”

“When shall I call again?”

The woman paused, straightened. “He had to go away.”

“When will he return?”

“He didn’t say. Now, do you want to talk to the man of the house or to who’s in charge?”

🥕🥕🥕

The Lonely by Paula Puolakka

Fern took a few steely steps up the cliff. She greeted the lonely crooked pine, after which she went to talk to the large spruces and junipers.

Today, people had been told to stay 6.561 feet away from each other and to avoid public spaces. However, when Fern had gone out, she had seen more pedestrians than yesterday.

Fern started humming “Reincarnation:” the song by Roger Miller. The state of the world was saddening, but at the same time, she thanked the Lord for everything. The pandemic had not changed the historian’s world: the trees still needed her attention.

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Taking Charge by Pete Fanning

We welcomed Mom back to our quiet, clean house. Dad had one elbow and I had the other, our voices forced and careful and sounding anything but like our own.

She’d been gone for two months. It seemed like so much longer. Meanwhile, I’d started sixth grade, found a new best friend, and had taken charge of the household. Now, I had so much to tell her. Even as the doctor said it would take time for her to adjust, much less notice all the clothes I’d washed and folded.

But that’s hope for you, stubborn as a stain.

🥕🥕🥕

Charge! by Norah Colvin

As if a starting gun had been fired, the children scattered, looking in grass, under rocks, in branches of trees.

“What’re you doing?” asked the playground supervisor.

“There’s eggs, Miss. Easter eggs — millions of ‘em. Enough for everyone.”

“How many’ve you found?”

“None yet. Gotta keep lookin’.”

After a while, the searching slowed. “How many’ve you got?”

They showed empty pockets and empty hands.

The supervisor said, “Who said there were eggs?”

They shrugged.

When the punishment was handed down, the instigators explained, “It was just an experiment to see how many’d be sucked in. We meant no harm.”

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Desert Dreams by Chelsea Owens

Swirling nighttime sand pummeled and rocked the old Suburban. Sequoia made for a poor windbreak, but Clara knew that was all they’d get.

“Mama?!” little Janey cried. “Papa?!”

“I got ‘er,” Dan said, stumbling over cans, blankets, and sleeping bodies to reach their youngest.

Clara settled back against the cold car wall. She needed to think. The endless roar of haunted desert souls echoed the wails in her mind, of the dying world they’d left behind.

“So,” Dan sat next to her and laced his fingers in hers. “What next?”

Clara narrowed her gaze, resolute. “I have a plan.”

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Little Mouse Goes West by Wallie and Friend

Once upon a whisker, there was a cowboy who bumped into luck and fell down hard. It was the kind of fall you don’t get up from easily. Mouse, who had followed the cowboy’s dust for miles, didn’t like it at all.

So the mouse climbed up on Petie’s knee and told him so. She was squeaking loud and clear, and Petie didn’t dare argue. He got up and Squeaky slid into his pocket. There were crumbs in there and it was warm, and the cold morning air tickled her nose.

It was the perfect day for an adventure.

🥕🥕🥕

Welcome at Last by The Curious Archaeologist

A brick smashed through the window, glass fell on the praying sisters.

“Why do we stay, Mother?” Asked one of the newly founded Anglican Order of Sisters. “No one seems to want us.”

Then – Cholera.

No one knew how it spread, people fled and the rest died alone, no one helped – until the sisters took charge.

They cared for the dying, comforted the living, and became beloved by the people of Plymouth.

A little later a small women came and asked.

“Can you help me? I desperately need nurses.”

The Mother Superior smiled “Of course we can – Miss Nightingale.”

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PART II (ten-minute read)

Walter by Bill Engleson

Walter beat me in by a day.

I became de facto number two.

Told myself that, anyway.

Who else would!

First thing Walter said was, “You’re a baby.”

I tried to deny it.

“No!” I sputtered.

“No offence, kid. It’s just, I’m me.”

And he was.

He was thirty. Fit as a friggin’ fiddle.

He’d been a soldier before.

East Germany.

Then he escaped to the West.

***

The next few days, our training troop filled up.

Most were like me.

Babies from the Canadian landscape.

Walter became our natural leader.

Later, we learned how crazy twisted he was.

🥕🥕🥕

In Which a Character Takes Charge by Papershots

Ministry of Health. Under25 Secretary slips into an office, “People are gargling with bleach.” What? “They’re afraid of the virus.” What? (Jokes have been going round because of the pandemic.) Some laugh, flabbergasted. “We need an official communiqué.” Now they all laugh. No one’s sure what’s going on. Typing, calling, “put me through, I said!” Under112 Secretary Never-take-charge-but-follow-orders takes it seriously, though; at her computer she designs a fake news bulletin warning people about gargling with bleach. It goes viral. The crazy are saved. The price of bleach goes back down. Stocks normalize. The world is a better place.

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Who’s In Control? by Hugh W. Roberts

“A gun? Who’s got a gun?” murmured Doug, as he tried to take control of his body which felt like a block of concrete. “And where’s Sophie?”

***

Two floors below, Sophie’s eyes moved from the twitching nose of the rabbit to the back of the mysterious woman’s head. “You’re not as in control as you think you are, Sophie,” giggled the woman.

***

Forced to close his eyes, to protect them from the paint dust, the tapping noise Mike heard suddenly stopped. Opening his eyes slowly, he was stunned to see the face of a woman looking down at him.

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Hometown Hero by Kelley Farrell

Joe showed up drunk, still clutching a fifth to his chest.

Hattie wrinkled her nose.

“The great hometown hero.”

Sam wore an unholy combination of rotten fish and garbage for cologne.

“It’s been a long night.”

“What did you guys do?”

“Oh, just me. I don’t know where he’s been.”

Hattie refused to see this get away.

“Help me get him up. We’re heroes and I’m not going to let our group get embarrassed like ths.”

“I’ve been up all night fighting crime.”

“Ok.” Hattie tossed the rope into his waiting hands. “We’ve got tug o’ war to win.”

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The Gym’s New Sheriff by Dave Madden

There he was, again, flexing his middle-aged muscle to a team primarily consisting of young, amateur fighters. The handful of pros half-heartedly listened, but they, for the most part, tuned out his droning, senseless rambles and did their own thing.

Coach Tim didn’t have a clue what he was doing; everyone knew, but only Kelvin, the most experienced of the bunch, voiced the obvious.

“I think it’s time you go,” Kevin announced before Friday morning’s sparring session.

Echoes of agreement struck the gym’s walls, and the door hit Tim like a roundhouse kick on his way out.

🥕🥕🥕

Taking Charge by FloridaBorne

“Mrs. Jones,” her doctor said. “You’re pre-diabetic, and have heart disease. Go to the gym…”

“But I can hardly walk.”

“You’re going to be dead in a year unless you take charge of your health! Walk your dog!”

She cried all the way home, and searched the fridge for comfort food.

Just when she started to take a bite she yelled, “No!”

Her Pitbull knew what to do. Each time she tried to eat, he barked, and his paw forced her arm downward.

She lumbered toward his collar and leash, the first of what would be many more walks.

🥕🥕🥕

Reluctant Guide by Kerry E.B. Black

Troop 435 lost their map, and their compasses, emergency GPS, and telephones remained inside the leader’s tent. Ten boys bickered about fault and what to do next. They squinted at moss on tree trunks and the direction of streams. Their disagreements frightened woodland creatures into watchful silence.

The eleventh scout, Arnold, identified with the subdued critters. He trailed his troopmates, noting what they overlooked.

Fighting introversion, he faced the others. “This way.”

Ronnie, the troop bully, scowled. “Why should we listen to you?”

Arnold shrugged and stepped onto a deer path. Without turning, he knew the others followed, even Ronnie.

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Diabolical Deer by Nobbinmaug

“You’re not the boss a me.”

“I’m older. That means I’m in charge.”

“I’m tellin’ Mom and Dad when they get back.”

“What if they don’t come back?”

“They’ll be back. Won’t they?”

“You never know. There’s a lot of bad shit out there. Robbers, murderers, diseases, deer*…”

“What if they don’t come back?”

“We fend for ourselves. It’ll be up to me to take care of you.”

“They better come back.”

“They probably won’t.”

“Mommy! Daddy!”

“Hi, guys. Is everything O.K.?”

“Yeah. How was the movie?”

“It was really bad. Lucas should have never sold Star Wars to Disney.”

🥕🥕🥕

Saving Lives by Charli Mills

Rhonda didn’t bother with her boots. She’d wait for calving season to end before cleaning the floor. When the National Guard recalled Jess, she took charge of their small spread. A neighbor came over to help. News of the virus dominated the stations, and Rhonda couldn’t get a weather report. She ate a bowl of Spagettios, then returned outside to relieve Tony. Around midnight the last calf arrived with a spring blizzard. While Jess saved lives as a medic in a makeshift hospital 300 miles away, Rhonda snuggled a calf all night in the kitchen with the wood-stove blazing.

🥕🥕🥕

at mercy hospital by joem18b

my heart took charge this morning and my mind did not fight it. i dressed, had a light breakfast, and rode my bike to the mercy hospital emergency room. there was already a line. i was a candy striper at mercy in high school and i still have connections there. the staff was glad to have me but did warn me about the infection rate among those exposed to the virus. i spent the day bringing donated coffee and pastries to those waiting and listening to their concerns, both the ill and their families. we’re all in this together.

🥕🥕🥕

In Charge Now by Ritu Bhathal

“I’m sorry,” she wheezed, as she slowly picked up her bags, after switching off her computer.

“You’re sick. Just go. Don’t worry, we are here. Now remember, you need to rest up for at least seven days, do you hear me?”

I watched the retreating figure of my Headteacher and grabbed a cloth and the. Disinfectant spray. After cleaning her desk, and chair, I sank down on it.

Oh, man, this meant I was in charge of a school, still open, in a pandemic.

Three members of staff, and a clutch of children would be relying on me now…

🥕🥕🥕

Fear Makes Us Strangers by M J Mallon

It’s Friday night, the weekends coming. Yeah!

I dread what the queue might be like.

Each time I shop, I become more afraid. I pray I don’t see someone I know. Social distancing has become social avoidance.

I’m done quick, rush to the nearest till and am amused to see the vicar talking to the check out assistant. I’m still thinking of their cheerful conversation and the smiling vicar. The lady at the till demands that I step back further. I do, but I can never get used to this.

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Shopping for Essentials by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“What the heck is that?”

“A new recipe for Stay at Home.”

“What you got in there?”

“Beans, tomato sauce, dark brown sugar, Tabasco, the last of that lunch meat…”

“The stuff that was getting slimy?”

“Cured Mystery Meat, so no expiration date! Anyway, I scrubbed it off and it kind of…shredded. So it’s fine. And then I added the last of the Velveeta, a can of water-packed tuna, and whatever was left in that carton of Half and Half.”

“What’s that floating on top?”

“The white stuff is cauliflower, green stuff is Kale.”

“That’s it! I’m going shopping!”

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Feeding Bodies, Feeding Minds by Anne Goodwin

Although overqualified for retail, this was her dream job. Five floors of books and hordes of readers, hungry for literary advice. As the virus bloomed, sales did too, until nonessentials were forced to close. Lockdown had a silver lining: communing with her own bookshelves.

She read in the bath, on the patio, in the snaking supermarket queue, but her focus floated away. Abandoning Moby Dick in her trolley, she approached a security guard. From a distance of two metres, she begged to go inside. Soon her PhD (in creative writing) had charge of a checkout, keeping the nation fed.

🥕🥕🥕

Hannah – A New Direction by Saifun Hassam

COVID-19 spread rapidly. Lynn Valley restaurants provided only take-out or delivery services. Hannah and her staff decided to close “Spuds Restaurant.”

The Farmers Market Association requested Hannah to co-ordinate the collection and distribution of fresh produce to the Lynn Valley Soup Kitchens and Food Banks. She immediately agreed. The farmers dropped off produce at The Market which was closed to the public. Hannah worked with staff from the Soup Kitchens and Food Banks to sort and deliver requested supplies.

Hannah’s mother, Bev, had passed away a few months ago. She would have been at her side helping without hesitation.

🥕🥕🥕

Take Charge of Yourself by Susan Sleggs

The church teen choir started practicing without Gaylan. He joined them ten minutes later and the group came to life.

Tessa’s father, Don, running the rehearsal, after dismissing all but Gaylan, asked: “Would you say you respect this group?”

“Sure.”

“Do you attend by choice?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you understand belonging comes with responsibility?”

“I guess.”

“Do you believe your continual tardiness proves your answers are the truth?”

Gaylan hesitated. “No, sir.”

