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Contradictions

Contradictions can provide the kind of contrasts that push us to consider the connections between opposing ideas. Creativity often flares brightest in divergent pairings. Hard rocks and marshmallows, caskets and baby blankets, love and destruction.

Writers got to play and formulate their own contradictions for their stories, creating surprising results.

The following is based on the May 28, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using two words that contradict.

PART I (10-minute read)

Moon Dust and Boat Wood by Charli Mills

Two young star-gazers giggle, floating on boat wood lashed into a stationary raft. Papa salvaged the lumber from a shipwreck on the beach, tethered it to the edge of the pond. On his one night off, he’d settle with them, tracing stars in the sky. A full lunar light beams overhead, dimming the Milky Way and illuminating the rock house that towers above the miners’ homes and woods. The girls wait for Papa to emerge from the trail to the mines, repeating constellations he taught them. They open their mouths to moon dust floating downward. It tastes like copper.

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A Stiff Breeze by T. Marie Bertineau

She woke to bright sun, an impish nip in the air, treetops bursting lush and lime. It was like any modest spring day—except for the wind. Oh, the wind! Flags whipped, chimes clanged. Hanging baskets clutching tender blossom caps leaned into the stiff breeze. The wind had come on hard that morning. Unrelenting, bellowing like a bitter newsboy. It blew in gusts of mayhem, carried a current of grisly headlines: untimely death, social injustice, violence in the streets, manipulative factions mucking up the cause. It blew in everything—everything but what was needed most in that moment: peace.

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Opposites Attract? by Sascha Darlington

“Doomed!” Old Lady Hennessy declared.

“Doomed!” agreed the other quilting club ladies.

Russell was the town bad boy. I was the town good girl.

He started a rock band. A rock band in Little Falls? Scandalous. We’re bluegrass true!

I was destined to be the librarian. Finger upon my lips: shush!

But you can’t control who you fall in love with. Maybe it’s pheromones. Maybe it’s his sky eyes. Maybe it’s the song he sang round midnight while meteorites zipped across the sky.

Russel and me? We’re opposites. Do opposites attract?

I’ll let you know. After one more kiss.

🥕🥕🥕

Contradictions by FloridaBorne

He loved listening to the solitude; birds singing, the way a breeze felt as it whispered through pine needles.

Thirty years of peace, broken to pieces in seconds by one new neighbor.

A mile down the road, music for the tone deaf, often referred to as Rap, blasted into the night, stopping at 22:00 hours.

He’d asked the family to please respect their neighbors. Their response? “Stupid redneck! Get off my property.”

“As you wish,” former Master Sergeant Murphy had replied.

Under a full moon, he wandered through the woods carrying a sniper’s rifle. Tonight, the misery would end.

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Contradictions by Liz McGinty

His body language speaks frustration. He kicks his leg incessantly against the table leg as his fingers twitch a rhythm on a cigarette paper packet.

I am frustrated, with the sound of my voice as I ask the endless questions in a monotone. Invasive, unending details to complete his claim.

His answers become aggressive, and my heartbeat quickens. The booth fills with hostility. He curses me. My shoulders ache with the weight of compliance. I glance at the zero-tolerance poster, he smiles perceptively.

An appreciation passes between us. We begin again.

We shake hands.

He leaves.

I cry.

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Love and Destruction by Joanne Fisher

It began with astronomers noticing a group of objects heading towards our planet, and then a message came: “Humans, we come in peace. We love you. We care for you so much.”

The entire world was amazed. We were not alone, and now they were coming. Their fleet of sleek silvers spaceships approached.

The next day all major cities were incinerated in nuclear explosions. The aliens said: “We come in peace. We love you.”

The remnants of humanity were put into camps and slowly our numbers dwindled away. “We come in peace. We love you,” the aliens told us.

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Water and Stone by Saifun Hassam

Torrential rain poured through myriads of tiny cracks of the ancient caverns. The deathly silence of ancient stone tombs fled the living rising waters. Small pebbles by the thousands crashed into writhing and roaring waters. Caves melted into rivers of mud and silt under a sky chaotic with lightning and deafening thunderclaps.

The storm weakened, the raging waters slithered to a calm against rocks and boulders in ravines. Shards of tombs and bones lay buried under mounds of drying mud. In another time, flash floods would roil through dry gorges and ravines. Water would again unearth those ancient stones.

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Storm’s Eye by Cara Stefano

Floating, blissful, beneath the waves
All is calm and clear and blue.
Bright fish dart and school around me
The scintillating silence wraps me in a soft cocoon of beauty.
Sea anemones and water grasses wave hello as I glide by
Flippers slowly propel me through these magic gardens.
A shadow passes over head, and then another, many more
I am no longer alone in the eye of the storm.
Thrashing fins and flippers; flashing spear point teeth
Binding, cutting nets of plastic poison engulf my body.
Peace and Violence side by side – always

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Contradictions by Rachel McBride

She remembered the taste of strawberry slushy, and still ordered them to this day. Some had dripped on her tank top, but she didn’t move to clean it off-entranced by the fireworks going off over the pier. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM resounded in her chest, beating her pounding heart like a charioteer spurring the horses to run faster. BOOM-like her heart when she wiped the blood off her cheek. BOOM-like the last slam of the storm door. BOOM-like her phone hurtling out the window and bouncing apart on the pavement. She chewed through the straw, feeling fireworks in her blood.

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Caskets Verses Baby Blanket by Susan Sleggs

Tessa caught the look on Michael’s face when he opened the package. She commented, “My son thought you would like a U.S. flag flying out front. Was he wrong?”

“I’m sorry. The flag reminds me of the number of draped caskets I’ve escorted and the families who paid the price.” Tears formed. He let her see them. “Now that soft baby blanket you are knitting gives me hope and helps me focus on the future.”

“I’ll explain to Brent and we’ll pass the flag to my parents. Theirs is quite faded.”

“Thank you, for understanding and backing me up.”

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Minimized Identity by Reena Saxena

silver moonlight hits hard rocks
drenched in apprehension
blasphemy will follow
can’t shed lingering aromas though…

drenched in apprehension
pain finds its place after joy
can’t shed lingering aromas though…
those moments feel like eternity

pain finds its place after joy
women are born to be non-existent
those moments feel like eternity
they give me an identity

women are born to be non-existent
their existence is minimized
but I have discovered my identity
I intend to stay with it…

their identity is minimized
silver moonlight hits hard rocks
but I intend to stay with it
let the blasphemy follow…

🥕🥕🥕

Snowy Summer’s Day by Susan Zutautas

It was June, Meg and Ian had just moved into their first home. Ian was outside exploring when the wind picked up. “Meg come outside; you have to see this.”

Meg was in the kitchen busily unpacking boxes and welcomed the break.

Walking out into the yard Meg saw exactly why Ian had called her out. On the ground laid hundreds of tiny white flowers carpeting the pathway to the side yard. Just as Meg was about to say something hundreds more floated down from above.

“Oh, Ian how beautiful, it looks like we have a few Dogwood trees.”

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Spots by D. Avery

Marlie held up a pebble-eyed, twig-lipped marshmallow. “He’s got hard-rock eyes set in a puffy white face.”

“Who? Mr. Marshmallow?”

“Tommy’s father.” Marlie thrust the skewered marshmallow into the flames. “He was at the fence with Tommy. He said Daisy was so ugly she was almost cute. Daisy wouldn’t go to them. Tommy called her stupid. His dad said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

“And leopards can’t change their spots.”

“Liz…”

Marlie’s parents watched with her as the pebble-eyed marshmallow face browned, then blistered black, finally oozed onto the coals, flaring and spluttering before it disappeared.

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Lavender and Sewage by Anne Goodwin

Time backflips and there is her mother slipping off her wedding band to finger the soil. The lavender’s perfume mingles with the sweet smell of manure recently deposited outside The Willows by the milkman’s Bay. “Nurture it, Matilda,” says her mother, “and it will delight you when you are old and grey.”

Now it straggles, a tangle of desiccated flowers and near-naked twigs. Neglected. Rage bubbles in her belly as the earth erupts around the shrub. Matty pinches her nose against the pong as shit froths over her shoes. A signal from her mother: time is ripe for revenge.

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Bonehead by Simon Prathap D

I was watching the TV last night

I heard the symptoms of a thunderstorm. I checked the sky, it was clear, then I came inside and saw TV The d2h was saying a message ” services has been temporarily blocked due to poor weather.” I called my wife and told her it’s contradictory how I heard thunderstorm but no clouds and TV says poor weather but the sky is clear, what’s happening?

She hit my head and said

1st floor New tenants are moving things, and recharge TV, read the warning message in full.

Bone head! She said 🙄

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Upstairs or Downstairs by Norah Colvin

Granny scratched her head. “I don’t know if I’m Arthur or Martha.”

“Whad’ya mean, Granny? I’m Arthur,” Arthur laughed.

“It’s just an old saying. Means I don’t know if I’m coming or going.”

“But you’re not coming or going. You’re staying here. With us.”

“I know,” laughed Granny. “I’m just a bit confused is all.”

“What’re you confused about?”

“I just came all the way down here for something, and I can’t remember what.”

“But this is upstairs, Granny. Not downstairs.”

“Silly me. There’s not much in my upstairs anymore.”

Now it was Arthur’s turn to scratch his head.

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PART II (10-minute read)

Contradictions by Anita Dawes

Yesterday I found some words lying around
Pages from a book.
I followed them around the house
They reminded me of scattered rose petals
The pages were not from a book
One spoke of love, while the other
Spoke of betrayal
Echoes of Romeo and Juliet
Yet this is not from Shakespeare
These pages are handwritten
As I gathered each one
I felt the weight of heartbreak.
The words shone like neon
Would there be light when I reached the end,
A reunion?
These pages belong to my mother’s old diary
I hope I can find the last page…

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Square Head in a Round Roll by Bill Engleson

Here, in the darkness, in the sleepiness, night sweats cascade.

The blade, glistening in the mid-October sun, slams down.

SWOOSH!

“Heads will roll! Lemonade; Square that circle; Make the Grade!”

“Hey. Sweetie!”

The sentinel roughly shoves me up the steps.

I can’t be here. I must dance.

I am a dancing fool.

“Handyman left! Sashay slow; Slip your shod; Mousey nose!”

“Darling! Wakey wakey!”

Cake?

What’s wrong with eating cake?

Everyone likes cake.

“Bend the curve! Step on toes; Circle the square; Go cat go!”

“That’s it. Enough’s enough, lover. I’ve had it with your Covid-19 Marie Antoinette nutmares.”

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Tories and Compassion by Anne Goodwin

Tradition deemed only white boys could touch the tuck-shop cash-box; the maharaja would be proud Rishi held the key. He dreamt of stuffing it with gold and silver, but plague confined juniors to the dorm. Rishi was willing to deliver but, with fagging outlawed, they lacked the coin to pay.

“Handouts?” said Boris. “Rewarding them to stay in bed?”

“We’ve stock to shift,” said Rishi. “See it as a loan.”

Boris rubbed his hands. “Which they’ll repay with interest?”

“Eventually.” Yet Rishi’s loyalties were split: between the brown boys who were dying and the club he yearned to join.

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A Crock Tale by JulesPaige

Lacey only heard bits and pieces of the guys telling tales at the bar. She was in a booth, eating dinner after a long day of working out of town. A guy ended his story with; “…And the sign said bait for catchin’ yer Jumbo Shrimp!”

The men ‘round him guffawed and laughed. The smarty pants guy who told the story grinned like a crocodile that swallowed a whole double Devil’s Food chocolate cake with icing too boot.

That’s where the story took her, seeing the mouse Dr. De Soto tending to the crocodile needing his rotten tooth pulled!

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Sleepy Square-Dance by Ritu Bhathal

The upbeat music created a jaunty atmosphere in the air. All around Jack, there were revellers dressed up in what they considered to be true ‘Square Dancing’ attire, i.e. a check shirt, some with fringes, denim, and obligatory cowboy boots.

It was all rather surreal. He was sitting in a church hall in the UK, not America!

Trying to stifle a yawn, he caught eyes with Jill. Oh great, now she’s coming over.

“Come on, sleepy head, I know you’re tired, but a bit of aa dance will wake you up!” She grabbed my arm, dragging me up.

Help!

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Open Secret by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Shhhhh… don’t tell anyone what I’ve told you.”

Marnie shook her head. “You’re missing the point, Susan. Jim’s been cheating on Janet for months. This is an open secret, and the entire town knows what’s going on.”

“What? Mrs. Parker only told me the details today when I ran into her at the market.”

“That’s because you’re new in town. She probably told you not to tell anyone because it makes her feel important.”

Susan looked crestfallen as she waved goodbye to her neighbor.

Marnie grinned. Besides, she knew the truth. She and Jim had been lovers for years.

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Cadillacs and Crocodiles by H.R.R. Gorman

The little lady showed up at the pump riding a hot-red Cadillac convertible with ostrich leather seats. She put out the cigarette in her ash tray and told me with pouty, vermilion lips, “Fill ‘er up.” She got out and, with her crocodile-skin purse, went into the store.

While she perused the candy shelf and soda fountain, I pumped in the liquid at 10 cents a gallon lamented my paltry pay. Rich people, getting richer off the backs of us poor. I’d like to kick people like her down a couple pegs.

And she’d left her keys in the ignition.

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She’s Off for Good by Donna Matthews

Cruising down the wide-open road, music on max volume, she crossed the unseen, invisible, and arbitrary line known as the grid. Some believe this place as a mythical or naive place to be. But not her. For years, she was a weekend warrior – driving here or there, sometimes even hopping on an airplane. But it was always just a visit—one foot on and one foot off. Invariably, when she returned, she plugged back in, downloading all she missed and her weekend away fading like a dream. But not this time – this time she’s off for good.

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A Small Crowd by John Lane

As Mrs. Sylvia Potts parked her 2006 Mercury Mountaineer in the lot near Sam’s Grocery, she noticed several people in front of the store. She walked over to see what was going on. It was people that she recognized from her neighborhood: Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Ms. Clearance, Mrs. Done and Mr. Forester. Mrs. Potts asked, “What’s this?” Mrs. Jones spoke for the whole group. “We’re tired of not being heard! This is against our civil rights!” Mrs. Potts saw the signs: WE WANT MORE THAN ONE PACK OF TOILET PAPER. Mrs. Potts rolled her eyes, then walked inside.

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My Aunt Babette by Eliza Mimski

My father’s sister Babette would let out these frenzied bubbles of a laugh that set my nerves on edge. A wicked, menacing laugh that mimicked the hysterical sounds of a pack of hyenas. With each laugh, her stomach would ride up and down in her seemingly blood-colored dresses.

Her speaking voice was different. She became this other person.

“Hi,” I’d say when visiting her, not knowing if I’d get the laugh or the voice.

“Here’s some candy, baby,” she’d say, each mellifluous syllable bouncing on its own little trampoline of air. At these times, her dresses turned pinkish.

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Graduation Party by Ruchira Khanna

“Come on, Meg, at this rate, you’ll be a postgraduate, and we’ll miss our graduation party.” urged Felicia, who was prancing outside her room like a horse.

“Jeez! You are so impatient!” she shouted back at her twin sister and came out with a sulk.

Felicia froze like a statue upon seeing her.

“You don’t need to stare at me like that.” Meg exclaimed as she placed the stray locks around her forehead behind her ear, “What can I do? The tutorial to dutch braid your hair was taking forever that I had to entwine them in random order.”

