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Insect Nation Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Transformative Creatures by D. Avery

I need to find some inspiration
for this prompt of Insect Nation
I admire what some older writers did
using insects in stories for kids
But I lack their imagination.

Now I’m running out of time
guess I’ll fall back on simple rhyme
I’m no Collodi, Selden, or Dahl*
and my unfeathered hat is off to them all
with their crickets and grasshoppers so sublime.

Bold little creatures so humble and wise
from small shoulders they watch and advise
Personifications, perhaps, these storied side-kick teachers
But these insect people, tenacious achievers
they creep and they crawl and eventually fly

*authors of Pinocchio, Cricket In Times Square, James and the Giant Peach


A Nation or Symphony by Melissa Lemay

Cicadas lithely circle branches, their clicking sounds tiny metronomes, while crickets’ whistling chirrups fill the air and cryptic katydids, rasping, sing, one symphonic nation. Turning leaves rustle, influenced by secret winds, and stars speckle the sky, the inverse of freckled porcelain skin, frequented by mosquitos’ starving needle mouths. The striped bumbles and honeybees have gone away for the night to sleep, since there isn’t any light for them to collect their pollen and nectar. Brown marmorated stink bugs blend with tree bark, and grasshoppers’ crackling wings begin settling in, as red and black spotted lanternflies gather around silhouettes.


Bob the Bee by Margaret G. Hanna

She put down her crayons, grabbed the paper and ran into the kitchen.

“Mommy, a picture for you.”

Mommy sat down, hoisted her 5-year-old daughter onto her lap, and placed the paper on the table.

“Such a pretty picture of my flower garden. Look at that big bumble bee. I thought you were afraid of bees.”

“That’s Bob. He’s nice. He doesn’t bite like other bees.”

“Who is this?”

“That’s Susie. She’s a spider. See, that’s her web. She’s Bob’s bestest friend. That’s why he’s smiling.”

“You know what I’m going to do? Frame your drawing. It’s that good.”


🕷️ Insect Nation 🕷️ by Colleen Chesebro

“Welcome to 🕷️Insect Nation🕷️ a weekly show about all the creepy crawlies used in witchcraft. I’m your host, Morticia Widow-Maker. This week’s program is all about spider magic.”

“In folk magic, a spider eaten every morning will bestow great strength and power… if you can choke them down!”

“Did you know that spider legs make your potions stronger? Spider web silk rubbed on your skin will make your wrinkles disappear.”

“So, there you have it! Spiders are good for the craft. Just watch out for wolf spiders. They will make you sneeze!”

Morticia Widow-maker signing off. Until next time.


Survival of the Fittest by Dianne Borowski

The colony was under attack! Messages bounced from one antenna to another..

The enemy was fast approaching the colony of tiny creatures whose only purpose was to
ensure the survival of the species. It would eventually be a fight to the death for many of
the workers.

The phorid flies are on the move. Worker’s, especially foragers, are alerted and begin to
move toward the safety of the nest. When cornered the worker’s best option is to use the C position,
curling into a ball to protect its head from the fly’s deadly sting. The insect world, a microcosm of our
world. Amazing!


Mealtime Chit-Chat by Norah Colvin

“What have we got?” Finally, the stranger, now identified as Paul, asked a question.

“The usual for one of these shindigs,” said Josie. “Aunt Agnes’s lasagne, Clara’s meatballs, Priscilla’s chicken fricassee and Joe’s sliced meats.”

“And for dessert, there’s Marie’s apple pie and Josh’s lumpy custard. Looks like Great-Aunt Rose has added berries to her strawberry jelly,” said Josie, taking a scoop.

“Blaaah!” Josie spat the jelly. “That’s not a berry!”

“It’s just a fly.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Flies don’t hurt. Extra protein.”

“Then you have it,” said Josie, shoving the plate into him and storming off.


Insects: Busy Bodies by Sadje

Insects come in different sizes and colors! They are our co-inhibitors on this planet. Their number far exceeds that of all the animal species combined. And so is their importance!

Where would we be without our pollinators, the bees, the flies, the butterflies, the dragonflies, and even the mosquitoes? All working without us even helping them to make sure plants and crops grow, there are flowers for us to admire and vegetables to eat.

The ants, spiders, and other insects, all doing what nature has intended for them. None of them are out of balance or whack- except us!


If You Go Down to the Woods by Hugh W. Roberts

In the ancient woods, a spectral chill whispered through the leaves, carrying the wail of the Insect Nation’s forgotten souls.

Beetles, once known as sacred guardians, marched in supernatural processions. Fireflies, long extinguished, flickered like ghostly lanterns in the moonless night. Spiders wove threads of sorrow in their tattered webs, trapping echoes of their past.

But the creepy swarm of bluebottle flies sent shivers down the spine of all who trespassed. Their eerie hum was the insect kingdom’s tragic requiem, a reminder of their timeless dominion, unseen yet ever-present.

In the haunted woods, the Insect Nation’s phantoms reigned supreme.


Whining and Dining by D. Avery

“Thanks for always walking in front. Saving me from spider webs.”

“You know, spider webs are useful. Coagulant. Fiber. It’s time you got over your spider phobia. We’ve bigger problems.”

“Uh. I can’t stand any insects or creepy-crawlies. Why are there so many on the planet anyway?”

“Food chain.”

“Food chain! Mosquitoes are eating me alive!”

“We all feed the creepy-crawlies eventually. Now here, eat up. If we walk strong, we might reach a road today.”

“Food? How?”

“Gifts of nature, for the picking.”

“Yum. Crunchy and nutty… What is it?”

“Let’s just say I rustled up some grubs.”


The Spider in the Basement by Joanne Fisher

“You’re really into spiders aren’t you?” Valerie asked. There were pictures, models, and live spiders around the lounge.

“Yes.” Beatrice answered. “How about you?”

“I don’t care for insects.”

“Spiders aren’t insects, they are arachnids which also include mites, and scorpions.”

“Thanks for the info.”

“Want to see my wolf spider in the basement?” Beatrice asked.

“Uh, okay.”

In the basement Valerie saw a shadow in the corner. It suddenly moved. Valerie quickly ran back upstairs, but found the door was now locked. She watched the spider, that was far larger than her, approach. No one heard her screams.


Life Cycle by Ann Edall-Robson

“They know we’re here. We don’t have much time before they come from the sky to get us. Some of us will make it, some won’t. The ones that do, need to procreate to make sure our breed lives. We can’t all stick together. I suggest some start moving now to the next planned target.”

The flock of crows lifted off the branches of the trees surrounding the field. Circling, hovering, licking their lips at the prospects of the meal. Their assault on the insects is too late. Competition drones toward them. Crop-dusters swoop in for the kill.


Invasive by Raven Boerger

She is an unsuspecting ash tree with the strongest of roots, and he is a metallic, green beetle who burrows and bores, leaving marks of a swirled trail resembling a children’s maze. She is a bright, juicy lemon hanging firmly in place, and he is a nymph removing nectar from her shoots and replacing it with fresh, salivary toxins. She is a woman who spends an ample amount of time outside, tending to her garden, where she plans to make a freshly chopped salsa with her harvests, and he is a mosquito with the ferocious bite of a tiger.


Crickets in the House by Sue Spitlnik

When Tessa came home from shopping, Jester raised his head and thumped his tail once. Rainbow opened one eye, and

Michael waved from the couch.

Tessa asked, “No energetic greetings. What’s been happening?”

Michael mumbled, “Crickets.”


Michael sat up. “Two crickets chirping in here. Jester was running around trying to find them, and then Rainbow got in the mix. I swear, those insects did it on purpose, moving from place to place. I saw them hopping, but I couldn’t catch them either. We’re exhausted from the chase.”

Tessa laughed, and a cricket chirped. “It’ll be a noisy night.”

Note: Jester is the family mutt, and Rainbow is an older cat.


The Philosophizing Fruit Fly by Michael Fishman

I’ve got about a month here and all I do is worry. Almost 487 siblings and they don’t seem to think about this stuff, so what’s up with me?

I’m called an annoyance and that hurts. It’s not me – not my choice – I was hatched this way. So why does it bother me so much?

I have no appetite. The sibs, those that didn’t get tricked into the vinegar traps, are swarming that mushy melon rind that should have gone into the trash bin a day ago. They’re having the time of their life and I just sit.



Morning Has Come by Duane L Herrmann

“Get up! Get up!” Tatiyana poked her sleeping friend in a soft spot. He rolled over, softly moaned. He didn’t want to be awake, and tried to curl up, but found there was no room. All he could do was strecth, then wiggled out, hoping that no one would get him. “Watch for birds!” She called a warning.

“Now, I have a bit more space,” Tatiyana said as she woke up a light above her. Two were needed. She had tried to train them so they wouldn’t blink at the same time, but the fireflies had their own competition.


Regal Experience by JulesPaige

There was, that summer long ago, when I, the fearless Den Leader of Cub Scouts, ventured with my ‘boys’ and Tagalong baby brother across the bridge of the creek. I can only guess we were aiming for some nature badge. It was Tagalong that found the Monarch Cat (caterpillar).

I have a great tolerance for insects when they are outside of the house. However this time we took in the caterpillar. Made it a comfy home with twigs and milkweed. And then we waited. Our reward, the chrysalis with golden dots and then, the emerging Monarch butterfly we freed.


After the Fall by Anne Goodwin

We built new homes among the debris of their vanity. Our elders were suspicious, fearing stray survivors lurked behind those crumbling walls. They were a cruel species who’d swat us dead if we trespassed on the land they’d colonised. Of course, we celebrated their demise.

Our youth gorged on their rotting flesh and putrid entrails. Then they mated and their offspring feasted too. With food for future generations, and freedom from attack, our nation would prosper. But we’d stay humble. When vegetation submerged all traces of humanity, we’d repeat their story to our children as a warning. Hubris kills.


Making One’s Web and Lying In It by Bill Engleson

Nathan first noticed them in the early days of Covid. In his favourite bathroom ― he had two ― small flossy webs were being spun.
The daddy long-legs spinner located itself in a high corner.
Through the long months, the isolation, he conversed with Stanley.
Meaningful observations about life.
In time, at least two, maybe three other daddy long-legs moved in.
Livingston and Ralph, and possibly Donald, joined Stanley in creating a symphony of spidery webs.
Nathan studied them.
He wondered why he thought them male.
And decided it didn’t matter.
They brought him comfort.
It was almost love.


Migration of the Wasps by Mario Milizia

Every November, at my home, it gets colder, deer start nibbling at the birdfeeders, and wasps invade my home.

Wasps make their way down the chimney, past the closed vent and glass doors of the fireplace, over to the cool family room windows to hibernate.

Discovering their hiding place behind the drapes, I quickly trap them with a clear plastic cup, slide a thin cardboard ad under the cup’s edge, and throw them back into the cold outdoors.

I remember the pain of the bite as a kid. I would kill them all if my wife would let me!


Army-In-Waiting by Reena Saxena

“I feel like someone gnawing at my insides. I constantly live in fear of losing balance.”

“Your medical reports look fine. Maybe confidence-building measures will help. See a counsellor.”

The medical staff looks agitated as patients with brain fever are admitted to wards. The symptoms are different, making treatment all the more difficult.

“It looks like a new strain of virus, which cannot be detected with a microscope.” The doctor looks shaky, as the President and Army Chief are admitted to special wards.

Deep in the interiors, an army waits to take charge.

Humans will not rule any more.


Pollen Count 2, 3, 4 by Mr. Ohh!

Everybody gather round.

Amanda’s at the hive entrance, and I can smell the pollen on her legs. My antennae haven’t vibrated like this since the almond rush last spring.

Lillian, Watch the dance! Take note of the direction and distance. It looks like a large patch of flowers, and we sure can use one after so much rain and so little food.

All right here’s Amanda. It looks like flowers to the southwest at five-thousand yards. wait, she’s turning. More like southeast and three-thousand. No, she’s shifting!

Oh Drones! You have to hate a worker bee who likes disco.


In the Land of Insects by ladyleemaila

In a land of the very small insects
I came to visit and see their world
Ants build their nests, their treasures are buried
Termites are much older than the human race
Their soldiers and workers are usually blind
A grasshopper and a beetle fighting each one
How about spiders, where would they be?
Brazilian wandering spiders, their bites deathly
A tarantula can be a pet for its relatively harmless bite
Butterfly, bumble bee, I love their flights
Blue-fronted dancer, it bounces along its way
Insects are busy going about their daily activities
Don’t squeeze them, enjoy their beauties


It’s Unlikely a Chainsaw by Marsha Ingrao

Sure, I make lots of noise, but usually nobody but the girls ever find us. About a thousand of us were singing in the grass at Courthouse Square when this huge black thing with two holes poked me right in the face. I quit rubbing my legs, hoping it would go away. Then, this huge, hairy stick scratched me out of the grass. I saw its eyes. A giant pink thing slurped me up and carried me away miles from my friends.

“Arff, drop that huge bug right now! Cicadas are not toys!”

I fell hard. Everything went black.


Spiders by Jaye Marie

Spiders are a big problem in my family. Luckily, they seem to know this and rarely put in an appearance.

At least my family think so. I see them and know all their hideouts. Their webs give them away.

On those rare occasions when one does dare to put in an appearance and either runs across the floor, or turns up in the bath, I am the one my family scream for.

They tell me that September is the time when male spiders go hunting for a mate.

All I can say to them is, go pick another house!


S’warmin Ta the Idea by D. Avery

“This prompt’s really buggin me Kid.”

“Why Pal? Ain’t like ya have ta write fer it.”

“Thought this was a insect free place. No skeeters, black flies an sech. Now the Ranch’s crawlin with creepy responses.”

“Good thing too. Think bout settin by the fire Pal. Listen. Crickets! Kin ya ‘magine life without that sound? Now, ‘member earlier in the summer, all them flickerin flashin lightnin bugs?”

“Fireflies! Yep. ‘Member when we saw thet humminbird moth at Shorty’s flowers?”

“Yep! An all the butterflies an bees busy pollinatin em.”

“Birds, Kid! Swoopin an feedin on bugs.”

“Bugs is beautiful!”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Southwest Pumpkins Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

“Southwest Pumpkins” oil painting by TOJ. The following stories interpret visual art into literary art.

Paths to Pumpkins by Chel Owens

Elu knew his path. “Shimasaní told me the way my family walked before, and The Great Creator lights my way tomorrow.”

He stood near the tree under which his father had come into the world. The world might change around Elu and his tribe; the roots remained.

Elu thought of all this as he showed his first child how to direct the gathered rainwater to their fledgling gourds. Both watched the desert soil darken around each green bud.

“Will we have pumpkins for Halloween, Shizhé’é?”

Elu smiled at his son. “Yes.” He smiled wider. “But don’t tell your great-grandmother.”


Beware, The Witch by Mario Milizia

This once small, quiet, dusty town no longer exists. Survivors say it started when townspeople, led by the mayor, decided to burn the witch, nicknamed “Old Tumbleweed” out of her home. A cat saw the approaching mob, freaked out, and alerted the witch.

The top of this picture, the last transmitted by a reporter before his death, shows black, horizontal human remains littered across the desert; body counts etched onto the cauldron. The mayor’s sad eyes are permanently embedded into the ceramic vase as a warning to others.

New Mexico police have cordoned off the area.

Everyone. Stay Away!


Mabon Approaches by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Attention! The Sisterhood of the Raven is called to order. It’s time to plan for the second harvest festival of the year. What should we do for Mabon this year?” asked Morticia.

“I’ll bake the pumpkin pies,” said Luna.

“What are we going to wear?” asked Faeryn. Laughter erupted around the room.

Hilda listened. For her, Mabon was the time to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for the season’s blessings. It was the beginning of winter. It made her sad to say goodbye to summer.

“You okay, Hilda? Faeryn grinned.

“Hilda nodded. Yes. I’ll bring the sacred cauldron.”


A Visitor by D. Avery

He arrived at the edge of the patio as quietly as the stars appearing in the sky. Though my adobe home was remote, he did not surprise or frighten me.

Said his name was Jesús, but he was Diné.

I poured him water. Shared pepitas and pumpkin empanadas with him. How he enjoyed that! He talked about his grandmother’s pumpkin soup. Told me he was of the Pumpkin clan. He reached into his pockets, handed me some bean and corn seeds, bright as polished gemstones.