“Michael wanted to ask you to take charge tonight but didn’t trust you to be on time. Show up early from now on and you’ll earn that trust.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sherlock in Charge by tracey

Time for my every ten-minutes check on the family. Dad was still staring morosely at a blank television screen. My boy was fixated on a screen and clicking on a mouse. I don’t know why he called it that, it sure wasn’t a mouse. Mom was wiping down the kitchen counter for the eighth time, no sign of her cooking bacon. Darn. I decided it was time to take charge. I grabbed my leash from its hook and started barking and jumping around. “Great idea Sherlock,” said Mom and she yelled out “time for a family walk, right now!”

🥕🥕🥕

Kid’s Dilemma by D. Avery

“Pal, whut’s Shorty done charged us with this time?

“Charged us with? Why, nuthin’ Kid.”

“Nuthin’? That prompt’s gotta lead ta sumthin’. Always does.”

“Yep.”

“An’ asides that, ain’t we in charge a the Saloon?”

“Could say thet, I s’pose.”

“An’ we still gotta discharge our reg’lar ranch duties.”

“Yep. Purty sure there’s discharge in the barn fer ya ta shovel now, Kid.”

“Bullshift, Pal, why’s it always seem like yer in charge a me?”

“I jist take yer bull by the horns is all.”

“Mebbe I’ll grab them horns. Take charge a ma own self.”

“Yep. Mebbe, Kid.”

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Tootin’ Rootin’ Round Trip by D. Avery

“Lookin’ rough, Kid. Where ya been, anyway?”

“Checked out Slim Chance’s outfit.”

“Why ever for?!”

“Took charge a m’sef. Yer always bossin’ me aroun’. Shorty’s s’posed ta be in charge, but she’s always nice, jist says ‘go where the prompt leads’; well Slim Chance tells folks where ta go an’ how ta git there.”

“Git where?”

“Where he wants ‘em ta go.”

“Real take charge sorta guy?”

“Sure ‘nough. Says, ‘Drink this kool-aid, it’s the best’, where’s Shorty jist has carrots out, fer folks ta take or not.”

“Yer back though?”

“Ferever. Ta re-charge on root crops.”

“Carrots?”

“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbit on the Roof

Who can say why the rabbit was on the roof? It was not an everyday occurrence, and yet, his tracks left the evidence of a departure from normal. The world has shifted from normal in response to a pandemic. It feels like a season of improbabilities. So, of course, rabbits would take to rooftops.

Carrot Ranch encourages writers to do what writers do best — write. It’s an activity we can enjoy and share while also practicing social distancing. This week, they showed up to ride herd on rooftop rabbits, following the prompt to where it led.

The following stories are based on the March 19, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof.

PART I (10-minute read)

Rabbit in the Stars by Saifun Hassam

Only the tops of lodge pines showed above the deep snow around the Observatory. The constellations glittered in the clear frigid air.

Rabbit paused on the nearest pine branch to the Observatory roof. An expert gymnast and acrobat, he jumped, spiraling through the air. He landed perfectly on the flattened area of the domed roof.

An automated Space Telescope rotated under the transparent window in the roof. Rabbit leaped across the window. And back and forth. Spiraling and twisting with the stars through the night skies. The telescope recorded beautiful mystifying shots of a rabbit flying among the constellations!

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbit Moon by Jo Hawk

On full moon nights, Vivian lit candles, rained rice onto the altar cloth, and prayed to the moon goddess. She had never forsaken Vivian. Gossamer clouds slid like silk across the sky, obscuring the moon’s rabbit image. Tonight, her entire heart filled her plea, as she begged for her townsfolk’s safety.

Cinnabun whispered to his mistress. She nodded. Armed with life’s elixir, Cinnabon descended to earth. Hopping to every village rooftop, he spread the remedy to each family.

At dawn, Vivian spied Cinnabun perched atop her garden fence. He gave her a wink, before the goddess spirited him home.

🥕🥕🥕

Magic Circle by Anita Dawes

Humans, what can you do with them?
The Great Bandini, my whiskers
Has overbooked the children’s party
Leaving my cage door open
So I am off, freedom awaits.
White fur, big ears, not so easy to hide
Wait for the fool
to open the door, load his van,
take my chance in the great outdoors
I need to get higher
The roof looks good
From here I can see the lay of the land
And look for my own kind
How did I get on the roof?
You may ask?
I cannot tell you, that’s magic,
don’t you know…

🥕🥕🥕

Feed Your Head by D. Avery

Leaning against the chimney, he put in his earbuds, listened to Jefferson Airplane while polishing his pocket watch. Unless the girl tripping around below suddenly became quite tall she would never think to look for him here. And anyway, she was much more interested in the March Hare, mad as he was. But it mightn’t be till May that the March Hare be less raving mad.
Yes, it was much the most interesting. The chessmen, all white too, were maddest of all, falling about in no direction.
Smiling, the rabbit flung his pocket watch into the endless blue sky.

🥕🥕🥕

Quick Like A Bunny by Dave Madden

Frankie headed toward the roof of his apartment with his coach—six-feet away from one another, of course.

The gym had been closed since the order of self-isolation went into effect.

“I think you’ll like this workout,” coach chuckled.

When Frankie stepped onto the roof, he counted about fifty bunnies hopping around. He was speechless and looked back at his coach with curiosity.

“Well, catch em’ and put em’ in that box,” was coach’s response to the silent stare.

Forty-minutes later, Frankie was completely exhausted.

Coach grabbed the box and headed to his next student’s place.

🥕🥕🥕

The Storm to Pass by Donna Matthews

The old-growth forest was a perfect place to calm her nerves. Out of control kids, cranky co-workers, and an ever-growing distance from her husband made her spirit anxious. A mile in, the sky darkens. The tall redwood trees surrender and sway in the high wind. Soon, the hail starts. Sharp, little pieces of ice falling on her head. She scrambles to find a fallen log to crawl inside. But she isn’t alone…running across her makeshift roof are the rabbits and squirrels seeking to share her shelter. She hurries to make room. They wait together for the storm to pass.

🥕🥕🥕

New Life by Susan Sleggs

Trying to focus on paperwork in the Iraqi heat had Michael agitated. The only positive, he was inside. Then he heard the words, “The babies are out.” He grabbed his binoculars and joined the parade leaving the building. They raced passed a lone guy loading a truck, went to the far fence and raised their glasses. Michael enjoyed the moment then returned to the loader. “I’ll do this, you go have a look.”

“Thanks, Sarge.”

The newbie joined the group and after guidance, saw the hares playing on the burned remains of a jeep roof half-buried in the sand.

🥕🥕🥕

The Rabbit on the Roof by Faith A. Colburn

When my grandparents put in the septic tank back in 1951 when we got REA, they found the hewed rafters of Billy Arnold’s original soddy, wood that lay rotting in a jumble beneath generations of dirt and prairie on the level north of the house. When Grandma told me, I closed my eyes and pictured the blocks of root-frozen dirt and the roof, a growing prairie of grass and wildflowers. If I were the rabbit on the roof, would I vary my diet with some tough purple coneflower, or daisy fleabane? Perhaps I’d just stick to the succulent grasses.

🥕🥕🥕

The Roofing Rabbit by H.R.R. Gorman

Velour wiped her brow and sat back, hammer in paw. The roof of the cabin had been difficult so far, as they only had honey locust thorns as nails and bark for shingles.

“How goes it?” Velour’s mate, Timber, asked. His ears drooped from exhaustion, as he’d built the catted chimney.

She smiled. “We’ll have this finished by winter.” She pointed to a clay bottle sitting on a stump. “Take a break and have some ginger beer.”

“Only if you come down from the roof and drink with me.”

Velour clambered down, and the pioneer rabbits rested a minute.

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbit on the Roof by Joanne Fisher

Jess came back to the homestead to find Cindy was climbing to the roof.

“Hey honey, whatcha doing?” She asked.

“There’s a bunny up here.” Cindy replied.

“On the roof?” Jess clarified.

“Yes.”

“How did it get up there?”

“No idea.” Cindy shrugged her shoulders.

After a short moment Cindy came back down the ladder cradling a rabbit in her arms.

“What is it with you?” Jess asked. “Since we got married you’ve become a lost animal magnet. We have a dog and a cat, and I guess we’ve got a pet bunny too now?”

Cindy smiled at her.

🥕🥕🥕

Granny by Tammy Toj Gajewski

I sat on the bench which used the window trim as the table waiting, with my spoon poised. My feet dangled several inches from the floor swinging to the beat of Granny’s humming. She moved from the wood stove like a tank that can only turned slowly left. Her cotton dress covered with small pink flowers, flour towel over her shoulder, ladle cocked and loaded with the stew. It hopped into my bowl and smelled like heaven wrapped in warm towels from the dryer. I filled my mouth with the soft meat and my stomach growled with want.

🥕🥕🥕

Spring Picnic by tracey

Unbeknownst to the humans below a family of rabbits lived on the 94th floor (aka the roof). The first spring-like day they decided to go on a picnic. The aunts got busy making egg salad sandwiches and carrot cookies while the uncles dug out the picnic baskets. The cousins gathered quilts and Frisbees and badminton sets.

They headed to the park and set up under a tree whose leaves were still buds and basked in the warm sunshine. They enjoyed the good food, pleasant company and fine spring weather. The simple things in life are the best they agreed.

🥕🥕🥕

Stuff You Wouldn’t Find on Netflix by papershots

They saw a movie last night. First they discussed which movie; he’s been downloading movies all week – stuff you wouldn’t find on Netflix. Then they talked about the movie for a while before switching everything off for the night. The building across the street: the same; so in the apartments below, above. They appreciate the dialogues of the movies they see, they find the plots credible, they spot holes and admire the cinematography. “Would they like mine?” His eyes go red, he twitches his little-white-rabbit nose, and on the roof he says, “Yes, I’m happy I started this pandemic!”

🥕🥕🥕

Wishes… by JulesPaige

across lily pads
thick enough roofs for baby
bunnies in this wood

away from foxes and hounds
within the fairy forest

just one wish of three
to allow those cotton tales
another day to live

Still have two left. Though perhaps only one. Within minutes his son made it to his father’s bedside. Our son using his emergency vehicle raced in record time from the airport to the hospital. After a flight connection cancellation to the local airport made a time shift later on arrival at another, further airport.

Third wish? A fantastical quick cure for our present disease…

🥕🥕🥕

Police, Fire or Ambulance? by Anne Goodwin

What service, please?

We’ll need a fire ladder to access the roof and an ambulance in case he’s injured … I don’t think a crime has been committed but what was he doing there?

Okay, calm down, let’s get this straight: there’s a man on your roof, not a burglar, you’re worried he might be injured and can’t get down?

Almost.

Almost?

It’s not a man.

Makes no odds whether they identify as male, female or non-binary, if a person’s in trouble …

I wouldn’t anthropomorphise.

Pardon?

It’s a rabbit.

A rabbit. How long have you been self-isolating, madam?

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbits on the Roof by Charli Mills

A hummingbird with wings green as shiny jalapenos flit between foxgloves. Caleb stilled his chubby hands. Marta couldn’t say her neighbor would’ve approve of foxgloves where he once mowed lawn. He would’ve hollered at barefoot urchins digging in his yard. Those who survived, claimed it as a community garden. His house served as a schoolhouse. Not like the old institutions. Marta taught all ages how to garden with pollinators. On the rooftop, they raised rabbits. The neighborhood had two milk cows. Three years after the Great Calamity, no one hungered. Humanity reclaimed what it lost. The Industrial Revolution ended.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Rabbit What Rabbit by Susan Zutautas

“Hey Mom, you gotta come see this, there’s something on the roof of Maggie’s doghouse.”

“On the roof? Really? Hold on a minute, let me see if I can find my glasses.”

“You won’t find them, remember you left them at Aunt Becky’s.”

“Oh ya, I totally forgot. With all that rain coming down I can’t make out what it could be. Grab the umbrella and let’s go investigate. Don’t let Maggie follow us just in case … “

“Just in case what?”

“Never mind let’s go.”

Giggles … “Look at that, she’s such a silly dog, it’s her stuffed rabbit.”

🥕🥕🥕

Carrot Ranch by Nobbinmaug

“Is that a bunny on the roof?”

“Rabbit.”

“What?”

“Bunny is the equivalent of a slur to them.”

“Uh… Is that a rabbit on the roof?”

“Yep.”

“You don’t seem impressed.”

“Nope.”

“Does that happen often?”

“Working at a Carrot Ranch, one learns not to underestimate rabbits.”

“Even climbing on the roof?”

“They used to tunnel under the fence until we extended it deeper.”

“That doesn’t explain how it got on the roof.”

“Nope.”

