Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Posts tagged 'carrot ranch'

Tag Archives: carrot ranch

July 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

He shuffles across the rubble that bridges the 2nd Street drainage system of Ripley Creek. Wisps of white locks curl from beneath a baseball cap, and his t-shirt glows as white as if he reserves a brand new one for rare occasions. Spotting this reclusive Vietnam veteran hovering in what used to be the front yard of one of his neighbors feels like a sighting an elusive Sasquatch.

He hesitates and reminds me of a moth that bobs back and forth on my back porch, seeking entrance through the glass and darting away just as quickly. Like the lapping waves of Lake Superior on a hot calm day. Shy, uncertain but reaching out. Cynthia rises from the silt-covered floor of her gutted house, speaking his name in reverent tones.

As much as I want to dash out the front door and greet this rare neighbor, I hold back, letting Cynthia guide him up the front steps. I’ve heard much about the man. Cynthia has a big heart for the elderly. He lives alone in his mother’s old house down the street. When she first moved to Ripley, a girl in the neighborhood told her that the man’s house was haunted. The lights came on after midnight.

Like many who live in seclusion, this neighbor keeps odd hours. He is the only specter in his domain. Cynthia befriended him not in person but on social media. Although only one house separates them, they chat late at night on Facebook. She’s told me how brilliant he is, knowing much about music and art. Vietnam secluded him, fenced him off from community.

It’s a kind gesture on his part that’s he’s ventured well beyond his comfort zone to see if Cynthia is okay. With last night’s rain, Ripley Creek overflowed, washing away the sandbags along Cynthia’s house. We’re filling out applications for funding and trying to find immediate resources so Cynthia can get temporarily housed. It worries me when my friend is unsure of where she is sleeping each night.

It’s also troubling to wait on the dictates of others — no one has a permanent solution for the Ripley drainage and the elephant hunkered on the hill above our community is the unstable sand escarpment that can trigger more landslides. Powers that be monitor the temporary silt mitigation, but no one knows how to work together or even if Federal funding is coming.

Another neighbor, HockyPuck because he has the personality of one, strode by earlier, bragging about how the flood got him started on his home improvement projects early. He can afford to put his family up in a hotel and start repairs without care to grants, funding or donations. I heard he was brave the night of the landslide, rescuing his wife and children. But he refuses to give me an interview because he’s too busy.

I want to say I’m not interested in his story anyway. It’s the broken fences I find more interesting. Who cares about a fence that never breaks because it has all the resources and support it needs. Capitalism forgets that while some earn a comfortable life surrounded by ornate fences, most struggle. My friend and this gentle neighbor buckle beneath worry and real-life fears.

But everyone’s story matters. When collecting the stories of an event — or even here at the Ranch, the way we collect multiple stories on a single theme — different perspectives contribute to the greater story of us all. No one is to be excluded. No perspective matters more than others. It’s not about the best but the invitation to have your story heard.

My friend is not without her support network. In fact, the fence of human hands that surround her is amazing. All these hands, reaching out, pulling up. Even the Hub showed up with his truck to build weirs and fill sandbags. A few friends did the best they could do. I returned home to finish some paperwork for Cynthia, and that’s when I opened a portal to a long-held dream.

It came via email like Elvis popping up in a chat box.

You see, the dream is old — I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Not just an archeologist, but one who traveled and adventured. Who learned in the field and archives. Who taught college and wrote books. Oh, that was the original Big Dream! I even left my hometown to study archeology for a semester. It didn’t work out.

In 1998, I graduated from college ten years after my first failed attempt. Back then, to be a career author, one had to get an MFA. I could have been a contender! Instead, I chose to be a wife and mother, and I veered from the dream and used my creative writing degree in a marketing career.

I never lost touch with my literary roots and as I gained life experience, I better understood what the Big Dream meant to me. To be Indiana Jones, I had to be open to adventure, travel, and discovery. I’m not an archeologist, but I certainly excavate stories from the layers of the past. I’m now writing, and I’ve taught workshops for years. Not exactly college, but satisfying enough.

Until now. Until the pinch-me-Elvis-sighting moment.

I’ve written here before about my presentation to 1 Million Cups. Carrot Ranch Literary Community made the evening news, and many in the room warmed to the idea of storytelling and flash fiction as a tool. Already, I’m finishing up a small but mighty gig I landed from that presentation, coaching six entrepreneurs to craft their 10-minute pitches in a series of 99-word stories. Tomorrow they test-run their speeches.

Another organization met with me after the 1MC presentation to talk about workshops — Finlandia University. I toured their facility on campus where I can use conference rooms and the large hall for public workshops. It’s great space from intimate settings to large presentations. I shared my Curricula Vitae and received an unexpected response — had I ever considered teaching adjunct?

Short answer, yes! And quickly followed by the fact that I never went on to get my MFA, let alone my Ph.D. to complete the Big Dream. However, it was suggested that my CV was robust enough to waive the masters. I felt light like a butterfly flitting among honeyed flowers. So, I looked at their need for adjuncts, of course. One stood out as perfect — a marketing course intended for high school students through a partnership with the university. I thought, why not try!

Today, I received my appointment at Finlandia University for nine months to teach the CTE Marketing course. That’s about as close as I’ll ever get to sighting Elvis! Never did I think that part of the Big Dream would happen without a different journey. It’s only 10 hours a week, all hands-on (so no homework), includes 60 hours of prep time (I get to design the course!), a budget for materials, a van for field trips, and my very own college classroom.

I’ve become Indiana Jones, after all. Carrot Ranch is my beloved field work of discovery and treasure; I have a college appointment to teach; and I continue to write novels through the stories I catch 99 words at a time.

Broken fences can be mended. Everyone’s story matters.

July 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence. You can mend it, leave it, or explain its place in a story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by July 17, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

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

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

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

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

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

“Then quit idling and get after that herd!”

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

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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!”

🥕🥕🥕

“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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

***************

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

“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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

***
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.”

***
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.”

🥕🥕🥕

June 28: Flash Fiction Challenge

My hand races across the page and I sketch the scene unfolding — Suomi dancers in blue aprons and kerchiefs over white-blond hair circle around, stepping in time to violins. To my left I’m vaguely aware of the large brick structure that once served as a high school and now classrooms to Finlandia University. Its bricks offer a backdrop of ghostly students, sons, and daughters of copper miners.

A shadow crosses my sketch, and a person asks, “Are you an artist?”

“Yes,” I answer glancing from dancers to page. I scribble a bit more, shade less, and turn the page to capture another scene.

“Can I see?”

I pause. The spell has broken, I’m now firmly aware of the rush of sights and sounds beyond the dancers. I’m at the Hancock Tori. The local farmers and craft market. A jewelry maker hawks carved stone beside me and a Calumet couple cut fresh microgreens for $3 a bag. My neighbor Cranky displays her collection of antique hand-crank sewing machines. Across the green from us, painters set up tents with scenes of Lady Lake Superior.

“Sure,” I say, handing over my sketchbook.

The man holds my raw art committed hastily to blank pages recycled from a dump on the East Coast. His eyebrows scrunch, and he shakes his head. “It’s just words,” he says.

I’m a literary artist. A writer. A novel-drafter. A publisher of weekly collections and annual anthologies. I flash, and I write for the long-haul of longer trains of words. I’m a story-teller, a story-catcher, a story-forger. I am an artist, and I sketch with words.

Years ago, in high school, I had a mentor who told me to carry sketchbooks. I had no trouble catching the wingspan of a hawk or the gurgle of a spring. Deer didn’t give me odd looks if I stared too long at their rumps or horns, figuring out how either end could feature in a tale.

But when I was among people, I felt self-conscious of observation. I didn’t enjoy thinking about the length of someone’s hair in relation to the tone of their voice. I became more adept at capturing emotions and motives than looks. I was too shy to sketch in front of other.

