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Lost Time

It’s easy to lose time when we walk away from our screens or misplace a watch. Other forces might be at work, too.

Writers responded to the prompt of lost time, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

A Brown Rubber Watch by Ruchira Khanna

My owner was one careless soul. One day she came to Lake Superior for a picnic. She was careful to remove me before a dip but forgot to pick me up after that.

Time ticked away, and I saw many sunrises and sunsets.

One evening, I felt a wet grip and realized a canine had fancied my ticking sound. He dropped me in the water when he went to fetch the ball. The waves welcomed me. I found a new home until they swept me over.

“Hello beautiful lady, what year is it? How much time did I lose?”

🥕🥕🥕

Time Lost by D. Avery

Give my watch back to me
Lost since ‘83
Relic of time— brown rubber band, hands that wind,
Never thought I would see
its face again; Sea

scratched, sand-blasted; etched, lined
not so unlike mine
Time-keeper losing faith; time come back to me
Covering sands march blind
measuring marked time

Not for the watch these tears
Thirty-seven years!
It’s the time that went (foolishly spent) I want
In a flash, disappeared!
Suddenly I’m Here.

Another flash, lost time
No reason, some rhyme
Give me my watch, give me back the time it’s seen
Worn trails, tracked storied lines
—99!

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When Did You Last Have It? by Anne Goodwin

It was there when I sat at my desk to write this story. It was gone before I typed THE END. Would I find it buried in my Twitter feed? In the dregs of my coffee? Behind the TV?

It was there when I rose from bed this morning. Gone when I crawled back tonight. Did I lose it in an endless to-do list? Distracted by the chatter in my head?

It was there in abundance in my twenties. Each decade chipped more away. Did I waste it mourning what was missing? Or was it never mine to use?

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Out of Time by Norah Colvin

“Time’s up!”

“Not yet! I’m not finished.”

Mallory stared at the page, blank except for some scribbles and a few false starts. Others smiled as they handed in their papers, earning accolades and rewards for tasks successfully completed.

“Please, just a little more time?”

“You’ve already had more than most.”

“I can do it. Promise.”

The timekeeper tapped the watch. “Five more. That’s all.”
Mallory worked frantically until the timekeeper declared, “You’re out of time.”

Mallory smiled, “It’s never too late to begin.”

The timekeeper agreed. “But you could have achieved much more had you not wasted time earlier.”

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Finding Mr Bunny by Joanne Fisher

Their rabbit had escaped to Faerie, and Cindy followed him. When she finally managed to grab him and take him back to the farm, Cindy found the sky was darkening though it had only been an hour. She put Mr Bunny back in his hutch and went home. Jess was waiting for her.

“Where have you been?” Jess asked. “I couldn’t find you!”

“Mr Bunny escaped and I was looking for him.” Cindy replied.

“The whole day?”

The trouble with Faerie was that going there meant you always lost time in this world, but Cindy didn’t tell her that.

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Chronos-4000 by Saiffun Hassam

Spacecraft Hermes-25 zipped through wormholes in the Andromeda galaxy. The spacecraft’s superintelligent AI Pegasus-5 swore when unexpectedly Wormhole-EXP12, the newfangled gates, were NOT functioning! He lost light years of time.

Wormhole-EXP9 was too far back. He sped forward to Star Gate-Hydra, an obsolete gateway, but functional. Pegasus had an important birthday gift to deliver.

It was the 4000th birthday of Old Yusef on Planet Yggdrasil. His ancestors were Terran and once owned a watch manufacturing company. A time capsule containing a 1982 brown rubber watch, Chronos-4000, dropped down on the planet. Just 5000 parsecs late. Better late than never.

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Stanton Near Forsyth Street by Donna Matthews

“Hey, your school called, and classes are canceled.”

Charlie, staring out the window, asks, “Why?”

“Dunno, but I thought we’d hit up the modern art museum.”

“Yeah, okay, I guess.”

Walking through the heavy front doors, a hush falls over their footsteps. They wander the halls until they find an empty gallery and sit in front of the Stanton near Forsyth Street.

Long minutes pass.

She chances a sideway glance and sees a single tear fall.

“What do you see?” she whispers.

“Huh?” His eyes coming back into focus, he whispers back, “Remembering dad, last time we saw him.”

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Lost Time by FloridaBorne

My right arm feels like it’s moving, my hand is in front of my face, but I blink at the white ceiling.

A nurse in white, a doctor in white… their words echo with an unbearable reverberation. The room becomes black.

Awake again, I move my head. The dark room has turned white walls into grey. People rush inside, lights blink on a monitor. When the doctor speaks, his words no longer sound hollow.

“You’ve been in a coma for 10 years…”

My family dead, my arms and legs amputated from the accident, my eyes close one final time.

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Time Lost, and Found by Chel Owens

His gnarled, brusque, tannin hands caressed the watch band. He’d found it and its watch face along Lake Superior; brushed it from forgotten memories and dormant agate stones. Now, warmed in his fingers, the band changed. He saw it new, cut, fresh, oiled; attached to his grandfather’s timepiece for his son’s eighth birthday.

A long time later for one as rough as he, the old leatherworker released a breath. Rising, he set the wind-worn watch on his curio shelf near a faded photograph and a curling crayon picture. Tears in eyes, he shuffled out to put the kettle on.

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Overcoming Obstacles by Sue Spitulnik

Michael sat on the floor of the rehab room facing a young woman, wheelchairs beside both of them. Her leg stumps matched his. He said,

“How did you pass the boot camp obstacle course? You appear too short to defeat the rock wall.”

“You mean I was too short!” She stopped. He waited. “Another recruit showed me the trick.”

“How long in hospital?”

“Six months.”

“That’s lost time, but if you’ll master getting into your chair from the floor they’ll let you learn to use legs back home.”

“Nobody told me that.”

“I just did.”

“Show me how. Please.”

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Friendship of Time by Ann Edall-Robson

Whirr, bong, bong, bong. The old clock echoed through the dark house. He counted hollow sounds off in his mind. His trusted friend spoke to him hourly. And so his days and nights went. The mantle clock kept him in sync with the goings-on in the house. When the neighbour would drop by for his lessons in braille and sign language. When his family would come home from their day to lavish him with news and gossip of the world outside his personal cave. The accident had cost him, but he had not lost the friendship of time.

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Too Tak by Anita Dawes

Humans would call me a bad fairy
They don’t know much about my world
I am known as a Too Tak
I need to steal time
In order to feed the hunger inside
Without this, my kind don’t live long
Let’s face it, humans get plenty of time
To lose a little won’t hurt
Half an hour here and hour there
What harm can it do?
They think the clocks are wrong
Running slow or fast
They blame the time loss on bad memory
When my time is done
They get the borrowed time back
As a lost memory…

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Lost Time by Frank Hubeny

Thinking back Bill wished he did things differently years ago. Not that he would have had any basis to change given what he knew then, but he wished he knew then what he knew now.

His son Clifford was screaming obscenities at him. He saw himself through his father’s eyes and cringed. He realized he deserved the scorn, but for reasons Clifford wouldn’t acknowledge.

Bill regretted all this lost time. How could he make things right now? He considered praying and cringed again. Was it a miracle, he wondered, when embarrassed he bent his knees, cringed and finally understood?

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Regret by Gloria McBreen

Rose opened the shabby old shoebox.

‘All my favourite things,’ she said softly with her hand on her heart. ‘You kept them.’

She rummaged through the box and lifted out a brown rubber watch.

Laughing she said, ‘Matt gave me this when we were eight.’

Nancy dabbed her eyes with her hanky. ‘I’m so sorry Rose…and ashamed. I’ve missed so much.’

‘We all have Mam. I’m sorry too, for staying away.’

The doorbell rang. ‘Are you ready?’ Rose asked.

Nancy nodded. Yes, she was at last ready to welcome her son-in-law Matt, and to finally meet her twenty-eight-year-old grandson.

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Lost Time by kathy70

In this lost year, we’ve missed parades, holidays,  graduations, travel, hugs and so much more. We also have learned how to see family on our phones and have work meetings without leaving home.

We learned to ration TP and hand sanitizer as well as wearing masks. I guess it’s silly to talk about things, it’s the lives lost that is devastating. We have lost the time that would have been spent with all our friends/family.

It may be easier to count our learned stuff and not the lost. Still miss hugs the most. Where do we go from here.

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Time Lost by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Elbows on bent knees,
Hands dangle between, wings on a gentle-breezed bird.
Butt planted, chilly on Autumnal Earth.
Grass spent, golden and crackling
Under a sky sharp as blue porcelain.
Leaves flicker down from balding trees,
The memories still, cut deep.

Nothing reaches me here on this hilltop.
High above the world, separate, waiting.
Stop time in order to save time.

So much lost, so much to be repaired
Pray what’s gone before yields wisdom.
Waiting for a miracle, knowing it won’t roll out on its own
I rise and stumble, back into the wicked world I helped create.

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The Brown Rubber Watch by Doug Jacquier

The Great Crisis of the History of the Universe included the collapse of the Daylight Savings Bank. Claims were made (but never verified), that people were seen leaping from the clock face of Big Ben, in despair at the plummeting value of their Time shares. The only asset holding its value was the Futures market, dominated by Brown Brothers, which had a history of bouncing back like a rubber ball, no matter the catastrophe. Elections and the virus disappeared from screens as the world settled into nervously searching for signs of recovery, later known as the Brown Rubber Watch.

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Time Bandits by Geoff Le Pard

‘Here we are.’
‘Are you sure this is a new motel. It feels the same.’
‘There’s no ashtray.’
‘Small mercies. I’m losing track of time.’
‘You’ve never cared about time.’
‘Very Einstein, Morgan. What’s that even mean?’
‘You’re never on time.’
‘I’ve never missed a plane.’
‘What about that old brown watch? It was always fast.’
‘It meant I knew I had more time than I thought I did. What about you? Your watch never even went.’
‘At least it was right twice a day.’
‘Which is more than could be said for its owner.’
‘It was dad’s.’
‘Ah…’

🥕🥕🥕

Not Her World by Charli Mills

Ivie stashed her digital watch in a pile of discarded clothes, ready to dive into Superior. She waved at her dad and brother bobbing in the lake. When she emerged, her family had vanished, the beach became a sterile room. Medical equipment pulsed and wheezed. Nurses initiated a flurry of activity until the room swelled with old people claiming to be her relatives. Ivie requested her watch to check the date and time for herself. A bearded geezer claimed it was lost the day of her accident. That’s when she knew. Ivie dove through time to a strange world.

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The Present by D. Avery

“Welcome to the What-You Seek Boutique.”

She said she was just browsing, not really seeking anything.

“No?” The shopkeeper proffered a brown rubber banded watch.

“I had a watch like that once, but haven’t missed it. I don’t need it.”

“It’s still ticking. Look.”

She looked. The path around the watch face showed all she’d ever done, places she had been. The watch’s one hand pointed to Home, not a written word but a feeling of what Home meant to her and her alone.

“Home… but— what next?”

The shopkeeper smiled. “There’s time. Take it. A present for you.”

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Lost Time and Lust by Kerry E.B. Black

The Doctor hunched over Gretchen’s cauldron and sniffed.

“So.” He jumped at her voice. “You’d like potion, would you?”

He straightened, imperious, and nodded. “If it works.”

A half-smile stole across her face. “Just like my Granny’s. We’ve bottled lost time.”

“How many years will this give me?” The sack he tossed clanked with wealth.

She ran her fingertips over the coins. “This’ll give you thirty years.” She ladled brew into a cup.

He licked papery lips with enthusiasm, nostrils flaring. “No tricks, witch.”

She handed him the cup. “Of course not, Faustus.”

He swallowed without noticing the undertaste.

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Lost Time, Never Found by Simon

He stared at his mom’s 1982 Brown rubber watch. It triggered his memories.

His phone rang, She usually calls him at that time. But he was busy that day and ignored it. But she continuously ringed him, his skin felt a sudden goose bumps. He quickly stopped his work and called back, no one answered. He reached his home to find his mom on floor unconcious. He broke in tears, he immediately called up medic team, in moments they came and declared she’s dead, he regretted the moment he couldn’t answer her phone, but, lost time never found again.

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Lost Time by M J Mallon

Stan picked up an imaginary sand timer, turned it over and watched as the grains of sand ran. He didn’t say a word. His grandchildren were playing on the beach building sandcastles, oblivious to his moment of sadness. On his wrist, he wore a 1982 brown rubber watch. It was now 2020. The watch had long since given up ticking, but he’d never throw it out. It would be terrible to do so. The watch belonged to his beautiful wife and brought back happy memories.

June died in 1983, was never fancy but always special.

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Time Bus by Bill Engleson

“Been waiting long?”

“I don’t know. Hour, maybe? Two months?”

“What’s time’s it supposed to be here?”

“Schedule’s on that pole. Didn’t look.”

“How come? Not curious?”

“Just didn’t, that’s all. Look, don’t look, it’ll come when it does.”

“Makes sense. Think I’ll take a boo.”

“Be my guest.”

“Hmm!”

“Hmm what?”

“That’s odd.”

“What?”

“Took a look…”

“At the schedule?”

“Precisely.”

“So?”

“Well, it’s kinda confusing.”

“It’s a schedule. They’re all confusing. That’s why I don’t bother.”

“Not that kind of confusing.”

“What kind, then?”

“It says…Time Bus Leaving When It’s Your Time.”

“Crazy!”

“What time you got?”

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(17) Damned Family (Lost Time) by JulesPaige

Jesse paced the Presidential Suite, an escape gifted by Uncle Stan. The dishes in the kitchen sink was proof that she had made something to eat. But what it was she couldn’t recall. Or how long ago she had actually eaten – she didn’t remember.

The curtains were closed, only minimal light illuminated the path that Jesse had created from the Master suite, around the dining table and the sitting area. She unplugged all the clocks, and landline phones. As well as turning off her flip phone. Sleep meant she might dream. Jesse wanted to lose time and some memories.

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My Own Re (Treat) by Michelle Vongkaysone

I retreat into myself on occasion.
Sometimes these treks last for ages.
I know better uses for my time exist.

However, I can’t deny my urges.
My journeys give me perspective.
During them, I am completely alone.

There are no demands to obey.
My time is something to devour.
I can spend it just how I want to.

What matters is my pleasure.
I want to binge on time itself.
I wile away my days in silence.

I lose myself as time passes by.
I retreat into myself for that bliss.
It’s the best treat I can give myself.

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Time of Hands by D. Avery

“Tellin’ ya Pal, I’m glad vacation’s done. It’s easier knowin’ how ta spend time when ya ain’t got so much free time.”

“Thet’s true Kid. I thought it’d be a good time visitin’ my cuzzins, but ended up more like doin’ hard time.”

“Ya spend any time at the Rodeo?”

“Was gonna but time flew. You?”

“Dang goats took too much a my time. I was ferever roundin’ ‘em up.”

“Once upon a time thet’s how Shorty got started rodeoin’— ropin’ goats.”

“She’s put her time in, fer sure.”

“Yep. Her time’s comin’. Now move, Kid. Time ta work.”

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November 5: Flash Fiction Challenge

Wandering the pebble beach at McLain State Park, I lose track of time. I walk from the car through a forest rooted in eons of compacted sand dunes to emerge above the water. Lake Superior eats her shoreline like a sea-creature and the edge of the forest drops into her maw. For now, Lady Lake’s waves loll like the tongue of a placid pet. All it takes is for another gale to blow and she’ll bulldoze rocks to shore with bare teeth.

I follow the sandy trail to where it dips down a slope. It’s too fresh and granular to hold a path, and with each step, my feet sink and launch tiny avalanches of sand. A few months ago, the base of this transition zone formed a ten feet edge of sandy beach. Now, long ridges of rocks ranging in size from mangoes to huckleberries bury the beach.

Chaos is not without order. I notice the uniformity of different ridges and note the ones most likely to contain agates based on size. I’m searching for bars of rocks the size of purple grapes. I look for hints of copper in the bigger stones and readily find a water-worn piece of basalt with nodules of pyrite. The mineral forms cubes; the water prefers rounded edges.

With all the time in the world, water wins over rock.

It’s November. Winter arrives early to the Keweenaw. In fact, we had our first 2020 gale on September 3, two months ago. Littered leaves and people clad in knit hats slide into descending temperatures and accumulating snow. Already, our jut of land surrounded by Lake Superior has measured 11 inches of snow. So, you might be surprised to learn that I came to the lake today to swim. We have a rare break in the plummet to winter. It’s warm-ish and sunny.

