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He shuffles across the rubble that bridges the 2nd Street drainage system of Ripley Creek. Wisps of white locks curl from beneath a baseball cap, and his t-shirt glows as white as if he reserves a brand new one for rare occasions. Spotting this reclusive Vietnam veteran hovering in what used to be the front yard of one of his neighbors feels like a sighting an elusive Sasquatch.
He hesitates and reminds me of a moth that bobs back and forth on my back porch, seeking entrance through the glass and darting away just as quickly. Like the lapping waves of Lake Superior on a hot calm day. Shy, uncertain but reaching out. Cynthia rises from the silt-covered floor of her gutted house, speaking his name in reverent tones.
As much as I want to dash out the front door and greet this rare neighbor, I hold back, letting Cynthia guide him up the front steps. I’ve heard much about the man. Cynthia has a big heart for the elderly. He lives alone in his mother’s old house down the street. When she first moved to Ripley, a girl in the neighborhood told her that the man’s house was haunted. The lights came on after midnight.
Like many who live in seclusion, this neighbor keeps odd hours. He is the only specter in his domain. Cynthia befriended him not in person but on social media. Although only one house separates them, they chat late at night on Facebook. She’s told me how brilliant he is, knowing much about music and art. Vietnam secluded him, fenced him off from community.
It’s a kind gesture on his part that’s he’s ventured well beyond his comfort zone to see if Cynthia is okay. With last night’s rain, Ripley Creek overflowed, washing away the sandbags along Cynthia’s house. We’re filling out applications for funding and trying to find immediate resources so Cynthia can get temporarily housed. It worries me when my friend is unsure of where she is sleeping each night.
It’s also troubling to wait on the dictates of others — no one has a permanent solution for the Ripley drainage and the elephant hunkered on the hill above our community is the unstable sand escarpment that can trigger more landslides. Powers that be monitor the temporary silt mitigation, but no one knows how to work together or even if Federal funding is coming.
Another neighbor, HockyPuck because he has the personality of one, strode by earlier, bragging about how the flood got him started on his home improvement projects early. He can afford to put his family up in a hotel and start repairs without care to grants, funding or donations. I heard he was brave the night of the landslide, rescuing his wife and children. But he refuses to give me an interview because he’s too busy.
I want to say I’m not interested in his story anyway. It’s the broken fences I find more interesting. Who cares about a fence that never breaks because it has all the resources and support it needs. Capitalism forgets that while some earn a comfortable life surrounded by ornate fences, most struggle. My friend and this gentle neighbor buckle beneath worry and real-life fears.
But everyone’s story matters. When collecting the stories of an event — or even here at the Ranch, the way we collect multiple stories on a single theme — different perspectives contribute to the greater story of us all. No one is to be excluded. No perspective matters more than others. It’s not about the best but the invitation to have your story heard.
My friend is not without her support network. In fact, the fence of human hands that surround her is amazing. All these hands, reaching out, pulling up. Even the Hub showed up with his truck to build weirs and fill sandbags. A few friends did the best they could do. I returned home to finish some paperwork for Cynthia, and that’s when I opened a portal to a long-held dream.
It came via email like Elvis popping up in a chat box.
You see, the dream is old — I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Not just an archeologist, but one who traveled and adventured. Who learned in the field and archives. Who taught college and wrote books. Oh, that was the original Big Dream! I even left my hometown to study archeology for a semester. It didn’t work out.
In 1998, I graduated from college ten years after my first failed attempt. Back then, to be a career author, one had to get an MFA. I could have been a contender! Instead, I chose to be a wife and mother, and I veered from the dream and used my creative writing degree in a marketing career.
I never lost touch with my literary roots and as I gained life experience, I better understood what the Big Dream meant to me. To be Indiana Jones, I had to be open to adventure, travel, and discovery. I’m not an archeologist, but I certainly excavate stories from the layers of the past. I’m now writing, and I’ve taught workshops for years. Not exactly college, but satisfying enough.
Until now. Until the pinch-me-Elvis-sighting moment.
I’ve written here before about my presentation to 1 Million Cups. Carrot Ranch Literary Community made the evening news, and many in the room warmed to the idea of storytelling and flash fiction as a tool. Already, I’m finishing up a small but mighty gig I landed from that presentation, coaching six entrepreneurs to craft their 10-minute pitches in a series of 99-word stories. Tomorrow they test-run their speeches.