Now, I roll my eyes at the man’s comment and offer to read my scribblings. I really do look at people and write without looking at the page so it can be a mess of ink, jumping outside of lines, slanting and scratching out words, interjecting new ones. I clear my throat and read:

Suomi Dancing

A blonde quartet draw bows across time and strings of old-world violins. They remake the songs of midsummer in Finland. No longer homeland, home is here, Finlandia, USA.  Voices rise, the blue cross on white flag rises, the Juhannus pole rise. It’s summer solstice and young girls in blue dresses with matching kerchiefs circle around the adults from out of town and suomi-dance with joy. Around and around they skip and step. Holding hands, they dance inward and back out again. Just like celebrations back home, a thread of culture unbroken dances lively beneath a copper country sun. Hey!

He smiles. Nods. “Cool,” he says.

We’ve discussed names and what we call ourselves as writers many times before at the Ranch. Artist is the latest evolution for me because it captures the spirit of all I write and arrange, as well as my vision for Carrot Ranch as a literary art community. Artist might feel weird for some writers, but we are — words are the medium we use, it’s what we paint and sketch.

A few days ago, collecting updates from Cynthia at ground zero at Ripley village, she realized with delight that her three friends were all writers. She said earlier that day her artist-artists were with her. The poet among us frowned and said, “Wait, artist-artists? Like, we aren’t real artists?” We all laughed, knowing we weren’t being excluded.

I’m happiest sketching freely. I carry a waterproof sketchbook for trips to hunt agates. I carry several in my purse, one in my car and have a stash in my desk next to the chocolate. Sometimes I meditate, give three cleansing breaths, then sit in my own stillness and catch what is around me. I listen for stories. I stare awkwardly at people’s clothes and gestures, but if I remain quiet and calm people don’t notice the way a nuthatch ignores a birdwatcher.

Sometimes, I know someone has a good story, and after coaxing them into telling me, I boldly whip out my sketchbook and say, “I’m writing this down, and make a few notes.” I captured the story of one of the Ripley firemen that way:

From Kitten to Fish

Bill wades into the muck to grab the flopping silver steelhead. Disaster all around and he can’t bear to see this fish die, gasping in the muck. The flash flood has wiped out the spawn. Had Bill been fishing in his boat, he’d have a great catch. Today he’s in waders and his volunteer fire department t-shirt. He thinks about keeping the fish for dinner later but sees the state patrol and thinks he better wade out to the flooded creek instead. A flash of a camera and the newspaper headline cheers the firemen for rescuing kittens and fish.

He really did save a steelhead trout, and the story is sad, although I chose to give it a lighthearted tone. In reality, Bill (whose name is not Bill, but I told him he’d recognize his tale by that name) saved a large steelhead stuck in the Ripley mud. All these floods in our local creeks washed out the spawning salmon, and the smelt are done for, which may take years to recover.

Not to mention most of our beaches are closed due to sewage and e-coli. I’ve vowed to stop licking rocks when I hunt! Already I’ve developed a different way of wetting Lake Superior rocks to see their best colors and definition. I take a small bowl to the Tori with me and keep a pool of water for dipping.

Visitors to the Tori enjoy the #CarrotRanchRocks stories, and I have a set of educational rocks to teach people a bit of geology. Then I read some 99-word literary art. Two of my tent-mates are rockhounds. One is going to take me out in his Jeep, the other gifted me with his art so I could assign stories about his etchings. This community doesn’t grip me — it holds me up.

In addition to sketching, teaching rocks, reading stories and selling books at the Tori, I’ve set up several activities in literary art. Once we get dates settled, I’ll be renewing Wrangling Words at the Portage Lake District Library. I offered this literary program at other libraries, and I thoroughly enjoy working with libraries. Susan Sleggs, one of our Rough Writers, is also giving a Wrangling Words presentation to her writer’s group.

My writers retreat at the Ripley Home of Healing is on hold. My nature writing workshops might be, too because McLain is cut off. But my presentation at Fort Wilkins in Copper Harbor is still a go July 16:

Copper Country History in 99 Words, No More, No Less
Join local author Charli Mills in a presentation of her flash fiction with a focus on local history. Participants will also learn the literary art of flash fiction and get to craft one of their own, using prompts from Fort Wilkins.
If the signs align, and they seem to be heading east from west, I have a special presentation to give around a Vermont campfire. I think cider and yarns might be involved.
We write, we sketch, we evolve.
When I started Carrot Ranch, I intended to have a landing page for marketing clients. I was still freelancing for major outlets on topics of business and marketing, traveling to give workshops to community food systems to set up marketing communications and branding. Looking back, I see that as fast as the Hub was unraveling, my desire to go all literary was rising.
I freelanced until May of 2016, writing my last magazine feature: Sandpoint Magazine Summer Issue: “Dog Town.” By the close of this month, my employer of 17 years will no longer contract with me as their publications editor and writer. It seems momentous, but I’m ready for that break. My GM left last year, and only one of my former staff remain of the department I built. My closest friend from the remaining management team is also moving on, and it seems a chapter has closed.
So how do I sketch my life from this point?
My latest evolution is to return to leading workshops, which I love to do. I’ve pondered the whole “marketing and editing” issue as I don’t want clients like I’ve had in the past. I’m done with that phase of my life. When authors contact me to market their books, I politely decline. Marketing is a huge task, and it’s part of the professional development of an author. Even if you get picked up by the so-called “Big 5” you will still have to develop your own marketing strategies.
To that end, I started developing an e-zine last year, called Marketing Mavericks. If you’ve ever heard of guerilla marketing (for small budgets and time allotments), then my take is similar. It’s specifically for authors with the ambition to market and sell. I’ve narrowed my niche to strategies and branding for authorpreneurs and entrepreneurs. The e-zine will be by subscription. I’ve also started writing for my book marketing hero, Rachel Thompson. You can catch my #NaNoProMo article or read thru the #BookMarketingChat she invited me two a few weeks ago: Author Marketing Strategies.
After my pitch to 1 Million Cups last month, a local incubator for entrepreneurs from Michigan Tech University contracted with me to teach entrepreneurs how to pitch for an upcoming event. I had my first coaching session with the small group on Monday and taught them the power and shape of stories, including the hero’s journey. It’s evolving, turning over yet another new leaf.
But it doesn’t change what Carrot Ranch is all about — a safe space to play with words, to craft stories, to interact with other writers. The weekly flash fiction challenge is the base of what I do to make literary art accessible. From there, any willing writer can join the Rough Writers in an anthology project. Vol. 2 is massive and magnificent! I’m in the throes of editing all I’ve arranged. You writers continue to amaze me.
We’ll Rodeo again in October. I’ve been uncertain what to do with all our entries. When I thought it would be “no big deal” to put them into an e-book, I had no idea how many words it would turn out to be. I know writers from last year’s contest want to read the volume, and I want to use it to raise the prize purse for this year. I’m contemplating a sale on a PDF through the Ranch. I’ll keep participants and leaders posted.
I’m doing some limited developmental editing and brand work. I’ve edited some scientific papers and content for a local web developer. I’m best at the developmental stage, I’m not a copy editor, but I can recommend some. You’ll be seeing some pages and ads going up. These are directed toward clients I’m interested in securing, so don’t think there’s any expectation on you — you are who I fondly call “my writers.” You are the story-tellers, the story-catchers, the novelists, the flash fictioneers, the memoirists, the sketchers. You are who the Ranch benefits. I want to make that clear.
I want to share my vision work with you, too. Part of my work with the entrepreneurs is to craft their visions and concepts into stories and pitches. So you might recognize part of TUFF! They are crafting their visions according to a process I shared. My writing partner in the UK has also completed this process. She did it brilliantly! In two weeks, the entrepreneurs will return with their vision in 99 words, which becomes a 59-word mission statement and a 9-word tagline. You are welcome to try this, too:

A Vision of Success (99)

Writers high-fived across the string of comments, appreciating craft and creativity in their sandbox, 99 words at a time. Carrot Ranch, an imaginary place made of real people from around the globe. A tribe. Buckaroo Nation. Authors and entrepreneurs arrived too, looking to forge brands and learn how to tell stories around investor campfires. Readers found literary art in small bites palpable to a modern diet of busyness. A buckaroo wrangled the words and published collections, hosted rodeos for writers, and flashed her way to write novels about veterans, history and earth science. The vision for the future rocked.