On my head, I’m wearing a thick cable-knit hat. I’ve layered a swim top beneath a t-shirt, thermal long-sleeved shirt, and a down vest with a wool lining. But I wore my quick-dry kayak bottom that extend to my ankles and water shoes. Already, my exposed fingers are cold and I’m thinking this is a bad idea. Earlier in summer when I played in the waves with one of my local friends, she told me that some years you can swim in Lake Superior in November. I was captivated by the idea.

Today, with a stiff breeze clipping off the waves, fingers, and exposed ankles feeling the cold, I’m less captivated by a November dip in the lake. Undaunted, or stubborn, I must try. First, I circulate my blood by picking sun-warmed rocks. Each stone I touch holds heat. My hat itches and my head begins to feel hot. Time to dip my feet.

Cold can burn all the way to the marrow of bone.

I clench my teeth and reason the pain will soon pass. What a ridiculous thought, like sticking your hand in boiling water, expecting to adjust to the sensation. There is a reason our bodies react with alarm to extremes. I tolerate the pain for a full three minutes deciding I’m not here to prove any masochistic tenancies. Whatever romantic notion I held about swimming in Lake Superior in November vanish. I can say, I stood in Lake Superior in November and froze my ankles. I escape with all ten toes still attached.

Not one to waste time at the shoreline, I walk the water’s edge. I pluck a few wishing stones and pick up favosite — quartz-fossilized coral from ancient seas that existed long before glacier came and receded. Some of the fossils retain the shape of their honey-comb heads and other glitter with crystals. I collect enough to hold in each hand and sit in the sun-warmed rocks, close my eyes, and follow my breath in meditation.

When I stand up, I find time had been sitting next to me in the form of a 1982 rubber watch still as brown as the day it was lost. Objects make great props in the hands of fictional characters. They can initiate a story or provide a twist. I ponder this 38-year old cheap accessory, realizing that someone in the 1980s might have treasured it.

Lost time is the stuff that fuels the imagination.

November 5, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about lost time. You can write a realistic scenario or something speculative. How does lost time impact the character of your story? Bonus points if you include a 1982 brown rubber watch Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 10, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Not Her World by Charli Mills

Ivie stashed her digital watch in a pile of discarded clothes, ready to dive into Superior. She waved at her dad and brother bobbing in the lake. When she emerged, her family had vanished, the beach became a sterile room. Medical equipment pulsed and wheezed. Nurses initiated a flurry of activity until the room swelled with old people claiming to be her relatives. Ivie requested her watch to check the date and time for herself. A bearded geezer claimed it was lost the day of her accident. That’s when she knew. Ivie dove through time to a strange world.

🥕🥕🥕

Kid Gloves

A situation that calls for kid gloves requires careful handling. Those who wear fine leather crafted from the skin of kids (goats, not children) protect soft hands and perhaps perform unexpected tasks.

Writers had the option to explore all the possibilities and their creative insight expanded the phrase. Parents, wolves, and more feature in this week’s collection.

The following are based on the October 8, 2020, flash fiction challenge: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes kid gloves.

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

Home On the Range by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Cal coiled up his riata. He had no goals to improve on his already impressive rope skills, but granddaughter Flora required kid glove treatment these days.

Grandson Jeremy had passed him up, carrying on the vaquero tradition through competition and education. Kids today wanted an excuse to put down their cell phones, to raise their faces to the sun. It was an unexpected but welcome blessing from the quarantine.

Flora had kicked him out of the house early, even before his morning coffee. She wanted him out from underfoot while she attempted to wrangle the internet and home schooling.

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Kid Gloves by Pete Fanning

He never takes the gloves off. Ever. And if I try to make him a wrestling match ensues. “Germs are everywhere, Zia,” he warns. My brother, the six year-old scientist. He should have been outside, playing in the dirt. Instead this Covid thing has really messed him up. I mean, it messed everyone up, but for him I fear it’s irreversible. When he’s asleep, Mom peels them off, washes them with our masks. When they’re dry, she carefully works them back onto his stubby little fingers. Says they make him feel safe. Hmm. Maybe I should get a pair.

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Kid Gloves by FloridaBorne

“Handle it with kid gloves,” Mom said.

“What does that mean?” I asked while washing a crystal plate.

“Don’t break my favorite serving dish.”

Unsatisfied with the answer, I consulted the public library’s encyclopedia. Gloves made with baby lambs or goats? Outraged, I ran a half mile home to yell at my mother.

“They kill babies to make kid gloves!!!!” I shouted. “Don’t ever tell me to handle anything with kid gloves again!”

“It’s only a saying, dear. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater is only a saying, too.”

I never ate another bite of meat again.

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Kid Gloves by Joanne Fisher

When my daughter Jill announced she was taking up boxing, I was skeptical. She had already been through horse riding and karate.

Nevertheless we went to the sporting goods store. I tried to imagine her in the boxing ring, but this was still a girl who has soft-toys in every available space in her bedroom…

“Excuse me madam?” the store assistant broke me out of my reverie.

“I’m looking for gloves.”

“Gloves?”

“Kid gloves.”

“Kid gloves?”

“For my daughter.” I replied. “Boxing.”

“Follow me.”

Of course Jill was already there selecting them. I wondered how long this would last.

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The Jokester by Bill Engleson

I remember when it began.

First grade.

They abandoned me to a mocking mob.

“Play nice. Make friends.”

I tried, but what did they know.

The rabble seemed as one.

Bigger.

Stronger.

Maybe even smarter.

One day, faced with aggression, I pulled off a sweet backflip. Landed it. Came up smiling.

“Funny guy,” the bully said.

My life’s river changed course.

Tricks!

Grins!

Bigger tricks!

Fatter grins!

Decades of idiotic hijinks.

Three marriages!

Three divorces!

“Too much,” each said. “Always over the top! Puns! Interminable, heavy-handed humour! Release me.”

Now I get it.

Life.

Love.

Both need kidding gloves.

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Coffee by R. V. Mitchell

Coffee was one tough hombre. Some said he’d more likely shoot you than look at you. Three things set him apart from other gunslingers though. The first was his refined English accent. This feller could really talk pretty, and used the sort of three dollar words most folks weren’t too akin to. The second was that he made one mighty fine cup of coffee, thus his moniker. But oddest trait of all was them there white kid gloves he always sported. Who would have thought that the deadliest fast draw in the Dakota Territory used to be a butler?I remember when it began.

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Kid Gloves by Anita Dawes

A glorious spring morning
I decided to take Morning Glory
For her early run
Racing across the fields as if on wings
I took the low hedge too late
I landed on my backside beside a young man
Leaning there against my hedge
A stranger with a soft smile on his lips
Morning Glory stood waiting for me to remount
Her breath escaping in soft white clouds
He moved with great speed to assist me to my feet
The second thing I noticed, his hands against my skin
As soft as my mothers
When wearing her best kid gloves…

🥕🥕🥕

1863 Revisited Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Henry scoffed, an ugly, guttural dismissal. “Sure, you saw a ghost.”

Clara swiped tears from blazing cheeks and stormed to her car.

“Come back,” he called to the thinning taillights, “maybe Casper would like tea.”

Chill breeze brought wafts of rotting peaches, and he pulled his jacket tight.

“Did you offer tea, Sir?” A translucent woman dressed in antebellum finery, from her lace-edged cap and upswept hair, to the hem of her hoop-defined skirts, tapped a tasseled fan in her kid-gloved hands. “But my name’s Amanda, not Casper.”

Henry beat a hastier retreat than General Lee’s exit from Gettysburg.

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Unused Kid Gloves by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa called Michael’s sister. “I got my divorce papers today and when I put them away in the hutch drawer I noticed a pair of exquisite men’s goat skin gloves I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t want to ask Michael about them just in case…”

Becca’s laugh stopped Tessa’s comment. “I gave those to him thinking he would wear them while learning to wheel his chair. He informed me he didn’t want prissy hands with no calluses and I never saw them again. I am flattered he kept them. If they’re in that drawer, I wouldn’t mention finding them.”

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The Seven Essential Types of Glove by Anne Goodwin

A chair, a couch, the tools of her trade, plus a motley choice of gloves. One pair, snipped at the knuckles, to touch hurt with her fingertips; soft kid gloves to soothe pain. Archaeologist gloves for delving through history; hospital-grade latex to shield her skin and prevent her cuts contaminating theirs. Mismatched heirlooms from her mentors, she traces the left to Rogers, the right to Freud. She reserves the harlequins for those who’ve never learnt laughter, the boxing gloves for those who avoid through jokes. Seven pairs packed, she’s ready to follow her client on a journey into truth.

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Unquenched by D. Avery

More than thirst might make his voice crack. He left them in the dugout without speaking. Carrying the shovel, work gloves feathering out of his back pocket, he hoped he appeared confident to his family.
He arrived at the spring, the once muddy surface now flaked, dried and split like old leather. He methodically pulled his gloves on, grasped the shovel and bent to his work, one scoop at a time. Each thrust of the blade was a prayer, each going unanswered until finally he stopped.
Under a blistering blue sky he held his head in his gloved hands.

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Kid Gloves for Sale by Norah Colvin

Wolf covered his sinister smile with a pleasant facade as he organised a stall between Little Red Hen’s Home-Made Bread and Pig Brothers’ Home Improvements. Dinner could wait. He was hoping for a killing of another kind — monetary — selling his home-made kid gloves.

When an unlikely pair of cowpokes enquired about the origins of his leather, he was evasive. When asked his whereabout the previous week, he attempted to flee; but the recently deputised Pal and Kid were too fast and snapped on the hand cuffs. “We arrest you for the disappearance and suspected murder of seven little kids.”

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Hot News by Simon

She stared at the pic of Kid and Pal duo.

It’s been 18 years since she lost the kids. She shed a drop of a tear and walked out her bedroom. She startled when she saw a man wearing kids costume with a kid’s glove. She remembered the Kid and Pal duo.

Before she reacted there was a tap on her left shoulder, she turns to feel the pain of a long knife shoved in her ribs and the axe from behind chops her head off.

News headlines ‘Murder stories continues in town, people are warned to stay alert!”

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A Dark and Stormy Man by Chel Owens

Mabel knew she’d found a winner when she met Shane -tall, dark, handsome. He came into her life on a dark and stormy night. Unfortunately, she’d mistaken his kid glove-approach as a gentleness that didn’t exist.

No, Mabel sighed as she looked out into the storm, there was no more Shane. Her tears matched those streaming down the windowpane.

“‘Scuse me, ma’am,” a deep voice said. Mabel glanced up through wet eyelashes to see a burly man in a plaid shirt. “I couldn’t help but notice you weren’t too happy.”

The man sat. “Could I buy you a coffee?”

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Inside Out by Geoff Le Pard

‘Morgan! Where are you?’
‘Hang on, I’m… what’s got into you?’
‘Nothing.’
‘So why do you sound like you’re being mugged and why are you standing on a table?’
‘It’s… there… oh god! It’s coming…’
‘A spider? You’re an agoraphobe?’
‘Arachnophobe. Can you…?’
‘Squish it? Sure. I…’
‘Nooo. Just get it outside.’
‘What is an agoraphobe?’
‘Can we do this later? Please take it outside but don’t hurt it.’
‘You want me to use kid gloves?’
‘You can use lead-lined gauntlets if you’ll just take it outside.’
‘First tell me. Agoraphobe? Or I’m not going outside.’
‘Exactly.’
‘?’

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Eagle Point by Saifun Hassam

Last night another tremor shook the ranchlands. The snowcapped serrated peaks of Stoney Mountain Range glinted in the sunlight.

Carly and Carmen climbed up Pine Ridge Trail to Eagle Point. They dismounted several times to push sharp and jagged small rocks from the trail. Both women were experienced rangers and ranchers. Their kid gloves were as essential as their horses for the trek.

A new jagged crack ran from west to east on Eagle Point’s plateau. This summer, wildfires turned the forests into ashes.

Kid gloves or not, the two women would do everything to protect this rugged wilderness.

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Kid Gloves by Frank Hubeny

“You see how those trees hug the shore. They didn’t wear kid gloves to do that. They grabbed on with everything they had. You’re going to have to deal with Bernard the same way.”

“How many times do I have to tell him to stop drinking? He’s like a misshapen piece of fired pottery that can no longer change.”

“Those trees look unchangeably misshapen to me as well. The problem is not every tree that grabbed the shore was able to hold on long enough for strong roots to develop.

“If Bernard doesn’t change he’ll fall off the shore.”

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No Kidding? by JulesPaige

The old woman kept her kid gloves on the table under the arc that divided the entryway of her apartment to the living space. It was not her intent to illude anyone. Unable to elude her own aging waiting for her own imagined ark to sail her permanently away into the heavens. She wore the kid gloves when she had company she wanted to allude to the perfect hands she once had, her fingers now knobby and bent from arthritis.

When the young Cub Scout came to interview her, she smiled. He politely did not ask about her gloves.

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Mushroom Man by Anonymole – Apocryphal Abecedarian

With a tarp held over my head, I made my way to the Mushroom Man. Noon and the sun would cook my skin without it. The city’s ruins, baked white, provided pockets of shade. I scrambled from shadow to shadow.

Down the subway stairs, rubble clacking away, the smell of loam filled my senses. Darkness gave me pause, my eyes adjusted slowly. The ancient forest smell consumed me.

“They’re not ready,” said the man who grew the mycelium leather.

I picked my way deeper into the gloom. “My kid needs those gloves.”

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Misfits (Part I) by D. Avery

While others tended to rodeo events or cracked their WIPs, Pal took a vacation, time away from Kid. Just for a while. Pal even left Carrot Ranch.

Just for a while, for it had been such a long while since Pal had seen Cousins Ash and Dusty Trales.

Dismounting at their Turnip Farm Pal was greeted warmly. “Hey there, Cuz. It’s been a while.”

“Yep.”

“We gotta git these turnips harvested.”

“I’ll hep.”

“You’ll want gloves.”

“Yep. Dang! These are Kid’s gloves! Ugh! I musta in’vert’ly took Kid’s saddlebag.”

Even on vacation, Pal would be burdened with Kid’s baggage.

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Misfits (Part II) by D. Avery

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Kid was skedaddling to the Saloon, for as you may recall Kid has some goats out back of the saloon. Bursting through the swinging doors, Kid saw— “Shorty!”

“Kid. Shouldn’t you be vacationin’?”

“Worried ‘bout my kids, what with that prompt an’ all.”

“The kids are alright, Kid, the Ranch and the saloon are safe places for all.”

“Okay.” Kid then took in the quiet saloon. Shorty was so busy writing she hadn’t noticed the goat feeding from a stack of papers. Despite assurances, Kid did not feel safe and vacated, goat in hand.

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Mail Carriers

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Island Postal Service by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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

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Postman by Anita Dawes

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

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Broken Monotony by Allison Maruska

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

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

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

“Shit!”

A squirrel leaps out and bounces off my chest.

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

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

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The Attack on the Exeter Mail by Curious Archaeologist

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

Then

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

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

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Postman Pat by Ritu Bhathal

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

Until today.

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

A large, ferocious pet, apparently.

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

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

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Confrontation by clfalcone *

New route plus fresh spring morning equaled walking.

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

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

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

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

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Route 6 by Sascha Darlington

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

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

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

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

And there’s always a surprise.

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

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

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Special Delivery by JulesPaige

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

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

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Restraint by T. Marie Bertineau

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

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

Today was the day—this had to stop.

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

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

And he nodded.

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Plans Change by Susan Zutautas

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

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

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

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Sometimes the Old Ways Are the Best by FloridaBorne

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

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

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

Test anxiety meant failure.

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

Sometimes, the old ways are best.

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Rita’s First Day by Joanne Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

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Carrying Mail by D. Avery

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

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

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

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An Overworked Poem About the Post by Chelsea Owens

The post

Sky ghosts,

is never late.

‘gainst earthbound weight.

In backward cars

Self-lifted, ours

down country roads

with cloud-held loads

The smart-dressed man

The barefoot clan

(Or, smart wò-man)

(And –true– bare-hand)

Come round each day

Cavort and play

to drop a note

Whilst ‘letters’ float

turn down a flag

From heav’nly bags

for

For

Neither snow

When winds blow

nor rain

‘gainst wingèd pain

nor heat

Lofty feet

nor gloom of night

Always in flight

stays these couriers

Windflung ferriers

from the swift completion

Our mail tote: depletion

of their appointed rounds.

