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September 13: Flash Fiction Challenge

Center ice is dry concrete today, formed into a temporary roller rink with lime-green and hot-pink tape. It’s the final game for the Roller Derby at Dee Stadium, summer’s yin to winter’s coming yang of ice-hockey.

The wooden risers ascend steeply from the concrete below. Painted the color of tomato sauce mixed with cream, I realize I’m hungry for pasta. Spaghetti has been a constant in my marriage — soon to be 31 years next week. Like pasta in my life, much has changed. My daughter and SIL don’t eat pasta (no eggs or gluten), and the Hub’s spaghetti is not something he fixes anymore.

Thus I crave it. Our humanity craves the comfort zones it has known. Spaghetti calls stronger than kale chips.

At the make-shift roller rink, I settle for a vegetarian pasty and a cold Grizzly Pear cider. Suomi, the restaurant serving up their pasties, include a sugar cookie to look like a Finnish flag. Hockey, pasties, and Finns color the Keweenaw Peninsula. But so does pasta — as a mining mecca of copper for more than 150 years, Italians ranked among the many immigrants who settled here for work.

Before the roller derby game, I had been hiking around the hillside ruins of the Cliff Mine, erected in 1846. The hike, led by Keweenaw National Historical Park Rangers, included the abandoned Protestant cemetery in the land set aside for growing food and grazing. By 1852, the plot was required for burials. Wives and children succumbed to the dangers of motherhood and infancy; husbands and pre-teen boys fell to mining accidents.

Half-way up the ridge midway between Hancock and Copper Harbor, miners dug where copper once littered the ground in native form so pure, a person could forge it into tools and weapons. In fact, indigenous groups had surface mined copper as far back as 6,000 years ago. The Keweenaw is among the first places where humans mined metals.

More recent mining first attracted Cornish miners who brought skilled labor and technology to the Keweenaw. At Cliff Mine, evidence of their technology remains in the rock ruins, buildings shaped to house processes of stamping copper from ore. A rounded foundation hidden among the overgrowth of maple and birch hints at a whim. Many surnames on fading gravemarkers speak of Cornish heritage.

What boomed on the Keweenaw caused prices worldwide to slump. Mines in Cornwall faltered as those along the wild shores of Lake Superior flourished. Cornwall’s contribution to mining was more than technology — it was in skilled labor of men who spread around the globe with their knowledge. These were the “Cousin Jacks.”

One such Cousin Jack worked the Avery Shaft at Cliff Mine. It took miners 45 minutes to crawl up 900 feet of ladders, and the mine Captain asked this Jack if he could replicate a man engine — a Cornish devised platform built to remove miners from the hole. Although history did not record his name, it notes this man’s ability to improvise one, sparing the miners their long commute.

Often, I think of the hardships of these men deep in the rocks tunnels. Then, I gaze at the ore, unable to stop looking. They must have felt a similar pull, compelled to seek out the veins and follow them. Can you imagine finding copper pieces as large as 120 tons? Nowhere on earth is native copper found in such massive quantities. Elsewhere it must be extracted from other minerals.

For perspective, outside of the Keweenaw, the largest native copper nugget weighed in at five pounds.

Thus I live in a town called Hancock (a Cornish surname) where every restaurant serves a pasty. From outside the Dee Stadium windows that line the top of the wall facing Quincy Hill, I can see the outline of a mine, hoist, and railbed. Hancock also has two Italian restaurants and a smattering of Italian surnames.

Like dragonflies and poor-rock ore, Cousin Jacks and Guidos came together on a ridge that runs through us all in Copper Country. Together we gather to watch our sports and share our food.

September 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by September 18, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. Rules & Guidelines.

NOTE: Flash Fiction Challenges go on hiatus September 27 and return November 1 to make way for our 2018 Flash Fiction Contest. It’s free to enter. Five unique contests led by five Rough Writers — Geoff Le Pard, Irene Waters, Sherri Matthews, Norah Colvin, and D. Avery — debut every Wednesday in October. Each contest remains open for a week and has its own take on flash fiction. It’s free to enter, and first place in each Rodeo contest is $25. Catch the 24-hour Free-writes, too (September 19 and 25) to qualify as one of five writers to compete in the TUFFest Ride

If you want to sponsor the event, check out the different levels of sponsorship.

September 13 Flash Fiction Challenge Entry Form

 

Fancy Food on the Prairie (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Nancy Jane slurped her plum. “True story, Sarah.”

Sarah bent over the creek, avoiding plum juice her friend didn’t seem to mind. “Why would someone hang dough from the rafters?”

“To dry it.” Nancy Jane tossed the fruit-stone, then rinsed her face.

“But why such long strands?”

Nancy Jane shrugged. “The ones he brought with him in his Conestoga were brittle as bark but cooked soft. We had fresh-churned butter and chives over them. I still think of trying my hand at dried rafter dough.”

“Is that what he called it?”

“No, he called it something silly, like ‘spag-hettie’”

September 13 Free-Write

CONTEST CLOSED

(Thank you to all the brave writers who gave this round a go! There are still four more chances to enter so get familiar with the process below. A new 24-hour prompt will be revealed September 19, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. EST. It will close at 11:59 p.m. EST September 19.)

The clock started ticking at 12:00 a.m. (EST). That’s midnight in New York City when September 13, 2018, begins. The contest ends by the close of day September 13, 2018, at 11:59 (EST).

This is a free-write flash fiction contest to qualify five writers to compete in the October TUFFest Ride event during the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. A free-write requires you to draft quickly.

You can revise, edit or polish. But you only have 24 hours which is not enough time to let a first draft set. We know that. We are looking at your free-write skills, your bravery to write freely according to a prompt.

Judges will examine how creative a writer can be within both time and word constraint. Charli Mills, Cynthia Drake and Laura Smyth all of Hancock, Michigan will judge all TUFF contests. Your free-write must follow all five rules to qualify.

RULES

  1. You must use the revealed prompt: “cool water”
  2. You must enter using the provided form below
  3. You must write your story in 297 words (exactly, not including title)
  4. You must enter by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on September 13, 2018 (use the form provided below or email your full name and entry to wordsforpeople@gmail.com)
  5. You must be willing to compete in the 2018 October TUFFest Ride if selected

If you qualify, you will be among five winning writers to further compete for first, second and third place in the TUFFest flash fiction contest you will ever enter. The event equates to bull-riding in a cowboy rodeo. It’s a chance to show your versatility of flash fiction writing skills. Five writers will compete:

  1. October 1: Writers tune into a live video posted at Carrot Ranch Facebook Page for the announcement of who will be selected the Fab Five from the September entries. These five writers will have five days to do a new free-write.
  2. October 8: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 99-word challenge to rewrite their free-write. They will have five days to write.
  3. October 15: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 59-word challenge to rewrite their 99-word story. They will have five days to write.
  4. October 22: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 9-word challenge to rewrite their 59-word story. They will have five days to write.
  5. October 29: The Fab Five tune into a live video to find out which three advances. The remaining three contestants will have 24 hours to write a final 495-word story from their TUFF exhibition.
  6. November 2: First, second and third place announced. All five contestants will win a prize (yet to be determined, based on sponsors).

WINNING TIPS

Go with your gut. At Carrot Ranch Literary Community, we play with 99 words, no more, no less every week. We’ve learned that our first instinct to a prompt might be strange or uncomfortable. The natural tendency of a writer is to water down that reaction — to write safely. Don’t. Be brave and go where the prompt leads you.

Be creative. Along with going with your gut, take a creative approach. If you are literal, you might write too stiffly. But do poke a literal response if that comes to you. Ask yourself how you can turn it upside down and create a surprising twist. Also, you don’t need to use the exact phrase (or the quotation marks unless you are using dialog or showing irony).

Be professional. We are all adults here, and adult content is a part of literary art. However, think like a professional literary artist whose job is to write. If you think shocking readers gives you an edge, think again. We live in a world desensitized by global crassness, violence, and inhumanity. Shock value is cheap. Instead, craft a clever twist, show intelligence and the ability to interpret the global theater. Make your readers think.

Write with emotion. You also want to make your readers feel. Characters give us all the opportunity to experience life beneath the skin of another. Literary art can share imagined experiences from what it is like to attend school at Hogwarts or be a polar bear. Invite your readers to feel these unique perspectives. Avoid stereotypes.

Breathe! When you control your breath, you control your mind. Yes, it’s a competition. Yes, it’s only 24-hours. Yes, you have a lot on your plate. But you have the right to be here. You are a creative writer — so breathe, read the rules, write, count your words, and enter. No matter the outcome, you were brave enough to write!

You can use Microsoft Word or use WordCounter.net to determine 297 words.

There are no entry fees, and five winning writers will each win a cash prize.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Openings Life Coaching
SmythType Design
Solar Up
Bill Engleson
Thread Tales Studio

And our Leaders & Judges:

Geoff Le Pard
Irene Waters
Sherri Matthews
Norah Colvin
D. Avery
Chelsea Owens
Esther Chilton
Angie Oakley
Helen Stromquist
Hugh Roberts
Mike Matthews
Robbie Cheadle
Anne Goodwin
Bonnie Sheila

**There’s still time to sponsor the Rodeo**

ENTRY FORM (email wordsforpeople@gmail.com for support)

NOW CLOSED

If you missed this free-write, you have more chances to enter. You can enter more than once. Next qualifying free-writes will reveal secret prompts:

  • September 19, 2018 (12:00 am – 11:59 pm)
  • September 25, 2018 (12:00 am – 11:59 pm)

September 6: Flash Fiction Challenge

It’s not a stairway, but it is a path to Heaven. I’m walking cream-colored pavers, delighting in a profusion of white flowers from sweet alyssum that hugs the path to grand clusters of panicle hydrangea the color of vintage cotton. White daisies with dark centers nod to bumbles and spindly green stalks as tall as my hips explode with blazing white stars. I’m stunned by all the beauty as if the Milky Way took to seed here on earth.

The stairway is lined with books, writing quills, and instruments of science. The stairs themselves are crafted of wrought iron, spelling out the alphabet and hidden words. A fireplace with settee and chairs beckon the reader in us all with promises of tales to unfold. Downstairs more books line the walls, and two antique cubbies form nooks in green velvet. This is not the stairs to Heaven, but to a book-lover, it might as well be.

Appropriately, the stairs to book sub-heaven grace a cluster of buildings called The Fortress, Great Hall, Classroom and Library. In the middle of a square courtyard between castle and brick walls, an iron wizard stabs his staff into the ground and reaches heavenward (actually, Heaven is on a hill behind him).

Yet there be dragons! On the castle turret of the Fortress ringed in lightning rods, a flame-skinned dragon bares teeth and strikes a paw toward Heaven below. Another dragon snarls from a dungeon three stories below. Deep Space lies between, but first one must access a wizard’s alley, Kings Cross, a slide down the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland, a trek across a desert and more dragons, including one that protects a hoard of computer hardware.

You might be surprised to learn that my son, Runner, works near Heaven. His workplace is epic — a 950-acre campus of strange, fantastical and out-of-this-world offices, classrooms, and employee space comprising the Epic Systems Corporation Intergalactic Headquarters. It’s a software company to support the healthcare industry and is privately owned by the most successful female IT company founder in the world.

When Runner got the job five months ago, we celebrated his success. Friends in  healthcare gushed, “He must be so smart.” Epic has a reputation for hiring the most brilliant, and we always knew Runner was as bright as his sisters. He is a Project Manager, and it’s interesting to hear of his company’s value-based operations. I read them on a bathroom wall (and yes, the bathroom was epic).

Our running joke as Runner gave the family a tour was that everything lives up to the company name, including the wind turbines to power the campus, organic farms to feed the near-10,000 employees, underground parking garages, and an 11,000-seat stadium built five stories underground in a complex called Deep Space. I straddled a rattlesnake, battled dragons, and chased Alice down a slide to Wonderland. I walked down Diagon Alley, but by another name thus not to infringe upon HP copyrights. However, J.K. Rowling is quoted on several walls.

Here’s a drone-eye view of Epic:

You can also learn more about the company through stories and snapshots at Epic’s website.

We took a few photos of our own, although it was hard to break away from simply experiencing the place with Runner as our tour guide. Over the weekend, I saw other proud families grinning and gawking as sons and daughters led the way. My daughter joked that her brother joined a cult. My SIL wanted to join if only to play D&D on campus. He fell for the dragons.

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We finished our tour just beyond Heaven at The Farm where cows and sheep lurk in the hallways. After an epic walk across campus, we grabbed Cow Bikes and pedaled back to The Fortress where Runner had parked his brand new Mini Cooper in the Great Abyss. We later enjoyed his mixology talents (he supported himself through college as a bartender), including a rum daiquiri Hemingway used to drink. Because we were in Wisconsin, I ate cheese every day I was there. Heaven!

One final word — as we continue to prepare for the Rodeo in October, 24-Hour Free-write contests to qualify as one of five writers to compete in The TUFFest Ride will post. I’m also looking for some more sponsors if you have a book or blog you might want to advertise. Use the contact form if you are interested.

Carrot Ranch is a literary community to engage and support all writers. If you want to claim Rancher Badges to support your own goals, you can contact me with your request as it is September already. And if you want to read how 99-words can help you get to 50,0000, I recently was asked to write for NaNoWriMo. You can also catch my latest marketing article at BadRedhead Media for Rachel Thompson.

Now, to write!

September 6, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an epic workplace. It can be real or imagined. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by September 11, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. Rules & Guidelines.

 

Upward Mobility (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Mist rose from the pond with the morning coolness of a mountain camp at 7,000 feet. Danni stretched in sun salutations on the sagging porch of her Forest Service cabin while coffee percolated. The aroma grew strong, and she padded back inside on bare feet to pour a cup. The rest she saved for her thermos. As she drove her quad toward the archeological dig, Danni spotted elk, a skittering coyote and a Cooper’s hawk. At the worksite, trenches waited for the volunteers who would follow. She contemplated her epic workplace. At last, Danni would be the lead archeologist.

August 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

The sun dips late, casting its copper hue over Lake Superior. The lower it sinks, the redder it grows and forms a brilliant pink path from horizon to shore. The sky takes forever to darken in the Northern Hemisphere even after summer solstice. Sparkling planets and stars pop like diamond studs across a jeweler’s midnight blue velvet.

This is the season of the Perseid meteor showers. Time to wish upon shooting stars.

JulesPaige reminded me about the connection of comets to my WIP, Rock Creek. In 1858, before Cobb McCanles left Watauga County, North Carolina with his one-time mistress, Sarah Shull, a comet had featured in the October sky and slowly faded by the time the two left in February 1859.

Cobb’s Father James McCanless, known as The Poet, marked the occasion of Comet Donati:

THE COMET OF 1858

Hail! beautious stranger to our sky,
How bright thy robes appear,
Noiseless thou treds thy paths on high,
And converse with all our stars.

In radiant flame of glowing light
Thy silent orb rolls on,
Through vast eternities of night,
To mortal man unknown.

Thy magnitude thy fiery glow,
Thy towering wake of flames,
But mock our wisest skill to know,
We’ve barely learned thy name.

Through boundless depths of space unknown,
Beyond the realms of days,
In blazing language of thy own,
Thou speaks thy Maker’s praise.

This week, I’m sharing a different kind of post, a longer scene that features the Comet Donati. I shared this in 2014 when I wrote the first draft of Rock Creek. Although my novel has evolved from this early writing, including my later decision to give Cobb two bs to his name, this scene holds an essential piece of the later tragedy that unfolds for the McCanles family who had hoped to escape the coming war.

Perhaps the comet was not the glorious sign James thought it to be. It turned out to be a natural phenomenon occurring before an unnaturally violent war between families and neighbors. Unfortunately, human contempt is not as uncommon as a visible comet.

Excerpt From Rock Creek:

“Truthfully, it grows fainter as it passes us by. Comet Donati,” said James.

“That’s a pretty name.” The cider was sweet and warm as Sarah drank.

“It’s named after the Italian astronomer who first sighted it last summer.”

“Is it an omen?”

James leaned against the oak tree and looked skyward. “Omens are for old ladies.”

“What do the old ladies say? It’s not as if any speak to me.”

“They say that such terrible lights burn for killed kings and slain heroes. They say a bloodbath is coming.”

Sarah shuddered. “And what do you say?”

James raised his upturned hand to the comet. “Thou speaks thy Maker’s praise.”

A clomping of hooves sounded from the snow-covered road. Cob was walking Captain and leading another horse.

“Evening, Da, Sarah. Are you ready, lass?” Cob swung down from Captain and stood eye-to-eye with his father.

“Might I dissuade you son?”

“You may not. What it done, is done and now I must flee. Leroy will follow with his family and mine in the spring.” He grabbed Sarah’s bundle and began to tie it to the saddle of the second horse. Sarah wondered if she would have to walk.

“I cannot imagine a more beautiful place than Watauga, this lovely vale. I brought my children here to make a home. And now my children leave. My grandchildren, too.”

“Da, come out with Leroy. Get out of here before the war.”

“Bah! These traitors who talk of succession are just blustering. A new President. We have a Constitutional Unionist on the ticket…”

“Enough of politics.The west is were we can prosper.”

“Yes, and I hear that Mormons can have many wives.” James looked pointedly at Sarah.

“Leave her be, Da. Mary knows I’m getting her out of this place so she can have a fresh start, too.”

“Do not be leading your family to a cruel fate, David Colbert.”

The two men grasped arms until James pulled Cob to him. “May angles guard over your journey. Your mother and I shall weep in our old age, not seeing the single smokestack of any of our offspring.”

“Come with Leroy, Da. At least go to Tennessee. It’s safer at Duggers Ferry and you’ll have two daughters to spoil you in old dotage.”

“Ach, I’m not leaving my native land. How could I stray from the Watauga River? Who would fish her silver ribbons the way I do?”