Carrot Ranch and A Lead Buckaroo’s North Star (59)

Carrot Ranch understands that writers and entrepreneurs need safe space to explore the craft of literary art and harness the power of storytelling. Lead buckaroo, Charli Mills, gave up riding horses to write brand stories. Now she wrangles 99-word flash about history, veterans, and rocks. Flash by flash, she crafts award-winning novels, leads authors on retreat and coaches entrepreneurs.

Tagline: Making literary art accessible 99 words at a time. (9)

June 28, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a sketch or about a sketch. It can be “A Sketch of a Romance” or “The Sketch of Aunt Tillie.” Go where the prompt leads you to scribble.

Respond by July 3, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

 

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.

Not All Is Lost

When disaster slams into neighborhoods and crisis encroaches in the middle of the night, when the waters sweep away all the photo albums and fire burns the family home to ashes when nothing seems to fit including us — not all is lost.

Writers turned to what remains when all seems lost. Differeing perspectives will surprise you.

The following is based on the June 21, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “not all is lost.”

PART I (10-minute read)

Not All Is Lost… by JulesPaige

Less light after the solstice here
Only marginally though as
Summer starts with the passing of the
Solstice – here in the northern hemisphere

Loosened land added by torrential rains
Over churned mud and debris land-
Sliding, slipping and seeping while
Some were sleeping…

Love is given selflessly
Over and over – helping those
Survivors of the unexpected – to them
Salutations – living saints or angels?

Lend a hand if you can –
Over and over, anywhere, then
Somewhere far or nearer to your heart
Stop a moment – and say a prayer…

tears flood, as eyes see;
welcoming community
and all strangers too

🥕🥕🥕

Look for the Helpers by Kerry E.B. Black

Rain drenched everything, as it will during a hurricane. It flooded the storm drains and backed sewage into basements. It bubbled through foundations and drowned landscapes. People two towns over clambered onto roofs and prayed for rescue. I lent my entreaties.

In our home, sewage swept through plumbing until the basement stank of rising refuse. First the bottom stair, then the next, the landing, and still, it climbed. I didn’t know what to do. Busy emergency lines. Sirens. Panic.

Yet after the waters receded, it wasn’t FEMA that helped. It was family and friends who hauled, cleaned and sanitized.

🥕🥕🥕

Starting Over by Sascha Darlington

At 11, her daddy died, taking away the sunshine.

At 15, she destroyed her knee and her chances for a sports scholarship.

At 37, she watched her husband, who didn’t want children, leave for his pregnant, much younger assistant.

Eight years later, as muddy waters careen around the sides of her house and her bedraggled pup is tethered to her, she yells at the sky: “What the fuck do you want from me?”

“To save you to start with,” the Coastie says.

The sun peeks out. Harbinger of hope. Maybe all’s not lost.

She’s very good at starting over.

🥕🥕🥕

Lost And Found: An Argument For Caring by Geoff Le Pard

‘You’ve lost me, Morgan.’

‘I’m just saying it’s easy to be liberal if you don’t have to deal with all the crap.’

‘So helping people, caring for others you don’t know, that only counts if, what, you suffer equally?’

‘I’m saying you can’t really understand if you don’t experience something. Otherwise it’s make believe.’

‘When you broke your leg, my sympathy didn’t count?’

‘I…’

‘Helping your sister after her husband left didn’t count because I’ve never been abandoned…’

‘The schmuck… no, that’s different. I think. Give me a minute… I might have got this wrong…’

‘Not all is lost.’

🥕🥕🥕

Lost and Found by Chelsea Owens

Becky always heard housefires described poetically. Tendrils of curling smoke, for example; or, flakes of softly drifting ash. Looking around; she could only think: burned, smoky, ruined.

Clearly, most poets didn’t stand in the charred remains of their own homes.

“That’s about it, ma’am,” the fire marshal said. Becky turned to him. His eyes were red beneath a sweaty, sooty hairline. Becky managed to nod, to dismiss him and his crew. Sighing, she shuffled behind them through the detritus.

“Ouch!”

A box. Squatting amongst flakes of softly drifting ash, she uncovered her fire safe. She smiled, through her tears.

🥕🥕🥕

Down Under by Carol Keefer

The earth quaked for several minutes of hard shaking. Immediately, the floor fell from under my feet, and then something hard hit my head followed by instant unconsciousness. When I awoke, I was pinned under a file cabinet under concrete. I was hurt and gasping for air. I prayed and expected to die, but how long would death take? Then, I heard an animal sniffing nearby. The rescue dog barked, and I cried out, “Help me. Please help me.” I heard voices outside. They began to move away debris. Someone said, “Hold on. We’re going to get you out.”

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by kate @ aroused

The company hadn’t ensured that safety was paramount. So sixteen men were trapped underground. Poisonous gas was leaking so nobody could go in or out as the fresh air might trigger an explosion.

Distraught families and first response teams were anxiously waiting above ground. Children were confused not really comprehending the threat. CWA ladies were handing out cups of tea. People were trying to stay positive but the underlying tension caused tears to fall and fears to surface.

They heard a resounding crack followed by a loud heartfelt cheer … the engineers had found a way through, miners saved!

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Charli Mills

Annabel retreated from the mourners. Thirty miners, four boys, and her beloved mine captain dead. Fire erupted at level 27 and none evacuated. Men continued to drill, eager to chase the new copper load, believing the updraft would smoother the flames. Greed overcomes common sense, Annabel thought. Ripley was ambitious, a hard-worker and a smart man. He cared about the land and community, but even good men succumb to copper fever. They dug their own deaths. She left the mass funeral and wandered to the falls. Ripley was gone, but his babe grew in the swell of her belly.

🥕🥕🥕

Rock Bottom by Sherri Matthews

He hit rock bottom and I thought it was the end.

“If you keep drinking, you’ll be dead in six months,” warned the doctor.

I was wrong; he stopped, for a few months at least. Then he started again and I feared his next fall could be his last.

I wondered if spending nights hunched up in a doorway might change things, or late night rants down the telephone cursing his dear, beloved father, who he hoped would rot in hell.

It was the years in prison writing letters to his daughter that told me all was not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Anita Dawes

A burning rose lay on the hot desert sand, if not found, I would be next.

I lay there beneath the hot sun, waiting to burst into flame, the voices of the Bedouin tribe close by.

Hope still beat in my chest that someone would come looking for their daily water. Would they walk this way?

Buzzards circle overhead, waiting for a feast.

As I reach for the rose, my eyes beheld a child’s feet. All was not yet lost, she would go back to her people for help.

Much later, I would discover the child’s name was Rose…

🥕🥕🥕

A Fresh Start by Anurag Bhakhshi

As his beautiful wife opens the door, I stare longingly at the ornate interiors of his palatial mansion.

All this could have been mine, if the boy whom I’d raised as my own son had not betrayed me.

Unable to bear the loss of everything I’d held dear, I was on the verge of ending my life, when I recalled his words “Not all is lost, till you lose hope.”

And so, here I am, looking for a fresh start.