Another organization met with me after the 1MC presentation to talk about workshops — Finlandia University. I toured their facility on campus where I can use conference rooms and the large hall for public workshops. It’s great space from intimate settings to large presentations. I shared my Curricula Vitae and received an unexpected response — had I ever considered teaching adjunct?
Short answer, yes! And quickly followed by the fact that I never went on to get my MFA, let alone my Ph.D. to complete the Big Dream. However, it was suggested that my CV was robust enough to waive the masters. I felt light like a butterfly flitting among honeyed flowers. So, I looked at their need for adjuncts, of course. One stood out as perfect — a marketing course intended for high school students through a partnership with the university. I thought, why not try!
Today, I received my appointment at Finlandia University for nine months to teach the CTE Marketing course. That’s about as close as I’ll ever get to sighting Elvis! Never did I think that part of the Big Dream would happen without a different journey. It’s only 10 hours a week, all hands-on (so no homework), includes 60 hours of prep time (I get to design the course!), a budget for materials, a van for field trips, and my very own college classroom.
I’ve become Indiana Jones, after all. Carrot Ranch is my beloved field work of discovery and treasure; I have a college appointment to teach; and I continue to write novels through the stories I catch 99 words at a time.
Broken fences can be mended. Everyone’s story matters.
July 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence. You can mend it, leave it, or explain its place in a story. Go where the prompt leads.
Respond by July 17, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.
Horses Have Greater Value (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
“Blast it you duck-billed buffalo!” Cobb lunged at the stock handler.
Despite his injuries, Hickok dodged the charging man better than the bear that tore him up. “It weren’t me,” he said, confronting his angry boss.
“That busted fence didn’t happen on its own accord,” Cobb growled, pointing to the corral empty of horses.
“No Sir, pert sure it didn’t. Found it that way before you showed up. Recon’ Dock rode out after ‘em.”
“Then quit idling and get after that herd!”
Hickok sighed and set out on foot, his left arm hanging as useless at the fence post.
Lisa Reiter is one of the Rough Writers whose calling is not fiction. She writes about her experience writing flash fiction as a memorist. More than that, she explores the topic of perfectionism, giving sage advice to all writers who might struggle with perfecting drafts. She frames her story with a memory of worming cats. For a few laughs and a delightful and informative read, visit Lisa at her blog as we return to England on our Rough Writer Tour Around the World.
Join us next week as we go to Poland to visit Urszula Humienik.
JulesPaige is one of the bright jewels of Buckaroo Nation, whose curiosity for words leads her to share new vocabulary with her fellows. She can take multiple prompts and create what she calls a “mash-up” response to them all in 99 words. That’s not an easy feat! Jules shines brightly, offering a helping hand and welcoming words to others who make their way to the Ranch.
Join her in Pennsylvania today to learn more about her creative literary art: Jules in Flashy Fiction.
Next week we jump across the Pond to Lisa Reiter’s UK.
Susan Zutautas is one of those writers who khookedme with dog stories and delicious recipes. Her writing includes doses of humanity and details that feel true to life. He novel “New in Town” was the first indie book I had read, and I enjoyed it. She opened my eyes to the possibilities of independent publishing, which was not on my radar. When I decided to make the leap from business writing to literary writing, she jumped over to Carrot Ranch with me and has remained consistent despite many ups and downs. Today, she gives us a tour of Orillia, Ontario, Canada. She catches all the snow the Great Lakes can send her! We are definitely connected by the same snowbank.
Join Susan at Everything Susan for her Rough Writer Tour.
Next week, we visit JulesPage, south of Orilla in the US.
One virtual literary space is neighborly with another: from the wild west of Carrot Ranch to the lush pastorial countryside of England, the Summerhouse is the latest stop on the Rough Writer Tour Around the World. Sherri Matthews is more than a literary friend and original Rough Writer — she’s also my trusted writing partner and one of the advisors to Carrot Ranch Literary Community.
Sherri and I share much in common in our approaches to writing craft and processes, and yet we both take one different genres. We’ve learned much from each other by sharing our processses. I’m delighted to share the Summerhouse stop with all of you. Continue over to Sherri’s virtual and eternal summer place: Real Memoir, Imaginary Flash Fiction and Not Your Typical Anthology.
Join us as we continue the tour:
I sit and listen to news of blisteringly cold gales, snow falls, and marvel at photos of these dumps of snow on Facebook and Instagram. We are still in summer here with no evidence of autumn being around the corner and no doubt those in the northern hemisphere will be wondering if they will ever come in from the cold.