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Oil and Sea by Saifun Hassam

A sea breeze sprang up in the late evening. The tide rushed in, surf high, pounding and bulldozing through thick brown undercurrents, crashing on stinking tarry sands. The sea breeze was no match for that deadly vast oil spill. The salty air was saturated with oily drops.

Dawn brought no relief from ugliness. Fish lay dead, silver scales painted a deep dirty yellow ocher. Ducks struggled to shore. Alive, hopeless, crying for help. The oily sheen on feathers glistened deceptively with rainbows in the sunlight.

Broken but determined, we vowed to cleanse the sea, to somehow seek its forgiveness.

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Conflictive Contra-dictions (Part I) by D. Avery

It was a dark an’ stormy night. A. Rancher sought shelter in the old mine shaft only ta find Buggs M. Lotts already holed up there. They got along like oil an’ water.

“Kinda cliché ain’t it, Kid?”

“S’posed ta be, Pal. I wanna show how these two don’t git along, ‘cept I’m gonna switch out oil an’ water fer… bacon, yeah! An’… brussel sprouts! No, that’s purty good. Bacon an’… maple ice cream! Wait, that sounds tasty.”

“Kid, ever’thin’ goes good with bacon. Ya’ll have ta git rid a it.”

A. Rancher was glad ta see Asa O’Buddy…

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Conflictive Contra-dictions (Part II) by D. Avery

“’Ello, Keed. Dees ees a tough prompt for you, non? Perhaps I can help.”

“LeGume!”

“Eet ees I, Pal.”

“LeGume, whut makes you think ya know any more’n Kid here ‘bout writin’? It’s a tough prompt all right, but jist stay outta the way. Kid’ll figger it out. Heck, LeGume, you don’t know shit from shine-ola.”

“Au contaire, Pal! Dees I know ver’ well. An’ Keed… we all know Keed knows sheet. Keed can shovel da sheet till da cows come home. Dat ees raw writing, non? But revizeeng! Dat ees polishing.”

“Puttin’ the shine on?”

“Write on, Pal.”

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Conflictive Contra-dictions (Part III) by D. Avery

Dark green waves of thundercloud roiled over the mountain. A. Kidd searched for the cave entrance, seeking refuge from the fierce storm. Even as violent flashes of lightning tore at the darkening sky Kidd hesitated. Was someone already in the makeshift shelter? The sound of laughter echoed from within the hard-rock walls, seeped out into the rain swept night; or was it the keening sound of someone crying? Kidd stepped into the dark, kept a small flame burning and looked within. There was no one else.
When morning finally dawned the dew on the grass sparkled like green champagne.

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Sequoyah: Power through the Pen and Press

Into the Past by H.R.R. Gorman

The English language: we all know our writing system isn’t perfect because, if it were, I wouldn’t have to spell “rhythm” so many different ways before spellcheck finally tells me it’s right. It takes a child years to learn to read and write English for this very reason. And all of this effort, wasted on the young, is because the English alphabet was borrowed from the Romans, and the Romans never toyed with the foolish idea of an alphabet for anything other than Latin (for which their alphabet was pretty much perfect).

That’s right. No English person invented their own writing system. We just stole a different system that was very much imperfect for a language with a ton of different vowel sounds. Then we proceeded to invent things like “dumb” with a b on the end because… just because we needed to make it worse.

Very few pre-literate societies are able to come up with their own writing systems, and those that do often rely on logograms (where one symbol is one word). Foreigners, usually missionaries, have invented writing systems for previously illiterate societies.

Image of Cherokee man, Sequoyah, holding a copy of his syllabary.

Downloaded from the National Portrait Galleries, this painting was created by artist Henry Inman circa 1830. It was a copy of an original painting by Charles Bird King, which has since been destroyed in a fire before it could be preserved photographically or digitally.

And one of the main inspirations for missionaries to invent writing systems for other languages is the efforts of one Cherokee silversmith: Sequoyah.

Sequoyah was born in the 1770’s (though some believe it was earlier) to a Cherokee woman and a white father, theoretically Nathaniel Gist, a fur trader. His name, Sequoya, means “pig’s foot,” which led some historians to believe he had a physical disability, perhaps a club foot. As a result, he learned to be a silversmith, which wouldn’t require him to leave his native town of Tuskigi.

Sequoyah sold his silver to people of many diverse backgrounds, and one day a white man admired his work and said, “I’d like you to sign this.”

But Sequoyah didn’t know how. He went on a journey to get someone to show him a way to spell his name, and he thought the “talking leaves” of the white Americans were interesting. He didn’t understand how the Latin alphabet worked, and he couldn’t read – he just knew it was interesting.

Then, when he participated in the War of 1812 for the Americans, he noticed that the white men could send and receive letters from home. His people, unable to do so, were missing a vital element that boosted the morale of the English-speakers. He wanted to communicate with those back home.

And so he set his mind to inventing a Cherokee writing system despite being completely illiterate, no one having ever studied the nuances of Cherokee speech, and not understanding the basics of how different alphabets, logographic systems, or syllabaries worked. He experimented with logograms, but quickly realized that a one-symbol-one-word system would take him forever to invent, learn, and teach, and it would likely never be complete.

Then – and remember, he couldn’t read, didn’t even know that English writing was based on sounds – he invented a script based off the sounds in his language. By himself, and against people burning his work because they thought it was witchcraft, he created a complete system by which his language could be written. After proving the system wasn’t witchcraft (and that his young daughter, Ayoka, wasn’t a witch for being able to read), Sequoyah then proved the usefulness of a writing system to the tribal council.

A table showing the letters of the Cherokee syllabary and what sounds they represent

Syllabary taken from Native Languages. The Roman letters on the left represent the consonant sound, and the Roman letters on the top represent the vowel sound (“v” is a nasal “eh” sound). So, “W” represents “la” in Cherokee.

And boy did they pick it up.

Unlike English, the Cherokee syllabary actually matched their language and did not need to be slaved at for years in order to understand the mind-boggling mess of spelling. It took Cherokee mere weeks to learn to read their language rather than the years it takes us. Before long, the Cherokee literacy rate matched and surpassed that of the white Americans. They established the first Indian* writing system on their own, without foreign intervention, from scratch.

Because American missionaries saw the use of a written language and translations of the bible into a people’s native tongue, many people went to foreign lands or started making syllabaries and alphabets for other people. Though Sequoyah probably isn’t well known outside of America, his genius reaches to the far corners of the earth and has made the world a better place.

So, take a moment, today, to think about your English writing system. Even though it’s not perfect, it’s yours, and you put in the effort to learn and use it. We can be thankful for our form of communication and appreciate the struggle of creating a written system at all.

For more information on the Cherokee Syllabary, there’s plenty of online resources. Several travel and museum sites have detailed information (Northern Georgia travel site, Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, Cherokee NC museum) in addition to those sites mentioned in the image blocks.

I discovered a book during my research (Seqoyah: The Cherokee Genius), but I’ll admit it was very expensive and I didn’t want to purchase it because I didn’t have $70 lying around to buy a copy from a reliable seller.

Wikipedia is very helpful for white people who want to know how the syllabary works.

*I use the term Indian here because many – if not most – native works indicate that Indian is the preferred term for their people. The term “Native American” or “Native” seems to have been invented by whites and implemented as PC without consulting the people they’re referring to. Check out this article and this YouTube video to learn more about why I made this choice.

Circle Pic Small H.R.R. HRR GormanAbout the Author: H.R.R. Gorman is a PhD chemical engineer with expertise in biotechnology and making drugs. Following science, H’s greatest passions are writing and history (especially the Age of Jackson – which, coincidentally, is relevant to this article). If you want to know more about this white-trash-turned-excessively-bourgeois maniac, you can go to https://hrrgorman.wordpress.com/.

Response to Danger

Brianna Mills is 30 years old, and no stranger to danger. Yet she has quick wits about her, fast reflexes, and a calm mind to see her through. All of us at Carrot Ranch wish her a happy birthday on Svalbard, her latest place of residence and Arctic scooter adventures. She gave writers their prompt this week, asking how we respond to danger.

Writers, familiar with creating danger for their characters and plots, responded with gusto. Their stories reflect their keen sense of human behavior.

The following are based on the May 14, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that answers the question, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you are in absolute danger?

PART I (10-minute read)

First Response by Charli Mills

One car flipped belly-up in the broad ditch of Kansas grass and sunflowers, the other crumpled to half its original size against the guardrail. Jess instructed her 18-year-old niece to pull over, her voice calm, all thoughts pushed away except for a running list: check breathing, smell for gas, stabilize necks. Plural. There would be multiple people in danger of dying this moment. They called this stretch of highway, “Bloody Kansas” and it was the route her niece would drive now that she had graduated and would begin college in two months. Check breathing, smell for gas, stabilize necks.

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Flash Fiction: Stand & Fight by Dave Madden

The official told Terry, “You’re next.”

Terry paced behind the curtain, awaiting his walkout music to burst from the speakers. The butterflies in his stomach darted in every direction at once.

“Get those butterflies to soar in formation,” coached reminded, sensing his anxiety.

He shook out his heavy arms, rolled his head on his shoulders, and took a deep breath before marching toward the cage.

Feeling the canvas beneath his feet was familiar, but every logical fiber in Terry’s being told him to run.

When he heard the door lock behind him, a flip switched, and his nerves surrendered.

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Introspection by Padre of Padre’s Ramblings

It had started out pretty much like every other day had for the last week. Up early, and then a hike through the forest with the guys. But not today. No today, as he rounded the same bend he had taken for six consecutive days, he was greeted by the whiz and buzz of passing rounds. He dropped to the ground along with his companions, as the First Sergeant called out “Whiz – Crack, not a problem. Whiz thud’s the B***h.” David laughed to himself with his only thought being, “And I volunteered for this.”

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Absolute Danger by Susan Sleggs

Tessa said, “At our Home-front Warriors meeting we discussed what flashes through our mind when we meet with danger. Do you remember what you thought?”

Michael looked away. “I’ve never admitted this. I can’t answer, because I blackout. Remember in high school when I wedged my car against a tree after hitting black ice?”

“Yeah.”

“I recall the car starting to skid, and getting out of it, no impact, no details.”

“And in Iraq.”

“We were talking about our mission, and then it was three weeks later. Coming to was terrifying.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I can talk about it now.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Reminiscence from World War II by pendantry

“I want that,” said the German soldier, in badly broken French. His uniform was impeccable, though his command of the local tongue was not.

“What do you want?” responded the Frenchman, standing astride his bicycle.

“Your bicycle.”

The Frenchman shook his head. “It’s mine, you can’t have it!” he protested, and made as though to cycle off.

Calmly, the soldier reached into his pocket and brought out a pistol. He aimed it squarely at the Frenchman, who froze. The fear was evident in his eyes.

There’s a time to fight; and a time to admit that you have lost.

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Skidmarks by Doug Jacquier

My Mum was a stickler for cleanliness. One day she said to me, ‘Goodness, there’s enough dirt in your ears to grow potatoes.’ So she did. I missed a lot that the teacher said because of those King Edwards in my earholes.

She would always ask if I had clean underpants on. She said she’d die of embarrassment if I got run over by a car and the doctors saw that I had skidmarks on my undies. Forget any inconsolable grief. She wanted to be able to hold her head high when she went to pick up my body.

🥕🥕🥕

Photo & Film on NewsLine Tonight by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Jack stood at canyon’s edge, his phone set to selfie. “Ugh! Too much face, not enough canyon.”

He climbed the ledge, noting the low safety railing. Holding the camera at arm’s length, he noticed the screen icon for many figures, versus one. He chose many, and raised his arm again.

The wind gusted his bangs into his mouth. He hadn’t gotten a chance to visit his masked, shielded barber before this road trip. His buddy Tyler’d bailed because of Shelter in Place.

“This picture’ll be worth the risk!”

That was his last thought before he tripped over the railing.

🥕🥕🥕

Swamp Lake by Saifun Hassan

Herons and egrets fished in the dense marshes of Swamp Lake. I maneuvered my kayak closer to the giant spring lotus blooms in the middle of the Lake.

I was entranced. I took photos of the lotus blooms. I forgot the world around me. A multitude of pink and ivory shades; a multitude of angles to shoot from. Frogs on giant lily pads.

Suddenly the sky disappeared. A giant shadow flew over me. I was yanked from my kayak. The Swamp Jubjub! I was terrified.

“My cameraaaa! Noooo!”

With a contemptuous glare the Jubjub dumped me into the water.

🥕🥕🥕

Dark Encounter by Jo Hawk

I stayed too late. Perils line the path home and no guiding lights pierce the darkness to keep dangers at bay.

A rustling bush. I freeze. Frozen. Heightened awareness, my senses alerted to keep me alive.

Muscles tense, heart pounds, breath held, pupils dilate. My mouth fills with cotton balls.

Grasses sway without a breeze, an inky silhouette and steely eyes regard me. Somehow, they seem as surprised as I.

Flight or fight. Fight or Flight.

Sinews prepare for action as we stare, access, evaluate.

Golden orbs wink, I inhale and dip my chin.

Tonight, we go separate ways.

🥕🥕🥕

Dangers of a Motel Room by Geoff Le Pard

‘Logan! Logan! HELP!!’

‘What on earth…? It’s 4.00 am.’

‘I’ve gone blind!’

‘Here. Stand still.’

‘I’m falling!!’

‘Better?’

‘I… oh yes. My eye-mask. I forgot.’

‘Why do you wear that thing?’

‘I stop dreaming…’

‘And have nightmares instead? What was that about falling? You were standing by the coffee table.’

‘I thought I’d wandered onto the balcony and I was bang up against the parapet. I was sure I’d die if I moved.’

‘You did sound terrified. You ok?’

‘Yes, thanks. You know what hit me, when I thought I’d die?’

‘Go on.’

‘I’d miss you most.’

‘?’

🥕🥕🥕

Story Time by Wallie and Friend

“Were you ’fraid, Tilly?” Noel’s sounded as tiny as he was, looking up into Mr. Caddy’s face with the wide open eyes of a six-year-old.

“Wisht, no,” said Mr. Caddy. He challenged his audience with mischievous eyes. “D’ye know why I wasn’t afraid? Well I’ll tell you. I knew, sure I knew, that Hattie would save me.”

The goblin Green Hat, or Hattie, looked at him with unappreciative somber eyes.

“You were scared,” said Josie, bouncing on her heels impatiently. “I saw you!”

“Aye, you saw me,” said Mr. Caddy. “And see how I am now? I was right!”

🥕🥕🥕

Infinite Challenge? by JulesPaige

compounded terror
unable to conceive then
the hearts empty nest

When as a toddler, in the mall the child was lost. Familiar tug on clothing gone – who does one call first? Panic must remain at bay.
An organized search must be started before there is time to even think that someone else could walk off with such a treasure.

Frankly there is limited memory. There was a positive result and that is what mattered most. And soon a child leash once thought cruel, now became a comfort in the crowd.

That empty nest of a grown child, is different…

🥕🥕🥕

Scared to Death by Susan Zutautas

Lounging by the pool Kate looked up towards her window and was panic-stricken. A billow of black smoke was erupting. Then it hit her, she had left candles burning. “Oh my God”, she yelled. A neighbor grabbed Kate from running towards the fire.

“My mother is going to kill me, what am I going to do?” Petrified, Kate started to hyperventilate.

“Try to calm down, Kate,” her neighbor said while taking Kate to her place.