Hoping against hope that Aladdin’s wife will exchange that ‘useless old piece of junk’ for a brand new lamp.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tribute to Military Pilots (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs

An Air Force pilot friend shared: My crew and I were walking to our plane for a training run and stopped in our tracks when the base fire siren went off. We looked around and then up. Our hearts jumped into our throats when we saw a plane rushing the runway on fire. It hit with a huge explosion. We didn’t believe anyone could survive, but not all was lost, within minutes six airmen walked from the smoke. We learned the meaning of “any landing you walk away from is a good landing; some are just better than others.”

🥕🥕🥕

I’ve Got You Now by Jan Malique

I’ve got you now, hold on tight. The fall hurt, you’re bleeding. I’m so sorry you decided to take this course of action. I didn’t realise you heard, damn me for being so selfish! I didn’t need help, just acting out like a spoilt child.

I can’t hear what you’re saying. Does your throat hurt? What you must think of me. Your eyes are so sad, I can’t bear to look at them. Hold still, I’ll wipe the blood off you. Sorry, so sorry! Your beautiful wings, torn and charred. Can you ever forgive me, my dear guardian angel?

🥕🥕🥕

The Remedy by Wallie and Friend

He hadn’t wanted her to see. It was inevitable that she should. In his mind he had pictured her reaction, imagining a thousand teasing quips—“I always said you were the handsome one”—but when she came in his humor failed. He saw her shock and it brought the walls down around him.

She went straight to the bed. His heart monitor was racing, but she wrapped him in her arms, her hand soothing his broken face. He felt her kiss as he cried. Her touch was gentle, as steady as her voice.

“My angel,” she said. “My angel.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Crows Secret by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

She was losing control of her powers. Zaria woke up, hovering above the bed staring down at the rumpled sheets twisted below. She fell, landing hard on the floor. Without her magic, she was nothing. She would be banned from the witch’s council.

Zaria arose from the floor. From his perch on the windowsill, crow flapped his wings and landed on her shoulder. He whispered in her ear, “Not all is lost. I’m here to give you the gift of clairvoyance.”

The young witch grinned. She felt the veil lift. Thank you crow, I see what you are saying.”

🥕🥕🥕

That Kind Of Day by Heather Gonzalez

Today has been the worst. It started off like an ordinary Monday, but it definitely didn’t end that way.

My car wouldn’t start right away. I got to work late, but just in time for my boss to notice. If that wasn’t bad enough, they announced that we would be working this weekend.

I made it home later than usual due to the rain. I poured myself a glass of wine, put my feet up, and turned on Netflix. A large cracking sound came from outside. Everything went dark. Not all was lost. At least I still had wine.

🥕🥕🥕

Let It Go by Susan Sleggs

The cocky author had gone to the writing conference feeling he would come away with an agent; the pamphlet said he could pitch them. He listened, open minded, to the various panel discussions and realized he would have to rewrite his whole manuscript so it started and ended with a bang. He decided it wasn’t worth his time, and appreciated the writing he had done had gotten him through a rough patch in his life. All was not lost: the next time he read a book, he read for pleasure instead of learning the craft. He felt oddly free.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Creative Cul-de-sac? by Anne Goodwin

Some days I led the way and, obediently, they followed. On better days, they raced ahead and I trailed after. On bad days, I bribed and begged for their company.
Sometimes, the path unwound for miles ahead. Sometimes, each step seemed virgin territory. Sometimes, we backtracked to try from a different angle. But always moving, discovering, until they abandoned me in darkness, sour and dank, patting the walls but no sign of an exit. Stuck. Despairing. All that effort wasted.
A chink of light that, as I watch, grows. Bigger. Brighter. Braver than before, we leave the cave together.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Robbie Cheadle

She gazed at the results of the board examinations in shock. This was her final academic hurdle to qualify as a lawyer and she had failed one of the three papers. She didn’t know how she would face her family, especially her Mother who had such high hopes for her. Her Mother would say that she would never pass. She knew her Mother’s negative cast of mind.

The conversation didn’t go as she expected at all. “You can re-write the examination next year,” her Mother said with surprising positiveness. “You will definitely pass next time, all is not lost.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Different Way of Being Faithful by Paula Moyer

Jean and Bill had been divorced for 12 years when she got the call. “Your father died this morning.” Her mother’s voice, baffled.

Later that morning, she and her husband Steve flew to Oklahoma. Later that night, Bill arrived, along with the girls, Lydia and Nola. The next day, as Jean and her mother put together the funeral, they needed one more pallbearer. A quick call to Bill’s hotel room settled it: “I would be honored.”

At the cemetery, Jean watched the coffin trundling past, Steve and Bill shouldering opposite sides. After everything, she could still count on Bill.

🥕🥕🥕

Losses and Gains by D. Avery

Ilene was first to the lawn chairs, Marge huffing behind.

“I gotta sit down. Phew. Do your feet hurt?”

“Not even one of them. Marge, stop walking in your work boots. I happen to have extra left footed sneakers if you want to start there.”

“Ilene, you’re something, always joking about your leg.”

“I lost a leg, Marge, not my humor. I’m lucky I didn’t lose my life.”

“Well, let’s have a beer to celebrate. I think I lost another five pounds on that walk.”
Ilene watched her friend bend to open the cooler. “All is not lost, Marge.”

🥕🥕🥕

Believing by Allison Maruska

Infernal wailing resonates. I gulp my drink, wishing it would drown the torture.

A regular beat permeates the mood. One by one, my compatriots take their place. Some surprise me with their poise. Others…well, I need another drink.

But not all is lost. When I think my nerves and head can’t take any more, my name is called. I trudge to the center. Now, others are swigging their drinks, wondering what I’ll bring.

The beat starts, followed by a that famous piano riff. My onlookers groan as I grab the mic.

Screw those guys. I haven’t stopped believing.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tumble in Time by Bill Engleson

“Barefoot?”

“Yes, sockless. Shoeless too.”

“On a damp grassy incline?”

“That too.”

“So, quite slippery, I assume?”

“As slick as a grifter’s tongue.”

“Thanks for that. So?”

“So, why did I do it?”

“Yeah, good guess. Don’t you keep sandals by the back door?”

“Yup.”

“For stepping outside?”

“Exactly.”

“Too much trouble?”

“To slip them on? No. But they’ve seen better days.”

“So have you, it appears.”

“Never fallen like that before. Scared the bejesus out of me.”

“Nothing broke, though.”

“Dumb luck. Still, it took me two hours to crawl up.”

“Learn anything?”

“Yup. Never ever go outside.”

🥕🥕🥕

You Can’t Get There From Here by Robert Kirkendall

A city person pulled into a rural service station. “Excuse me, sir, do you know the way to Davenport?”

“Davenport?” the rustic attendant answered. “Don’t reckon I do.”

“How about Greenfield?”

The attendant pondered. “Nope, don’t know the way there either.”

“Well can you tell me the way to the nearest Interstate?”

“I suppose if you keep driving down this highway you’ll run into one, but I don’t rightly know exactly where.”

The driver became frustrated. “I must say, you don’t seem to know your way around here.”

The attendant chuckled. “Yeah, but I’m not the one who’s lost.”

🥕🥕🥕

And All Shall Be Equal Before the Law by PaperShots

So we walked on, our hands on our friends’ shoulders. We could barely see ahead. From the crowd, some shouted at us, “Where are you going?” – the kids cried. The echo below the vaults was terrifying. It rippled the filthy water! (raises his voice) “Where are you going?” The stench in the sewers was unbelievable. (a thought strikes him) And at the same time on the other side of town the defense lines had been broken through. Those neighborhoods were free. We didn’t know. Communication was so bad. We ended up in a field miles to the north. (laughter)

🥕🥕🥕

It’s a Matter of Getting Up by Miriam Hurdle

It was early December 2017, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California devoured 307,900 acres and 1,300 structures. 230,000 residents described the wildfires in the neighborhood as a war zone. Smoke stretched 1,000 miles across the Pacific.