“How do you think it got up there?”

“Parachute, maybe.”

“Parachute?”

“Maybe. Our job is not to question the rabbits but to protect the carrots.”

🥕🥕🥕

Rooftop Rabbit by Kerry E.B. Black

They studied the painting, heads cocked, brows furrowed, careful to keep their champagne-filled flutes upright. Aggy whispered into Greg’s ear, “What do you suppose the symbolism means?”

His cheeks colored, and he tugged at his tie as though it had tightened. “The artist admires theatre?”

She side-eyed him. “Well, ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’ symbolized tradition.‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ a restlessness of spirit. But this?” She waved at the canvas.

A sheepish smile peeked beneath his clipped mustache. “Solidarity for Heffner?”

Her eyebrows crinkled as she examined the rabbit atop the structure. “I don’t get it.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Temptation of Rabbit by Doug Jacquier

Rabbi Tannenbaum trudged through the snow and knifing winds until he saw the diner. Inside, he was greeted by an older blonde woman.

‘Cold enough for ya?’ she said, her smile frozen but her eyes taking in every detail.

‘Could I get something to eat?’

‘Ain’t had no supplies in 2 weeks. How ‘bout a toasted ham or bacon sandwich.’

‘Anything else?’

‘I just made a pie for my husband, Pastor Schicklgruber. We got lucky. Rabbit fell of the roof last night and broke its neck.’

‘Can I just have coffee?’

‘Kosher can’, she said, her eyes daring him.

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbit Trap by Michelle Wright

It was the Saturday after Nicolas and I had completed our first week of high school together. We had both been home schooled up until now. We each climbed out my window from my room and sat on the roof as we usually did. I asked him how he felt about school. He said, “Well, it’s cool to be around more dudes.” Before I could say anything some of those dudes from school shouted up at us, “Are there a couple rabbits on that roof?” I learned how disgusting teenage boys could be, including Nicolas. I locked my window.

🥕🥕🥕

Twitching by Hugh Roberts

As Sophie walked towards the figure of the woman, she noticed the front cover of the book in the woman’s hand. A rabbit on a roof. But was she dreaming, or was the rabbit’s nose twitching?

As Mike looked up at the ceiling of his room, the tapping noise he heard sounded like a rabbit he’d once seen hopping along a newly tiled roof. Particles of paint dust falling from the ceiling forced his eyes to twitch uncontrollably.

Two floors above, Doug’s eyes twitched on Clarice’s face. “Run rabbit, run. Doug, did you know there’s a gun?” she asked.

🥕🥕🥕

The Late Afternoon the Rabbit Died by Bill Engleson

“It’s too high, Charlie. I’ll break my legs.”

“You won’t break no bones, Pearly,” I tell her.

I don’t know a course.

“It’s just an old barn. You land right, problem solved.”

“There’s got to be another way. I never was a good climber.”

“I’ll git you up there. Don’t have to worry about climbin’. Just jumpin’.”

“Maybe we should wait a little while?”

“Pearly, we wait much longer, you be showin’ like a fat old momma sow. Then everyone’ll know.”

She gives in.

I boost her up.

Foolish bunny.

Don’t matter to me which way the rabbit dies.

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbit Run by Lisa A. Listwa

Liz stared hard into the darkness. There was that familiar sound, just enough like someone walking in the attic space above that it made her start. Every time.

Probably a squirrel or a bat or the pair of mourning doves who lived in the neighbor’s tree.

Still, the sound frightened her. Not because Liz believed it was anything sinister, but because it always set her mind racing. Faster they came, fear after fear crashing through her brain, a line of rabbits increasing as they passed.

Tonight would be a long night.

Near morning the eagle’s grasp would save her.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wild Hare: Post-pandemica by Liz Husebye Hartmann

I looked in the mirror, unsure. Six months quarantine, but now it’s safe to go out. I stepped out back, hesitating to shake free the sheet full of recently cut hair. Could this be used?

Out front, the neighbors laughed and called to one another. I jogged around to join them.

They’d all done their own haircuts, looking like offspring of Seuss and Scissorhands: this one with curls cascading frontwards, buzz cut out back; that one tinted with precious bleach, a dandelion gone to seed; another with untamed lion’s mane.

And me, joyful, with a rabbit on my roof!

🥕🥕🥕

Bunnies on the Roof by Cara and Mikey Stefano

The day was hot. I looked out my window in delight, watching the bunnies hop around on their long furry legs with their enormous ears twitching like antenna in the wind. Our split level house was the perfect way to watch the world go by. I figured I knew how those jack rabbit bunnies had made it up to the roof – they took the stairs, polite as you please, hopped up on the window sill and from there – an easy jump to the roof for those long legged jacks.

🥕🥕🥕

What Rabbits? by Norah Colvin

“Wassup?” He knew something was when she stopped rocking.
“Nothin’.” She continued rocking.
“Musta bin somethin’.”
“Nah. Thought I saw a rabbit on that roof, is all.”
“I ain’t never seen no rabbit on a roof.”
“You ain’t never seen nothin’.”

“What?”
“Thought there was two rabbits on that there roof.”
“That’s crazy.”

The rabbits multiplied, but she never stopped rockin’ and she never said nothin’.

One day, he stopped.
“Shhh. I hear somethun.”
“What?”
“Sounds like …”
A multitude of rabbits exploded from the roof, landing all around, even in their laps.
“What?”
“Nothin.”
They kept on rockin’.

🥕🥕🥕

The Rabbit by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

How did the rabbit get on the roof? Did it have wings? Had the whole world gone completely mad and animals suddenly attained previously unknown attributes?

The poor little creature pattered across the hot metal roof, confused and agitated.

A bit like me, thought Laura. Being isolated at home is making me feel peculiar, as if I am the only person in the world or the whole world has stopped except me. Business as usual, but not.

“At least I can do something positive to help the rabbit,” she mutters, heading for the garage to get the tall ladder.

🥕🥕🥕

Alice and Janice Save the World by eLPy

Alice sat atop the roof waiting for Janice. This wasn’t like her. Alice squeezed tight against the gable.

There came a high shriek. She twisted her ear listening. She heard the call and hopped out.

Janice landed next to her.

“I’m sorry Alice. You alright?”

“I am. You?”

“Yes.”

“Should I worry?”

“No. It seems we’ve started a movement. Others want to know how we, prey and predator, have forged an alliance. They want to help. This is how we will prosper in these times now that humans have turned their backs on the world.”

“Well done my friend.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Library Reader by Saifun Hassam

It was close to midnight. An aerial silk ribbon was suspended from the Library roof. How had that fearless Library Cat Rainbow anchored the ribbon to the eaves??

Rabbit secured the ribbon around himself and in two spiraling movements he was up on the roof. A gymnast and acrobat.

Ferret had opened the trapdoor near the chimney. Rabbit clambered into the attic, down the steps into the library. Rainbow had left the door ajar.

On the nearest shelf were Carroll and Seuss stories. Rabbit loved to read. Before dawn he was gone, dreaming of March Hares and Green Eggs.

🥕🥕🥕

Smokin’ Caterpillar (Part 1) by D. Avery

“Kid, yer grinnin’. Figgered ya’d be scowlin’ over this wild prompt.”

“Didn’t ya hear? Shorty’s gotta surprise comin’.”

“What is it?”

“Dunno, jist that it’s a surprise fer me an’ you.”

“Huh. Prob’ly hookin’ the bunkhouse up with television. It’s rabbit ears she’s on about!”

“That’s receptive of ya, Pal, but I don’t think so.”

“Then what the heck is up with a rabbit on the roof?”

“Mebbe thet hare went over the rooftop ta see what it could see. It’s a unique rabbit. Ya know how ta catch a unique rabbit, Pal?”

“No.”

“Ya ’neak up behind it.”

🥕🥕🥕

Smokin’ Caterpillar (Part 1) by D. Avery

“Smokin’ caterpillars? Thet better be a litter-airy ref’rence. An’ look at us, comin’ in behind thet dang D. Avery. Kid, what the heck is goin’ on?”

“Jist chasin’ rabbits, I s’pose, Pal. Been kinda hard ta focus lately. An’ now I’m jist so x’cited ‘bout

Shorty’s su’prise. Cain’t wait. Mebbe after the weekend we’ll see it.”

“Hmmf. Yer chasin’ rabbits alright. D. Avery know anythin’ ‘bout this su’prise?”

“Cain’t say Pal, not knowin’. We kinda drifted apart, disassociated, like. All I know is Shorty said it’s bigger’n a bread box, an’ it’s fer us ta take care of.”

“Dadnabbit!”

🥕🥕🥕

 

Clarice

Stories of Clarice cross time and countries, capturing the essence of a name full of strength. Maybe the Clarices of the world were silenced in a way. Here, they burn bright enough to catch the flame of 99 words.

Writers accepted the challenge to write about a woman named Clarice — from history, family, or fiction. Her many manifestations break the silence of forgotten women. Each story is a window to a different woman with a shared name.

The following stories are based on the March 5, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about Clarice.

PART I (10-minute read)

Sonnet For Clarice (after Shakespeare) by Geoff Le Pard

Shall I compare you to a Summer’s day?
You’d not be flattered but angry and pissed,
Sneering at my explanations and insist
I’m a retarded male with nothing to say.
My compliments are often misconstrued
As the feeble patriarchy at work
And if I protest that I’m really woke
You’ll say sexism isn’t just bloody rude;
It’s objectifying through praise
Treating you as a stereotype.
But Clarice sweetness don’t believe the hype
If I look to Shakespeare’s to find the ways
And means to win your heart. And dear Clarice
If sonnets fail, how about a trip to Paris?

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice by Joanne Fisher

She said her name was Clarice. We had arranged to meet in a café. In the end, she was thirty minutes late when she finally turned up. I don’t know why I waited for so long. I had already decided that she wasn’t coming.

Her skin was pale and her hair was long and dark. She had green eyes that seemed to shine in the dull light. I was feeling annoyed when she arrived and sat down before me. Her incandescent smile alone was enough for me to forgive her. So I stayed, and slowly we fell in love.

🥕🥕🥕

Voices by Hugh Roberts

Having decided to follow the cat, Sophie came to a grinding halt when the cat stopped and turned around to face her. “Clarice isn’t who you think she is,” echoed a voice in Sophie’s head. But who was Clarice?

***

Turing the handle of his hotel room door, Mike let out another almighty sneeze. “Clarice, are you in there?” came a voice from the other side of the door.

***

Two floors above, Doug’s eyes flickered before suddenly opening. The familiar face of a woman peered down at him. “Hello, Doug. I’m Clarice. How can I help you?” asked the woman.

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice Orsini, Go-Between by Anne Goodwin

I took 6000 florins into my marriage, and almost as many staff. But when my confessor sneered at Florentine heathens, I banished him to Rome. I hadn’t wed to be controlled.

I lured Lorenzo nightly to my chamber, not for love or lust or desire to produce an heir. Because if he strayed he’d get the pox and pass it on to me.

I wanted to live forever, or past thirty years which is near enough the same. Despite birthings, plague and politicking Pazzis, I would surely thrive. Petitioned by both Medici and Orsini, I revelled in my power.

🥕🥕🥕

Clarise by Violet Lentz

Clarice, the understudy, stepped onto the stage that had seen the show’s star vanquished mysteriously while enacting the death scene just three days earlier.

Under the smoky stage lights, she recreated the classic role.

She brought a pathos to the character that not even Shakespeare himself had imagined. Delivered her dirge of dialogue with the solemnity of postcards sent from an execution. Indeed that night, Ophelia was reborn.

Unfortunately, the life into which she was reborn ended with Clarice’s most pedestrian delivery of the line, “It’s got nothing to do with me!” whilst being served a warrant for murder.

🥕🥕🥕

Oh, Clarice by Donna Matthews

It all started innocently enough. I mean, I guess, if murder could be considered innocent. But if there was anyone who deserved to die, it was him. She relished the time working alongside him as they developed the virus that would take out the world. Not because she wanted to take out the world…that was always his plan. Her plan was always to stop him. And what better way than with his deadly creation? But then Clarice. Clarice the mistress. Clarice the one tricked by “love.” Clarice the one who stole the vial. Oh Clarice, what have you done?

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice Vance in Court by Kerry E.B. Black

Miss Kingston represented Mendel Kingston during the court case.

At over six feet, Clarice Vance commanded the courtroom. Her rich voice reverberated. “Your Honor, Mendel Kingston’s cloak material is a blatant copy of my famed dress’s material.” Clarice spun slowly. Mirrored material accented her waspish waist and full, jeweled bodice.