This puts me in mind of memoir as a genre. Will it ever come in from the cold and be given the value it deserves. Despite Frank McCourt and Mary Karr who are credited with being the first to move memoir up a notch in people’s estimation, memoir is still talked of in hushed tones. Writer’s of memoir often seem a little embarrassed that this is the genre they write. Other writers might quickly say, “I don’t write memoir.” What is the problem with owning our own story? Is it a lesser story because it happened to us? Does it say something about us because we want to tell it? No story has to be told and if yours is one that you don’t wish to share there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We do share our stories though. Every anecdote we relate is a small memoir told in an oral tradition. I researched memoir for my masters and discovered that memoir as a genre is new to scholarly examination. I also discovered that not many realise that memoir is captured in the genre creative nonfiction.
What is creative nonfiction? Lee Gutkind, the father of creative nonfiction, describes it as a “true story well told.”
The best creative nonfiction in Gutkinds opinion is where the public (books such as True Blood, The life of Henrietta Lacks) moves closer to the private end by giving some personal detail and the private end (which includes memoir and personal essays) includes some public information.
If we are looking at ‘true stories well told’ where does the creative come in? It does not mean making the story up. Once you do this, you have moved from nonfiction to fiction. The creative has been found to cause some confusion, and other names (narrative nonfiction, literary nonfiction) are often interchanged in the hope of giving a little more clarity. The creative is referring to using storytelling techniques from fiction to tell the true story. There are three major elements used: 1) dialogue; 2) high definition descriptions of scenes and 3) manipulation of time. It was these features that McCourt and Karr used skilfully creating a true story that people wanted to read.
In memoir writing, it is now widely accepted that all these elements are acceptable despite being made up elements. Dialogue serves the same purpose in memoir as it does in fiction. It develops or reveals the people who are in narrative, moves the plot forward and gives immediacy to the moment being described. From the readers perspective, it puts them in the scene. For memoir, it is accepted that the dialogue used will be of a style an in a manner of what would have been said. The essence of the dialogue must be true to memory even though the words are not remembered. At the time I was examining dialogue for my thesis I was reading many purists and questioned if dialogue was used, did it change the genre from memoir to BOTS. Painstakingly I counted how much dialogue was in a large number of memoirs – Frank McCourt used the most with one book 22.64 percent and another a whopping 47.74 percent. Most used less than 10 percent in a first memoir and less than 20 percent in a subsequent tome.
A similar finding is possible for high definition description of scenes. Mary Karr was a master at these descriptions such as her description of the doctor: “He wore a yellow golf shirt unbuttoned so that sprouts of hair showed in a V shape on his chest. I had never seen him in anything but a white starched shirt and a gray tie. The change unnerved me.” Despite these types of vivid description Karr could not remember everything and had huge gaps in her memory:
“Because it took so long for me to paste together what happened, I will leave that part of the story missing for a while. It went long unformed for me, and I want to keep it that way here. I don’t mean to be coy. When the truth would be unbearable, the mind often blanks it out. But some ghost of an event may stay in your head. Then, like a smudge of a bad word quickly wiped off a school blackboard, this ghost can call undue attention to itself by its very vagueness. You keep studying the dim shape of it as if the original form will magically emerge. This blank spot in my past, then, spoke most loudly to me by being blank. It was a hole in my life that I both feared and kept coming back to because I couldn’t quite fill it in.”
The two different memories don’t gel, and yet we accept the doctor scene as true. It gives us an entry into how Karr felt as a child. Again, these high definition scenes are now accepted as belonging in a work of memoir.
Next month I will look at time. I’d be interested to hear what you think about the inclusion of dialogue and high definition scenes in memoir. Do you think that the inclusion of these elements make the writing come alive? Do you feel you get to know the author better through dialogue? Do you think there is a point where there is too much dialogue? I look forward to hearing what you think.
Please join Irene Waters at her blog Reflections and Nightmares with a monthly memoir writing prompt that gives us social insights between generations and geographical locations. Along with your response, give your location at the time of your memory and your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments (here or at the current Times Past Monthly Prompt) or by creating your own post and linking to Trees: Times Past.