By sunrise he’d gone, towards the orange mesas, carrying the pumpkin I’d given him.


Autumn’s Tune by Anne Goodwin

I drape myself in robes of pumpkin colours. Friends scowl and ask if I’ve turned Buddhist. “An Autumnist,” I say.

As my hair grows back, they praise my resilience. I let them think I’ve won. I’ve squandered spring and summer accommodating other people. Autumn is for me.

When the evenings chill, I gather my friends around the bonfire. Serve them bowls of steaming soup. Listen to their talk of future projects. When I don’t contribute, I let them think I’m extra cautious. Don’t mention winter’s spite will put a freeze on this. Till then, I’ll dance to autumn’s tune.


Summer of the Red Sun by Dianne Borowski

The sun was red,
The earth parched.
Little grew that summer. Hunger was everywhere.
Many died.
We buried them with food, blankets,
Stones placed over the graves
Kept our dead safe from harm.
Grandmother cried and cried.
So many losses, so little food.
It was impossible for her
To leave our home anymore.
Each day she took her bowls
From the shelf.
She ran her fingers gently
Over her creations,
The works of her hands…
Ah, the pumpkin ,
Perfectly formed.
The summer of the red sun,
Grandmother died.
Her spirit became
One with the rain.
Forever watching over us.


Southern Pumpkins by Melissa Lemay

Aromas of nutmeg and clove mingled as the oven preheated. Every year she planted pumpkins. Right before summer’s turning, she gathered her harvest and spent weekends making pies, butters, jams, biscuits, pretty much anything pumpkin you could dream. She read her recipe as the late summer rain breezed through the window. The counter was lined with brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, butter, eggs, all makings of delectable fare.
“Whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt…” she checked that everything was right and began whisking the ingredients together in the large mixing bowl


Path To Prosperity By Gena Daman

Pumpkins in abundance signify it is time to harvest areas of one’s life.

Because pumpkins grow in different directions while staying connected, their presence encourages a mindset of trying a new path, knowing it does not have to be the final path.

This year she would make the fall passage.

Final preparations were under way for the send off. New glaze had been applied to the ceremonial pottery, marking her passage and binding it to prior ones.

She was now a layer, to be glazed over next year for someone else’s time. But for now, she was on top.


Harvest Joy by Duane L Herrmann

Nights were getting colder, time to bring the pumpkins in. Little Arrow was happy to help.

“We won’t be hungry this winter, will we Momma?” He asked hopefully.

“We will have food this winter,” she agreed.

“I like this one the best,” he said as he tried to pick up the largest one.

“Let me help you, it is as big as you are.”

He accepted the “help,” not realizing that his participation complicated the effort.

“Let’s put it here!” He said excitedly, pointing to space beside the green jar. “The colors are pretty together.”

And so, it sat.


A Dark Fall by Charli Mills

The darker the night, the heavier the stars sag until nearly touching the terra firma of Earth. The life of a star is stark and cold. They longed to bake in the playa of the southwest, to roast impaled like diamond marshmallows on sandstone spires, or to slumber in a desert hot springs. Sometimes, a star falls from the sky the way a child might roll from bed. When a star is lost; when a star is a trapped alien; when stars hide among us – they become pumpkins destined to infiltrate technology. A star falls to Earth. Destruction follows.


Autumn Offering by Kerry E.B. Black

I left an offering in a deep, red bowl, filled to the brim with good intentions. Alongside sat bottles of the best wines imported from lands where grass and glass were green, so unlike this foreign landscape with sand, not soil. I spilled a cup of cream, too, the way my Nan always did, from a blue crockery to attract good attention.

Why? To transform this adobe into whitewash and thatch, where jack o’lanterns guide souls.

But no helpful sprites came to call. The desert devoured all.

And I fear it won’t be long before I, too, become desiccated.


Ready for Harvest by ladyleemanila

ready for harvest, apples, pumpkins
children all excited to start the new term
let them enjoy the term, we say in prayers
let them learn all the lessons in the long-term
when autumn leaves seem to drown down the stream
light breaks over the horizon, that’s confirmed
magnificent season, top of the cream
autumn at its best and life is such a dream
carving pumpkins into jack o lanterns
apple bobbing and divination games
sceneries for plays and masks costumes
tapered served as thermal chimneys lanterns
fish and chips with salt and vinegar
played through the night some games


Autumnal Pumpkin’s Fate by Sadje

The crop was very good that year. Beautiful pumpkins, ready just near Halloween.

Billy picked up a nice pumpkin, by himself. It was just right for carving and making a Jack-o-lantern!

Since he was almost ten this year, his parents allowed him to do most of the carving. His mum, just pointing out where he should cut out the eyes and the mouth. He did need help with the teeth as the little knife he was given wasn’t very sharp.

He was very proud of the end result, especially when the candle lit inside threw out perfectly horror-able shadows!


Nature’s Paintbrush by JulesPaige

The wedding took place in New Mexico, outside of the museum. The reception was inside. October, while still warm, had the wind blowing the bride’s veil almost horizontal to the stunning southwestern landscape.

The groom’s parents still had a home not far from the event and that is where the family gathered the next day to continue celebrating the joining of the two families.

The russet colors of autumn were evident in the flowers that still bloomed. Would the groom call his bride ‘Pumpkin’?

mango, tangerine,
salmon, papaya, coral
apricot background

…such was nature’s paintbrush for the auspicious start.


A Still Life by Sue Spitulnik

The battered blue bowl sits empty by the well-loved green bottle of oil. The burning orange canister holding the flour has no dusty fingerprints on it this year. The items form a still life on the marred wooden work table. There is no reason to make the dough, for the young ones have left and are not there to enjoy the festival bread. The wine bottle remains capped, and the pumpkin sits unused. The elderly, too old to walk hundreds of miles, have no interest in celebrating, and they too, sit still, back in the dark shadows of loneliness.


The Art Institute by Michael Fishman

If she’d been standing anywhere else, I wouldn’t have seen her, but there, with the spotlight reflecting off her hair, she was striking.

The docent was talking about southwestern art in words I didn’t hear. She was absorbed, taking notes as the docent spoke. We were in front of “Southwest Pumpkins”, a glorious still life with vibrant autumn colors. Any other day, any other time, I would have focused on the painting, the brushstrokes and technique, but today I was absorbed by her.

She stopped writing, turned her head toward me. She smiled. I exhaled and walked toward her.


Savouring the Southwest by Ann Edall-Robson

The horizon’s distant desert sky and craggy rocks meld the scene. Remote hues contrast the soft, comforting sandstone colours where the still-life clay objects pose. Their designs depict life from long ago, reminiscent of their uses. Tall, thin-necked vessels made to hold precious water. Thick-rimmed bowls, a sturdy addition needed to prepare food. The drying pot, sculpted with vertical cat eye openings, dried the treasured pumpkin. The important food staple artistically included, expressing the significance of a fruit whose parts are all edible. Silent strokes across a canvas recite a story of history in the Southwest.


The Next Leg by Norah Colvin

The distant mountains did a thumbs up as if measuring how far the moon had still to travel before they’d reach their destination. While this taverna was welcoming, not all were so obliging, and the desert could never be thought of as a friend. They thanked their host and gathered their belongings, including replenished canteens and knapsacks. Grasping their hands firmly, the host wished them a safe journey. He advised on signs to seek and others to avoid. They bade farewell, but then, before they left, they finger framed the scene, a memory to guide them on their way.


Pumpkin Dream by Bill Engleson

I’d like to sip from my pumpkin jug,
I’d like to drink from a mountain stream,
the place of my childhood starting to tug,
toying with my memory and what I’ve seen.

Walked in the mountains, the hills of my youth.
Camped in the forest, deep in the wood.
Prayed for enlightenment, a rivulet of truth,
a sense I was doing the best that I could.

I’d still like to sip from my pumpkin gourd,
taste the sweet water from a mountain stream.
slip into the valley, hear a comforting word,
Know that I’m living in a pumpkin dream.


Cinderella by Reena Saxena

Cinderella casts a benign glance at her envious step-sisters,

“You can have all that you want – the Prince and the glass slippers. My authenticity demands that I walk barefoot.”

“But walk where?” The sisters are stuttering at her new-found confidence.

“The power to convert pumpkins into pathways was dormant within me. I will walk towards my dream destinations, without a vehicle, if needed. And I don’t need a prince to grant me respectability by kneeling to propose, or marrying me.

Someone who shares my vision will extend a hand someday, maybe or maybe not … it doesn’t matter really.”


IT by Margaret G. Hanna

Sid tripped, staggered, regained balance and continued running, occasionally glancing behind. Yes, IT was still thumping along, gaining ground.

“Why’s IT chasing me? Just because I said IT’s face was hideous? That IT would scare kids?”

“Hide! I gotta hide. Where? There. Up those stairs. IT can’t climb stairs.”

Sid clambered up the stairs. They went on forever. He glanced behind. “No! No way! IT is right behind me!”


Sid sat bolt upright in bed, gasping, sweating. “Thank heavens, it was only a dream.”


IT sat in his doorway, leering.

No one could ever explain Sid’s disappearance.


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

It’s Festa Time Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Food Is at the Center of All Celebrations by Sadje

In a country where opportunities for recreation are scarce, and our enjoyment is limited to eating, all our festivals revolve around food.

Be it a birthday, anniversary, graduation, promotion, or any other special occasion, we celebrate by eating.

The festival of Eid-ul-Fitr is the one where food takes on a special significance as it comes after a month of fasting. People usually think that after abstaining from eating food whenever they wanted, eating on this holy day is mandatory. So we cook, entertain, and eat like there’s no tomorrow!

Predictably many have regrets about their actions the next day!


Festival for Everyone but Grandma by Mario Milizia

Instead of going to festivals, as a kid, we visited my grandparent’s (Mom’s parents) house.

Grandma cooked on both a small gas and a large, cast iron, wood-heated stove. Food included handmade macaroni and sauce created from her garden tomatoes.

Dinner lasted three hours. Mom delivered new dishes every fifteen minutes. After initially eating, the men surrounded a small black and white television, playing cards. Us kids played outside.

Occasionally, Grandma would say, “Mongiare.” Italian for eat. Everybody would nibble more.

After, Grandma ate quickly and then cleaned up. Nobody ever complimented Grandma’s hard work. It was just expected.


Pride and Prejudices by Hugh W. Roberts

Amid the vibrant fiesta in my town that once silenced love’s diversity, Johnny and I dared to be ourselves.

No longer afraid, we clasped hands and weaved through the colourful crowds of acceptance.

Together, we two young men danced under the moonlit sky while rainbow butterflies fluttered around us.

This fiesta was more than just a celebration; it was a declaration of our love over prejudice.

Embraced by cheers and applause, we finally kissed, the world around us fading to insignificance.

Our love was a beacon at that moment, guiding others towards acceptance and a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow.


Brownies Idea Is a Winner by Sue Spitulnik

The conversation at the No Thanks was about raising money for the Irish Dancers. Mac said, “We have to come up with something no one else does for an annual event.”

Brownie looked at everyone. “Locally, we’ve already got an apple, grape, pumpkin, balloon, dogwood, lilac, and jazz festival. The only special food is grape pies. An’ they all sell the same junk food. The only thing we ain’t got is one for squash. Ain’t nobody gives it any credit.”

Mac’s eyes got big. “That’s it, we can have a squash festival.”

Brownie muttered, “Shoulda kept my trap shut.”


Family Fun by Norah Colvin

The celebration was progressing in the usual Festa fashion. The aunts huddled down one end, criticising and badmouthing anyone out of earshot, and even some who weren’t. The men propped up the bar ensuring they didn’t miss their fair share of the free-flowing beer. The children played spotlight outside, relishing the lack of supervision. Any young people whose protests had failed wished they were somewhere, anywhere, else. Including Josie. The stranger, who’d become more intriguing with the aunts’ warnings, was totally self-absorbed. Seems the cool exterior was just that. Nothing of substance below. Now what was Josie to do?


Eclipsed (Part I) by D. Avery

I made a new friend at school. She’s interesting. Her family celebrates blue moons with a traditional feast.

‘Just bring yourself’.

And here I am, sole guest. Her grandmother pinches my cheeks. Then my arms. ‘Stop, you’ll bruise her’. We all laugh. Her mom and dad, both wearing aprons, begin honing knives. Through the kitchen window I see the moon rising.

“Thank you again for having me,” I say. They smile, say it wouldn’t be a celebration without me. Then my arms are held, my throat neatly slit. My blood is caught in their traditional way. The moon fades.


The Curse by Simon

Dear God,

It is enchanting. To sit at the top of the roof, alone in the dark, with moon light. It is a special day, festa night is here, it’s an eye treat to view the rocket works decorates the sky.

Villagers pass on their wishes to you, so do I. You heard my wishes right?

If you give me opportunity, I am going to waste it. In reality magic doesn’t exist, I am matured enough to know that part. But please do a magic spell, and remove my curse called “FEAR”, because that’s my only barrier of all.


Alive and Dancing? by JulesPaige

summer ends
long weekend

Wind blows the white puff clouds across the blue sky; birds fly, leaves yellow, fall.

Some celebrate the return of students to school. Some have been lucky enough to have a family vacation down by the shore. Building sand castles, watching seagulls and maybe dolphins jump in the sea. For others the day passes as a birthday, some have cake, others toast.

On the table in a jar, summer blossoms celebrate the gift of the sun with pinks, purples, yellows, reds, whites and greens. Everyday is a fiesta when we can live life fully.


Squiggly by Bill Engleson

He was that kind of kid. Always squirming, like he had fleas. While he may have had fleas- okay, I know he had fleas- what he mostly had was beer drinking parents.
Serious beer drinkers.
Squiggly spent a lot of time outside, day and night.
My folks often brought him home to us.
He’d be crying, saying ‘beer…they drink all that beer.’
It wasn’t a secret.
‘Why?’ we’d ask.
‘Cause of Iceland.’
Squiggly’s folks were from Iceland
Iceland had banned beer during WW1.
His parents opposed that.
They went overboard with their protesting.
They desperately wanted Beer Emancipation Day.


Eclipsed (Part II) by D. Avery

My mother was surprised when the school called her, asking why I was absent. “She’s probably with friends,” my mom had replied. Good old Mom, the only person who would guess that. The school notified the cops.

Now that my whereabouts are unknown, I’m finally getting noticed at school. Everyone talks about me. The new girl just shrugs at their questions, and they quickly move on. Smart.

Yeah, she played me. Still… I had a friend and joined a real family in their traditions.

It felt good. That feeling only happens once in a blue moon. Truly worth celebrating.


The Spoiler by Dianne Borowski

The highlight of every Labor Day weekend was our trip to the church’s annual festival. It was hot and crowded that Sunday. The food was gross. Greasy spaghetti and rock hard bread had my stomach churning.

“Ma,” I yelled, “My stomach hurts!”

“Go to the john,” she said.

I didn’t make it to the stall. Some lady started screaming. Someone said, ” She’s Betty’s kid. Go get her.”

Ma slapped me hard and dragged me back to the table. We left.

The kids were crying and smacking me, telling me you stink. At home I got slapped again. Dang! I hate


Eclipsed Part III by D. Avery

Relatives I’d hardly seen while I was alive come to my funeral service, then afterwards gather in the back room of Gustav’s for food. I wonder who’ll pay for that.

Mom’s a wreck, as confused as she is sad. But what are you supposed to do when there’s no body? It’s been weeks, and I am gone without a trace. There’s no suspects, no leads, but Mom says she knows I’m dead, not missing.

My friend and her family aren’t here. I get that.

But that one time, short-lived as it was, I was the life of the party.


Flowers Always Mean Celebration by woundedcat

I was walking along an ordinary street when I suddenly came across a cluster of flower shops selling beautiful bundles of flowers with splashes of the brightest colors that contrasted against the dingy sidewalks and storefronts. In addition to the colorful array of sunflowers, daisies, carnations, and roses, there were life-sized stuffed animals and balloons. Some shops even had music and strobe lights to get shoppers in festive moods. It seemed that a banquet hall or a club was nearby, but as I walked a bit farther down the block, I saw it. A cemetery was right next door.