“Then mind yourself angling and take care of mother. Fare thee well, Da.”

To Sarah’s surprise, Cob reached for her and slung her up into the saddle as easily as he had tossed her bundle. He swung up behind her and seated her sideways on his lap. He nudged Captain and the horse responded with a spirited trot.

Sarah heard James call, “Farewell.” His voice sounded choked with tears, yet she couldn’t deny her joy at leaving this place. She would be a free woman.

It was hard not to fidget and the night grew even colder. Sarah watched the comet as they rode up the mountains, cresting the ridge and breaking through drifts of snow. Occasionally they would pass a cabin or farm, a coon dog barking in the distance, but no other signs of life.

“Where are we going, exactly,” asked Sarah. West seemed like a grand place, but she had no idea where west or how long it would take.

“We’ll catch the train at Johnson’s Tank.” His voice rumbled in the cold silence of the mountains.

Johnson’s Tank was a start. Sarah had never seen a train and now she would get to ride on one. Somehow she failed to summon the earlier excitement and she glanced at the comet, hoping it meant nothing at all. Yet, it had to mean something. It was no coincidence that it appeared in her darkest hour of despair or that it was still present the night she escaped the damnation of her family’s punishment. It had to be a sign for good. Her lucky star.

Sarah must have dozed off because she awoke, startled to see the light of dawn shining from behind them. They had ridden out of the the mountains and the land before them was rolling with woods and fields.

“You awake?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I have to stop.” Cob reined in Captain. “Slide down,” he told her.

Sarah did and hopped to the ground that was wet with dew and free of snow. Cob dismounted and handed her the reins. He stepped a few paces and with his back to her, she heard him urinating. Her face grew flush and she realized she needed to do the same, but how could she?

“Do you have to go?”

“No.” She stood uncomfortably aware that she had to go even more now that she had denied it.

“Just go.” He took the reins from her.

“Here?”

“Pick a clump of grass and sprinkle it with dew. How about that clump there?” Cob pointed to a small bent row of grass in front of Captain.

Sarah looked each direction and finally walked around to the other side of the horses. Lifting her skirts and spreading her knickers she squatted with her back to the horses feeling somewhat shielded. Her stream sounded like a roaring river in her ears. Rearranging her underclothes and skirts, she turned around to see Cob leaning against Captain staring at her with a big boyish grin. “I knew you had to go.”

“Do not watch me!” Sarah turned away, feeling the flush rise from her neck to her scalp.

“It’s natural.” He chuckled.

“For men, perhaps.” She turned back around and glared.

“Oh? And women politely pass on pissing? What happens when you have to…”

“That’s enough!”

“Time to mount up, my damsel in distress.” Cob bowed as if he were a gallant.

“Rogue.”

###

Thank you for indulging my historical fiction as a post this week. For those of you who’ve kindly expressed interest in my veteran saga, we are still in a holding pattern, waiting for news on whether or not the Hub will “get a bed” in Minneapolis. His therapist is now pushing to help that cause, as well.

On the Keweenaw homefront, we have the urgent sense of savoring every last ray of summer sunshine. Winter is coming. And for our writing prompt this week, so are comets.

August 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet. You can consider how it features into a story, influences a character, or creates a mood. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 21, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

 

Origins of Comets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Sarah spread a quilt on the knoll above Rock Creek to watch the night sky.

“The year before I was born, stars landed.” Yellow Feather pulled a pitted gray stone from his medicine pouch. He passed it to Nancy Jane.

“Feels kinda like lumpy metal.”.

“It’s heavy, too. This is a star?” asked Sarah.

Yellow Feather said, “My grandfather found it where many small stars burned the prairie grass.”

“Look – there’s one,” said Nany Jane.

“I saw it! Did you see Comet Donati last year?”

Yellow Feather laughed. “Comet Donati? That was just First Shaman urinating across the sky.”

August 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

Ed peers at me from behind the ferns. He’s caught between the darkness of the deep woods and the sunlight pouring through the opening in the trees. I’d like to think Ed is “Ed McMahon” with a Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstake check the size of a refrigerator door and enough zeros to last a lifetime of book-buying. Or Ed, as in the name of a yet-unknown publisher who knocks to say, “Golly-gosh, we love your writing – here’s a contract.”

No, Ed is a deer. A soft-eared doe with big dark, curious eyes peers at me from a glen in Minnesota that I’ve never seen. The photo is a gift, one of several that Keto Man gave me after an interview.

First, Keto Man is the very last member-owner of a co-op I will ever interview. He marks the conclusion of an era for me, the final one after seventeen years of interviews. During that time, I caught the stories of hundreds of co-op members, organic farmers, artisan cheese producers, and entrepreneurs.

Peering back at that time in my life, I see all who I interviewed as part of a colorful tapestry of a vibrant community food system. Food cooperatives in the US rose out of the need for people to have whole food. The movement countered processed meals, added sugar, and expense. In Berkley and Minneapolis, co-ops adopted the symbol of a fisted carrot: Food for people, not for profit!

Sound familiar? Carrot Ranch…Words for people! Sure, I lopped off the “not for profit part” because I emphatically believe literary artists, like all artists, should be valued and paid for their work. The name Carrot Ranch acknowledges community activism centered on fairness, and as a literary arts community, I believe in the power of writers to rise and say something powerful in the world tussle between chaos and order.

Literary art belongs to the people, not the ivory towers or pocketbooks of profit-first publishing. People first. Nothing against publishing dynasties or ivory towers. I love New York and vow to go back as a published author one day. But the industry strangles voices with a profit-driven model. And I’m not against higher education — I’m headed back to the ivory towers of liberal arts next month.

Of course, my position at Finlandia University suits my inner maverick. As an adjunct, I’ll be teaching a CTE Marketing course to high school juniors and seniors who get to enroll in college. Already I get to circumvent some of the pomp of being a full-fledged prof. I’m invited to the week-long orientation for new professors, but I can pick and chose which events to attend. I like that.

But I did have to get fingerprinted and entered into the FBI database. That’s a requirement of the Copper Country School District. I understand and made the most of my jail visit to the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department. I even got to sit in the sheriff’s office and talk to him about teaching (he used to be an adjunct at Finlandia, too). He agreed to talk to my class about how professionalism is part of his department’s brand.

In fact, I’ve been reaching out to many local business owners, companies and entrepreneurs to speak as guests. I hope to have one a week. I want to expose my students to many varied ideas about what they could do with a marketing career. And I want to drive home the only rule my classroom will have: always be professional. If any disciplinary issues arise, as administrators fear given that this is the first time they’ve opened their campus to high school students, I can begin with, “What would a professional do?” One required reading for the course will be “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.

Keto Man didn’t think our interview would last 20 minutes. My former client wanted one more member-owner profile after I completed my last project for them. As is the case with such last-minute stories, they turned over a willing candidate to interview. Keto Man didn’t think he was interesting. He wasn’t. He was fascinating and inspiring.

For starters, he led me to a dark place, as dark as the woods behind a deer. Like me, he has no cable television thus eliminating the 24-hour news media nonsense. While I support journalism and believe in a nation’s free-press, the US saw the information age give way to the misinformation age. Keto Man directed me to Jordan Peterson and The Intellectual Dark Web. I’ve only watched a few clips and not anything I’m compelled to share yet, but I fully understand the allure of intellectualism, of long conversations, of discourse.

As a literary writer, I support what Jordan Peterson says: When you are in college and have those years carved out for you, read every book you can in the library. Yes! Read deep and read broadly. It reminds me of how I often struggled as a writer in my twenties because I felt I didn’t have anything to say. And I was right. The twenties are for reading, for digesting. Sure, writing is a huge part of processing what you think about what you read, but you must input information and experiences, first.

Also, I’d add – go live! Go be a parent and understand that dirty diapers are daily, and you’ll get over yourself in a hurry. Go to college and cram all night, write every day and read every book until your eyes cross. Go work a job, any job, especially a job that doesn’t fulfill you, so you can understand what does bring you satisfaction. Go to the mountains, to the sea, to the desert, to the city, to someplace new. Go travel and talk to people who are different until you understand they are just like you.

And never stop. Never stop learning, experiencing, and using your voice to say something. Observe. Create. Express. Write. Repeat.

I connected with Keto Man. I understood his interest in long conversations and civil debates. I like the idea of the Dark Web for taking hot social topics and debating them on a long forum and following up with audience questions. Yes, I long for more intelligent discourse. However, I also long for more compassion. As with everything, balance.

Further in the interview, Keto Man explained a health crisis he experienced to which he responded by eliminating all sugar and grains. I felt inspired by his action. He’s on a ketogenic diet which has eliminated the culprit of inflammation. He is able to process his health so differently from many veterans like the Hub. Next time a VA doctor says the Hub is normal for his age, I have a comparison.

My adjustment with the Hub correlates to a phrase Anne Godwin gifted me with last week: my veteran’s a reluctant patient with a hard-to-diagnose condition. He’s not normal for his age. Even the 86-year old man who conversed with me at the beach/office today could hold focus better than the Hub.

I’m writing, and occasionally peering at others, as I’m officing from a picnic table at Hancock City Beach. A man with two teeth approaches and tells me a joke in such rapid Finnish-English I laugh, not because I understand but because I don’t. Then I tell him a joke. Evidently, this is a Finnish custom for opening a conversation. He lingers and asks why I’m at a picnic table with a computer on such a beautiful day. Exactly! It’s such a beautiful day, I wanted to go down to Portage Canal and write.

Tomorrow we have the first of several evaluations for the Hub. They will be peering into his service records, his medical records and at his old bones. I’d rather be peering at rocks or at a deer that might be named Ed. That will come later.

August 9, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes  an act of “peering from the woods.” Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 14, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

Ed in the Woods by Charli Mills

Ed was peering at me again. I could feel his gaze crawl across my shoulders. Let me finish the chapter, Ed. The Legendary Leaphorn is in the arroyo. The tickle continues. I persevere, finish the chapter and set down Tony Hillerman’s latest southwest detective book.

Snagging a sip from my gin, tonic, and blueberries, I grab a fresh-husked corn.

Ed still peers at me from the edge of the woods. His ears twist like radar. Slowly I raise my offering. He hesitates, leans in and nibbles from my hand. The deer dashes off, leaving me to read in peace.

Stranded Suitcase

Along the way, you find a stranded suitcase. Could it be a journey interrupted? One just begun? Or the end of the line? You ponder what might be inside, who left the bag behind.

Such was the task for writers who penned stories about the stranded suitcase. Read on to discover what a stranded suitcase can hold.

The following is based on the July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase.

PART I (10-minute read)

Persephone by Jan Malique

Everyone thought they knew the true facts of her abduction by Hades. Only Hekate knew, and she vowed to keep the secret to herself. The Hidden One assisted in every way possible to enable the sacred rite to reach its conclusion

Persephone went as a willing sacrifice, carrying the symbol of her death and rebirth, the pomegranate. It was safely packed in a well used suitcase. her favourite. It took days to reach the mouth of the Underworld. Dark days.

The pomegranate was taken out and offered to Hades who stood at the entrance. The suitcase was left behind.

🥕🥕🥕

Three Sisters by D. Avery

Three sisters came upon a worn suitcase in their path.

“Unattended baggage!” the first cried.

“Abandoned,” lamented the second.

“Lost,” declared the third.

The first sister would not go near the suitcase.

The second sister found the suitcase too heavy to move.

The third sister found that she could manage the suitcase.

All three sisters gathered round to peer inside.

The first sister saw fear.

The second sister saw worry.

The third sister saw hopes, dreams and wishes.

She left the wishes. She took hope and her best dreams. Continuing their journey, her steps were lighter and more certain.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase by Anita Dawes

To some people, I am a simple suitcase, something to put your belongings in to travel.
I am lost and Sally cannot find me.
I have been in the dark hole of a plane, dropped from the cargo hold and left on the tarmac.

You would think my bright yellow colour would help unite me with my owner, but rain or shine, no one sees me. Sally waits for me to be found, to be reunited.
You see, I am her good luck charm, Sally will not travel without me.
Has my luck run out, will Sally find me…?

🥕🥕🥕

Luggage by floridaborne

My daughter laughs at an abused green suitcase. “I remember that thing!”

“You used it for a summer in Morocco. I trusted you…”

“I know, I know,” she chuckles at me. “You kept it in pristine condition and I returned it all beat up without the wheels, BlahBlahBlah… Why won’t you throw it away?”

“Together, we explored the world. I had a career… a life. I met your father…”

“Then you had me, so it’s all good!”

What if I’d told him no?

Too late…

Like this dusty attic, I hold the memories of a lifetime no one understands.

🥕🥕🥕

Life in a Nutshell by Deepa

There lies a suitcase deserted on the tracks of life.

On the top left corner rudiments of past are carefully lined at the bottom only to be taken out when there is a need.

The hidden secrets hide underneath the lustrous covers zipped tightly not to be stripped and found by anyone.

There are also some catastrophes packed into an airtight bag isolated from the colorful facades that occupy the most space.

Isn’t the world too big to be carried into this small suitcase?

🥕🥕🥕

The Suit Case by Patrick O’Connor

“Has the jury reached a verdict?” asked the Judge.

“We have your honor.” replied the jurist.

“Please state the verdict.” followed the judge.

“We find the defendant, Maxwell Suit, on the sole count of fraud, guilty as charged.”

A shocking gasp came across those in the gallery.

Maxwell stood there, dumbfounded. How could anyone reasonably find him guilty?

Maxwell Suit, once a highly respected CEO would surely go down in history as a disgrace.

“Order! I’ll have order!” barked the judge.

“The defendant is hereby sentenced to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1.5M. Court’s adjourned.”

🥕🥕🥕

Abandoned Case by kate @ aroused

The suitcase lay abandoned on the line … would the owner have less clothes at the other end? Had staff been incompetent when loading the baggage? Or had someone tossed it off to be retrieved later?

In 1939 nobody considered bombs or sabotage. Odd things happened in times of war and extreme poverty.

People noticed the case but speculation was preferred as nobody approached it. Reluctance to get involved held them back. Everyone thought the other should investigate the contents yet nobody touched it!

What was in that suitcase and who had lost it … mystery and intrigue prevailed!

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Shreya Punjabi

Since his childhood, the suitcase had been scared of the dark. He had traveled the world, but hotel rooms are comfortable in the dark. The only ghost he met was reasonably friendly.

When the suitcase fell out a train, he panicked. The wind was cold, the tunnel in front of him looked like it would never end. The sun was setting slowly, like it would never stop.

But it did.

There was nothing but the dark.

He heard the familiar horn of a train. The tunnel exploded with comforting light that came closer by the second. The suitcase smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Unopened by Jack Schuyler

I saw the old man down the street in the paper this morning. His obituary was short and assured me he’d left nobody to mourn his absence. I visited his abandoned hermitage on my walk today, either out of curiosity or respect for the forgotten, I don’t know which. I opened the door, stepped inside, and was met with the relics of a lonely past. There were torn doilies, stained armchairs, an astrolabe, and a hundred letters spilling out of an old suitcase. I picked one up. It was light and pale, sealed with a kiss, and never opened.

🥕🥕🥕

The Case by The Late Night Girl

This is the case of a man who walks the tracks, burdened with a bundle that life over time has loaded on his shoulders. He loves the stillness and the protective feel of the walls.

He carries his suitcase and the load on his shoulders as he reaches the threshold of a tunnel, not the light at the end of the tunnel, but the darkness at the end of his life.

He leaves his case on the tracks as he doesn’t need it anymore and walks into the tunnel. This is the case of a man who once lived.

🥕🥕🥕

A Case of the Unexpected by Norah Colvin

“I wonder what’s inside,” said Jamie.

“D’ya think we should open it?” Nicky asked.

They looked around. No one anywhere.

Jamie shrugged. “I guess.”

“Looks old,” said Nicky.

“Probably been here for years.”

“So dirty.”

The rusty catches were unyielding.

“Might be locked,” said Nicky, hopefully.

“Let’s see,” said Jamie.

They pried with sticks, battered with stones and willed with all their might. When the catches finally snapped open, they hesitated.

“Go on,” said Nicky.

“No, you.”

“Both.”

“Okay. One, two, three … open!”

The children’s eyes widened.

“What is it?” asked Nicky.

“Dunno,” said Jamie. “Looks like …”

🥕🥕🥕

Keeping Secrets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Anabelle found the suitcase in the hayloft, upright as if ready to travel. She didn’t see the slim shadow of a boy slip out through the stalls below. She grabbed it and ran to the farmhouse where her uncle was frying supper.

“Uncle Henry! Look what I found.”

“That’s Grandma Mary’s old medicine bag.”

“It’s a suitcase.”

“It’s what she used to tend to the Ottawa. Been missing for thirty years.”

“It was in the hayloft, plain as day.”

“I’ll be. Someone brought it back.”

Annabelle open the latches. A single sketching of Cobb McCanles drifted to the floor.

🥕🥕🥕

Unfaithfully Yours by Anurag Bakhshi

Running away together had not been an easy decision, but they didn’t have a choice. His wife had started suspecting them, and their life could be destroyed any day now.

But right now, he was waiting for her, alone, with the suitcase. Maybe she too had abandoned him, left him stranded, like that suitcase.

His eyes teared up as his thoughts turned dark with despair. But then, someone patted him on the back. He turned swiftly.

“Let’s go,” she said breezily, “Hope you’ve checked the suitcase again. All the money from our last robbery is in there, right Dad?”

🥕🥕🥕

Chaste Case by kate @ aroused

The old bus with no windows slowly wound it’s way up the twisty steep Himalayan road with barely enough space for traffic to pass. The journey was hot, dusty and arduous.

Our luggage had been tossed up with the market produce and locals who all rode on the roof. Well aware that we were overloaded and listing didn’t instil confidence.