Irene Waters is a writer from Queensland, Australia, whose pastimes include dancing, reading, and playing with her dogs. Her main writing focus is memoir. Her writing has appeared in Text Journal and Idiom23 magazine. She is the author of two memoirs, Nightmare in Paradise, and its sequel After the Nightmare which she wrote as part of her thesis. Her Masters is a research degree, examining sequel memoir from Central Queensland University. Irene is a Rough Writer and contributor to The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1, including an essay on memoir.
I just wrote a flash fiction in less than three minutes. And no, that’s not a brag. It could be better. The word choices are unpolished. The idea may not fully translate. I could let it sit, rewrite it a few more times, but I want to make a point.
Flash fiction can be a literary form that’s quick and powerful. Literary art itself can do good in the world. Case in point: Sarah Brentyn of Lemon Shark is using a flash fiction challenge to raise awareness of how to find reputable charities for natural disasters when we feel we want to help. She’s also donating a dollar (up to $50) for every flash fiction others write and link back to her challenge. Check out the rules of the challenge, links to charities, and join her in helping.
So why three minutes? Because I have much to do! Like all writers, I’m busy. I have three live readings tomorrow, negotiations with a book publisher for designing the interior of The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology, I had to go buy chocolate and update the list of Books by Rough Writers, and prepare for the Rodeo that begins Thursday. I’m also meeting with KEDA again about Carrot Ranch, and a local dance troupe has asked to use my reading voice to MC their show Friday and Saturday.
Not every writer’s week looks like that, but it’s some jumble of book platform, marketing, revision, planning, relationship building, family and work. Oh, yeah, and we all write, too!
Flash fiction helps us break free of the busyness. When I’m frustrated with video equipment, trying to remember I actually need to look fresh and not like a reclusive writer tomorrow, and worried about the insanity of the world in ways only a writer can observe, I need a creative outlet. Flash fiction to the rescue. A three minute free write to a pattern my mind knows (59 words in this flash form) and acceptance that it’s raw and will do is all I need.
One of the recipes I have for Busy Writers is this: Write the flash fiction in five minutes. Serve quickly.
Take time to support Sarah’s worthy cause. She’s fully demonstrating how literary artists can use their craft to do good.
For All Who Suffer by Charli Mills
Harvey, Irma, Maria.
Names of friends who killed themselves on the rez. They had alcoholic parents, missing teeth. His friends took their pain and left. He took his pain and volunteered to clean up after the hurricanes. It gave his mind healing, his body strength.
He returned sober to Pine Ridge after Puerto Rico and rolled up his sleeves.
My inspiration comes from anther Rough Writer, C. Jai Ferry, who shared this powerful video story with me about an issue of fighting injustice and predatory capitalism on Pine Ridge.
Join us tomorrow (Oct. 3) at www.facebook.com/CarrotRanch at 10 AM, 2 PM, 6 PM (EST) for live readings or on the Rodeo Fest post for updated recordings. Comment on either platform to be included in prize drawings.
In response to DEAR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN FANCY TINY HOUSES by Lauren Modery, published on Medium.com.
Dear Lauren Modery,
Worst smells exist in tiny houses than Mexican food farts. You wondered if I love living in a fancy tiny house. If I wake up thinking, I’ve made a terrible mistake. Well, I hope you don’t mind an answer from a plain tiny house dweller.
Wow, 250-square feet is fancy indeed! My house is 161-square feet, and yes, that odd one-square foot makes a difference — it’s my toilet. If you are going to have a home in the US, you need a toilet. Spend a week homeless and you’ll discover you have to pay to poop. Those public toilets are for paying customers only.
However, conscientious of space, my squared-foot plastic throne of human dignity resides in my newly remodeled shower. Because my husband and I are not youthful sleek millennials, neither of our Gen X buffalo butts fit in the original shower. Why let two-square feet of space go to waste?
The water closet is exactly that — a closet. A cheap tension rod sprung across its expanse allows me to hang turquoise-colored velvet hangers (hey, I saved money on the rod and only own 12 tops so I could splurge). The former shower now holds fabric-covered cardbord box-shelves for an illusion of fancy. Press-on plastic hooks (same idea as press-on finger nails for those of us who can’t afford manicures), allow me to show off my hair bandana collection. Silly me! I think I own more bandanas than tops!
The central piece of art in the water closet is a copper-looking shower-caddy that hangs next to the built-in mirrored cabinet. It holds several bottles of herbs, monster finger-puppets (don’t ask, that’s a different response), a pottery jar of cotton balls and all my earrings hanging from the rungs. It’s all spectacular space until my husband steps into the closet to pee. Aim has never been more important.