After a few shots of whiskey and a cold shower, Kate was still scared to death and kept saying, “She’s going to kill me!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Treat Turns to Terror for Those Already Spooked by Anne Goodwin

How spiffing! Afternoon tea with the Mayor!

Yet, as a hostess approaches, Matty’s spirits sink. Matilda! Spruced up in Matty’s own polkadot dress!

Matilda’s dreadful lies cannot harm her if she keeps her eyes on the door. Yet it is worse than she realised. Matty had prepared for the Palladium but they have delivered her to the Folies Bergère. The man assisting the Mayor is a pimp.

Before Matilda can shout Fire! Matty races outside. To the safety of the street. A screech of brakes. A thump.

“Call an ambulance!” screams Matilda. “I’m a first aider. A qualified nurse.”

🥕🥕🥕

Cast Out by Michelle Wright

I’ve been following my body around since it woke up from the car accident. Another soul is occupying my body. Who is in my body? The soul in my body is saying things that I would never say to people who I love. I scream for this person to stop. I don’t know if I’m heard. My body gives no indication one way or the other. I have absolutely no control. I don’t know if I ever will. I don’t know if there’s a way to push this other soul from my body so I can become whole again.

🥕🥕🥕

When She Was in Danger by Sarah Brentyn

I wanted to be brave.

Not like heroes in fairy tales.

Not like that.

Just an ordinary courage that snuck in the drafty front window in our kitchen and found me in the midst of calamity.

But I froze. Mind blank.

For all the bravery I thought I possessed, that I claimed I would have, should the moment arise, I failed.

Whether it dissipated when need barked at it or I never had it to begin with, I was frozen in a time when she couldn’t respond and I wear that coldness like a lead vest. My badge of dishonor.

🥕🥕🥕

The Question by John Lane

Arriving at the Kirti monastery in Ngaba, Sichuan, I passed by the charred body of a monk in a dhonka and shemdap. It took all my strength not to vomit on their sacred ground.

One of the elder monks, Palden Choetso, stopped me. “Sir?”

I barely got out the words. “What happened to him?”

Palden shook his head. “One of our youngest, Marpa, practiced self-immolation.”

“Why?”

Palden faced me. “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you are in absolute danger?”

I just noticed surveillance cameras posted everywhere and a lack of monks around.

Palden whispered, “Sinicization.”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Danger by Y. Prior

Hands on the side of my head

Eyes shut lightly

Body wound tightly

What to do?

What to do?

Grounded feet

Imagined roots

anchoring into the street

What to do?

What to do?

Tailbone down

Back strong

Head lifted high

Waiting

pondering

the next move

He followed me inside –

and has trailed my stride

too close for comfort

the smell of danger

emitted in the night air

with skin heated  and heart beating a little faster –

quiet prayers form on my lips

Then

I reached the female security guard.

“Need a walk out tonight?”

“Yes! That would be great.”

🥕🥕🥕

Danger by Hugh W. Roberts

As the sound of cracking floorboards got louder, Sophie remembered what Doug had told her should she ever find herself in danger. Run for your life.

***

As Mike felt the foul-smelling breath of his other-self hit his body, he put his army training into good use. Rolling his body away from the cracking floorboards, he watched, stunned, as the floorboards rose, instead of falling.

***

Two floors above, a strange feeling of being in danger germinated in Doug’s head. He had to get up and run for his life, but something or somebody seemed to be holding down his legs.

🥕🥕🥕

Absolute Danger by FloridaBorne

Walking home, you hear footsteps echoing in the night. You stop to look around at the loneliness.

The footsteps stop. Nothing but air and the eerie glow of streetlights surround you.

One more house to pass.

Head held high, you repeat inside a mind hollow with fear as you approach your front door, “Don’t panic…turn the key.”

Once the lock clicks, you rush in, closing the door behind you…laughing at yourself for being so paranoid.

Then, you turn on the news. “Just in! A body was discovered…”

A block away from your house. The killer hasn’t been found.

🥕🥕🥕

Life Crossing by Ritu Bhathal

I had only just pushed the wheels of the buggy onto the road, after checking to see all was clear, yet the roar of the engine was close. Either I had missed seeing this approaching car, or the driver wasn’t driving at the designated speed limit.

Knowing I wouldn’t be able to reach the other side, I grabbed the buggy handles and jerked it back, as fast as I could.

Heart beating as if it would break out of my ribcage, I checked inside.

Bless him, he was still asleep. But I knew our lives had flashed before me.

🥕🥕🥕

Earthquake by Joanne Fisher

It first began as distant rumbling. I thought it was a train, but as it quickly got louder, I realised it was something else. I quickly jumped under a doorway just as the house began shaking violently. I knew I’d be safer under a table, but the doorway was closest.

It felt as though the house was rolling on a turbulent ocean. In the darkness I could hear plates, cups and glasses smashing onto the floor and shelves falling over. Almost a minute later the shaking subsided. The house was a mess, but I was glad to be alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Flat Tire on the Freeway by Miriam Hurdle

“I had a flat tire.”

“When? Where?”

“Today when I was on the freeway to downtown Los Angeles.”

“It must be awful.”

“My car spun several times until the rear end hit the guardrail.”

“Were you okay?”

“I held the steering wheel but released my foot from the pedal. After the car hit the guardrail, I saw the cars were 1,000 feet away. A police car zigzagged to slow down the traffic. Then he used the speaker to escort me to the next exit. I felt the angel created a shield around me.”

“The angel surely watched over you!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Cold After the Storm by Caroline Kribbs

Annie was shaking so hard her teeth were chattering. It was infuriating, somehow, to see the man so calm. The gunfire was in her ears and her heart was thundering so hard it hurt. It was over, but she still felt how it was to lie in the mud, waiting to die.

“How do you stand it?”

Hamish wanted to be impatient because she reminded him of what he had been, before the outlaw gang that had killed his family and destroyed their farm. Instead, he was only quiet and brief.

“I don’t think,” he said. “I never think.”

🥕🥕🥕

Danger by Irene Waters

Seeing the steep drops close to the edge of the winding road my body tensed and my heart starting to thump as though I’d just run a marathon. The now snake-like dirt road, punctuated with tight hairpin bends that dropped away on either side of us, narrowed even further. My gut constricted. Panic became a restrictive vest around my chest. Clutching the seat belt my knuckles whitened. Uncontrollably I screamed. Jake pulled into a siding.

“What a view.” Grabbing his camera he headed across the road.

“No, don’t leave me,” I screamed, “What will I do if you die?”

🥕🥕🥕

Sunlight by Anita Dawes

In the car on my way home when a Sunlight lorry
was spun around by a careless driver
Now he was on the wrong side of the road
Barrelling straight at me
I stopped my car close to a row of parked cars
And thought, God, I am knocking on heaven’s door!
Someone had called my number.
Waiting for the sound of metal being crushed
Time slowed, inside the car became still
Sound vanished
I could see the whites of his eyes
as he wrestled his lorry into control
He smiled, I thanked God
someone put my number back…

🥕🥕🥕

The End by Kathy70

Nothing too unusual happened this day, we went to a friends house and they were having a small barbeque and a hop in the backyard pool.  The guys were doing their regular shots and we ladies had wine.  Fun day.

Home for a couple of hours and I can’t even recall the discussion or disagreement.  He goes upstairs and comes down with a pistol. I said put it back, but now it’s pointed at me. I stayed calm and would not show fear,  he put it away and I left.  That’s the beginning of our end, of being together.

🥕🥕🥕

A Shooting Pain by Reena Saxena

A sharp pain shoots through my head on the left side, as my husband animatedly makes a political argument. We do not support the same ideology.

Life is back to normal in a while, but the pain continues. I wonder how much of it is psychosomatic. And what exactly is the trigger that generates discomfort in the body? None of us plan to contest an election or file for divorce.

But a sense of danger is inherent. I know the nation will continue to go downhill, as long as people refuse to acknowledge reality.

I hope better sense prevails.

🥕🥕🥕

Head Games in a Flash by Bill Engleson

“You’re quite old,” I hear myself think.

Then I sigh.

“No denying that,” I hear my other little voice admit.

“By many standards, you’ve had a good run,” I soothingly allow.

“You saying the race is over?” other voice asks.

“No, I’m not saying that. Just trying to be real,” I clarify.

“It’s that ravenous throng of under thirty terrorists getting into your head, isn’t it?”

“I’ve read their manifesto. There’s not a lot of wiggle room.”

“Yeah, they threw nuance out the window with that mob. And that COVID-19 motto…”

“THIRTY OR DUST! You gotta admit. It’s catchy.”

🥕🥕🥕

COVID Fear by M J Mallon

I stood by the platform waiting for my train, my mask tight against my face. A man jeered at me, his lips twisted in a cruel grimace. I moved back.

“I have something for you,” he smiled as he spat. I felt his wet spittle on my exposed skin. I screamed, frantically searching for a tissue to erase death from my face.

Onlookers stared, their hearts bound by fear as their masks sagged. He wiped his mouth, licking his cruel lips. Tears streamed from my eyes. I vowed to fight this virus; killers mustn’t win.

🥕🥕🥕

Absolute Danger by Simon Prathap D

Doctor opens the report🧐, My god I’ve never seen such bad report, he says.🙁

What happened anything wrong?🥺

Your health in absolute danger😔, you must get admitted first

I’m sorry doctor😏

I should say that to you🤨

No doctor😟, I am sorry, you are looking at a wrong report🙄

Thank god, I thought it’s yours.😊Doctor turns the page and searches for the name. It still says your name.🧐

No doctor, it’s not mine😉, I suspected you are not a doctor🧐, so I gave your blood for test, you don’t even know that it’s your blood report😏

😳🤯😵 Doctor faints!

🥕🥕🥕

What’s in a Name? by Chelsea Owens

Mimi’s mum named her something, “fun, cheery; a bit totty.” To say Mimi’s actual personality fell short of that was a wee understatement. Had she been allowed an opinion, Mimi would’ve chosen a sensible moniker like Mildred.

“Mildred? Whoever’d want to be Mildred unless she thought to run a convent?” Mum would’ve said, had she still been around and not jumped before the pilot gave the all-clear at the Seniors’ Skydiving Surprise.

The Surprise was how little liability the company claimed.

What had gone through Mum’s head before passing, Mimi wondered, apart from that church spire? She’d never know.

🥕🥕🥕

All’s Well That Ends Well by D. Avery

“Ever been in danger, Pal?”

“Absolutely. Thet time the bull was seein’ red. Charged me like a Amazon purchase, but I thought ta jist grab thet bull by the horns. I honked fer Jesus, flipped right over thet bull an inta the creek.”

“Lucky landin’.”

“Ya’d think, Kid, but it’d been droughty. I landed in a creek without a puddle, an’ facin’ a rattler. First thing I thought was, tastes like chicken. Secon’, I’d have ta strike first. Lightnin’ reflexes.”

“You ain’t that fast Pal.”

“No. But lightnin’ struck thet snake, had it skinned an’ sizzlin’ fer my dinner.

🥕🥕🥕

“Lucky lightnin’ strike, Pal! Outta danger an’ dinner in hand!”

“Ya’s think so, Kid. But that drought had all the critters edgy an’ hungry. When thet mountain lion yowled at me I wasn’t sure if she wanted ta eat me or my rattler, still sizzlin’ warm from the lightnin’.”

“What’d ya do, Pal?”

“Afore I could think ‘bout thet, the rain finally came, hard and fast an’ thet creek swelled right up an’ my most eminent danger was a flash flood.”

“Imminent.”

“No, it warn’t about ta happen, was happ’nin’ right then, ‘an I was positively gittin’ washed away.”

🥕🥕🥕

“What luck, Pal. Um, is it good or bad luck?”

“It’s all good, Kid. I still had thet snake, still warm an’ sizzling’ from the lightnin’, held it up outta the water. An’ I was gittin’ farther an’ farther away from thet bull an’ thet mountain lion. So I jist went with the flow as they say, waitin’ ta see where I’d fetch up.”

“Sounds like you was goin’ downhill, Pal.”

“Downstream, Kid. The creek started ta flatten out an’ slow down an’ things came familiar. I had arrived. At the Ranch.”

“Lucky, Pal!”

“Ya got thet right, Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

 

May 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

Gardening is dangerous. Plant one seed, and next thing you know, you are planting ten flats. You see a corner of your yard, and you dream about how to fill it, and then you notice another corner and another. Yesterday, I carved out more for a small potager, a plot of the front yard that’s absorbed the dreams of several who have lived on Roberts Street. I’m not the only one who lives dangerously, growing a green thumb. My yard is the product of 120 years of cultivation. All around me is evidence of those who came before.

Someone planted six maple trees when my house went up. Four remain, and they are magnificent in all seasons. Sapping in spring, shading in summer, mulching in fall, and whistling in winter. Birds from blue jays to hummers flit in and out of their branches. The canopy provides an outdoor office when it gets too hot to be inside. Fairies, rocks, and gnomes summer at their bases, providing a new level of gardening intrigue. A few neighbors have caught on to my fairy gardens and have left offerings of their own, including a porcelain heart that hangs in one of the maples.

Toward the front, two low stumps from the maples that didn’t survive this long still offer something to my gardens. A discarded iron cauldron leftover from copper mining days sits on one stump, and the other marks the spot for a pallet compost pile. The cauldron served as my eldest’s moon garden — a massive black pot that overflowed with white varietal flowers. She has moved on to construct bigger spaces, and I get to tinker.

A crescent of thyme remains in the cauldron. My SIL had left a small deer skull with forked antlers when they moved to the country, and in the spirit of playing with fairies, I placed it in the center of the thyme. Carefully, I pulled several strands through each eye-socket and placed a pink rock of feldspar the size of a rosette between its antlers. Mind you, my intent is not to be morbid. Gardening is an art, and I’m attempting to replicate a more colorful homage to Georgia O’Keefe. Google “cow skulls and flowers” to see this visual art in full manifestation. Each corner — or cauldron — of the yard becomes its own individual canvas where staring at bare dirt is akin to writers staring out windows.

The frontmost canvas that abuts Roberts Street is where my eldest and her husband planted a rock and succulent garden to survive the heavy street sandings of winter. The sedum, along with hens and chicks, emerge unscathed ready for a spring bath of rain. The flock has multiplied. Last fall, we dug up the garden behind the succulents, leaving the peonies and lavender, but despite my SIL having rooted out bulbs like a pig seeking truffles, clusters of tulips, alum, and hyacinth remained. This is the head of my potager, a traditional kitchen garden that blends flowers, veg, and herbs, incorporating aesthetics and verticality.

All around my yard, earlier bulbs that former gardeners planted a century ago emerge — crocus, Muscari, hyacinth, glories of the snow, old-fashioned tulips of bold red and yellow, snowdrops, and daylilies. Beneath the shadiest area between maples, woodland trout lilies grow, a North American spring ephemeral. This summer, a few months before the first frost, I plan to hit the shady patch with bee bombs loaded with foxglove seeds. I’m going to fill out other shady areas with ferns. I think this will enhance the centenarians and please the garden fey. The potager will start at Roberts Street and go all the way back to the maples.