Say You Love Me With Flowers by woundedcat

Stone statues of Mother Mary were hovering over the departed to keep a watchful eye over the graves to ensure the spirits had escaped the earthly bodies only to be sent directly to heaven. The graves possessed built-in vases where flowers could be displayed as a sign of the life that was now buried under the engraved marble bearing their names. Indeed, the cemetery didn’t smell of death, as the fragrance of roses wafted in the air to fill visitors with an uplifting feeling of life. The streaks of color cropping up throughout the cemetery were symbols of lives celebrated.


Night That Never Ends by Simon

The shore reflects the festa nights enchanting view. It was loud, people were cheering, celebrating, praying, wishing to God.

While the hands of this little girl worked hard on making a statue out of sand. Her little fingers made it’s best to make a statue in memory of her late Mother. She kept the photo in front of the statue and hugs it tight closing her eyes.

Her tiny tears recalled the nights she spent watching the fireworks with her mom. She passed a note in the sea “Those were the days I wished it will never end Mom.”


Festa by Reena Saxena

“Did you celebrate all these ‘Days’ in your childhood? Now, it looks like I’m not a good son, if I don’t write a message to my father on Father’s Day.”

“What gets more ridiculous than that are love letters to your spouse or live-in partner published on social media on an anniversary or something? Oh, boy … you do live under the same roof, don’t you? Or do you connect only through Facebook?”

Anna echoes my opinion on the subject.

“So, how do we plan to celebrate our anniversary?”

“Right where we are … but with a digital detox.”


The Little Brown Bell by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s Festival of Poop takes place every August for the honour of winning the Dung Bell, a pat shaped trophy gifted by first winner, Sue Rage. When she retired because of a growing allergy to the obese flies (known locally as ‘walks’), Fi Cees took her mantle. Fi was a monumentalist, whose herd of Charolais deposited enormous sculptural turds that rivalled all waxworks for their facial as well as fecal accuracy. As soon as the winner was chosen, the MC closed the Festival by asking:

What’s brown and sounds like a bell?

To which the crowd chorused:



Pepe’s Sprout Shout Out by D. Avery

“Pepe LeGume!”

“Ello, Keed. Ello Pal. I am hopeeng you weel join me and Logatha for a fair la fête.”

“Fair la fête? You bet! What’re we celebratin?”

“The upcoming birth of our leetle bambeano! Eet ees strange, no, how life imeetates art.”

“Thinkin yer bass-ackwards on thet, LeGume. Yer the mimesis.”

“Why must you eenseest on being my nemesis, Pal? And no, I announced our bakeeng bambeano before Mees Shorty announced her grand. Eet ees no coeencidence.”

“Hmmf. An now yer havin a festa.”

“Fair la fête. Eet weel be, how you say, artsy-fartsy.”

“Yer half right, LeGume.”


How Ya Bean by D. Avery

“Ernie, come here.”

“What d’ya need, Frankie?”

“Need anuther set a eyes on this potluck signup sheet fer the LeGumes’ shindig.”

“Looks full ta me.”

“It’s full all right. Pal’s makin Shorty’s western-style baked beans, so Shorty’s makin Kid’s New England baked beans.”

“What’s Kid bringin?”



“An beans— Jamaican jerk.”

“Didn’t know Kid was Jamaican.”

“What’re you bringin, Ernie?”

“Bringin a salad.”

“Good! Things is lookin up. What kinda salad?”

“Uh, was gonna bring my three-bean salad.”

“Ugh, this festa stinks!”

“It’s got pot-ential.”

“Heard Wanda will be there.”

“Yep. She’s bringin her signature dessert.”




Dancin an Prancin by D. Avery

“Hello Frankie! We’re here!”

“Tip an Top, loud an proud. You two are certainly a sight for a sore eye. Glad yer comin ta the LeGume’s fair la fête.”

“Wouldn’t miss a party!”

“The Lemmon brothers are the party!”

“Only thing’ll be better dressed than us’ll be Top’s roast turkey and my fresh garden salad.”

“And we brought our dancin shoes!”

“Dancin? I’m not sure if there’ll be dancin at a baby shower.”

“Ello, ev’ree one.”


“Dere weel be music. I weel tune up. How ees da menu comeeng, Frankie?”

“Think it’ll strike a chord with ya, Pepe.”


Ain’t No I In Festa by D. Avery

“Frankie, tank you for helpeeng weeth dees party for Logatha and our leetle bambeeano.”

“Way I see it, a young’un is cause fer celebration, Pepe. You an Logatha’ll have yer hands full, but we fictional folks’ll all pitch in. That bambeano a yers’ll have plenny a characters ta hep it along.”

“Eet takes a ranch, no?”

“Yep. Which’s why I wanna ‘spress ma thanks fer this here weekly festa at Carrot Ranch. Ev’ry week Ranchers from all over the world show up, bring new stories ta the page, they read, they comment.”

“Dey are de life of the party!”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

The Weather Arrives Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

The Box (Part I) by D. Avery

Red sat, legs swinging, staring at the box her mother had told her to leave alone.

Red once told her Grandma about overhearing her mother claim that red-headed children were difficult, impulsive. Grandma had clucked sympathetically and reassured Red that she was just a curious child, and curiosity was a sign of intelligence.

Red wanted to know what was in that box. Maybe it was from Grandma!

Red stood over the box and read. “Handle With Care… hmm.”

Red tugged until the lid sprang open with a woosh! Every sort of weather imaginable swirled out. What could go wrong?


The Box (Part II) by D. Avery

Red struggled to lower the lid again, but the wind and rain conspired against her efforts. Just as she was weakening, Grandma arrived and helped her close and latch the box, with all the weather back inside.

Red could only nod when her Grandma asked if she’d been curious. But then Red regained her courage and suggested that maybe they could extract just warm sunny weather, leaving the rest.

Grandma encouraged Red to think what might happen over time if there was only one kind of weather.

Grandma, while praying for balance and moderation, opened and emptied the box.


Weather’s Arrival by Duane L Herrmann

On the central steppes of the continent, where there are no barriers to wind, weather can change quickly. Wind can be still, or gale force. Change can arrive from either the Arctic or the Tropics during a day. Morning can have one pattern of weather and the afternoon, the opposite. Living here, farming, one learns to watch the sky and its clouds. Dark, dark clouds can roll over the sky in minutes. You learn to be ready to change plans, sometimes drastically, on a moment’s notice. Life is exciting and the sky is awesome and commanding! Come, you’ll see.


Storm Ciara by Sweeter Than Nothing

With a crack of lightning and a torrent of rain, my life as I knew it was over.

Storm Ciara charged in on a Sunday morning wild and uncontainable, it was terrifying, exhilarating.

But then, falling in love always is, isn’t it?

She knocked on my door dripping wet, the storm outside raged, she shivered but there was fire in her eyes.

I should have known then I was in trouble.

That weekend devastated me, I lost everything to the stormy sea.

I gained you.

Ciara my love, how aptly they named you.

It took everything, you gave everything.


Fall Cometh by Sadje

The raging bull, that summer is, has us all sweating and pleading for its swift departure. It stays here for most of the year, leaving a few months of cooler, more pleasant weather.

Fall, the lady with golden hair with tints of auburn and red. She is shy and hesitant to come and show her pretty face despite so many longing for her.

The delicate foliage announces her arrival, quietly and stealthily.

“Rejoice mortals for the heat has gone for a little while at least. Come out and enjoy the beautiful spectacle nature has created for you!”

She announces.


The Queen of Winter by Colleen Chesebro

I watched as the storm approached. The wind howled. Rain lashed the window, obscuring my view. Wait… is that an old woman standing under the trees? No one should be out in this wild storm.

I ran outside as a booming voice rang out. “I am the Cailleach Béara. I command the winds of winter to blow!” The woman raised her arms skyward.

I stopped, fear halting my progress. This was the Hag of Béara, a goddess who brought winter with her wherever she appeared. She turned into a corvid and flew off.

The Queen of Winter had arrived.


Fog 90 by Ann Edall-Robson

Looking out the window at the lazy snow flakes settling in the grass; at this time of year it might be snow or rain. Glancing at the calendar, she wasn’t surprised to see the moisture. A note written on today’s square told her precipitation was expected. Sure enough, the old ways her grandmother had ingrained in her held true once again. No need to listen to the radio, TV, or check an app to know if moisture should happen. Her weather report: record the foggy days, count out 90 days, make the note FOG90 in the appropriate calendar square.


Ruby, Our Ruby by JulesPaige

We called her a hurricane. So full of energy. Everytime she entered the room a friendly type of chaos would ensue. One day she would take us by the hand, lead us through the darkness of impending storms of disagreements of how and who should live where and when.

She came from us. We first whispered then shouted. Both amazed and proud. That smile from her lips that went across her face from ear to ear. Instinctively knowing that the future was her gift, all she had to do was engulf the present each and every single day.


Whether the Weather by Norah Colvin

Thunderous footsteps echoed down the hall, announcing her arrival.

“Look what the storm blew in.” One aunt grimaced, nodding towards the figure in the doorway.

“I’d say she brought the storm with her. As usual,” said another, noticing the flashing eyes and dark clouds encircling her wild red hair.

“Don’t worry,” said a third. “It’ll just be a storm in her E-cup.”

“Don’t you mean teacup?” asked Josie.

“No,” said the third, patting her chest. “Elsie’s always too big for her E-cup.”

The aunts laughed, but as Elsie stormed towards them, their laughter evaporated as quickly as a sunshower.


The Rain by Simon

She waits for the dark clouds in the sky.

As it comes closer, as the rain drops touches her cheek, before the rain, her tears comes harder than rain. While everyone jumps in joy, she let her all worries out in tears like the pounding rain.

She wants to talk, she needs a shoulder, she needs a hug, but all she has now is the rain. Like the dark cloud is destined for her, it hears her silent cries, it tastes her silent tears, and it rains harder as if the rain decides to last until she is fine.


It’s Wally the Weatherman by Dianne Borowski

Hi There! I’m Wally the Weatherman for WWSSIN in Massapoeka, Wisconsin. Better get your raincoats and umbrellas ready because it’s gonna be raining cats and dogs in the morning. A storm front is moving West over the Great Lakes.

Chance of precipitation is 99.9%.

And now a word from our sponsor, Andy’s Used Cars, located at Fifth and Grange. You can’t get a better used car anywhere else in town.

Now remember this, Wisconsinites, winter is on the way and “Cheese it’s cold here.”


The Seasons to Be Cheerful by Geoff Le Pard

When Little Tittweaking experienced unusual weather patterns, meteorologist and sex therapist Hildegard Downpour suggested these were caused by its tendency to enjoy microclimaxes. A study showed what began in a drizzle of expectations, as the isobars filled with punters tended to fade into short sharp bursts of what ifs, that gradually gave way to longer periods of sunny-side dispositions, though occasional depressions could bubble up unexpectedly. Bands of perhapses would presage spells of maybes with more intense pulses of regrets in the early evenings. Longer spells of disappointments might be followed by intemperate stormings out amidst blizzards of misgivings.


Warning by Reena Saxena

“But there’s no water anywhere around here”
I exclaim on seeing a ship anchored to the threshold of my front door.
Thankfully, it’s a dream.

“Trevor, will you stop watching news and help me in the kitchen?”
“The city is getting flooded. Didn’t you hear thunder last night?”
“I saw a ship…” I stop in my tracks to see water trickling inside from the main entrance.

No, I didn’t hear the thunder. But I heard a warning and ignored it.
The ship announced the arrival of water. It needs to sail.

And we need a safe place to move.


Stormy Dissonance by Michael Fishman

Monk’s soft piano was the perfect accompaniment to the slow chopping of the watercress to top the salad.

The rain started softly, barely noticeable over ‘Round Midnight. It picked up when they finally sat down to eat.

The thunder cracked. Half past dinner. Lightning.

Then several quiet minutes while they focused on the food.

“It’s very good.”

“Thank you.”

“A new recipe.”


The conversation was stale. Cold as hail. Windy words thin as the braciole, dry as the chianti. The air was electrified, ready to ignite into flame.

A long peal of thunder and a torrent of rain.


The Orphan by D. Avery

All they ever did was talk about the weather. Wet or dry, warm or cold; how severe was it going to be; how long would it last? No matter the weather at any given time, it wasn’t enough or it was too much. Querulous predictions and constant complaints was the language of this village.

I tried to get the white-haired couple that raised me to speak of other things. But on the matter of where I’d come from they were quiet as snow on a windless night.

I left, a rainbow my only map, the sky brightening before me.


The Final Breaths of Summer by Hugh W. Roberts

Amidst the flags, my town celebrated love, welcoming the weather’s arrival that marked the final breaths of summer. Hearts bloomed like the June flowers.

Couples, regardless of gender, held hands, their love as natural as the warm sun that had kissed their cheeks.

But, like people, the weather could be erratic.

A sudden storm darkened the sky, raining on the love. But as resilient as a rainbow after the rain, love persisted.

Together, we weather life’s disruptions, proving that love knows no bounds, no matter the storm. It always shines as brilliantly as the sun emerging from the clouds.


The Coming Storm by Sassy

He sat on the rocking chair on the front porch knowing that the storm would hit at some point but still he sat just rocking away. He knew he could have avoided it altogether by choosing to leave before impending doom came but still he sat rocking and going no where. For far too long, he’d been comfortable, complacent really, and unwilling to do anything to shore up his world or leave it behind. Perhaps there was some denial there as well, denial that the big storm would never happen, never actually hit him. Oh, how wrong he was.


Brownie’s New Nickname by Sue Spitulnik

When the door of The No Thanks opened, Scottie said, “Crap, here comes the weatherman.”

Mac asked, “How did Brownie become the weatherman?”

“I call him that because he always has a smile on his face, just like a forecaster, but you don’t know if his temperament will be sunny, cloudy, or close to a tornado.”

Mac started chuckling and tried to escape to his office.

Brownie noticed Mac’s attempted departure and shouted, “What, I’m not good enough for a hello today?” His smile never changed, but he sounded angry.

Mac turned, “Howdy, you old grump.”

Everyone laughed together.


Unintentioned Art by Kerry E.B. Black

Her friends “ooh’ed” and “ahh’ed,” touching Selene’s freshly clipped and dyed hair. “It’s called peacock,” she explained as they fanned the feathery style from nearly purple to a copper, with blue surrounding all.

They grouped together, a knot of feminine fun strolling the outdoor art festival. While they admired the art, thunderclouds rumbled. “Hope it passes,” Selene expressed, but alas, the clouds disgorged. Rain trickled through Selene’s hair, pulled pigments, and ran in staining, blue rivulets.

The girls sought shelter. There, they pointed. “Selene, your dye bled.” “You look like a pictish warrior!” “No, she’s a work of art.”


Unexpected Weather by Ruchira

“Mom, it’s raining stones outside, and I have bruises all over,” Jules exclaimed as she entered the house, holding her head and examining her arms.

Curious, her Mom asked, “Raining stones? In sunny California?” She quickly looked out the window and saw a hailstorm.

The wind was forcefully throwing ice balls, creating a sound similar to throwing stones when they hit the ground.

“Oh my, I never thought I’d see this kind of weather on our side of the country. And to think I pay high taxes for sunny days! This must be due to Global Warming,” she fumed.


Airy Rain by woundedcat

I wake up, and I can’t even hear the rain. Although the rain in this area comes down in varying degrees and intensities, it vanishes as soon as it appears. The clouds move quickly overhead along with the showers they bring with them. This might force me to take a pause in my day, but it barely interrupts my planned activities. The sun behaves like the clouds’ companion, appearing in tandem with the rain, or follows it soon after to dry up the mess that’s left. The day ends as it starts, just to repeat itself the following dawn.


Unsure by Mario Milizia

When the rain began, it made our dreams possible. Last year, the drought killed our crops and bank account.
When the rain came down harder, we danced in it, jumping, and splashing in newly formed puddles.
But the rain didn’t stop.

The welcome rain became streams running down neat rows of corn. The streams washed away soil, exposing our crops to failure again. The skies darkened. Tornadoes were on the way.

We grabbed blankets, and ran for the storm cellar, as the barn roof ripped away.
Jackie, shivering next to me, asked, “Can we afford to rebuild?
We prayed.


Late Arrivals by D. Avery

Heads bent, they approached her house, looked over their shoulders before knocking tentatively on her door. Cold rain whipped them while they waited.