Watching in disbelief I saw my suitcase fall from above to tumble down the mountainside. So I had no choice but to disembark and follow the windy road back to where I could see my case laying far below.

🥕🥕🥕

My Denied Destiny by Roger Shipp

My heart is lightened remembering the first time I had pulled this old thing from our attic. Its ebony wool was frayed and one of its brass corners had been removed. It had be Great-Aunt Gertrude’s carry-on for her train-ride to the West.

For me, it was my get-away bag. My denied destiny… the rodeo.

Girls weren’t to climb trees, bust horses, or chew…. according to Father. But I was better than brother at all three.

I was packed and gone – three whole hours- when Grandpa found me headed toward Tulsa.

We compromised.

But I never did unpack it.

🥕🥕🥕

Quantanelle: Stranded in Space by Saifun Hassam

The stranded suitcase glowered at the receding spaceship flying through the wormhole. Andromeda Alice was so excited about finding the Looking Glass, she jumped and forgot to activate the suitcase. But Quantanelle was no ordinary suitcase: she was an automaton, and that suitcase was a brain that worked at lightning speed.

Quantanelle was not one to sit and mope. She was a suitcase who had traveled vast interstellar spaces. She measured her existing activation energies.

The nearest spaceport was on the planet “Carrot Ranch”. Quantanelle beamed an SOS with her co-ordinates. She would follow Alice on the next spaceship.

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

The suitcase lay in the weeds at the side of the tracks. Today, the mischievous brownie had been discovered and tossed away like yesterday’s newspaper.

The satchel scrutinized the desolate landscape. The brownie, a shapeshifter who could change into a suitcase to mingle with the humans, waited. Someone would come along. They always did.

“Well, I’ll be darned,” the old man said. “Look Ethel. Isn’t that the bag you saw in the general store?”

“It is. You said we couldn’t afford it,” she pouted.

“Well, you can afford it now.”

The valise grinned. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.

🥕🥕🥕

Rose’s Suitcase by Nanct Brady

Rose packed her bag as she was told. Underwear, socks, dresses, and, of course, her teddy bear Samuel, who knew everything. Sam listened, comforted, and kept secrets. Samuel was her best friend.

Her parents and Rose walked to the train station; she carried her whole world in that suitcase.

The men made Rose put her suitcase with the others. “They’ll be on the train,” they said, herding everyone into train cars.

As the train pulled away; Rose saw all the suitcases still on the platform. Her little suitcase was dumped, contents rifled, and the bear tossed onto the bonfire.

🥕🥕🥕

The Respite Suitcase by oneletterup

She is so very tired. Of walking and walking.
The sun blinding as she emerges from the woods.
Dirty. Legs scratched. Cotton dress torn.

Cars roar by. A motorcycle backfires.
She jumps, turning to go back.
Then she sees it. It looks kind of familiar.
Grimy and gouged, its rusty metal corners bent in.
An old suitcase stranded in the brush.

She stumbles over to it, considering.
“I’ll just rest here for now. It’s okay.”
She cleans a spot for sitting, picking off dead leaves.
Carefully lowering herself down, she sighs; eyelids closing.
As a truck pulls over. Unnoticed.

🥕🥕🥕

Matty Resists the Call by Ann Goodwin

Clark Gable is pinning a red rosette on the bodice of her second-hand dress when the maid shakes her none too gently by the shoulder. “I wasn’t asleep,” she lies. On the parquet beside her feet sits a battered brown suitcase. “Are you leaving us, dear?”

“No, but you are, they’ll be here any minute to escort you to Tuke House.”

“Tuke House?” Matty knows of the Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall. She knows of the Folies Bergère, despite its salacious reputation. She has never heard of Tuke.

“Thank you, dear, but the current arrangements are perfectly acceptable.”

🥕🥕🥕

No Child Left Behind by Kerry E.B. Black

Melanie studied her students as they completed their exams. Threadbare clothing revealed malnourished limbs. Although clean, the children sniffled and coughed. Melanie bet most hadn’t visited a doctor in several years.

Poverty stunk of limited opportunities and unfair challenges. Concentration waned when stomachs growled. While choosing how to spend a small income, most opted for food and heat rather than school supplies. Melanie provided some for the kids, or they’d be without.

She’d experienced difficulties in her life, certainly, but they paled when compared to her charges’ life-threatening situations.

She’d give them skills to help them negotiate life’s perils.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Takin’ It Easy by Liz Husebye Hartmann

I bin standing on this corner in Winslow Arizona since she tossed me out. Well…me, a half dozen t-shirts, some ragged jeans…

The wind blew them sideways –not so far as his nasty boxers, but not hard and vertical, like his Gameboy.

Gravity.

She’d smelled Lulabelle on him late last night. He left for work. She began hers. ‘Cept she treated me gently, even cried a little when she put me out here. I’d been his grampa’s suitcase.

And now, Lord! She drives up in her flatbed Ford.

She slows down, stops. I see she’s looking at me…smiling.

🥕🥕🥕

Recycled by JulesPaige

I am and will always be a ‘valise’. Of a rare heritage. Vintage large blue marble Samsonite.

I held the young wife’s Trousseau – and was passed on for her daughter to use. Though I am heavy, I held all of that little girls things as she was bounced around to different locations.

Until finally I was filled up with old things – Not as old as I. And donated to charity… After all age took its toll, my seams were coming undone and my lining frayed.

I am in an old house again. Filled with blankets, for a Mother cat.

🥕🥕🥕

Message in a …… Suitcase?? by Rosemary Carlson

It was twenty years ago. I was shopping the antique stores looking for unique things to furnish my house. In one store, hidden in a corner, was a leather suitcase. An old one with straps around it. I pulled it out and decided I loved it.

As I was cleaning it up, I felt a bump and heard a crunch under the inside liner. I worked the one-page note out the edge of the liner. Dated 1945, it said, “Meet me by the hickory tree. If you aren’t there, I’ll know you didn’t mean it.” It was a man’s writing.

🥕🥕🥕

You Can’t Be Too Careful by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s that?’

‘A suitcase.’

‘I know what it is…’

‘Why’d you ask?’

‘What are you doing with it.’

‘She asked me to watch it.’

‘Who?’

‘The woman who asked me.’

‘Are you nuts. It might be a bomb.’

‘She looked nice.’

‘Or a body…’

‘Green eyes…’

‘Or laundered money…’

‘Home-knitted cardigan…’

‘Or drugs…’

‘Though her shoes seemed ill-fitting…’

‘Cocaine…’

‘You know, like she got them cheap…’

‘Heroin…’

‘And wouldn’t admit she’d made a mistake…’

‘A mobile crystal meth lab…’

‘And it was too late to take them back…’

‘Blood diamonds… ill-fitting shoes?’

‘Uh-huh.’

‘My mother?’

‘She’ll have a latte.’

🥕🥕🥕

Missing Luggage by Robbie Cheadle

The luggage conveyor belt went around and around. I felt dizzy watching the same bags come into view and then disappear. None of them were ours. Mom’s face flushed red. Her agitation at the missing bags grew by the second. Willy tried to climb onto the conveyor belt and Mom grabbed him by the scruff of his neck.

The crowds of people claiming baggage thinned and soon we were the only ones left.

The empty conveyor belt stated the facts. Our luggage was missing. Dad sighed. “We’ll have to go to missing baggage,” he said.

“Oh no, more waiting.”

🥕🥕🥕

Abandoned Fountain of Youth by Paula Moyer

Be alert to unattended items. We learn this now. But here is a suitcase at the St. Paul Amtrak Station, the new Union Station with its vintage look. Made to look old. And there’s the train – headed points west, so far from the suitcase now. The night train.

The Amtrak employee removes it. The dog sniffs. The security guy opens with tongs and finds … curlers, cosmetics, anti-aging cream. Calls the number on the tag.

The train station tries to look old. The sleepy lady answering? She was peeling away the evidence, but left her accomplice on the track.

🥕🥕🥕

Stranded Suitcase by Miriam Hurdle

“The passengers picked up their suitcases. The one went around in the carousel is not mine.”

“The dark green color and the size look like yours.”

“Mine has a red and green stripe.”

“Let’s go to the customer services.”

~

“I couldn’t find my suitcase. This one has men’s clothes.”

“Let me check… Have a seat.”

“I need things when we get to the hotel.”

“Excuse me, Madam. A passenger has mistaken your suitcase as his. He lives two hours away and is driving home. We’ll exchange them and deliver to your hotel.”

“Oh, well… at least it’s found.”

🥕🥕🥕

Worrying Too Much by Reena Saxena

I wondered, or rather worried aloud why the train stopped between stations.

It was a bomb scare. All rail movement on the tracks was brought to a halt till a detection squad arrived. The sniffer dog ran towards the suitcase, as if eager to meet a long-lost friend. He sniffed and sniffed, and moved all around it. A team member in full armor came forward to open the dreadful case.

The dog stepped forward to partake of the feast, as dog biscuits tumbled out. Did somebody leave it for him, to deflect attention?

Maybe I was worrying too much.

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Michael Grogan

The calls for the next flight were met with mass movement. Beside us sat a black suitcase. We waited for the traveller to return but the longer it sat there all alone, the more on edge we became.

My sister alerted the airport security and immediate there was a clearing of the area. We were questioned to make sure it was not ours.

Within minutes the area was cordoned off, security barriers erected and everyone moved back. Then there was an explosion, and the suitcase was no more.

We often wondered if the man returned to retrieve his underwear.

🥕🥕🥕

In Brief by Sascha Darlington

“There’re two ways to approach this,” Joe says.

Emily shakes her head. “Nope. One. We got to make sure it’s not a bomb. Protocol, Joe, protocol.”

Joe presses his lips together. Thirty years ago, they would have checked to see who the suitcase belonged to. Now they got to check for a bomb. Who’d want to blow up the train station in Tuttle, a town without even a traffic light to its name?

He nods at Emily. “Do what you must.”

That’s how they end up with a blown-up suitcase full of $20 bills and a pissed-off FBI agent.

🥕🥕🥕

Other Peoples Stuff! by Bill Engleson

You see it often on country roads, goods left out at the top of driveways.

Sometimes there is a sign.

FREE!

I scored a nice office chair that way, once.

Well, it had a wobble.

But so did I.

Today, someone’s put out a non-descript hard suitcase, popular back in the day.

It is pale green.

My parents once told me about Jack Graham who blew up a plane with his mother and forty-three others back in ’55.

He put a bomb in her suitcase.

Their advice: “Always pack your own suitcase.”

These are great words to live by.

🥕🥕🥕

Perdu and Dod o Hyd by Chelsea Owens

Henri couldn’t believe his luck, stranded at Aberystwyth with only the clothes on his back.

“Don’t worry; you’ll only need your carry-on,” his wife had said. “You can even put your wallet and passport in there.”

He stared up at the station timetable, trying to make sense of the ridiculously long Welsh words, and sighed.

Gwilym, meanwhile, couldn’t believe his luck. As a pickpocket, he needed to be careful working the stations; and yet, he’d not lifted a single wallet for today’s find.

Once outside the Hereford station, he opened the battered suitcase. “Henri, eh? Merci, mon ami.”

🥕🥕🥕

Possession by Di @ pensitivity101

No more could he take the tormenting dictatorship of his life, the personal sleights, the ridicule.
He packed everything into a battered old suitcase. There was no connection to him and he could walk away.
The train was due in five minutes. This place was perfect and deserted when he tossed the case off the bridge, ignoring the voice from within screaming
‘Let me out! Let me out!’
The train smashed the case into a thousand pieces, the dummy inside with it.
The head landed at his feet, and the sinister smile said it all.
He’d never be free.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase by The Dark Netizen

The suitcase lay abandoned on the forsaken track.

The reason why this railroad was deserted and operations were abandoned was because people feared the cursed area. Anyone who ventured out on the track, would never return. Entire trains had disappeared, simply vanishing into thin air. People believed the abandoned suitcase was the only remaining sign of some poor soul who had joined the ranks of the missing people. However, there always remained some foolhardy bravehearts who would go looking for the suitcase.

They did not know that the suitcase had been placed there, by those living in the tunnel.

🥕🥕🥕

A Bereft Duffle by Susan Sleggs

My son returned from the war in person, but his mind never did. It took me years to understand why he refused to take off that dirty field jacket. I would beg him not to wear it. I even hid it once when he was in the shower and I don’t want to tell you the fight we had before I gave it back and he stormed out of the house to walk the streets, his mind encumbered with the scenes of war. The day I found him hanging, the coat was folded neatly on his full duffle bag.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

They played Three Little Birds at the funeral. Close enough I suppose. Time’s up and my suitcase is full. Not like most of us get a choice, anyway. Though my baggage is spare. stranded memories of work, tuna salad, regret, the real stuff I packed away for safekeeping. My first love’s smile. The kids. That dawn with Dad in the wet grass and the big moon. But you’d be surprised at what lingers for eternity. Mom’s death. The hot lash of her slap on my cheek. Lower back pain. The pulse of summer in the woods. Every little thing…

🥕🥕🥕

The Chase by Late Night Girl

In the stillness, a sudden noise from the horns of a train erupted in the tunnel, followed by a blinding light. Out came the man running for his life. About 20 meters into the tunnel he had second thoughts that were immediately confirmed by an oncoming train chasing the man back out of the tunnel.

But his case was gone already, while his life was found again. Exhausted, he sat by the side of the tracks, feeling the guilt of almost having involved an innocent train driver into an involuntary act. New hope and the chase for life begun.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase of Hope by Ritu Bhathal

Opening the bedroom door, the first thing I saw was the abandoned suitcase, open on the bed. Half packed, it had been left, bereft at not being full, zipped up, and off on another adventure.
I walked over, closed the lid, fastened it and placed it to one side. “Don’t worry, he’ll be better soon, then you can both go on your travels, with no worries at all.”
Pops appeared by my side, having taken a few moments longer to climb the stairs than me.
“It’s okay Pops, rest up. I’ll pack your case when the time is right.”

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting For The Right Train by Teresa Grabs

“There’s rumors of this line,” the old man said, “they say all those lost eventually find their way home.”

“Nonsense!” Charlie knew this line. Who was this old tramp to tell him of this line — his line? “Been here over thirty years and never heard anything of the sort.”

“I would sure love to go home. Go all the way back to Ma, the farm, to Lucy. Back to the day I made the wrong decision.”

A suitcase fell from a train crossing the bridge overhead landing gently in the old man’s lap. He opened it and went home.

🥕🥕🥕

Good Measure by D. Avery

“What’s in that case, Kid?”

“Hee hee, wouldn’tcha like ta know?”

“Yep, that’s why I asked ya. So?”

“Guess.”

“Bacon?”

“Ha! No. What’re ya wishin’ fer it ta be, Pal?”

“I dunno, I jist wondered is all.”

“Are ya worried ‘bout the contents, Pal?”

“Knowin’ you, yeah, a little.”

“Well Pal, I’ll tell ya, some say what’s in here is a treasure. The key ta yer success even.”

“My success? Kid, what in tarnation is in that case?”

“Ah, Pal, you’ve failed in yer quest ta guess. Ow! Okay, Pal. There’s 98 Ranch Yarns in here. An’ now 99!”

🥕🥕🥕

Legend of Fannie Hooe

They say she drowned in Lake Fannie Hooe. They say a bear left behind only a spilt basket of blueberries. They say a lot about a woman who returned to Virginia to live a full life after time spent at the remote wilderness Fort Wilkins in 1845.

Writers imagined between and beyond the facts of the real-life character of Fannie Hooe whose legend and name remains upon a lake at the far reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The following is based on July 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe.

INTRO TO FORT WILKINS by Charli Mills

1844: Fort Wilkins stands to protect the copper. A young nation encroaching further west, the Michigan wilderness known to the fur traders and voyageurs, marks a lucrative spot on territorial maps. From the decks of sea-faring, Great Lakes mariners can trace veins of copper rich ore to the shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula. At its tip where land juts into lake like a bent finger, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company stakes its claim. The garrison of soldiers with memories of the War of 1812 forge a fort. Peaceful as a Sunday picnic. No one badgers the copper miners.

🥕🥕🥕

PART I (10-minute read)

Fanny Hooe, Oh Fanny Hooe by Chelsea Owens

She came from The Virginias and she settled in our town.
Her eyes sparked just like agates and her hair was copper brown.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

She settled at Fort Wilkins, to help her sister’s child.
She settled in the soldiers’ hearts whene’er they caught her smile.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

One night they sought young Fanny but found she had gone away.
The soldiers mourned her memory and call her still today.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

🥕🥕🥕

Where Did You Say She Went? by floridaborne

“Breathe,” Fannie whispered, staring at a man six feet tall. Shiny leather boots … broad chest decorated by rows of buttons, she desired … needed …

With a charming smile and a nod, he said, “Howdy, ma’am.”

“Pray, tell me your name?”

His smile gleamed at her. “General Al Eyeon. And you?”

“Miss Fannie Howe,” she said coyly. “What brings you to Fort Wilkins?”

“Want to see my ship?”

At lake’s edge, he lifted her into his arms and jumped through a door she couldn’t see. Fannie loved his starship’s interior. He appreciated the taste of succulent meat.

🥕🥕🥕

Truth or Fiction: Will the Real Fannie Hooe Please Stand Up by Norah Colvin

Contestant 1: I am Fannie Hooe. My pregnant sister was an excuse to escape my abusive husband. After the baby’s birth, I ‘disappeared’, started a new life in Canada, and never remarried.

Contestant 2: I am Fannie Hooe. While visiting my sister, I was abducted by miners and forced to be their slave. When I escaped, I was so disfigured, I wanted no one to see.

Contestant 3: I am Fannie Hooe. I was pregnant, unmarried, and begged my sister to hide me. She refused and banished me. I started a new life in Virginia as a widowed mother.