Yesterday, I relocated a massive lavender to be front and center of the potager. I dug carefully with a spade and felt when she released, willing to go to her new spot behind the succulents, hyacinth, and a border of newly transplanted dianthus from the abandoned homes on my eldest’s new property. On each side of the lavender, I buried two bare root roses of pastel pink. My SIL dug these up for me from roses he found near the ruins of an old mining house. It had survived on its own for at least 50 years, so I think it will be hardy. Directly behind the lavender, I planted a metal trellis and left a spot for my newly arrived purple Polish spirit clematis. Staggered behind and diagonal to that main feature are the beginnings of two shorter mounds. I planted purple podded peas, white sweet peas, and left room for my moonflowers who tell me it’s too cold yet for their sensitive roots. The back edge of this front canvas has established chives, yarrow, monarda, and two peonies.

When it all gets going, I’ll fill in the blank spots with cosmos, bachelor buttons, lemon queen sunflowers, and milkweed. And that’s only the beginning. See how dangerous it is to start with a single seed?

Today, May 14, my favorite middle child, quarantined on Svalbard, turned 30. She had planned to be out on another days-long scooter excursion, but they ran into trouble with bad weather, avalanches, and melting snow bridges. Her scooter took a 15-meter tumble down a crevasse, end over end, busting the windshield. She and her companions are okay, and remarkably, they were able to retrieve her Viper. When I talked to her on Messenger later, they were safely back in Longyearbyen, and one of the local bands got together to play for her birthday. This was my “emergency room” child, the one who lept off of rooftops, competed as an elite gymnast, and rafted raging rivers in snowmelt.

So, when I told her my kayak had finally arrived, she turned the tables and told me to be safe! I’m not going to do what she would do in a kayak.

For her birthday, she has the privilege of prompting our stories this week. I liked that she phrased her prompt as a question. She has always had an inquisitive mind. Others were asking her, now that she’s thirty if she wants to have children. I laughed, knowing her answer. That’s dangerous territory for an adventurer. Funny how women get asked that question. For me, I’ll stick to the dangers of creative gardening and long-term writing. I’ll play it safe on the waters. And I encourage you all to focus on remaining hopeful.

May 14, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that answers the question, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you are in absolute danger?” Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 19, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.

First Response by Charli Mills

One car flipped belly-up in the broad ditch of Kansas grass and sunflowers, the other crumpled to half its original size against the guardrail. Jess instructed her 18-year-old niece to pull over, her voice calm, all thoughts pushed away except for a running list: check breathing, smell for gas, stabilize necks. Plural. There would be multiple people in danger of dying this moment. They called this stretch of highway, “Bloody Kansas” and it was the route her niece would drive now that she had graduated and would begin college in two months. Check breathing, smell for gas, stabilize necks.

Nourish

Deep down, what truly nourishes us? It could be in the moment, a passing season, or over a lifetime. It might even be beyond death. During these unsettled times of isolation and overwhelm, we need to nourish at all levels

Writers explored what it is to nourish this week. From lacquered nails to after death, these stories will surprise you.

The following are from the May 7, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to nourish.

PART I (10-minute read)

Lacquered Lovelies by Annette Rochelle Aben

“Ladies, do either of you want your nails done today?”

It was this familiar Tuesday query from the activities department of the nursing home that rallied all the women who wanted to feel special every time they looked at their hands. Usually, everyone except these two roommates said yes.

There was a box of bright colors from which to choose. This day, most of the ladies chose colors that reminded them of beautiful flowers. And here they were, beautiful flowers planted in wheelchairs and hospital beds. Their bodies may be failing them, but their souls were glowing and alive!

🥕🥕🥕

Good Fences by D. Avery

“Tommy, don’t climb the fence! You still have to stay at your house.”

“Nu-uh. My daddy and me been shopping for our party this afternoon.”

“I had a party with my mom and dad too.”

“No, we’re having a real party, with daddy’s friends. There’ll be tons of good food— kool-aid, cheese puffs.”

“Yuck! That’s not good food! It’s not nourishing.”

“Who says, your mommy?”

“Scientists.”

“Scientists don’t know nothing. You coming over? I’ve missed playing with you.”

“Goodbye Tommy.”

Marlie stumbled past the dirt pile, the tree fort, went inside to use a tissue and wash her hands.

🥕🥕🥕

Standing Up to Mother by Susan Sleggs

Tessa’s mother paced. “I’m fearful Michael will suck the life out of you if you move in together.”

“I thought you approved.”

“Not of you living with him.”

“He nourishes the youth choir, the Vet’s music programs, and he goes to D.C. when asked. You don’t think he’ll enhance my life too?”

“Behind closed doors is where the nightmares and anger dwell. You’ll have no escape.”

“Don’t you remember my ex had nightmares. It isn’t new to me.”

“He was an officer.”

“So that’s what this is about, status, not my well being. Good thing it isn’t your choice.”

🥕🥕🥕

Ruminating on Roosts by JulesPaige

Blue Jays prefer string
colorful yarn not so much
for their nest today

somewhere in the pines they build
this Mother’s day, I just watch

my own nest just has
we too – you made me breakfast
will our chicks call home?

We’ve done what we could – had our share of scrapes. Now we get to sit back just a little. Though we need to remember life is a continuing lesson, parent or not. We all need to nourish each other with care as the days pass. Sharing the light of our love lamps to brighten temporary gloom.

🥕🥕🥕

Days I Remember by Anita Dawes

Days I try to remember when food was plentiful
Father in the fields, Mother filling the house
With the warm aroma of fresh bread
We were loved, fed. Taken care of
Now I am alone, remembering new days
That passed when I filled our home
Like mother, with fresh baked bread
That had my children running for the crust
First into the house to claim the first slice
Butter melting, thick home-made jam
Is there anything better than feeding your family?
A fresh-baked loaf on my neighbour’s doorstep
Could be the start of something new
A touch of warmth…

🥕🥕🥕

Matty in Wonderland by Anne Goodwin

Matty was wary when the March Hare invited her to join them. “I’m not thirsty.” The last thing she drank had shrunk her to the size of a thimble.

“Forget tea,” said a fellow in a top hat. “We’ll give you a nourishing story. Dormouse, begin!”

“Not the one about the treacle well.” Matty had a sense of déjà vu.

“A well of kindness,” said the Hatter. “Without food banks.”

“You think it kind to starve the poor?”

“Where this story is set everything is shared fairly. No-one need beg for food.”

Matty sat. “Tell me! I will emigrate.”

🥕🥕🥕

Come In by Priorhouse

Come in, tired one.
Sit down.
I see you are on your way south –
to the sea.
Your bed for the night is there.
Soup’s simmering on the stove – there.

Please leave soup on when you hit the sack.

“Thanks” replied the visitor.

As we left the room, I asked dad if he’d build into the guest – nourish his soul with faith talk or advice before his body was nourished from soup and sleep.

“No,” replied dad.
Sometimes words are not needed. People are often better nurtured by giving them space.
And love.
“Yes, dad, many ways to nourish.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Amazing Jar by Gordon Le Pard

He looked in amazement at the little fern, growing in the sealed jar. According to Dr Ward it had been growing there for three years.

“But what nourishes it?”

“Sunlight.” He replied, “Water evaporates, and condenses in the jar. Minerals feed the leaves, and return to the soil, all it needs is light.”

“Is it of any use?”

“Use! Glass boxes filled with plants, on a ships deck, will carry them safely around the world. We will move useful plants wherever we want. This could end famines, create industries and beautify gardens, it could change the world.”

It did.

🥕🥕🥕

Mindful Eating by Ruchira Khanna

“No, eatables are allowed on the plane.” Said a voice that was soft yet stern.

He had no choice but to comply.

Going home was a definite priority over defying the rules of the TSA.

He chose to empty all his pockets and walk towards his gate with sluggish steps while gnarling noise was accompanying him. His stomach muscles were squeezing tight as if wringing a cloth.

Traveling in wee hours with no shop open, he chose to board the flight.

Mark decided to eat mindfully from the tiny in-flight bag of pretzel that helped nourish his hunger pangs.

🥕🥕🥕

Nourish by Geoff Le Pard

‘I’m hungry, Logan.’

‘You had dinner less than an hour ago.’

‘Can we stop?’

‘Yes…’

‘Why do I feel a but coming?’

‘I’m not spending another moment in one of those fast food places.’

‘You enjoyed the Mexican…’

‘Was that the tackies?’

‘Tacos.’

‘Are you sure they’re not tackies? Mine was pretty sticky.’

‘And you like a Big Mac.’

‘I do not. I prefer my Scotsmen small and easily tamed.’

‘You’re such a fusspot.’

‘Morgan, I need something nourishing.’

‘Isn’t that what you do to a pot plant?’

‘Pot plant? Have you been smoking? Is that why you’re hungry?

🥕🥕🥕

Comfort Food by Janet Guy

One pound of lean ground turkey, one pound of 80-20 ground sirloin, one packet of McCormick meatloaf seasoning, one egg, one generous handful of Progresso Plain Breadcrumbs, half of a medium diced onion, one squirt of ketchup. It’s important to mix everything into the ground meat by hand, but don’t overdo it. Your grandfather and I added a twist: divide the mixture into twelve muffin cups. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Your grandmother always tried to sneak a half a meatloaf muffin without us noticing. She was so silly! I see both of them in you, my child…

🥕🥕🥕

Love the World by Chelsea Owens

Broken friendless lying dying, lifts a hand for

-anything-

Walking talking presses buttons, flashes past within her world.

Why stop living in the mirrors, in the spotlight;
save lying dying friendless one?

—–
.sneaky unseen creeping coughing, enters silent crownèd killer.
—–

Broken homebound lying sighing lifts her hand for

-anything-

Walking talking, in his sunshine, stops outside her locked front gate.

Why not wave at silent windows, in the sunshine;
save lying sighing homebound face?

—–

Then or now, we all are people;

Now or then, we all need love.

-Look around-

and nourish others

Smile, wave, and love the world.

🥕🥕🥕

Nourishment by Reena Saxena

The monk has travelled across the world in search of meaning of life.

Gone are the days when people congregated in an ashram to partake of wisdom… there are umpteen agencies to get him online and share his learnings. The digital marketing campaign lasts 90 days to generate a feeling of emptiness in people, and make them pay to find nourishment. The lockdown is supportive, as people struggle to adopt a new way of life.

Finally, the monk’s serenity appears on screen..

You are exactly where you need to be. I learnt that travel serves no purpose at all.

🥕🥕🥕

Survival by Joanne Fisher

All around her was wasteland. Kali’s mouth felt like sandpaper, there had been no water for several days. The hot dry wind whipped the rags of her clothes. She walked forwards and then collapsed. Everything went black.

Kali awoke. She was lying in a hut. She tried rising, but felt dizzy. A woman came over giving her a bowl. Kali drank the soup deeply. After so long it felt nourishing.

“You were near death when we found you.”

“Where am I?”

“In our village. You can stay as long as you want.”

Maybe she would stay here a while.

🥕🥕🥕

Nourish by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Long, dark days alone
Habit well-practiced for years
My coffee brings cheer…

Grateful that strongly suggested isolation began after the bone-chilling months of in-between, she pulls on sweats and Tee, runs a handful or two of tap water through her hair and over her face. The cat’s been provisioned, his vomit mopped up (what he hasn’t re-eaten). She’s set to go.

And yet, even as an introvert, she misses noisy Happy Hours she was pleased to walk away from, the long hikes with the usual crowd strung like pearls through wooded path and prairie.

The Keurig mimics her sigh.

🥕🥕🥕

Noirished by Bill Engleson

First, she sucked on the stogie. Then she plucked it from her gingered lips, glanced skyward, blew a smoke circle that looked, swear to God, like the Greasy Phil’s onion rings of my lost youth.

“I didn’t think you’d have the…” she said, before I rebounded with, “Yeah, I know.”

“So, what’s next?”

“Quarantine for life.”

“Not me, Shamus. Never.”

“You’re a menace, Katie.”

“What, just because I hugged them?”

“And nasal dripped them.”

“My nose always ran,” she snickered. “You know what they’re calling me?”

I did. “Yeah. COVID Katie.”

“Yeah,” she smiled. “Sounds…important.”

And crazy, I thought.

🥕🥕🥕

Nourish by FloridaBorne

“You take too many vitamins,” hubby scoffed, watching me wash them down with Rooibos tea.

Grunting from the strain of standing upright, he held onto the table for support. As usual, he left his soda can and potato chip wrappers for me to throw away.

“I have yoga at 10:00 today,” I said joyfully. “I’m walking with Lois, and grocery shopping after that. I’ll be home around 4:00.”

“You’re 70! Grow up!”

“A person either grows up or gives up,” I replied. “Don’t chastise me for choosing to nurture my body. Ask yourself why you chose to destroy yours.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Smiling Roses by Doug Jacquier

As Phoebe drove home with her husband, Spike, safely strapped into the passenger seat, she decided it was time for him to hear some home truths.

‘You know, Spike, in all our married years, never once have you praised anything I’ve done or supported me when it mattered. Frankly, I can’t even recall you being anything remotely like happy, except when you were sounding off about the stupidity of everyone around you.’

Silence.

Phoebe arrived home, unstrapped Spike’s urn, removed the lid and spread his ashes under her rose bushes.

‘Last chance to nourish something, Spike.’

The roses smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Nourishment by Sarah Brentyn

She felt magnolia petals falling on her grave.

Freshly dug, soil still loose, the mound surrounded by mourners, she heard crying. Noisy sniffles, gentle sobs, painful wails.

She shifted focus from those above her, fixing her mind on the tree. Its branches reached for her. This time of year, it offered pale pink flowers.

This time of year, it needed her most.

And every spring these coming years. Her body would nourish the magnolia roots and, in return, her grave would be speckled with velvet petals. Nourishment for her soul.

When the grieving left, would dance in nature’s bouquet.

🥕🥕🥕

Bat Incident by Simon Prathap D

Two vampire bats 🦇 talking to each other

I am so hungry today 🦇

Go ahead, get something to Dad 🦇

I am going to get some nourishing foods for both of us🦇

A few moments later….🦇

🦇 Son, this is called being selfish😠

For real?🙄 what makes you ask that?🤔

Look at you 🦇 , mouth full of blood🧛, You had alone🧛? How you got this much blood yourself, where is the nourishing foods for your Dad🤷‍♂️?

Dad🦇, You need to calm down first😠, did you see that black rod in the middle of that gap

Yes I do🤔🦇

But I didn`t dad🤕🦇

😂🦇😂

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Hematite Eyes by Kerry E.B. Black

Her baby’s eyes discomforted her. Odd, hematite, and unblinking. But his infant fist encircled her finger, and maternal instinct supplanted concern. She nursed the unblinking child until his eyes slid shut and he drifted to sleep.

He remained odd, different from other children, even when they shared activities. She coached, suggested, scheduled hopeful playdates, but he stayed aloof. With quiet, precise attention, he approached games like a soldier following orders. He studied others’ reactions, mimicked, but without emotion. He made no friends.

“Are you lonely?” she worried.

He studied her face, never blinking his hematite eyes. “Should I be?”

🥕🥕🥕

Nourish by Kathy70

I watch as a street-wise elderly woman takes a small bag out and looks around to see if anyone is watching, she slowly opens the bag and begins throwing out bread on the grass. Pigeons become brazen and hop on her hand to get more food.

Smiling she starts talking to the birds. A mom and 2 small children sit on a bench nearby and the children walk slowly up to the woman to pet the birds.  She lifts her hand to help a bird to sit on the child’s shoulder. They all seem happy and nourished by each other.

🥕🥕🥕

Sand Stories: Inspired by Shakespeare’s words: “tongues in trees, books in running brooks.” by Saifun Hassam

Diamante loved to sit on the seashore when the tide was out. Away from the bustle of village and temple life. Solitude. Calm. No gusty winds today hurling sand across the rocks. No shapeshifting dunes.