She stood impassively in the doorway, did not greet them.

Finally, one among them spoke. “Please. Please, Mother Nature. Stop this intolerable weather.”

“It’s destroying everything,” another said. “Not just our buildings; the very land is being swept to sea.”

“Or burning up,” said another. “Droughts and wildfires.”

“Help us. Get the weather back under control!”

Mother Nature shook her head sadly. “You humans unleashed forces that put Weather beyond my powers.” She shut the door.


Red Rain by Joanne Fisher

“We need to get inside quickly!” One of our group said in alarm.

I looked up and saw the black clouds coming in. They were swirling chaotically and approaching fast. We ran to the shelter and got indoors just as the rain started falling. I looked out at the rain. The red rain. Slowly the world turned to crimson.

We were trapped here until it stopped. If you went out in it, you would get covered in burns that would heal slowly.

I stood there, looking out, wishing the world would go back to how it used to be.


Bass Note by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Shuffle ‘cross the kitchen, sharp drop to hardwood chair.
Looks like no break, no midnight magic to slake my thirst.
Skin crackles painful, radiates heat.
How long has it been?

Sun sets, no ease with darkness.
Deep pull on southern bourbon.
Radio crackles resistance, then clears.
Stand, sway, bare feet brush worn oak planking.
A call to communion.

Bass note rattles foundation.
Wind cuts straight through screen doors, front to back.
Rooftop patter twists to muscular hiss.
Skin rises to meet the rain.
Step out into the yard, embrace the skyborne lover.
Cat looks on with green gimlet eyes


Flame-out by Bill Engleson

She sidles up to me at the corner. I’m waiting for the light to change. Suddenly, there is this fleshy flounder slinking into the back of me, tilting like we’re in a crushed tandem bike and itching to be merged.

I glance back, see the massive swirl of crazy red hair, draped all around her, down to the ground of her, feel the heat of her, hand-on-the-stove-top-element heat of her, burning my matter, the depth of me, frozen in fire, waiting for the light, that damn light that stays red, burns into my eyes.

And then the sun explodes.


Blowin In the Wind by D. Avery

“S’matter Kid? Why’re ya stormin aroun?”

“Shorty sure dreamed up another tough challenge prompt.”

“Jist do yer best, Kid. Don’t matter weather or not ya come up with a story.”

“Har-har, Pal. Punny. My mind is too foggy fer this.”

“Yer thinkin’ll clear, you’ll be right as rain in time fer the collection. Shift, Kid, it’s weather. It always arrives, one way or anuther. An you know how it often goes, doesn’t rain but it pours. Ya might git flooded with ideas.”

“Might suffer from drought too.”

“Might blow us away with yer weather yarn.”

“Hope I do, Pal.”


Kid turned ta the Poet Tree by D. Avery

a natchral weather channel
tuned ta the sun, each leaf a solar panel

Noticed if the leaves turn tipsy
an branches b’gin ta sway
wind storm’s aheadin our way

But thet tree is deeply rooted
thrives on rain an melted snow
yep, takes all kindsa weather
ta make the Poet Tree grow

Kid climbed thet tree
an Kid’s fog begun ta lift
looked aroun, an counted all the gifts

Fer on the Ranch the sun always shines
‘cept when ya need shade or rain
Kid vowed, then an there, ta never more complain.


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Journey to Home Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Mental State by woundedcat

Home is a state of mind for a vagabond like myself. When people say, “Where is your home?” they usually mean a physical location filled with material things such as a chair or a laundry basket. I suppose it’s also where you’re supposed to eat and sleep, but homeless people also do these things. As you can tell, I’ve never really had a home that I could be proud to say to someone, “This is my home.” When you don’t have an anchor such as this, you tend to wander, perhaps endlessly, for something that feels like a home.


Home by Sweeter Than Nothing

“For the night is dark and lacking bus stops.”


“Nothing,” Sarah snuggled closer into Simon’s armpit, stealing all the warmth she could get.

He dropped a kiss on her forehead, “Who’s idea was it to go backpacking without checking the transport times?”

She shrugged guiltily, “It adds to the adventure, plus, I’m not in any hurry to get home.”

The couple carried on their slow march down the empty highway, arms wrapped around each other.

Simon thought back to the times they had shared together these past few weeks, “I already am home,” he said, squeezing her tighter.


Home by Simon

My car moved at 40 mph, after 11 hours of continuous drive, My Car had entered my forest.

From there, there were no roads, I drove at my own pace. Soon my gas will empty. There are no gas stations nearby.

I came here to get stuck. With my old friends, I ran the rat race in a populated city where I gave up my race, my identity, my language and my nature.

It is time, 37 years in an illusion world. Whatever years I am left with, I will be here with my aged friends, nature, MY HOME.


Going Home by Sadje

Retracting her steps, the journey home was perhaps the most natural yet the hardest decision she had taken to date.

Home beckoned, and memories asked to be awakened and relived. But…..

She had not been in touch with her parents in a long while. Since she left home at eighteen, rebelling against the laws laid down by her father.

Like a bird, she wanted to return to her nest. To hug her parents tightly and to say that they were right…. And that she was right too! She had achieved what she desired in life.

Tentatively she knocked softly.


Hiraeth for Hound by E.A. Colquitt

When at last she travels to the east, a part of her will remain there.

Where? That quiet place, at the feet of the western woods.

North no longer exists… just as it was. The old green view over the sea is blocked by buildings; there is now no glimpse, even, of the farmhouse jutting from the crest of the hill like the roots of the eastern fells.

On the southern side, this old collie dozes. Yet through the trees, the puppy turns the corner at the end of the path…

She spots the steading. She bounds for home.


Home for Christmas by Joanne Fisher

Danielle returned home for Christmas. It had been years since she had been back. When she had come out as gay, her family had disowned her. Yet slowly over time there had been a thaw in the ice of their relations, and now she had been invited back to the family gathering. It had surprised her and at first she decided not to go, but then she had her mind changed.

Danielle stood on the porch with her girlfriend Rachel holding hands as she knocked on the front door. There was a long wait, and then the door opened…


Funding Failure by Kerry E.B. Black

After celebratory evening reveries, fellow students remained abed while Cindy set off. Fog ringed the campus, barely-penetrable, intent on protecting Happy Valley. “A modern-day Brigadoon,” she thought, though she hoped when the time came, she’d be able to return.

She turned up the radio, bobbing her head along with her favorite artist, though her fists gripped the steering wheel with all her newly-minted licensed might. She steered carefully, afraid she’d careen off the mountain. Once she crested the apex, daylight would burn the fog from the road. Then it was two hours to home to regroup and reconsider life choices.


Home by Dianne Borowski

Home is not always a happy place to be. Pa worked the mines. He would come home dirty, tired and cranky. If dinner wasn’t on the table he would holler. I would hold my breath, hoping Pa would calm down. Sometimes pots on the stove would end up on the floor and we kids would scatter in every direction, covering our ears. The storm always passed.
Most times though, home meant good times. Pa died young. The mines took him. He worked hard for all of us. In that old house we learned the meaning of love.


Going Home by Ann Edall-Robson

The familiar turn off welcomes me not far from where I want to be. Singing to old favourites coming through the airwaves, the anticipation of my destination bounces through me as I navigate the ruts and pot holes. Two more cattle guard crossings before I continue northwest on the road flanked with aspens and evergreens. I can see the place in my mind. I’ll be greeted by the fenced pasture. In the distance, the hills will dance with colour on their journey to the mountains. This road never fails me. I can count on it to take me home.


The Dream That Goes Unnoticed by Meredith Caine

Here I am once again, a tear rolling down my cheek, as I close yet another door to a place that was supposed to be mine. Home, it’s the only thing I want. A sense of stay, a hug of safety, an echo of laughter up and down its halls. I just stand there, staring at the door as the emptiness sets in. Home fills the hole, it mends my broken. I long for the day I won’t have to leave, when this part of my life is over. When home is my right and not just a dream.


Slipping Away by Nancy Richy

My elderly mother stood by the window, her hand pulling back a section of curtain. “Mom, what are you doing up? It’s nearly 3AM.”

Without turning to look at me, she replied. “I’m waiting for my husband. He’s returning from the war and will be home any minute.”

I closed my eyes and sighed in resignation. One moment she was lucid, the next her mind clouded over like wintry days. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her the truth again.

“Here, Mom. Lie down. Try to get some sleep.”

She closed her eyes as I silently left her room.


Remembering by D. Avery

Robert leaned his scythe against the granite post and joined his mother in the small cemetery.
This time his ma wasn’t by the stones of his younger siblings.
“You were just a little boy when my parents died. One after the other. And so young, really. They both taught me so much about life, but they didn’t teach me about growing old, or even about dying. Had to learn that from my own children. Do you remember them, Robert?”
“I remember, Ma. My grandparents and the children. Each of them died at home. With you by their side.”
“Robert, I’m sorry to burden you. I come out here to these handful of graves and feel sorry for myself…”
“We’ll always feel for them, Ma. It’s right to.”
They stood together looking across the fields to the mountains beyond.
“Dying soldiers all just wanted to go home,” Robert said softly.
She looked up at her son. “Heaven?”
“Home. Reckon they were too young to want anything more. I’d stay with them, talk about home until they passed.”
“How’d you know what their homes were like?”
“Didn’t. Only ever described Vermont. Sure hope heaven wasn’t a let-down.”
“Oh, Robert!”
Anna walked with Robert back to the house. “There’s chicken and dumplings for dinner.”
“I’m surely in Heaven.”
“I’m so grateful you made it home, Robert.”
“I won’t ever be able to forget what I saw. Never.”
“I know, son.”
“But I did some good, in the field hospitals. I’m studying up on doctoring, Ma. I’ll be working with Doc Robinson.”
“Stay away from his tonic!”
Robert laughed. “That’s why I’m studying with Queenie too.”
“Queenie? But she’s a…”
“She knows more about medicine than anyone around.”
Anna smiled to think how Robert might heal all kinds of wounds.


A Quilt Comes Home –True Story by Sue Spitulnik

Twenty years ago, I made a quilt for radio station WBEE’s fundraiser using T-shirts that each on-air personality had signed.
This morning, a listener knocked on the station door and gifted that quilt to Terry Clifford as a retirement present. I don’t know where the quilt has been, but today, it came home to a lovable lady who has given so much to the community for the last forty-five years. Terry will cherish all the memories it holds from the maker, past fellow employees who signed it with her initially, her time on the radio, and at WBEE events.


Where’s “Home?” by Margaret G. Hanna

Not much is left. The house is gone – vandals torched it years ago. The barn lists dangerously – a good prairie wind would finish it. Grass has overrun the yard and garden except for a defiant cluster of brilliant orange-red Oriental Poppies.
And yet . . .
I see Mom and me sitting on the porch swing, plotting and dreaming. I hear the tractor start up – Dad’s going out to finish seeding. Dale barks at my brother to toss the stick she just dropped at his feet.
No need to go “back home” when “Home” is always in my heart.


The Journey Home by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She’d followed their path through the woods, noting how they easily spotted treasures in flora and fauna. Taking only what they needed, they left the rest for future wanderers. Kills were merciful, no parts wasted. One carried firm seeds of three sisters, the other dreamed with moonstones and what might be created from them.
She hid under toadstools and rode the sky in mortar and pestle. She knew a hard world needs strong children. Keeping distant, but sending familiars, she was pleased with the results.
So when they arrived, she opened her door with a welcome waft of gingerbread.


She Went Before Him by Sassy

She’d been waiting for so long. She’d known she’d have to lay the path before he would brave the wilds. She’d known it for years having foreseen it in her dreams. It had taken her so long to get there herself, she’d wondered at times if he’d ever make it… But somehow he had by increments.

It was always when he feared losing her that he would take another step forward.

And she had usually been alright waiting but recently, her faith was shaken and shattered.

Until… Until she saw him on the horizon, moving toward home, toward her.


Far Enough by D. Avery

She looked across the breakfast table at him. “Do you remember what you told me, when we got married?”
“I told you you’d never travel alone.”
“There’s some place I want to go. Now.”
He didn’t trust himself to drive very far. “Where?”
“I want to go home.”
He blinked, looked around. Toast growing cold on the same plates they’d always had. Daily medications next to their juice glasses. “We are home.”
“I want to go on a journey. Back in time. With you.” She pulled a pill bottle from the pouch on her walker.
“Oh. Yes, I’m ready.”


La sua casa rifugio by JulesPaige

Grandpa had two homes. One was a hideaway up in the mountains. Or so it seemed. I don’t think he built the city home, but I know he built the hideaway home with the son from his first wife. I’m not sure what happened to her. My Grandma (mom’s mother) was his second wife.

The home had to be sold to care for my Grandma after Grandpa passed. His son wasn’t happy about that. My step-uncle wanted to keep that home for his own children to enjoy. Some dreams fade away.

that retreat
built by their hands; a


The Hearth Of The Matter by Geoff Le Pard

Dee Zaster feared bankruptcy of Little Tittweaking’s last bus service when the council set up as steam-powered segway concession. She tried offers, concessions and open bribery and was at her wit’s end. Finally she ran a door to door service that promised to ‘take you home to the heart of your family’. This caused dismay for chair of the zombie society, Fletch Eater who pointed out no one in his family had a heart and Dee accused Fletch of deliberately destroying her business. Violence was only just avoided when mediator Kat A’Strophe pointed out both parties were equally heartless.


In the Wind by Bill Engleson

There’s something gusting in the wind,
something sweet and low again,
something I knew way back when,
something I knew when I was young.

Can’t quite get it off my mind.
It’s tied so knotted to the line,
floating in memories that bind.
Home is calling me home again.

There’s something hanging in the sky.
Dawn is breaking on the fly.
Voices from the past wondering why,
why I don’t journey home again.

Can’t quite get it off my mind.
It’s tied so knotted to the line,
floating in memories that bind.
My home is calling me home again.


Leading the Way by Duane L Herrmann

When I was a boy I loved to go out to the pasture on the hill beside our house. There was always wind and sometimes the moon. As I walked the strange familiar landscape, I pretended I was the leader of a group of people searching for a home. I didn’t know who or where, but I was in front. That has never come true in that way, and probably won’t now that I’m past 70, but in another way – my writing may be doing that. Only time will tell long after I am gone. I may never know.


IN SEARCH OF HOME by Reena Saxena

One step forward, two backward but hundred go down
it feels more like quicksand than slippery ground.
Memories charm, but dizzy giant wheels
dim clear vision on many rounds.
Perspectives change; so do stories
I tell myself without sound.

When the sky is clear, yet it begins to rain
I dial a fairy, am accosted by a gnome
Passengers keep boarding; leaving the train
Dialects change; landmarks vanish; Google roams
Changing the map, reinstating milestones slain
Life’s actually a journey in search of home
let the apps say what they want
the journeys home have all been in vain.


Already There by D. Avery

“What’re ya doin Kid?”
“Workin on a song, Pal.

Home, home on the Ranch
where ever one’s got somethin ta say
though it’s preferred in zactly 99 words
writers from roun the world are welcome ta play

“What d’ya think?”
“Thinkin thet tune souns strangely familiar. Least ways, strange.”
“Says you. It’s where the prompt led. I’m already home, might’s well sing bout it.

A great place ta be, with its own Poets’ Trees
an a saloon always open ta all
we read here an write, both heavy an light
an the collections make me yell, Yippee to Y’all!


Allusions by D. Avery

“Seriously, Kid, where d’ya think this prompt’ll lead ya?”
“Kinda obvious, ain’t it Pal? Leads ta home. An fer me that’s Carrot Ranch.”
“Hmmf. Was hopin ya’d feel compelled ta make a journey. Ya’d have a home-comin ta write about. I’d git a break from ya.”
“Incredible idea, Pal. But nope, no way. I journeyed enough. Member, I set out last spring. The April 13 prompt? But all roads led me home. Ta the ranch.”
“Also recall ya kinda missed me Pal.”
“Anyways, Pal, I’m scared ta leave agin.”
“Read somewhere’s ya cain’t go home agin.”