🥕🥕🥕

Fanny-tastic Names by Ritu Bhathal

“I’m trying to find Fanny Hooe.”

“Fanny who?”

“Yes, Fanny Hooe.”

“Right… Fanny who?”

“Fanny Hooe!”

“Look, I need the surname for the announcement, mate. So, Fanny who?”

“Listen mate, it’s bad enough her grandma insisted on naming her Fanny. Stop taking the mick with it. Her name is Fanny Hooe. As in H – O – O – E.”

“Okay. Calling out for Fanny Hooe. That’s Fanny Hooe, as in H – O – O – E. Fanny Hooe please come to the service desk. Fanny Hooe!”

“You know they all call me Fran here, not Fanny… Now I’ll never live it down!”

🥕🥕🥕

Straight From The Horses Mouth by Teresa Grabs

The Riley County Ladies Reading Circle met every Tuesday night at Lois’ house, mainly because she had the largest parlor in the county, and made mighty fine fresh sourdough bread on Tuesday mornings. The meetings were more talking than reading, and tonight’s tattling stirred up old stories of poor old Fannie Hooe, who disappeared near here.

“I heard she went out west and a buffalo killed her,” Evelyn said.

“Oh, fiddlesticks,” Lois said. “Everyone knows she drowned in the river.”

“I reckon she just stayed, opened a boarding house, and got married,” Frances said.

Everyone laughed, shaking their head.

🥕🥕🥕

A Sister’s Sobriquet by JulesPaige

Legends
Disguise fact
Fannie Hooe, her
Sister’s helper – was never
Lost

“They say” Lucy Frances’ disappearance was due to bear, drowning or murder. So they named a lake after her… in Michigan. I wonder if she knew…

…a memoir letter…

“I was thirty seven when I went to visit my sister and help her birth her child at Fort Wilkens. I told Richardetta I couldn’t stay long. I had my own beau waiting for me back in Virginia. And his name was Mr. Chester Bailey White. Our brother Thornton thought I’d be a spinster. I wed Chester in 1949.”

🥕🥕🥕

Hiding on the Inside by Paula Moyer

“Who’s my Fannie Hooe?” Jean asked herself after hearing the UP story. “Who’s my lost girl who’s never found?” Of course, it was herself.

Jean was never missing – not for that long, anyway. She hid in plain sight, though. Went through the motions, learned the rules of the party games. But inside, she was somewhere else: riding a magic carpet, soaring like a bat through hidden caves, gliding down a promenade staircase in high heels – never tripping.

Let the birthday girl’s mom spin her. Around and around. Jean would be dizzy, stumble, blindfolded, toward the donkey. Inside? Somewhere else.

🥕🥕🥕

Honey, Don’t Pull a Fannie on Me by Neel Anil Panicker

“How do I know you’ll not do a Fannie Hooe on me?”

“A who?”

Richard looked at his beau from across the window.

Overcome with emotion, he leaned forward and held Janet’s hands.

Her fingers had turned moist, just as her eyes.

“I meant don’t do the disappearing act just like Fannie did eons ago.”

The train’s giant wheels were already trudging forward.

As Richard’s hands slipped out of her fingers his parting words were, “Listen, I know not who or what this Fannie thing’s all about. All I know is we’re going to get married in six months.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Lesser Sister by Nillu Nasser

They say she had hair like spun hay and her pretty soprano voice soothed the most wretched heart. They say the touch of her lips fell like satin on the roughest cheek, and old crones wept when they looked upon her, in mourning for their lost youth.

But I know her legend to be a lie.

Always the lesser sister, the one who hooted at others’ misfortune, interested only in men’s purses, not their hearts. That lake was the making of Fanny Hooe. When she emerged from it, her sins had been washed away.

She finally found new life.

🥕🥕🥕

Fanny Hooe by Anita Dawes

Last day of our holiday Dad said he’d like to drive to Lake Fanny Hooe.
After an hour’s drive, Tommy was still giggling about the name.

The lake was stunning, the bridge even more so.

Dad was here for the legend about the five kids who drowned after daring to jump from the bridge. Dad snapped away, hoping to catch a shot of them. Thing is he was missing the beauty.

The grape design on the bridge was so beautiful.

Tommy slipped his hand in mine. ‘I can hear them, Alice. They’re laughing as they jump from the bridge.’

🥕🥕🥕

A Daughter’s Love by Anurag Bakhshi

All I remember is my name — Fannie Hooe.

And that I’m looking for my Daddy.

Mommy told me that he was a soldier at Fort Wilkins, and I would recognize him if I ever met him.

I’ve met so many soldiers till now, but none of them is my Daddy.

I see another soldier walking past. He seems to be of just the right age.

“Daddyyyyy…” I call out to him.

He turns, starts walking towards me.

Now I just need to wait for him to drown in my waters before I can be sure if he’s my Daddy.

🥕🥕🥕

The Legend of Makwa-ikwe by Colleen Chesebro

They say Fannie Hooe drowned, but my daddy told me a different story. He said she didn’t drown, she transformed. After a bear mauled her and rolled her carcass down the hill to the beach to die, the Chippewa found her.

The Indians nursed her back to health. Daddy said she was deformed after the bear attack. The Indians didn’t care. To them, she was Bear Woman, *Makwa Ikwe.

Fannie fully integrated into their native society and became a powerful shaman. Her magic was very strong. I know, because she healed me, and I lived to tell this story.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Hooe by Frank Hubeny

Fannie disappeared and they searched for her around the lake. Jake went missing as well, but he often went missing. He would pop up again later. No one cared.

Fannie was someone special. She smiled at you and made you glad you were alive.

They searched for days until her sister told her good neighbors to stop. She declared that Fannie was gone.

She never returned except as mythic remembrance. It took them over two months to wonder why Jake hadn’t turned up either. Fannie’s sister suspected why but she let her silence give them a chance to escape.

🥕🥕🥕

Hiding by D. Avery

“They say.” The old woman rocked forward and hocked one off the front porch. “They say old women shouldn’t chew,” she cackled. “It’s unseemly. They say.”
She directed her sharp eyes at the young woman sitting on the step. “They say all number of things, made up things, hurtful things, say them as cowards, after you’ve turned your back on them. They can’t take a turned back; makes them wonder about themselves.”

“Great Aunt Fannie, they say you disappeared.”

Phwoot! She hocked another into the tall weeds. “Yes, they’ve always said that. Because they can’t explain me being here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lingering by Miriam Hurdle

“It’s a perfect day to walk in the wood, Dan.”

“Yes, good that you walk with me, Sally.”

“We can pick some blueberries.”

“Lovely ideas. You like making blueberries muffins, I like to eat.”

“Oh, look. A lady walking by herself.”

“She looks frantic, she must be lost.”

“Let’s find out.”

“Humm… She disappeared.”

“Oh, Dan, it was Fannie Hooe. Some people saw her. She’s still finding her way out of the wood.”

“I thought she returned to the family home in Virginia.”

“See that white house down the hill? She lived there. The light goes on and off.”

🥕🥕🥕

Tiny Fannie by Ashley Oh

Fannie tumbled downstairs to the same blueberry pancakes she’d eaten for forever because of the overproducing blueberry bush outside her house.

To change her breakfast fate, Fannie headed out to a nearby a lake, where her nose led her: a bush. Finding a pink, round berry, she picked it in curiosity and ate it. Suddenly, the sweetest, magical taste filled her mouth. Grabbing some more, she walked in, when suddenly, her body tingled head to toe.

Her grandma call out, “Fannie Hooe!”, and she frantically waved her hands, so she would notice her, but she just passed her by.

🥕🥕🥕

In The Shadow of Fannie Hooe by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know sweet FA, Logon.’

‘You know what FA means?’

‘FA? Eff All.’

‘Nope, it’s Fanny Adams, an eight year old murdered and dismembered in the 1860s.’

‘You’re a mine of irrelevancies. Why’s a dead girl come to mean Eff All?’

‘Navy slang. A euphemism. Navy introduced tinned meat. Sailors loathed it and said it must be the dead girl. Sweet Fanny Adams became sweet FA which then became another way of saying eff all.’

‘Like that Hungarian director… he said, ‘you think I know f**k nothing when I really know f**k all.’

‘You always lower the tone, Morgan.’

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Hooe by TNKerr

Grandma pointed at the faces in the photo one by one.

“That’s Bea, she was my mother. These here are her sisters; Beryl, Fannie, and Clint. Bea became an oilman’s wife and your great-grandma. Clint ran the ranch for as long as she could. Beryl taught at the schoolhouse. She was a teacher of mine when I was young, and Fannie – well Fannie disappeared up north. Some say she was a spy or an assassin. That her life caught up with her, others say she was a gambler; killed in a poker game at a saloon in Kewenaw.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Fanny Bay Butt, What If, Talks: Sponsored by the Fanny Bay Hysterical Society by Bill Engleson

“They say…”

“I bet they do,” she interrupts.

“As I was saying…they say a woman by the name of Fanny Hooe boarded a freighter in San Francisco sometime in the early 1920’s, disembarked at Victoria…and then took the train up Island to Fanny Bay.”

“So, our little Piglet was named after her?”

“Hamlet. Not Piglet.”

“Forgive me. Was it?”

“Named after her? No. The source of the name, Fanny Bay is murky. Nevertheless, most authorities agree that our…little community…was named long before she arrived.”

‘Did she stay?”

“No. Two days after arriving, she disappeared.”

“Ever found?”

“Not a trace.”

🥕🥕🥕

In Every Rumor by Sascha Darlington

Every rumor holds an inkling of truth. Or so they say.

I never intended to stay in Fort Wilkins. Once my sister had her baby, I’d return to Virginia and the life Jonas and I planned along the Potomac River.

“Miss Fanny, I wish you’d reconsider,” Frederick said.

“I’d loathe these Michigan winters,” I said, attempting to ease my way out.

“I would see to your every comfort.”

While pleasant on the surface, Frederick possessed a darkness I’d seen in men before, a ruthless persistence, which would not end well.

Only my sister knew the truth of my disappearance.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Who? By Ann Edall-Robson

I’m looking for information on Fannie Hooe.

Fannie who did what?

No, Fannie Hooe.

Like I said, Fannie who did what?

No, no! Her name was Fannie Hooe.

Round in circles we’re going on this one. Again, I ask, Fannie who did what? Unless you are willing to share more information than her first name, I can’t help you in your search for this person.

All I know is the name, Fannie Hooe.

Sorry, can’t help you.

Wait, you must, she was related to my grandpa’s wife and I need to find her.

What was her name?

Fannie Hooe!

🥕🥕🥕

Lucy Frances by D. Avery

The summer of ’44? That’s when I visited my brother and my sister out in that God forsaken place. Their eyes shone like copper when they spoke of the Kewenaw, but I couldn’t wait to leave. The summer bugs were fiercer than the bears and wolves. Can you just imagine the winters up there?

I had enough of wilderness, and I had enough of my brother and sister who insisted on calling me, a grown woman of seventeen years, by my childhood appellation.

Let them go west and keep going. I returned East to civilization, happily became Mrs. White.

🥕🥕🥕

Grandma Fannie by Charli Mills

Grandma Sarah rocked with restraint as we drank mint water over chipped ice, a luxury in 1870s Virginia, especially after the War. Grandpa Hooe was a Union officer, commissioned in the wilds of Michigan. Grandma told stories about how they met at Fort Wilkins the year she stayed with her sister. She told me how her nickname was the same as mine – Fannie.

“My bonnet blew off, and your grandfather swore he was bedazzled by the sun on my blond hair.”

All the men from the garrison courted her, but she left the wilds with Grandpa as Fannie Hooe.

🥕🥕🥕

History’s Full Circle by H.R.R. Gorman

Fannie patted off the birthing fluids with clean linen and magically peered into the boy’s eyes. She shivered and examined his future. This boy, born in a fort, was destined soon to die in a fort.

She handed the child to his mother and ran out into the woods. She cried, “Why bring this boy into the world for such suffering?”

The entire company of the fort looked for her, but she returned at her own pace.

She moved to Virginia where her vision directed. In twenty years, Fannie Hooe comforted a dying young man in a Union fort.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Hooe by oneletterup

“Let them think I’m out picking blueberries!”

Fannie’s mind raced as she ran through the woods; not noticing her long dress catching on low branches. Leaving a fabric trail.

“Fannie this Fannie that. Do they think I’m just a servant? I’m mighty tired of taking care of everyone.” She dreaded going back to Virginia. And she loved it here near Fort Wilkins. Beautiful and calm.

“The lake! There it is!” She smiled. Sweat dripped from her face.

“FANNY HOOE!”

Thornton must be looking for her, but she didn’t care.

It was so hot and the water was so close.

🥕🥕🥕

The Hero’s Wife by Anne Goodwin

They hailed him a hero, she called him a fool. Someone had to save the kid, he said.

Maybe, but why you?

She couldn’t look at him at dinner. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t watch the evening news, took herself to bed. But even with her eyes screwed tight, she saw him, grinning, dripping lake water on the shore.

Later, he found her, let her cry in his arms. I’m sorry, he said, I didn’t think. Dived right in.

Why should he think? He never met her father, the hero dead before her teens.

Rescuing a girl from drowning. Fannie Hooe.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie’s New Family by Di @ pensitivity101

Fannie’s game of hide’n’seek had gone sour, and now she was alone in the dark having fallen asleep in her hiding place.

She heard breathing behind her, and turned to see a wolf looking at her quizzically.

She reached out her hand to stroke it, and the animal backed off slightly, but didn’t run away.

She started to shiver, and the wolf came closer, lying down beside her and wrapping her in its warmth. Fannie wasn’t afraid, and curled up against its belly, falling asleep again almost immediately.

When she awoke, she was somewhere else, but she didn’t mind.

🥕🥕🥕

Fanny Who? by Anisha Jain

All of them call the old Japanese woman by the lake crazy. But she’s the only one who knows the truth.

They say Fannie Hooe was the daughter in law of an officer at Fort Wilkins who disappeared mysteriously, either eaten by a bear or abducted by a tribal.

But only she knows the truth. Fannie was a Jorogumo — a shape-shifting spider from Japanese folklore, who’d turn into a seductress and lure young men to the lake, playing her flute before drowning and dining on them.

No one believes the old Japanese woman, who used to be her teacher.

🥕🥕🥕

Frannie’s Disappearance by Nancy Brady

Frannie Hooe disappeared one starry night. What happened to her was pure conjecture, and yet only Tillie knew the real story behind her disappearance. First off, it must be stated that Frannie was an adventurous young woman. Most people weren’t aware of her wild proclivities; frankly, they considered her a mouse—meek, mild, and well mannered. A real milquetoast, but that wasn’t the case at all. Her imagination took her everywhere. Paris to Marrakesh to Rio to London to Singapore and beyond, she traveled the world in her dreams. Until the night, while stargazing, she was abducted by aliens.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wrong Choice by Robbie Cheadle

She was born with a caul. Her mother carefully removed it, dried it and gave it to her brother, a sailor, before he set sail for the Caribbean.

“Take this,” she said, “it will keep you safe from drowning.” The young man appreciated her thought and tucked the wrinkled brown piece of skin into his Bible.

How was Fannie’s mother to know that she was the one who needed the caul. She was the one who would set off on an adventure and be lost in the cold, blue water of the lake. The lake was named after her.

🥕🥕🥕

“Ariel’s Island: Prologue” by Saifun Hassam

Clouds turned deep indigo in the fading light of the setting sun. The last slivers of sunlight shot up through pinholes in the towering cumulus clouds.

Fannie Hooe was aboard the passenger ship The Rosalinda, sailing from the Carolinas to Bermuda. As a novelist and poet she was entranced by the intensifying storm. But the ship’s officers had ordered everyone to remain in their cabins.

Gale force winds buffeted the ship. As darkness descended, a thunderous boom echoed through The Rosalinda, churning in surging, seething waves. In the next instant, Fannie and the ship sank deeper into the ocean.

🥕🥕🥕

Selkie Mom by Wallie and Friend

Annie always wondered why great-grandmother never insisted on the truth. She wondered why the old woman allowed the legend to persist, when the twists to the story were often so lurid.

Then one day as she sat listening to her husband talk to their little daughter, she realized.

“And that’s how I met your mother,” he said. “I told the selkie king I couldn’t live without her. And he saw that it was true. That coat in the closet there, that’s her selkie coat.”

Annie listened to the little girl’s awe. And for the first time, she understood great-grandmother.

🥕🥕🥕

The Talisman by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She held the rock to her lips. Copper and silver shone where her fingers caressed.

For a moment, Gichi-gami rolls beneath this secure Virginia town. A birchbark canoe glides through a long inner lake, a steady plash of paddles dip into dark water. Her strong shoulders stretch in delicious ache of the final reach and scrape to rocky shore.

Two friends part, a talisman given. What had she gifted her?

“Mama! Come tuck us in.”

“Fannie! Where are my silver cufflinks?”

Slipping the stone into her pocket–all her dresses had pockets—she turned away from the gaslit street.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Who by kate @ aroused

The child was born with a lisp so we kindly indulged his impediment by copying his adaptions. R’s and w’s were particularly difficult to pronounce so Muriel became Mooel, Frances became Fannie, and Howe became Hooe.

He’d quickly become attached to Fannie who was a plain but pleasant young lady visiting her sister in Kenenaw before she gave birth. So when Fannie went missing the child could be heard wailing Fannie Hooe, Fanny Hooe.

But Molly, the wise one, had watched the rapport build between Fannie and the local chief’s son. Unacceptable to either race she had silently vanished.

🥕🥕🥕

Legend or Truth by Susan Sleggs

“Dad’s taking us to Fannie Hooe Lake in upper Michigan for a week this summer. He wants to visit Fort Wilkins. Says that he had a relative stationed there years ago.”