Soaring o’er the rabbl’ing ground.

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PART II (10-minute read)

Turning Point by Hugh W. Roberts

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

***

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

***

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

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Lucy’s Letter by Padmini Krishnan

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

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Dead-Letter Drop by Bill Engleson

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

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

When a customer died, word would spread, correspondence would stop, time would move on.

For a few, the lonelier ones, the occasional letter still showed up.

Before he’d return to sender, he’d steam open the envelope, visit the grave, read the epistle in the sinking twilight, reseal, send it on its way.

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That Knock by Geoff Le Pard

Jem hated his left foot. Clubbed, they called it. ‘It’s okay, son,’ they said. ‘You’re useful. Post has got to be delivered.’
He’d got at white feather, too, from the woman he’d given the telegram to. ‘We’re sorry to inform you…’

Couldn’t blame her being bitter. Might have been him if they’d let him go.

And now there were two telegrams for Mrs Cutts. The ‘sorry’ one and one saying Petey’d got the Military Medal. Petey Cutts used to tease him about his foot. She took both, hands shaking like she’d the palsy. Petey didn’t seem so cruel now.

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Changing Vocations by Susan Sleggs

In the PTSD group, a young war vet hung his head. “I quit nursing school because I had a panic attack every time I got near patients.”

Michael nodded with understanding, “Nothing to be ashamed of. What drew you to nursing?”

“I wanted to feel useful and help other people plus I’m good with details.”

“Admiral strengths. Well suited to a mailman. Delivering in all sorts of weather would be like serving.”

Six months later. “I dig my mail route and I met a gal that asked where and when I served, not what I did in the Army.”

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Turning Points by Saifun Hassam

After college, Arlene returned to Nolan City, to hiking the SeaSquall Mountains. Freelancing in computer graphics, she also worked as a postal worker. Her favorite mail deliveries were to the rural residents along the winding mountain roads.

Today, a frigid January day, her last stop was for Mr. Travis, a retired forest ranger. He was unconscious, sprawled on the deep snow in the backyard.

Her mountain experience kicked in. She called ER. She piled warm clothes on Travis. When the ER Team arrived, the battered barbecue grill was ablaze with firewood.

A grateful Travis recovered. Arlene became a paramedic.

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Mail Carrier by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Mr. Prichard, are you home?”

Jeanine nudged the door further ajar. Why was Mr. Prichard’s door open, she wondered? Her instincts kicked in. The hairs on her arm stood on end.

Regulations required postal workers to be alert for older patrons. If they didn’t pick up their mail regularly, a call to the police was mandatory.

But Mr. Prichard was her friend, and she couldn’t leave without making sure he was safe. She stepped inside the kitchen. The old man lay on the floor in a pool of blood. Without thinking, she dialed her phone.

“911 what’s your emergency?”

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Mail Theft by tracey

Rhonda stood in the windy monsoon rain and stared at the back of the mailbox in dismay. Twenty-three years on the job and she was still shocked every time she encountered mail theft. Her own sense of integrity was so innate that she could never quite believe people would steal mail.

She tried to remember what she had delivered the day before knowing the thief was most likely looking for drugs.
With a sigh she called her supervisor and then carefully stowed the current mail back in the truck before removing all the remaining mail from the damaged box.

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On the Horns of a Dilemma by Margaret G. Hanna

“It’s easy. Everyone here does it.”

“It’s theft. And not everyone does it.” I glanced around. The mail room was bustling. Would anyone notice?.

Joe slit the parcel open. “Jackpot! A digital camera!” He took it out and retaped the box, then handed me the knife. “Your turn. Pick a parcel.”

I was new, bottom of the ladder. Would I be shunned, or worse, if I told the supervisor? Could I live with myself if I didn’t?

I pushed the knife away. “No thanks.” I wouldn’t steal but I wouldn’t blab. I needed the money for my wife’s medical expenses.

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Working Conditions (BOTS) by Nancy Brady

Recently, a postman climbed out of his truck, grabbing a package to deliver. Although his vehicle was pulled to the side of the road, he was sideswiped by a driver who wasn’t paying attention. The driver didn’t stop; he hit the man and kept going.

Sustaining injuries that included two broken legs and a crushed pelvis, Carl was off work recovering for more than a year.

Now, all the post office trucks around here sport a red flag. The flag is a recent addition, but became necessary to protect the men and women who deliver the mail, particularly packages.

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Vestiges of Forgotten Purpose by Jo Hawk The Writer

Tristao shifted the heavy pack, gnarled fingers burrowed under the frayed strap as he eased the pressure on his stooped shoulder.

Once, he bounded through town, nimbly negotiating steep steps, winding ascents, and narrow passageways like the goats that climbed the mountain protecting his birth city. The residents greeted him, eager for the letters he carried. He was their noble messenger, their link to far-flung family and friends. They shared the latest gossip and a welcome snack.

Now he met only faceless receptacles. He fed blank gaping mouths, with empty messages no one wanted. Tomorrow, Gaspar collected the garbage.

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Dead Letters by Annette Rochelle Aben

Ted nonchalantly punched in the access code and waited patiently for the arm to rise. The maze of storage units could be confusing but not to Ted, as he had been coming here nearly once a day for several months.
Without a care in the world, he began tossing the white plastic bins in left and right. Laughing, Ted thought about how much he hated everything about being a postal worker. The weather, the barking dogs and he especially hated the mail! He hated it so much that he hadn’t delivered any in months, except to this storage unit.

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The Tenacious Mailman by Ruchira Khanna

Jimmy squinted his eyes and took laborious steps towards the last drop out.

Sweat dripping from his grey sideburns and his tongue hanging due to thirst under his sun hat.

He dropped off the post in the mailbox of the mansion-like house and admired the manicured lawn while wiping sweat off his forehead.

Walked back to his postal van and sat gingerly on the seat. After gulping a copious amount of water, he let out a deep sigh with a smile as if he did a touchdown!

“Ten more days until I retire, and all this will be history.”

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Express Mail by D. Avery

“Frankie! Dang! Cain’t believe ya ventured through this blizzard.”
“Had to. There’s letters for Carrot Ranch.”
“Can we git ya anythin’ Frankie?”
“Yes, Kid, get me a glass so I can keep an eye out. I’m eyein’ that glass a whiskey too, Pal. Ah, thanks. Now. How ‘bout you read them letters I delivered?”
“This un’s from thet reliable Ranch hand Susan Sleggs. It’s ta ever’one at the Ranch:

Dearest Ranch Hands,
I look forward to your stories. Lots of times you make me
laugh and there is always some excitement added, or
thought to ponder. You’ve also shown me how to
accomplish meeting the prompt’s expectations, especially
during the Rodeo. You’ve helped me improve as a fellow
“hand.”
Thanks for letting me ride with you.
Susan Sleggs

Thank you for showin’ others how Ranch writin’ works.

Whoa. That’s purty heartfelt. Kid, you read this ‘un. Looks ta be a poem by the Poet Lariat.”

“Roses are red
Violets are blue
Adore all the Hands at the Ranch
That one ‘hudret’ percent true
(Though mine own self I like alot –
Some days the prompts
Put me in a spot…)
We’re all seekin the right combination
To keep our friends attentions
Sharpen’ our pencils
Making sure our pens have ink
‘Specially when we choose
To challenge ourselves
Every week to the edge, the brink
Of what we think are limitations
Of our imaginations…
Keeping our learning sharp
Accepting all for their worth
Because characters matter
As we pursue and fine tune
The Literary Arts!”
-The Poet Lariat
(©JP/dh )

“Don’t thet jist sum it up?”
“Frankie ain’t the only one kin deliver.”

January 30: Flash Fiction

A wisp of tarragon grows from a small pot in my windowsill, a gentle summer monk on a cold winter path to enlightenment. Or maybe not. Maybe, a frail twig of indoor tarragon dreams that one day it might be a hardy spear outside rooted in real dirt. How about — the emergence of tarragon in winter was unexpected as a pregnancy at age 50. Even — the tarragon leaned like a colt on spindly legs toward the window, seeking sunnier pastures.

What am I doing here, you might be pondering? I’m characterizing the upstart of growth in my kitchen herb box, surprised by the frail determination of tarragon I thought dormant. You see, this term of my MFA focuses on character development. Not only do I get to be Dr. Frankenstein to Danni Gordon, but I’m also tasked to bring life to her novel-mates. Thus, I’m practicing on a personified herb.

Character traits come in two forms — external and internal. Which do you dive into first? For me, character development is internal, considering who the character is and why. How did they get to be that way? What personality traits do I use to share the sense of this person with a reader? External traits help, and some are necessary if it matters to the story or character’s growth.

Take gender, for example. It’s an important external trait, typically. We want to know if Harry Potter is a boy or girl. Little Women would be silly if the characters turned out to be male (or perhaps profound with a deliberate framing). I recently read The Whale in the Wolf by Jordanna Max Brodsky. It’s the story of Omat, a small clan’s next shaman. The character is born to a young widow following a tragic accident on the ice that claimed all the young hunters (there were four, which conveys how small and vulnerable this group of people are). The baby is limp, the mother has expired, and the midwife abandons the newborn to the elements. The next day, a wolf appears over the baby who has survived the night, heralding the child as the new guide to a people whose hunting skills also rely on pleasing the spirits.

As a reader, we follow the child’s upbringing through his own story. We know he is small, has two freckles on his cheek from his mother’s final tears at birth, and is male. Omat was the name of his uncle. It’s believed that the spirit of the wolf and Omat reside in this young apprentice to the spirit realm. Those are the external traits. Internally, we learn that Omat is fiercely loyal to his family, determined to succeed as a shaman and a hunter, learning at every chance. A serious and studious person. He recognizes the jealousy of his older brother, who is bigger and stronger but envies Omat’s abilities. As characters, they are a striking contrast in personality. This deepens our understanding of who the Inuit are — individuals, and yet dependant upon group dynamics for survival.

Internal characteristics enrichen a story. They are the traits we can slip into. When we feel like Harry Potter or Omat, we don’t become boys. Instead, we become the personalities having experiences we relate to through the characters. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what shade of green a character’s eyes; it matters that we can see through her eyes and experience a new culture, past event, or future predicament. Internal traits embody the emotion of a novel, which is where character growth resides. Note: character growth is not a mandate, but it is an element crucial to some genres. For example, both characters must grow in romance to experience the happily ever after (or good enough for now) ending. Contemporary character-driven novels often hang a satisfying conclusion upon that growth.

Yet external traits come into play with that growth (or character arc), too. Those freckles, dark hair and coloring, and size add up to Omat’s unattractiveness to a blond, strapping Viking he’s rescued when later trying to find his brother. Brodsky manages to develop a natural unfolding of two people from different cultures through a process of friendship. Both find their external traits initially repulsive, but as they become friends and build trust to survive the harsh climate and rescue of Omat’s brother. In a way, this phenomenon shows that looks matter less than intention and action.

What is surprising is that one physical trait becomes the cornerstone of character growth for Omat. He was actually born a female biologically. The reader learns of this early on and comes to understand that Inuit have three genders because of their belief in ancestor souls returning to the newborn of their clan. It’s a complicated system where one’s son might also be a grandfather. And, in the case of Omat, the male spirit inhabited the baby girl. The book is Omat’s identity struggle physically, spiritually, and between cultures. It’s intricately written and well-plotted to be concerned for Omat on many levels.

According to one of my professors and the books I’m currently plowing through, every character has a core trait. For example, Omat’s concern for clan survival formed the core of a person who learned to accept both a woman’s body and a male spirit. Every plot point that emerged, Omat responded from failure or success to integrate self with survival. Another way to look at core personality is to examine psychology or personality tests. I once did numerology on the birthdates for the historical characters in Rock Creek and gained valuable insight.

Do you have to go take the Meyers Briggs for your character as I did for Danni Gordon? No. But you do need to have a core internal trait that guides your character’s actions and growth. As authors, we run the risk of developing characters who are flat, false, or familiar (to ourselves). If you want as deep  of a dive as I’m currently submerged in, here are some reading materials:

  • Plot Versus Character by Jeff Gerke
  • Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey (recommended by Jeff Gerke)
  • The Psychology Workbook for Writers by Darian Smith (I’d buy one from Anne Goodwin)
  • Writer’s Guide to Characterization by Victoria Lynn Schmidt (and yes, it includes the Hero’s Journey)

I’m also reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and recognizing why this book won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It’s a portrait of one woman’s life through the multiple perspectives of those who know her. It spans numerous decades but is not linear, with each chapter reading like a short story from different periods of her life. Some chapters aren’t even about her but have something to reveal who she is. It’s a remarkable contemporary novel and has saved me from the despair after having clawed my way through Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies.

It’s important to read as a writer.

Read your genre. Read yesterday’s classics and today’s big prize winners. Read independents and small presses. Read what you like and define why. Study what succeeds even if you are not the target reader. Build your apprenticeship that not only takes you where you want to go but also gives you a fabulous journey along the way. Write daily. Plot fairy tales in the shower for practice. Talk about what you read or wrote and why either moved you.

Like a single sprig of tarragon, we grow our gardens from the faintest ideas to the strongest cores.

With winter piled upon the Keweenaw and garden season far away, I wondered what it must like to be a mail carrier in extreme conditions or unusual locations. How does the character’s core trait interact with such environments? What conditions can happen on the job to create a conflict, tension, or a plot twist?

January 30, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a postal carrier in an extreme situation. Even if you base your story on a true one, focus on the core trait of this postal carrier. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 4, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions closed. Find our latest Flash Fiction Challenge.

Tough-Minded to the Core by Charli Mills

Poking at her glass eye with a felted mitten, Frankie yelled over the storm, “Ain’t no use, Burt. Can’t get through this detestable blizzard.”

Burt relied on her to find shelter. With one eye, she followed flagged Ponderosa pines back to the ridge where she stored supplies in a cavern. “This is why we scouted last summer, Burt.”

Prepared to ride out the storm, Frankie secured the US mailsack, unsaddled Burt, and cleaned her glass eye while beans bubbled in a tin over a crackling fire. Burt nickered for more oats. Just another day delivering mail to mining camps.

January 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

Outside my front steps, little brown pellets form a scattershot design in the freshly scooped snow. “Farfennugens” comes to mind. It’s a made-up word from the last century — the 1990s. I don’t remember who came up with it, but I recall the incident. My eldest went into kindergarten, where Mrs. C had a classroom bunny. Gus was his name. Every student had a turn, taking home Gus for the weekend. He made similar brown pellets throughout our house, and we called them farfennugens.

These wild farfs puzzle me. Why at the front steps? Our neighborhood bunnies shy away from the doors. When I take Bobo outside, I wander their trails with my gaze, noticing where they dash, where they hunker, and where they hide. I’ve never seen them venture so boldly up the driveway to the steps. And then I recall my poor pitch. Let’s hope I have a better pitch for my thesis than I do with my arm!

Two days ago, after a sloppy-wet blizzard buried us in heavy snow, I watched the pigeons flock in circles. Wanting to make sure our two resident fledglings survive winter, I had been leaving out seed for them, but they were not coming to the back deck once it snowed. I had an idea — I’d sprinkle seed across the driveway the Hub had blown and scooped into a flat white mat. My heart was big, my pitch was not. A cup of seed sailed vertically as if I were trying to feed pigeons in flight. I dropped back down to the steps where I stood.

What the pigeons did not get, the bunnies did. They left their calling cards.

The only hutches I ever remember the women in my family owning were for rabbits, doves, or chickens. Fancy hutches filled with glassware belonged to women elsewhere. Back in Idaho, I used to pick up old glass in the south horse pasture. As a kid, purple glass and square nails held my attention for hours as I combed the hillside behind my house, where likely an old dump had been in the silver mining days. The first time I met someone who collected glassware, I was fascinated to see the pieces in their whole shapes.

Hutches were more common back in the pioneer days. Sod houses and cabins had no built-in cupboards. What I knew as a “pie keep” was a common type of hutch for the practical pioneer wife or ranch cook. Like a rabbit hutch, it employed mesh wire on the doors. The idea was that the cook made the pies on the countertop and then stored the baked goods on the shelves behind the mesh, allowing air to circulate without flies. I could see owning a pie-keep. Yet, it is a fancy hutch I now own.