Ah, so you ask about smells. Let me explain our simple contained septic system. Wash your hands and the flow goes to the “gray-water” box; poop or pee and the flow drops into the “black-water” box. When contained (yes, curious writer, we can travel with our tiny house!) we use an enzyme that masks odors. When parked, we pull out a slinky-like blue hose, open both boxes and secure the hose into a sewer pipe with a piece of firewood to secure the connect.
Due to gravity, most spillage sits in the hose. This used to require lifting the slinky for a manual dump. Fortunately, we discovered a slunky. This is an accordion apparatus of flat plastic slats with a semi-circle cutout upon which the sewer hose resides at graduated heights. It’s tallest at the point of entry from water boxes and lowest by the time it reaches the pipe. Who knew sewage required such thought? If no heed is given, oh, Baby — it stinks and gives you heed!
Recently, a kind neighbor in a fancy little house (this mo-fo has 450-square-feet with chrome, slide-outs, cable-satellite dish and a flat-screen t.v. so big we can watch it best from our place) complained about our stinking hole. He even pointed out that a congregation of black flies had gathered in glee around the place where our hose dumped. He said, “Get a doughnut.” Before I could ask why such a diet change mattered, he showed me his hole (we are quite intimate, we communities of tiny house dwellers).
Turns out a doughnut is a soft piece of black rubber that fits onto the sewage hose and can be pressed like clay into the sewage pipe, thus blocking odors and breaking up fly parties. As of yet, no such doughnut exists to block Mexican food farts. Too bad, because, as you correctly surmised, the expansion rate of a bad fart exceeds that of the space of a tiny home. It’s a mathematical problem only alleviated by going outside, where the kitchen is.
It was either an office or kitchen indoors, but with 161-square feet of space it couldn’t be both. I work from home, so it’s an office at the end of our tiny home. I have a desk stacked on top of storage files, a laptop, killer speakers, a wi-fi system smarter than me, a printer, telephone (an antiquated system called a “landline”) and a coffee pot. Truly a coffee pot is more an office item than it is part of a kitchen. Behind my office/folding chair is a twin-bed platform. Our children (lucky them!) are grown with living space of their own, so the platform is a glorified dog bed with exceptions. I’ll return to that idea momentarily.
Step outside and our kitchen is massive! We have a barbecue pit surrounded by patio chairs; a propane smoker barbecue; a tabletop briquet barbecue; a picnic table/food prep/dining table; a crock-pot with extension cord; and all the milky-way as night lights overhead. Ah, curious writer, this is the benefit of tiny house dwelling. It desperately makes you want to escape your condensed space before you knife each other or kick a dog that you develop a greater appreciation of the outdoors.
We also eat out a lot. Unfortunately, we love southwestern cooking, Mexican food’s kin with similar fart DNA.
Cramped space? Yes, but you learn what is necessary in life. Stinky? Oh, yeah, but you cope and mask. Sexy-time? Ah, well, did I mention we are not youthful sleek millennials? It’s not the farts that create havoc with the four inches above our faces in our sleeping den; it’s claustrophobia and the physicality of not fitting sexy-time into the sleeping space. So what to do? That’s when the two dogs (German Short-haired Pointers, by the way so no toy-dogs here) get an unexpected invite to sleep in the bed platform too high for them to reach without our help. The dog bed suffices. It’s also a good place to watch t.v. through our neighbor’s window.
Zombies? Oh, come now, don’t be ridiculous. We don’t fear the zombie apocalypse because technically, our tiny house is a can and we can’t be easily shaken out of it with windows molded in place and access points that fit only easily-squashed mini-zombies. In fact, more than one zombie through the narrow door is impossible, allowing us to easily pick them off until frustrated, they’ll sneak into easier to access big houses. Besides, we can hook up our tiny house and get the heck out of Dodge when the zombies come. Can you do that with your big house?
Finally, let me explain the worst smell possible. It’s not farts but breath. Before we learned the doughnut trick, our two dogs escaped our tiny house (probably in desperation for space to roam). Being pointers, they followed their noses and discovered where we had been hiding the toilet water they once loved when we had dwelled in a big house. Without opposing thumbs, they managed to pull out the sewer hose and lap up what liquid spilled forth.
Believe me when I say, dog-breath enhanced by sewage is way worse than a Mexican fart in 161-square feet of space. May you never lose a big house to find out for yourself.