Miss Kingston objected. “My father invented that material over forty years ago. Back then, ‘flirtation numbers’ used hand mirrors to reflect the spotlight, so Papa designed the material to imitate that.”

Clarice smiled. “In 1870?”

Miss Kingston smirked. “Yes.”

“Well, the first spotlights were Jablachkoff Candles. Used in Paris. In the early 1880’s.”

Clarice won her case.

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice Morant by D. Avery

Clarice Morant was Classie to family. The articles about Classie tenderly caring for her aged younger sister and brother for years mightn’t have been written except that at the time of their deaths Classie herself was over 100 years old.

A two-sentence obituary mentions when she died and at what age, and that she is survived by numerous “nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends”. That’s it. She’d been married, but children aren’t mentioned. Neither are a younger woman’s heartbreaks, nor dreams noted.

I choose to presume Classie was a remarkable woman throughout all her decades, even the unwritten ones.

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice the Polka Dot Bowed Reindeer by tracey robinson

Clarice begged him not to go-
Look at all that wind and snow!
But Rudolph was not afraid,
So Clarice said fine, have it your way.

Clarice knew Rudolph would soon run into trouble
So she got ready to leave on the double.
With grace and ease she tromped through the snow,
Without a doubt she knew just where to go.

And when Rudolph ran into trouble,
Just as she knew he would,
Clarice was there to do what she could.

She saved the day in the ice and snow
‘cause Clarice was one helluva reindeer
don’t you know!

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice by clfalcone *

A loud crash shook the ranch house, rattling windows, jarring dishes, jolting the old man from his afternoon nap.

Something was clomping, pawing outside.

“What are those damn fools doing now?”

Another crash, louder now.

He rushed out, suspecting the caribou got loose. Sure enough, they were out, Rudolph scratching the lawn for lichens, Clarice munching porch plants, knocking ferns, chairs, tables over.

“Be gone, silly reindeer!” And he raised his arms, shooing them.

They looked up, blinking, then continued their respective meals, velvety antlers bobbing.

He shook his head, returning to his nap, dreams.

He’ll clean up later.

🥕🥕🥕

First Cow in Space by Norah Colvin

“We are here today with the first cow in space, whose identity, until now, has been kept secret. Will you please welcome [drum roll] Clarice Cloverdale.”

[Applause]

“Clarice, please tell us about your adventure and why your identity was undisclosed for so long.”

“It was simply a non-disclosure agreement. That contract has now terminated so I’m free to tell.”

“Go on.”

“We were all tired of playing second-fiddle to Cat. Dish and Spoon ran away so Dog had no alternative but to make me the star. Needless to say, I was over the moon. The rest is history.”

[Applause]

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice’s Conviction by JulesPaige

It was without mock shock
That with barrel, lock and stock
That Clarice as if a typhoon, no committee ad hoc
Led body, fetlock and hock
Of her horse across the course… no crock would dare to block
Her determination with her livestock and flintlock
Deterred any who would backtalk or try and sweet talk
Her into any other course, once in motion, onward ticked her clock
The rope bridge wouldn’t be a roadblock, she had her lucky shamrock
Clarice would not rest to count her assets until safely she reached bedrock,
Only then would she assess her frock

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice by Saifun Hassam

Clarice was at Marta’s Log Cabin on a ridge overlooking Green Lake. A ranger and ecologist, she loved the Green and Crater Lakes biohabitats, their diversity of animals, birds, trees, and geological history. She was fascinated by the history of ancient peoples, and later pioneers who lived here once.

Somehow the cabin had survived many fierce winter storms. The backyard well was overflowing with water. Lodge pines stood tall over tangled blackberry and honeysuckle shrubs.

A lot of hard work lay ahead, but she knew each day the rangers would do whatever they could to protect this precious biohabitat.

🥕🥕🥕

The Search Goes On by Susan Zutautas

Looking for her brother, in an old abandoned warehouse, Clarice picked up a piece of a shirt that looked exactly like the one she’d given him two years ago at Christmastime.

Amongst the decaying garbage making the entire place smell rancid there were needles scattered here and there along with a few old mattresses.

Clarice who was once quite close to her brother now feared the worse had happened to him since he first started using hard drugs to depress the death of their mother three years ago leaving them to live with total strangers who beat him savagely.

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice by FloridaBorne

Mrs. Wilson answered the door. Outside awaited a child her daughter’s age wearing designer clothing.

“Is Clay home?”

“You mean, Clarice?”

Her twelve year old daughter ran toward the door, yelling, “Mom, I got this.”

“Your name is…is clear rice?” She giggled, glancing inside a dirt poor home. Her friends were correct; Clay wasn’t worthy of sitting with them in the cafeteria. She walked to a waiting limo and never looked back.

“I hate my name!” Clarice yelled at her mother.

“That rich bitch isn’t worth your time.”

“I hate you!”

There are some truths a mother can’t teach.

🥕🥕🥕

Bonecrusher’s Wisdom by Bill Engleson

“What’s your poison, hon?”

“Coffee, please.”

“Comin’ right up. Anything else?”

“No.”

“Pardon me for buttin’ in but you look like you’re down in the dumps.”

“Just politics. That’s all.”

“All? ALL? Let me tell you, hon, if my name ain’t Clarice Bonecrusher, politics is everything.”

“Bonecrusher?”

“Figure of speech. My waitress nom de plumer. Anyhoo, it ain’t about Elizabeth steppin’ aside, is it?”

“Yes.”

“Smacked me too. Know what I thought? You can get all mopey or you can agitate, make sure a woman is chosen VP. Lots of great choices.”

“It’s not easy.”

“It’s inevitable, hon. Infriggininevitable.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Invitation by Allison Maruska

Clarice ran her fingers over the paper’s guilded edge, eyeing the words written in fine calligraphy: You are cordially invited to the Clarice Cliff Design Exhibition.

The exhibition, the first showcasing her work that spanned decades, would be the pinnacle of her career, according to the newspaper. Her designs had made a lasting impact on the art world.

Gazing at the delicate script, Clarice positioned the invitation over the candle on the end table. As the flame reached her fingers, she dropped it into a ceramic bowl, one displaying her favorite crocus design.

The pinnacle would proceed without her.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

🥕🥕🥕

The Physical Therapist by Susan Sleggs

Michael’s mother and Tessa both held wadded wet tissues. They were looking at a photo album that chronicled Michael’s recuperation after his IED blast injuries.

Tessa blew her nose. “No wonder he doesn’t talk about that year. Who’s the cute, young nurse?”

Mom laughed. “She’s a physical therapy specialist, Clare Stelzenmuller. They nick-named her Clarice Alphabet. Michael said she wouldn’t take ‘no or I can’t’ from anyone, and Clare was too sweet a name for her bulldog ways. Expect to see the occasional card from her asking if he’s walking or riding. She’d be happy to know about you.”

🥕🥕🥕

Clarice of the Light by Doug

‘Oh, that Clarice. Fancies painting more than men. Imagine that? Still, she’s done the right thing by her parents. Even if she doesn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain.’
Robbed of her days by bedpans and sponge baths and soiled sheets, she inhabited the fringes of light, the beginnings and endings.
At the end, all of that light was in the shed, rotted and torn by the deniers of her eyes.
Yet the sun rose from her grave and illuminated her beaches and her streets anew. And now the monied hang the consequences.

Author’s Note: Thanks to Bill Engleson for the reference to Clarice Beckett. You can learn more about her here.

🥕🥕🥕

Urgency by D. Avery

Clarice was tired of not getting out. She used to enjoy the ‘girl parties’ where she and her friends dispensed comfort and commiseration; welcomed and advised another to widowhood; or bolstered grieving husbands with casseroles and sidelong confessions of loneliness. That’s when funerals were social gatherings, deaths predictable and occasional occurrences.

Now there were no gatherings. She and her friends that remained stayed home, kept updated by phone and facebook. Deaths were frequent, funerals hasty transactions for proper disposal.

At 85, Clarice thought she’d be ready when her time came. But this virus unnerved her with its urgent insistence.

🥕🥕🥕

Ode to Clarice by Jo Hawk

Her obituary shocked me. The journalist revealed a woman I had never known. Who was this glamorous enchantress, this caster of spells and literary legend?

I caught her scribbling in her notebook either early in the morning, or sometimes late at night. She would look at me, smile, unceremoniously fold her pen within the pages, and conceal her secrets. By day she was nothing more than a middle-class wife and mother.

I discovered what she had shared with the world, unbeknownst to me. Ghost-haunted words portrayed silent and silenced women. I wept for Clarice. And I wept for me.

🥕🥕🥕

Our Night by Ruchira Khanna

“Clarice! are you ready?” inquired Dad as he stepped into the house after a grueling day at work.

“Nah!”

He was quick to walk towards her and find his preteen daughter lazing on the couch with a partially opened book on her chest.

“What happened? I thought you were keen to go to this concert?”

“My friends refuse to come. I’m not the popular girl whose likes are supported by friends,” she said in a sulky voice as tears dripped down her chubby cheeks.

There was a brief pause.

Then Dad proposed, “How about we make it OUR night.”

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Clarice by Pete Fanning

We’re in the dairy section, on the hunt for banana yogurt because it’s the only one my child will eat. The child spinning out a new spell when someone blocks my view.

The lady’s eyes crinkle with concern. She nods at my daughter. “Why would you let her dress that way?”

“Huh? Oh.” I turn, regard the pointy hat, black cloak, the stick wand. “Clarice, dear. Why are you dressed that way?”

Clarice giggles. “Because I’m a witch, Daddy.”

I shrug. “Witch.” The lady shakes her head, tears off. I find the last of the banana.

“Abracadabra, sweetie.”

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Let There Be Light by T. Marie Bertineau

Clarice eyed the heavy brocade, fingered the lush chenille, flicked dust flecks from the folds. Ahh, yes. The draperies were the culprit. The draperies. They had deprived her of light, cast shadow on her temperament, caused her to shrivel in this god-forsaken season. Impulse reared. She craned her neck, grasped one stiff panel, and yanked, good and hard. A stitch split, a seam ripped, a dozen bronze rings fell from the heavens and with them, the burgundy brocade. It collapsed in a swoosh, covered her completely, shrouded her fiery eyes. Linen, she thought. It was time for linen.

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Clarice’s Apron by Lisa A. Listwa

Clarice wiped her hands on her apron for the fortieth time that day. After many hours of doing, she was ready to sit, to read perhaps, or to reflect.

“This is not my life,” she might once have said.

She never imagined this version of Clarice. Never allowed herself to consider it. But life changes, she thought, and so do we.

Almost as quickly as she learned that an apron is truly practical and not merely old-fashioned, she found herself in love with this Clarice.

“This is my life,” she said and hung the apron on the pantry door.

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My Name Is Clarice by Tanya Fillbrook

The cobwebs once weaved are now broken strings, she tells me, and then sweeps away her tears.
She looks through the bay of her window and she sees her!
She tells me: ”I am Clarice and I stand tall above the grimiest of floors, and the deepest of gutters.”
I have sweeped, and picked the cotton in the bleeding fields, of the hands that toiled.

I could cook no more as the whipping of my back left my scars stained.
I will have the square-shaped ice cream if I wish, she said.
”My name is Clarice,” she said.

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Escaping to Misery Bay by Charli Mills

Viv drove down a narrow two-track, brush scratching Hal’s 1956 Ford Victoria. How that man would howl if he saw his car now. Viv smiled, keeping both hands on the wheel. She’d hide out at Clarice’s cabin on Misery Bay. A few deer camps populated the unmined swath of land void of copper. Clarice escaped the mines to live carefree, growing vegetables and chickens. Driving the Ford out of the brush, Viv lightly honked. Clarice – born Clarence Guntecher – strode out to the porch wearing only a long flannel shirt and unlaced boots. Clarice snapped fingers and shouted, “Girl party!”

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True Love by Gloria McBreen

No one knew Clarice Mansell like Jenny did.

‘Oh Clarice, of course you’ll marry him,’ said Mrs Mansell.

And she did, regrettably. He wasn’t a bad man, O’Shea, but he was everything Clarice never wanted in a mate, and Jenny knew that. For eight years of married misery Jenny was there for her friend; in more ways than one.

Eight years of saving, plotting, and planning.

Now they were flying high in the sky on their way to Canada for a new life together. Beautiful Clarice belonged to her now. O’Shea and Mrs Mansell would find out soon enough.

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Courageous Clarice by Reena Saxena

I’ve never seen a boss as evil as Sanjeet Anand. If he decided to destroy someone, he would, for no reason and revel in pure joy.

It was performance appraisal time, and he used decimal points in the excel sheet in a manner, that the score of people he did not like fell below the median line. He would have sufficient reason to chuck them out.