It did occur to me that I could start collecting whole pieces of glass instead of fragments. But I have this rule of household goods — it must be practical and beautiful. It can’t just be a pretty thing, hanging out to collect dust. I have purchased glassware from the local church thrift and yard sales and the consignment shop. Wine glasses, cider mugs, and teacups for large groups fill my built-ins. I was at a loss as to what to with this large hutch.

For Christmas, Todd got a toy Monster Truck — Gravedigger, a jacked-up hearse on super-inflated tires. Our daughter had seen a friend’s child playing with one and knew she’d have to get one for her dad. The Hub talks in his Monster Truck voice, taking on the persona of Gravedigger. He has vexed me for years in public places, talking to me in his Monster Truck voice. This includes following me through the grocery store, making commentary on every item I set in the cart. In Idaho, he was singing to me in his Monster Truck voice as we were winding through the backroads after cutting firewood, and we turned the bend and, there was the real-deal Gravedigger parked in someone’s yard. It’s a family joke.

So, of course, Gravedigger, the model toy truck, now sits in the center of the fancy hutch. I now know what I will do. Next came the scams (the affectionate name for book and 99-word story sales). The entire bottom shelf is lined with the promotional items I use at farmers markets and book fairs — a copper bowl filled with copper pennies next to a sign offering 99-word stories and a penny for a dollar; a stack of Vol. 1 Anthologies next to a sign and plate of bookmarks touting flash fiction.

Sure, I have some pretties, too, that hold special meaning from special friends. Those and rocks are dispersed. I have room for some local art I might pick up this summer, and room for a bowl of broken glass. The hutch that came with the dining room set now has a purpose. The table gets plenty of use, and moving forward into 2020, it will be the scene of weekly literary events on Thursdays.

Locally, I will host a variety of Thursday evenings from 5-7 p.m. EST. They will alternate, so each one is once a month and will attract different groups of people and a few who want to come to them all. Silent reading parties are for introverts with books. The house is unfinished. Eventually, it will include lots of reading nooks (the Unicorn Room will be a reading room with a plush carpet, lots of sitting pillows, and space for an air mattress for overnight guests who will sleep among the unicorns and cameo-pink walls). Game night is self-explanatory, and my collection includes Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride Europe, Sushi-Go Party, Bananagrams, Story Cubes, and Scrabble. Write-ins are a collective time to write from the various writing nooks throughout the house and are an effective way to be accountable to one’s writing goals. Critique is for those who take my workshops so we can continue to progress on our novels and learn the adaptive critique process I’m developing (so far, it has met with the approval of my professors).

Where do you fit in? Right next to my hutch! I have a lectern where I set up my laptop to record discussions for my MFA classes. On that lectern, I also want to invite you to come and read on a Thursday (Friday morning in Australia). We can do this via Skype, Messenger, FaceTime, or even an old-fashioned phone call. You would introduce yourself, say how long you’ve been wrangling words at Carrot Ranch, what you write and why, and then read some of your 99-word stories, or poetry, or book excerpts. Your choice. It will be a 10-minute spot. And you will help connect the Keweenaw to the World through literary art.

This year, with anticipated and continued stability, my goals include connecting up Carrot Ranch online to World Headquarters on the Keweenaw. I will return to Vermont in July with one writer’s retreat, local workshops, and literary outreach (to libraries and veterans). I’d like to host a couple of writers in residence — a free three day stay where we’ll treat you like literary royalty. My vision grows, but my North Star stays constant — to make literary art accessible (encouragement, inspiration, education, collaboration, and play). I’m still tweaking goals but plan to have plans in place by March, which is the annual anniversary of Carrot Ranch.

If you want to join me on Facebook, I’ve created a private group called Carrot Ranchers. It’s a way to combine multiple communities that intersect here, and also focus on weekly support, accountability to writing goals, and play for writers who want to publish. You can view the weekly schedule here. I realize it’s not for everyone, but anyone who wants to join can. It’s a private group so we can keep it to our known communities (it’s an extension of safe space to grow as a writer).

Now let’s turn our attention to what could be hiding in a hutch.

January 2, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something found in a hutch. It can be any kind of hutch — a box for critters or a chest for dishes. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by January 7, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions closed. Find our latest Flash Fiction Challenge.

That One Day (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Sun beat down on the oxidized hood of the Willies Jeep. It was Danni’s ninth birthday and her dad said they’d explore the old wagon road of the 40-Mile Desert. So far, all Danni had seen were oxen bones and rusty horseshoes. Her dad stopped to check out a dried-out pile of wood.

“An old hutch once,” he said.

Danni climbed out and saw a glint of something in what had been a cupboard door. A marble. Not just any marble but a large globe with an elephant inside. That was the day Danni decided to become an archeologist.

Eminence

From high above, a distinct vantage point is set. A view from an eminence of land, a hillock, the hump of an anthill, a sand dune. People can also place themselves above others and claim a position of eminence. Those who bow and scrape, acknowledge, “Your Eminence.” And some confuse the word for a white rapper.

Playful or serious, writers set out for the hills to wrangle stories from eminent advantages. A few even found spiders and webs along the trail.

The following is based on the March 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence.

PART I (10-minute read)

Eminence by Michael Groban

His Eminence the Good and Virtuous Cardinal read the morning paper and cringed as he read of another abuse claim.

He felt a twinge of guilt as he read the charges against one of his priests. It wouldn’t be long before they’d come knocking on his door. But he was a cardinal, and they’d believe his story over any kid who claimed he knew or did anything.

He’d taken years to reach this pinnacle within the Church. Hiding and denying, who’d a thought he be so good at it. He took up his pen and started on the crossword.

🥕🥕🥕

What You Don’t Talk About Doesn’t Exist by Papershots

He took a milk carton from a kitchen cabinet, then put it back there even though it was now open – it should have gone into the refrigerator. He took a sip of water. The smell of oranges about to go bad wafted from the fruit bowl on the table (made of wood ever so slightly darker than that of the fruit bowl.) The party at His Eminence swirled in his hangover – its theme: “What You Don’t Talk About Doesn’t Exist” – they called him His Eminence after his ascetic countenance by day, and his “torrent of bizarre gaieties” by night.

🥕🥕🥕

Mongolian Pie by H.R.R. Gorman

The jester bowed before the king and queen. His coat, a tattered, borrowed thing, seemed unfit in the presence of royalty’s eminence. “I will sing you a traditional overtone song of my people.”

The jester pulled the bow across his khuuchir, and the two-stringed instrument wailed. The voices of the people came from his throat, some deep and worrisome while others were clear, melodic.

After the song finished, the king stood from his seat and clapped. “Excellent show!” He bent to look down on the jester.

The jester reached up and snatched the king’s gloried crown, then dashed away.

🥕🥕🥕

Oh to Be in England on Non-Brexit Day! by Anne Goodwin

We voted to abolish experts. Let the people have their say! Don’t bore us with details, wave your magic wand and make it happen. Would a surgeon go through such a back-and-forth to amputate a limb?

Yes, the Leave campaign deceived us. Yes, the rich will win whichever way we go. We’ll wave our flags as pigs fly in eminence above us. We’ll plug our ears when boffins threaten to explain.

We are the mother of parliaments. We are the brave who take back control. We are the laughing stock of Europe. We are the fools of the world.

🥕🥕🥕

Long Live The King by Nobbinmaug

His rise to eminence was halted by my hand. He wasn’t hard to find. Everybody in town knew where he hung out.

I pulled out the gun I took from dad’s nightstand and pointed it at him.

“Whoa! What are gonna do with that, little man?”

“I’m gonna be 10 next month.”

“All right, big man. Put it down before you hurt somebody.”

He reached for it, and I pulled the trigger. The kick knocked me down. The bullet knocked him down.

He was the only person I ever killed. My sister was the last his drugs would kill.

🥕🥕🥕

Portrait of Marion Gray by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Marion stared at herself, staring at herself, daring the other to step over the line.

“What d’you want me to do about it?”

“Can’t you absorb one more?”

“I’ve run out of room to absorb your blemishes.”

“Just one more. I’ll never ask again…Promise!”

“You said that last time.”

She stared at herself, daring herself to step over that line.

“Fine, but come closer. Touch your nose to the glass.”

A moment’s touch, the eminence was grabbed, pulled in.

Marion stepped free, no longer the face in the mirror.

She waved farewell and turned the mirror to the wall.

🥕🥕🥕

Your Eminence by Sally Cronin

As I pass him on my way to the village, I remember to say ‘Good morning your eminence’. To ignore him is to invite untold misfortune. Wise ones tell of signs of impending death if he is seen close to your window. And should that be open to the spring air, thefts of gold and silver. I laugh at the warnings, for I am young and carefree, but ancient beliefs stir in my blood, for lone magpies bring sorrow. So I pay him respect, wishing him a mate for life, to bring joy to those who see them together.

🥕🥕🥕

Prelude by Joanne Fisher

Aalen and Ashalla were hiding on an eminence looking down on the soldiers in the distance. Aalen’s wolf Vilja lay between them.

“Last year there was a drought and game was scarce. These soldiers came to our village demanding food. When we refused because we needed our food stocks for the winter they began killing all the hunters until we acquiesced. I came back to find my brothers had been killed. I painted my arrows black and started hunting them down.” Ashalla said.

Aalen looked down at the army. Once they set up camp, that’s when they would attack.

🥕🥕🥕

My Scar by The Dark Netizen

It is rightly said that behind every scar there is a story of survival.

My story took place many years ago, during the invasion of the dark king.

Led by our Prince, we were fighting for our survival in a battle that defined ages.

Our Prince’s eminence in warfare was unquestionable on the battlefield, as he skewered numerous dark minions in front of my eyes.

In the heat of battle I saw one minion slip behind the Prince, ready to end his life, when I jumped in between.

My sacrifice won my kingdom’s freedom and won me this scar…

🥕🥕🥕

Shattering Illusions by Jo Hawk

Jules was his father’s second son. He was deemed the spare heir to the kingdom. Always second best, he fought to win favor, to stand free from his brother’s shadow. Each passing year, the competition between them grew.

Their rivalry forced his vision higher, to the eminence of Mont Aiguille. He imagined looking down onto his brother’s domain. Determined, he focused on his goal, fought through doubts and fear until his kingdom became a reality.

He grew stronger than the mountain, hardening his heart he stood alone, freed from the shadows, he realized there had been nothing to prove.

🥕🥕🥕

Cross Roads (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

Near the ancient cypress and olive trees, silky spider’s webs interlaced thorny yellow thistle. Early morning dew drops on the silvery threads glittered like tiny jewels. Fleeting and fragile, the jewels would disappear into the warming air.

From an eminence of boulders on the cliff, Diamante gazed out at the seashore. He would miss the coastal villagers deeply. He was a village teacher and became a temple guardian after Father Martinez died a year ago. The Abbott was sending another priest and he had plans for Diamante to enter the Dove’s Ministry, to become a scholar. And a priest.

🥕🥕🥕

Glad Tidings of Nymble by Chelsea Owens

Nymble didn’t stand so much as gently flit above the waving grass, the first of the season’s signs of change. Leaning back as much as her grass and sunlight mote companions; she drank the deep, fresh air.

“Spring,” she whispered. She breathed.

A smile tickled her dimples. It pushed at her mouth-corners. As she looked out and over the gathered folk and fae, the smile spread to every feature of her pointed face. She grinned and opened her arms to hold the warm sun from toe to wing tip.

Atop the eminent rise, she addressed the expectant crowd. “SPRING!”

🥕🥕🥕

Owls and Auks by TN Kerr

He chose to stand atop a grand eminence, banked by steep outcroppings; a sentry, ever vigilant who watches over the Pacific. He has stood this post for more than fifteen hundred years. He is a giant towering over 300 feet high. He is massive, with a base of more than 30 feet in diameter. A Giant Coastal Redwood, a landmark with owls and auks living amongst his branches.

I come here to admire him from time to time. I always come alone. I am humbled.

Majestuoso y eminente, por derecho propio, es bien conocido a lo largo de esta costa.

🥕🥕🥕

The Judge by Roberta Eaton

The judge sat on a chair high raised high above the platform to ensure the accused understood his eminence. My son was forced to tip his head back at an unnatural angle to meet the judge’s eyes while stating his case. The comments made by the defendant were meaningless. Any defaulters who ended up on trial in the arena knew they were guilty in the eyes of the law. The punishment for wasting limited water resources was a swift death. The bodies of the guilty were buried in the surrounding forest to fertilise the trees that provided vital oxygen.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Tracey

I dragged myself into the kitchen and apathetically checked the fridge. Spouse and small child would be home soon and looking for dinner. That was part of my “job”, cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping. I could feel the surge of pre-menopause hormones coloring my brain. I wasn’t even hungry, why should I cook dinner? I checked the freezer. The emergency frozen pizza had already been eaten this week. I started to cry and told myself, “enough”. The eminences would have to fend for themselves this once. I retreated to the couch and a movie. “Double Indemnity” suited me perfectly.

🥕🥕🥕

Age of Imminence by D. Avery

“What? Her Eminence drinking alone? Where’s Ernest?”

“Can’t I be somewhere where Ernest isn’t, Nard? Like you should talk. Where’s Kris?

“Visiting his mother. I just couldn’t.

“Yeah.”

“Hey, Lloyd tells me Ernest gave you a ring.”

“Yeah.”

“Thought you gals were supposed to be all giddy at a time like this.”

“Ernest’s giddy enough for the both of us. Driving me nuts.”

“Am I a peckerhead for being glad Kris is gone for a couple days?”

“Not if you’re looking forward to him coming back.”

“I am.”

“We’ll have to get used to being happy, huh, Nard?”

“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Two Meanings by Susan Sleggs

“Look at all those eminences in the back yard.”

“What are you talking about? Speak English.”

“If you did crossword puzzles like I do, you would know I was referring to all the little mounds of dirt.”

“Oh, yes. We have a mole problem.”

“And if your furry, four legged friend lounging in the sun over there knew she was a cat instead acting like a feline eminence, she might go outside and kill the moles.”

“She’s an indoor cat and I don’t think it’s funny that you used the same word with its opposite meaning.”

“Glad you noticed.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lost In Translation by Geoff Le Pard

‘You look smart, Morgan. In court?’

‘Ha. I’m meeting a rather special person. Very influential. I hope he can help me.’

‘How?’

‘He understands how the system works, you know, all those back passages.’

‘Corridors of power?’

‘Exactly.’

‘A sort of eminence grise.’

‘You what? Immense Grease? That sounds like what you get before an outbreak of spots.’

‘Eminence Grise. Someone who works in the shadows.’

‘He had the lights on when I saw him.’

‘It’s just a figure of speech.’

‘Like Imminent Cheese?’

‘Eminence Grise.’

‘Is it French?’

‘Yes.’

‘Thought so. They’re greasy and like cheese.’

‘God, Morgan…’

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Your Eminence by Norah Colvin

She glided in, regal robes flowing, loyal subjects lining the path.

“Your eminence,” they bowed as she passed.

She occasionally extended her gloved hand to receive their kisses of adoration or stopped to bestow a gift of royal chatter.

Though her crown and responsibilities weighed heavily, she held her head high as she proceeded towards the throne.

Decorum dictated every move. She dared not breathe out of sync. Her subjects depended upon her.

When seated, she motioned for all to sit. They obeyed, listening respectfully.

“I decree– “

“Lunch is served, Your Majesty.”

“Aw, Mu-um!”

🥕🥕🥕

Blessing by Anita Dawes

My school was buzzing today, the nuns were all running around like deranged penguins. We were to receive a special throat blessing from the Bishop and were to address him as Your Eminence if spoken to.

The blessing involved two large candles joined in the shape of a V.
Sister Margaret held my hair away from the flame as the candles were placed around my throat and I have never suffered from a sore throat since.
Not bad going for 72 years.

I have wondered whether it was the blessing or just good luck
It still puzzles me today…

🥕🥕🥕

A Special Guest by calmkate

“It’s highly eminent that His Eminence will join us for tea in the forecourt this morning. So please ensure that our sandwiches have more than an eminence of cucumber!”

“But in high society the bread and filling must be thin to tempt. A sliver to tease”

“Please indulge my preference for something a bit more substantial”

“Will His Eminence be requiring a particular blend of tea or the usual earl grey?”