Charli Mills, Humble Little House Dweller
Life is full of goodbyes — to loved ones, missed opportunities, places. Yet, saying goodbye can bring a new beginning, too. As in , one door closes and another opens, or the wisdom to see beyond the loss. In many ways, goodbye is not the end.
The past two weeks, writers have explored farewells in various customs and perspectives. Some goodbyes are rooted in choice, and others are unexpected. Writing about goodbyes had surprising conclusions, as well.
The following stories are based on the August 31, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a goodbye.
Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye by Drew Sheldon
We had barely spoken a word all morning as I got into my car. We had promised not to say a certain word and were struggling to avoid it. She did tell me she made extra strong coffee to help start my long drive. I still couldn’t help but cringe at the taste. She erased my expression with a kiss. Starting my car, the radio was playing an old song perfectly timed. We shared another kiss through the window before I put my car in reverse. Pulling away, I sang to her, “Sweeten my coffee with a morning kiss…”
Heartbreak in Paris by Rowena Newton
Nobody warned Chloe that the City of Love, was the City of Heartbreak. Or, that the River Seine flowed with lovers’ tears.
Yet, what could she expect from a holiday romance? A wedding ring?
Instead, he’d returned her letters and wasn’t returning her calls.
The lights of Paris had gone out and as Chloe leaned over Pont Neuf, she felt herself being pulled in.
“Nobody’s worth dying for,” a firm arm grabbed her, pulling her back from the edge.
What was she thinking? He wasn’t worth this.
An infinitesimal flicker of light broke through the darkness.
She was free.
Goodbye by Sharmishtha Basu
“Goodbye” never came easily to her lips, it was so hard to even think that they may not meet again, so she always said, “Till we meet again!” and hoped the same too.
Whenever she said those words she meant it, if she said goodbye to someone that clearly meant goodbye.
His heart stopped for a second when she uttered those words and closed the door.
He returned again and again but they never met, he could hear her inside but she was never home for him, after years of trying to please him she finally told him goodbye.
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
Lust at first sight, it was. Though you weren’t flashy, some inner magnetism drew me past the others to your hangout. Brazenly, I stroked your sleeve.
Friends said we were made for each other. Looked good together. A perfect fit. Do you remember when the rot set in? When you lost your warmth? Now I go out, and you stay home.
It hurts to move on from what we had together. Yet there’s life enough in both of us to begin again with someone new. So one last kiss, old grey cardigan, then it’s the charity shop for you.
Paradise Lost (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane looks at her forlorn hideout, seeing instead the home she left behind.
She hadn’t even said goodbye. She’d been glad to leave it, tired of family tensions and no jobs, looking forward to a plum job in an exciting city. She’d driven off in the U-Haul with scarcely a look in the rearview mirror.
She hadn’t meant to leave it forever, but the economy had taken care of that for her. How funny. She’d had paradise and hadn’t even known it.
She misses her rose bushes, hoping the new owners are taking care of her catalpa tree.
Farewell Summer by Ellen Best
Autumn fruits and winter boots, wrapping up for the day,
Cold noses on the children, their cheeks glow as they play.
Reddend skies apple pies, climbing fences made of wire,
Warming stews and evening news tucked up by the fire.
Halloween, bonfire night, toffee apples on their sticks,
Burning smelly candles right down to their wicks.
Warming bubbles soothe the bones
reading stories, haunting tomes.
Fond memories seep inside my head,
of windy nights wrapped up in bed.
We put away flimsy dresses
tie up loose flowing tresses
Say farewell to summer
the honey and the Bee,
That’s what Autumn,
conjures up for me.
Leaving Can Be So Hard by Geoff Le Pard
Paul nodded. ‘I feel a fraud going to Jerry’s funeral. I barely knew him.’
Mary held his hand. ‘So don’t go.’
He shook his head. ‘No. I feel guilty, how I ignored his overtures. Now I know how tough things got, I just wonder. If I’d called him…’
‘Shh. It wouldn’t have mattered. If it helps, then go.’
Paul stood by the door. A woman stared. ‘Paul North?’
‘And some. Mrs Marchand now. Why does it take a death to bring people back together, eh? Come on, lots of old faces, lots of old memories.’
Time for Bed by Charli Mills (from Rock Creek)
Mary rocked on the porch with a quilt tucked around her and Lizzie. The baby within stirred. After evening chores, the boys took to bed, leaving Mary alone with none to hear her heart pound. Cobb insisted she move in with his parents, but she wasn’t ready to leave Watauga County. The familiar woods, the patchwork of corn and squash, the smells of hearth fires nearby. She was born just over the ridge she couldn’t see in the dark. All her children were born here. And so would this last one. It was time for bed, not for goodbye.