Not So Prodigal Pal by D. Avery

“Don’t be askeered ta leave now an agin, Kid. The ranch’ll always be yer home, yer always welcome back.”
“I reckon. But I’ve seen ‘nough. ‘Nough ta know there’s no place like home.”
“Home is where the heart is Kid. But ya always ‘preciate it more once ya been away fer awhile.”
“Pal, if yer so fired up bout journeyin an returnin, whyn’t you head off?”
“Whut?! Whoa! I cain’t be leavin the ranch. I’m needed roun here.”
“Reckon Shorty could git along fer a bit without ya. I kin do more whilst yer gone.”
“That’s what skeers me.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Roots Like A Mountain Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Plain Facts by D. Avery

Stories are rooted in mountains, and mountains are rooted in stories. It is good and important to share your stories with a mountain. Doesn’t everyone know this? Mountains have stories of their own to share of course, stories of time and timelessness. Often they let Wind and Water tell their stories for them. Sometimes ravens barter with mountains, exchanging one of their stories for a pebble. For a mountain, a pebble is a small price to pay. Once there was a mountain who did not hear stories. Finally, one dark night, it slunk away, never to be seen again.


Covered in Mountains by Melissa Lemay

We are covered in mountains that push us down
unknown distances into the earth’s mantle, our resting place; that are eroding over our heads as
we speak to the crust of the earth, as a friend that tells another friend deepest secrets. Underneath the
crumbling, crushing weight, we bide time with great patience. We are the creation of the earth, the
roots. The sun tells us one day even tallest mountains will come crashing down. Faithfully
we wait for ocean torrents to wash away the last. We lie beneath the vastness of the mountains
and we hold them up.


Growing From the Earth, Reaching for the Sky by Sadje

It grew tall and strong from deep within the core of the earth. Its roots lay in the hot molten magma, roiling and boiling in the core of our planet, but its bulk rose high.

With every year, decade, and century layers of rock, stone, water, and dust all added up to make it high, higher, and highest in the land.

It has a desire to be the tallest so it grows, it grows to conquer the wind and the clouds. Its majesty inspires me to try harder to overcome the hurdles in my life, rise above my problems


My Roots by Duane L Herrmann

Any mountains here eroded eons ago. There had been an ocean, the rocks of my grandparents house are studded with tiny sea shells. I knew Granpa had dug them out of his farm. We, and our lives, are part of this land. Granma was born on a farm on one side of mine and my father on the other. I now own a part in the middle. I go there in order to breathe and look at the sky. There, no house crowds me. I can’t live there, to my regret, but I go in order to stay alive.


Missing the Mountains by Dianne Borowski

My dad’s folks had a small farm near Bedford, Virginia where the Piedmont Plateau meets the Blue Ridge Parkway. Every summer we’d drive down from Ohio to the farm to spend a few weeks. I always cried when had to leave. I was just a kid…

I have never found a place quite as beautiful. Those blue mountains reaching toward the sky, the dewy grass that tickled my toes, wading in the creek, skipping stones and the quiet, so very quiet.

Home again, noisy neighbors, crowded streets, sirens screaming. I would bury my head in my pillow, tears streaming.


Finding Grandma by Charli Mills

For years, Little Red Riding Hood’s parents forbade her to visit Grandma. “The mountains are dangerous,” they warned her. Once a year, Grandma visited Red, her arms full of wild-berry jams, eyes sparkling with tales of pegmatites, white waters, and daring ravens who plucked rubies from waterfalls. Red studied at school. She learned hip-hop and violin. She longed to study the minerals Grandma sent her in care packages from the mountains west of Red’s safe monotonous suburbs. When she arrived, Red could see the roots of dangerous mountains in the wolf’s dark maw.

“Hello, Grandma. How wild you are!”


The Path by D. Avery

She appears as a mountain. She knows your unspoken words: I am lost. Her gentle laughter is dappled sunlight.

She twirls a rope braided from your experiences, woven with your stories; a labyrinthian coil, wide as the mountain, wide as the world.

Again, you set upon this long and winding path. Again, the mists descend. Acceptance replaces expectancy.

You come to a tree cloaked mountain, to where a tossed pebble ripples the center of a sun dappled lake.

You know that it is all yours, that it is you, that even the gentle laughter you hear is your own.


A Dark Horse by Norah Colvin

The conversation between aunts and cousins stopped abruptly when an aunt exclaimed, “So, the prodigal son returns.”
Everyone eyed the stranger.

“Who is he?” Josie asked. “He’s hot.”

“The family’s black sheep,” whispered a cousin.

“Stay away from him,” said her aunt. “He has roots like a mountain.”

“What’s that mean?” asked Josie.

“Don’t let that cool exterior fool you,” said another. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,”

“A dark horse then,” thought Josie, her interest rising.

“Still waters run deep – and dangerous,” cautioned her aunt, but Josie didn’t hear.

“Hi, I’m Josie,” she said, extending her hand.


Grounding Roots by Sue Spitulnik

Michael said to Tessa, “When you left college for marriage, did you ever think about moving home one day?”
“No. I thought my marriage would last and couldn’t see that far ahead. I didn’t know about people growing apart.”
Michael replied. “I had no intentions of returning before I lost my legs. A counselor suggested my mother needed me to and then I heard you were getting divorced. That took care of any indecision.”
Tessa’s eyes watered. “I longed for the hills and colorful seasons. But it’s you and the other vets who ground me because of our experiences.”

Author’s Note: Michael and Tessa were high school sweethearts. She married an Army Officer, and he was enlisted Army. He lost his legs above the knee in an IED bomb in Iraq. They both moved back to their hometown and are now married to each other. The series is three years old.


Uprooted by D. Avery

His roots ran deep. He and the mountain bore the same name. Folks joked they were the same age too. Said they were equally tough. Formidable even.

“We been through hell and highwater,” he’d exclaim. Fires had roared over and around the mountain. Flood waters fomented in its streams had cut the mountain deeply. Wind storms sometimes took out swaths of trees from its flank.

“She’ll mend,” he’d say. “Always has, always will.” Then he’d tell about another time, a worse disaster, and people both rolled their eyes and sighed relief.

They watched him now, unnerved by his silence.


You Remind Me by Michael Fishman

He closed the blinds and sat down.

“I used to climb mountains. Did I tell you? I climbed mountains and I fought monsters. I played with fire. My wife, Dolores, was so beautiful…”

He stopped. His eyes glassed over and he was quiet.

Her heart quickened. She saw tears gathering in the corners of his eyes and relaxed.

“You remind me of my daughter.”

She felt her own tears forming and fought them back.

He stood up and walked to the window, opened the blinds and turned back to her.

“I used to climb mountains. Did I tell you?”


Transplanted by JulesPaige

Can there be a mountain in a swamp? Ancient coral beds are the base of much of the Florida southern Keys, my birth state. It feels like hard cement on your feet. Not the crumbled almost fine wave crushed stone from any given mountain that makes up the sand at the shorelines of oceans. How long does it take to establish roots; two, thirty years? Our neighborhood is in a valley surrounded by hills, not mountains…our ‘northern state home’. This is where we have raised our children and plan to stay for as long as we possibly can.


Out with the Old and in with the New by Brenda Fluharty

In the heart of a small village, nestled among ancient roots, stood a gigantic oak tree. It had witnessed generations come and go, offering shade and shelter. Confronted with urban expansion, the oak was to be removed. Yet, as its roots were uprooted, the village paid homage, planting saplings in gratitude. Meanwhile, a group of friends decided to climb the nearby mountains to reach new heights. Scaling their fears and embracing the journey, they discovered breathtaking vistas. As they gazed upon the world below, they realized that sometimes, in losing the old, we gain the opportunity for something greater.


Climb Every Montaigne Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s Philosophy Department liked to challenge itself. It didn’t believe in Kant, seeing itself as a Kan do sort of school. Not for it Hobbesian gloom, though the Nietzsche pizza night wasn’t a success when Neil Ism insisted on rejecting every topping. It took a didactic intervention from school head, Harry Stotle to bring order before unlikely couple, Mack E Velli and Di Odge O’Knees proposed a new line of thought: ‘The Devil’s In The Dog’ that promoted good hair and blondness as steps to Utopia via the central aisle in Lidl, under the banner ‘Rocking those Roots’.


Seeing by D. Avery

Some saw a young girl in a bright green dress, others a woman in brightly colored robes. Still others saw an old woman, sharp-featured, stoic in her thread-bare grays. Most disbelieved and saw nothing at all. Yet stories persisted of a woman-girl born and raised on the mountain. True believers said she was borne of the mountain; said her heart was granite, her eyes sparkling quartz, clear snowmelt streams her veins. True believers just nodded when there was another lumbering accident, when another gold panner was found drowned; nodded, then shuddered in the cold wind gusting off the mountain.


Roots Like a Mountain by Bill Engleson

‘Swing up through the pass,’ she said. ‘There… in that divot of a valley.’

‘It’s a far piece,’ I reply. ‘Not sure I’m in the mood.’

‘If you only pay heed to your moods, you’ll never hear the mountains sing. For sing they do, in harmony with the sky, the earth, the clouds, the thunder, the roots of the primeval forest, all of this majesty before you.’

‘And all I have to do is veer though the pass?’

‘There’s a little more to it. Your heart has to be in it.

‘Well, then, I am a forever lost traveller.’


Putting Down Roots by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Hilda, were you born here?” asked Faeryn.

The day was warm, and Hilda paused to think about her answer. She’d lived on the mountain since she was a child, but she hadn’t been born there. She was a transplant—a star seed. How could she explain this to a human?

Her residency only mattered to the old healers. The other witches were glad she’d stayed and put down roots. Had she put down roots?

“I grew up on the mountain, but came from a distant land,” Hilda answered.

“I thought so.” Faeryn smiled. “Your accent is different than mine.”


Magic of the Ley Line by Sassy

Her voice was raspy as she spoke the words to invoke the powers from the ley lines that ran deep into the roots of the mountain she had asked her cottage to take her to. Baba Yaga had intention in letting her chicken legged cottage walk the ley lines of the countryside before positioning itself at the nexus that ran deep into the heart of the world… Her intention was to bring forth the power of the world into the arrow in her hands in order that it would hit its mark better than cupid ever could hope to.


Deep Resentment by Kerry E.B. Black

“Do you even know what you’re fighting for?” Minnie’s disgusted smirk inched toward self-satisfaction. “I mean, you’re completely entrenched. Why?”

Minnie’s older sister Theresa studied her manicure. The polish could use another coat. “Sometimes a woman’s just gotta make a stand.”

Minnie’s breath hissed like a braking locomotive. “A stand? What? Are you General Custar?” Theresa’s lip twitched upward. “I’m surprised you know who he was.”

Minnie’s nostrils flared. “Now I’m uneducated?”

“Never said that. Just didn’t think you cared about US history.”

“There’s lots you don’t know.”

Theresa leaned back, fingers knitted behind her head. “And I’m entrenched.”


Roots by Reena Saxena

The freedom to walk unshackled is priceless. I walked free before this only when I took baby steps, and stumbled against every piece of furniture in the room.

Somebody, obviously not a well-wisher, placed the burden of tradition on my shoulders. I was the eldest in the family, president of the business club and a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.

How could I afford to falter?

You will not know how it feels to walk with a mountain beneath your feet. The sky is close, but feet too heavy.

Finally, I did it – cut my feet to sprout wings.


Roots Like a Mountain (Part I) by D. Avery

“Hey Kid.”

“Hey Pal. Pal, are you at all concerned bout Shorty?”

“Seems chirpy ‘nough ta me.”

“Zactly! Sure, she managed ta move it ta mountains, but this challenge starts with crowin bout merlins.”


“This followin fledglings.”

“Least she ain’t wingin it, like thet can one.”

“An duckies. Rubber or not, she’s positively bird brained. Wasn’t long afore that an it was feathers. See what I’m sayin?”

“Hmm. Go further back Kid, ta the complaint prompt.”


“Yeah. Leave yer complainin there. Don’t need yer molehill-sized problems takin root aroun here.”

“What’re ya sayin, Pal?”

“Quit yer ravin.”


Roots Like a Mountain (Part II) by D. Avery

“Whut’sa matter now, Kid?”

“Dang Shorty. ‘Roots like a mountain’. Really?”

“Oh, come on, Kid, ya got this. Solution’s write in front a ya.”

“Yer in front a me Pal.”

“Yep. Member how I’m always ‘splainin ta ya thet I’ve jist always been here at the Ranch, since even afore the Ranch?”


“Yep. My history’s been a rocky road.”

“Figger yer older an dirt.”

“Them mountains are. My roots is these mountains thet surroun Carrot Ranch, Kid. I go ta em ta relax and rejuvenate. It’s like goin home.”

“Heavy schist, Pal.”

“Don’t take it fer granite, Kid.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Immature Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

First Time by Ann Edall-Robson

Mom says this is something I have to do. I don’t see why, she’s doing an awesome job bringing us food while we check out the landscape from our home up here in the tree branches. But, oh no, nothing doing, today’s the day she just screeched from over my head. It’s easy for her, she’s been doing it for years. Of course, my sister did as she was told and is now showing off flapping her wings out there over the valley. I told mom I’d try it for sure tomorrow. She said no way. Well, here goes!


Maturing by Sue Spitulnik

Apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple, plantains, plums, and tomatoes are fruits you can pick while they are immature then leave on the counter to mature.

Immature birds and animals are entertaining to watch and easy to love on sight. Adversely, a mature German Shepherd or Lion can be frightening to meet.

When it comes to an immature person, it takes direction from their elders and peers, intelligence, and life experience before they mature. It’s possible for a human to be mature in some categories and still remain a kid in others. And some never grow up.


Grow Up or Not….. It’s a Choice by Sadje

Diminutive — means that it needs to grow more

It may be taken as immature, incomplete

But some small things are the ideal size, even when tiny

A bonsai for example is the perfect size

A minute tree, complete in every detail

Reared with years of effort, tons of love

Presume- we shouldn’t that all things small

Have to grow bigger to reach their full potential

A few things and people are already complete

Coming as they are in little packages

Wisdom doesn’t need to be encased In large containers to be pertinent

Beauty is equally pleasing in tiniest creations


Immature Autumn by Colleen M. Chesebro

In the pagan calendar, August is the first month of autumn. Immature as the season may be, we celebrate the first Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasadh, or Lammas. This is a time of endings and beginnings, as crops come to fruition and the actual work of the harvest begins.

Ancient Celts made a sacrifice to the god of the grain by cutting the last sheaf of wheat or barley, which represented the god’s life force given back to the earth for the next year’s successful crops.

August’s first full moon—
young ducks learn how to fly
predators mark time


On Becoming by D. Avery

In the comments for this challenge, Charli suggested to Norah that “immaturity is simply a dose of ‘not yet’. I like that. A necessary yet vulnerable stage should not be a derogatory term. Aren’t all stages of life developmental, times of learning and becoming as we grow and mature? Each individual’s milestones and launches come in different ways and times. Each stage and age has “not yets”. Right now, I’m thinking each of us is a nesting doll, our young and old selves all contained, part of our package.

Is the butterfly superior to the caterpillar? Both are fledglings.


Immaturity by Bill Engleson

In the mirror, the one I usually prefer not to gaze into, the one that always seems to see more of everything, things more pronounced, more revealing…of me, the mirror that can’t keep confidences, that wants to expose facets of me that are unsettling.

That’s part of it. I choose the word unsettling because it has a gleam of innocent vacillation. Even as I try to confess occasionally lesser behaviours, I equivocate.

I don’t mind equivocating.

Most times.

We all have secret lives.

Writers especially, I think.

We writers need our immature selves.

Immaturity can be a writing aid.


He’s So Immature by Norah Colvin

How immature is he?

He’s so immature he wears a superman cape whenever we leave the house.

He plays hopscotch on the paving stones and zig-zags between the lunchtime crowd.

He declines the lift then immediately pushes the button and thinks it’s hilarious when the door opens again. No one else is amused.

He rolls lollipops down the aisle and interrupts everyone, saying, ‘Scuse me. Scuse me.’

He explodes packets of crisps during quiet times in the movies.

He farts loudly in public and laughs even louder, uncontrollably. He’s so immature.

That’s for sure. How old is he?



Immature by Sweeter Than Nothing

“Did you see that poster?”

Gerry whispered to his wife with a suppressed giggle.

“Stop embarrassing me, this is serious.”

“I know, I know… But it’s got lady bits on it!”