It was Clarice, his courageous secretary, who corrected the formula to bring many employees above the median line. I could only thank her for being what she was, not for what she did.

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A Horse of a Different Color (and gender and dietary preferences and gait and name) by D. Avery

“Hmmph. I delare!”

“Clarify?”

“Clarice! We have ta write about Clarice?!”

“Clearly, Kid.”

“Concisely!”

“Think ya mean ‘precisely’.”

“Z’actly. 99 words. No more, no less.”

“Thet heps with clarity, don’tcha think, Kid?”

“Not clarity. Clarice! I need hep with this Clarice prompt.”

“Here’s Frankie’s with the mail. Frankie, where’s ol’ Burt?

“He’s on furlough. Because of eatin’ up Doug’s flash.”

“Oh, yeah. Well, this un’s a fine lookin’ filly. But why’re you sportin’ a eye-patch today?”

“This filly’s got a rough gait, Pal. Bounced me so hard, I had trouble keepin’ my eye off the road. Dang Clarice.”

“Clarice!”

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Stories From the Open Road

Out of the confines, the open road calls. A winding ribbon of mapless tar or a straight path with a determined destination. It’s a journey, a diversion, a means to the end. Whether enjoying or escaping, the open road has stories at ever mile marker.

And who better to craft such stories than those on the writer’s road? This week, writers packed light and traveled where the prompt took them.

The following is based on the February 27, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the open road.

PART I (10-minute read)

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Wide Open by clfalcone *

The open road stretched like a contrasting asphalt ribbon plying the desolate range. Iridescent hues painted the darkening sunset as stars began their evening dance.

Night soon, then frost, bitter cold.

He slouched next to his luggage, amazed, shocked. The pickup pulled away, tailpipe smoking, stranding him. He was in the Wilderness now, mountainous prairie where harsh winds blew at night, five miles from civilization.

He hadn’t wanted to be let off here but some people get touchy about religion, politics, economics.

Slinging his backpack, laptop bag, he began the trek west, dragging his suitcase towards the sun.

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Looking for Love by Norah Colvin

Rainbow Cat clawed through the rubble. One by one she pulled out the survivors — Little Red Riding Hood, Little Miss Muffet, The Gingerbread Man; even Wolf who promised to behave.

“Where are we going?” squealed the Three Little Pigs as they piled onto the bus.

“Where children will love us, like before.”

For many, this was their first time beyond the covers of a book. As the bus roared down the open road, they peered through the windscreen and out the windows, dreaming up new adventures yet untold.

Spontaneously, they burst into a chorus of On the Road Again.

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An Australian on the Road in Tenby, Wales by Doug Jacquier

At the Buccaneer Pub, inside the walls of the old town, I’m drinking with ancients like myself, pretending to be interested in rugby, while they pretend to be interested in cricket, but neither of us fakes their distrust of the Royals. Although it must be said that the man in the top hat and overalls, feeding his bar-stool-perched water spaniel some crisps and Guinness, is a little less harsh than his mates. He would allow them to take their own lives come the revolution. ‘Your round, convict lad,’ smiles Top Hat, ‘and mine next if the dog thinks you’re funny.”

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The Road To Where? by Hugh Roberts

Thank goodness nobody else was in the room, thought Mike. Putting the gun away, the sound of meowing from the other side of his hotel room door startled him. He hesitated before moving towards it.

***

Having decided to follow the meowing cat, Sophie was shocked by what she saw as she turned the corner of the hotel corridor. In front of her, an open road with a cat running towards the horizon. Should she follow it?

***

Two floors above, Doug’s dream continued. Rainbow, the cat, reappeared, only this time somebody was following the feline. “Don’t follow,” he murmured.

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Changes by Sascha Darlington

A visit to Vegas, the Grand Canyon; I’d had enough of you. We still had Yellowstone ahead of us. The good thing was that I didn’t have an easy weapon at hand.

At the Day’s Inn, you made me waffles. A good start.

We drove for hundreds of miles listening to Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, David Bowie.

My mood eased.

My first site in Yellowstone was a Golden Eagle. Magnificent.

Bison. Bear.

I laughed, amazed.

At the lodge, you gave me wine, my favorite red blend. The sun set in artist’s colors.

Chill, happy, I heard a wolf howl.

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Where it Leads by Bill Engleson

Once a month, usually a Friday or a Saturday, Barrington jumped into his SUV and hit the road.

He allowed himself forty-eight hours for a return trip to wherever the road led.

He maintained this schedule for seventeen years, ever since the year Clarice, his one and only true love, had packed her bags and disappeared.

Friends observed; “You won’t find her, Bar. She’s long gone.”

Barrington would neither confirm nor deny that his monthly pilgrimage was in search of Clarice.

All he would publicly allow is that, “driving comforts my restless spirit”.

Privately, he enjoyed his dark secret.

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Road Trip by Sarah Brentyn

“This isn’t going to end well, is it.”

He glanced in the rearview mirror. “That a question, little lady?”

“Not really,” she sighed. They’d just passed the exit to Jimmy’s Ice Cream, where he’d promised to bring her. Why the hell had she hitchhiked? Whatever happened now would be her own damn fault. Idiot. Her dead cell phone may soon have some company.

“Well,” he cleared his throat. “This ain’t no fun.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, join the club.”

“You ain’t scared?”

“Eh.”

He slid a gun from his waistband. “Now?”

“Cool. Can I see that?”

“Er…sure.”

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Hitchhiker by Joanne Fisher

Zoe rode down the open road. These days it was all open road since the cataclysm. She was happy to have a motorbike that worked and enough fuel to get over the other side of the desert.

She was surprised to see a lone figure standing by the road. A woman covered in dust.

“You’re the first person I’ve seen in a while.” Zoe told her.

“Where you heading?”

“Nowhere.” Zoe replied.

“Weird! I’m headed there too!” she smiled. “Can I catch a lift?”

“Sure.” The woman got on and put her arms around Zoe’s waist. They drove off.

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The Open Road by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The Chevy accelerates and tops the hill’s summit, before twisting and plunging into the ravine. A duffle bag and body detach, and arc onto the dirt shoulder. They disappear into the dust cloud created by the truck’s struggle with the gravel road.

A crackling of glass and steel, the whoosh of explosion, and there is silence.

Crickets resume, wheat fields undulating like a cat avoiding, yet relishing a caress.

Amy sits up, pulls her duffle over and on to her shoulder. The dust cloud dissipates. The way is now clear.

She rises, slapping her knees. She loves new beginnings.

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Manipulative Machinery or Convoluted Computing by JulesPaige

Before GPS it was all maps, numbers and charts. And even with teasing; it was no go for the children to drive. All we could do was stare out the windows. On the long trip south to visit grandparents.

Now we don’t even use the do-dad that had to be uploaded with maps. Since one of us has a smartphone (not me). While most of the time just plugging in the address works. Sometimes one has to be aware of alternate routes.

We laugh heartily at ‘The Voice’ when we make a pit stop. And ‘she’ haughtily says; recalculating.

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Sunday Drive (Part 1) by Susan Zutautas

What do you want to do today?

It’s beautiful out, let’s go up to Mount Rainier, we can stop in at The Paradise Inn for lunch.

Okay, sounds good, let’s go!

Along the way the weather started to get bad but on they trudged through the blizzard.

I wasn’t expecting this kind of weather in March, do you think we should head back?

Not really, let’s keep going, it might clear up. I want that lunch you promised me.

Ha, ha, always thinking of your stomach.

When they finally arrived, they walked up to the restaurant. Closed till May.

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Sunday Drive (Part 2) by Susan Zutautas

Oh great, I thought they were open all year round. Sorry, we’ll just have to stop somewhere on the drive back.

I’m famished but I guess I’ll have to wait. Let’s go for a little hike while we’re here though. You didn’t happen to bring our snowshoes, did you?

No, I really wasn’t expecting we’d need them today. It is beautiful back in Seattle, and I just assumed it would be the same up here.

Perhaps we should have checked the forecast.

You think!

Let’s just drive back, but I’m expecting that lunch.

Okay, okay, we’ll get that lunch.

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Sunday Drive (Part 3) by Susan Zutautas

Hey, I know a place that we’ve been wanting to try if you can hold on to your appetite for a bit. That Italian restaurant in Issaquah. What was it called?

Oh, I know the place you mean, Montalcino. That would be nice. I’ll look them up on my phone to make sure that they’re open on Sundays. YEAH! They’re open.

Okay good, now we have a destination.

After stuffing themselves on Italian Cuisine the couple headed back to Seattle.

What started out as a drive up to the mountain turned into a lovely day, like most Sunday drives.

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Travel Times by Susan Sleggs

Michael told his buddy, “Tessa’s daughter invited us to visit. It’s a seven hour drive, but Tessa wants to plan on nine, for meal and bathroom stops. I’m not used to making a long road trip with a woman. Is that normal?”

Tony rolled out a belly laugh, “Welcome to the land of traveling with a happy companion. Be glad she isn’t adding stops at quilt shops too. Your days of driving from home to destination without stopping are done. I call it a fair price.”

“Man, I’m having to learn a whole new way of thinking.”

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Open Road to Nowhere by by Lisa R. Howeler

They would leave together.

Hand in hand.

Alone, yet together on this journey. She was leaving behind all she’d ever known.

Her mother, sweet and tender.

Her father, hard and stubborn, yet she knew he loved her.

The man with her, Augustus, a Roman by birth, married her in secret in the home of Tehal, who’d been healed of her affliction by the touch of a garment.

Could she trust her future to this man with kind eyes and a caring heart?

She felt that she could, knowing they were both called to the open road.

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Evaluating Oblivion by Getaway Brick

“We are traversing on cracked pavement at a suboptimal speed.” Suki was always the pragmatist. I could mention that it was poetic, but that would be futile. “Seriously are you saying they still drive?” Signs flickered by methodically. “Every study of humanity’s culture leads to roads.” Suki shrugged. “Yeah that is why they are about to be extinct.” Probably. Projection charts tell a story of almost assured annihilation. But I had a feeling, Suki would call it a stupid feeling, that somewhere on this road was a story of redemption.

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Ancient Roads by Saifun Hassam

Early morning sunlight lit up the high plateau open road. Pierre was on his way to the Diamante Archeological Center.

He loved driving along this high open road. Over the centuries it had been transformed from a stony shepherd’s trail to a vital much traveled road linking the mountain and coastal communities.

Pierre thought of his own journey. He was a marine archeologist. Then travel along the Silk Road had sparked a growing interest in the history of ancient roads and communities. Now he was exploring the Trissente Sea, with its unusual shores, and its enigmatic inland Diamante Mountains.

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The Open Road by Waylynn

The open road. Hold that thought, that imagined vista of empty space. Roads have been around since the dawn of life itself. Animals follow the same migratory patterns across the seasons.

Northern European barbarians used wooden walkways while Romans left straight lines. Some highways are named after Roman routes. Others traversed mountaintops.

Today, there is a network of roads and highways that criss-cross the beautiful planet we inhabit, ranging from densely clustered city streets to the isolated back roads.

We pay the for the cost of solitude the open road offers by having to travel further to reach it.

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My Favourite Journey by Anita Dawes

The road to Tintagel
My favourite journey
The small towns and villages
we pass along the way
we stop as often as we can
check things out
learn a thing or two
along the way.
the long leafy lanes
where you can only see
blue skies, birds.
when the hedgerows lower
fields of green, yellow
sheep happily grazing
the world laid out
like a patchwork quilt
that goes on forever.
we pass Stonehenge
give a salute to the old stones
still standing
as much as I want to reach
journeys end
I wish it would go on forever please…

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Open Road by Donna Matthews

Sharon stares out the window. The garden needs tending, the grass mowing, and the tree trimming. But if she were honest with herself, she’d rather go to the dentist than face the Saturday chores. Sipping her hot coffee, she returns her attention to her current book titled, “The Open Road.” Reading chapter 11, the protagonist, a beautiful young girl in her 20s, is off on another one of her cross country adventures. Sharon can’t help but to feel wonderment for this make-believe gypsy…as if she were real. As if Sharon could somehow almost grasp her hand and join her.

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PART II (10-minute read)

Journey or Sole Journey by Deepa

it’s
your road
and
yours alone
others may
walk it
with you
but
no one
can walk it
for you!!!

My life is a beautiful train journey. I met many passengers, few who I became close, made new friends and relationships with few and fought with few. While this journey has twists and falls, I enjoyed every uphill and downhill moment. As the passengers got down at every station, I was unable to bear to see them getting down. Towards the end, I realize I am the only soul in the open road in search of the soul journey!