“I would prefer that you serve a selection of three or four for this highly honoured guest.”

“Your every wish is my command sir!”

“Thanks so much Jeeves”

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Deborah Lee

The house is a lovely lakeside pile on a low eminence above its neighbors, cocooned among trees. Jane lugs her few belongings up the slope easily, eagerly. Hangs her few clothes, arranges her few toiletries.

Hers, hers, for six whole weeks, in exchange for being present and tending to the animals while Audrey is in Europe.

The kitchen gleams, the den lulls, the shady deck beckons. But, she decides, luxuriating, paradise is a bathtub. And it hits her, making her sit up so abruptly she sloshes wine and bubbles. Is housesitting something she could do as an actual career?

🥕🥕🥕

Celebrity Chef by Macy Brown

As I locked my office door and headed down the stairs to leave the building I heard all kinds of commotion coming from outside. What could be going on?! I thought to myself. When I stepped outside I saw a crowd of people surrounding a town car that was parked in front of the building next door. A thin blonde in a perfectly pressed skirt stepped out of the car and the crowd went wild. I did not know who she was, but based on the people around her, her eminence was clear. Maybe she was a celebrity chef?

🥕🥕🥕

The Leader of The Pack by Susan Zutautas

From the day we brought Bruce home Maggie let him know that she was the leader of the pack.

It was sad to see how she showed her eminence over him. Bruce was such a laid-back kind of guy that we were never sure if this bothered him.

I’m sure they had this telepathic thing going on between them. Bruce would go to eat his food and Maggie would look over at him as if to say, “Leave it”. He’d not eat until she had left the room or until she started eating.

I suppose dogs have pecking orders.

🥕🥕🥕

Power by Janice Golay

“So I hear you are your husband’s eminence grise. “

“His imminent grease?”

“No, my dear. His gray eminence. The power behind the throne. That shadowy figure, peering from behind a velvet curtain, who holds and wields the real power.

“Well, we don’t have any velvet curtains in our house, just over-laundered hangings from Bed, Bath and whatever.”

But if you really wanted some velvet curtains in your house, they would appear. Right? You could manage that, couldn’t you?

Of course! But if I had the power and wished for velvet curtains, I tell you they wouldn’t be GRAY!

🥕🥕🥕

On the Couch by Michael B. Fishman

“Did you see ‘his eminence’ on the news today telling us how good everything is?” she said.

“You’ve got M&Ms?”

“No, ‘eminence’.”

“I don’t watch the news anymore. You really got candy?”

“I’ve got M&M’s.”

“It’s all a front, you know.”

“What is?”

“Politics.”

“Let’s both have some candy.”

“The M&M’s?”

“Plain or peanut, I’ve got both.”

“Then let’s have both!”

She went to the kitchen and returned with two bags. “Guess what?”

“What?”

“Dead Reckoning is on.”

“Ooh, Lizbeth Scott.”

“You like her.”

“Not as much as I like you.”

“You’re sweet.”

“Not as sweet as those M&M’s.”

🥕🥕🥕

Feeling Like A Fraud by Ritu Bhathal

“Jill, could you just glance over this, please?”

Nancy thrust a piece of paper in Jill’s hand.

“I’d really appreciate your opinion. Would you mind?”

“Sure, why not.”

Jill smiled and turned around, surreptitiously rolling her eyes.

Ever since her book had been released and had shot to the top ten in the charts, she’d been inundated with ‘friends’ who wanted her advice on their writing. It’s like her eminence in word craft meant she was now a fully-fledged expert.

But that was furthest from the truth.

All she’d done was write from the heart.

And readers had appreciated.

🥕🥕🥕

Teaching by Reena Saxena

“It took twenty-eight long years of struggle to reach eminence.”

My father’s story was interrupted,

“Granpa, are you Eminem?”

“No, darling, the word is eminence. It means reaching a certain height where you tower over others – metaphorically.”

“Two difficult words – what is metaphorically?”

“Like, you are the magic which transformed my life, when I was about to give up. You are not magic, but I describe you as such.”

“Me? Okay, show me which Eminem…”

“I received the Best Writer’s Prize for 2018,” he pointed towards the trophy.

“Can this Eminem sing and rap?”

Teaching is a tough job.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence  by Floridaborne

Their Jaguar stopped, rolling down the tinted windows to sneer at me.  I knew the look, people of eminence…northerners!

He frowned at my ramshackle house and asked, “Is this Azalea Avenue?”

“Yep,” I replied, stroking my beard.  “Why?”

“We might buy the property across from you.”

“It’s full of rattlers. “

“Rattlers?” A teenager with a Gucci bag asked.

“If you don’t kill the 8 inch daddy long legs, they eat 3 inch roaches like this one,” I said, pulling one out of my pocket.

And another irritant flees the trees, never to know my doctorate is in entomology.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminent Domain (Or, Why I’m Moving Out Of My House) by John Rieber

I was just stepping on the front porch when Jill screamed: “SPIDER!”

The Tarantula was a BIG one. I instinctively jumped backwards as it raised itself up on eight powerful legs and announced its eminence. Jill raced to the back of the house and grabbed a bottle of bleach. I poured it on our guest. It got angrier.

In a panic I called Animal Control. “We have a Tarantula on our porch!”

“No you don’t”, the voice calmly replied.

“Yes, we have one!”

“No,” they said again, “you have many. They never travel alone.”

I still miss that house.

🥕🥕🥕

Queen Wolfric Returns by Joanne Fisher

Her Royal Eminence Queen Wolfric III returned to her Court in the cellar after inspecting her Royal Domain. She addressed her assembled subjects:

“It’s great to be back. While it is true I got caught Upstairs, one of the giant denizens that live there managed to free me, but not before another one of them performed a rather energetic dance before me in my honour. I was most impressed.

All this said I think it should a while before I tour those regions again. Those giant denizens seem friendly, but if the truth be told, they really terrify me.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Weight of Time by JulesPaige

From the edge of the field, five deer emerged from the wood line, a brief view.
The car on this long highway emerges from fits and starts of traffic.
Heading south from seven hours north I see emerging signs of late spring.

While away yellow daffodils emerged in the side and front gardens.
A soft smile emerges from my lips, the front of my home looks happy.
On the road home an emerging issue from a distance; Hubby’s work

his eminence to
solve issues drains our time
rising ground slip slides

Heavy sighs emerge, shoulders sag… as day ends

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Frank Hubeny

After moving to the beach town whose eminence attracted him he no longer got up early to join the seagulls as the sun rose above the ocean. He no longer paid attention to the tiny lizards running on the sidewalks. He stopped celebrating the tropical climate and started complaining about the heat.

It shocked him to realize that he no longer wanted to go to the Cuban-run bakery for a cortadito. He made his own coffee.

His relatives from northern lands were still awed by palm trees and lizards, but by moving to paradise he had become a local.

🥕🥕🥕

Find What Glints  (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Eminence of sand rolled across flats, forming dunes. Danni recalled following an old pioneer trail across the Forty Mile Desert of Nevada in her dad’s Jeep, top down, spring sun beating warmly. What was that he said? Turn around and look for the glints among the dunes. Every time he pulled over, Danni scrambled among the hollows of sand, sun to her back. She trotted toward the glints – a purple glass nob from a dresser, a marble, an obsidian arrowhead. Even today, trained as an archeologist, she heard her dad’s voice coaxing her to find the discards of history.

🥕🥕🥕

A Legendary Demise by Anurag Bakhshi

The old man rasped sharply,”How many times did they shoot me?”

The younger man asked tentatively, “Twice?”

The old man immediately corrected him authoritatively, “Make that three times…and… just add that I was poisoned too.”

The younger man nodded, and had just shut his notebook when the old man said, “And just for kicks, also say that I almost managed to claw out of my grave in the frozen river.”

As his PR Head left, Rasputin smiled in contentment.

Nothing went further in helping one attain a position of eminence in history, than a death that was legendary.

🥕🥕🥕

Typo by Sarah Whiley

The neon glow enveloped the city built by and for corporations.

It was late and Sandra was alone in the cavernous office. Pounding the keyboard furiously she tried to finish the never-ending paperwork her boss delighted in giving her.

Bastard, she thought. He actually enjoyed the power, dictating when she could leave and knowing it was her weekend with her daughter.

Her email pinged.

She despaired as she saw yet another assignment.

Gazing out at the city lights, Sandra contemplated her reply. His eminence wouldn’t like it, but life was too short.

Smiling, she typed two words.

“I quit”.

🥕🥕🥕

His Eminence by Ann Edall-Robson

On Hanna’s first day of the job she figured she would meet a few people, be shown some of the ropes, and get her bearings.

There was no surprise when the foreman drove in the direction of the outbuildings.

Along the way, he showed her where she would stow her gear, pointing to the living quarters and the cookhouse. Both, he explained vehemently, were Mrs. Johnson’s domains.

The barnyard came into view, and so did a large grey cat wandering out to meet them.

“That,” muttered the foreman, “is His Eminence. He thinks he runs the show around here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Crowned Eminence by D. Avery

“Kid, yer emanating fear.”

“I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”

“Ever one’s afeared a somethin’ Kid. It’s okay ta admit it. Then ya kin face yer fears. So jist admit what yer afeared of.”

“Well, what are you afraid of, Pal?”

“Me? I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”

“Huh. Was afraid you’d say that. But you gotta admit yer fears Pal. You said.”

“Well. I don’t like spiders Kid. Jist don’t.”

“Right? All scrunchy and hairy and sudden moves. But do ya fear ‘em, Pal?”

“Mebbe… Why ya pushin’ this Kid?”

“I’m afraid one’s bein’ an eminence on yer hat, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquets

Bouquets capture a moment of bloom — flowers, emotions, smells — and become the focal point. A spring bouquet celebrates renewal, and flowers gathered at a grave mourn a passing.

Writers explored the moments and sensory relationships we have with bouquets. Gather here, we offer a bouquet of stories.

Based on the June 14, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet.

This collection is dedicated to the loving memory of Mark, a brother to Sherri Matthews.

PART I (10-minute read)

A Bouquet of Tears by Sherri Matthews

If forget-me-nots would bring you back, I would grow nothing else.

If an English Country Garden cooled your fire, I would gather every living plant and flower and bulb growing there, tie them together with a bright, red ribbon and send them by whatever means possible across the Shining Sea.

If lilies, white and pure, touched your brow and returned your smile, I would place them carefully in your hand and cry with joy.

But it cannot be.

So I bring my love in a single rose and lay it on your grave and I weep for wasted years.

***

For Mark, dear brother. ❤

🥕🥕🥕

Hope Beneath the Loss by Ruchira Khanna

“Hi, Pink Carnations!”

“Hi, Chrysanthemums!”

“Oh wait there come the Lilies,” said the chrysanthemum.

“I also see Yellow Roses in that lady’s hand.”

The Daffodils, Tulips, and the Gladioli with the yellow and the white carnations come along.

****

All these flowers are placed on the coffin while humans stand in a circle with folded hands.

At first, these flowers greet each other. Excited to form a concoction.

These blossoms together emit a fragrance that makes the Homosapien realize as they cry softly upon the loss that there is hope and promise even when pain and heartbreak surround them.

🥕🥕🥕

A Precious Spring by Saifun Hassam

Eagle Point Ridge was devastated first by a firestorm, then deep winter snows and spring thaw mud slides. Carmen drove up a steep valley road towards the timberline. She gazed at the scorched forlorn firs, spruce and pines among jagged rocks and boulders in the muddy valleys.

Near the road’s edge, a clump of bright green ferns caught her eye. Among the ferns was a bouquet of bear grass, tall green stalks crowned with tightly packed white flowers. The faint fragrance of the vibrant precious bouquet drifted in the slight breeze, a sign of hope for the days ahead.

🥕🥕🥕

Bundled Batch by JulesPaige

It was a cardboard bouquet – with sweet aroma of warm food. The people in the back of truck though they were in the middle of a fairy tale.

They were aliens… unknowns. Some were whisked away by princes who worked in the medical fields. But most were left with just some cool air and water. The stranger on the white horse galloped, after work and hearing their plight on the news – to the local pizzeria and just bought them a meal. Just because he didn’t know when they had eaten last. Could this temporary happy ending continue to last?

🥕🥕🥕

Wild Blooms by D. Avery

A bouquet is more than a bunch of flowers stuffed in a jar. The bouquet pictured is comprised largely of what many see as weeds, plucked from neglected margins. Others see wildflowers, beautiful with varied colors and textures.                 A bouquet is a purposeful arrangement of individual and diverse flowers picked and placed mindfully and with intent. A bouquet is vibrant and beautiful because of the structures and elements combined in the whole. It is a composition, not a single utterance.                                                                                                                A bouquet is a Gift to be given.

 

wild blooms, household jarred

bear witness at the table

everyone belongs

🥕🥕🥕

Tale for a Winter’s Night by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She leaned over the big black cauldron, face partially occluded in the shifting steam. Chopping and shredding, she added a pinch of this, a breath of that. Winter winds buffeted her door, seeking shelter. She cackled, stirring with a long wooden spoon.

Bringing the spoon’s edge to her lips, she took a tiny sip. “Something’s missing…”

Grabbing the glass jar from the furthest reaches of the shelf, she passed her hand over the pot, once…twice. She stirred and sniffed the rising bouquet, and smiled.

She switched the burner to simmer, and took up her Jane Austen.

She loved chili.

🥕🥕🥕

New Bouquets at Cheever’s by Paula Moyer

Sitting in the upscale-but-casual restaurant, Jean could not tell it had been a florist – Cheever’s. Now the restaurant was part of a different bouquet, the renaissance of downtown Oklahoma City.

One by one, flower by flower, new businesses sprouted in old buildings – an art gallery where Fred Jones Ford had been. A restaurant inside Cheever’s. As a salute to the history, each new business took on the name of the old one. Thanks to a city-wide sales tax, new life pulsed through the old part of town.

Jean and Lynn took their seats. Their salads were fresh as carnations.

🥕🥕🥕

Sundown Stroll by Chelsea Owens

Humidity cushioned their sunset movements. Emiline sensed it, always, in the dense Jamaican air.

“I feel like something’s pressing on my arms and legs,” Mark said, though with a smile.

Emiline answered with her own, with a light hand pulling wisps of beach-blown blonde from her eyes. Their aimless ambling soon led them within the resort gardens.

Each breathed deeply in. Clusters of pinkish blossoms blushed boldly against darker green. Snow-white Oleander winked from wall bushes. Their gaze drew skyward to admire a riot of orange.

“Nature’s bouquet,” she whispered. Speechless, he followed her through a tropic twilight.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by the darknetizen

The bouquet of fresh flowers lying in my trashcan looked so pretty, a many-hued mélange.

The red rose from the ice cream vendor, daffodil from the police officer, pink daisy from the little kid who lived down the street. Males have always loved me with such fervor. I cannot even recall most of them. In all candour, I would rather not. My beauty has always been a curse. Immortality even more so.

Centuries ago, my face launched a thousand ships and claimed even more lives. I am glad that nowadays men offer only flowers. I cannot claim more lives.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Robbie Cheadle

In the deep shadows under the stairs you may catch a glimpse of him. The form of Rex Bacon, dangling from the end of the rope he used to hang himself. An upended stool and a bouquet of wild flowers lie at his feet.

The flowers were for this beloved wife. On his last day of life, he had left work early and gathered the flowers for her during his walk home. When he got home, he found them together. In his rage he had killed her lover and escaped to the local pub where he had hung himself.

🥕🥕🥕

Complexity by Reena Saxena

Harvey is a best-selling author who never reads his own books. The interviewer looks perplexed in this episode of his show “Straight Talk with Genius Minds”.

“Sir, do you never feel the need to review what you wrote?”

“No, I simplify things as much as possible for the new age readers. But that is not my cup of tea.”

“And what would interest you?”

“A good, mature wine has a complex bouquet. But nobody has the time or patience to wait till it develops. So, I write micro-pieces for easy assimilation,” smiled the octogenarian legend, having busted popularity charts.

🥕🥕🥕

Finally Blooming by Frank Hubeny

That was the spring Alice turned the lawn into a big bouquet of flowers. It surprised Joe but looking at her face looking at the former lawn with a gentle smile she rarely showed him anymore made him grateful.

The neighborhood wives thought her odd for years. Her newfound gardening energy did not impress them. Alice’s view of them wasn’t pretty either.