“That should be interesting. I wonder how the lake got a ladies name.”

“Legend is she drowned in it, but Dad’s family story is she ran off with a gambler. She was so wild her parents were thankful so they gave her dowry money to the town fathers who had to agree to never tell the truth. The money was used to build store-front board walks.”

“That’s funny.”

🥕🥕🥕

Paparazzi by Reena Saxena

Fannie Hooe came and disappeared in a flash, leaving tales behind.

The paparazzi failed to notice that her sister’s child was not seen after that. Her sister was a single woman, and soon left town, but nobody enquired about the father.

In fact, it should have been about the mother of her child. Fannie Hooe was a celebrity, and her sister had agreed for surrogacy. They had planned to be as discreet as possible, but Fannie’s fame followed her.

Now, the media says that a look-alike had visited the old, dilapidated township to get photographed and create a flutter.

🥕🥕🥕

Fannie Hooe: Michigan Auto Workers by Peregrine Arc

“We gonna get some overtime, you think?” Earl asked, pulling on his coat.

“Only if they can pay us for it. Otherwise–could be lean times!” a second worker proclaimed.

“We survived the recession, right?” Earl insisted. “It can’t be that bad. What do you think, Fannie? You’ve been here longer than any of us.”

“I’ve seen Michigan get through harder times yet,” Fannie said. “But right now, we’ve all got warm homes to get to. Let’s go!”

🥕🥕🥕

Any Who by D. Avery

“Hoo-wee, Pal, Shorty’s give us a tough one.”

“How’s that?”

“Fannie Hooe.”

“Fannie who?”

“Fannie Hooe. How’m I ta write ‘bout this Fannie?”

“Yer writin’ ‘bout yer fanny?”

“Hooe! Fannie Hooe!”

“Jeez, Kid, yer practic’ly yodelin’. Is it a hootenanny yer writin’ ‘bout?”

“No! Fannie Hooe. An historical figure up there in Copper Country, so they say.”

“An’ I figger yer hysterical, Kid. Jist spin a story.”

“Any clues ‘bout Fannie Hooe?”

“Well, if’n they named a lake after her she musta made quite an impression.”

“I hear tell she brought smoked bacon ta Copper Country.”

“Ya don’t say.”

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fences

What do you do with a broken fence? You could mend it, tear it down, or let it be. It seems that broken fences have much to say about the human condition and relationships.

Writers wrote along the fence line this week, seeking repairs or reasons to fill their stories.

The following are based on the July 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence.

PART I (10-minute read)

Write On Buckaroo Nation by D. Avery

“Aussie!”

“Kid, why’re you sketchin’? That was last week.”

“Thought I’d sketch the Ranch. For perspective. Look, not a fence in sight.”

“I see it that way too Kid. Free range.”

“That’s right, free range! Where ever the prompts lead! No boundaries!”

“While I appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm Kid, there’re always boundaries.”

“What d’ya mean, Aussie?”

“You’re free to range about, explore and express yourself, but within the bounds of societal norms.”

“Oh. Maybe we oughtta fence out the new normal.”

“No Kid, let’s see what comes and goes as we all range freely.”

“Good ideas Aussie! Good ideas.”

🥕🥕🥕

I Threw a Shoe by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She sits on the highway’s gravel shoulder, rubbing her sore, unshod feet. The sun presses hard on her head and shoulders.

She roots through her backpack, amazed at all the crap picked up on her journey, and pushes it away, disgusted; had she truly traveled so far without a sip of water on hand?

She waves to her children, galloping down the same road she’d traveled all her life. Colleagues also pass, clomping by in their own heavy shoes.

She rises, scenting sustenance in free-flowing water and her real tribe, just through that busted gate and across the meadow.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wood’s Wet and Rough by Papershots

A wooden fence. The end of the path? The wood’s rough and wet. The fence’s small, no, hold on, it’s broken. There’s a plaque – cold, steel – then the hand drops. Go back. It says something. Not in your language, though. And friends have always been teasing for trying. For what? “It’s not like you can read “our” books!” Did they shake their heads? Skeptics do that.

E… n..t.. r…a.nce – s.. i.. gn… – f..or.. – e..qu.. i..n.e… – f.. a ..c..ili.ti. es..

There’s more. Will it explain why it’s broken?

S..t..a..bles – f…a..rms –

The mind gets there before the hand.

T..r..a.i..ning.

🥕🥕🥕

Frayed by Sherri Matthews

Exhaustion seeps through me like melting lead. I feel older than my years, stretched too thin like frayed rope. Tie another knot. Maybe it will hold a little longer. Or maybe it will slip and come undone. There is no more space to fill with let-me-help-you. I wander, aimlessly, from one broken fence to another, and my helplessness mocks me in the scrape of splintered wood against my skin. Bleed, then. Stick me again, and again I will bleed. Then I will cuss and rage and come to life, and I will wield my hammer and nails and rebuild.

🥕🥕🥕

Resilience by Anurag Bakhshi

Charli fell on her knees with her head held in her hands and let out a loud, piercing wail.

The fence was broken, and so were all her dreams, hopes, and aspirations. All the horses bolted….not a single one left.

All her hard work…all that waiting…it had all been for nothing. Her life was over…for good.

But then, she took a deep breath and shook her head violently.

No, she would not allow despair to overpower her spirit. She would find another ranch, and prove to everyone that there was no rustler better than her.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by David Wesley Woolverton

He should have been a writer or a con artist. He should never have been both. Being both meant spending too much time in fantasy, losing ground in reality. Now the consequences were beginning to show.

“I don’t have a sister. Wait, I do.”

The fence that should separate lies from the truth was breaking down.

“Or maybe she was a cousin. How many of those did I say I had?”

He mentally flipped through the reference book of his characters, then realized that was the wrong place and tried a family album, then realized the album was forged.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by M J Mallon @ Kyrosmagica

The stony-faced agents sat together in neat chairs, tables locked, faces fixed with false smiles.

As I approached, I imagined an insurmountable stone fence, groaning under the weight of their nervousness and my self-doubt.

My eyes locked on my chosen agent. She gestured to me to come over. I feared nothing could save me but as I spoke the stones tumbled down leaving me with an open gateway, an opportunity to shine.

I grabbed my pitch and went for it, galloping over my doubts. The fence of agents lay in tatters, but my idea was met with cheers.

🥕🥕🥕

Good Neighbor by Sarah Whiley

What miscreant has been here? I wondered, inspecting the damage to the fence.

I was not at all, properly attired, and looked about, seeing if there was anyone who could assist.

Nope. It was just me.

I considered my freshly polished shoes, crisply starched white pants, and my lace detailed silk shirt, and huffed.

I did not need this today, not one bit, I cursed.

Part of me was tempted, to just walk by; pretend I had never seen it. But I couldn’t abandon my responsibilities.

As they say, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

So I got to work.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken with Intent by Norah Colvin

The fence was too high to jump or even see over, no footholds to climb, and palings too close to squeeze or even peer through. It hugged the soil too compacted to dig. It seemed impenetrable, and so intrigued. He stacked boxes for makeshift steps—not high enough. Finally, he hatched a plan—balloons! He blew them big and tied them tight, attached some string, and waited. And waited. Then a gust of wind lifted him high, over the fence, where another, just like him, smiled and said, “Should’ve used the gate; latch is broken—always open to friends.”

🥕🥕🥕

Reckon You’re My Neighbor by Chelsea Owens

Windstorms were frequent visitors to the valley; at least, they had been as long as Beck’s and Kirk’s families remembered. The only thing more frequent than wind, in fact, was their petty neighbor disputes:

Kirk called the police on Beck for some fireworks.

Beck’s wife blamed Kirk’s kids for broken gate slats.

And everyone said Kirk’s dog was just plain yappy.

But the day after the panel blew down between their yards, Beck showed up, right at Kirk’s door. “Reckon you could use a hand with that there rotten post,” was all he said.

And they got to work.

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We Survived by Patrick O’Connor

The wind howled.

Rain came down almost sideways.

Shutters rattled.

Lightning came closer by the minute.

Day became night.

We left to find shelter in our storm cellar. Tornado sirens had been going off for several minutes.

Suddenly, the sirens stopped; but we could hear the wind whipping all around. The pressure change made our ears pop.

Finally, the winds subsided. We waited a few more minutes and then cautiously came out of our hideaway.

Looking around at the devastation, we were happy to be alive.

But – all that was left of our house was a sad, broken fence.

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After the Storm by Saifun Hassam

Diamante and the villagers were stunned at the destruction along the beach. Logs from miles of broken fence were strewn along the sandy cliffs and dunes. The wood piers and fences, strong and sturdy in years past, were no match for the stormy winds of last night.

Inland, the terraced fields of barley and wheat had been flattened. Somehow, the living fences of hedgerows and cedar and pine groves had weathered the storm and sheltered the olive and peach trees.

Diamante prayed at the ancient temple, amid the broken pillars and urns and uprooted plants, for courage to rebuild.

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“Perfection” by katimac

She sits cross-legged on the tumbledown wall in the overgrown lot waiting for the sunrise. The lot is surrounded by a picket fence, grown gray with age. She’s watched the sun beam through the one missing picket to the east as it’s crept across the lot, closer and closer to where she’s currently perched, like an elf on a shelf.

Today’s the day sunlight reaches it. No time until it shows in her missing slat. She adjusts her butt on the wall and raises her camera to her eye. The blaze ignites in her lens and her eye. Perfection.

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Hidden Garden by Kerry E.B. Black

Erin swung the two loose boards of the fencing and scampered beneath, heedless of the dirt grinding into her knees and palms. She shouldn’t enter this yard any more than an errant Peter Rabbit should raid Mr. MacGregor’s garden, but something about the forbidden draws the adventurous spirit. Once she discovered the accessibility of the fence and that it was just her size, she couldn’t resist.

She hunkered beneath a hydrangea to take in the scene. The old lady’s yard outdid any park Erin had ever seen, with fragrant swaths of flowers surrounding bizarre statues. Why did she hide it away?

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Broken Fence by Frank Hubney

The Fredericks bought Adkins Estate with farmhouse, barn, and sheds. The farm maintained itself from land rentals to local farmers. There was also a notorious fence separating it from ancient Indian burial grounds.

That’s why they bought it. They planned to rent rooms to people wanting to spend the night in a haunted house.

They repaired the buildings but broke the fence to make it look spookier. They called their website “Visit Fredericks’ Freaky Ghost House.”

Many rented rooms and left five-star reviews until it became known that after changes to the fence, the ghosts no longer felt welcome.

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Broken Fence: by The Dark Netizen

The fence to her house lay broken. The petulant old woman looked out from the window.

The townsfolk always thought that the house was haunted. They absolutely believed that the old woman was a witch who knew all kinds of sorcery. She welcomed their superstition. She loved her peace and knew that fear kept all the annoying people away from her property. At least, it had managed to until today. Today, some teenagers had broken her fence, trying to show-off.

She removed her pen and wrote their names in her black book. Stupid teenagers.
Her fearful legend would expand, tonight…

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In-Between by Wallie and Friend

The fence had stood between them since they were children. When she was little, Emmy peeked between the slats. She made up stories about the secretive boy-next-door. She decided he was magic.

In her teens, Emmy was still making up stories. Joey wasn’t a fairy or an elf anymore. He was an idiot. The nights they spent fighting over the telephone only to make up the next day, leaning over the fence.

When she came home from college, the fence was broken. Mom told her it was the storm. Seeing Joey waiting for her, Emmy couldn’t have agreed more.

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The Yellow Flower by Susan Sleggs

I was a reservist in Iraq, where everything inside and out of our barbed wire compound was sand colored, including the hazy air. One morning there was an unfamiliar excited buzz in the conversations. The words flower and yellow were prevalent. I listened for details. During the day I made it to the south side of the compound, where outside the fence, sprouting out of a pile of leftover razor sharp wire was a sorry excuse for vegetation. The weed wasn’t even green, but it had the most beautiful yellow flower on top. Hope growing out of the dust.

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The Short Way by Eric Pone

Suzie and Sue made their way along the fence perimeter owned by the Jamison Cartel in Columbia. Suzie was intent in her search.

“What are you looking for?” Sue in a whispered voice.

“There is always a broken section in a fence. And its always out of the way. Be patient love.”

Around the bend, they found the break. A broken section of fence with paint long since withered. Suzie thumb her comm.

“Found a break target acquisition in one hour.” She said.

“Roger That! Standing By” came the reply from Ginger playing sniper and their cover 2200 meters away.

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Part II (10-minute read)

Broken Fence by Anita Dawes

Late one night after having a skin full, dad drove through Mrs Mack’s front garden.

Breaking the fence was bad enough, but he took out her favourite roses too.

Dad said he was sorry, that he would fix the fence first thing.

Mum brought roses, but there was no answer when she knocked on the door. She left the roses on the step but watched to see if her friend would take them in.

They died where mum left them.

After a week, mum told us that some fences cannot be mended. That she had lost her best friend…

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Matter of Time by oneletterup

Damn her.

His hand hurt like hell. She’d broken the skin.

Blood smeared onto the bed as he pulled himself up.

Damn her.

He stumbled out the open back door into the yard.

He lit a cigarette and growled…”I know you’re out here. It’s just a matter of time.”

Moonlight reflected off the chicken wire on the old split rail fence. The entire yard surrounded. And overgrown.

He smiled and spoke…”You Know There’s No Way Out.”

Then he noticed it. Mangled wire. Rotted wood in pieces. An opening.

A broken fence had ruined everything.

She was gone.

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The Broken Fence by Rosemary Carlson

Every morning when she took her walk, she passed beside an old, weathered board fence. It didn’t seem to hold anything. No horses, no other livestock, not even a house. Every third or fourth board was missing.

She didn’t know why she came this way. She thought of her family each time she saw that old fence. The family that didn’t want her anymore. The family that was gone that had left her alone. The family that didn’t care now.

Her feelings for them were gone. They’d slipped away like the wind slipped through the gaps in the fence.

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Horses Have Greater Value (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Blast it you duck-billed buffalo!” Cobb lunged at the stock handler.

Despite his injuries, Hickok dodged the charging man better than the bear that tore him up. “It weren’t me,” he said, confronting his angry boss.

“That busted fence didn’t happen on its own accord,” Cobb growled, pointing to the corral empty of horses.

“No Sir, pert sure it didn’t. Found it that way before you showed up. Recon’ Dock rode out after ‘em.”

“Then quit idling and get after that herd!”

Hickok sighed and set out on foot, his left arm hanging as useless at the fence post.

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Broken Fences: Realised Dreams by Ritu Bhathal

Many an afternoon, I’d sit there, peering through the gap in our broken fence.

It was like a portal to another world.

I’d see them all laughing, playing together, running around freely.

Oh, to be able to laugh openly with friends.

Laughter was in short supply here since my Daddy died, and that new Father had arrived.

He didn’t want no brats running around the place. It was bad enough I existed.

To escape the prison that our home had become, I’d come and sit here.

For the first time in years, my Mummy seemed happy.

I didn’t complain.

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Old Hickson by Bill Engleson

I would’ve come home anyways that summer. There was the job at the mill. This was in the days when a few months work could pay for a full year of edumacation.

So, when mom called and said old Hickson had up and died, I knew there’d be a new layer of remembering.

He was always the old guy next door. On the other side of our fence.

His fence, really.

As a kid, I avoided looking over.

But one year, I was fourteen, I saw the way he looked at me.

The lonely old bugger.

And I knew.

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The Fence by Nandini Jain (Dexterous Writer)

Mocked by the people of the village, those stereotypes scoffed her determination by saying,”what can a girl do?”

To express their rage, they break the fence of their house.

Years later, Sitting beside the banyan tree the proud mother used to stare at the broken fence surrounding the house. When asked, “why don’t you mend it?” She replies,” It reminds me of the force and energy my daughter applied to fly above high, accomplish the goals, chase her dreams and these broken wooden planks remind these stereotypical evil minds that a mighty heart and liberal mind can do wonders!

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The Seagulls’ Fence by magnoliajem

The falling slat startled the roosting seagulls.

“Whadaya doin’, Tommy? Supposed to be mendin’ fence, not breakin’.”

“Damn gulls don’t belong this far inland.”

“They’s travellers. Sea in the morning. Eat. Home here at night.”

“Yeah? They need-a keep goin’ ‘stead-a shittin’ all over granpaw’s fence.”

“Breakin’ the fence ain’t gonna stop ’em from comin’ here, long as that compost sits there.”

“Why? Y’jus’ said they eat at sea.”

“Oh, they’s always lookin’ for food. Don’t always have a taste for fish.”

“We’ll see ’bout that. They need-a leave.”

With compost moved and covered, gulls left. Fence got mended.

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A Gift by Susan Sleggs

“Grandpa, there’s a round green thing growing out back by the broken fence.”

“There is? We better take a look.”

After a slow painful walk, Grandpa said, “I’d say that’s going to be a pumpkin.”

“Can we keep it?”

“Rightly it belongs to the neighbors. It’s their vine coming through the hole.”

“Let’s not tell them.”

“Would that be right?”

“No, but can we wait till it gets big so I can watch it grow?”

“No harm in that.”

A few weeks later they found a note near the big, almost orange pumpkin, “It’s yours. Carve it for Halloween.”

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[trade] by Deb Whittam

The call came in at 2am, waking him from a dream featuring babes dousing their bodies with sunscreen.

For five minutes he had listened to the caller, to their heartbreak and woe … then once he had appeased them, he had booked it in.

It was going to cost him more in time and money than it was worth but there wasn’t any alternative.

When you’re a fencing contractor, and a loose paling comes off at Grandma’s house, you answer the call.

He sighed, then rolled over, perhaps he would catch the babes as they jumped into the pool.