“We’re in a fertility clinic, what do you expect?”

“That one has a boob on it.”

“It’s about breastfeeding!”

Gerry looked down, trying very hard not to laugh out loud.

“Mrs Cox?” The receptionist called out.

That was the last straw for Gerry, he burst out laughing so hard tears ran down his cheeks.

“I’m so sorry,” his wife mumbled, growing red.

“He’s too immature,” said Mrs Cox.


Trouble by Kerry E.B. Black

Maya’s mother massaged the bridge of her nose, eyes closed, breathing slow and steady. Tears streamed down Maya’s plump cheeks and dripped to her school hoodie. If it were her dad picking her up at the principal’s office instead of her mom, the yelling would have already begun, before the school door closed. Mom, however, kept composure as she escorted her. After she’d buckled up in the car, Maya’s tears turned audible.

She hiccuped, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Her mother pulled Maya into a hug. “Young people make mistakes. That’s how we all learn.”


Too Much Too Young by Anne Goodwin

At four, he could change his sister’s nappies and drag his mother out of bed in time for work. At eight, he’d yet to grasp his ABCs but was an expert reader of his stepfather’s moods. At twelve, in foster care, he fought off his sister’s abuser and went hungry so she could eat. Of course he was branded a liar, a troublemaker, difficult to place. At sixteen, he was a regular in the court room, until the judge decreed enough was enough. She had no choice but to send him to prison. The teenager was selfish, irresponsible, immature.


Flying In the Face of Immaturity by D. Avery

“Aidan! It’s so good to see you again. Your Master’s degree?”

“Yes. I finally settled on sociology. I’ll be working in mental health services.”

“Your parents must be so proud of you.”

“Mrs. K, remember how I used to go on? My plans changing every week?”

“Every day! But I loved it. I always knew you’d end up doing something great.”

“You believed in me. But my parents just rolled their eyes. Told me to grow up, stop dreaming.”

Mrs. K clucked sympathetically at her former student. “Give them time. They’ll learn. You’re a good teacher, Aidan.”

“You too.”


Immature by Reena Saxena

Shark Tank episodes often leave me wondering about the value placed on potential. Well, we can’t always insist on proven track records. Newbies need to be given a chance. But the intent is not always so noble. It’s about taking control at a point, when the other party is raw and open to accepting your ways in pursuit of success. Immature is what can be molded or likely to take a different route. Immature is unpredictable. Immature is flagellated by experience, as the seniors strive to prove their might and right. Immature can change the world, if allowed to.


Ways to Get Divorced by Simon

I despise your existence. (smirks)
That’s harsh Lisa.
Take it or die. I least care.
But mom’s advice will workout, stop being angry on me.
WHAT? Eating a new born umblical cord will help me conceive? Are you insane?
Be mature, we need a baby or society will doubt my masculinity, your fertility.
Cut the crap. Your penis and balls is not enough to prove the society that you are a man? You and your immature thoughts. Grow up and find someone else to prove you are MAN. Now GET OUT!
But Lisa.. (door shuts)
Immature moron… Lisa said.


Timing Matters by Ruchira Khana

“I think we should take the south route,” Aisha stated confidently.

Mala interjected, “But there’s always traffic at this time. Let’s take the inner roads instead; it’ll be faster.”

“I understand, but traffic helps me practice patience.”

“That’s good, but I want to be on time for work. Can you exercise your patience when driving alone?”

“Don’t worry; I’ll ensure we arrive on time.”

Mala scoffed, “How? Does your car have wings?”

Despite Mala’s remark, Aisha was resolute and selected the south route on her GPS.

‘Why did I agree to carpool with such an immature co-worker?’ thought Mala.


Naïve Taker by K.F. Hartless

Lisa wound her hand around Matthew’s throat. His cough was worsening despite the pills and the breathing treatments.

“Try your best to keep breathing,” she said.

“I’ve been doing that all day.” His smile had a bluish tinge.

Lisa tightened her grip. The boy didn’t have much time. After a few seconds, her lungs filled with fluid, and the boy’s ballooned open.

When a cough seized her, she went to the sink to spit out a wobbly yellow phlegm. She was a naïve taker, though. Her powers were immature. She could take the cough, but not the underlying Pertussis.


Is Age Just a Number? by Billie D. Johnston

Rosin, 16, on a Saturday, stepped out the front door on the way to work.

He found a grounded fledgling thinking he had time. He returned it to its nest.

He walked to the library.

He thought, “today, I tell her at lunch.”

They usually ate lunch together.

At work Mary said, “Lunch?”

“Yes,” said Rosin.

At lunch, he said, “Mary. I love you. Date me.”

“I’m flattered,” said Mary. “love you too, but I’m thirty.”

Rosin gasped, “but why not?”

“You’re only a child.”

Rosin jumped saying, “hell no! Lunch is over.”

She held her head and sighed.


Immature by ladyleemanila

so immature, I knew he would be trouble

from the moment we met like a trap

I was out of breath in a light frap

rising and falling in a bubble

nothing left but bricks and rubble

forgetting the promise he made, that chap

so immature, I knew he would be trouble

from the moment we met like a trap

got no choice, he makes me chuckle

he beckons me and I’m there in a snap

with his charming smile and blue cap

we kiss and I feel his little stubble

so immature, I knew he would be trouble


Trying To Join The Grownups by Geoff Le Pard

Mandy Tory determined to win Little Tittweaking’s council elections with a new political party. Joining her were no-nonsense spokesperson, Del Ecate and the French escapologist, Inez Capable whose skills had dug many politicians out of their self-created holes. The nascent party didn’t survive its first meeting. Del refused to vote, asserting he was allergic to ticks; Inez rejected a cross alternate, suggesting alignment with Eton Mess, new owner of Twatting, Little Tittweaking’s social media platform. Mandy, trying to encourage a show of hands, merely triggered a stampede of those who assumed it reflected a collective need for the restrooms.


Still Being Barbie by Dianne Borowski

Dang woman! You are pathetic and too skinny. How’d we ever get a looker like Ginger?

Ginger was born beautiful. She was Ma’s seventh. Six of us was boys. Pa, he was a mean, nasty, well you know what.

Poor Ma.

Everyone loved Ginger. She was an angel. Smart, I mean real smart too. Ma said Ginger could go to college and get some fancy job someday.

Pa, he always treated Ma poorly. Ginger said Ma was stupid for sticking around. Well, Pa ended up in jail. Ginger quit school. She still spends her days playing Barbie. So who’s stupid? Huh?


Eating Lesson by Duane L Herrmann

I looked up from eating and noticed my father’s shirt was clean, no food on his face, nor the table around him. How did he do that? When I ate, it was obvious: all over my face, my clothes, my plate and the table around me. It was difficult to get the spoon into my mouth! I had to use both hands: one for the spoon, upright if possible, the other to aim it, often failing. But, I was hungry, so I persevered. Eventually, I was able to eat and stay as clean as my father – and he died.


“Unfledged” Harry by JulesPaige

Harry watched as the white fence he was painting became sun-kissed by the progressing day. He probably looked pretty silly in a borrowed Hawaiian shirt taking time away from a wise feather pen that provided its own ink, mirrors that projected more than just reflections and some new friends who had a menagerie of animals at their place that was called the Saddle up Saloon. He’d remembered that he had come from some sort of formal dance where he had to wear a tux. But he wanted to escape dancing with the immature debutantes. Would he ever grow up?

The other question Harry also thought of was, would he ever get home. In the Saloon he was writing a story about a Victorian woman in a photo he’d found in a box where the feather Pen had been tape to the back. The thought had briefly occurred to him that maybe he was being written. But that couldn’t be – he was real wasn’t he? Harry carefully set the paintbrush down on the paint can and walked back to the Poetree. He sat on the ground and leaned his back comfortably on the bark. Time for a nap.

The last thing Harry thought of was either immature, cautious or perhaps frightening; If he slept would it be the sleep of Rip Van Winkle? Would twenty minutes end up being twenty years? Would his immature peach fuzz face sprout full fledged whiskers? Would he be more of a man when he woke up? The sun kissed his face through the leaves of the poetry and he could no longer keep his eyes open. He barely remembered that Curly, no longer an immature piglet, snuggled up to him. For some odd reason that connection made him feel comfortably safe.


Party’s Over by D. Avery

“Kid, our writer’s back! Git over ta the Saloon afore she checks on it. There’s been a penguin hangin out there.”


“Thet penguin, name a Hairy, took up with Curly an Curly convinced Hairy ta roll in the mud.”

“So? Curly’s all growed up now, not my responsibility. Anyways, who minds a little mud?”

“Curly got this Hairy fella inta a LOT of mud. Then all them quills thet was around ended up stickin ta him. Looks like a fledgling mudhen. Tellin ya, this won’t fly with our writer.”

“Alright, Pal, I’ll take em both fer a swim.”


Cleanup Time by D. Avery

So Kid went ta the Saddle Up Saloon ta see whut was goin on. Curly an this Hairy penguin (turns out a fella named Harry who had showed up in a tuxedo) were covered in mud, jist wallowin unnerneath the Poet Tree. Kid incouraged em both ta swim in the crick til they come clean.

An Harry did come clean. Admitted he was homesick, despite havin a high time ennertainin folks at the Saddle Up. But how ta git home from here? Them quills is pin feathers, don’t work fer flight. Till Kid changed the i to a e.


Imagin Thet by D. Avery

Pen feathers kin take ya anywhere, anytime. An by now ya know ol Harry kin take off with quill power. Yep, Harry was now ready ta take off. Had arrived in a cummerbund an tails then molted an transformed. Yep, Harry was ready ta fly, was feelin strong an wise after time unner the Poet Tree at the Saddle Up. An mebbe it was all a dream. No matter if it was. But fictional characters matter, Harry reminded us all a the.

So thank ya Harry.

“Pal! A feather!”

“Safe journey, Harry, ta thet magical place ya call home.”


All Write Now by D. Avery

“Well, Kid, we got things all write afore thet writer a ours comes buttin back in. Got the Saddle Up cleaned up, got Harry on his way… yep, nuthin ta see here.”

“Reckon we did prove we write ourselves afterall. I know she gets the byline, but reckon we could be thinkin on the prompt.”

“Thet byline, thet’s jist Shorty throwin her a bone. Let er gnaw on it. So, what’re ya thinkin, Kid?”

“Thinkin them first three is a might sketchy as far as answerin the prompt. You got any ideas bout someone who’s immature, Pal?”

“Hmmf. Mebbe.”


All Write Now An Agin by D. Avery

“Serially, Kid? It’s purty obvious where this prompt could lead.”

“What’re ya sayin, Pal?”

“Write bout yersef, Kid. A greenhorn thet’s always gittin inta awkward situations.”

“I was atchally thinkin it could be bout you.”

“Me? I weren’t never immature. Told ya many times, I jist am, always been here at the Ranch, fully formed.”

“Yeah, but ya sure git yer feathers ruffled some easy. Was hopin mebbe ya might transform, grow inta less of a grump.”



“Was hopin you’d leave the nest.”

“I did Pal, member? Learned the Ranch is home an I’m home ta roost.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Commitment in a Can Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Canned Energy by Norah Colvin

The shelves were bursting with cans of almost everything imaginable: the purest air from southern oceans, sparkling water from ancient underground springs, and even sunshine from Australia. She wasn’t sure what she wanted until she found it. For years she’d joked she’d make a fortune if she could can a toddler’s energy. Now someone had. She loaded her basket and dashed home. If only she’d read the small print. She was soon cartwheeling across the lounge room, star jumping on the bed and preparing to fly like superwoman. If she did, or didn’t, fly, she’d be committed for sure.


The Return of Nanjo Castille by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Step right up, ladies and gents, to the newest wonder of the modern world! Straight from the rainforests of Borneo, where wonders never cease! In my hand, I hold the answer to all your energy needs, your point of concentration, the tiller of your soul!

Careful, ma’am, don’t get too close. This stuff is explosive!

I swear on my mother’s grave, Coca Castille Kola is commitment in a can! Only $29.99 buys you a ticket to the stars in a single gulp! Write that novel, win true love! This product’ll change your life, or my name isn’t Fernando Castille!

Author’s Note: Apologies extended to newer ranchers who hadn’t run across our friend Nanjo before. He popped up at the Ranch under curious circumstances, and is part of the collective unconscious. Just ask Charli!

Editor’s Note: Nanjo returns! He certainly is a living image in our collective unconscious. This real-life character from our Ranch Spam once submitted a 99-word scam. Even the dark side appreciates literary art. Here’s our original collection.


Hand Drawn by Greg Glazebrook

It was hot as Sadie stepped into the barn. Her grass-fed organically raised family, back from a day in the pasture. The herd lowed as she pulled on her boots and gloves. Bessie was waiting as always for Sadie to set the stool at her side. A few fruitless tugs and then relief as milk began to flow from her engorged teats.

There were pumps, feed and other technology designed to increase yield and productivity, but Sadie found something relaxing about the sound of milk ringing against the interior. “Wholesome, sustainable farming, our commitment freshly expressed into every can.”


Fire in the Soul by Margaret G. Hanna

She’s sleeping now.
A fiery one, committed to making the world a better place
     for her community
            her family

Knowing she had our backs
we had confidence to try our wings
            to succeed or fail
and always she was there, rooting for us
            “You can do it!”

Where did that drive come from,
            that fire that burned within her?

We found a Burns lard pail in a dusty corner of the basement
 – “Perfect! She’ll love it!” –
brushed off the cobwebs
washed and polished it.

We put her ashes in the can, snapped on the lid.
“Sleep well, Mom.”


Good Work Doesn’t Go Unnoticed by Frank James

Jack was just released from prison, finding work on a masonry crew. He delivered materials to masons, laying bricks. He hauled large cans of mortar, bricks, or sealant.

One mason noticed, “Good work keeping us supplied.”

“I didn’t turn my life around for nothing,” he said lugging a large can. The team worked so hard that they finished the job in a day. The boss took the crew out for dinner.

A server offered Jack a beer, and he declined. “No, thank you. That’s a commitment in a can which I can’t keep. Iced Tea is fine,” he smiled.


The Commitment by Joanne Fisher

“This is your commitment to beating addiction. It’s commitment in a can.” The doctor said. His success rate was extremely high. I placed the can on a shelf. Later I thought: what harm would another cigarette do? I then smoked most of the pack. I woke up in terror. There were large black spiders crawling all over me. I hated spiders. They were streaming out of the can, so I threw it outside. Next morning the spiders were gone, but the can was back on the shelf. My phone rang. “Next time it will be worse.” The doctor warned.


Helping Isn’t Always Easy by Sue Spitulnik

Michael opened the letter from his former Colonel and read. Tessa watched her husband’s face turn from interest to a frown and ending in tears.

She took his hand. “What is it?”

“My last boss’s son was gravely injured in an IED explosion. He wants me to visit him right away.”

“You visit with the injured all the time.”

“Yeah, but I help get them out of the wheelchair, not the bed. And I know this kid. Very different.”

“Sure is.”

“I always say, each invitation renews my commitment to help. This is gonna bring back tough memories though.”


Commitment in a Can? by Sadje

Lifting the heavy can of water, the boy trudged the distance to his home. It was his job, his commitment to his family to bring them clean drinking water every day since he had become old enough to do it. This was one thing he’d willingly, happily do for his family. Living in a poor country where clean drinking water was not readily available to everyone was his reality. But he planned to change the lives of his people when he grew up. Every home will have access to clean water one day. One day, he’ll do it too!


Fueled ‘Can’? by JulesPaige

Flying in any plane takes skill, and often seems like a big commitment in a ‘can’ that is held together with a few rivets and maybe a competent complement of Captain and crew. This night, like most red eye flights, would be quiet. Passengers tend to try and sleep. Just get to the right altitude with the right attitude and the sky is a deep velvet with stars.

in a can

Commitment to any destination comes after the stars and with the welcome of dawn. The realization liftoff is great, flight is beautiful, landing safely is good.


Can Do Till I Don’t by Bill Engleson

Yes, I will,
Yes, I can
Do the time
follow the plan. Silent ‘til
I touch the land,
life without frills,
just struggle and sand.
I got the sand,
fills my jar,
lifetime of grit
near and afar.
Work my tail
down to the bone-
friends galore
and all alone.
Battles high,
dreams never low.
Soar to the sky
and the sea below. Yes, I will,
yes, I can
stoke the fire
flame the fan. Beat the bush,
raise the child,
won’t be crushed,
always be wild. Yes, I will,
yes, I can,
do the time,
follow the plan.