That winter Alice died.

Joe kept her bouquet of former lawn going for the next decade as long as his life allowed. He received help especially towards the end and gifts of plants from the neighborhood wives.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer Posies by Colleen Chesebro, The Fairy Whisperer

The Litha preparations had been underway for days. Yesterday, the children had gathered bouquets of yellow daisies for us to carry on our journey to the bonfire which would honor the magnificence of Father Sun. The people were assembled, ready to pay homage to the One.

Excitement coursed through my veins, and I quivered. Tonight, my secret would be revealed. The mother had blessed me with the greatest gift of all. Inside, I felt the first fluttering of my tiny son.

My summer posies—

awash with an early dew

standing sentinel.

A gift of fertility,

honoring the summer sun.

🥕🥕🥕

Flower Power by kate @ aroused

Vibrant colours, sweet fragrance, singular flowers or bunched bouquets thrill with heartfelt joy! Those purchased or plucked make delightful offerings to one we wish to thank or cheer.

Brightening another’s day, claiming they are loved and dear. Garden blooms emit radiance to those passing through our neighbourhoods.

But best of all are those innocently picked by children … to thread a daisy chain; puff at the dandelion; discard petals to the chant ‘he love me, he loves me not’; or gigglingly gifted to a much adored mother. Our inner child beams playful smiles as flowers flourish irresistible profound power.

🥕🥕🥕

Simple, Humble Things by Kerry E.B. Black

The little girl ran to her mother, smile brighter than the dandelions wilting in her grip. She stood on tiptoe to present her gift, and her mother thanked her with a kiss.

Years later, she approached her mother with another fistful of yellow blooms. She sat, heedless of her business suit, and presented her gift. “When I was little, you taught me to appreciate the beauty and importance of simple, humble things.”

Her tears splashed the granite upon which her mother’s name was carved. The dandelions shone like miniature suns in contrast.

🥕🥕🥕

A Mother’s Bouquet (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Mama, flowers!” Lizzie stumbled through the cabin door, dropping her bouquet of Black-eyed Susans.

Sarah cringed as Lizzie wailed, wanting to escape the chores Mary gave her.  Lizzie’s brothers rushed in to help gather their sister’s spilled flowers.

Monroe calmed Lizzie while Jules and Cling gathered her bouquet, handing it back. Lizzie sniffled. Mary knelt with Baby Charles on her hip, and Lizzie thrust the flowers to her mother. “They are beautiful, Lizzie.”

Sarah’s heart ached for a little girl to gather a bouquet for her.  But she left her daughter in the grave in back in North Carolina.

🥕🥕🥕

A Posey Mosey by Bill Engleson

He thinks, “I could do better.”

She thinks, “I don’t require much. Just a sense that I am thought of, some gesture.”

And he thinks, “I’ve missed so many opportunities. I really am a slouch.”

And she muses, “Yes, you are, but that comes as no surprize.”

And he wonders, “Do I offer no surprises, anymore? Was it always so?”

She doesn’t hold back. “You’ve always been fairly predictable. Like I said, I don’t require much, and I expect less.”

And he finally realizes, “I’ve had a free ride, haven’t I? Should’ve gotten her a posey. At least one.”

🥕🥕🥕

Red Roses by Wallie and Friend

Clair had never liked red roses. They seemed to her too garish. Anyway there wasn’t much to be lost our gained in philosophizing over flowers, so Clair never really thought twice about whether she liked red roses or not until that roadside walk.

There he had stood with that rose between his fingers, breathing it in. The look in his eyes was so soft and charmed that for the first time, Clair loved roses. And for the first time she was trimming a bouquet, hoping it would be the first thing he saw when he came through the door.

🥕🥕🥕

Farewell Flowers by Anne Goodwin

Tulips blooming in buckets outside the florist’s. Should I? Or would it look cheap? The entire stock can’t repay what he’s given me; besides, women don’t buy men flowers.
I walk on. Walk back. Something exotic, like an orchid? Something simple, like a single white rose?

He’d like a bouquet, he’s a sharp-suited metrosexual. He’d be embarrassed, faffing about for a vase. Or worse, he’d interpret it, force it to mean something more.
Squirming like a kid, I hold out the foxgloves, scabious and daisies scavenged from the waste ground. Rather like myself. “Thank you,” he says. And smiles.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet Business by Miriam Hurdle

“My husband buys me bouquet every week,” Sandy blushed. She forgot who bought up the subject.

“It will get old in no time. Guys buy a bouquet every now and then,” Mr. Cole’s deep voice came from the other side of the room.

“They are still on honeymoon,” Mrs. Cole was embarrassed by her husband.

“Kyle is a devoted customer. He came to my floral shop for a special bouquet five months ago. I praised his affection for Sandy. He has been coming every week.”

“Sorry, I’m not trying to ruin your business,” Mr. Cole whispered to Ms. Laura.

🥕🥕🥕

Smart Home by H.R.R. Gorman

Master Ellen left me in my own devices every morning, heading off to work while I – her Smart Home – tended to her domestic needs. She returned every evening with a smile and a ‘thank you.’

A man, I’ll call him ‘Asshole,’ showed up at me with a bouquet. She let him in with his dirty shoes every time he arrived with flowers.

My gardening protocols kicked into overdrive. I grew flowers and made arrangements, leaving them at my door. She cared for my creations.

Eventually, Asshole returned. “Thank you for all the bouquets!”

He stepped back. “It wasn’t me.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquets by Susan Sleggs

When I got home from work the aroma of dinner, a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine waited. I exclaimed to my teenagers, “Wow. What’s the occasion?”

“Your birthday.”

“That’s next week.”

“We know. Surprise!”

“I’m going to cry.”

“Not allowed. Open the wine instead.”

“How did you get wine?”

“Dad took us. He said this Merlot has a great bouquet.”

“So Dad was involved in this?” I hesitated, took a deep breath and added, “You might as well call him to join us.”

“Really?”

“We told you, we’re just taking a break, not getting a divorce.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Wedding Bouquet by Hugh W. Roberts

She’d told all her friends where to stand so that when she threw her wedding bouquet, Tracey would catch it and be the next to marry. She’d told them to get the men to stand in line as well.

As the bouquet flew through the air, the atmosphere in the barracks hall of R.A.F Stanmore was one of happiness, laughter and joy. Not for the bride, though, as flashes of the war-torn country she’d come from went through her mind.

Pressing a small button concealed under her wedding dress, the flowers scatted and mixed with blood, flames and bone.

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

With Love by Di @ Pensitivity101

Her hands were bloody and dirty, nails broken and uneven.

But the smile was a full one thousand watts as she handed the bouquet to me.

‘From the garden’ she announced proudly.

‘I picked them myself, just for you. Sorry they’re a bit untidy and not tied with a fancy ribbon, but I wanted you to have them.’

Mr Robbins looked over at me and smiled sadly.

They were actually his roses, from his garden, but Gran didn’t realise that.

Gone were the days when she tended her own flower beds, but no doubt the memories were still there.

🥕🥕🥕

Love’s Bouquet by Kay Kingsley

She sat on the hot green grass watching him run circles around her with the boundless energy only a two year old possessed.

As an adult we age by the decade but children grow by the day, each blink like the slide from life’s projector, a snapshot of growth. From coo’ing to smiling, from standing and walking to talking, it’s endless discovery ignited.

Her warm daydream is interrupted by a loud “Here momma!” and his small fingers extend a bunch of tiny, squished, grass flowers. Her heart nearly explodes with pure happiness. Love never picked a more beautiful bouquet.

🥕🥕🥕

A Special Bouquet by Norah Colvin

As expected, they found her in her garden with a bouquet of fresh-picked flowers: daisies, forget-me-nots, peonies, zinnias, sprays of bleeding hearts and honeysuckle, a bottlebrush or two, a bunch of gumnuts and some greenery—to make each colour shine.

Her garden was her sanctuary, her confidante, her joy. She said families were like gardens, with beauty in variety. Every special day—birth, birthday, wedding, or funeral—she arranged a meaningful bouquet. In ninety-five years, she’d seen lives come and go. The last of nine, no doubt now who’d be next. How could she know this was her day?

🥕🥕🥕

Death By Roses by Sarah Whiley

“Death by Roses. What kind of a perfume name was that?!”

She selected it from the rows of delicate bottles standing behind glass doors; hoping her sister would like the present.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Ooooooh! Death by Roses!!! How did you know?”

“Just a hunch! Glad you like it.”

Her sister squirted and sprayed herself liberally, before spraying the bouquet over everyone.

Feeling pleased, she didn’t notice at first.

Then her mother screamed, “I thought you’d grown out of your anaphylaxis!”

She faded to black, thinking, “Death by Roses”…

🥕🥕🥕

Love & Betrayal by Anurag Bakhshi

I stared at him incredulously, my eyes and my heart filled with tears of hurt and betrayal.

“You leave me hanging at the airport on the day that we are supposed to elope, then disappear for weeks, don’t answer my calls or texts, and now you suddenly pop up and offer me these pathetic flowers?” I hollered like a madwoman as I stomped on the bouquet of dead poppies lying on my doorstep.

He looked at me with vacant eyes, and then replied in a disjointed voice, “Sorry, but these were the only flowers kept on my unmarked grave.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bitter Bouquet by Mardra Sikora

Dried petals and stems standing in clouded water greeted him.

Never before had these rewards of his affection appeared less than perfectly tended.

She provided tending. Provided status, security. She cultivated his reputation and ambition.

In the beginning, he signified his passion with red roses. Then the bouquets arrived bigger, more elaborate, and overflowed with color, camouflaging the guilt. Each blossom signified devotion, but not fidelity. Well-tended consolation prizes.

Until she realized that a living rose bush, even with all its thorns, better reciprocated the life and beauty she craved, more than any short-lived bouquet he presented without redemption.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Bouquet by Jack Schuyler

Dry stems and wilted petals blow gently in the wind. Jammed into sidewalk cracks and kicked into the street by passersby, the broken bouquet lies strewn beneath the hot sun. I cannot take the brown from the mashed petals and I cannot restore the green to the stems which lay bent like rotting asparagus in the gutter. The decorative plastic has long since blown down the highway, so I gather the carcass into a dirt stained grocery bag. And what was the occasion? A wedding? A peace offering? I gather the last petal into the bag. It’s over now.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Deborah Lee

“You got a job offer! But this is thrilling!”

Jane laughs. She pulls a bottle from her backpack with a flourish. “It’s not much, but we can celebrate.”

“I’m honored to help you celebrate, dear girl,” the old man says. “I wish I had proper glasses, to appropriately savor the bouquet of this lovely drop.” His eyes dance.

“Bouquet,” Jane snorts, uncapping the wine. “Two-Buck Chuck doesn’t have a bouquet. More like a…twang.”

“A pungency.”

“A stench!” Jane squeals, giddy.

Henry drinks, wipes the the bottle, passes it. “I could not be happier for you,” he says quietly.

🥕🥕🥕

There’s Nothing More Annoying Than A Smart-Arse by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know, those guys are so annoying, hee-hawing about the wine.’

‘Morgan, they’re young, they…’

‘What is it about wine that brings out pretensions? “Lovely bouquet” and “it has notes of peach and cobblers”. Why don’t they just drink it?’

‘You’re the same, with your car. All horse-power and litres and torque and…’

‘That’s different. They’re technical terms.’

‘You use them to contrafabulate the listener.’

‘You made that up.’

‘You don’t know though. You’re just trying to confuse people.’

‘A bouquet is a bunch of flowers, not a wine scent.’

‘Actually it’s the tertiary aroma, caused…’

‘Shut up, Logan.’

🥕🥕🥕

Catch Me If You Can by Juliet Nubel

Julia had hovered behind her sister all day, following her like a faithful young puppy. A puppy in teetering heels and an atrociously tight scarlet dress.

She was the older one, surely she should have had a say in what she wore today?

As she lingered she kept a careful eye on the bouquet. The scent from its red and white roses had tickled her nostrils all day.

When was her sister ever going to throw the damned thing?

Julia prayed that her months of training as the goalie of the local female football team would finally pay off.

🥕🥕🥕

[misled] by Deb Whittam

The exchange always happened at the end of the day, that was when most looked the other way.

Her old gnarled hands would clasp the product close, until he arrived and then no words were spoke.

He would take the offering and turn away quick, she would smile not batting an eyelid.

Most thought it a tradition, one of those old family ways.

No one seemed to realise that the weeds he received, were more than they perceived.

Weeds and such is what they said, he just nodded … they chose not to see, let them be misled.

🥕🥕🥕

Offering To The Land by Jan Malique

She stood looking at the expanse of wild meadow with wonder. It was a rolling carpet of vibrant colour and scent, touched with the kiss of golden sunlight. Truly heaven!

The elders of the tribe had chosen her to carry the offering of garden flowers. A gift to the land as thanks for retreat of the great ice sheets, and continual good harvests.

She waited for a sign from the land that the gift had been accepted. Silence fell, then a sweet wind moved over the meadow. The Guardian came slowly forward and kissed her gently on the forehead.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by FloridaBorne

She stared at the bouquet of long-stemmed yellow roses, tears streaming.

The best florist in town, the baby breath arranged perfectly in a cut crystal vase, his intentions unmistakable, she opened the embossed envelope and read the gold lettering on an elegant card, “You were right.”

Yesterday, they’d argued about his late nights at work, and excessive spending. She’d accused him of having an affair.

She’d once quipped, “If you want a divorce, just send me a dozen yellow roses.”

He knew she hated that color. He didn’t know she was pregnant.

He’d learn to hate child support more.

🥕🥕🥕

Hi Noon at the Bouquet Corral by D. Avery

“Pal! Where’s Shorty at?”

“Whoa, Kid, what’s wrong?”

“The ranch hands! They’s all off in the upper meadows an’ in the woods sniffin’ flowers an’ makin’ daisy chains.”

“So?”

“So?! They should be makin’ hay, not pickin’ flowers! We gotta be makin’ hay; sowin’ an’ reapin’. Git ready fer winter. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, whyn’t you relax, go sniff some flowers yerself?”

“Cain’t, no time, gotta replenish the carrot bin, git hay inta the barn. Winter’s comin’. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, go back ta the meadow. Shorty’s there gatherin’ flowers.”

“What?”

“Fuel fer the soul, Kid. Important work, time well spent.”

Warrior Women

Strong women run with the wolves, engaging their Wild selves. Feminine mythology extends beyond limiting stereotypes of women. It’s fertile ground for writers to explore.

What might a female warrior look like, act like, sound like? Writers place these women as characters in different predicaments or examine the influences of those they have loved in real life.

The following is based on the May 31, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about warrior women.

PART I (10-minute read)

Rancha Mythica by D. Avery

Drumbeats and dancing feet reverberate like thunder across the lands of Buckaroo Nation.

The usual low, homey campfire is now a blazing bonfire. Flames leap wildly, lashing the night sky. Wild women are illuminated in flashes, scars revealed in the dancing light.
Old stories are told in new ways. Sad stories are told. Yet laughter rings out strong and true. Songs of life rise up like sparks from their fire, sung to old tunes that resonate like a smooth round rock.

The women warriors rise. The women warriors raise one another up. The women warriors of Buckaroo Nation write.

🥕🥕🥕

Valkyries by Charli Mills
Step forth onto the battlefield, Daughters. Brace your feet, remember your training. Adjust your shield and sword. Death is but a trip to Valhalla. Ready your bodies for passage. When you fall, the Valkyries are coming. Skol!

Lift up, lift up, lift up — Choosers of the Slain! Warrior-women wielding runes, marks of the chosen. Let not the weight of the world, the heaviness of battle, the blood your body sheds destroy you. Glory nears.

Lift up, lift up, lift up and carry those battle-born souls to Odin. Warriors of the warriors. Valkyries. Women who rise. The run is over.

🥕🥕🥕

War Zone by Mirium Hurdle

“Good morning, Lieutenant? You’ve slept for three days.”

“Where am I? My legs? I can’t feel anything.”

“They found you after the bombing. You’re alive.”

“Sheila, we need you. The Captain is hurt.”

“Right over, Ursula.”

“The blood is gushing out from his chest.”

“Roll up the sheet to put pressure on it. Give him porphin.”

“Sheila, more stretches are in. We have no beds.”

“Clear up all the tables.”

“Sheila, here. Private got shot through the elbow.”