By Christmas, residents came back to their burned home, found pieces of displaced family photos. They pinned them on a bulletin to find owners. Some put up Christmas trees, decorations to bring cheer to the neighborhood. Strangers hugged each other and shed some tears. Homes and belongings were gone. Yet not all is lost. They wanted to rebuild and be neighbors again.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Jack Schuyler

Heat wafts over the night breeze and the somber smell of wood smoke settles in the neighborhood. Two stories are no more and the once sturdy foundation is now a bed of coals. Amid the destruction, I am struck by an overwhelming wave of gratitude. Not all is lost.

With our arms around each other, we watch firemen scurry like ants over the burning wreckage. The fire dwindles and the light goes out. Sirens cease and the stars return. At the edge of the smoldering ruins, we embrace in the bittersweet spirit of, “at least I didn’t lose you.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Flower Called Hope by Di @ penitivity101

The land lies barren and dry,
Drought is a killer.
Crop fields harvest dust,
Bairns cry in hunger.
The heat shows no mercy,
Hands blistered and sore
Toil endlessly
Until the blood flows.
Animals have deserted
This once bountiful place,
The bones of the unfortunate
Bleach in the relentless sun.
Bowls and vats lie hollow,
Their meagre contents
Rationed rather than shared.
Their days are numbered,
Maybe only single figures.
A tear falls from the sky,
One becomes many
And a lone flower dares
To raise its head.
All is not lost:
Clouds are gathering,
And with them,
Rain.

🥕🥕🥕

Hope by Kay Kingsley

“Not all is lost” he says in a protective, loving voice.

She shakes her head, trapped in an internal conversation between good and bad, like refereeing a match between reality and remaining positive. She chuckles at the absurdity.

What he means to say is ‘All hope is not lost’. You can lose everything but it’s only hope that rescues the lost, only hope brings you back, only hope paves the way through the darkness ahead.

The irony of her name is not lost on her. You have to lose it to find it but she’s been Hope all along.

🥕🥕🥕

Not the End of the World by Norah Colvin

Ever have one of those days? You know—it seems the world is against you, and everything you do goes wrong. Maybe you oversleep and in your rush, you fumble, make mistakes and get even later. You hurry to the stop as your bus pulls away. You flop down reviewing life’s punishments, and some jackass walks by telling you to “Smile, it’s not the end of the world.” What would he know? You open your phone and scroll: trivial drivel. Then this one story blows your insignificancies away. You phone your appointment, apologise and reschedule. All is not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

Stand and Deliver! by Juliet Nubel

‘Gimme your bag!’

She almost laughed at her friend’s attempt at the local thick accent until she felt the hard pull on her shoulder.

He wore a strange trilby hat pulled low onto his forehead and had tied a bandana scarf around his face. All she could see was the shining whites of his eyes and the gun pointing in her direction. Real or a toy? She didn’t want to know.

She handed over the bag. Keys, credit cards, telephone would now belong to this stranger.

But she held onto the gold locket around her neck. And her life.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Sarah Whiley

The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison.

Too scared to move, she realised she was holding her breath.

A single shot echoed off the bricks, shattering clay at her feet.

The shooter had found them.

She couldn’t believe this was happening. This was her high school, not the six o’clock news!

She felt something wet and realised she had peed her pants. She watched the yellow trickle out until two black boots stopped it short.

She squeezed her eyes shut and waited.

The click of an empty chamber told her, not all was lost after all.

🥕🥕🥕

Comic Relief by FloridaBorne

My mind in fog, the car wandered through a mall parking lot the day after New Year’s. A few empty spaces waited near an expensive store and I walked past a perfume counter with one goal.

I needed a black dress.

Passing the cosmetics counter, I hear wailing. No one scrambling to call 911, no sirens, just 2 high school girls consoling their friend over a broken nail.

I laughed at the irony. Should I tell the 3 Stooges, “Not all is lost?”

No. It was the first time I’d felt like smiling since my husband had passed away.

🥕🥕🥕

Signposts by Saifun Hassam

In the garden, Lisa grieved for Aunt Veronica, an artist and illustrator of all things botanical. Lisa’s own interest in archaeology was sparked on a family vacation with Veronica, to see prehistoric rock and cave paintings in Brazil. Not all is lost.

Veronica swiftly sketched the cave artwork, and the prehistoric villages. Lisa caught her aunt’s excitement. She learned how to glean the stories of people, to look for ancient and prehistoric signposts, when there are no written records.

Lisa inherited Veronica’s Library. Not all is lost. Veronica’s generous gift filled her with a deep abiding sense of gratitude.

🥕🥕🥕

Disaster Strikes by Teresa Grabs

Even when times looked their darkest, everyone could count of the sun to rise, and drive away the night and its memories. No one would ever believe that the sun would not rise, but that is exactly what happened on June 28, 3258. Reports indicated a massive black hole developed behind the sun and devoured it, just like one had to Jupiter three years earlier. We had less than twenty-four hours to get off this planet before we all perished. Thankfully though, our global distress signal was intercepted by the Third Intergalactic Fleet. I wonder if they eat humans.

🥕🥕🥕

Grant Gain by JulesPaige

Gather together, permit others
As they offer their aide
In your heart of hearts, fear not – forbid
Nightmares their tight grasp upon reality

Golden opportunities await
Angels in plain clothes to host
Individuals, families – some will
Need less others more…

Grant those who come as a visitor
An opportunity to become family
Include them as repairs begin –
Not all is lost…

healing can take years –
fears ebb and flow like water
mud can cloud good hope

let those in who filter out
dark diteris and debris

focus on mending
both that which is solid as
well as what’s unseen

🥕🥕🥕

Reality Check by D. Avery

“Pal, buy me a beer.”

“Cain’t Kid, spent ma beer money on the Go Fund Me fer Cynthia Riley.”

“Same here, Pal.”

“That’s good, Kid, ‘cause them folks up there really need ta dry out.”

“Whyn’t they jist come shelter here at the Ranch?”

“Ah, Kid, the Ranch is a wonnerful shelterin’ place, but yer always fergittin’ ‘bout the virtual elements of it.”

“Here ya go agin, Pal, havin’ ta remind me we’s fictional characters. But I really wanna help.”

“I’m sure the Rileys ‘preciate you givin’ up yer beer money, Kid.”

“I’m thirsty.”

“Could be worse.”

“Dang right.”

🥕🥕🥕

Ripley House of Healing (For Cynthia) by Charli MIlls

After the river subsided and rubble settled, Cynthia found a photo of her daughter at age nine lying face-down in red mud. Memories flood like the main floor of her 112-year-old home. She came to Copper Country to help the elderly. As a young intern, she worked out of a house below now buried in a debris field. She stayed, married, raised a family, and raised her voice to protect the vulnerable. She looks up at the house still standing, gutted of walls and floors. She stands up for her Ripley House of Healing. Her story is not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

You can help Cynthia Drake who had a Copper Country mountain slide into her house and force a river to reroute through her Ripley Home of Healing where Carrot Ranch was to host writing retreats. GoFundMe: Help the Drakes.

June 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

It’s winter, and we’re hiking across snow to the falls. Boots tramp over a trail hardpacked by daily visits. Bare limbs reveal the hillside, bereft of the cover leaves afford the trail in summer. There’s something about the barrenness of winter that strips our souls. In a way, it’s a time to use this vulnerability to heal. We are open.

I shuffle my snowboots in single file with a group of chatting and giggling women. I smile because we were supposed to walk mindfully. But that does not mean silently, right? We’re here to heal at the Ripley Falls. In this glorious mindful moment, my world is white, the snow muffling my steps and sharpening my sense of connection.