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Hotter Than a Pepper Sprout by Sherri Matthews

What could be hotter than a pepper sprout? And where was that place anyway…Jackson? I belted it out as a kid, but I’d be nineteen before I knew that kind of heat…hotter than hell, me and Jimmy, tearing up the highway in his Plymouth Dodge. But it isn’t Johnny Cash crooning from the 8-track; it’s Eddie Van Halen. And we’re not going to Jackson…still don’t know where it is. Half-way through the Mojave Desert, drinking beer and flying past the sign to Death Valley, we got the fever and we’re getting married as soon as we thunder into Vegas.

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Eyes Forward by Annette Rochelle Aben

Nine years packed into a few boxes and an old steamer trunk. Was there nothing else to show for all the ups and downs of a marriage? In perspective, that which was her past was miniscule compared to the opportunities which comprised her future.
Getting behind the wheel of her car, she felt gratitude for the hard work she and her therapist did to get her to even consider filing for divorce.

She was figuring it out. Turn the key. Fasten the seatbelt and adjust the rearview mirror. Wow, check out the view through the windshield. The open road.

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Less Traveled by D. Avery

“What?”

“Nothing.”

It was something, the same old something, but no point in arguing now. She’d be lucky if he wasn’t snoring in the car before they got home. No, he’d make it, because he was still complaining about the evening.

“Boring old fools, going on and on about their RV trip. Who cares? Open road adventures my ass. Who needs it?”

Almost there. She noted he’d filled the tank earlier.

“Just going to have a nightcap with the news lady.”

His snores were louder than the click of the door. With one light bag she hit the road.

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Viv’s Open Road Hair-Do by Charli Mills

Viv tossed the letter to where her long ginger locks scattered across the kitchen floor. “Goodbye, Hal. Fix your own damned dinner,” she wrote. She left the broken plate he’d flung at her when she served his scrambled eggs too dry. After he went to the copper mine, she bundled her clothes and sheared her curls without benefit of a mirror. Her scalped stung less without the weight of hair he could yank to get her attention. Irish whore no more. She was hitting the open road and taking his 1956 Ford Victoria, the only thing he ever loved.

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The Road by Allison Maruska

I pass under the last green light, sighing. Behind me is the city, the place I called home, and the person who made it impossible to stay: you.

I squeeze the wheel and glance in the rear view mirror.

My decision comes without explanation or apology, because you aren’t here to demand that I explain and apologize. I’ve shed the wet fur coat that is you. Funny how the one decision that may warrant an explanation won’t get one.

Ahead, the road stretches far, meeting the horizon. Somewhere along it is my future—one where I can simply live.

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Leaving by Lisa A. Listwa

Carla didn’t know what drove her decision. She only knew she needed to go.

She flew through the house, stuffing items into her duffel. From the bedroom, her favorite sweatshirt. His, really. Too bad. From the dining room she grabbed her current reading pile and a half-drunk Diet Coke.

She stamped down the three steps to the front door, paused by the kitchen. Crockpot on. Good.

She locked the front door and flung her bag into the back seat as she jumped into the convertible. She only looked in the rearview mirror once as she hit the open road.

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Open Road by FloridaBorne

I grew up in the house my parents still inhabit. I’d look up at the night sky to watch planes flying across the setting sun and wished for the thrill of soaring toward an unknown destination.

Mom would yell, “Janie, dinner!”

I’d grumble, “Pork ‘n beans? Again?”

There’s poor, and then there’s the “eating the same crap every night,” level of poor. That was us.

I entered college and never looked back.

A master’s degree in business, traveling to different places as an auditor, I look down from the plane and long for the comfort of my family home.

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Monday Morning by tracey

As I pulled out of the school parking lot I wondered what would happen if I turned left at the light instead of right? If I hopped on the interstate and just kept going north? How far away would I be before anyone realized I was gone? Would my family really miss me? Where would I go? Who would I be if I started my life over? What could I do if I lived my life only for myself? As I approached the light I dithered, right lane…or left lane? I smiled to myself as I made the turn.

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Highs and Lows by T. Marie Bertineau

She clutched a tattered bunny, her security in the highs and lows. “But where will we sleep?” she asked. He had woken her in the dusky pink morning, broken her dream of the spelling bee.

“Don’ much matter,” he said, and tousled her hair.

“But what about school?”

“You’ll get what you need.” He raised his chin, his arms outstretched. A northeasterly breeze siphoned a tear from his eye.

“Out there’s what matters. That there’s the real school.”

She traced the direction of his gaze, saw the melon sun lapping the horizon, luring him again, lighting the open road.

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Saturday by Pete Fanning

The Blue Ridge mountains sat against the electric blue sky as we barreled down Route 29. Dad rested his left arm on the door—we always laughed about his mismatched tan—talking about some car he’d found in the classified section.

I think he just liked to drive. I did. Saturday mornings were the only time I had him to myself. And now, as the wind flew through our hair, drowning out the radio as we faced the wide-open Saturday that lay before us, I set my own arm out the window, hoping the sun would do the rest.

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Rediscovering Freedom by Jo Hawk

In our family cubicle, Grandfather told stories of his time before The Glitch.

Hushed whispers painted an unbelievable alien world. He spoke of blue skies, green grass, tall trees, and wild animals who roamed across continents. He said nature’s wind caressed his skin like a lover’s exhaled breath. When he closed his eyes, my favorite recitations began. His calmness and joy infected us, and his hypnotic voice recounted tales of the open road.

They labeled his accounts as mere rantings from a senile old man, but I believed.

In his name, we escaped and became the Open Road Warriors.

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Just. Keep. Walking. by Anne Goodwin

Planed wood. Woven fabric. Sheeted glass. Makes? Not her place. Not her clothes. Not her smell.

So she walks. She walks and she walks. Away from this nowhere. To a? To find.

A white painted line guides her. A white line smack in the middle of the road ahead. It centres her. Keeps her straight. Until.

It swings. The lovely road swings away. Curves. If she follows she’ll topple. Off the edge of the earth.

She walks. Straight. Wall-grazed knees. Bush-scratched arms. Pool-wet feet.

Through his kitchen window, Mike spots her in his fishpond. Calls the care home. Again.

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Let’s Go! by Cara Stefano

The open road…It calls to me – let’s go!
There are times, so many times, that all I wish is to feel the wind in my hair.
Play that radio up loud and speed away – never to return!
Reinvent myself somewhere far away and start anew – who will I be tomorrow
When the sun rises on me once again?
Watch the silver ribbon river flashing by; Glimpse the songbirds in the verdant green along my path.
Change the channel and a new song plays.
I want to turn off here – let’s go this way now!

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Bearin’s by D. Avery

“Ever feel like hittin’ the road Pal?”

“Heck no, Kid. Look’t thet road in the picture. Hmmff. Looks as if it leads straight ta nowhere.”

“It’s straight like that so ya cain’t go ‘round the bend. I’m worried ‘bout Shorty. ‘Fraid she’s losin’ her bearin’s.”

“Jist her wheel bearin’s Kid. She’s on the road ta her North Star. Shorty’s picked the right path. She’ll find her way through storms a distraction.”

“S’pose so, Pal. Was about this time a year I got cabin fever so bad I took ta the road. Ended up here.”

“Still findin’ yer way, Kid.”

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A Library Cat Named Rainbow

Here’s the situation — a library cat named Rainbow escaped. Where she went, is anybody’s guess. Why would she leave the library? Was she captive or missed? A single situation causes us to ask questions and wonder what happens next.

Thus writers accepted the task of crafting a story from the situation, which is a style of drafting. Find out where Rainbow led this week.

The following stories are based on February 20, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a library cat named Rainbow who escapes.

PART I (10-minute read)

Reluctant Rainbow Rebounds by JulesPaige

Rainbow rabbeted, ran right, ran rough
Ricocheting rallying roars; “Return! Return!”
Rants rippled, reformed, repeated.
Rainbow remained rapidly running.
Rainbow replicated rough ruses.
Rounding readied roadblocks,
Reaching rabble-rousing republicans
Rainbow resisted raw rhetoric.
Rainbow ran ragged roads
Reaching red roofs, rested.
Rescuers responded, rummaging ropes.
Rainbow refused rescue, resumed racing.
Rainbow ran Rupert’s raised red radish rows.
Rainbow roamed Rita’s rambling rose range.
Radiant Ramona remained, reorganized
Research regarding rambling Rainbow’s reunification.
Resisting ruinous retaliation rumbles.
Romanticizing; Ralph recited regulations.
Ruminating Raymond responded reluctantly.
Rank racers rode rusted ramblers remaining rueful.
Rainbow recalled Ramona relaxing…
Recalculated resplendent reassurances; returned.

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Rainbow’s End by D. Avery

Following close on snowy heels of library patrons, the cat escaped winter’s cold and never looked back.
Nobody claimed the stray; the cat with the bold stripes and bolder personality was allowed to keep its claim on the stuffed chair in Fiction.

When children read picture books aloud to him, the cat they called Rainbow purred blissfully.
Rainbow gained a reputation among adult browsers, pawing titles they might otherwise have passed by.
Finally returned from vacation, the cat’s owners followed the stories to the library.
Along with an endowment for books and for his care, they left Rainbow there.

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Escape to Narnia by T. Marie Bertineau

He had no choice. When his left front paw dislodged the First Edition of C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia, how could he have expected the entire wall of books to heave, creak, and lurch aside? His life had been lived within this labyrinth of oak and leather. The lonely little girl with whom he’d kept company had not once whispered mention of this phenomenon, this escape. He knew nothing of beyond—craved it nonetheless. And so, as he stood before the vast, black cavern, draft in his whiskers, damp in his pads, he tiptoed forth.

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Rainbow Makes Her Move by Charli Mills

Rainbow faked a yawn, stretched a declawed mitt toward a shelf of new releases in fiction, and calculated the distance to the door. She had made several tests runs the day before and knew how long the door opened before shutting. Preening her calico fur, Rainbow waited to blow this boring book joint. When a group of homeschoolers entered the library, she made her move on the open door. Swerving in and out of gangly legs like a feline slalom racer, she won the race and made it outside. Shivering beneath plumes of lake-effect snow, Rainbow calculated her reentry.

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Rainbow’s End by D. Avery

Following close on snowy heels of library patrons, the cat escaped winter’s cold and never looked back.
Nobody claimed the stray; the cat with the bold stripes and bolder personality was allowed to keep its claim on the stuffed chair in Fiction.

When children read picture books aloud to him, the cat they called Rainbow purred blissfully.
Rainbow gained a reputation among adult browsers, pawing titles they might otherwise have passed by.
Finally returned from vacation, the cat’s owners followed the stories to the library.
Along with an endowment for books and for his care, they left Rainbow there.

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Rainbow by Reena Saxena

Rainbow is nowhere to be seen. The place looks bleak. Grey clouds menacingly float on the sky, threatening a downpour.

I carry my raincoat as a precaution, also because it has pockets – large enough to hold Rainbow. I hear a purr of pure joy from the sidewalk. There is a kid holding Rainbow in his arms. A child’s imagination is boundless, and he sees this as ultimate happiness.

The downpour has started. I’m compelled to take away the rainbow from the child’s dreams, into the confines of a library with a musty smell. Rainbow’s mother, Kat is waiting there.

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Little Sally and the Library Cat by tedstrutz

Little Sally looked at the cat.

The cat looked at Little Sally.

‘What is a cat doing in a library,’ thought little Sally. Little Sally didn’t particularly care for cats; she thought they were sneaky.

The cat didn’t particularly care for little girls; she didn’t think they were trustworthy.

“What’s that cats name?“

“Rainbow,” said the lady behind the desk.

Little Sally thought she looked unhappy by the door. She thought of all cats as girls, all dogs, boys.

She opened the front door wide and Rainbow dashed out, ‘Good riddance, no sneaky library cats while I’m reading.’

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The Library Cat by Ruchira Khanna

Image result for image of a cat with glasses

Liz’s eyes went wide as a hawk.

The seat was empty!

After a couple of blinks, she was quick to walk to the librarian, Sasha, who was a wreck.

“What happened? Why did Rainbow escape from her chair?”

“I think Rainbow is bored; she refuses to sit and listen to the children’s stories. Now, they are devastated.”

After a brief pause, “You go find her, while I’ll get the right antidote.” said the confident Liz.

She was quick to pick up a handful of Tom and Jerry comics and hand them to the tearful children to read them aloud.

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Rainbow Leaves the Library / রামধনু লাইব্রেরি ছেড়ে যায় / Rāmadhanu lā’ibrēri chēṛē yāẏa by Anne Goodwin

Stirred from sleep by the siren, Rāmadhanu refused to open an eye. She’d retired from sex and mousing; it took more than a randy tom to tempt her from between the library stacks.