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Emotional Barricades by JulesPaige

Clark could only imagine how his daughter felt. Mainly because he never asked. Then her thick letter arrived. He’d never had the opportunity to answer her questions before. It was about time he mended those fences with truth, even if it was just from his vantage point. Then he died.

While cleaning out Clark’s paperwork, his third wife found the letters relating memories that she selfishly couldn’t cope with. So, she trashed them.

Years later the wife, in a conversation filled with anger, told the daughter what she did. Thus, creating a new unmendable fence cementing their shaky relationship.

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Mend that Fence! by floridaborne

A finger pointed at my middle-aged sister, I yelled out, “I hate you!”

“Why?”  She asked.

“All I ever heard from mom was, ‘Jane is so smart.  Jane is in the honors society.’  She never loved me!”

“All I ever heard was, ‘Susan is so creative!  Why can’t you be creative, too?’  I was never good enough for her!”

We stared at mirrored eyes reflecting the same story.  Mom didn’t believe in praise, only correction.  I was the first to say, “Let’s mend this fence!”

We became sisters that day, choosing our mother’s nursing home a few months later.

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Grandpa’s Fence by Teresa Grabs

It was just an old wooden fence out back on my Grandpa’s property. Nothing to look at, nothing special. Every summer we took a bucket of whitewash out there and painted the fence. Time passed, and when I was thirteen, I refused to go visit. Hadn’t spoken to him in fifteen years. Not until the day Grandma died. I wasn’t invited to the funeral. It hurt, but I knew why. I left the family. I drove all night to get there on time. When he came home, I had the bucket of whitewash ready to mend our broken fence.

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Family Rift by Di @ pensitivity101

The Gap was like a hole in a fence, patched but forever failing.

‘The strength is in the surrounding support,’ the experts said.

Support indeed, carrying, lifting, holding, protecting, but still, The Gap remained.

In desperation, the family closed ranks, thinking erroneously they were helping by providing shelter and respite.

Their unity failed too as the recipient felt trapped, claustrophobic, judged, restricted and stifled, rebelling in anger, spite and bitterness.

So it was agreed to leave The Gap alone, maintain the remainder and leave the open wound to heal or fester. Time would tell and they would be waiting.

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Broken Fence by Lady Lee Manila

This used to be our garden
We ran, spun and had fun
The old oak tree by the fence
Now the fence is broken and shun

We were brash and made lots of pretense
Quite rambunctious, please no offense
Running till we were all breathless
Between all of us, we had sixpence

The gate used to creak, no fuss
Playing hide and seek with us
Outside until we were tanned
The world was vast, was bonus

This used to be our dreamland
Played everywhere and the sand
We grew up fast, world expand
This was our fence, always grand

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Crossover by Reena Saxena

Jamie Patel had just recovered from a stroke, but was asking for all forbidden foods since morning.

“Let’s celebrate, kids! I guess I survived to only see this day.”

His daughter-in-law faced redundancy in the office, and did not take kindly to his remark. He continued at a high pitch, sensing her mood,

“Check your portfolio. You can bid goodbye to that job of yours. Nifty has crossed the psychological barrier of 10000 today. The only way goes up.”

Jamie was the oldest broker of Dalal Street, and had seen humble beginnings. He had reached the summer of 2017.

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Balancing the Butts by Geoff Le Pard

‘What are you doing, Morgan?’

‘Mending a fence.’

‘Who have you annoyed now?’

‘That’s a stupid expression, Logan. How does ‘mending a fence’ resolve a dispute? If you mend a fence, aren’t you just re-erecting some barrier?’

‘What if the fence is keeping something important in or dangerous out? Mending it would restore the balance.’

‘You know, the only reason you’d ever mend the bloody fence is to sit on it.’

‘There are times when you’re like a fence, Morgan.’

‘How so?’

‘If I spend much time with either of you, you both become a pain in the butt.’

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Strong and Stable by Anne Goodwin

Some party! Guests hurled abuse across a bifurcating fence. But Theresa would get them dancing and use the wooden panels to erect a different fence. Strong and stable to keep the rabble out.

Sipping champagne, she waited for the guest of honour at the porticoed door. Behind her, the factions hollered, whacking each other with bits of broken fence. Theresa’s smile was equally wooden. Just high spirits, she’d tell the POTUS, when he finally arrived. Where was he?

She turned, flinching at the wreckage as Boris shook Donald’s hand. He’d certainly made an entrance, bulldozed through her precious fence.

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A Fence by kate @ aroused

Many build fences to keep others out … boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.
Others build fences to keep loved ones and livestock in, wandering off considered a sin

Fences are constructed of various materials, some attractive others more practical but their purpose is clear to all. Demarcation their vocational call.

Gates can be kept tightly locked, under guard or opened to those of like mind.
But don’t be fooled by those gates coz some are real unkind!

Some mend fences while others are keen to tear them down.
What are your fences for … solicit smiles or a frown?

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Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall by D. Avery

“En guarde, Pal!”

“Put that dang thing away Kid.”

“Foiled again. But Shorty says we’re to fence.”

“We’re ta mend fences Kid.”

“Oh. Didn’t know we had a problem Pal.”

“We’re fixin’ fences ‘round the Ranch.”

“What’s that fence there do, keep the garden from strayin’?”

“Keeps critters out.”

“What about that fence? That keep critters out?”

“No, that one keeps the cattle in, keeps ‘em from strayin’.”

“Oh. Like if they reckon they’s greener pastures on the other side a the fence.”

“Yep.”

“Seems like they’s two sides, in and out.”

“Yep.”

“Seems like that could give offense.”

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Buttons

Buttons hold memories of mothers and grandmothers. They hold space for the unexpected links between life and death. They call for silence, to button up, or to relax and loosen a button.

Writers followed where the buttons led.

The following is based on the July 5, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes buttons.

PART I (10-minute read)

Idiomatic, No? by Chesea Owens

Who’s got the clasp; did they ask for the
Touch of a buckle? My knuckles are
Right on the hook, yet they look so
Bright as a catch and they’re snatched since becoming that
Cute as a zipper, so chipper.
Push my Velcro; I don’t know who’d
Press the panic fastener. The last nerd?
Well, bust my stud, ’twas a dud and
Belly lacing was encasing them all.

Yet

Knob pusher was shusher; he’d
Hasp up, the yup. I say:
Pin it, don’t win it; and
Snap your lip for the trip.

It’s a

Hot clip issue, you see.

🥕🥕🥕

Magic by Kay Kingsley

Her mother’s button box was beautiful and long with a brown paisley silk cover. The clasp was small and silver, perfect for her young fingers, the interior a soft satin pink, a suitable home for magic buttons.

And they were to her, at least. For hours she crouched on the floor beneath her mother’s sewing machine ordering them from big to small, shiny to matte, translucent to black.

It wasn’t until she was older that she realized maybe it wasn’t the buttons that were magic but the uninterrupted time she spent in her mother’s presence.

How she missed her.

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Buttons by Anita Dawes

When I was five years old, I loved my rag doll with her blue pearly buttons for her eyes. I took her everywhere with me.

One day the eyes went missing. My brother Tommy had taken them for his shirt and I went mad trying to get them back.

Mum said she would buy new buttons for Tommy’s shirt and sew my ragdolls eyes back on again, but somehow she never got around to it.

On my 90th birthday, my granddaughter put two blue pearl buttons inside my card and had written. “Now your ragdoll can see you again…”

🥕🥕🥕

Pushing Buttons by Jack Schuyler

Tommy loved to push his sister’s buttons. The more he did it, the easier it became. Before, it took gum in her hair or garlic in her milk. Now, even the slightest sideways look could send her into a funk.

Tommy bulged his eyes and sucked in his cheeks. She glanced his way with a frown, but failed to catch his fishy face before it disappeared.

Tommy pulled back his lips and stuck out his tongue. This time she caught him.

“Tommy!” she wailed. Then she made her own face. It was red and tight and wrought with temper.

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Precious as Gold by Norah Colvin

Two lads, reviewing the previous evening’s campfire conversation, dug stones from the bank, inspected each and competed to land one further in the creek.

“D’ya reckon there’s still gold here?”

“Dad says. Reckons someone found one this big.”

“But that’s ages ago.”

“So. Might be more.”

“What’d you do if you found some?”

“Easy. Buy a car, a yacht and a jet. How ‘bout you?”

He contemplated silently—a house of their own first, then for other homeless people too.

“Whoa. Look!”

“Gold!”

They sprinted back to camp.

“You struck gold all right—a gold button,” the adults laughed.

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Sadie’s Rescue by JulesPaige

The catalog provided a masterful display in the brevity of its pages. Satin edged sheets and pillow cases in a rainbow of colors, that one only needed money to buy.

She created her illusions and dreams with empathy and finesse. Knowing that any Cri De Coeur would never be heard by a real lover.

The central heat had been disconnected. The nostrum she had made to ease her chills would shatter like every other frozen pipe – Cold fingers rested on the gold tone buttons of her wool coat… Thankfully, the new neighbors weren’t afraid to check on old neighbors.

🥕🥕🥕

Button(s) by Deepika

Granny Ruth made the best cookies in the world. They were sweet, crunchy and filled with chocolate chips. Alice was staying at her grand-mother’s place for the holidays, and though she already had her share of cookies for the day, she wanted more. She had seen a cookie box on a table in Granny Ruth’s room, so she tiptoed in and tried to reach the box, pushing from the sides, for the box was too far from the edge of the table. The box fell and all she found were buttons, small, big, patterned and flower-shaped instead of cookies.

🥕🥕🥕

Full by Sarah Whiley

I placed my knife and fork together gently on the plate, and wiped my mouth with the fine linen napkin. I leant back in the chair and sighed a deep, contented breath.

As I exhaled, I felt uncomfortable pressure – my pants, digging into my rotund belly. I furtively glanced around the restaurant, sure that no one was watching, reached down and popped open the top button.

Out of nowhere, I heard a voice.

“Everything ok ma’am?” a waitress asked, as she cleared my empty plate. She looked pointedly at my stomach.

“Oh, yes,” I laughed, embarrassed, “Just full!”

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“Winged Tiger” by Saifun Hassam

Outside the log cabin, Joey gazed at the groves of tall conifers in the early morning sunlight. A pair of great yellow eyes, like enormous buttons, studied him from the dense thick branches of a towering pine tree. The next moment a great horned owl rose into the clear skies like a winged tiger.

With trembling hands, Joey focused his camera. His right eye blurred with grateful tears. His left eye was damaged by a tumor. In his mind’s eye he saw the tiger owl. In his heart he was certain he would create wood carvings and engravings again.

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Reluctant Hero by kate @ aroused

Fastening that top button on my shirt was a struggle in more ways than one. This was never planned or wanted. Yet Gladys looked so radiant in her outfit, I hadn’t seen that glow since she had the kids.

Knowing how much this meant to her was the boost I needed to continue. The kids couldn’t be here but they would see the video. Expected when they all live in different countries.

Seemed wrong to get an AO just because I did my job. Besides two of our unit didn’t make it home, so the mission wasn’t really successful.

🥕🥕🥕

The Doting Grandma by Anurag Bhakshi

Sitting alone in her ramshackle cottage, the old lady grumbled as she sewed torn buttons back onto a shirt.

“Boys these days,” she mumbled in frustration, “they fight like raccoons, and it is we who have to suffer.”

Her rickety fingers were not as nimble as they used to be, and the needle was looking blurred through her cataract-ridden eyes, but she’d promised this very shirt to her grandson, so she soldiered on.

If only,” she sighed, “that boy Ivan had allowed me to eat him peacefully, I would’ve gotten his shirt ready for my Baby Yaga ages ago.”

🥕🥕🥕

Selfishness: A Room of Her Own by magnoliajem

She softly closed her bedroom door, easing the doorknob lock into place. Silently, she slid open the top drawer. Gently pushing aside the pile of socks and undies, she carefully reached under the little shelf holding a jumble of wayward buttons, Girl Scout pins, and badges waiting to be sewn onto her sash. Pulling out the little pink book, she inserted the tiny gold key and sighed. “Dear Diary: Why do I feel so guilty, sneaking to be alone in my own room? I just want to write … ”

Behind her, Mother burst in. “So that’s where you hide it!”

🥕🥕🥕

Big and Shiny by Robert Kirkendall

“Now listen here, swine!” Claude bellowed with inflated self importance. “Now that I’ve put in charge of this department things are going to be different! There will be order!”

The employees looked at him blankly.

“First rule, my cubicle is off limits! Nobody enters my territory! Nobody messes with my stuff! You will respect my authority!”

The employees rushed Claude, tackled him, knocked down all his cubicle walls, overturned his desk, scattered his paperwork, and threw his laptop out the window.

“If you don’t anyone to push your buttons,” an employee reminded, “don’t make them so big and shiny.”

🥕🥕🥕

In Which Morgan Questions The Basic Requirements Of A President by Geoff La Pard

‘It’s not stupid, Morgan. It’s very real. It has a name. Koumpounophobia.’

‘Cool. Why? They’re just buttons.’

‘Mum’s button box. All clicking and cascading as she looked for a match. One time…’

‘Is that why they say you’re buttoned up?’

‘Who says?’

‘No one. Well, those guys from the gym. You can be a bit, you know…’

‘What?’

‘Up yourself.’

‘Thanks.’

‘No, really, if you just…’

‘Button it, Morgan. You’re not helping.’

‘I bet they test Presidential candidates for koumpounophobia.’

‘Why?’

‘You wouldn’t want someone in charge of nuclear Armageddon whose terrified of buttons.’

‘You’re a moron, Morgan.’

‘Thanks.’

🥕🥕🥕

Closure by Reena Saxena

An auditor’s job has never been easy. One has to raise the right objections, make the right recommendations and not leave any point untouched. There could be pressure to keep the warts concealed from public view.

I believe in professional ethics, and writing each word of the audit report was a challenge in that organization.

I stitched and patched up all I could. The final cover was a professional shirt with special buttons – which acted as a closure, yet revealed enough to arouse curiosity and suspicion.

It was the job of the fraud investigators to take up from there.

🥕🥕🥕

Monkey’s Tummy by Miriamm Hurdle

Being self-employed is a luxury. Sam doesn’t set the alarm clock. He goes to the gym at 9:00 a.m. when people honk their way to the exit lane.

Looking at 16,000 columns and 895 rows of data make his eyesight fuzzy. The query narrowed it down to 90 columns and 75 rows.

Oh, no! He pressed a wrong button, missed one zip code. Doing it all over again. No one shares his stress. It’s time going to his laughing buddy.

A button on the monkey’s tummy he pushed. His hilarious is contagious. Sam can’t help but laugh with him.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Susan Sleggs

The fabric artist examined her crazy quilt creation that had an outdoor theme. It needed some bling that would make it more interesting, but she couldn’t visualize anything working.

Her daughter Carrie came to her. “Mommy, will help me with my buttons?”

That was it! Buttons.

They had lunch then went shopping for buttons, not the button-your-blouse type, but the fun ones at the craft store. Carrie picked out trees, a bear, a moose and some birds.

Back home they had a sewing lesson; a child was never too young to learn how to correctly sew on a button.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Cheryl Oreglia

Boy, can she can push my buttons?

I walk into the family room, lean down to fold an abandoned blanket, and start collecting the empty glasses. The room is in shambles.

“Jesus Mom, can you relax, trying to watch a movie in-between your glass retrieval. It’s annoying”

“Pause the movie and help me tidy up? It’ll only take a minute.”

“Here. This might help. You leave and I’ll clean up later.”

“Deal,” I leave the room quickly, step out onto the deck, and close my eyes. Breath, just breath. Someday you’ll wish she was here, making messes, pushing buttons.

🥕🥕🥕

Different Buttons by Susan Sleggs

My cell rang. “Hi Mom.”

“Oh good, you’re home?”

“It’s the babies nap time. You knew I would be.”

“I just finished trimming the hedge and I’m exhausted. One of those Easy Buttons would help with that job. I won’t be able to lift my arms again today.”

“Mom, your hedge consists of five bushes.”

“I know, but I’m not as young as I used to be.”

“You’re starting to push my buttons, what do you want?”

“A dinner invite.”

“But aren’t your arms are too tired to hold the baby.”

“Maybe not that tired. I’ll bring ice cream.”

🥕🥕🥕

Dehumanizing by Peregrine Arc

“Press one to access your account…”

I pressed “1” dutifully on the telephone keypad. I bounced my knee in rhythm, watching the walkers pass by my window. My fingernails were chewed stubs.

“Please enter the last four numbers of your Social Security number…”

Poke, poke. I pressed the buttons, referencing a notepad. Silence while the computers talked to each other.

“We’re sorry, but we can’t access your records right now. Goodbye.”

I threw the phone down, cursing.

“What am I–a series of numbered buttons?!”

🥕🥕🥕

Disconnecting to Connect by Heather Gonzalez

I had nothing left to live for now that people no longer connect offline. I was basically a dinosaur. A generation before the need to connect digitally. So, when I saw the commercial for a way out, I knew I had to buy it.

I was surprised it came in such a tiny box. All that was inside was a red button. I took a deep breathe and then pushed it.

Everything shut down. I sat in the dark realizing how much technology I had relied on, but now I was finally free to connect to my life again.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Button It by oneletterup

“Button it,” the voice behind her said.

All she had done was tell him.

“No, I won’t…” she tried again.

“BUTTON IT.”

She strained to turn around, but he held her too tight. His breath stank. She smelled beer and cigarettes as he whispered in her ear “Button Your Damn Mouth Do You Hear Me?”

She tried to twist away, but his shaky hand now covered her mouth.

She spoke once more. “I will never go back to that…”

He ignored her. “I said Button It…”

She bit down hard. He howled and let go.

And then she ran.