Last winter was a difficult one. A raging sea storm took the lives of three fishermen. One empty lonely boat drifted into a sheltered cove.

Today, children’s laughter and chatter filled the air. With Diamante’s help, they would create sand paintings, draw, and learn more about those intricate shells washed ashore. They would build sandcastles on the shore, stories drawn from their vivid imaginations.

🥕🥕🥕

A Little Something by Allison Maruska

I open the pantry, scouring it for nourishment. Scooting cereal and pasta out of the way, I see it–a box of Girl Scout cookies, unopened! My mouth waters as I tear off the tab and pull out a sleeve, anticipating the flood of minty goodness about to find me.

“Dinner’s in an hour.”

Wincing, I turn.

Mom holds her hand out.

Scowling, I hand it over. Instead of returning the box to the pantry, she opens the sleeve and hands me a cookie. “One won’t ruin your appetite.” Winking, she takes one for herself.

She’s pretty cool, I guess.

🥕🥕🥕

Extra Nutrition by Robbie Cheadle

“This bread is delicious, Mom. Can I have some more.”

“Of course, that’s why I’m baking fresh bread every day.”

“Why don’t you just buy it like you used to?”

“The grocery stores are not selling freshly baked bread. When the lock down restrictions reduce, the bakeries will re-open, but until then, I’m baking.”

“You could buy sliced bread.”

“I can’t stand those thin and insubstantial slices that taste like cardboard. Now that I look like Cousin Itt, with all this hair hanging down my back, I need extra nutrition to maintain it. Fresh bread with lots of butter.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sprinkles of Tenderness by Miriam Hurdle

“I’m amazed Rosie has changed so much since we adopted her six months ago,” said Sam.

“For a while, she went to the corner and face the wall every time I talked to her.” Elaine still puzzled.

“The social worker suspected something happened in her previous foster home.”

“She was afraid of us.”

“I admired your patience. You showed your affection by physical touch, warm smile, and inviting gesture instead of talking.”

“I’m pleased she trusts us.”

“It took us six months to break the ice.”

“She talked and called me Mom two days ago. It melted my heart.”

🥕🥕🥕

Nourishing the Mind by Susan Zutautas

Little one, you must always remember to nourish your mind.

But father how does one feed the mind?

Not feed … nourish.

Please explain as I am confused.

Each day, be sure you take time for yourself to breathe and relax, to reflect, to find peacefulness within, to count your blessings. Sit down, read a book that interests you, learn something new. Keep a journal and write what your heart says to you. Write down what is troubling you, your joys, your dreams, your hopes, and your desires. Get fresh air and enjoy your surroundings. Socialize, always be kind.

🥕🥕🥕

The Singing by Wallie and Friend

She liked to listen to them sing. The myyr always sang when the moon first showed its pale silver light over the Sleepless Sea. The little girl would sit on the pier, swinging her bare feet, and look out over the still black water.

Myyr song was not instinctively beautiful. It was a harmonious calling that made the child wonder. She could not sing with them, having no voice herself, but she liked to imagine she sang as she looked up at the thousands of stars. She felt that by listening, some part of their song must be hers.

🥕🥕🥕

Solo Nourishment by Ritu Bhathal

Mae gently emptied the last of the water from her watering can into the flowerbed.

The roses were doing rather well, all things considered.

All around her, news filtered in of the deaths of people around the world, and even some friends.

It had been tough.

Her usual routine of seeing her grandchildren at the end of each school day, with her feeding them nourishing snacks, and sometimes dinner, if her daughter was running late, was gone.

They couldn’t meet one another.

A video call sufficed, and the odd drive-by wave.

At least she could still nourish her garden.

🥕🥕🥕

The Seedling by John Lane

Matthew’s mother watched the eight-year-old remove the weeds, dig several inches, put the quaking aspen seedling in and place some organic compost around. All in the backyard.

Every day he would run out to check the seedling.

“Mom, it is not growing.”

His mom shook her head. “Matthew, give it a chance.”

At summer’s end, Matthew’s mother was hired, and they flew cross-country.

Matthew forgot about the tree.

Sixty years and one accounting career later, Matthew decided to visit the tree.

In the backyard was an enormous, smooth tree with yellow leaves.

He sighed. “Mom, sorry I doubted you.”

🥕🥕🥕

Grandfather’s Legacy by Jo Hawk

We discovered the tenacious evergreen sprig on our daily walk. Grandfather pitied the seedling clinging to bare stone. A full-grown pine needed access to the earth’s nutrients, and the minuscule reserves in the stone’s clefts and crevices would stunt the tree if it lived at all.

I was only a child, but I vowed to help the sapling. On warm days, we carried water. We sheltered it from storms and patted dirt at its roots.

Today my grandson and I took a walk. I introduced him to the tough tree and smiled when he vowed to protect Grandfather’s legacy.

🥕🥕🥕

The Blood-Trees by Joanne Fisher

The two men wandered into the clearing as it grew dark. To their horror it was littered with bodies.

“It’s like they’re empty vessels that were discarded.” One of them said checking a body. “They were exsanguinated. Vampires?” The other man looked around, the colour drained from his face.

“No, not vampires. Blood-Trees.” He stated.

“Blood-Trees?”

“Trees that get their nourishment from the blood of the living, rather than from out of the soil.”

It was now dark. All around them they heard the creaking of branches. The moon arose showing trees with black twisted shapes now surrounded them.

🥕🥕🥕

Apples by Charli Mills

Who’ll love the apple trees, Hester wondered as the wagon lurched forward. The youngest, she sat among her family’s meager belongings. A wagon-train of evicted miners trundled past shuttered copper mines.

When they married, Hester told Albert about the company houses and the community orchard. The county sold them the whole abandoned neighborhood on cheap terms. Albert flattened the other houses to grow potatoes. “Don’t harm the apple trees,” she said.

She nourished the trees into widowhood until they packed her up in a station wagon for the old-folks home. “The apples,” she whispered as the car drove away.

🥕🥕🥕

Apple Charlie by Michelle Wright

There is a place I love to go
Apple trees, row after row
Named after my grandfather who so many know
Apple Charlie’s

Apple Charlie lived there then
He lives there still
In all his descendants
With their strong wills

There is a place where barn animals eat
Children give them feed
Nutritious treat after treat
Apple Charlie’s

Charlie watches the children and smiles
He smiles as they shine an apple on their shirt
He smiles when they savor donuts dipped in cider

Like the bumblebees
We care for the orchard
Like Apple Charlie
We care for one another

🥕🥕🥕

And Then Alone by Sascha Darlington

I didn’t want to come home for Thanksgiving, navigate the endless sessions of why aren’t you like Nathan or Rachel? Why are you working an administrative job, pretending to be a writer? Why aren’t you going to graduate school? Becoming a lawyer, a doctor? It’s in our genes. Why are you our disgrace?

My grandmother survived Auschwitz. You’d think I could survive Thanksgiving.

I breathe a hundred breaths into the ending of this novel. My grandmother read every word, blessed them, before she passed. Now, I am alone.

My homemade pumpkin pie will nourish. Will my novel will appease?

🥕🥕🥕

Scion the Prize by D. Avery

“Kid, git in here! Dang. Shorty entrusted us with runnin’ our own Saloon, a place fer folks ta relax an’ rub elbows— git away fer a while. But then she done gifted ya with a scion, an off shoot a thet Poet–tree ya discovered outside the bunkhouse at Carrot Ranch.”

“Yep. So?”

“So, ya ain’t been tendin’ the Saloon! Yer always out back with thet offshoot an’ them kid goats an’—”

“An what, Pal? What’s the problem?”

“Ya gotta nurture the saloon, Kid.”

“Yep. An’ I gotta nourish the Poet-tree.”

“Why’s thet impor’nt?”

“’Cause it nourishes me.”

🥕🥕🥕

May 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

Soil-babies huddle around my radiators and spread across my dining room table. Hopeful colonists rest beneath soft blankets of moist earth in strange plastic pods as if these seeds were the last hope of a dying planet. With tender care, I convey trays of pods from the nighttime safety of my heated home to glorious life-giving sunshine that heats my back porch by mid-afternoon. At night, when the sun dips and the temperatures plummet, I reverse the trip.

Large plastic trays contain pods of blue, black, white, and red. Some are repurposed from the purchase of annual plants. Some are recycled mushroom trays. Others are fancy containers from the times last year when my daughter and I waited hours for handcrafted orders of maki, sashimi, and unagi from Sky Sushi. Ah, those were the days. The before days. The days before the owners returned to China in December for winter break and have been unable to return to their business on the Keweenaw. The after days is why we need the hope of soil babies.

I can’t call these intrepid garden Argo Sailors, seedlings or seeds because they are neither. They are the stuff hope is made of, something between a wish and a reality. All I can see is soil and humid plastic film carefully protecting the germination. I await signs of emergence. Then, I will know I have a hook to hang heavier hope upon.

And what do I hope for?

Health and happiness, mostly. I hope scientists find a cure for a virus that feeds upon human organs, drowning the lungs and clotting the bloodstream. I hope that as scary as circumstances might get, we all learn new ways to be. I hope for learning from the stillness. I hope for gifts in the silence. I hope to hug again, to travel, and be unmasked from every mask I’ve ever worn. I hope to pet my neighbor’s new puppy, to gather friends around the campfire we’re building in the potager, to hunt for agates and run from black flies again. I hope to have guests and readings and workshops in my new home. I hope no one has to fear losing their home. I hope people find their passion in their work and community. I hope simply to live as fully as I can.

Planting is an act. Waiting is learning to be. Watching what grows is acceptance. Wondering why something didn’t grow is curiosity. All this drives me to garden and write and greet the birds that fly overhead to remind me that dinosaurs never went extinct. Peregrine falcon nails a pigeon, and I nod to the velociraptor and albertadromeus syntarsus who continue the dance between predator and prey. Even the greatest carnivore eventually feeds the soil, which grows the vegetation for the quarry. Life is so grand we can’t possibly understand it all — the brain, the emotions, the viruses, and that’s to say nothing of our human constructions, our artifices that make us believe we are in control.

We control nothing. We carry plants from one room to another, chasing life essences and hope.

To an extent, you can control your writing. But where does creativity come from? Why does the same prompt lead us all down divergent paths? You can spark creativity, you can be disciplined to pursue it, but you can’t control the burst. Writers write. I want some of it to be an uncontrollable mystery. The craft, however, we can control in the same way we can build machines and shelters and societies. Writing is a hope of sorts, too. I hope to convey a combination of feeling, meaning, and story, fulling understanding that the receiver will experience my craft and creativity from a different perspective. Yet that is where art rests like soil babies waiting to emerge.

Craft includes a cast of characters. In addition to the protagonist — the showy centerpiece of the garden — a host of secondary characters adds to who the protagonist is or isn’t, and carries the story to its parameters. Secondary characters should feel as real as bachelor buttons. They might not be the climbing purple Polish Spirit clematis, but they give it definition. Secondary characters have a mission. If they don’t push the character arc or progress the plot, pull ’em — they are weeds. You didn’t work hard to craft hope to give it over to apathy. Highlight beauty. Dare to enter the shadows. Make a path. Make secondary characters part of the team.

And if you need hope, find what nourishes — you, your writing, your world. My daughter shared this article about well being during our times. I wasn’t surprised to see “nourish” on the list.

May 7, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to nourish. The characters can nourish or be nourished. What else can be nourished? A tree? A setting? Does the sunset nourish the soul? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 12, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.

Apples by Charli Mills

Who’ll love the apple trees, Hester wondered as the wagon lurched forward. The youngest, she sat among her family’s meager belongings. A wagon-train of evicted miners trundled past shuttered copper mines.

When they married, Hester told Albert about the company houses and the community orchard. The county sold them the whole abandoned neighborhood on cheap terms. Albert flattened the other houses to grow potatoes. “Don’t harm the apple trees,” she said.

She nourished the trees into widowhood until they packed her up in a station wagon for the old-folks home. “The apples,” she whispered as the car drove away.

Long Boards

The world has paused. During this stillness, we perhaps look to the past with nostalgia and wonder how our ancestors made do. Maybe that’s how the long boards came up. They were tall Finnish skis used when the snows came too deep to walk into town. For how long have we used long boards for recreation and purpose?

That’s the idea for writers to explore. They could craft a story about the use of any long boards, true, or imagined. Many thanks to Keweenaw storyteller, Myra Möyrylä, for the use of her story and photo to inspire this collection.

The following are based on the April 30, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features long boards.

PART I (10-minute read)

Finnish Elite Troops by Paula Puolakka

Every time the “Swedish Crown” needed to recapture lost land from Russia, and it was winter, the Finnish skiing troops were sent to action. The old Russian war accounts include descriptions of the swift and almost invisible Swedish soldiers who caused fear among the Russians. No, those were not Swedish, but Finnish elite troops. “Sukset” made them move as smoothly as Tolkien’s elves. Their status was equal to the status of the feared 14th-century longbowmen of England. They were not English noblemen but mainly Welsh retainers. The Finnish peasants (mastering the long wooden boards,) too, were promoted during wartimes.

🥕🥕🥕

Diving Board by Susan Zutautas

Joe had butterflies in his stomach long before his alarm clock went off. Today he’d be diving in a state competition. Scouts from well-known universities would be there and Joe was hoping for a scholarship.

Climbing the high dive ladder a wave of total confidence came over him.

The first dive was a backward dive. He sprung on the board once then twice, then it snapped startling him, but he carried through like a pro leaving the snapped board behind. Three scores from the judges were all 9.5. Joe and his team were ecstatic!

Joe was offered a scholarship.

🥕🥕🥕

Board Games by D. Avery

He skated into the park on the longest longboard any of us had ever seen; stood nonchalantly mid-deck, told us his name was TuKu.

He held everyone’s attention as his due, reveling in the anticipatory silence as we clutched our boards, shuffled in our Vans. Like a patient teacher, TuKu waited for Sammi to follow suit, but Sammi just kept rocking in place, tip to tail.

“Catch me, Not-So-Ku,” she said, and was instantly on the rail, landing after a double kickflip. We breathed, grinned. Nothing had changed.

“Come on,” we invited TuKu, and followed Sammi best we could.

🥕🥕🥕

When Life Gives You Lemons by Dave Madden

To say Josh had been inundated with bad luck would be an understatement: his transmission terminated; the boss made him work overtime, without extra pay; and his girlfriend dumped him, saying he loved Jiu-Jitsu more than her.

Josh’s troubles disappeared in the breeze while gliding on his longboard to practice. His mind was absorbed in the moment, and the board’s polyurethane wheels flattened the troublesome bumps along the way.

After several hours of strangling one another, Josh, carrying his board up the steep hill toward home, was more mentally prepared to tackle the lemons life threw at him.

🥕🥕🥕

Safety Measures by Simon Prathap

What are you doing?

Corona safety measures dad

Is that my board?

Yup the same long board you used in the beach last year

What are you trying?

I tie this to myself

So…?🤔

So that I will maintain social distancing, no one can come close to me

Brilliant son!🙄

Thanks, a help please

Okay, what am I supposed to do?😕

Here hold this, now I am going to tie this with a rope

What are you doing?🤔

I am going to tie this rope in this lock and…

This is a corona safety measure?🙄🤔

It’s Lock down dad!