Goodbye by Lady Lee Manila
the hardest goodbye
was to my Dad
on his bed
before my flight
I didn’t cry
I said sorry
things I’ve done
things I haven’t done
he said no need
I was forgiven
I promised him
lots of things
I’d look after everyone
I’d make sure they’re fine
I looked at him one last time
he was the man I dearly love
my idol, my ideal man
the man who pinned my medals
the man who left me notes
the man who cooked
the man with a big heart
his memories in my soul
miss him like the rain
Them Windows by Elliott Lyngreen
Angels humming; pass through in that sordid vanish of itself, that sort of end, that culminated bright waking where she rains so close to my temple; sense warmth where our heads were assuming endless yet turn up into the pillows. Barely touched her head and tremendous washed ‘awww-awww-ahhhs’ of angelic hums instilled into my dreaming still clenched in the raining. As I removed the pillow from our heads and I lay there, the day it seemed was washing away – as if I had seen her… again… Again the radio, the alarm was 24 Gone – Girl of Colours.
Flash Fiction by Lisa Ciarfella
The Market was bustling, its usual lunchtime crazy, people jamming carts into each other left and right. Amanda’s out of control chocolate craving was the culprit, but she just had to have it; their new fire-cracker dark bar. Thinking on it since last night, she braved the parking lot, nearly sideswiped three times to park, then dashed in quick under the pelting rain. Grabbing the stash, she looked up and saw her; cart in hand, oblivious. Last semester’s professor who’d screwed her out of the Teacher’s Aide job. Paying, she ducked past fast, not waiting to get into it.
Treachery by Bill Engelson
Time, dust and mortality cycloned in on Dobbs. He had to move quickly. “Damnation,” he realized, “I should have located Caldwell earlier.”
He scampered back into the morning shadows of Union City. “They will not harm the children,” he willed it to be. “They mean nothing to Caldwell.”
Behind the bank, he peered in. The Banker was busy.
He had a customer.
There was an easiness between the two men.
Each sported a twisted grin; two bedbugs, fat and sassy.
He had been a fool to trust the Banker. Any banker.
He would not make that mistake again.
Goodbye by Shane Kroetsch
“So that’s it then.”
“I guess so.”
Jess was doing her best to hold it together, but she couldn’t stop the tears from breaking through.
“Do you need a ride home?”
“No. I’ll be fine. Thank you.”
The Head of HR waited by the door, eyes watching each piece as it was placed in the cardboard banker’s box. Marilyn was shocked by how fast everything had happened. How cold it made her feel. And she wasn’t the one being walked.
I don’t know what to do, Marilyn wanted to say.
“It’s okay, really. Take care of yourself Marilyn.”
Arrivederci by Jules Paige
I missed too many, those important last words…the ones from
those who had whisper voices or none at all, before entering
death’s door to never to be seen again. Related by blood or bond.
Often the claim being that children brought germs. Did that matter
to those who were dying already?
last words lost and found
in dreams appearing to be
Distance is a hamper for dirty clothes hidden in the back of
a closet along with skeletons. Those who I could sit beside,
kept last words hidden with medicated slurring…barely stirring
The Birth by Rowena Newton
Walking into the hospital with my suitcase packed, I had no idea this would be my greatest goodbye.
Rather, all I could think about was the birth and welcoming our tiny son into the world. After feeling him moving around like an exuberant butterfly, I’d finally see his face and hold him in my arms.
No longer a work in progress, he’d become real.
With such anticipation and a love I’d never known before, I didn’t notice the door slam shut behind me. That the woman who walked in, wasn’t the same woman walking out.
That Mummy was born.
A Goodbye Clapping Song by Norah Colvin
It’s time for you to go, go, go
I’ve lots to do and can’t be slow.
It’s time for me to fly, fly, fly
Upon my broom into the sky.
It’s time for you to leave, leave, leave
I will be happy, do not grieve.
It’s time for me to run, run, run
And jump so high I touch the sun
It’s time to say goodbye, bye, bye
You’ve work to do and so have I.
I’ll blow a kiss, and smile, smile, smile
I’ll see you in a little while.
Bye. Have a good day. Love you!