But the sound insisted. Nature obeyed. Rāmadhanu pawed the scorching pavements, dust tickling her nose.

Humans! She’d abandoned her nest for this? Yet instinct prevailed once again. As they meowed by drawing bows on tautened strings, Rāmadhanu joined in, her voice soaring heavenward.

Until muzzled by a memory, a tale of students martyred here for their mother tongue. Rāmadhanu tuned into the haunting melody. Music, bittersweet.

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The Black and White Cupcake by Michelle Wright

All day they listened to whining and wailing in the library. Young children were devastated that the library’s cat named Rainbow had ran away. An 11 year old girl sobbed, “He really was my rainbow. He made my black and white world colorful.”
Nobody knew why Rainbow would choose to leave. The truth was, he didn’t. When the library finally closed for the night, they came out of their homes in the walls.

“Was it really worth it?” Claudia, the mouse, asked.

Her brother, Dave, looked up at the cupcake on the desk then said, “Yes!”

And it was.

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Rainbow and the Librarian by Padmini Krishnan

Where was it now? Rainbow nudged an old copy of Oliver Twist. The powder was stashed on the first page of the second chapter. I offered it to Rainbow, the cat. He shook his head sternly. I shrugged and inhaled it. Heavenly! He winked at me and smiled with closed lips. I was on high while Rainbow scratched the books under Healthy Recipes. It was evening; I began to grow restless. I searched in the children’s picture books for my powder. “Rainbow, find it for me.” The window was open. Had he escaped? Was there a Rainbow at all?

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Finding Rainbow by Joanne Fisher

Cindy was in the library when she heard some pitiful meowing. There was a cat stuck under the shelves. Cindy lifted them so it was able to move. The cat was so skinny it must have been stuck for some time. She fished out the Pride flag that was in her handbag. With the cat wrapped up, she was able to lift it out. It seemed to be the week for finding forlorn creatures.

“I’m going to take you home. I’m sure Jess won’t mind.” The cat purred in her arms. “I think I’ll call you Rainbow.” Cindy decided.

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Rainbow’s Heaven by M J Mallon

While cats hide, rainbows emblazon the sky with short-lived brilliance!

Rainbow the cat crept into the library one rainy day and never left. A confirmed cat bachelor his colourful tail had never been turned before. Not once! Until… a beautiful white cat stuck her pretty nose into his favourite book. She turned the pages with her cute paws. His imagination went wild. Rainbow imagined her to be the softest, fluffiest, most angelic being he’d ever seen. He didn’t hesitate; he followed her out the door. Purring, he realised that heaven’s shelves overflowed with rainbow books!

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PART II (10-minute read)

Lor’ Luv a Duck! Library Ball ov Fat. Know What I Mean? by Bill Engleson

Blimey! “Rainbow, me arse. Books! Books! Park me a trash can any day.”

Here she comes. Ain’t she da proper lady. A friggin’ catnapper but who’s ter know. Bin so long. Can’t barely remember da day. Still pret’y young, I was. Free. Collarless. It ‘ad rained da night befawer an’ I ‘ad snuck in’er a coal shute.

When da sun come up next day, I was aaaht an’ abaaaht when dis fancy car rolled up. She scooped me up in ‘er fur-draped arms an’ sped away.

Ain’t ge’in’ any younger. Bird Lime ter get a crackin back ‘ome. OK?

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Rainbow by Hugh Roberts

Doug watched as the dog sat next to the stranger, turned into a cat named Rainbow. Holding a library book in its mouth, Rainbow jumped out of the picture and disappeared.

***

Two floors below, Sophie decided it was time to find out the answer. The ‘ping’ of the elevator doors opening stopped her from knocking on Mike’s door. She watched in disbelief as a cat exited the lift.

***

Aiming the revolver at the door of his hotel room, Mike made the sound of a gunshot before sneezing loudly. Only cats made him sneeze. Hotels didn’t have cats, did they?

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Rainbow’s Adventure by Susan Sleggs

In high spirits, the veterans loaded the van after finishing their inaugural concert at the library. No one noticed Rainbow, the resident library cat, scoot out the door, jump into the van and hide under equipment.

After stopping for a leisurely meal, when opening the van door, Rainbow leaped into a surprised Tessa’s arms. “You little sneak! We’ll have to take you home.”

Rainbow sat like a queen on Michael’s lap looking out the window on the return drive.
The staff was relieved to see her. “Odd, she’s never done that before. She must have liked your patriotic music.”

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Rainbow by Donna Matthews

I never met the cat they call Rainbow. I wonder who gave her the name? Is it because she’s a calico cat…with her multiple colors of brown, black, and white. Or maybe because of her one blue eye and one green eye.

Anywho, I digress. My daughter Marnie is inconsolable because Rainbow escaped from the library last night. The accomplice, a window left open after the beautiful spring day. Her tender heart has imagined all the worst outcomes for the missing Rainbow. But, thankfully, she wrong. Rainbow has hid in the basement…with her brand new litter of six kittens.

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The Library Cat by Norah Colvin

The library cat is fatter than fat.
She sits by the door on the welcome mat.
She greets the readers as they come in —
Nods her head with a welcome grin.

Sometimes she’s in. Sometimes she’s out.
She’s especially quiet when a reader’s about.
She sits so still you can see her purr
When the reader strokes her rainbow fur.

She’s heard every story there is to be told.
Even the classics never grow old.
But read her stories of adventures rare
She twitches her whiskers, “I’ve been there.
No need of a cape. Reading books is my escape.”

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Library Cat by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Ms. Lillian’s shoes padded down the archived stacks, overhead lights cooling to darkness in her wake. “Here Rainbow kitty! Time to go. There’s a bowl of kibble at home with your name on it!”

He flattened himself down behind the top stack in the Egyptian collection. He loved her: she supplied quality food, kept the litter box scooped, was head librarian overseeing the University’s rare collections wing. He just wasn’t in the mood.

She knew this. “Tomorrow, then!”

He opened the dusty tome, growling, searching for his real identity. Who the hell names a black cat “Rainbow”? Stupid humans!

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Harbor Cat by Saifun Hassam

Rainbow sauntered casually to the Harbor Library’s open back door. She breathed in the heady scent of fish, seaweed and salty sea mists. Streaking out the door, she ran along the stony trail to a hidden cove.

Ah, familiar grounds, her original home, harbor master Roger’s houseboat. She padded up the rickety gangway and lunched on smelt. A short nap, an exploration along the sedge, she was back at the Library.

No one was any the wiser. She bounded up the stairs, to her favorite windowsill. She fell asleep, gazing out to sea and dreaming of her next escapade.

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The Escape Plan by Susan Zutautas

Rainbow, held captive, couldn’t take this anymore; she had to get out of this library. She’d miss the children who came in that paid attention to her but not the head librarian, who thought she was just a mouser.

Back when people used libraries to borrow books it was more interesting. Nowadays it’s children that come to take art classes.

She had a plan. She’d jump into one of the children’s bags and escape. That afternoon she saw the perfect opportunity and jumped on it only to find out she’d picked the wrong bag … the librarian’s kid’s bag.

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Rainbow’s Escape by Colleen M. Chesebro

Jimmy gathered his belongings. “Now, remember Rainbow, stay hidden,” he whispered to the calico cat hunched inside his backpack. “Mrs. Walters will never miss you for one night.”

Rainbow purred as the boy pushed through the main doors of the library. He ran toward home.

“Grammy, you awake? I’ve got a surprise for you.” Jimmy slipped through the door and opened the backpack. An orange streak of fur darted down the hallway.

Grammy lay in her bed cuddling the cat. “Thank you, Jimmy. After today’s chemo, seeing Rainbow again is what I needed. Thank you for bringing him home.”

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Somewhere Out There by Annette Rochelle Aben

Rainbow grew up in the library, having been left on their doorstep in a box of donated books when he was a mere three weeks old. Everyone doted on him to ensure he would survive. He grew up lazing in laps, being read to.

His favorite lap belonged to an elderly blind woman whose granddaughter brought her every day precisely at two. For a delightful hour, everyone was happily lost in a book.

Rainbow was confused, the old woman hadn’t been in for a week. Believing he could, when no one was looking, he slipped out to find her.

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Rainbow in the Sky With Sparkles by Chelsea Owens

“We’re here, live, at the public library, with an …interesting story. Here’s head librarian, Mrs. Scootz, to tell us more.”

“I am MS. SCHOTZ, and am the Media Specialist Director.”

“Sorry, I -”

“As to the ‘interesting’ story you reference, well! that is clearly all ‘story.’”

“I don’t see how -”

“Oh, I ken help ye, Cutie!”

“It’s Kat, on-site reporter for KNN News. And you are …?”

“Hank, but you ken call me Hunk!”

“Rrright. Um… Hunk, can you tell us about Rainbow the library cat?”

“Shore shootin’! Las’ time I saw ‘er, Rainbow was blastin’ into space wit’ m’dog, Sparkles!”

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Do Ya Like Ma Hat? by D. Avery

“Kid, why’s thet ten gallon hat ya got fer yer half-pint head skiddin’ towards the door?”

“Why, there’s a cat in the hat! Must be from the library.”

“Ya picked up The Cat In the Hat at the library?”

“Took ma hat off when I was there, musta put it over their Rainbow.”

“An’ accidently kept the library cat under yer hat the whole way home? Thet’s an unlikely situation Kid.”

“It’s ma story an’ I’m stickin’ with it, Pal.”

“I kin tell ya what happens next. Yer takin’ thet cat back!”

“Or… we keep it!”

“Go, Kid. Go.”

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The Sugar Report

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

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

The following are based on the

PART I (10-minute read)

The Female Pilot by Joanne Fisher

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

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

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Right Direction by Reena Saxena

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

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

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

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

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1917 Sugar Report by Jules Dixon

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

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Dear, Sweet Sugar Report by Chelsea Owens

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

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

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

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

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

“Aha!” Flanagan said, “I knew it.”

“Knew what?”

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

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Mail Drop by D. Avery

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

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

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

“Time to draw straws.”

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

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Sugar Sugar by Kerry E.B. Black

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

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Mail for You by Padmini Krishnan

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

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

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

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

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Sweet Words of Home by D. Avery

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

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

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

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

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Sugar Report by Jacquie Biggar

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

Darling Ken,

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

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

Love you always and all ways,
Sara

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

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Found Letters by Susan Zutautas

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

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1917 Sugar Report by Charli Mills

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

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Sweet Roses by Saifun Hassam

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

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

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

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Future Days by Sascha Darlington

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

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

“You must tell him.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Together.

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Send ‘Em a Letter by Susan Sleggs

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

There were murmurs of surprise and dismay.

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

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PART II (10-minute read)

Sweet Lamb by Sherri Matthews

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

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Alex’s Sugar Report by Lisa R. Howeler

“Warner. Mail.”

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

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

“What’s that, Alex? A sugar letter?”

Alex let out a long sigh. “Indeed.”

“What’s it say?”

Alex read the words. The smile faded.

“Bad news?” Matthew asked.

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

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Sugar Report by FloridaBorne

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

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

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

Same thing from his girlfriend: gossip.

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

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

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

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Sugar Report: Code Red by Lisa Listwa

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

“How was school today?”

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

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

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

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

“Oh yeah!” said the Kid. “I forgot!”

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

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

Great, thought Mom. Code Red Dye.

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Valentine’s Day at School by tracey robinson

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

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

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

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My Sugar Report by Colleen M. Chesebro

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

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

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

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Sugar Report by Anita Dawes

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

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Sugar Letter by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

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

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

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

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

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Clewiston, 1973 by magpie477

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

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

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Sugar Report by M J Mallon

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

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

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Back Before Email and Text by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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Letter of Intent by JulesPaige

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

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

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

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

Ife’s rose scent wafted gently through…

🥕🥕🥕

Torn by Hugh Roberts

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

***

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

***

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

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Dispatch From my Third Floor Cubicle by Bill Engleson

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

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

I almost tossed my cookies.

Your valentine-shaped peanut butter cookies.

Work is such dense warfare.

🥕🥕🥕

The Sweet Price of Freedom by Curious Archaeologist

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

His colleague looked up, surprised.

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Frankie Rides. Again by D. Avery

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

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

“What d’ya mean, Kid?”

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

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

“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Dog in the Daisies

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Ode to Bobo by Susan Zutautas

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

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

Oh, sweet pup of mine

I take this as a sign

That you’ve been thinking of me

Letting me know you’re running free

We will meet again one day

We will run, we will play

🥕🥕🥕

Life’s Cycle by Jacquie Biggar

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

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

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

“Come,” he said. “We must go.”