🙄😵

🥕🥕🥕

The Race by John Lane

Hansel drove his Polaris snowmobile through the snow-covered trails until he hit upon Gretel’s truck. Gretel wiped a greasy concoction that smelled like fecal matter in a pine forest onto two wooden slats.

Hansel chuckled. “You can’t get up the mountain with that.”

Gretel shook his head. “Twenty dollars says that these longboards will get to the top first.”

“Easy money.”

Three times, Hansel tried to climb the mountain. And three times, the throttle safety switch cut out.

Gretel waited at the top for Hansel as Hansel finally made it.

Gretel held out his hand. “Easiest twenty ever made.”

🥕🥕🥕

Winter Roundup by Ann Edall-Robson

Full moon night
Twenty below
Spooked by a holler
From downwind
Horses charge
The chase begins
Handcrafted longboards
Replace saddles
Leather bindings
Cinched down tight
Lariats hung snug
Across chests
The stud horse nips
At rumps and withers
Wild horses
Are running hard
Cowboys push
Keeping up
Down the hill
Through spruce and pine
Frozen ground shakes
Branches snap
Destination
The pawed meadow below
Corral wings loom
Into their path
Slowing
Guiding the herd
Swirling, snorting
Freedom flight lost
Gate rails slide home
Ropes snake out
Horses shy
Nostrils flare, blowing
Winter full moon
Skiing cowboys
Wild horse roundup

🥕🥕🥕

Optimal Velocity by Jo Hawk

Miners extracted millions from Gold Mountain, but Peggy didn’t want money. She sought powder and speed. The day dawned bright and clear, as she and the longboarders climbed the 1,700-foot slope to the starting position.

Reaching the top, she strapped on her 12-foot long Norwegian skates. She had rubbed her secret dope into the hand-hewn, kiln-dried, vertical-grain Doug fir skis. The mixture of paraffin, tallow, tar, and hemlock oil guaranteed optimal velocity.

The contestants crouched, waiting. The starter hammered the giant saw blade. Peggy pushed against her pole and shot downhill. Sixteen seconds later, she began her next ascent.

🥕🥕🥕

Longboard Records Are Meant to Be Broken by Chelsea Owens

Helle sped the slope, pushed and doped. Her longboard grooves dug into powder-kissed snowbase. Down down down she sped, chasing a memory’s record.

“Hm,” said Riku, peering down from winter’s cloud. “Those be longboards.”

*WHOOSH* Helle still sailed. The stopwatch blinked 10 seconds.

“Oh,” said Riku, gripping at edge of sky. “She be a fast ‘un.”

Helle squinted against snow spray, wishing for goggles instead of scarves. She squatted, splashing a trail behind her.

“Oh. Oh!” exclaimed Riku. “She be my granddaughter!”

Sliding to a stop, Helle turned to check her time.

“13 seconds!” The clouds proudly quivered. “She beat me!”

🥕🥕🥕

Making Tracks by D. Avery

The old wooden skis had hung on the wall ever since I could remember. I’ll never forget how Granpa’s eyes twinkled like stars on a winter’s night as he proclaimed they just needed fresh klister, already warming in a crucible. Smiling through his snow-white beard, Granpa spread and scraped molten wax onto the bases of the skis, rubbed it smooth with the heels of his wizened hands. He told me he had waited his whole life to make these longboards sing.

I held the door. Then SWISH! Granpa was kicking up fresh powder, carving tracks along the Milky Way.

🥕🥕🥕

Long Boards Too Short by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“I’m sure there’s an old pair of your mom’s long boards…skis…here, with the children’s skis. Like you, she was full grown when she fostered with us. They should work for you, too.”

Hjordis twitched her troll’s tail as she peered past the snow giant’s thigh. “Sorry I didn’t bring mine, Magnhildr. When the Berserkers raided my home, I had to run.”

“I don’t imagine the horse you stole would’ve been happy galloping with a pair of skis on his back. Ah! Here they are. Hold your arm straight up.”

“They’re too short!” Hjordis grinned.

Magnhildr cursed. “That’s…inconvenient.”

🥕🥕🥕

Alley Oops by JulesPaige
(reverse haibun)

long boards down the lane
oiled for a game of ten pins
are alleys open…

We’ve played other versions too. Duck and Candle Pins. Each just slightly different, but still fun. We used to be in a league and still have our lockers at the local alley. I think hubby’s bowling shoes are at least half a century old. I used to get intimidated looking down those long boards. Shifting slightly left or right, hoping for a strike or spare. All the fears gone though – as now we just play for fun. I wonder is the Alley even open?

🥕🥕🥕

Surfer Girl by Sascha Darlington

The boys from the mainland think I’m weird. I have a shortboard, sitting in the sand, while they ride their longboards. They’ve never seen me ride. They think, because I’m a girl, I’m there to stalk them.

“A shortboard,” the tall one laughs. “Is that to match your height?”

Hurricane Anna builds waves. These boys surf when it’s calm, when waves are weaker. Today’s for real surfers.

I tug off my shorts and hoodie, grab Hugo the Shortboard, and run.

There’s nothing better than balancing on a board, feeling seaspray, adrenaline, unless it’s the shock on surfer boys’ faces.

🥕🥕🥕

The Art of Skateboarding by Ruchira Khanna

While sipping my tea at the crack of dawn, an idea sparked in my mind as I stared at my son’s longboard, “I should try this. After all, it’s all about balance.”

I lifted the board and walked towards my cemented yard.

After centering and grounding myself, I placed one foot on the board, and it whooshed off before I could put the other foot on it.

The result was a loud thud with an Ouch of a higher decibel that was quick to wake up my family.

“Nah! this is all about practice, not just a jiffy exercise!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Move by Priorhouse

Movers came and went.
Packaging tape screeched across boxes.

“Yes, I want them.”
“Mom, you have the other box already. One bedroom, remember?”
“Okay. Charity then.”

Rooms emptied.
Piles dissolved.
Later, a mover held up an old skateboard, “Keep or Donate?”
“Keep” we all exclaimed.

Unwrapping the cover, the wooden longboard was bent – clay wheels cracked. In the 1950s, when waves were flat, this longboard let grandad screech across the land.

“Isn’t that how he scarred his arms?”
“Yup, clay wheels were dangerous.”

The house was completely empty now – but finding grandad’s long lost longboard – filled us immensely.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Due to Unprecedented Circumstances, the Boarders Extend Their Stay by Anne Goodwin

Matty will extend the hand of friendship to anyone, but the manners of her current guests leave much to be desired. There are even men among the party, and bass notes do drum on her ears. She should not judge, for they know no better, but the fellow who sat opposite at breakfast slurped his tea.

Alas, she must continue to suffer their company. She cannot withdraw her hospitality with the world in disarray. Fortunately she has parlour games and monologues to entertain them. Matty will select exceptionally long board games to spread cheer throughout her boarders’ extended stay.

🥕🥕🥕

Long Boring by Simon Prathap

Don’t talk to me

But what did I do?

You hesitated to talk with my family and disconnected phone!

No! I did not hesitate, it’s a long boring conversation and they were not talking to me and they were talking to your parents

I know how you use to talk with them

But darling, I did not do it on purpose I thought the conversation will end and it was long, I am sorry darling, it is my mistake. I know it is our family.

You always realize that late?

Please forgive me, Please

Okay, No dinner for you.

🥕🥕🥕

Borberline Dull by Geoff Le Pard

‘Morgan, what is it now? We need to find a motel…’

‘Stop, Logan!’

‘You can’t need another pee…’

‘I was just reading…’

‘Are you feeling faint from all that intellectual effort?’

‘Shut up. The guide book says there’s this museum…’

‘You want to go to a museum? You are to museums what rats are to traps. Not a happy combination.’

‘It’s the American museum of boards. Skate boards. I’ve got to see this. Next left.’

‘A museum devoted to men whose trousers don’t fit?’

‘There’s the longest board in the world.’

‘It’ll be the longest I’ve ever been bored…’

🥕🥕🥕

Long Bored by FloridaBorne

Tilde didn’t care if yawning was uncivilized.  This museum was boring!

She wanted to see swords and axes used in battle — images of Vikings defeating Europeans, who were no match for their skill; not spun cloth and pottery.

Long boards stood in a row, skis by any other name.  They held no meaning to a girl who loved cuddling in a blanket as her mother spoke about their ancestors.

Her father said they’re name meant “sword,” but the tour guide said that Øster meant someone on the east.  What would she tell her next, that there was no Santa?

🥕🥕🥕

Awaiting Fame by R. V. Mitchell

Einar and Destin shifted the long pine plank into position as Thorbold prepared to rivet it into place.

“Don’t let it slide beyond the mark I made,” the master boat-wright snapped.

“Sorry Thorbold,” the pair said almost in unison.

Destin wasn’t really sure he was “sorry,” after all he had been building clinker ships nearly as long as his brother, Thorbold had.

He would show him one day. Sooner rather than later, in fact, that he, Destin Olafson could rival the skills of any boat builder in all of the Norse lands.

Just, today was not quite that day.

🥕🥕🥕

A Long Board by Doug Jacquier

The boss said to the boy ‘Fetch me a long board from the hardware. Ask Gus, the owner, he’ll know what I mean.’

Gus listened to the boy, grunted, and said to wait.

The boy waited, patiently.

Eventually Gus said ‘How long you been waitin’ now?’

The boy replied “Couple of hours.’

‘Are you bored?’

The boy nodded cautiously.

‘Well, then I guess you’re long bored, so you can go back to work now.’

When he got back his boss said ‘Well, where’s the long board I sent you for?’

‘The pigs are flying it in tonight.’

🥕🥕🥕

Building on a Dream by Annette Rochelle Aben

Frankie let out a deep sigh. No matter how hard he tried, the long boards were too heavy for him to carry. His older brothers, Ron, John, and Al could haul those boards around as though they were toothpicks. When would he be big enough to help his father build houses?

Dejected, Frankie sat down behind the lumber pile and began to cry softly.

“Where’s Frankie?’

“Yeah, we need someone to grab these boxes of nails.”

His older brothers were in trouble and they needed his help!

Frankie dried his tears, grabbed the nails, and ran after the crew.

🥕🥕🥕

Playing Pirates by Wallie and Friend

Two long boards made a very comfortable walk, and Tom appreciated the space to turn around, even though the boards were bendier than he liked. This was the moment he made his grand speech to the evil pirates before plunging into the watery depths of the sea.

Tom was about to speak when the boards suddenly creaked. He lost his balance and instead of drowning, sat down hard on the carpet.

The outrage from the pirates in their coffee table pirate ship made the boy rub his bruised elbow and glare.

“I thought you said that plank was safe!”

🥕🥕🥕

Precautions Not Needed by Charli Mills

Sam King parked the Willys Jeep in first gear. “Get the long boards,” he told his daughter.

Gripping the roll bar, Danni swung out the open side. Near the gate, the Lazy T Ranch kept long boards for crossing the boggiest parts of the high-meadow springs. Using her leather gloves, Danni moved one board at a time, setting each through the open space in the backseat. They stuck up at an angle. “Dad, you want me to tie a bandana on the end?”

Sam laughed. “We’re not likely to get rear-ended, Kiddo. The bulls are all down at headquarters.”

🥕🥕🥕

First Kiss by Susan Sleggs

Tessa stomped snow off her boots before going into her parents’ house. “Is our toboggan still around? The choir kids want to go sledding.”
Her father answered. “I’ll get it out if you promise not to allow co-ed rides.”

“Why would you say that?”

“I seem to remember my teenage daughter coming home all flushed because she had been kissed while in a jumbled pile after a toboggan mishap.”

Tessa’s eyes widened and she laughed aloud. “I haven’t thought about that in years. Wait till I tell Michael you remember that.”

“Your feet didn’t touch ground for a month.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Board Ritu Bhathal

Jonah let himself into his house and popped his keys on the sideboard when a strangled grunt of a noise startled him. It came from the living room.
He dropped the bags and rushed in to find his mother laying on her stomach, or rather, hovering, on her arms and feet.

“Mum! What’s the matter?” He went to help her up.

“Go… away… Jonah… I… am… trying… to… do… a… two… minute… long… board…” She struggled for breath, before the alarm beeped on her phone.
He laughed as she collapsed onto the floor. “Board? Oh, you mean a plank?”

🥕🥕🥕

Crack by Hugh W. Roberts

Rolling his heavy body towards the spot where Clarice had disappeared, Doug rubbed his hand over the long, bare floorboards. A crackling sound of static made the hairs on the back of his hand tingle.

***

Two floors below, Mike looked down at himself and took a deep breath. Pushing out the air hard, he aimed it towards the long boards just below where his other-self lay.

He watched as the boards started cracking.

***

Terrified by what the woman had yelled at her, Sophie’s shielded her face as the long floorboards underneath the woman began to make a cracking sound.

🥕🥕🥕

Ladybug by Saifun Hassam

At each end of the patio there were “steps” each made of two long cedar boards, supported by wood posts, cinder blocks, and rocks. Spider plants, morning glories, clematis, jasmine, and yellow climbing roses spilled over from the patio onto the steps.

Susan loved the mosaic of colorful petals and leaves drifting onto the boards, the changing patterns of light and shade. She transformed the mosaics into artwork.

Ladybugs clambered over roses, coral bells, petunias, hunting for aphids. Soapy water also helped to control aphids.

A strange season this was, also using soapy water to keep COVID-19 at bay!

🥕🥕🥕

Bored by Bill Engleson

She slowly peels the potato, lightly catching the skin. I pull her apron string.

“Not again!”

This time, she’s not smiling.

“I’m bored.”

“Go outside. Play.”

“Too hot.”

“Play in the shade.”

Outside, a buzz saw whines.

I peer through the fence.

Mister Jack is cutting 2 X 4’s.

I crawl through, watch, wait for silence.

He looks up, winks.

“Hot day, eh!”

My feet shuffle in the sawdust.

“Wanna help?”

I beam.

“Good. In the shop, then.”

I follow him in.

The door closes.

In the dark I hold my breath.

He hisses, “Let’s play our game, sweetie.”

🥕🥕🥕

Away From It All by Joanne Fisher

Stacey lay on her long board as she swam out from the shore. When she was far enough out, she sat on her board and waited for a decent wave to come.

Other surfers were mystified why she used a long board, the truth was she enjoyed the stability it offered while she sat and waited. Out here she was alone, she could breathe and think and ponder, and wonder at the vastness of the ocean that lay around her. Then a wave would finally come and she would surf back to the shore, and start all over again.

🥕🥕🥕

Establishments by D. Avery

“They’s openin’ up a ennertainment an libation establishmint over ta the Slim Chance Ranch.”

“Huh. We run sech a place.”

“Callin’ his place the Longboard Lounge. Claims ta have the biggist a ever’thin’.”

“Aw, Pal, that’s jist big talk. Bigger ain’t better. Don’t ya go worryin’ none ‘bout the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“Bigger pours, bigger portions…”

“We’re big on fun, Pal.”

“He’s offerin’ discounted prices.”

“An’ we ain’t never ast no one ta pay, Pal.”

“All ya kin write, he says.”

“An’ we say 99 words. Refreshin’ an’ satisfyin’.”

“Reckon thet’s the long an’ the short of it.”