Can’t Knock a Hag’s Happiness by Charli Mills

It’s not easy being better than everyone else. Especially when others are stupid enough to not recognize their own inferiority. Take the old woman next door. No matter how many times Kendra pushed the hag’s mailbox with the bumper of her Lexus while the neighborhood slept, it’d be upright by the time she prepared her first Keurig. No one complained. No police sniffed around for clues. And that wrinkly bat kept smiling, gardening, and eating beans from a tin. How could Kendra understand a hag’s commitment in a can meant letting go of attachment to things and social expectations?


My Cruise in a Coffee Can by Dianne Borowski

When I was going through cancer treatment in 2008 I decided if the cancer returned I would dye my hair purple when it grew back in. I also decided I would take an old coffee can and throw my extra change in, and if and when I reached a certain age I would take a cruise. I would need a vacation by then.

Well, that certain age has come and gone. My hair is still brown but the money in the coffee can won’t get me anywhere. It really doesn’t matter. I’m just happy to be here.


Canned by D. Avery

He actually put his phone down, then pulled the lever of the recliner, launched himself forward. “What?”

She recognized it as a ‘what’ of disbelief, not of not hearing, for he even repeated what she’d said.

“You’re unhappy? You’re leaving me?”


Again, “What?” Then, “You’d can everything? What about commitment?”

Then he drew a conclusion, came up with a cause to help him understand this incomprehensible situation. “There’s someone else.”

Then she snorted. “You mean someone besides you? Yes. There really is someone on the planet besides you.”

“Who is it?”

“Me,” she said softly. Then louder, “Me.”


The Drive to Write by Ruchira

The emotions stirred by every breath we take in life motivate us to rise each morning, take action, and express gratitude to the Universe for filling us with vigor and affection. 

These same emotions inspire me to write down the diverse stories of individuals, exploring themes that celebrate the beauty of humanity and life. 

I draw inspiration from the issues that trouble our minds and am committed to the craft of writing. Every character I create undergoes a thoughtful journey, making my novels a source of contemplation for readers. 

I’ve penned down a dozen contemporary fiction novels at:


Don’t Judge a Can by its Label by Gloria McBreen

Committed to being an attentive daughter-in-law, Maud always made a Black Forest gateaux when Teresa came to dinner.

‘No gateaux today, Teresa, because Colm ate the cherries—again!’ The two women glared at Colm.  

‘How can I stop him from stealing the cherries, Teresa?’

‘I have a plan,’ Teresa replied.

Next time Teresa was due a visit, thoughts of juicy cherries bursting between his teeth made Colm drool. He caved.

When he lifted the ring of the can and peeled back the lid, the sight and the smell of beef and liver dogfood, put him off cherries for good.


Was It Only A Dream? by Hugh W. Roberts

‘Commitment in a Can’ were the words on the small silver tin with a picture of a doll.

Opening it, I found something much more sinister. A tiny, shrivelled doll holding a piece of paper that said, ‘This is your commitment. You are bound to me.’

That night, I woke up to someone whispering. “You are bound to me by your commitment.”

Screaming, I tried to run, but the doll grabbed my ankle and dragged me out of bed.

It was only a dream, yet I felt it was waiting for me.

‘Commitment in a can.’ It’s a warning.


Bottling The New You by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking prides itself on its innovations. Rather that compete with the huge industries and universities research budgets, it focuses on areas otherwise unexplored. One such is the nascent attitude applications industry being developed by a team of thought leaders under the guidance of Perce Sonnality and Lou Minaries. There were successes: the Eminence Grease skin cream did oil the wheels of commerce and Bigwig hair restorer did, as promised, turn muppets into mullets; failures included the Mighty Psyche brain food which caused constipation and Commitment in a Can which flopped when the innovators refused to guarantee its success.


17 Harry’s New *Canon by JulesPaige

Harry was committed to getting home, even if he wasn’t quite sure where it was. He gently lay Quill down and took a stroll out of the Saloon to rest under the Poetree. There was a little rubber duck that looked like Superman. The black curl on its forehead and the cape, made Harry smile. Near the Poetree was a picket fence with a can of white paint and a brush. Looks like someone had started a job and got called away. Harry thought he’d help, so he picked up the brush (hoping it didn’t talk) and began painting.


Ponderin Preserves

“Dunno bout this commitment in a can prompt, Kid. Doesn’t seem fittin.”

“S’pose. Now, tuna, that belongs in a can.”

“Well, there ain’t nuthin like fresh grilled tuna.”

“How bout corn? Canned corn makes sense.”

“Not if ya kin git fresh corn, grill it in the husk, eat it right off the cob.”

“Canned beans, that’s a staple.”

“Homemade beans is better, mebbe do em up in a dutch oven.”

“I know you use a crockpot, Pal.”

“Hmmf. Jist thinkin mebbe commitment don’t belong in a can neither. Mebbe it needs ta be served fresh.”

“Or least ways reconstituted.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Rubber Duck Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Ducky by Dianne Borowski

It was hot that summer. At least that’s what they told me. Nothing but dust, wind and more dust. A truck picked us up, me, Kenny, Kris and Kath. We were hungry and scared, I clutched my bag of belongings. They said I wouldn’t let it go.

Don’t know what ever happened to Ma and Pa? They split us up. Me and Kath went to Mr. and Mrs. Hall.

He was the Preacher. She took my bag to wash my clothes. She handed me Ducky – dirty, yellow Ducky.

I took him down to the pond and threw him in.


Still the One by D. Avery

At the time of the rainstorm, Rubber Ducky had been sitting his nest, though the mallard ducklings had already hatched.
After the storm, Hope rebuilt the little nest and recovered the smooth oval pebble eggs. She searched as much of the beaver pond as she could, but could not locate Rubber Ducky.

But then, a few days later, she spotted him.

“Do you want me to get him for you, Hope?”

They watched as the mallard and her downy brood swam under Rubber Ducky’s watchful gaze.

“No, Mommy. The beavers need him in their dam. I’ll leave him here.”


Muddy Footprints by Norah Colvin

“Aargh! Who just walked all those muddy footprints through the house?” said Farmer Jo.

“Not me!” said the animals in unison, displaying their best innocent faces. “There’s no mud on my feet.” They lifted their feet to show.

“It definitely wasn’t me,” said Rubber Ducky, “for I have no feet. See.”

“Then I suppose it was Mr Invisible. Again,” sighed Farmer Jo.

“It was,” chimed the animals.

Farmer Jo scoffed.

“It was me,” said Mr. Invisible, gradually materialising before their eyes. “Sorry.”

“What?” said Farmer Jo. “So, you do exist. You’re not just in my imagination. That’s a relief.”


Model Behaviour by Kerry E.B. Black

Petunia’s mother applied makeup with graceful flourishes while her daughter watched. The child squeezed her teddy bear. “How long’ll you be gone, Mommy?”

“I’ll be home for dinner.” She kissed the child atop her curly locks. “Just a short modeling gig for the art school.”

“So people’re going to make statues of you.”


“Like the first teddy bear that modeled for Teddy Roosevelt?”

She laughed, revealing pearly teeth. “The baby bear Teddy Roosevelt didn’t kill became the model for all the teddy bears kids love today.”

Petunia snagged a tub toy. “So who modeled for the rubber duck?”


Rubber Ducky by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Waaaaa…” Baby Maya’s loud wails echoed against the walls of the hotel room. “Jim, did you find her pacifier? I can’t get her to sleep without it.” Janelle paced the room, rocking the baby in her arms. Nothing worked. Maya continued to howl. “I looked everywhere in the car. It just wasn’t there. I know how to calm her down.” Jim headed for the bathroom and ran a bath. “This isn’t a good time for a bath.” Janelle shook her head. Jim held up Maya’s rubber ducky. Her tears stopped, and she held out her arms to her daddy.


Take Me Back by Meredith Caine

Take me back Rubber Ducky. To be that age again. To see the world with such curious interested eyes. Take me back Rubber Ducky to a life that was so sweet. You were my best tub time friend. I miss those days, so simple so secure. A world of attraction, let me learn it all. Take me back Rubber Ducky, so tiny so small. I don’t think I like it, this place that I’m at. It’s big and it’s cold, not much like a bath. Life is so different than it was before. Please Rubber Ducky can we go?


Prayers Can Be Answered by Frank James

Trapped in a tree, flood waters raged around Gale and son Jonny. He saw his yellow rubber ducky swirling from his ravaged house, “Mama! It’s George.”

He lunged, but Gale grabbed his britches.

“I have to save George!” He dangled above rapids.

No! The storm will take you.”

Jonny waled, “He’s my only friend.”

Gale pulled him up hugging him, “Prayers can be answered.”

He bowed his head, “Please.”
she gripped tighter. At that moment Fire Fighters rescued them. A burly man pulled both on board.

Jonny sobbed.

“We saved George for you,” He handed him to Jonny.

“Firemen are awesome!” Jonny yelped.


Rubber Chicken by Margaret G. Hanna

Mom was in the hospital. Again. I had to cook dinner for visiting Uncle Mel and Aunt Ruby.

I rummaged through the freezer and found a “stewing chicken,” whatever that meant. I’d roast it, just like Mom.

I boiled potatoes, but not long enough. I boiled broccoli, but too long. I’m 14. What do I know about cooking?

I thought I’d aced the roast chicken till Dad took a bite and spit it out. “I might as well be eating your old rubber ducky!”

Aunt Ruby patted my hand. “It’s okay, dearie. But next time – boil the stewing chicken.”


Sitting Ducks by Dora X. Plora

“Did you ever see that rubber ducky game at the fair?”

“I don’t think so. How do you play?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Is that why you’re asking me?”

“I don’t know. I wonder what the game was about. The duckies were so cute.”

“Why didn’t you play?”

“I didn’t know how.”

“Did your husband know?”

“I don’t think so. I asked him, but he just said it was a dumb game and we kept walking.”

“This was at the fair?”


“Whose idea was it to go to the fair?”


“Why’d he want to go?”

“I don’t know.”


Floating by Melissa Lemay

His demands were few: dinner be ready each night; she take his shoes and socks, placing shoes by the door and socks with laundry; a foot rub; then she’d serve his meal. He’d eat, pounding back beers, then go to “relax” in the tub (snore in drunken stupor).

Many nights she watched over him, hairdryer in hand. Tonight was different. She poured a glass of wine, lit a cigarette, and held their little girl’s rubber ducky. No one would know what he’d done. It was justice, him floating, eyes open wide, but with a hairdryer, not a rubber duck.


Something to Chew by Charli Mills

The laundry ladies of Ethel Street had fun. The five miners’ widows scrubbed clothes rather than remarry or give up their eldest sons to wither in copper mines. They bought their own damned house. C&H investors could go to hell. Minnie organized the ladies, found regular gigs cleaning clothes for single miners, and provided a safe place to live unmarried. No beatings. No rushed meals. No unwanted sex. Not even the long arm of the mining barons could touch them. They even had a dog of their own who chewed a Goodyear rubber duck while they worked and laughed.


Michael’s Secret Collection by Sue Spitulnik

Seeing Michael get a box out of the van when he got home, Tessa opened the door. “What do you have?”
“It’s the best collection ever, that I kept secret while in grade school so I didn’t get teased.” He set the box down and opened it.

Tessa looked inside. “Rubber Ducks?”

“I loved these things. They’re all sizes, colors, and characters, yet still qualify as ducks. Now that we have two grandchildren, I figured it was time to share my passion.”

Tessa grinned. “You might have to convince Jester they aren’t his.”

“Dang. Didn’t think about the dog.”


Adventures of a Rubber Ducky by Sadje

Dukaroo was an adventurous duck, though only made of rubber

He wanted to see the world and go on an extended holiday

Life for a rubber duck is not easy but he was one tough little guy

He packed up his little case and a bottle of bubble bath

And set off on his adventure squeaking his way across the bathroom floor Roofus the dog, his biggest enemy and fan, wouldn’t let him get away

Grabbed him in his strong jaw and slobbered all over him His pitiful squeaks alerted Sonny, who dashed to rescue his precious rubber duck


Love a Duck by Di aka Pensitivity101

Love a Duck had been in the family for a few years and was the only one of the rubber breed to survive the downsizing and house move.

Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he would be such a unique duck, with a pride of place in the best position ever as he sailed the seven seas (well, the local lake) on sunny days.

He had company some days too, but none were in his class, neither did they adorn handmade craft as he did.
From bathroom to helm, he was a star in his own right.


Dr. Duckie, MD PhD by Rose Nord

My rubber duck is a surgeon, he wears scrubs and a mask. A gift from my mother, as a joke, but not really. He sits on my desk, deputized by my proud parents to watch me churn through Anatomy 201.

At the end of each paragraph lays a gummy bear reward. I plow through them as the sun descends outside my window.

“Why did you become a doctor?” I ask the duckie in the darkest hour. He stares at me blankly, as if it should be obvious. I like to pretend it was because he wanted to help people.


Unidentified Flying … Rubber Duck? by Joanne Fisher

“So yeah, I saw a UFO!”

“These days they’re called UAPs.”


“Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.”

“Whatever man, I definitely saw one.”

“What did it look like?”

“It was a giant rubber duck.”

“A rubber duck? A flying rubber duck?”

“It floated to the ground and then these dudes got out.”

“And what did they look like?”

“Like totally trippy man. They were covered in hair and gave me a doobie to smoke.”

“Were you high at the time you saw the, uh, rubber duck?”

“I had eaten a couple of mushrooms, but I wasn’t baked or anything.”

“I see “


The Naming of Luck by Geoff Le Pard

In what passes for Little Tittweaking’s High Society if you’re told to ‘rub her duck’, you are in need of help. The genesis of this expression is often thought to be rhyming slang for ‘have some luck’. In fact, research reveals it emanates from when Mal Arde invented the unsinkable rubber duck. As Mal was working pre-vulcanisation, he used different materials but each collapsed on contact with water. Eventually, Teal foreskin was tried with unexpected success. When the duck eventually began to subside, a quick rub on its shiny surface and up it would pop, bobbing once more.


How A Rubber Duck Saved My Life by Hugh W. Roberts

My new rubber duck sat in the bath with me.

Its eyes were staring while its beak was open in a silent scream.

It looked like it had seen something terrible.

When I reached out to touch it, it vanished.

Frightened, I got out of the bathtub.

I had no idea what had just happened.

It scared me.

When I returned to the bathroom, my duck was still missing.

What had it seen?

Was it something that I should be afraid of if I saw it?

I don’t know, but I’m glad I didn’t see what was behind me.


Coop Killer by Sweeter Than Nothing

“What’s happened?”

“It’s the coop- killer again.”

“Any left alive?”

The young bobby shook his head sadly.

“You better talk to Joe, he’s in bits after losing his girls.”

“Show me the scene first.”

He approached hesitantly, he’d seen so much in his line of work but still, something about this guy’s calling card just got under his skin.

Waving a fly out of his face he knelt on the blood soaked ground and peered inside, his torch finding shiny dead eyes that stared blankly.

Every single chicken had been slaughtered and in their place, blood soaked rubber ducks.


The Writer’s Mindset by Anne Goodwin

Where her heroine saw dragonflies skimming the sun-kissed surface, the writer saw raindrops stretching to saucers of circular waves. Where her character caught a flash of electric blue as a kingfisher dived into the river, the writer saw a custard-yellow duck. Where the protagonist watched a litter of goslings, the writer saw litter polluting the water.

She couldn’t reach that rubber duck but she could take the idea of it back to her desk. She could float it in her character’s bathtub to spark an argument with the Love Interest. Even a children’s toy can launch a spicy romance.


Learning the Ropes by Reena Saxena

“I must have the yellow raincoat”. The voice emanating from the tiny frame is emphatic, like a final ultimatum.

“I’ll try my best. But may I know what makes you so stubborn about yellow? We do have some other bright shades there.”

“It makes a difference to the rubber duckies. They like to see someone dressed like them, and are friendlier.”

It was his turn to be surprised, as there was every other colour in the tub than yellow.