Clear waters gurgle over billion-year old bedrock. At the falls I let go. Down, down, down, I drop, falling over backward, this moment captured in a snowglobe somebody has bought and shelved on a mantle in a universe far away — look, you shake up the globe, and the women at the falls fall over. 

We fuss over falling. We don’t even want to trip. It smudges our knees, tarnishes our shoes. Falling means we failed. Falling means we didn’t do it right. Falling carries such societal shame that many people spend a lifetime making certain they don’t ever fall. Lose weight, take a pill, regrow lost hair, make more money, and whatever you do don’t fall from grace.

Falling is not as hard as we think it will be.

I let go, fall backward and the snow catches me. I’ve fallen, so what do I do? I laugh, feel the cold against the back of my wool coat, ignoring the sting of snow that creeps into my mittens, and I fling both arms wide. I make a snow angel. And all around me, I hear the water churn gently over rocks and the sound of other women falling.

No, falling isn’t as hard as they tell us it will be. It’s the getting back up that’s a bear. The struggling, slipping, falling again. A hand followed by another reach down and with help, I regain my feet. Alone, I might have floundered. Falling, if it has a core lesson, teaches us that it’s easy to do, and hard to recover from unless we have help.

That winter hike to Ripley Falls will etch itself in my memory box. It was the conclusion of a retreat at the Ripley House of Healing owned by my friend Cynthia May Drake. She helps veterans, their families, women in transition, and anyone coping with grief and loss. The women who gathered that day I now also count as friends. We’ve seen each other many time since and I always recognize their hands.

I’ve attended several workshops and many Magnificent Mondays with Cynthia. She honors my literary art and welcomes me to share it during these gatherings. That day, after the winter retreat, I asked if I could use her beautiful home to host a writing workshop. She agreed, and we’ve been dancing around a date. Last Tuesday, I met with her on her porch, surrounded by all her rocks and books and peace, we shared coffee and dreams.

As I always do when I leave the Ripley House of Healing, I make a vow to go tent camping. Cynthia sleeps in her tent outside in her backyard near her sauna. Most people up here in Copper Country follow the Finnish tradition and have a sauna. Ours is downstairs in the basement. But Cynthia is the only person I know who sleeps with heated corn sacks to stay warm in her tent. Because she and her dog Monty even sleep outside in the snow.

But, hey, it’s summer (or that moment-savoring time of winter’s coming).

On Saturday, June 16, I comforted Jasper, our thunder-stressed dog because the city of Houghton celebrated Bridge Fest with full artillery. As the final fireworks blasted, I promised Jasper it was over. He might not understand why a community celebrates a bridge, but to us it’s connection.

The Houghton Bridge is the only one that connects the Keweenaw Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula. It crosses Portage Canal which is a waterway that bisects land, connecting one side of Lake Superior to the other. People have mined copper on the Keweenaw for over 10,000 years. Industrial mining came to the area in the late 1830s. Later, the mines created chutes from the top of the mountain to the Portage Canal below to stamp and deliver copper by way of boats.

Ghost towns and abandoned mines scattered across the Copper Country. Cynthia’s Ripley Falls was once an engineered chute, part of the mining. Her house was built 112 years ago, and since that time, Ripley Falls has followed the course laid out for it. A ski resort now spans across Mont Ripley, to the west of her place. Humans have tinkered with the environment heavily in this region, but nature quickly reclaims what was let go.

Nature also follows her own course.

After Jasper calmed down on Saturday night, I heard thunder off in the distance. I groaned as I walked up the stairs, knowing it would be a long night for the dog. I had no idea it would be a night of terror for my community. Several times thunder woke me up, and several times I fell back asleep. Morning dawned, and nothing seemed amiss. Until I saw the social media posts from Cynthia.

All that rubble you see was part of the ski slope above the falls. In a few hours, the thunderstorm stalled over the lower Keweenaw and dumped 7 inches of rain. Cynthia, who usually sleeps where a mountain slammed into her house, slept inside that night. She and her daughter woke up when her refrigerator tumbled over. Water filled her stairwell to the bedrooms on the second floor and pushed against their doors in a torrent, preventing escape.

Cynthia writes:

“Drive to be alive: I am alive because I was saved by my 15 year old from certain death in my beloved tent on a night that produced 7” of rain in two hours and a mudslide from an unstable ski hill which slammed against my home burying my yard in 5-6 feet of rubble and muck.

I am alive because a first responder and my dear neighbors called for help to rescue my Samantha, my wee pup and I from a home where the flood waters were coming up the stairs from the first floor and keeping the doors shut from the inside.

I am alive because a community of neighbors, friends and strangers have poured by the 100’s to my homeplace, to dig through rubble and muck, to lift out treasured photos and sweet memories, to hose down, to kneel and pull out wet insulation from walls, to rip up 112 year old mint condition but wet hard wood floors, to hand pick and haul out sharp rocks from a ski hill burying cars and saunas and garages.

I am alive because blessed members if our Ojibwe people came to honor the waters who flow and give us life when we respect the earth and her ways and death and destruction when we forget and are greedy.

I am alive with the love of all whom I have witnessed the past days of endless work and give themselves selflesssly to it. And I mean all of you, with thoughts, prayers, financial help, phone calls, ideas, hard labor, food, well wishes. All if this is what we live for. Our purpose in life is to serve one another and create a community of bonds so tight that nothing can divide us because we are bonded in love.

One scene I will remember forever was last night on the cusp of Solstice as our days here have daylight until well past 10, I was standing by my beloved and broken sauna, waiting for my girlfriend SD to find the correct drill bit for a bit of sweet salvage, I looked over the scene around me. This is what I saw: beloved neighbors talking with selfless helpers and eating something finally as they gazed over tge work of some long days, people still digging and puzzling in the waterway, laughter ringing, dogs barking, a moon rising… and I was so pleased, so happy, so fulfilled. This is life, this is who we are capable of being. This is who we are. It was such a beautiful scene. It is our new reality. Blessed be.”

Not all is lost when we fall.

Those hands reach down to shovel muck with us, to pull us into a hug, push us to rip out our own walls because it’s necessary for survival. Hands join our hands, and together we move all the rubble bucket by bucket from our fallen environment. Hands do their part — some pack, some organize, some bless, and some write. Not all is lost when a community joins hands to lift the fallen.

I’ve witnessed amazing acts of perseverance in this community. The Red Cross and government officials lagged behind our local efforts to help friends and neighbors. Our efforts are slowing down because we’ve ripped out all the water-logged walls, salvaged 112-year-old trim, firehosed a basement after cleaning it out by hand, and treated interior framework with sprays to prevent mold.

If you are moved to help Cynthia, we do not yet know if her house can be saved, but we’ve set up a fund for her: GoFundMe.

We. Because falling takes others to rise. Just as we are a community of writers, we are the ones to extend the hands up.

June 21, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “not all is lost.” It can include recovery from disaster, an unexpected insight after a fall, or however the phrase moves you. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by June 26, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

 

Not All is Lost by Charli Mills

Annabel retreated from the mourners. Thirty miners, four boys, and her beloved mine captain dead. Fire erupted at level 27 and none evacuated. Men continued to drill, eager to chase the new copper load, believing the updraft would smoother the flames. Greed overcomes common sense, Annabel thought. Ripley was ambitious, a hard-worker and a smart man. He cared about the land and community, but even good men succumb to copper fever. They dug their own deaths. She left the mass funeral and wandered to the falls. Ripley was gone, but his babe grew in the swell of her belly.

Bouquets

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

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

A Bouquet of Tears by Sherri Matthews

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

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

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

But it cannot be.