“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

April 30: Flash Fiction Challenge

My bare feet pad across the cool boards of faded decking, relishing the warm places where the morning sun has touched. It’s spring in the Keweenaw, that season ever hopeful of summer. I’m arranging all my pots for planting, having saved mushroom trays all winter. With four drill holes, they make great pots for four seedlings. Last weekend, I cleared the deck planter my SIL built for my daughter but was too big to move. This is my first season getting to plant it and my kales, Yankee mixed lettuces, and nasturtiums have arrived, awaiting a push into the soil. But first, I must decide where to plant the garlic, snapdragons, and peas and which kind — dwarf sweet, snow pods, Tom Thumb, or purple.

These small decisions distract my mind from the fact that 60,000 Americans have no say in what happens next in the pandemic. I plant to the memory of all those around the world who have lost their lives to a virus that cares not what our favorite food is, or whether we prefer mountains to ocean surf. I can’t claim my potager as a Victory Garden as many did in WWI and II. There is no victory in surviving a worldwide pandemic, but I’m going to declare my veg, flowers, and fairies a Hope Garden.

I’m as excited about the fairy garden as I am the unicorn room. Both offer space for play, an important element to any creative person. Already, I’ve been using my room to work out scenes and develop secondary characters. Just when you think you’ve “got” this fiction writing down, another layer emerges to work seamlessly into the overall design. Secondary characters need to be as round as primary ones — the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s). Does your book need a villain? No, but you must derive tension from somewhere. The purpose of an antagonist is to agitate the areas the protagonist doesn’t want to touch. A situation, place, society, or self can all stand in as an antagonist.

Right now, I’m building an arsenal against my garden’s anticipated antagonists — slugs. Every morning, I crack fresh farm eggs for scrambled, panakuchen, or buttermilk pancakes. I then crush the colorful shells of cream, green, orange, and rusty-speckled in a spent paper bag from our monk-coffee. I’m building up a supply to mulch around my slug-vulnerable Brussels sprouts this year. I’ll also set out some Keweenaw Brewery Widowmaker, a dark ale, to entice the slugs to drown their worries in a saucer of beer. I’ve also hired a garden pixie to watch over the potager. She’s set to arrive next week from an Etsy shop that specializes in fairy gardens. I’m serious about my play.

Somehow, opening up to play reminded me of my great-grand Uncle Fred Paullus and great-grand Aunt Myrtle Nuñes. They were in their seventies and still ranching in Tres Pinos, California when I used to go play with them. It was before kindergarten when my mother would go off to work in her mini-skirts. I think they were family tapped to babysit me. Whatever the arrangement, I loved my Uncle Fred and Aunt Myrtle. He was a cowboy from Idaho who had ranched in California since the time of the Spanish Flu, the great-grandnephew of Cobb McCanles. Aunt Myrtle was the grandaughter of vaqueroes who had lived in California long before it ever became a US state.

One particular memory became my uncle’s favorite story to tell. At that time, I loved riding with them in the truck to check on the cows and calves. Uncle Fred had a water-trough where the cows would come out of the oak and grass-covered hills to drink. On this particular day, we got out of the truck and walked up to a gruesome sight — a dead calf, bloodied and torn. I’d seen death before on the family ranches, but not one so violent. My Uncle Fred scratched his head under his Stetson, looked over to Aunt Myrtle whose eyes had gone wide behind her cat-eye glasses, then looked down to me with a kind expression and said, “Lil’ Charli, ‘fraid a mountain lion got this little fella.”

That’s all he had to say. My five-year-old brain kicked into survival mode, and I ran. You know the saying — you only have to run faster than the slowest in your group, and at pre-k age, I discovered I indeed could outrun two seventy-year-olds. I ran to Uncle Fred’s truck, scrambled inside, rolled up both windows, and locked the doors. For the next 30 minutes, my Uncle tried to convince me to unlock the doors. I would feel more shame as an adult that I left my beloved relatives to fend for themselves if it weren’t for the fact that Uncle Fred found the incident funny. He thought me a clever girl for thinking to lock out the big cat that had taken down a calf. They also instilled within me a sense of play based on a curiosity that I still retain, as I realized their humor eased what could have been a traumatic incident in my young life.

Have you ever wanted to curl up at the feet of a good storyteller? Draw a blanket around you like an eternal child, burrow into its warmth, keep an ear out to hear, and a hand to hold a mug of coffee. Well, maybe kids shouldn’t be drinking coffee, but I long to sit blanketed and child-like at the knee of my friend and captivating storyteller, Myra Möyrylä. Since the pandemic, she’s stepped up on Facebook to entertain the community with memories of her ancestors, writing detailed, heartfelt stories of the people from her past who taught her sisu and other values in their adjustment to the New World from Finland to the Keweenaw. Some of her kin remind me of mine though we both came from such different regions and cultures.

To give you a taste, Myra writes the following caption to this week’s challenge photo:

Long boards aren’t only for surfers💙🇫🇮these cross country skis from Finland are well over a hundred years old and serviced a lineage of ancestors for their transportation needs. They were last known as Great Uncle Vic’s skis. Before cars and roads people walked were they needed to go and in the winter laced the leather straps to their boots and set off on skis.🇫🇮 Sisu, sauna, farming, cross country skis and a love for the outdoors and strong coffee came over with our families 💙🇫🇮 good memories during these complicated times💙🇫🇮

This is the first time I’ve seen cross-country skis so long or heard the phrase long boards for skis. In addition to surfboards, I’ve heard of long skateboards, too, and can imagine the phrase extending to snowboards. Who was the first human to decide that a board was good transportation upon water, frozen or deep?

I wonder the fate of Uncle Fred’s things. I know he had tools made by his Grandfather Riley, a Union soldier from Tennessee. People like Uncle Fred or Uncle Vic learned to do with what they had, and innovate for what they needed. Women like Aunt Myrtle and Myra’s family made homes and passed down values like sisu and endurance. It is an interesting time to consider what we have from our past that we can use in our future. Perhaps the stillness a pandemic offers is a gift to revise old stories in new ways, plant heirloom seeds for future harvest, and laugh away the fear. This is life. And we are the ones who write about it.

April 30, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features long boards. They can be used in any way you imagine, including a name for sporting equipment. How are they used and who is using them? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 5, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.

Precautions Not Needed by Charli Mills

Sam King parked the Willys Jeep in first gear. “Get the long boards,” he told his daughter.

Gripping the roll bar, Danni swung out the open side. Near the gate, the Lazy T Ranch kept long boards for crossing the boggiest parts of the high-meadow springs. Using her leather gloves, Danni moved one board at a time, setting each through the open space in the backseat. They stuck up at an angle. “Dad, you want me to tie a bandana on the end?”

Sam laughed. “We’re not likely to get rear-ended, Kiddo. The bulls are all down at headquarters.”

April 23: Flash Fiction Challenge

Now, I remember. It’s purple flowers first. Crusty snow holds on in the northern shadows and grit covers yards, unraked mats of maple leaves, and driveways. Spring arrives dirty to the Keweenaw, but that doesn’t deter the first flowers emerging. Purple crocus and grape hyacinth spear upward and bloom barely inches above all that remains of winter’s onslaught of snow and sand. No wonder romance favors spring with its hope and optimism. Snow can’t stop the love flowers have for the sun. Any additional snow squalls at this point are pure moisture for unstoppable hardy blooms.

Cabin fever often gives way to gardening delirium. I admit to frequent lurking at Geoff Le Pard’s (virtual) place to drool over his gardens and coo at Dog. At a distance, my daughter and I have been garden-scheming, though mine is small-scale. She’s growing five years of food to feed and cider the Keweenaw. I’m plotting (hey, there’s that writing term) a potager garden with plans for a W-shaped series of five towers of morning glories, scarlet runner beans, purple-pod peas, and climbing clematis. I’ve yet to sort out the mix of flowers and veg, but it will include nasturtiums, cosmos, marigolds, beets, broccoli, lemon cucumbers, squash, potatoes, and garlic.

I can get as lost among the seeds of a garden as I can the scenes of a novel. When it comes to writing, I’ve heard the voices of my characters and their stories come to me in scenes. The idea behind a potager garden is that flowers and herbs are planted with kitchen vegetables to enhance the garden’s beauty. I’m also learning that craft elements added to scenes enhance a novel. It takes dreaming and planning; experimentation, and knowledgeable guidance; and the guts to see it through all the hardships of pests, weather, and work.

What can I tell you about a scene? Think of them in terms of plants. Just as you build a garden plant by plant, you build a story scene by scene. A potager garden is like a type of story — short, creative non-fiction, novella, memoir, novel. Whatever form your story takes, you build it through scenes. Each scene has action or emotion (or both), which furthers the plot or character development. Writers craft scenes through elements, including dialogue, tension, foreshadowing, tone, world-building, and themes. The more you push into writing a novel, the more complex your scenes become. We can write scenes and rearrange them, but at some point, for a longer piece of work, we have to make sure the scenes carry the story from opening to conclusion.

It’s been a while (or feels like it, but quarantine warps the sense of time) since I’ve shared articles from my coursework. Not that we’ve advanced, most of the articles we are reading are scholarly and behind the gates of ivory towers. This disappoints me because I can’t make these readings accessible to you. You could see if your local library has access, and if you are interested, contact me for titles and authors. However, I can share this online post about what should go into a scene. It’s a bit like a guide to planting a potager garden — certain craft elements can be companionable in a scene.

If you regularly write 99-word stories, you are routinely practicing scenes. You can focus on one or more craft elements, explore a story, complete a story from beginning to end, connect a series of stories, explore characters, and even write the backstory to your works in progress. Flash fiction is both an art and a tool. It’s versatile and instructive. Something that has come easily to me in my coursework is the crafting of scenes, and I attribute that to frequent flashing. In a recent assignment, we had to write a scene in ten sentences, and then rewrite it in a single 100-word sentence. The more you can challenge yourself to write a single story or scene in multiple ways, the better you will become at managing your writing.

A potager garden doesn’t manifest in a day or a season, but the more you plan and combine and learn from those who have successfully raised one, the closer you will be to having a thing of function and beauty.

Speaking of beauty, love is in the air as always, despite  COVID-19. Maybe thoughts of gardens and flowers emerging stir the romantic vibes. Looking for uplifting stories from our strange and isolated days, I came across a New York Times profile of an octogenarian pair of lovers on opposite sides of the German-Danish border. It will lift your spirits to read about their determination to date no matter the distance they must keep. This got me thinking about love lives in the age of coronavirus. So we are going to navigate romance. Your story does not need to be a romance genre, but it will be part of the topic.

Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.

April 23, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about distance dating. It can be any genre, era, or setting. Who is dating, and why the distance? How do the characters overcome, accept, or break up because of the distance? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 28, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Captivity by Charli Mills

They captured her in the spring of 1904. Her long stride couldn’t save her, though she fled across the high desert basin, nostrils flared, mouth dry, making for a canyon where she could drink from the creek. What she didn’t know is that they set a trap, blocking her exit. Exhausted, she relented and followed the men into a captivity of fences.

He visited her often, staying back at a distance, the one true love of her life.

“Hey Cap, there’s that stallion again.” The young man who rode her back pointed.

She whinnied and pranced, thirsting for love.

Crazy

The human world stays at home in solidarity during these crazy COVID-19 times and yet, the natural world spins on oblivious of its 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Some want to escape the crazy train (and some do, look — a mothership arrives). Some explore crazy good times, like a ’70s rock concert. Words of comfort, agitation, and rhyme circle around what is crazy.

This week, writers around the world followed the prompt wherever it led. And when crazy is the word, expect the unexpected.

The following stories are based on the April 16, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something crazy.

PART I (10-minute read)

Crazy by Pete Fanning

They say the world has gone mad. But maybe it’s the people who’ve lost their balance. On this giant planet two tiny ants play chase on a stalk of grass, blissfully uninformed. Two butterflies thrash about in silent beauty while a woodpecker calls out with a maniacal laugh. A stream races over the rocks, in a rush to join broader waters. Flowers bloom.

The world we knew months ago has changed, but the trees still bend and whine in the gusts. The squirrels still dash between limbs. And the sun still rises in a spectacular way… if anyone’s looking.

A Stir-Crazy World by Ritu Bhathal

I can’t help but laugh.

When else have we seen people:
Lunge for loo roll?
Fisticuffs over flour?
Battle for bread?
Scuffle over sanitiser?
Persist over pasta?
Tiff over tinned tomatoes?
Dual over dried milk powder?
Brawl over bleach?
Challenge over chicken?

The world is stir-crazy right now.
All we can do is
Sit it out
Walk it out
Watch it out
Read it out
Write it out
Create it out
Cook it out
Eat it out

We’ll come out the other end
Possibly fatter
Maybe thinner
Hopefully more compassionate
Definitely grateful

And able to still raise a smile.

🥕🥕🥕

Crazy by Jaye Marie

Most people would object to being called crazy but I kinda like it, for I have never been what you would call normal.
I knew I was different from a very early age and in a funny way I have always been a little proud of the difference.
I’ll let you into my secret.

Being crazy I can get away with almost anything and no one has ever tried to stop me.
When I went shopping wearing my bunny rabbit onesie, no one was shocked or batted an eyelid.
but when I fixed the fence in the pouring rain…

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Rock Concert by H.R.R. Gorman

We screamed at the stage, the speakers so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves. Through the smoky, cocaine-riddled haze, I spotted the Wilson sisters wailing on their guitars.

“Crazy on you-”

I sang in return, mind spinning, body sweating, blood pulsing, lips grinning. I wasn’t sure where all of my pants had gone, and my wallet was probably surfing through the opposite end of the crowd by now. But it had no money in it anyway, and I lived in such a small town the police didn’t need to see my ID when I got pulled.

“Crazy, crazy on you…”

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Backyard Quandary by Susan Zutautas

Exhausted from a long crazy day at work I needed to take a little time to relax before starting dinner. I grabbed a beer and headed outside to the backyard. The sun was just starting to go down, and I didn’t feel the need to turn on the outside lights. Sitting in my favorite chair sipping my beer I saw the neighbor’s black cat in the distance. Here kitty, kitty, I called again and again until he finally started walking towards me. As he got closer to me, I stopped breathing and froze. Not a cat … a skunk!

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The “CRAZY”s by Michelle Wright

Cringe-worthy
Ringleaders
Arousing
Zany
Yearbook pictures

I joined the “CRAZY”s. We tried to sabotage every photograph. You can find our symbol hidden within most photos. Our demise began with the cat of our art teacher. Mr. Whiskers used his claws to grab hold of the plastic spider I was dangling from my hideout spot. The darn cat kept pulling down while I tried pulling the spider back up. I came to realize how overfed Whiskers had been as he was able to pull me down to face plant on the floor.

We say, “Now the ‘CRAZY’s are no more.”

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Dog Crazy by D. M. Seyfer

After a long night fretting about contagious this and that, my eyes finally sealed for a few hours until barking, yelping, whining. A deliveryman plodded to my door with stacks of boxes in hand. Three dogs bounded to the double-pain window barking and pawing. Umphf! A large brown paw pushed into my gut. What a crappy way to wake up! I shoved him off and curled to avoid another barrage of paws to my body. My small dog’s high pitched warning to stay away continued, and the other two pushed and shoved each other off the cushion with excitement.

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An Australian on the road in Tenby (Wales) by Doug Jacquier

At the Buccaneer Pub, inside the walls of the old town, I’m drinking with ancients like myself, pretending to be interested in rugby, while they pretend to be interested in cricket, but neither of us fakes their distrust of the Royals. Although it must be said that the man in the top hat and overalls, feeding his bar-stool-perched water spaniel some crisps and Guinness, is a little less harsh than his mates. He would allow them to take their own lives come the revolution. ‘Your round, convict lad,’ smiles Top Hat, ‘and mine next if the dog thinks you’re funny.”