🥕🥕🥕

Unbuttoned by D. Avery

“You’ve lost one of your buttons, and off that beautiful blouse.”

“Oh, I guess I have.” She glanced down at her rumpled shirt then at her younger sister, whose eyes were big, round tortoiseshell buttons. “At least Sissy has all hers.”

Her grandmother frowned. “Well, I should hope so. Anyway off to bed with you both.”

In the room they shared at the summer cottage Sissy now became the hero, gently helping her unmoving sister get ready for bed, speaking soothingly, her little fingers carefully unfastening each button, bravely ignoring the bruising. Silent tears rolled down both girls’ cheeks.

🥕🥕🥕

Unbuttoned Part 2 by D. Avery

“Girls! Breakfast!”

Sissy slipped silently into her seat, her lip quivering as she watched her sister ease carefully into her chair.

“What’s wrong with you?” her grandmother asked the older sister. “You’re lame this morning.”

The girls’ eyes met. “It’s nothing, Granma.”

“Sure looks like something. Are you two going to do more than poke your breakfasts?”
Sissy hiccupped. The older girl hissed at her younger sister. “Button it.”

But the little girl burst. “She wouldn’t let those boys at me Granma, she let me get away.”

Their grandmother made a phone-call before gathering them close, rocking and humming.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Robbie Cheadle

Elsie and her sisters watched their mother prepare for the evening out. Mother took off her worn work overall. Elsie felt happy to see her mother without her old overall which had odd buttons. Buttons were hard to come by during the war, and her mother kept old and used buttons. When she broke or lost a button off her overall, she would even take a grey button off an old pair of men’s trousers which Elsie hated as it reminded her of the war and its horrors.

She imagined Hitler as an old witch all dressed in black.

🥕🥕🥕

Humility by Susan Sleggs

The humble soldier returned to his hotel room after being awarded the Medal of Honor. The President called him a hero because he had saved a few lives and his group had stopped the enemy from using their supply route for days.

As he unbuttoned his uniform he relived the scene as he did night and day; smelly dead bodies strewn around him, cries of pain from his own men and burned shells. Some hero; in the mirror he saw a murderer and a failure. He had killed theirs and not been able to save all of his own.

🥕🥕🥕

And We Dropped to Our Knees…by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It arrived by nighthawk, the final ingredient to heal our planet, corrupted to near-extinction.

Maeve gripped the tiny blue button, chanting:
“First drop of rain, seed in the shell,
Night incantations will do us quite well.
Magical potion, dream-seeming mad,
I swear on this drear day, we shall be made glad.
Drop the blue button, Cauldron’s bright spell,
Blood of Medici, Machiavellian tell.
Goddess Compassion, hear my plea,
As we do pray it, so mote it be.”

A shock wave rolled over the barren plain, unrolling a carpet of bluebells carrying the trill of pond life and buzzing bees.

🥕🥕🥕

Walking Home by Faith Colburn

When my grandma Mae was a young wife, living in Akron, elastic had not yet been invented. She said she was walking home from buying groceries, past the local tavern, both arms loaded with groceries, when the buttons on her underwear popped. She said she hesitated for only a brief moment, glancing at the men lounging against the light poles and stumbling on the street. She never knew if her buttons came unbuttoned or if they popped off—because she simply stepped out of her underpants and walked the rest of the way home, leaving them on the sidewalk.

🥕🥕🥕

Button Stories by Deborah Lee

She’s dreaming, but she can hear them rattling inside the powder box. Grandma’s button box. She feels them between her fingers, sees them with her dream-eyes. Bone ones, feather-light carved wood ones, painted china ones, cloth-covered ones. Stamped brass and pearly shell.

They used them as coins for betting, learning arithmetic playing “21.” They played a bastardization of marbles and tiddlywinks with them. But she loved it most when

“This one came off your Great-Aunt Alice’s wedding suit. She married a rake, let me tell you, we all thought he’d never be more than a fancyman…”

🥕🥕🥕

Dorset Buttons – Saving a Lost Craft by Gordon Le Pard

Lady Lees couldn’t stop looking at it, a large, button, unlike any she had ever seen before, it seemed to have been created by sewing. The farmer’s wife, saw where she was looking.

“Funny old button isn’t it. They used to make them Shaftesbury way, but no one knows how to make them anymore. Have it.” She bent, and cut it from her apron.

She sought out more buttons, and at last a frail old lady, who said.

“Buttony, of course my dear.” And picked up a needle and a tiny brass ring. The lost craft was saved.

The true tale of how the craft of Buttony, making Dorset Buttons, was saved.

🥕🥕🥕

Bonanza Use for Recycling Buttons by JulesPaige

Yard sale buys are bargains true, but not all the pieces came with the multi-layered game. Missing checkers, no problem – got a box from another sale somewhere.Same with chess pieces – no black to whites counterpart.

Snakes and Ladders, Chinese Checkers, Checkers, and Chess along with a modified Parcheesi board too. Old Maid and Go Fish decks also double six dominoes are all good to go. There is Solitaire and Mancala too.

Dice are also an easy replacement, but what to do for Backgammon – fifteen dark, fifteen light discs needed. Dark and light round buttons! Yes, they will do.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttoned by FloridaBorne

With a half-smile, the hallmark of her uncertainty, she reached into an old jewelry box for a series of shell buttons attached by plastic fishing line. He recognized it as a necklace by clasps that screwed together at the end.

“I made this for my mother when I was 10,” she said proudly.

“Looks like it, too,” he snickered.

“You have the face of an angel,” she said.
He bent down to kiss her, she pulled away. Opening her front door she said, “This isn’t going to work.”

“Why?”

No use explaining how badly he’d failed the button test.

🥕🥕🥕

Drowning by Kayuk

The door slams as I drown under the weight of another misunderstanding.

How did this happen? Why? Five minutes ago we were smiling then…the storm blew out and the empty house surrounded me….

I sighed and moved to the bedroom. A pile of mending waited next to the rocker and my hands were as empty as my heart so I sat down, picked up a pair of his shorts, and began to sew the button back on.

Now, here I sit, looking down at the mended shorts in my hands, wondering why relationships can’t be as easy to heal.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by The Dark Netizen

He loved collecting buttons. He called himself a collector, and he was right in doing so.

His collection was quite vast, and quite varied. It boasted of buttons of different colours, shapes, and sizes. It contained buttons from all the parts of the world – Europe, Asia, The Americas, and of course his very own India. However, he was finicky about the condition of the buttons after he procured them. He made sure to give them a wash right before framing them in his private collection.

Afterall, buttons stolen from the clothing of murdered tourists, tend to be unclean.

🥕🥕🥕

Hero’s Nightmare by Miriam Hurdle

“Kevin, you look handsome in your uniform.”

“Thank you.”

“I like to have a copy of your photo with your autograph.”

“No, that’s okay.”

“You gave one to your mum, but you don’t hang it in your home.”

“She asked for one, I respected her wishes.”

“Did Sarah want to hang up your uniform photo?”

“She didn’t ask.”

“Look at all the large and small buttons across your chest to your shoulder. They are gorgeous. You’re a hero.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“What do you mean?”

“Each one tells a nightmare and I don’t want to be reminded.”

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Eric Pone

Ono played with the buttons on her husband’s shirt. He sat on the patio staring off into the wilderness. She had served as his planning lead when they were in the military. He had been all of 14 then. Who appoints a child as a military officer? He had performed brilliantly though but it was all catching up to him now. She smelled the shirt. The night sweats were still there. And the hole in the wall there. She thumbed her phone. He needed help she could not provide. He deserved help, she deserved peace.

🥕🥕🥕

[angst] by Dawn Whittam

As far as it went he was great, he could tap dance, he could sing.  He played the guitar with flare, he could quote Shakespeare, walk dogs while drinking coffee and express himself in five different languages simultaneously.

Woman sighed when he walked past, men glared at him with envy in their hearts, children hung on his every word … all adored him but one.

She knew his secret, he knew what he feared, she was him Mother and to her he was far from perfect.

She had tried everything to change him … but he still feared buttons.

🥕🥕🥕

Raising a Man by April Waldron

Mommy wants to offer snaps but to become a man, he has to learn to use buttons. His hands are small and the process is difficult. How it hurts a mother’s heart to watch him struggle. But the point of learning to use buttons is to overcome the struggle he will face as a child and as a man. She knows that throughout the years, she can’t step in and fasten all of his buttons in life. So, she watches his tiny hands fumble in hopes that the hands of the man won’t have to. A Mother’s boundless love.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Ritu Bhathal

“Sally, love, can you come over ‘ere and give us a hand? These blasted buttons are giving me gyp again today.”

“It’s alright dad.” Nimble fingers made light work of the buttons on the old uniform jacket Frank Beaumont wore every year on Remembrance Sunday. A job her mother used to do. “There!”

Sally flashed a smile at her father, before turning away, tears welling up.

It had been over sixty years since he was last able to do his own buttons up, having lost the digits of both hands whilst serving his country.

Her dad, a true hero.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttons by Frank Husebye

Ryan held the hand-carved applewood buttons. They each had four tiny holes like real buttons.

“Your Uncle Thomas made them for me.” Ryan returned the buttons to his great aunt. He couldn’t see why anyone would have made them.

“He made my wedding dress as well.” Ryan thought that was as odd as those buttons.

“We bought a cake and two rings. I had flowers for my hair.” He heard the story before.

“I forgave him.” Ryan listened. He hadn’t heard that part.

“For dying so young.” He had heard that part.

“I feel him visit me every day.”

🥕🥕🥕

In the Silent Places We Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni didn’t want the buttons. They sat in a jar on her shelf by a faded photo. The night Michael accused her of hoarding artifacts, he didn’t mention old buttons. Today, he asked.

“Mom’s,” she answered, looking away, sitting on the floor.

Michael opened the jar and poured them into his hand. “Sacred.”

After he left, the house echoed ghosts – the mother she never knew, Ike’s booming voice, the dogs barking. She smashed that jar, buttons and glass scattering like those she had loved.

Picking up the pieces, button by button, she resolved to quit hiding in the house.

🥕🥕🥕

PART III (5-minute read)

Tilly’s Parting Gift by Anne Goodwin

Finding the button in the drawer, Henry was six again. He licked the grooves, but he couldn’t taste her. He sniffed the Bakelite, but couldn’t smell her. He smoothed the underside across his cheek, but couldn’t touch her. Still he remembered her folding his fingers around it moments before she left.

Henry’s shoulders sagged. Even in those austere times, a button was a shabby gift for a small boy.

Yet his memory insisted. Tilly crouching in the hallway, her brown suitcase alongside. Entreating him to keep the button safe until her return.

Fifty years on, he was still waiting.

🥕🥕🥕

Stoic Silence by JulesPaige

Claire never really got to know Antoinette, who never used American phraseology when a foreign or sophisticated word would do. When Antoinette wanted quite she wouldn’t use the term ‘Button it’ or put a pretend key to her mouth, or run two fingers across her lips for quiet.

“Écouter” is what Antoinette would say. If Claire was sitting at a table the pinkie and pointer fingers of both her hands had to rest by the first joints on its edge. It was too bad though, that Antoinette never listened herself. Maybe the
Step-mother and Step-daughter could have been friendlier?

🥕🥕🥕

Mum and Dad on Buttons by Di @ pensitivity101

Buttons of every colour,
Size and shape, and holes
Twos and fours or mushrooms,
Lay hidden in the folds.
Mum had always loved them,
Would save them from an old shirt,
Put them on baby matinee coats,
Or extra to hold up her skirt.
Dad would often hug her
And cheekily give her a kiss
Then handing over a button
Say ‘Sew a shirt on this.’
If ever we were naughty,
She’d tell us to button our lip
Amidst threats of the alternative
Of putting in a zip!

God, how I miss them both and their sense of humour.

🥕🥕🥕

Passing on the Love by Teresa Grabs

When Elizabeth was a little girl and her family lived in the one-room sod house, her father made all her play things. Her favorite was one of Mother’s buttons in the middle of a string. She would flip the string over and over then watch the button spin as she moved the string closer together and farther apart.

She lived with her granddaughter, Katie, and her family for seven years until she passed. Every so often Katie or one of her daughters will find a button laying on the floor or attached to a string. Grandma Liz saying hello.

🥕🥕🥕

Spotlight by Wallie and Friend

This was it. The moment she had been waiting for.

Grace stood looking into the mirror. Her hair was brushed. Her lips were painted. It was a picture-perfect reflection. In the next room she could hear the other band members laughing, teasing. It seemed like an impossible dream that they had gotten this far.

Her face was so solemn, like the face of a Victorian schoolteacher. Her eyes were like wide dark pools. Grace studied that serious, tense face. She was buttoned to the throat. She undid the top button at her collar, just so, and managed a smile.

🥕🥕🥕

Panic Button by Patrick O’Connor

Working with technology can be stressful, especially when you are the one tasked with fixing it when it isn’t working correctly.

Some people handle the stress easily while others become anxious. After all, everyone from co-workers to management wants to know when it’s going to be fixed.

Having people stand over your shoulder just aggravates the situation more.

That’s when I had the great idea to create something that would help with the stress.

I created a portable “Panic Button” to share with anyone who was stressed.

It’s amazing what a little laughter can do to help exasperating situations.

🥕🥕🥕

The Little Drummer Boy by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

The boy hid near a copse of trees. All around him, the sound of gunfire sputtered and pinged. Tears stinging, he pulled the drum closer, waiting for a new command from the general so he could muster the troops.

Scared, he slipped his hand into his pocket and fingered the buttons he had cut from the coats of the enemy. Each button represented a win. He had survived the battles and lived to beat the drums to victory.

Until today. When the men found him the little drummer boy gripped a sting of dirty buttons—his legacy of death.

🥕🥕🥕

Peace by Jan Malique

Buttons. They pressed his regularly without fail. This had been occurring for years. His soul had been worn down to almost nothing.

Some of the buttons were stuck, the wording on others had worn away and some had disappeared, vanished without a sound.

Yet, he still functioned but at a cost. The angel watching him laid a gentle hand on his arm. It was time to heal and receive new buttons. Ones no one would be able to touch.

Light flowed from the angel to the man. He sighed deeply as the healing transformed him on all levels. Peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Buttonholed by D. Avery

“Buttons ain’t nuthin, without the buttonhole, Kid. Even less without needle an’ thread. Without those, buttons are useless discs, mere baubles. Their usefulness and purpose are dependent on the passage and tension provided by the buttonhole.”

“What’s wrong with baubles? Some folks use buttons as decoration, jewelry even.”

“Same folks keep their pants up with the yin and yang of button and buttonhole.”

“Huh. Ya know, Pal, some a yer yang is startin’ ta hang. So much yin ya cain’t keep it in. Thinkin’ yer buttons are strainin’ in their role.”

“Yeah, these buttons have become heroic, never buckling.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketches

Captured quickly at the moment, a sketch can linger. It teases the mind with what has been included, as well as left out by the artist. But who is the artist? The one who creates a visual on the page or writes the vision imagined in the mind?

Writers took to their sketchbooks this week to draw stories of those who draw. Enjoy the resulting sketches.

June 28, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a sketch or about a sketch.

PART I (10-minute read)

Rainy Day Sketches of a Very Small Village by Bill Engleson

There are two tables and five chairs on the General Store porch.

The location affords a front row seat on not much.

I relish looking at not much.

A delivery truck departs.

Chips.

Our community eats a ton of chips.

I certainly do my bit.

Bite?

There’s no late June morning sun.

Sprinkles nip the air.

“It’s like autumn,” she moans.

“So, you want to leave?”

“Too cold to people watch. Let’s go home. Check on Trump.”

I grimace, say, “Can’t beat cold weather people gawking. You go. Besides, Trump aggravates my hemorrhoids.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Maybe. Tell them that.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketches by Anita Dawes

Looking for something to inspire me, I took a walk through our local flea market and fell in love with a half-finished sketch of a young woman lying on a grave.
I was about to ask how much, when a man standing beside me, said ‘It’s sad but lovely, isn’t it?’

My heart jumped so hard I thought I would join the woman at the graveside.
I turned to see who had spoken, but there was no one standing beside me.
The price was just £40 because it was unfinished work.
Holding it, I could see my grandmother’s signature…

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Jan Malique

The artist’s model sat on the chair, her face reflecting a series of emotions. The sketch was infused with pathos and great delicacy. He had captured her sense of sadness, the yearning to be her true self. His hand had traced the lines of her face with such artistry and, love.

Love, what a loaded word. They always seemed to fall in love with her. She was Galatea to their Pygmalion. A dream glimpsed in marble and paint. Forever out of reach. Alas, unlike Pygmalion, Aphrodite hadn’t answered his prayers. This Muse was strictly off-limits, for everyone.

🥕🥕🥕

Muse Mother by H.R.R. Gorman

My mom taught me she had a superpower: any picture, from a grand work of art to a doodle on the fridge – could transport her.  A wave of her hand and she could travel back in time, speak with the artist, and return instantly to entertain me with the tale.

As I got older, I realized she couldn’t do magic.  Her power was a wealth of art history knowledge and a sensitivity to visual media.  I confronted her about the lie.

She gave me a half-smile and filled up my lemonade.   “Leonardo will be disappointed to find that out.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketchy Perceptions by Norah Colvin

He sketched the outline with chalk then filled in the details, outside-in. Curious passers-by gathered as the image emerged. Was the artist a paid entertainer or busker earning a buck? Some pushed coins into children’s hands to add to the chalk-drawn cap. When satisfied with his work, the artist stood in its centre and tossed the cap and contents high. As they fell, he spread his arms and disappeared into the painting. Perplexed on-lookers reported different perceptions. Many said he plummeted into darkness. Some said he flew on gold-tipped wings. Others described him simply as absorbed by his art.