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

***

For Mark, dear brother. ❤

🥕🥕🥕

Hope Beneath the Loss by Ruchira Khanna

“Hi, Pink Carnations!”

“Hi, Chrysanthemums!”

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Precious Spring by Saifun Hassam

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bundled Batch by JulesPaige

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Wild Blooms by D. Avery

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

 

wild blooms, household jarred

bear witness at the table

everyone belongs

🥕🥕🥕

Tale for a Winter’s Night by Liz Husebye Hartmann

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

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

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

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

She loved chili.

🥕🥕🥕

New Bouquets at Cheever’s by Paula Moyer

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Sundown Stroll by Chelsea Owens

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by the darknetizen

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Robbie Cheadle

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Complexity by Reena Saxena

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

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

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

“And what would interest you?”

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

🥕🥕🥕

Finally Blooming by Frank Hubeny

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

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

That winter Alice died.

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

🥕🥕🥕

Summer Posies by Colleen Chesebro, The Fairy Whisperer

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

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

My summer posies—

awash with an early dew

standing sentinel.

A gift of fertility,

honoring the summer sun.

🥕🥕🥕

Flower Power by kate @ aroused

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Simple, Humble Things by Kerry E.B. Black

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Posey Mosey by Bill Engleson

He thinks, “I could do better.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Red Roses by Wallie and Friend

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Farewell Flowers by Anne Goodwin

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet Business by Miriam Hurdle

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Smart Home by H.R.R. Gorman

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

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

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

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

He stepped back. “It wasn’t me.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquets by Susan Sleggs

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

“Your birthday.”

“That’s next week.”

“We know. Surprise!”

“I’m going to cry.”

“Not allowed. Open the wine instead.”

“How did you get wine?”

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

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

“Really?”

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Wedding Bouquet by Hugh W. Roberts

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

With Love by Di @ Pensitivity101

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

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

‘From the garden’ she announced proudly.

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

Mr Robbins looked over at me and smiled sadly.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Love’s Bouquet by Kay Kingsley

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Special Bouquet by Norah Colvin

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Death By Roses by Sarah Whiley

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

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

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

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

“Just a hunch! Glad you like it.”

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

Feeling pleased, she didn’t notice at first.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Love & Betrayal by Anurag Bakhshi

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bitter Bouquet by Mardra Sikora

Dried petals and stems standing in clouded water greeted him.

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Bouquet by Jack Schuyler

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Deborah Lee

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

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

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

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

“A pungency.”

“A stench!” Jane squeals, giddy.

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

‘Morgan, they’re young, they…’

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

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

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

‘You use them to contrafabulate the listener.’

‘You made that up.’

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

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

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

‘Shut up, Logan.’

🥕🥕🥕

Catch Me If You Can by Juliet Nubel

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

[misled] by Deb Whittam

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

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Offering To The Land by Jan Malique

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by FloridaBorne

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

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

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

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

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

He’d learn to hate child support more.

🥕🥕🥕

Hi Noon at the Bouquet Corral by D. Avery

“Pal! Where’s Shorty at?”

“Whoa, Kid, what’s wrong?”

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

“So?”

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

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

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

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

“What?”

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

June 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

White hedgerow roses bloom on the corner of Ethel and Roberts Streets. With each pass, I wonder at their fragrance and details — are they white or tinged with a subtle color the way prehnite covers a gray rock of basalt with a sea-green glow when wet?

I’m breathing deep of the crisp air and watering my daughter’s garden which rises and blooms with purpose. She’s planted alternating heights, textures, and colors, timing the blooms, so there are buds to watch when spent petals fade and drop. It rarely gets hot in the Keweenaw, but if it doesn’t often rain the sandy soil quickly dries.

My 85-year-old neighbor, Mrs. H, watches me water the flagging yellow lilies and explosion of purple allium. I’m curious about a thicker and bigger bulb that’s not yet ready to reveal it’s color. It continues to grow, and its bud reminds me of a green coxcomb. I smile and wave to Mrs. H. She returns the smile and walks over to me.

“Winter’s coming, hey,” she says.

At first, I think she’s alluding to the nip in the near-summer air or the smear of gray rainless clouds overhead. But she means something more — when you live in a remote region with Lake Superior’s micro-climate that dumps an average of 300 inches of snow a year, you have winter and preparing for winter.

Winter’s coming, hey. It’s more profound than planning for next round of snow. It has to do with seizing the moment, savoring the bounce of bumble-bees, and seeking agates under every rock on McLain Beach. The time is now. Stop and smell the roses for winter is coming and you need to populate your senses with a full bouquet.

Watering, I know each bloom will pass so I’m mindful of each moment — gauging its height, noting changes in shapes, and admiring deepening shades of hues. I’m more attentive to the differences. I let Mrs. H know I’ve noticed her hedgerow flowers blooming. Her light blue eyes widen.

“They must have just bloomed,” she says.

Daily, Mrs. H circles her property. She pauses at the forget-me-knots and points to the Columbine. No matter where she walks, tiny white English daisies carpet all our lawns on the block. At night, the flowers tighten and reveal a hot-pink undercoat. I remark that I’ve never lived in a place like this where flowers bloom from snowmelt to snowfall.

Mrs. H nods and says people never had lawns. Everyone had flowers! What I see all around me when I walk the neighborhood or woods where farms and houses once stood during the mining heydays reflects abandoned yards of flowers. Historically, this amazes me the same way old stone foundations do — someone once lived here.

I turn the spray to the phlox to water this brilliant scrub of bubblegum-pink flowers. Mrs. H tells me phlox are her favorite. Her grandmother’s yard was full of phlox. I try to imagine the lawns gone and replaced with clumps of phlox and daisies. I can even see Mrs. H as a little girl trailing behind her grandmother.

These flashes of images come to me like a bouquet of emotion. I pick out each flower, each feeling to capture the scene. Often a story begins in sensory distortion until I can define what it is about. I’ll file away such scenes in my mind’s cabinet box and when I’m writing fiction, access it to use its color, scent, and feel. This is part of filling the well, catching stories for later use, like collecting herbals for dyes and healing teas.

Mrs. H leaves me to water, and I mull over the paperwork for the Hub and think of how healing this garden will be for my daughter when she returns home from surgery at the Mayo. A part of my whirring mind urges me to quit dallying around — so much to do, so behind, so much worry, so many unknowns. That’s like anticipating snow shoveling instead of experiencing how big the begonia buds are today.

Winter’s coming, hey. I’ll fill my mind with petunias and possibilities before returning to the tasks and trade. I’ll focus on what I love about literary art and branding and community and serendipity. I’ll chase down flowers in the woods and rocks on the beach. I’ll catch all the stories I can and finish the ones I can tame.

Before I go inside, Mrs. H returns with white hedgerow roses and blue forget-me-nots clasped in her thin and papery hand. She shares with me the day’s bounty. We meet in this moment, and time spins around us — she is at once a girl and a wise woman to me. She’s ageless as she passes the gift. One her grandmother once bestowed upon her.

June 14, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning of the word or gather a bunch of flowers. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by June 19, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

NOTE: If you have trouble with the form, email me at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

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

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

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

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

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

June 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

It’s black as a mineshaft outside and somthing thuds and scratches at the window. I suspect a bat is feeding on insects drawn to the light I’m still burning. Try as I might to see the nocturnal creatures, I can only discern the sound.

In a way, there’s comfort in knowing I’m not up alone while the rest of the house slumbers. One dog kicks in his sleep, another snores and the cat nose-whistles. The third dog is silent like a youthful sleeper.

None wait up to catch a glimpse of bats with me.

I wonder if the mythology of security, the tale we believe that we can conquer change — look younger! erase wrinkles! defy gravity and time! — is why changes unnerve people. Are we all unnerved or do we each have our own tender spots?