“Mom, I think I’d better learn to quack. We never know what appeals to the other.”

It’s only the beginning.


Duck Game by Angela T.

The dim, strobing atmosphere thumped and teased while
Against his boundary invisible he pressed.

On the outside, big heads bobbed idly by
Some four-eyed! Again, he pressed and pressed.

The Silverhead pressed against glass too thick;
Other spotteds flailed their own way, the sitting ducks

Over and throughout, they all shifted and scrambled
On and on, for days or months

Occasional gazes, in twos or fours, ambled
For this, they all would wait . . .
Today, could be . . . perhaps tomorrow
Big heads bowing, all eyes specky, toing and froing

Shining talons approaching, only to ascend
Grasping: rubber ducky through escarp descends.


Rubber Duckie’s Playing Hide and Seek by JulesPaige

How much fun would it be for a child to find and slumber with one of the rubber ducks I plan to take on my next cruise. I read about distributing duckies with little tags that say; “You Lucky Duck, You found me!! Keep me or hide me.”

I found three ducks (so far) I plan to give away. Two different ‘Disney’ Princesses and one Superman duck from the local discount kiddo store. I’ll have to check back and see if they’ve got some different ones. Quakers! Maybe I’ll find more at the charity shop, or at yard sales.


It’s A Hard Dudk’s Life For Us by Mr. Ohh!

A hush fell over the room. The keynote speaker floated to the podium. The light was bright yellow and pudgy, but this time there was no orange smile.

“Are you tired of taking a bath?” his sound so loud it echoed off the tile. “Our souls are being drained in a whirlpool of despair, leaving only a soapy film of blackness which never washes off. Yet we say nothing. Most don’t even let out a simple squeak unless squeezed and mangled.”

“We could just sit, with our heads wrapped in a towel, or we could bounce back, like rubber!!”


Rubber Ducked and Covered by Bill Engleson

It was ingenious.
And from a soldier.
Five generations of warriors.
No more.
The seed of the idea was planted.
“I read,” the General said one night, shortly after Ukraine was invaded, to his spouse, a woman who listened more intently to his ideas than anyone in his command, “that Putin, when he was a child, had a rubber duck.”
“If true,” she replied, “there may be a bit of the child left in Vlad.”
She often chastised her hubby for referring to people by their last name.
“If true,” the General mused, “perhaps the world can be saved.”


Ducky (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid, ya look like the cat whut swallowed the canary.”

“Canary, Pal? A little yellow bird?”

“Yeah, like thet. What’s with ya?”

“Jist thinkin on how much I’m likin this prompt.”


“It’s a ducky prompt.”

“Donkey? Thet is convenient, whut with yer latest acquisition.”

“Not donkey. More of a quackisition.”

“Not followin ya, Kid.”

“We have ta write bout rubber duckies. An I’m thinkin how our followers (hey Sue) kin fin’ly be told how ornery, grumpy, ol Pal a’tchally has a rubber ducky.”


“Yep, even takes it on backcountry roundups.”

“Shut yer bill, Kid.”

“Quacks me up, Pal!”


Ducky (Part II) by D. Avery


“Whut, Kid? Ya wanna s’clusive with me an my ducky?”

“No. Well, mebbe. But was jist thinkin, after readin Colleen’s comment… are we Ernie an Bert?”

“Them Sesame Street characters?”

“Yep. But, like, Hands at Carrot Ranch.”

“No! Jeez! They ain’t us, an we ain’t them!”

“Yer right, Pal. You’d be Oscar the Grouch.”

“Would not! Anyways, was Ernie thet had the ducky.”

“Ha! So yer admittin that you have a ducky an that yer the more ornery one, ie, yer Bert ta my Ernie.”

“Ain’t nuthin bout this ranch is like Sesame Street.”

“Big Bird, Rubber Ducky…”


Ducky (Part III) by D. Avery

“Okay, Kid. Let’s compare an contrast.”

“Okay. I’m fun, yer not.”

“Not true. Yer bout as fun as a mosquito bite on a saddle sore. An I meant ta compare Sesame Street ta Carrot Ranch.”

“Oh. Well, they’re both great places. Safe. Diverse. Kin learn a lot in both places.”

“Yep. Folks kin be themselves. They’re both virtual places. With fictional characters.”

“An, though Sesame Street’s a urban settin, they also got a ornery ol grouch. An they got a big yeller bird, an we got a little yeller ducky.”

“No we don’t.”

“Empty yer saddle bags, Pal.”



Ducky (Part IV) by D. Avery

“Orn’ry Ernie! What’s up?”

“Ma ears was ringin, Pal. Thought I’d call on ya’ll.”

“Hey Ernie. Was jist gonna use the prompt ta reveal something ‘barassin ta Pal. He’s got a rubber duckie!”

“What’s so ‘barassin bout that? I got a rubber duckie. Ya wanna ‘barass me too, Kid?”

“Gulp. No. But why, Ernie?”

“Why, Rubber Ducky, he’s the one. He makes bath time so much fun.”

“Since when do you have a bath time?”

“Well, if’n I did, it’d be ducky.”

“I’ll say.”

“Hmm. Ever notice our Ernie looks like the other Ernie?”

“Yep. Cept rolled in brillo.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Parents of Adult Children Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Tectonic Shift by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Baba peeked through her shutters, to see Billy’s hind end bouncing its way back to town. That night, sucking on her pipe, she considered the moon overhead. Why did he throw rocks at her cottage? No hello, no jeers, no partner in crime. Was he lonely? Her rocking chair creaked in assent.
She offered cookies, meat pie, even halloos. Never accepted, never answered, so she only nodded when he came, gathering the rocks in a pile that grew with the child.
Until the day she couldn’t get out of bed, and the young man knocked on her door.


Adulting Adult Children by Dora X. Plora

“OMG, they don’t ever really grow up.”
“The opposite. Mine still acts like a two-year old, expecting everything to go his way.”
“At least he’s working.”
“Yeah. I don’t see any of the money, but it does get him out of the house.”
“I’ve thought about asking mine to actually move out of the house. Then he’d have to grow up, do things for himself. But where would he go? I’m not sure he could manage on his own.”
“It’d send a message. Sink or swim.”
“But it’s still hard to let go, despite everything. We’ve been married forever.”


The Teens Mature by Sue Spitulnik

Michael said to Tessa, “Remember Gaylan?”“Of course. Back when, your father explained responsibility and rewards to him, and he became more trustworthy after that. Why?”“He called and wants my input about his career path. I’m not sure how to respond when I still picture a reckless kid.”Tessa chuckled. “It took me a while to look at Lexi as an adult, but when I realized  she was acting and talking like a mother, it was easy to switch to dealing with a peer, not my child.”“So, if I hear maturity, I’ll see maturity?”“I believe so.”


When the Truth Hurts by Dianne Borowski

Cole was my sister’s kid. He didn’t know it. She was high on coke when the baby was delivered. The father disappeared rather than worry about child support, I was single, had a good job and enjoyed life. The hospital called me to take custody of the baby. I did. Sis was Aunt Shelly to Cole. She preferred to let him believe I was his mother. I kept my mouth shut.

Have you ever tried to live a lie? Day after day, year after year I wanted Cole to know the truth. Shelly overdosed. I never did tell him.


Like Mother, Like Son by Anne Goodwin

If she could rewrite history, she’d go back and steer him away from danger. She would pay for the privilege with her life. When he was a boy, she could lick his wounds; now he’s an adult, he won’t even show her the scars. But she sees the consequences in broken relationships and lost jobs. If he could mould the future, he’d banish all her burdens. He’d care for her as she cared for him as a child. But his mother is proud, she drapes her frailty in scarves and jewellery and asks him what he wants for tea.


The Kid by Bill Engleson

I don’t know what love is anymore.
Maybe I knew when I was younger.
But when love walked out the door,
kinda took away the hunger.
Sometimes. Settled into darker days,
getting by, but barely.
Wallowed in my empty ways.
Never faced the world squarely.
Most times. Wondered ‘bout the boy sometimes.
How life was working for him.
Paid support in nickels and dimes-
Life on the margins is slim
Oft times. He sought me out a week ago,
Doing well and looking strong.
We passed the time talking slow.
Forgave me for doing wrong,
all my fathering crimes.


My Daughters by Sadje

I have three brothers and no sister. So when my daughters became adults they became my sisters and friends. We can share anything with each other. Though there are boundaries, (no one wants to know everything) they are here for me when I need someone to talk to and vice versa. When there are secrets to be shared mom is here. When they want to crib about something, mom is here and it’s the same with me. I can trust them implicitly as they can trust me to honor their trust. Friendship with adult children is a wonderful gift.


Coming Out by Hugh W. Roberts

“Gran, I’m gay.”

“I’m so glad you’re here. I was worried something was wrong,” came the reply.

We hugged. We’d been through so much together. “There’s nothing wrong with me being gay, right, Gran?”

She shook her head.

“I love you, Gran.”

“I love you too, Bill.”

We hugged again before I went to my room. I was finally ready to start living my life openly and honestly.

And I knew I had my Grandmother’s love and support to help me along the way.

Although I was tired, I was also happy. I knew that I was finally home.


Homecoming by Rose Nord

“Little brother!” She stood on her toes on the train platform to throw her arms around his neck. He smiled a goofy smile, teeth bleached, barely filling out his suit.

Her window wipers bravely battled the downpour, headlights carving through the night.

“How’s mom?”

“Oh, you know.”

The brother looked sunken, the sister frowned. Was it mom he’d come to visit?

Arriving at the slumbering house, his bedroom awaited him, untouched and cautiously optimistic, even though he drifted further from his hometown every year.

“Don’t forget to brush your teeth,” she told him, as she had many times before.


Lingering Laments? by JulesPaige

flip the switch
up is down; reverse
hourglass drains

egg in pot boils; soft then hard
Möbius strip continues on

flipping loop
is an endless dream
timeless path?

Memories like unclear images of a life that could have been. If the grandparents could have been the mentors. If the parents had moved to that house in Florida right on the water.

One can only move forward. Grains of sand flow down. Gravity allows us to fall. Not every fall is a failure. Those once doting grands, they will have their own speed of growing up. As elders slow down.


Passage of Time by Ruchira Khanna

“It’s getting late, sonny boy! The school bus will be here anytime. Let me help you with the socks while you finish your breakfast.” I said as I glanced at the clock.

“Mom, we are running late for the convocation ceremony. Allow me to help you so we can be on the roads soon.” said the same boy, 21 years later, as he helped me with the socks due to my arthritic hips. 

Embracing the inevitability of time is crucial in navigating the waters of life. We must keep rowing our boat to make a difference in this lifetime. 


Mother and Daughter by Norah Colvin

You are my everything, my world, my universe.
I only want to be with you. No one else will ever do.
You’re the best in the whole world.
You’re mean. Everyone else can.
I hate you.
I’m an adult. You can’t tell me what to do.
It’s my life. I’ll do what I want.
How can I get Bubs to stop crying?
Will you babysit?
Can you help with sport?
Please talk to her. She won’t listen to me.
I wasn’t this bad, was I?
Sorry, Mum.


Churning by D. Avery

“A grown man churning butter!”
Robert looked up at his mother, damp mary-golds clenched in her hands.
“Thomas traded chores with me today.”
“I was so angry when you joined.”
“You wouldn’t know it to see him now, but Thomas was a sickly baby. After I’d already lost so many children.” She stood, watching Robert at his methodical work. “I was afraid I’d lose my eldest too.”
“I’m sorry to have worried you so.”
“Well, you’re back. And a fine man you are, Robert. But you’ll always be my child.”
“I know, Ma. That’s why I came back.”


Nursery Lessons by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking has successfully eradicated childhood, the residents appearing as fully-formed if untutored adults. The lack of role models has been filled by a Dad Library (Pa Rentals) of for-hire patriarchs. It is attached to an adult nursery school, teaching these exemplars their life skills: how to sponge off your children; appearing hopeless in the face of new technology; games of how to play the guilt card and ‘mop my drool’. A similar school for matriarchs (If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother) flopped when its members spent too much time listening to what their charges really wanted.


Lasting Friendship by Eliza Mimski

She’s known him since he was a kid, coming home from school by himself, waiting for his parents to return from work. She invited him into her home, made him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and poured him glasses of milk, helped him with his math and quizzed him on his spelling words.
Years have past. He’s grown now. She’s eighty and often sick. His parents moved away, and he lives with roommates. He looks after her, calls to check on her and visits her on Sundays. He weeds her yard, taking out her garbage and recycling every week.


Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

It was becoming a golden hour at the Saddle-Up Saloon. Windows filtered the light flowing through crystals that bounced rainbows off mirrors, that danced wherever they landed. One rainbow landed on Harry’s hand that held the unique quill. The quill had become a salwart muse kicking Harry’s imagination into a higher imaginative gear. “Cue” the Quill, hummed with endless ink as Harry slowly poured out a simple story about the Victorian Era Lady in the photograph that had the pen taped to its back. Mystery, and romance… that brought back only partial memories of where Harry had come from.


Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

Harry had set up several pages for the quill named “Cue” to communicate – so as not to be intermixed with the story he was penning. Occasionally Quill would gently steer Harry’s hand to the ‘conversation’ page. Attempting to be a mentor. “Take another look at the photo,” Quill suggested. Harry gently put the quill down, and picked up the photo. There were some familiar features in that small happy face. Harry set the photo down and picked up “Cue”… “You might be related,” the quill softly sighed as a rainbow brushed the woman’s face, where her eyes twinkled delightfully.


Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

Kid and Pal weren’t quite sure where their mentor, creator, writer had drifted off too. But they were content to be the caretakers and support all those who showed up at the Carrot Ranch Saddle Up Saloon. It was a good environment. When their writer got back they’d have to have a heart-to-heart. Just so they knew that they’d never be completely abandoned. The saloon had some new mysteries. Mirrors were spouting poems and advice. Another writer who popped in, outta nowhere and a ‘talking’ quill. Harry had arrived in a tux, and was now comfortable without his cumberbund.


Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

Carrot Ranch was a magical space. Everyone who entered was either mentoring or bein’ a mentor. What started out as a small seed of an idea helped to develop new fictional lives that matter. Some writer’s adopted other characters, but only briefly. ‘Cas the creator who wrote ’em first, never really abandon those ideals that help keep them sane in the real world. When Harry met Kid and Pal is a good example of that. As long as talking quills exist, imaginations will flourish. And eventually, at some point in time visiting characters will get to git home again…


Raised Write (Part I)

“Here ya are Kid.”
“Come Hell or highwater.”
“Reckon we’re settin this one out.”
“ ’Parently, Pal. Less ya got kids?”
“One Kid too many. Hey, lookit Curly.”
“Yep, she’s heppin the donkey git adjusted, kinda bein its service hog.”
“Curly ain’t a hoglet anymore, is she? She growed up ta be a fine hog, Kid.”
“If she’s growed up, does that mean we’re gittin older too?”
“Naw, we git ta stay the same age as we started. Benefit a bein a fictional character.”
“Feels like we’ve growed over time.”
“Benefit a bein a fictional character.”
“With good prompts.”
“ ’Parently.”


Raised Write (Part I)

“So, Kid, how’d ya do it?”
“Do what?”
“Raise sech a fine hog? An not in the goin ta market sense. Curly’s a responsible, reliable hog who steps up aroun the ranch. An the two a ya still git along an injoy each other’s company.”
“Don’t feel like I never did nuthin. Jist did ma best by her, specially when she was little. Then I jist trusted her, let her be who she was, let her try things out fer hersef.”
“Reckon that’s why she’s so confident.”
“Wish I had some a her hutzpa.”
“Kin learn from Curly.”
“ ’Parently.”


Raised Write (Part I)

“Hey Pal.”
“Hey there Shorty.”
“Where’s Kid?”
“Kid an Curly went a-campin, jist the two of em. Thinkin yer prompt inspired it.”
“I’m glad Kid saw a way ta make it work. Curly definitely counts. What about you, Pal? Got any kinda grown kids?”
“Hmmf. Nope. No way. Never. Member, I always jist been, ya know, fully formed.”
“Formed from what?”
“The ranch itsef I reckon. I’m the growed child a the ranch; all its landscapes an critters; all its maginations an dreamins.”
“You were raised write!”
“Reckon I was. But it takes a village a worldwide ranch hands.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!