🥕🥕🥕

Topsy Turvy by Juliet Nubel

The audience watched in silence as the artist swept huge strokes of white paint onto the black canvas.

They were intrigued to see this man on stage. His act was far removed from the befrocked dancing poodles and gangly prancing singers.

The sketch was taking shape, gradually becoming a beautifully abstract snowy landscape, accomplished in three minutes flat.

As the clapping began, he turned the canvas on its head, revealing the unmistakable face of Albert Einstein.

A loud gasp filled the air.

The artist smiled as his message rang loud: look at things differently and all will become clear.

🥕🥕🥕

The Flower by Sarah Whiley

It was the same sketch every time.
A stem.
Two leaves.
Scribbly petals.
All culminating to form a rudimentary flower.

For as long as I could remember, this was the “bored” doodle that I defaulted to.

I briefly wondered why.

I sighed a barely contained, deep exhalation, attempting to communicate the need for a break.

Why was it, that teacher professional development, all about the importance of engagement and best practice, used the exact opposite to inform its audience?

I looked up, hopeful, as the presenter paused.

Disappointingly, she promptly launched into the next diatribe.

Time for another flower…

🥕🥕🥕

An Urban Truth by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He shambles out of the park, swaying side-to-side, shyly dominating the Midtown sidewalk. Sun glints in his blonde-bronze pelt, furry toes squashing—or shall we say “squatching”?—his platform flip-flops.

Not that he needs the extra height. At 6’ 10’’, he towers over everyone he passes, including the tiny Russian grandma and her yappy little dog.
He hears a snatch of French Zydeco from a hipster coffee shop, and hops a quick shuffle and turn. He smiles, tipping his head to the babushka. Hot sun glints off his blinding canines.

She nods. They’re old friends, Sasquatch and Baba Yaga.

🥕🥕🥕

Beware the Man in Gray Teresa Grabs

The man in gray traveled alone. Always alone. He never stayed long in one town and never carried more than his sketch book and pencil that never seemed to whittle down to nothing no matter how many sketches he made. News traveled fast in these parts. Stories about the man in gray in the dead he leaves in his wake. Women in Empty Gulch saw him coming first and hollered for their children. Shutters slammed shut as he made his way through town. The miners quaked watching him sit down under the oak tree and open his sketch book.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s the Eyes by Wallie and Friend

There was no mistaking her pursed lips. It was always dangerous when she frowned at her own work. But for the last week, Annie hadn’t looked at her sketchbook any other way.

He asked what was the matter. It was an innocent question. He didn’t expect to be confronted with his own body.

“Technically, it’s perfect,” she said.

He didn’t know anything about art, and as embarrassing it was to see himself in graphite, he wasn’t about to argue.

His wife’s lips pursed again. She looked hard at his face.

“It’s the eyes. I just can’t capture your eyes.”

🥕🥕🥕

Assault in the Forest by Anurag Bakhshi

The sketch artist looked at me skeptically.

“You are saying the assault occurred without provocation?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” I replied unhesitatingly, “I was just walking home, minding my own business, when…”

The sketch artist shook his head and continued, “And you’re sure you didn’t see a face? I need something so that we can send out a BOLO.”

I screwed up my eyes in consternation, trying to grasp at that fleeting memory….the forest…the axe….

And as I finally remembered everything, I shouted,”It was a human female. She was riding a bicycle, and was wearing a red hood.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sketchy b FloridaBorne

A hospital bed elevated her upper body. One son took Lorna’s hand. Too weak to pull away, she tried ignoring the unwanted touch.

Strange the things a writer remembers. One of them was her mother’s plea to save “her children,” framed sketches of family life and childhood home, now tucked away in Lorna’s storage shed.

“Now I understand, mom,” Lorna whispered.

“What did you say?” Her son asked.

“Make sure my editor gets my books published.”

Her sons snickered, the same way she had when she’d said the same words to her mom, “We’ll take good care of them.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Sketch of Jessamine by Lady Lee Manilla

A sketch from a brother who loves her so
She who left us so early in her life
Siblings she left and grew long time ago

Let her soul be in peace in afterlife
Remember her poems, paintings, and art
Singing and dancing, seeing the wildlife

Her memories lingered on in our hearts
Her brother and sister are doing well
Sang like angel, played piano like Mozart

Jessamine was her name, our belle
Legacy of faith, love, and fun
She moved like she was a gazelle

She brought the light to us like sun
Treasured every moment with her

🥕🥕🥕

Picturing Us by Sascha Darlington

I have sketched us in charcoal on stark white. I have obliterated lines, assuaged others. The charcoal coats my fingertips, chin, and cheeks. Lines become blurred as I adjust, change, smooth angles. Your eyes, your smile are not right. I sketch you again, and somehow, my own image becomes fragmented, disjointed, a smear of darkness. Frustrated, I draw myself. Yet, when I peer into the mirror, my eyes haunt me, but I cannot convey this on paper despite my attempts. Ignoring the mirror, I start again. You and me, side-by-side, but somehow, despite numerous iterations, we never come together.

🥕🥕🥕

Raw Romance by kate @ aroused

Felt the need to retreat from every day life,
Check in with myself to see what caused strife

Emotional up and downs yet silence was profound
Words flowed unstoppable, expression without sound

Found my true love residing deep within
Not voicing those words would be a real sin

Our loving connection is like most romances
We have moments but then draw even closer

Soul mates forever, passion can’t be denied
Weaving words to share what’s deep inside

Blogging an outlet for those who wish to spy
On our raw relationship bared for all without lie

Words ignite emotions and unite!

🥕🥕🥕

A Delicate Erasure? by JulesPaige

Stan wasn’t sure what to make of this woman. A Pen-pal who was sketchy at best. He knew she was married. Why did her husband disappear for weeks at a time. Was the gent in the service? Must be hard when there wasn’t any
family around and young children to raise.

While he knew it was a copy – the drawing of her hand, her wedding band clearly displayed, was placed in an envelope for him to open. Had he wanted more?

Then as Stan got involved with local woman. Written exchanges became less frequent. And eventually, correspondence stopped completely.

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Woman Reading by Anne Goodwin

Her province’s a palace, a kitchen, a farm,
the White House, a rocket, a sty.
She’s a thousand years old, she’s black, and she’s white,
she’s a phantom long dead or unborn.
She’s shackled and swayed in the bowels of a boat;
she’s blessed with the freedom to roam.
She’s a boxer, a banker, a beggar, a boy;
a cleric, a cleaner, a crow.
Her lip curls or curves, she wrinkles her brow,
she laughs, wipes a tear from her eye.
Her vista refreshed with each turn of the page;
she’s a citizen of everywhere, a reader, she’s me.

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Memory Scars by Patrick O’Connor

The call came in after 9pm and interrupted movie night with my daughters.
My doctor called to tell me I had a brain tumor. I’ve never been so shocked in my life.
The emotions associated with that phone call are etched forever in my memory.
There was a flurry of activity that took place to find the right doctor for the surgery. Six months later, I landed in Los Angeles to get the best care I could find around the country.

Four years after that, I created a sketch of my head scar. I titled it “Scarred Not Broken.”

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Part II (10-minute read)

A Neighbor by D. Avery

We’ve met before on this lake. She’s a big one. Today she’s lazing just underneath the surface, her mossy plated shell a hub for four bumpy, clawed legs that dangle beneath her, for the spiny leathery tail ruddered behind, for her massive craggy beady-eyed beak-tipped head. She dives then comes back to the surface, sticking her snout out of the water, taking air in through flared nostrils. Seeing me, she swims silently away. I feel she’s ancient, wonder at her long life, but cannot begin to say what she thinks or feels. Out of respect, I don’t even try.

********

The Sketch Artist by D. Avery

“Okay, let’s begin,” Officer Mills said, sketch pad in hand.

“He had a round face, with brown eyes.”

“No, describe him. Did he harbor a storm in his eyes? Did his past linger at the edges of his unspoken thoughts?”

“Umm, he was tall… about six foot four.”

“Six foot four?! How tall was he? We need a sketch. Was he simply tall like a tree, or did he walk in that head hunched way that tall people do, ducking through doorways, folding into cars?”

“I don’t know! You’re just writing words! Where’s the sketch artist?”

“Right here, literally.”

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Heaven Knows by D. Avery

“Didn’t think it’d be like this. I always heard it was more like a movie, you know, your life replayed for you.”

“I was surprised too. A pile of sketches they hand you. Your own sketches.”

“So, you have to go back too?”

“Ha, you bet I do. Any of us with these skinny little sketchbooks have to retrain and go back for another lifetime. Next time, I’m going to make more time for sketching. For etching deeds and memories.”

“Yeah, they say if you get here with good stories to tell you’re all set.”

“Heaven knows, that’s life.”

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A Sketch of Rock Creek by Charli MIlls

From the barn, you can see across the draw that is Rock Creek. Wagon ruts remain visible on both sides. David Colbert “Cobb” McCanless built a toll bridge across the deep cut. He arrived at this road station along the Oregon Trail in March of 1859. Family denies that a woman, not his wife came with him, but records show her signature as his bookkeeper. His wife and children arrived from North Carolina in September 1859. The women know what happened when two years later a young Wild Bill Hickok shot Cobb. But no one thought to ask them.

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Escape Cave by Paula Moyer

Sixth grade, spring of 1964. Another homework assignment, staring Jean in the face. She couldn’t make herself do it. It would never be good enough for Mrs. O’Neal.

The box of crayons – “64 colors.” The pad of sketch paper, a hobby store gift. Both sang to her, and soon Jean was drawing. The thing almost drew itself.

The cavern appeared in sketch after sketch. An inverted “V” opened to a secret place with pastel walls, alternating blues, and pinks. Oh, secret, soft cave. Safe cave.

If only this place were real, Jean thought. Mrs. O’Neal would never find me.

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Eulogy for Aunt Tillie by Nancy Brady

I remember Aunt Tillie affectionately although she preferred my sisters Sally and Connie more. I think she liked me more once I began wearing glasses. Aunt Tillie was a bit silly, even odd. She always wore dresses and slippers. She loved food, especially collard greens, and haddock, but food had to be served on a platter. She loved puppies and kittens, too, but her favorite pet was her guppy, Freddie. She would watch him swimming around all afternoon long. She was an accountant. Bookkeeping was her life, but she was happiest when reading books, her favorite being Atlas Shrugged.

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Traveling the Hayfields with Pop by Roger Shipp

Humping down the stairs and around the backyard, Pop, his cane waggling in front being used to scatter the beagle and the three strays more than for maintaining any semblance of balance, was headed toward the chariot… a ‘62 Valiant… and into the hayfields.

I raced beside him knowing there was no waiting.

Opening the door, I swung from the roof into the backseat.

“Wait!” I bellowed. My fingers had not released from the roof before Pop had slammed the door.

Exasperated, Pop opened and shut the door. Hard.

“Next time, get’ya whole self in.”

And off we went.

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Sad Regrets by Susan Sleggs

The devastating, but expected call came just before six-o-clock, her father was dead.
The Uber could only get within two blocks of the extravagant condo high rise because downtown streets were blocked for a jazz festival.

She entered the building with feelings in check and said her goodbyes. The music drew her to the balcony where a large sketch book lay on a table. She sat and opened it.
Sketch after sketch of the street below from each year of the festival. She was in each one but had never been there. Regrets swept her; she should have been.

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The Sketch by Eric Pone

Ducky stared at the paper and slowly drew out the neighborhood as he remembered it. He included the storefront the gang used for cover. He drew the small storefront church that was next to it. And he included the trees and other details that struck him. He also drew the little girl who had died in his friend’s arms from a drive-by shooting. “They actually targeted a child…”He got up and lit his first cigarette and thought through what he was considering. He looked out at the harbor and considered the thousand who would die with that nuke.

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“The Psychologist” by Goldie

Another patient.

“I’m Sergeant Phillips. This is Ivy.” – he announced walking in and led the blind girl to the sofa.

Ivy was a witness to a homicide when she was 5 years old. She hid, while her family got brutally murdered.

“Do you want her to sketch the assailant?”

I looked at him wondering how a blind girl could describe, much less draw a suspect.

As she drew, the sketch became apparent.

I slowly looked up at the sergeant, but his gaze was already fixed on me.

“She lost her sight in an accident a couple of years ago.”

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Sketching Uncertainty by David Wesley Woolverton

Isabelle studied her sketch of her newly found mother. It’d felt almost unearthly to finally draw the woman who’d been a mystery for so long. The eyebrows still weren’t quite right, though. There was also too much white space beside her, demanding a sketch of the still-unknown father. She lowered the pencil to sketch how she imagined he looked, but fantasy would look wrong next to reality. She forced herself to start the circle for the face but stopped half way. In the end, she turned the semi-circle into a question mark and put down the pencil.

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Raw Draw by JulesPaige

Emma had enjoyed art classes in High School. So taking one in college seemed the right thing to do. It was after all the easels were set up and the charcoal sticks were distributed that the professor called in the model they were to sketch. This was a preliminary exercise that was not going to be graded. Any style would be accepted.

In waltzed Randy. Emma knew him from watching him practice soccer on campus. She, however, was not expecting him to disrobe… while all the students were adults. Young Emma wondered if she was the only one blushing.

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Sketches of Love by Kay Kingsley

Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain played in the background as I poured us another glass of Barolo. With a charismatic smile, he turned dinner into an art form.

All the burners were going, the fan on full blast, steam from the pots flushed his cheeks, his stripped apron danced along with him.

As he danced the moment slowed softening its edges along with the lighting and I was aware that this was an ordinary moment I would cherish forever. The next time someone would ask when was it that I knew I loved him, this moment would be it.

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Beautiful Portrait by Kerry E.B. Black

Young, beautiful, filled with a blend of self-belief and doubt, your expectations of the world dazzle you, terrify me.

I remember staring into the future at your age. I, too pictured flashing lights and red carpets, a mansion of admirers and contented philanthropy.

I suppose I’m in the future, and the artist did not sketch the lines as I imagined. Frayed edges and smudges mar success, but I see the beauty in the simple design.

From its frayed brushstrokes came you.

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A Hospital Sketch by Gordon Le Pard

‘I will bring a sketch’, he said.

The train left Bristol, maximum speed, the genius on board could command anything. But now he would be tested to the limit.

‘A hospital, prefabricated, weatherproof, well ventilated, easily heated’, designed by the time he reached London. By Bath he had the idea, by Swindon he was drawing, in London he rushed to her house, papers in hand.

“Mr Brunel”, Miss Nightingale.”

“Perfect, this is more than a sketch. When can you have them ready? The ship sails in six weeks.”

“They will be ready in five.”

They saved hundreds of lives.

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Forensic Sketch by Chelsea Owens

“You say the perpetrator was female?

“That’s right.”

“And had dark eyes?”

“Yes, and dark hair. No bangs. Not very thick. Or curly.”

“Mmm-hmmm.” *scrrritchh* “Tell me about her face shape. Would you say she had a long face, fat, skinny…?”

“Oh, not fat. Long, pale, serious.”

*shhhushh* *scrrrratch* “How about the eyes? Dark, yes -but were they large?”

“No. She had small eyes. Close together.”

“Mmmm. And, mouth? Nose? Ears?”

“Umm, very small mouth and long, thin nose. Ears -medium?”

*scrrrrtch* *scrrratch* *shhhhsh* “Hm. Ma’am?”

“Yes?”

“This looks like you.”

“Yes, well. I am my own worst enemy.”

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Who Gets In by Susan Sleggs

“I’ve never laughed so much at a sketch in my life. The make-up on St. Peter made him look 1000 years old.”

“Can you imagine some woman with big boobs actually telling him they were her reason to be invited into heaven because they were God’s gift and he would enjoy seeing them regularly? I wonder if they were real?”

“And a toilet at the gates of heaven. It didn’t even look odd sitting there or for the Queen to flush it.”

“And a royal flush beats a pair, so the Queen was granted admittance. Ya gotta love it.”

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Odd Rancher Out by D. Avery

“Why’re ya askin’ me what the ranch looks like, Kid?”

“I wanna sketch the ranch. Ain’tcha been here yer whole life? Who else should I ask?”

“Ya could ask anyone includin’ yerself, Kid. We all see it. How ya see it is how it is.”

“Huh. Reckon we all see it kinda the same. On account of it bein’ so ironic.”

“I think ya mean iconic.”

“Yeah. It’s a hoot though, ain’t it Pal? Folks from aroun’ the world can come here an’ be a buckaroo, git their old west on. Be literary oddests.”

“Artists, Kid.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.”

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Don’t Take Yer Guns Ta Town by A. Kidd

The scene an old west town, façaded building, lined dusty street, wooden sidewalks, horses tied up outside the saloon where cider flows like whiskey which flows like water. Trouble simmering like the shimmering high noon sun.

An over-eager wannabe steps out of the saloon to face the notorious Nemmy Cyss. Who would draw fastest? Whose aim would be true?

“No! Kid, what are you doin’? Yer not s’posed ta be drawin’ sixguns!”

“Well, Pal, I know it seems sketchy, but Shorty said ta draw an’ so I figgered…”

“No, read agin, Kid, yer ta sketch. With words.”

“Oh. Shoot.”

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In Line, Outta Tune by D. Avery

“This ranch is yer ranch, this ranch is my ranch, from the cookhouse griddle, ta the windswept prairie!”

“Jeez Pal, yer outta tune.”

“Wrong again, Kid, I’m in tune, in tune with this here ranch. Don’t it jist produce an’ provide! Yep, Shorty sure works fer us.”

“Works fer us? Ain’t Shorty boss?”

“Hardest workin’ boss a ranch hand could ever work for, Kid.”

“Yer right, Pal.”

“All we have ta do is play with words, an’ we don’t even Have ta do that.

“I shovel shit.”

“An’ yer full of it. Now git ta work an’ go play.”

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