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

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Dog in the Daisies by Charli Mills

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

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To Everything by D. Avery

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

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

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

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

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Good Boy by Michael Guy Rua

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

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

He died before his 7th birthday.

Soon after, a dog appeared amongst the blooming daisies.

What a marvel!

🥕🥕🥕

This Puppy with a Cold Wet Nose by Donna Matthews

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

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Doggie Grace by Bill Engleson

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Loyalty by Padmini Krishnan

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

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Daisy by FloridaBorne

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

But none were like Daisy.

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

What made Daisy outstanding in a field of other dogs?

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

🥕🥕🥕

Dog in the Daisies by M J Mallon

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

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

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

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

Bandit barked.

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

‘Woof!’

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

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Goodbye by Ritu Bhathal

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

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

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

“He’s not coming back, is he?”

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

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

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Dog in the Daisies by Anita Dawes

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

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Good Dog! by Liz Husebye Hartmann

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Out of the Fire by Lisa R. Howeler

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

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

“Rufus! You’re alive!”

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

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A Dog’s Power by Susan Sleggs

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

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

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George by Lisa A. Listwa

George was a very blue dog.

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Visiting Mickey by Kerry E.B. Black

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

Past tense took getting used to.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Here Boy by Annette Rochelle Aben

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

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Dog in the Daisies by tedstrutz

“Hello, Ethel.”

“Cheryl, to what do I owe the honor?”

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Dog in the Daisies by Joanne Fisher

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

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

“We should keep them.” Cindy told her.

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

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Things We Do for Love by Jo Hawk

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

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

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

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JJ by Saifun Hassam

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Buck by Nancy Brady

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Memory Now Faded And Pastel… by JulesPaige

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

🥕🥕🥕

Puppy Love by Vinci Lam

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Copperhead Capers by Kerry E.B. Black

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Dog in the Daisies by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

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

“Look, Papa, look,” she screams.

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

Is it a hyena?

Nothing moves in the vast stillness of the African night.

🥕🥕🥕

The Picture by Hugh Roberts

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

***

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

***

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

🥕🥕🥕

Star Gazing by D. Avery

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

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

“That’s your dog, Grammie.”

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

“She sees a Bigfoot in the bushes.”

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

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

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

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

“And what does she see me doing?”

“Silly. She sees you seeing me!”

“You wise child.”

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

🥕🥕🥕

My Kind of Dog by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Fred’s Best Friend by Chelsea Owens

“He’s in t’flowers again.”

“Mmm-hmmm.”

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

“Fraey-ed!”

“Mm?”

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

“Fred!”

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

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

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

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Mail Call by D. Avery

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

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

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

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

“Grievin’ are ya?””

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

🥕🥕🥕

Pullin’ T’gether by D. Avery

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

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

“Would I?!”

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

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

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

“Keep an eye on things?”

“Very funny, Kid.

🥕🥕🥕

Bodetta Bosephine (Bobo) The Original Dog in the Daisies

2006-2020

Read the A Teacher’s Reflection by Jennie

Bobo the Storyteller’s Dog

Mail Carriers

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Island Postal Service by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Postman by Anita Dawes

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

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Monotony by Allison Maruska

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

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

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

“Shit!”

A squirrel leaps out and bounces off my chest.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Attack on the Exeter Mail by Curious Archaeologist

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

Then

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Postman Pat by Ritu Bhathal

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

Until today.

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

A large, ferocious pet, apparently.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Confrontation by clfalcone *

New route plus fresh spring morning equaled walking.

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Route 6 by Sascha Darlington

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

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

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

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

And there’s always a surprise.

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Special Delivery by JulesPaige

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Restraint by T. Marie Bertineau

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

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

Today was the day—this had to stop.

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

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

And he nodded.

🥕🥕🥕

Plans Change by Susan Zutautas

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Sometimes the Old Ways Are the Best by FloridaBorne

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

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

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

Test anxiety meant failure.

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

Sometimes, the old ways are best.

🥕🥕🥕

Rita’s First Day by Joanne Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Carrying Mail by D. Avery

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

An Overworked Poem About the Post by Chelsea Owens

The post

Sky ghosts,

is never late.

‘gainst earthbound weight.

In backward cars

Self-lifted, ours

down country roads

with cloud-held loads

The smart-dressed man

The barefoot clan

(Or, smart wò-man)

(And –true– bare-hand)

Come round each day

Cavort and play

to drop a note

Whilst ‘letters’ float

turn down a flag

From heav’nly bags

for

For

Neither snow

When winds blow

nor rain

‘gainst wingèd pain

nor heat

Lofty feet

nor gloom of night

Always in flight

stays these couriers

Windflung ferriers

from the swift completion

Our mail tote: depletion

of their appointed rounds.

Soaring o’er the rabbl’ing ground.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Turning Point by Hugh W. Roberts

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

***

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

***

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

🥕🥕🥕

Lucy’s Letter by Padmini Krishnan

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

🥕🥕🥕

Dead-Letter Drop by Bill Engleson

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

That Knock by Geoff Le Pard

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Changing Vocations by Susan Sleggs

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Turning Points by Saifun Hassam

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

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

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

A grateful Travis recovered. Arlene became a paramedic.

🥕🥕🥕

Mail Carrier by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Mr. Prichard, are you home?”

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

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

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

“911 what’s your emergency?”

🥕🥕🥕

Mail Theft by tracey

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

On the Horns of a Dilemma by Margaret G. Hanna

“It’s easy. Everyone here does it.”

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Working Conditions (BOTS) by Nancy Brady

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Vestiges of Forgotten Purpose by Jo Hawk The Writer

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Dead Letters by Annette Rochelle Aben

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Tenacious Mailman by Ruchira Khanna

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Express Mail by D. Avery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Stories of a Bench

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

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Secrets and Moments by DG Kaye

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Stories to Tell by Anita Dawes

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

🥕🥕🥕

6am: The Empty Bench by Cara Stefano

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

🥕🥕🥕

06:00 Empty Park Bench by tracey

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

🥕🥕🥕

6:00 by Caroline Scott

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Observations from a Park Bench by Jo Hawk

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Park It by Bill Engleson

“You’re benched, Potter.”

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

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

“Then why you benching me?”

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

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

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

“As much as I can, Coach.”

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

9:00 by Nancy Brady

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

9:30 by Charli Mills

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

🥕🥕🥕

9.30 by Joanne Fisher

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

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

“My name is Penelope.” the woman said.

“Hi I’m Andrea.”

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

11:00 by D. Avery

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

🥕🥕🥕

11:30 by M J Mallon

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

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

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

It’s tranquil today,

November Rain, June Sunshine,

Seasons talk of Love,

Strolling side by side – Mists, gusts,

Welly boots squelching the earth.

🥕🥕🥕

The Bench by Floridaborne

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

This Is a Problem Llama by Donna Matthews

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

“Larry from the South, ” he replied.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

An Acrostic of the Subjected Subject by JulesPaige

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Reincarnated Love by Reena Saxena

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Bench by Ruchira Khanna

“I am tired.”

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Newton’s Gravity Story by Simon

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

15:00 Hours by Lisa A. Listwa

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

“Your first time in Paris, monsieur?”

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

“I’ve been…away for many years.”

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

15:30 to Midnight by Hugh Roberts

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

***

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

***

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

🥕🥕🥕

16:00 by Ritu Bhathal

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

🥕🥕🥕

16:00 You’re Gone by Sascha Darlington

A thousand voices echo. Reprimands. Insecurity.

I’ve lost it all.

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

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

“It’s over,” you said.

“I’m sorry. What can I do?”

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

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

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

Accepting truth.

🥕🥕🥕

16:30 by Saifun Hassam

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

16:48 by Pete Fanning

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

17:00 by Elpy

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

17:00 (Regrets) by Margaret G. Hanna

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

17:00 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

5 o’clock by Sam “Goldie” Kirk

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

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

Who knows how her life would have turned out…

🥕🥕🥕

17:00 by D. Avery

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

🥕🥕🥕

Babuska and Bengay by Kerry E.B. Black

17:00

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Hereafter, Aloft by Chelsea Owens

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

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

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

[Come with us.]

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

[Come fly.]

“…Why?”

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

 22:00 by clfalcone *

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Midnight by Susan Sleggs

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

23:30 by Nancy Brady

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Four O’clock by  Michael Fishman

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Bench by Ann Edall-Robson

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Park Bench by Christine Bialczak

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

Ten minutes later…

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

Finally, alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Aspirations and Sympathy by Kerry E.B. Black

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Benched by D. Avery

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

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

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

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

“Does the Ranch have a window like that?”

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

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

“Hmmff.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bench Pressing 99 Words by D. Avery

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

“So where ya headed, Kid?”

“Might’s well set in the Poet Tree.”

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

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

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

“I went where it led, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Protests

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Remember the Revolution by Doug Jacquier

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

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

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

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

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

And you decided to forget the revolution?

🥕🥕🥕

Standing by D. Avery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

My Way or Protest by Sam “Goldie” Kirk

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

She watched the waitress slowly approach the table.

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Child’s Protest by Ritu Bhathal

“No more slop! No more slop!”

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

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

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

A chorus of voices echoed his sentiments.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Small Protest by Chelsea Owens

“Won’t!” The small face scrunches.

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

“No no no!”

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Little Classroom Protest by Ellen Best

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Protest Proposal by Caroline Scott

He was going to do it.

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

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

She’d never seen a man so afraid.

“Will you marry me?”

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

“Yes.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Parent’s Nightmare by Jacquie Biggar

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Methinks We Doth Protest Too Much by Cara Stefano

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Gift of Music by Susan Sleggs

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Rebel Released by Ann Edall-Robson

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

“The whisper went through the halls of the school.

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

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

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

Liz closed the Yearbook with a laugh.

“My inner rebel had been released.”

🥕🥕🥕

Student Protest by Nancy Brady

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Joanne Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Not Mad, but Angry by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Protest by Lisa Listwa

Harold felt someone touch him.

Or did he?

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

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

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

Falling.

No. He was rising.

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

🥕🥕🥕

#81 Discharge? by JulesPaige

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

I Must Protest by H.R.R. Gorman

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Protest to God by Pedro Padilla

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Legacy Survived by Charli Mills

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

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Be The Change by Nobbinmaug

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

“Like what?”

“Protest.”

“Protest what?”

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

“Car washes.”

“What? You’re mocking me.”

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

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

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

“Maybe we should protest apathy.”

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Floridaborne

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

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

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

When can I rest?

🥕🥕🥕

Wait to Speak by Jules Dixon

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Pregnant Protest by Colleen M. Chesebro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Simon

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Protest by Teresa Grabs

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

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

Unless I tell him to.

“Go ahead, Davey.”

🥕🥕🥕

Confusion’s Blunt Knife by M J Mallon

‘I didn’t do it,’ he howled.

‘Stop your protesting, we saw you!’

‘It wasn’t me, it was them.’

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

Confusion handed the boy the knife. It was blunt.

‘Why you always blunt?’ he asked.

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

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

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

‘Who, or what are you, boy?’

‘I’m tight wound like this jacket.’

‘Strait, that’s what you are.’

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Dave Madden

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Attention/Protest by Liz Husebye Hartmann

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Gorge’s Protest by Nicole Osmond

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

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

I am forced to look away.

Its rage terrifies me.

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

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

Each soothing note of color stretching to arch its maker.

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In Protest of the Planet by DGKaye

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

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

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At Home in the Land of the Privileged by Bill Engleson

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

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

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

Larson. He was something else again.

Angry as a twister.

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

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The Protest by Lisa R. Howeler

Fern watched her father gathering his winter clothes together.

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

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

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

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

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

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Protest by Anita Dawes

Wave your hands in the air

Like you just don’t care!

They do care very much

About the conditions they work in

Too often the loos don’t flush

Water is turned off

Waiting repair

Which takes too long

Poor management in winter

Means working in the cold

This in turn, slows down production

Which means working late

No extra pay

Too many break times cancelled

People become sick

Our floor manager asked

For hot drinks to be made

Every four hours

This went down with management

like a lead balloon

it’s no wonder we’re shouting

and waving our arms…

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World Peace and Beetles by Donna Matthews

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

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

“Where the hell have you been?”

“Mom! Stay trippy, little hippie!”

On her arm, a little beetle tattoo.

OMG, wrong kind of Beatles.

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Stewardship by Saifun Hassam

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

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

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

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Prompted Protest by D. Avery

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

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

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

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

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

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Snowshoe Princess by D. Avery

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

“Writin’ after all Kid?”

“Yep.”

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

Princess Buckaroo retreated ta another story.*

“Lit out fer another tale?”

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

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

“What happened?!”

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

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