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Crazy Situations by Hugh W. Roberts

While shielding his eyes from the bright light, his army service time in Iraq made Mike expect an explosion to follow, but nothing materialised.

Opening his eyes, a crazy situation unfolded in front of him. He found himself looking down at himself.

***

Thinking she recognised the warning voice, Sophie couldn’t help but keep her eyes on the crazy situation in front of her.

“Time to die. But who?” yelled the woman.

***

Two floors above, Doug moved his hands away from his face and found he was alone again.

“That’s crazy. People don’t just disappear into thin air,” he insisted.

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In the Mind of Crazy Rhyme by Chelsea Owens

Soft the silence screaming
names she’s standing, sighing

Soft the sickness of the
suffocation singling

Soft the sex they had be-
fore the space between them

‘Fore the years of silence

‘Fore the mental sickness

-Can’t he hear her scream?-

Loud the longing yearning
pushing pulling prompting

Loud the laughing demon
in her head is lying

Loud the lightning-flashes,
loading mem’ries of him

Listing years-of-longing

Listing dreaming-lyings

-Can’t he see her yearn?-

Fly now, fleeting fledgling
first to reach the window

Fly toward feet-led floating
to the hallway’s ending

Fly now, and be free

-Can’t he see she’s free?-

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Gull Mafia by Janet Guy

A seagull perched on a cement post along the railing as I leaned over. A second seagull stood ankle deep in the river over a prone pigeon. The gull snapped here and there along the pigeon’s body, pushing its head below the water. The pigeon’s wings flailed. Was it from the motion of the waves, or was it still alive? I jumped back. The first seagull met my look of horror with cool amber eyes. Was it the lookout or waiting for sloppy seconds? Had I just witnessed a hit by the seagull mafia? “This is crazy,” I whispered.

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Crazy Day by Lisa A. Listwa

It was a Monday kind of Tuesday.

Ellis sat on the bus with hat in his hands and briefcase on his lap as he did on any other normal Tuesday. But this Tuesday was about to get as unnormal as it possibly could.

Ellis waited patiently for his stop. Standing silently when it was his turn, he placed his hat on his head, nodded to the driver, descended the steps, and landed squarely in a bowl of tomato soup.

“Finally! You’ve arrived!” said a well-dressed platypus on a raft.

“Yes.” Ellis blinked in the greenish sunlight.

“Let’s get started.”

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Goin’ Crazy by Cara Stefano

Lock downs started four weeks ago. Visiting Walgreens’s drive through pharmacy has been my social hour. At the grocery store I wore my bank robbin’ get up, feeling sad and scared and foolish and deadly serious all at once. No one laughed at me. My favorite time of day is when the mail truck comes through our development. Taking the trash out is the highlight of my week. I’ve never felt more like I’m on a roller coaster; however, I actually prefer the spin and puke rides. Come and take a spin with me?

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Crazy Eight Hill by Ann Edall-Robson

The cattle liner slowed, dust swirling. Three days earlier, Crazy Eight hill had been a rutted, rain-drenched, slimy road. It had taken every bit of sinew in his arms to maneuver the loaded truck safely to the bottom. Delivering the cattle to the ranch on the other side of the river below was his goal.

This was the third load from as many auctions. His reputation assured the new owner that the heifers would arrive in good shape. Thankful it hadn’t started raining again, he started the tedious eight-mile descent to the hairpin turn onto the bridge.

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A Poet’s Imagination by Saifun Hassam

He would sit by the Sea at dusk. He read aloud from his favorite poems. Possibly the first one was Longfellow’s “The Sound of the Sea” or Poe’s “The City in the Sea.” Later it would have been Frost’s “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep” or Merwin’s “Leviathan” or Stevens’ “The Idea of Order at Key West.”

Possibly he drifted off to sleep as the sun set, into skies of misty yellows, red and purple. Was it his imagination? He heard voices from the depths, whispering poems. Perhaps inspiration, a spark of crazy creativity that filled his own poetry.

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Broken Freedom by Dave Madden

Nearly two months had passed since John had punched anyone in the face, and he was about to begin punching himself. The world between his ears had become hectic.

John called his teammate Derrick, “Let’s train in your backyard.”

Finally, Derrick budged.

Of course, light mitt work soon turned into a brutal sparring session, and a straight right hand gave John’s nose a grotesque hook.

“If I go to the hospital, I’ll be fined for leaving my house. This was supposed to be a secret,” John said through a bloody towel.

Derrick said, “I’ll reset it. Ready, one, two…”

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Returning by D. Avery

“Guess we’ll pack up,” said Bill.

Of course hunting was off. Aaron noticed they’d removed the bolt from his rifle. “You guys must think I’m nuts.”

Harry spoke. “Dad’ll know what to do.”

Always ‘Dad’; not ‘my dad’, or ‘our dad’. ‘Dad’. But theirs. Not Aaron’s.

“Guys, let’s go sledding down Bear Hill. Like that time.” He saw the brothers both smile at remembering a long ago weekend at this camp with their dad. And with him. Aaron remembered having a crazy idea then that he could be their brother too, could say the word ‘dad’ capitalized, fully formed.

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C r a z y by Hanna Streng

The dam that had held me captive for so long had finally broken and a roaring river of words had rushed out of me. They had told him everything he never asked to hear, and more still. Now I could feel it ebbing out so I just let out a last, deep sigh of relief.

“You must think I’m crazy.”

“Depends.” He turned to look at me for a moment, as to reveal the slight smile in his eyes. “Convince me you’re not.”

“I’m not.”

At this his smile slowly traveled down to his lips.

“Okay, I believe you.”

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PART II (10-minute read)

Delightfully Daft by JulesPaige

I have a little fairy
she plays on my chandelier
upon her dress is printed a message;

wonder, explore, seek;
“Plunge boldly into the thick of life.” – Goethe
She goes where I cannot…
to the opening between the rocks –
to converse with other fae

Am I crazy to dream
that when she returns… she’ll
share her adventures with me?

I have a little fairy
to remind me to fantasize
about kind dragons
that will slay my dis-ease
of what may lurk in shadowed caverns

though I am beyond
the time to entice magical unicorns…
am I crazy to believe?

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Bitten by Joanne Fisher

“I see there are a couple of marks on your neck.” The Doctor said examining me. He pressed down on one of them and I felt a sharp pain.

“Yes they’re vampire bites.” I told him.

“Vampire bites?”

“A vampire regularly feeds on me. That’s why I’m always lacking energy and prone to anemia.” I informed him.

“I see.” He answered while sitting back down. “You do know vampires don’t exist?”

“Do I sound crazy to you?” I asked him.

“I’m afraid you do.” He replied calmly.

“Okay. Maybe I am crazy.” I conceded. “But what if I’m not?”

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Blank Canvas by Reena Saxena

unlimited imagination
a ton of rebellion
a dash of madness
is lot of inspiration
to defile blankness
with lines and shapes
fill them up with
hues and shades…
of eccentricity

He is now transported to a place where he has to live by rules. Certain acts are to be executed at a certain time, if you don’t want to be chastised by robots.

There is a vacuum inside with no perception, judgement, initiative or intensity.

He has lost everything of value to him. There is an empty canvas on the easel, his colors and tools. What will he paint?

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Crazy Mom by Ruchira Khanna

The alarm wakes me up by 6 am. After freshening up, I pick up my bell and perform a ritual that has given me a nickname, ‘Crazy mom.’

But nothing can derail my enthusiasm about it, since being an advocate of energy medicine, I love to stir up energy into the stagnant particles of my home with this gentle jingle. This shift activates all the molecules that will eventually also liven up the spirits of all the humans living in it.

I call it killing two birds with one stone since the above activity also wakes up my teen.

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Hide-and-Seek by Kerry E.B. Black

June crab-walked under the manicured forsythia bushes surrounding the wrap-around porch, holding her white party dress in an unwieldy bunch before her belly. Sweat straightened her curls and trickled saline into her eyes. Somewhere along here, a tiny door led to a slide she could take into the basement if need be. Of course, then her dress would definitely be ruined, since it used to be the coal cellar, and much of the soot lingered even all these years later – sort of how the “crazy” stuck around her bloodline no matter how hard her relatives tried to dilute it.

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Plucked by Charli Mills

Hazel plucked an avocado from the tree in Granny Clemmie’s yard and skipped on bare feet down the tarred road toward the canal. It stunk like ripe garbage, which was better than the constant snort of dust back in Oklahoma. California burst with crazy abundance. Model T’s rattled out of fields stacked with fruit crates. Only problem were them busybodies pestering mama about her kids being little malingerers. What was a child but a wild wanderer, laughed mama? Crazy thing, they ended her freedom that day, shipped her back like a burlap of walnuts to the Oklahoma Girls School.

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Brutal Craziness by Faith A. Colburn

Majda Obradovic thought she had left the craziness behind when she escaped Bosnia with only her daughters and her life—and some engraved shell casings. I’d realized before how people make beautiful things out of horrors—my dad had a coffee table made of military brass from the Korean Conflict. I don’t know the calibers of Majda’s shell casings, but I’m in awe of the engravings. Around the base of each casing were fleur de leis, and on the largest, central Sarajevo with its mosque, its synagogue, and its temple, and all the people on the promenade walking together.

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Crazy Expectations by Susan Sleggs

“Hi Michael, it’s Clare.”

“A phone call! What’s up?

“I need your help. How about a road trip?”

“Medical or musical?”

“Medical. Remember when you called me crazy the first time I asked you to get from the floor into your wheelchair on your own?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I have a young lady that added ‘bat s__t’ to the crazy part. She’s fully capable, but won’t even try. I think you’d be able to get through to her. Besides, I want to meet Tessa.”

“You know Tessa’s name?”

“Yeah, from your Mom’s Facebook page.”

“Figures. How soon are we traveling?”

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What Not to Do by John Lane

In February 1988, during my third week of Basic Training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, I fired an M-16. Unfortunately, I kept missing the target. Frustrated, I told the drill sergeant that I had enough. Here is what followed:

“PRIVATE LANE?”

“Yes, Drill Sergeant.”

“YOU WANT TO GO HOME?”

“Yes, Drill Sergeant.”

“GUESS WHAT, PRIVATE LANE?”

“What, Drill Sergeant?”

“YOU’RE NOT GOING HOME!”

“Yes, Drill Sergeant.”

“GET BACK IN THE FORMATION.”

Four the next four weeks, I was the target of every drill sergeant in the company. Four years later, I completed my Army enlistment with an honorable discharge.

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In the Time of COVID-19, Two Guys Remembering the War Measures Act of 1970 by Bill Engleson

‘He was straight as a friggin’ arrow. Can we say that?’

‘Don’t know. Doesn’t really matter. Who’s listening, anyways?’

‘Yeah, well, that’s a whole other story.’

‘I remember the way he was back in high school. Couldn’t get a peep out of him.’

‘It was crazy the way he was. Teenagers are supposed to go a little nuts. Cut loose. Do something wild.’

‘How’d it happen that he suddenly became…?’

‘Deranged?’

‘I was gonna say crackers.’

‘His family did have this anti-government thing.’

‘So un-Canadian.’

‘So were armed troops in the street.’

‘Better get used to it, again eh.’

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Crazy by FloridaBorne

“Crazy gypsy,” I muttered, as the fortune teller babbled nonsense.

“A disease created by China will bring this country to her knees. Killing newborn babies will be an… an… essential… service, but you will not be allowed to purchase an American Flag.”

“I’m living in 1950, not crazy world,” I chuckled.  “This is nuts!”

The gypsy smiled. “Just because I’m crazy doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”

“I fought in the war!  My friends died protecting flag, family, and freedom!  No veteran would allow that to happen!”

She looked into me with sharp blue eyes and said, “But your children will.”

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Argh Chute by Gary Holdway

The deafening roar of the engines grew too far away to be heard over the awesome power of the air. I raced toward the ground at frightening speed, the skin of my face flapping in the wind. I pulled my chute, and everything shuddered and slowed. My lips relaxed back into position across my mouth, I could breath again. It was beautiful, looking out over the horizon, drifting high above the ground like a dandelion carrying a wish.

Once the parachute slowed me down enough I reached for my knife and cut the ropes. I thought It’d be fine!

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Crazy, Plum Crazy by Geoff Le Pard

‘This place is driving me crazy.’

‘You’re doing their driving, Logan.’

‘What?’

‘If you’re doing the driving and it’s making you crazy, then it’s, you know, self-inflicted.’

‘What are you on about, Morgan?’

‘No, listen. Ever since we entered Michigan, you’ve been banging the steering wheel.’

‘That’s because these people are crazy. They overtake on the inside, for pity’s sake.’

‘That’s because they drive on the right.’

‘That’s crazy.’

‘At home the inside is the outside. So here the right is the wrong.’

‘And you fella! Morgan, you’re an idiot.’

‘Thanks.’

‘Don’t change, will you?’

‘Not a chance.’

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A Stir-Crazy World by Ritu Bhathal

I can’t help but laugh.

When else have we seen people:
Lunge for loo roll?
Fisticuffs over flour?
Battle for bread?
Scuffle over sanitiser?
Persist over pasta?
Tiff over tinned tomatoes?
Dual over dried milk powder?
Brawl over bleach?
Challenge over chicken?

The world is stir-crazy right now.
All we can do is
Sit it out
Walk it out
Watch it out
Read it out
Write it out
Create it out
Cook it out
Eat it out

We’ll come out the other end
Possibly fatter
Maybe thinner
Hopefully more compassionate
Definitely grateful

And able to still raise a smile.

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On Thursday Evening by Anne Goodwin

Out they poured from their houses
Paused on their doorsteps
Ready to proclaim
Their support
The ritual way
With their hands.
Primed by the media
The government briefings
The slogans targeted at their hearts,
They knew what was needed,
They’d done it before.
In common cause with their neighbours,
Albeit socially distanced
In their separate booths,
They picked up the pens
They marked their crosses
In the box
For the party that promised
To rid dear Blighty
Of the infection
The virus
The scourge of immigration
Of social justice
Of healthcare free at the point of delivery for all.

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A Matter of Perspective by Jo Hawk

Insanity is measured by degrees, strictly classified by definitions, interpretations, and clever disguises. A tight white coat choked the evaluator, stripping him of his humanity. If he would only release himself from his strait-laced leash, he would see. He scribbled unintelligible notes with invisible ink and labeled my actions a Hail Mary call for help.

Nobody listened to the warnings I screamed loud and clear. Sometimes a hero must first rescue herself, so that night, with the walls closing in, I climbed Signal Mountain and sent my desperate S.O.S.

The mother ship answered, and I escaped this helter-skelter world.

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Attitude Shift by D. Avery

“Pal! There’s a uni-corn wand’rin’ Carrot Ranch!”

“Yer crazy, Kid.”

“It’s fer real. If’n I kin find this uni-corn I’ll… I’ll…”

“Jist what will ya do if’n ya track down thet uni-corn?”

“Reckon I’ll rope it.”

“Uh-huh. Then whut?”

“Reckon I’ll lead it back ta the Ranch. Corral it.”

“Uh-huh. Or git it inta a stall. Think it’d be happy, roped an’ corralled?”

“Not at first. But…”

“But what? You gonna tame it?”

“Yeah. Tame it an’ train it. Till it’s—”

“Docile as any old plug?”

“Um…”

“Some things cain’t never be undone, Kid.”

“I’ll leave it be.”

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