The Worst Goodbye by Paula Moyer
Jean was never a follower of kidnap stories. Before the Amber Alert, she had glazed over the milk carton notices. A weird protection – if these cases weren’t real, her daughters were safe.
Then, one night, the news bulldozed over her. An 11-year-old boy, missing for 27 years. His remains found on a farm 30 miles from home.
Along with the boy’s mom, part of Jean had hoped he would surface alive.
After the news, Jean and Sam turned on the porch light – for remembrance.
Goodbye, little man.
Hello to hope – not for your return, but for remembering your face.
Flash Fiction by Cheryl Oreglia
It was early December, The Carol of Bells by George Winston, was playing in the background. That was the last time I looked my Dad in the eye and said goodbye. I knew I would not see him again, well at least not in this life, and I was bartering with God for a little more time. I held his gaze through a blur of tears, lingering in that wretched space, knowing my beloved was close to death. Although I was not granted more time, embedded in that gaze was a lifetime of love, and I am grateful for the sacredness of the moment.
Leaving Cousin Klaus by Susan Budig
“Sören, I didn’t even say goodbye.”
“Not a word, Becca?”
He laced his fingers inward toward his palms then pressed his thumbs together repeatedly. After several seconds, he looked at Becca standing next to him. Impulsively, he reached out to rub the tear away that trickled down her cheek.
“What would you have told him,” Sören asked.
Her shoulders rose up as she twisted her head to face his. “Why, I couldn’t have said anything. My family was stealing away, running from the SA, Jungvolk and everything that evil elfish man represented…saying goodbye would have betrayed our plans.”
Keepers, Chapter 3 Excerpt, by Sacha Black
“We’ll leave you the train and travel to Siren city overnight. Okay?”
I nodded. It wasn’t really a question and his tone of voice told me not to argue.
Mother looked back, her mouth sagged just enough that her unsaid words pricked the air. I stepped from foot to foot, desperate to find a quick question she would answer. I had nothing. So, like a child, I reached out to cling on to her. She leant back pulling her body out of my grasp. A tear rolled down my cheek.
“I love you, Eden East.”
Then she was gone.
Goodbyes Were Few by Ann Edall-Robson
Through the open door of the old country school, the lively sounds of a three piece band played on. Laughter and voices singing to the music. Small children lay asleep on benches around the room. Waltzes, polkas, old time schottische and swinging butterfles. Sashaying around the room with neighbours, friends and loved ones. Midnight lunch, a conglomerate of pot luck dishes on tables at the back of the room. The slowing chords and the crowd singing ‘Irene, Goodnight Irene’ announced the evening’s end. Across the grass covered field, was a chorus of “See you next time”. Goodbyes were few.
Goodbye, Again by Diana Nagai
You crossed the rainbow bridge months ago. My children’s sobs echo in my memory, as does the quiet ride to the hospital. I see your eyes, too tired to complain about the car ride. My arms feel your weightlessness as I handed you to the veterinarian, full of hope, yet knowing the truth.
We said goodbye that day.
Yet, I continue to wash blankets covered with your furry DNA, erasing your existence even more. At every moving shadow or tinkle of a bell, I look for you. I remember. I struggle with renewed loss. I say goodbye, again.
Goodbye Gram by Kerry E.B. Black
Ariel dreaded the M.I.U. and its decaying grandeur.
Gram rested in an over-sized chair before a quiet television. The other residents’ smiles quavered across wizened faces, searching for recognition. They found none.
The nurse whispered a warning in Ariel’s ear.
As she stroked her Gram’s pigment-free hair, a tear slid over Ariel’s cheek.
Gram stirred and searched Ariel’s face. “Is it you?”
Her heart leapt. “Yes, Gram, it’s Ariel. I love you.”
Gram’s bony finger collected her tear. “I love you, too, dear.”
Ariel cried into her Gram’s lap, uncertain even at the end if her Gram really recognized her.
The Slow One by Charli Mills (from Miracle of Ducks)
“For God’s sake, Ike! You’re forty-nine years old, you need readers, your one knee is bad and your other one worse. You know what the fellows on the Baffin expedition used to say? ‘Don’t have to be faster than the polar bear, just faster than the slowest in the group.’ Well, Ike, guess what? You’re that slow one!” Danni stood on the curb of the airport, ready to block his entrance.
“Babe, I know. But I have to.” Ike grabbed his duffle, kissed his wife goodbye and disappeared into the concourse as if Iraq had already swallowed him whole.