When I was still in my 20s, but mum to three active toddlers, I grew excited to show them the monkey bars on the playground. We had recently moved from a logging town in central Montana to a small town halfway between Helena and Butte. Out west, it seems, we always lived in the shadow of mining country.

This new town had a small school with a playground, and our new place was a walk away. The monkey bars were just like the ones I used to do cherry drops from as a fifth-grader. From a seated position, I’d drop between the bars and swing upside down.

I had no intention of teaching my five, four and two-year-old such a thing, but I wanted to show off my prowess in skipping bars. I swung out from the first bar, skipped the second and while reaching for the third, I crashed to the ground.

My one arm protested that I was no longer a school girl and I sat dazed wondering how I could be so changed at such a young age yet. My children swarmed me like puppies do when you sit among a litter and soon I was giggling and telling them not to skip bars like mumsie.

Life is a series of accidents, happy or not. We do our best to steer the course, stay on track, but changes happen, and we have to set new courses or change our ways to accommodate a loss of strength, memory, or status. Change can be frightening.

And yet — some embrace changes as if that is the answer. Why wait for wrinkles when you can bask in the sun and paddle a board to get them early? Why wear what your father did when you can adopt something more like what your mother wore? Change also offers new experiences.

Last Friday, as I stood in the shadows, watching a pack of warrior women dance their myths out, stomp them into the ground and claim their power through movement and music, I noticed some of the men, too. It all began with glitter that evening.

As part of the show, reading my set of flash fiction to introduce each dance, I went to the studio with the dancers and read over my stories while they donned stage make-up. For the uninitiated, stage makeup looks daunting. It’s dark, heavy and not attractive close-up. But on stage, it catches the right contours and colors.

The ritual includes glitter. Lots of it — purple glitter, green glitter, silver glitter and gold glitter. My daughter smeared white glitter across my eyes, and I felt dancified. It was electrifying to wear the glitter. A man walked in — my SIL and the show’s MC and all heads turned. Glitter?

Solar Man is not one to fear change. He’s not threatened by a pack of dancers slinking toward him with wands of glitter poised. They all eyed his beard. He rubbed it, stroked his red tie, touched each cufflink and declared he’d only wear gold glitter in his beard. The moment passed — of all the colors, no one had gold with them.

We traveled to the performance venue and secured the dressing room. And lo and behold, a warrior found gold glitter. Soon the cameraman expressed interest and he be-glittered his blond beard. What happened next made me chuckle all evening. Other men took offense! The crowd accepted warrior women, but man glisten? No way!

Like twittering stereotypical old wives, the men chastized the glitter beards, stating it would cause regret, that the glitter would never disappear. At that comment, the scientists in the group acknowledged that glitter does not ever break down fully and pollutes the Great Lakes with other micro-plastics.

However, it did not discourage the newborn pride of glitter beards.

Bats hunt bugs, and likely always will. But men will evolve and accept the softer side of themselves.

June 7, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about man glisten. It was a fun term coined by two men with glitter in their beards. What more could it embrace? Look to the unexpected and embrace a playful approach. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by June 12, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

Photo credit Robin Mueller 2018

Masks of Man Glisten by Charli Mills

Deep in the shafts of Mohawk Mine, men pounded steel to separate native copper from white quartz. Candlelight from helmets of miners caught flickers of dust. Mohawkite glittered in dim beams. At the end of shift, the men piled onto trams, hoisted back to daylight of long summer evenings and clean women waiting with baskets of fried chicken and Chassell Farm strawberries. Daughters and sons skipped to their dads, uncertain which belonged to them. Tired, blinking in the bright sun, masks of man glisten mined below the level of hell made them look alike.

Sparkle, sparkle hard rock miners.

Warrior Women

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Rancha Mythica by D. Avery

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

War Zone by Mirium Hurdle

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

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

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

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

“Right over, Ursula.”

“The blood is gushing out from his chest.”

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

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

“Clear up all the tables.”

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

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

“Sheila, over there.”

“Captain needs a blood transfusion.”

“I’ll be there.”

🥕🥕🥕

Black ‘n’ White by Neel Anil Panicker

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

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

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

His mother’s words ringed her ears.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Urban Encounter by Bill Engleson

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

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

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

“What’s ya lookin’ at, Creepo?”

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

Sadly, my tongue was tied.

I just skedaddled.

🥕🥕🥕

Mama Bear Unleashed by Eric Pone

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Michael Grogan

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warriors of the Dark by Reena Saxeena

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

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

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

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

the jury out there
delivered verdicts
to encase me in moulds

dark, interfering shadows
swooped to enslave,
control my life

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Warrior Women of Ireland by Anne Goodwin

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Robbie Cheadle!

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Warrior by Teresa Grabs

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Revising by D. Avery

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

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

“You’re a cowgirl?”

“No, I’m an Indian.”

“A lovely maiden out for a ride!”

“No, Granpa! I’m a warrior!”

“A warrior princess.”

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

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

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

She galloped off.

Maybe he should call next door, warn Tommy.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Sarah Whiley

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

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

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

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

“Down and ready.”

“Are you ready?”

“Attention.”

Paddles entered the water as the siren blared.

We were warrior women, in our dragonboat.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Nicole Grant

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

🥕🥕🥕

Not Time: by The Dark Netizen

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

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

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

NO!

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

My time has not come!

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Woman by Deborah Lee

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

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

No.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Gertrude the Invincible by Norah Colvin

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

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

“I am in-vinc-i-ble!”

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Taking a Stand by Wallie and Friend

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Line by galaxygirl_89

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

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

The Present by Papershots

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

🥕🥕🥕

Mom by Faith A. Colburn

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Chelsea Owens

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

Two thousand feet nervously stamp the earth.

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

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

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

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

“Our mothers.”

🥕🥕🥕

Wounded Warrior by D. Avery

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

Together they’d built a secret fort.

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

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

Somehow the game had changed.

She wondered if he also missed their friendship.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Floridaborne

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

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

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

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

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

Linda, however, fainted.

🥕🥕🥕

Escaping Leap by Jo

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior, Warrior by Peregrine Arc

“You’re too fat.”

“You’re too skinny.”

“You should stay at home.”

“You should volunteer again.”

“That’s not organic?”

“Why are you breastfeeding in public?”

“That skirt is too short.”

“That blouse is too modest.”

“Boys will be boys.”

“Men will be men.”

“Be quiet.”

“Speak up.”

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

Men may carry clubs, but women carry poison.

🥕🥕🥕

Worth the Frostbite by Kerry E.B. Black

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Avid Reader by kate @ aroused

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Fighting The Invisible Enemy by Geoff Le Pard

‘How are you, Morgan?’

‘At a loss, Logan.’

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

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

‘She’s not giving up, is she?’

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

‘What they saying?’

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

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

‘It sucks, mate.’

🥕🥕🥕

Champion Challenge by JulesPaige

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Brotherhood of Iron by Telling Stories Together

“Again,” said the monk.

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Easy Pickings by Di @ pensitivity101

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

United, They Win by Aweni

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Who’s Gettin’ Schooled? by Liz Husebye Hartmann

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

But Still Single? by Roger Shipp

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Mystery Solved by Molly Stevens

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

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

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

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

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

Ruth flashed him a wide grin.

🥕🥕🥕

Wanda by Frank Hubeny

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

“Morning, Silvia.”

“I want a real waitress serving me.”

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

“She’s just standing there.”

“How about some pancakes?”

“Are they gluten-free?”

“You know they’re not.”

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

“Ever run with wolves?”

“What?”

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

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

She threw down the quilt and rose from bed.

🥕🥕🥕

Independence Day by Anne Goodwin

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Wonder Of A Woman by D. K. Cantabile

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

It Takes a Warrior by Susan Sleggs

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior by The Memory Cellar

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