“I’ll prepare to cut his forearm. Bring me the equipment.”

“Sheila, over there.”

“Captain needs a blood transfusion.”

“I’ll be there.”

🥕🥕🥕

Black ‘n’ White by Neel Anil Panicker

‘It’s plain nepotism. The winner’s the Jury Chairman’s nephew. You can contest the decision if you want to’.

For Abraham Lincoln, the Principal’s words were a sledgehammer.

He had outscored every single opponent and was lustily cheered after his passionate seven minute espousal of a woman’s undeniable right to abortion yet lost the prestigious annual Inter-Collegiate Debate Competition by a mere vote.

His mother’s words ringed her ears.

‘Remember, son, a Black man’s got to be a hundred times better than others if he wants to succeed in this land’.

“No Sir, I’ll try to do better next time”.

🥕🥕🥕

Urban Encounter by Bill Engleson

I generally don’t walk down Carlyle Avenue after dark. The town has quite a few streets I avoid at night. Truth is, there was still a hint of daylight slanting through, courtesy of a stretched moon shadow.

Before I see her, she screams from the alley, “Get the blazes outta here.”

That grabs my attention. Then she sashays into the light. Five-foot tops, wearing a black shawl, an ankle length red dress, and a gray military great coat.

“What’s ya lookin’ at, Creepo?”

Later, I’m thinking I should’ve said something clever.

Sadly, my tongue was tied.

I just skedaddled.

🥕🥕🥕

Mama Bear Unleashed by Eric Pone

Ono looked at the robber in the store. As he smacked the owner, she looked down at her daughter and took a deep breath. Piper shouldn’t see mama this way but shit happens. Reaching behind she slowly removed the Tanto Emerson knife and quietly rolled Piper into a quiet aisle. She walked purposely toward him her pace quickening as old habits opened their doors for their horrible duty. The man turned toward her and tried to point his Magnum 357. Too late. The knife quickly sliced his jugular. She smiled as he gurgled and fought for life. Mama did well.

🥕🥕🥕

Shadow People by Charli Mills
Undergrowth of legends cling to consciousness and shadows vape through the veil between who we must be and who we indeed are. Quaking, we repeat fairy tales to let fear conform our captured souls.

The veil slips, and we glimpse Mythica where strange and weird entities tap and twirl to original wingbeats of self-expression. Fear blinds our hearts and knots the rope around throats of mythical women who are different.

Mythica is the shadowlands populated by shadow people. Dare you cross the veil? Grandmother won’t save you, but she beckons you to enter and run hard with the wolves.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Michael Grogan

She’s old now. Her life draws to an end, but the warrior lives within her. Once a victim of rape and incest, she dedicated her life as an advocate for others.

Hours as a parent rescuing a wayward daughter, suffering estrangement but death reunited mother and daughter. She never gave up, she was a rock her child could always lean on, never dreaming she might one day bury her.

True warriors are a source of inspiration to so many, her voice in a wilderness of indifference.

She sits and holds the image of a beautiful child she couldn’t save.

🥕🥕🥕

Warriors of the Dark by Reena Saxeena

dark fears of
being overpowered
light up corners of my psyche.

childhood memories of voices
saying I was no good
unacceptable in original form

they dressed me in clothes
of subservience
to comply with social norms.

I couldn’t see how
inner demons would be caged
floating out in the cold

the jury out there
delivered verdicts
to encase me in moulds

dark, interfering shadows
swooped to enslave,
control my life

it awakened armies inside me
with the power to wage war
and destroy to end strife.

isolation for protection
and … it has always been
a lone warrior’s life.

🥕🥕🥕

The Warrior Women of Ireland by Anne Goodwin

They fought in lipstick and five-inch heels; they fought in turf-stained jeans and wellies. They battled home via Stena Sealink and Ryanair for the desperate travelling in the opposite direction. They fought so no more Savitas would have to die because no surgeon would defy the law to save them. They fought with the ballot won a century before when women starved for basic freedoms. The warrior women of Ireland reclaimed the choice misogyny and church denied them. But the job’s not done until their sisters in the north can also decline to harbour an alien in their bodies.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Robbie Cheadle!

“How are you enjoying being back at work, Lisa?”

“Not at all, Sarah. I feel guilty about leaving Tom with a caregiver. I feel I should be looking after him myself. When I collect him in the afternoon he won’t come to me. I am sure he isn’t happy.”

“Well, my view, for what it’s worth, is that we are helping to provide for our children. Our salaries facilitate better educational and other opportunities for them. It also ensures that our children have an independent, strong and self-sufficient woman as their role model. Working mothers are the modern warriors.”

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Warrior by Teresa Grabs

Protests erupted nationwide as women took to the streets. They protested for parental pay, self-ownership, and some just to protest. Newscasts were filled lawsuits over whether a man looked at a woman or complimented her outfit. Some men were too afraid to be in a room with a woman.

Lillian adjusted her gloves and checked her hat in the mirror one last time before going shopping. The streets were filled with protests again. Words hurling everywhere and no one listening.

“Thank you,” Lillian said, to the man opening the store’s door for her, smiling. Today’s silent warrior, she thought.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Revising by D. Avery

She reined hard to a dusty stop. “Whoaaa.”

“Nice bike”, her granpa remarked. She reproved him with a withering glare. “It’s a horse.”

“You’re a cowgirl?”

“No, I’m an Indian.”

“A lovely maiden out for a ride!”

“No, Granpa! I’m a warrior!”

“A warrior princess.”

He got an eye-roll. “Granpa, I’m not a princess! I am a war-ri-or.”

“Okay, okay. You are a warrior, doing battle, fighting.”

“Actually, I just try and save boys ‘cause they’re under a spell that makes them do dumb things all the time.”

She galloped off.

Maybe he should call next door, warn Tommy.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Sarah Whiley

I gripped my hands tightly around the wooden blade, sucking in deep breaths, to fill my lungs with the oxygen I knew would be required for the battle ahead.

“We’ve trained hard for this! We have this,” I told myself.

Adrenalin began pumping as I waited for the signal. I glanced at the girl next to me who was also breathing heavily. She gave me a quick wink.

Suddenly, I heard the calls we’d been waiting for…

“Down and ready.”

“Are you ready?”

“Attention.”

Paddles entered the water as the siren blared.

We were warrior women, in our dragonboat.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Nicole Grant

The grandfathers were whalers, and according to historians, they were yeoman farmers. I wonder, what were the grandmothers doing?  And how were the grandfathers, out at sea harpooning whales, managing their farms?  Rebecca Corson, one of the grandmothers, is said to have fired a cannon scaring off the British as they approached shore during the revolutionary war.  My guess would be that the women were spending less time on widow walks wringing their hands watching for the whalers to return than they spent in the fields tilling, in the woods hunting, and behind the cannon doing what they must.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Time: by The Dark Netizen

I ride into the army of red coats, swarming my home like ants. They will not capture my home so easily.

My noble steed needs no directions from me. He rides straight through their ranks, letting me tear them down with my swords – flashes of silver lightning.

Even after hours of fighting, my conquest seems hopeless. Most of my men are dead or wounded. I feel my eyes closing.

NO!

For the sake of my little baby and my kingdom, I cannot give in. Death will have to wait to claim the queen.

My time has not come!

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Woman by Deborah Lee

Jane’s eyes open to the phone alarm. She pokes her nose out of the sleeping bag: Cold.

Just today off? Just one day? To lie around, to not strain her eyes at job listings, to not duck the judging eyes of the homed and employed. One day to pretend her life is good enough to relax into.

No.

One day of not trying leads to one missed opportunity leads to another damned lifetime of this life she’s lived too long already.

Growling, she flings back the top of the sleeping bag and jerks her legs out of the warmth.

🥕🥕🥕

Gertrude the Invincible by Norah Colvin

With flaming hair streaming and eyes blazing, Gertrude stood at the apex surveying the land, her land. With one hand on a hip and the other raised high, she hurled her words into the wind.

“I did it. I am the conqueror. You,” she pointed expansively with her spear, “are now my subjects. You do my bidding.”
The minions bowed before her.

“I am in-vinc-i-ble!”

“Gertie! Pick up your toys and come inside now. It’s dinner-time,” called Dad from the door.

Gertie complied. Even warriors need to eat. There’d be more conquests and enemies for Gertrude to vanquish tomorrow.

🥕🥕🥕

Taking a Stand by Wallie and Friend

True, Aunt Cecily was older, but that didn’t necessarily make her wise. Emmy knew she was dead wrong. The hard part was saying so.

“Auntie,” she said, “I’m going. I know what the risks are and it’s true I might not come back. But I have to do this. For us. For all of us. I can’t just stay behind while Eddie and the others go. I can’t.”

Aunt Cecily didn’t answer at once. She looked at her niece, seeing the young woman’s level chin, hearing her controlled voice.

“You’re right,” she said. “And I will go with you.”

🥕🥕🥕

Line by galaxygirl_89

She spent every summer vacation at her great aunt’s place in the countryside, a respite from the city and it’s loneliness, among the mango trees and the paddy fields, cousins and neighbours to play with. That was the first time ever they had done anything wayward. They stole away at night after the grown ups were asleep, and walked to the stream at the end of the property. The strips dividing the fields were so narrow that they had to walk in a single file, like ants treading a line, while the moonlight streamed over in a silvery cascade.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

The Present by Papershots

In bed that night, she suddenly extended her right arm and hand. She squinted her eyes and aimed at the wall opposite – wedding photo, big table lamp, wooden-framed mirror. A powerful beam of light, she imagined, would open the wall and let her see behind it. She laughed. Surely if she was Super Mom she could have greater powers than that! “Never be mad for any reason, always understanding, strict and lenient at every right dose.” Better make do with these. Or have to. Or really do, because she had them. The kids asleep, she dreamed of Wonder Woman.

🥕🥕🥕

Mom by Faith A. Colburn

She thought she could adapt to anything. After all, to save her family, she’d got a job when she was only fifteen—singing in a nightclub. She’d navigated groping, propositions, and men who said she did when she didn’t; she’d joined the Army and learned to build radios and install them into B-24s; she’d married the man she loved, a shell-shocked veteran, and moved with him to a farm in Nebraska, where the nights were silent and the stars near; she’d learned to be a farm wife. But in the end, she learned she couldn’t just be missus somebody.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Chelsea Owens

Youth, untried, stands blinking into the equatorial sun. It shuffles awkward spears; tilts dented shields.

Two thousand feet nervously stamp the earth.

Their leader looks upon his neophyte army. “What say ye, my sons; will ye go against them to battle?”

Two thousand of them have never fought. Two thousand just left home. Two thousand eager voices cry, “Our God is with us! Let us go!”

Thus they march, thus they go, thus they draw their spears. The enemy, surprised, falls beneath their untrained arms.

The leader, awed, counts two thousand. “How came ye by your courage?”

“Our mothers.”

🥕🥕🥕

Wounded Warrior by D. Avery

Not best friends, but reliable friends; neighbors, they had been playmates since forever, from sandbox to bikes, many shared adventures. Together they had explored the haunted house, both emerging as warriors, both with bragging rights.

Together they’d built a secret fort.

That’s where they started exploring each other. The fort was theirs, this exploring was theirs, fun and friendly, another rite of passage shared.

He bragged. Somehow he knew he could. Somehow she knew she couldn’t admit that she’d even done it, let alone liked it.

Somehow the game had changed.

She wondered if he also missed their friendship.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Floridaborne

Work study in a musty university library back room, 1968.

Three students were tasked with binding tortured book spines. June, a slender woman well aware of her own beauty, liked to talk politics. Plain, “heavy set,” Linda was mortified.

Jack, once part of an inner-city gang, didn’t try staring his umbrage into someone with an opposing point of view. He took a blade used for binding and held it at June’s throat.

“I just bought this blouse,” June said. “Try not to get blood all over it.”

Jack lowered the weapon, and chuckled. “That takes guts.”

Linda, however, fainted.

🥕🥕🥕

Escaping Leap by Jo

The unexpected jolt to the chin was her warning. The blinding pain, the sign she sought after. She was more wounded by the fact he punched her than by the soreness setting in.

‘I’m sorry!’ He said walking toward her.

She made the decision to step back watching his eyes that went pitch black the moment she stepped away holding her face. No sword, no shield, just her wits and will, she leaped for her keys and dashed to her car. She couldn’t watch him in the rearview mirror. Later, filing a report, she learned she escaped a murderer.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior, Warrior by Peregrine Arc

“You’re too fat.”

“You’re too skinny.”

“You should stay at home.”

“You should volunteer again.”

“That’s not organic?”

“Why are you breastfeeding in public?”

“That skirt is too short.”

“That blouse is too modest.”

“Boys will be boys.”

“Men will be men.”

“Be quiet.”

“Speak up.”

The conversations streamed past me as I sat in the mall, quietly observing.

Men may carry clubs, but women carry poison.

🥕🥕🥕

Worth the Frostbite by Kerry E.B. Black

Dyan wielded a pitchfork like a peasant soldier, lips pulled into a snarl. “Back off! You’re not hurting these kittens again.”

The farmer whistled through his teeth. “Girl, are you daft? We’ve too many felines. Don’t need no more. ‘Sides, you’ll be needing some attention. Thrusting your hands into a frozen trough for a few useless kits was just plain dumb. You’ll be nursing frostbite.”

She no longer felt her fingers, but she didn’t care. “You’re a cruel man.” She scooped the sack squirming with mewing kittens, sheltered them beneath her winter coat, and ran to the tack-room’s protection.

🥕🥕🥕

Avid Reader by kate @ aroused

Learning Italian at seventy-six years was a challenge Aunty gladly accepted. The least she could do when she expected her neighbours to learn English.

An avid reader with a vast vocabulary ensured easy completion of the cryptic crosswords daily. An astute historian, adept pianist, reared in the wilds a full sixteen mile hike from the train.

Abused by her educators she cared for her parents before a brief but happy marriage. Her genuine interest in absolutely everybody ensured that she had a constant stream of visitors.

Never uttered a bad word or complaint. She graced us for a century.

🥕🥕🥕

Fighting The Invisible Enemy by Geoff Le Pard

‘How are you, Morgan?’

‘At a loss, Logan.’

‘She’s fighting, though, knowing your ma.’

‘I’m not… you know, I don’t get that whole ‘fighting cancer’ thing’

‘She’s not giving up, is she?’

‘But she ain’t exactly waving her sword either. I mean you can’t will the effing thing away.’

‘What they saying?’

‘Not much. Just more tests. You know what’s hard? She’s always argued. She’d diss a lamppost if it got in her way, but she just lies there, doing nothing. No swearing, not even a hairy eyeball.’

‘Come here. You need to stop fighting yourself.’

‘It sucks, mate.’

🥕🥕🥕

Champion Challenge by JulesPaige

Was Mercy a warrior? The woman had given Regina birth. Perhaps Mercy’s own mother knew, maybe even the man who she called her husband? But when you die young and don’t get to tell your tale — you can only hope others will. Both Gran and Dad had broken hearts that they kept as silent as a moss covered stone.

Regina latched onto the few memories that had been shared and would spin them thousands of ways. After all Mercy’s blood ran in her veins. Perhaps the words that Regina spilled on paper would be enough. They’d have to be.

🥕🥕🥕

The Brotherhood of Iron by Telling Stories Together

“Again,” said the monk.

Constance drew back the bow, squeezing her shoulders together. She let string go and the arrow sang through the air, thudding into the rotten stump. The ground around the stump was littered with shafts from previous attempts.

“You’ve improved. You actually hit your target this time.”

Constance returned the old monk’s smile in spite of herself. Then, remembering her task, the parcel she’d dutifully delivered, the smile faded.

“You’ve been very kind, Atheus, but I must return to my own Order.”

Atheus placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”

🥕🥕🥕

Easy Pickings by Di @ pensitivity101

Swordsmanship wasn’t restricted to just the menfolk in their quiet village.

Situated in the middle of nowhere, they would be open to invasion from all sides, and when food was scarce, the men would go off to hunt, leaving the women to care for the children, elderly and infirm.

Such was a time when Outsiders decided to plunder the village whilst the men were away.

It was a bloodbath, and they didn’t stand a chance.

Only one was allowed to live and serve as a warning to others that the women there could kill as well as any man.

🥕🥕🥕

United, They Win by Aweni

Melville looked fearfully at the Amazon he’d trained. She was meant to be his weapon against her kind. But, she knew his intentions now and her rage was sublime.

He won’t give up. He’ll throw discord in their midst. Her army will turn on her, he thought gleefully.

He knew he had lost when she shouted, “I come from a line of warriors! We create a furore, when we line in thick rows. Breaking the air with arrows, cleaving through the enemy with our swords. One sister for all, all sisters for one. Bend the knee to our king!”

🥕🥕🥕

Who’s Gettin’ Schooled? by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She swings again, the blunt-edged sword whistling past his ear by a hair’s breadth. He slices upward with his own wooden blade. She arches her back like a wildcat, leather armor squeaking protest at the quick move, and follows with a roundhouse twist that lands her at his open left side.

A quick jab; she stops just short of his heart line.

He freezes, chest heaving, and peers at her shrewdly. “You’re slow today. Are you trying to fail?”

She laughs, troll’s tail flicking gleefully. “Maybe you’re getting old, Father.”

“Time to teach you about Statecraft,” he threatens playfully.

🥕🥕🥕

[fight] by Deb Whittam
Times had changed and changed rapidly … no longer was there a sense of comradery or fulfilment in this game – now it was a fight … to the death.

She had held herself distant from it but now that her opportunity had come to enter the fray she felt a sense of unease and her hand shook as she finalised her preparations – applied her makeup, checked her hair and ensured that her sword’s blade was honed to a razor-sharp point.

One didn’t go to a disco unarmed – not if one was looking for a man anyway.

🥕🥕🥕

But Still Single? by Roger Shipp

She was wildly pursued on OkCupid as well as Happen, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Bumble. Hundreds of hits a day was the norm. This she enjoyed.

Tender and Down even offered incentives if she would allow her picture to appear on their advertising after her photo shoot in Maui. Financially, a plus!

LuLu, Match, and Zoosk had called her attorney wanting exclusive rights to her personality profile. Don’t throw at stick at that!

Being so sought after from all the dating app corporations could really swell a girl’s head…

Maybe actually being too-good-to-be-true was too good to be true.

🥕🥕🥕

Mystery Solved by Molly Stevens

At first, Chester treasured his time alone when Ruth disappeared into the spare bedroom. He sat in tightie whities slurping coffee, scratching a butt cheek, and passing gas, thankful for the absence of her heavy sighs.

Then it seemed creepy. What the hell was she doing in there?

“I know it’s that crazy neighbor, Myra, put her up to somethin’,” he said.

He turned the knob inching the door open. Ruth stood with hands on hips, feet shoulder-width apart, chest puffed out, and chin up.

“Sweet Jesus, it’s dad-blamed Wonder Woman,” said Chester.

Ruth flashed him a wide grin.

🥕🥕🥕

Wanda by Frank Hubeny

Silvia walked into Benny’s Diner. Sharon told Benny to deal with her or she’d quit. Benny shuffled to the bar.

“Morning, Silvia.”

“I want a real waitress serving me.”

Benny glanced at Sharon. “She’s busy.”

“She’s just standing there.”

“How about some pancakes?”

“Are they gluten-free?”

“You know they’re not.”

Silvia ordered pancakes as usual. While she dripped corn syrup over margarine the dreaded alien invasion began. Silvia looked at Benny and Sharon. She ripped off her street clothes revealing her secret identity as Warrior Wanda. It was time to show these wretched Earthlings how high maintenance kicks butt.

🥕🥕🥕

Start of a Wild Ride (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Sarah startled at the hand pressing against her mouth in the dark. A woman’s voice shushed her struggles. She sat up in bed to see Nancy Jane’s face inches from hers. “What are you doing,” Sarah whispered.

“Ever run with wolves?”

“What?”

“Come, on, Sarah, Yellow Feather gathered some ponies. Let’s be braves under the moon!”

Sarah clung to her quilt drawn up to her chin. Camp was silent, emigration season nearly at an end. Cobb would be asleep next to Mary, and their baby. He was the same age –

She threw down the quilt and rose from bed.

🥕🥕🥕

Independence Day by Anne Goodwin

Whose is this voice that thunders in her head? Who will she become if she listens? Yet someone must lead, so why not Joan? What she lacks in years, she brings in passion.
Standing in the stirrups to adjust her seat in the saddle, she channels the spirit of her namesake. Her armour might be card, but her lance is real, and Joan knows how to use it. Not that she thinks she’ll need to today as she steers the procession through cheering crowds. Skirmish is rare on Independence Day, but a woman warrior is always primed for action.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wonder Of A Woman by D. K. Cantabile

She used to be a woman of pale feelings. Her days were painted with washed watercolors, without glitter, nor shades. Blurred figures blended composing the most senseless scenes.

She couldn’t detect where the skyline divided city and stars, never noticing where the sun was setting in the horizon. She hadn’t seen a deep dark blue mood, neither glanced at a sparkling red sensual desire. She didn’t spread the orange scent of joy, or witnessed the serenity of green peace.

One day, she was touched by the cozy light yellow sunshine and the rainbow became the pathway of her life.

🥕🥕🥕

It Takes a Warrior by Susan Sleggs

The nurse woke Maggie the morning after her right breast was removed. “Your husband wanted me to make sure you saw this.” She held up a framed picture of them holding compound bows. The inscription on the glass read, “To my warrior. Now you have an advantage. Your chief loves you.”

Even though it hurt, Maggie laughed. “We are professional archers. I have complained my boob gets in the way, now it won’t. That’s why we decided I shouldn’t have reconstruction. He tells me it will take a warrior to beat cancer and get strong enough to compete again.”

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior by The Memory Cellar

The grief that wrapped itself tightly around her life had fingers of depression that choked her into an inescapable feeling of slow, inevitable suffocation.

She can’t let go of the shame she carries but knows it may kill her if she doesn’t.

She stares at herself momentarily in the mirror, only seeing the painful sadness only an aging woman knows.

But somewhere inside the fire rises and from her eyes fall tears of surrender and with her finger she wipes them across her face like war paint. She was a warrior once and to her surprise, she still is.

🥕🥕🥕

Deep Water

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionAs one writer commented, “Water is hope.” It can sparkle and promise solitude.

Yet in its depths, water contains all the complexities of the human world. It receives our ashes, our drowned bodies, our buried bones and church bells. It is an allegory, an object of luxury, a character or two: H2O.

Without it we are parched, our land scorched, our cities in blackouts. With it, we might dance.

Pour yourself a tall, cool glass from the tap and read these fine flash fictions based on the July 9, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write story about water. 

River of Hope by Kalpana Solsi

Staring at the brown rugged mountains and the clouds reflecting in the azure waters of the river, she felt thirsty, thirsty to catch a glimpse of him.

Today, she had cooked a delicious hot meal of rice and chicken curry and post-lunch he would regale with his stories of far-off lands.

The horizon turned pale crimson, the birds flying back to their nests.
Tomorrow I will cook prawns curry, his favourite dish, she thought and turned back, feeling disappointed.

She preferred the distant hope of mirage rather than face the cruel reality.

Unknown to her, his spirit watched her.

###

Lady of the Lake by Sarah Brentyn

At the end of the dock, Phoebe dipped her toe in the lake. Her grip on the post so tight, it left indentations in her palms. She watched the still water. No girls floated by in bikinis, sunning themselves. No guys ran down the dock and jumped high in the air shouting “cannonball!” No children sat in the sand, slathered with sunscreen, digging with plastic shovels.

Not today.

Everyone was out walking, searching, calling. Looking for Phoebe’s sister, Kaia. They wouldn’t find her. She was gone. Drowned. Of this, Phoebe was certain. She hadn’t let go until Kaia sank.

###

Cruel Summer by Pete

Phillip squinted at the sparkling pool, rippling with playful screams and splashes and colorful pool toys from one end to the other. He sat down next to his mom on a lounge chair, already drenched in sweat as the sun burned through his shirt.

“Hey Phillip, you getting in?” Owen asked from the edge. Phillip watched the water dripping off his skinny arms.

“Maybe later.”

He’d been so fearless before, and felt the stares clinging to him like his shirt on his hips. Today he would wait until dark, when he’d plunge into the still water shirtless and alone.

###

The Cleansing by Geoff Le Pard

Mary shuddered. His hands were sticky with sweat; it felt like he’d wiped himself dry on her.

‘It’s brilliant to meet you at last. It’s been far too long.’

Rupert Reeves. Her half-brother, though when she looked at him her mind screamed, ‘Dad’s bastard’.

Even his voice seemed to ooze over her, coating her in damp guilt. ‘Why did our parents never introduce us?’

She tried a smile. ‘It was difficult.’

‘Your mother, yes? She couldn’t forgive, could she?’

Later Mary stood under the shower and scrubbed herself raw. Why did he assume anyone would forgive her father’s affair?

###

Greatest of the Great Lakes by Paula Moyer

Jean never took the “Express Highway” up the North Shore of Lake Superior. It was always the scenic route. Even then, “scenic” really took off north of Two Harbors.

She hungered to memorize the twists and turns of Highway 61. Turn, turn, turn. Glimpse, glimpse, glimpse through trees. Then: big hilltop vista, carpet laced with glittering blue diamonds. She could hear a kettle drum with each viewing.

Somewhere north of Gooseberry Falls, she would enact her ritual. Walk to shore, place towel on rock. Remove shoes. Wade in up to the knees. Cherished, cold shock. Liquid ice, beloved lake.

###

Blackouts on the Rise by Susan Zutautas

Temperatures expected to rise to 132 today. I know folks this has not been a pleasant summer, and with all the water alerts it doesn’t make life on the Mojave very comfortable. I do wish I had some relief for you in sight but sadly do not. Please try and use your fans rather than your A/C due to blackouts occurring throughout the west.

Fines will be increased to 2500.00 for anyone caught wasting water. This includes gardens, lawns, cars, and pools, until further notice.

Sighing deeply, I wound up my crank radio yearning to hear some good news.

###

Water Flash by Anne Goodwin

We pulled up alongside a wooden shack with a blistered Coca-Cola sign above the entrance. The driver had barely stepped inside the ramshackle shop when they came, swarming round the windows of the SUV with their cupped hands and pleading faces.

It was sweltering inside without the aircon. When the driver returned bearing gallon bottles of water, we gave him a round of applause.

Leaving the village, we pointed our cameras at the shallow river where women scrubbed rainbow-coloured clothes and children splashed in the shallows. Where, in rusting cans and old oil drums, girls harvested the household’s water.

###

Tree of Life by Lisa Reiter

It was dry and dusty and the waterhole had turned to mud. Fish slopped pathetically, where once he drank and played. With nothing to stay for, his mother urged him away, although the horizon only shimmered dangerously with mirage. She’d been calling the gods of thunder but he was afraid of them. And he had never been thirsty.

She marched with certainty towards scrubland on the horizon. After many hours she trumpeted delight sighting an ancient baobab.

Pulling bark from the tree, she offered him its miraculous water. He would remember where to come next time the rains failed.

###

Walter Wants Water by Mr Binks

Walter smiled. His previously clenched eyelids had loosened but not opened, and his eyes twitched beneath them. The cascading waterfall he was currently bathing in was half a world away from the dusty, red sand where he lay. The dust and dirt of which covered him, clogged every pore and yet proved to be a very ineffective sunscreen.

He dived beneath the water, soaking himself in the welcome lagoon.

The desert stretched beyond the horizon. Footprints had long since swept away. Walter’s foot flinched and kicked out involuntarily. His skin blistered and the vultures looked on, ravenous.

Walter smiled.

###

Hydrogen Bonding by Larry LaForge

“Hold on Izzie!”

“Don’t let go Ozzie.”

These two water molecules, best pals forever, are in peril again. This time it’s not pollution. It’s the dreaded refrigerator icemaker.

The incoming line was like a water slide, but now the freeze is on.
Izzie hears the dispenser crank up and knows immediately it’s set on cubed, not crushed, ice. That’s good, he thinks.

“We can make it, Iz,” Ozzie shouts as he clings to Izzie so tightly they appear to be one 2H4O molecule.

As the freeze sets in Ozzie realizes they did it.

They’re in the same ice cube!

********
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.

###

Water Flash by Georgia Bell

The glass felt heavy in her hands; a welcome weight in contrast to her racing thoughts. Inhaling, she felt her heartbeat slow. Amber and toffee and a dash of pepper invaded her senses with nostalgia. Every breath reminding her of his warm, rich voice, his large hands showing her how to tie her shoes and catch tadpoles. Hands that had tucked her in each night, with a kiss and prayer to a god he didn’t believe in. “No water,” he’d said. “If you want to experience something, don’t dilute it, dive in.” She drank the scotch in his memory.

###

Water by Irene Waters

The strong wind created high waves whilst the rain beating his face, ran like rivers through the deep crevasses. “Komm liebling, you can do it” the German whispered to his boat as he battled forward to the middle of the large harbour, his precious cargo safely stowed in waterproof casings.

“Ahoy there!”

“Ahoi!” He’d seen the light of the other vessel earlier and was now alongside

“Am I glad to see you?” Swiftly they swapped their films “No time to chat mate. Got to get going. It’s goin’ to be a long interval before they get the second feature.”

###

A Stormy Dance by Amber Prince

The waltz of the storm raced along the curvy paths, cutting a new trail with a torrential wet force. It looked as though a thick, gray blanket fell from the sky, covering the mountains from sight. Lightening danced to and fro from the clouds, wreaking havoc wherever it’s electrified slashes touched. The musical tune, played by the thunder, boomed across the peaks as it kept the beat.

It was coming my way. There was no where to go. I watched. Waited. Thirsty. Panic and hunger battled inside me for I would live or die.

Because a plant can’t run.

###

Water Flash by Susan Budig

My dunderhead-brother insisted his facts were impeccable; insisted I span the river alone; and refused to listen to my concerns about the rattlesnake den just beyond the bank. I could see a papery skin caught on a rock. I knew the nest was full of diamondbacks.

Axel expected me to swim over to the north side of Obion River, rig up a U-hook in the rock, tie a rope to it, then swim back. He had plans for a whack-job fishing outfit only he couldn’t swim.

“You’ll be safe. Snakes can’t swim.”

Famous last words. Why did I listen?

###

The Ganges by Ruchira Khanna

Travelled ~9,000 miles and sitting next to the banks of the Ganges that flow majestically with splendor as it exhibits it’s grandiose to all its spectators who stand there admiring her body of water that is about ~2,000 miles long.

I dip my hands in the chilly waters because this river descends from the Himalayas, and bid farewell to my dad’s remains with a silent prayer and a benediction since it’s considered the most sacred river to the Hindus.

Farewells are tough, but in view of nothing are constant, made me continue to tread upon the path of life.

###

Tolo Lake Graveyard by Charli Mills

One Saturday morning local volunteers gathered around the small mud flat littered with dead branches. The local Chamber had donated coffee.

“Listen up,” called out the state biologist. “We’ve drained water from Tolo and with your help we’ll begin mucking out the bottom to improve fishing.”

“Damn snags,” said a Grangeville farmer, swishing the last of his coffee. “I’m gonna find those Castmasters.” He walked over to the largest branch, wiping away black mud, recognizing a bone. All the branches were bone.

Tolo Lake, a small water artesian in the middle of farmland, was a mass graveyard of mammoths.

###

A Village No More by Sherri Matthews

Dark, orange sky urged Mary to quicken her step as she walked by the side of the lake. At last, she found the clearing.

Stopping to check her watch, nothing but the sound of the water gently lapping against the lakeshore broke the silence.

Then it happened: the lake turned still as a millpond. Mary heard the first chime of the bells before she high-tailed it out of there. The old village had been purposely flooded to make the reservoir and locals spoke of hearing church bells on certain summer nights.

She hadn’t believed them but she did now.

###

Water by Norah Colvin

It started way up
In the highest of hills
So crystal-clear pure
With a life to fulfill

It babbled through forests
And danced in the streams
Marveling at wonders
Before never seen

It passed through the valleys
Irrigated the farms
Taking the runoff
And doing no harm

Down past the villages
Watered them too
Acquiring their discards
Now murky like stew

Passing by factories
Spewing out waste
Picked up their burden
And left without haste

Weaving its brown trail
Way down to the sea
From its mouth vomited out
A poisonous mix
Deceiving all living things
Expecting a gift

###

Water, water everywhere and all the writers did drink. Water, water everywhere with stories to make you think.

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New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications.  All writers welcome!