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Mud on the Tires Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

An Annoying Speck by Hugh W. Roberts

It was the tiniest speck of mud on the type, but it annoyed him. He couldn’t leave it there on such a special occasion.

“MARSHALL! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” bellowed a voice.

“But sir, there’s–“

“I DON’T CARE. BACK TO YOUR POSITION, NOW!”

“YES, SIR!”

A few seconds before setting off, Marshall retook his chance and removed the mud while his leader turned his back.

Then, on the sound of his boss’s bellowing voice giving orders, Midshipman Marshall joined the other 97 royal navy soldiers in towing the carriage containing the Queen’s coffin as the sound of bagpipes played.

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Stories Retold by Reena Saxena

He is ready to glide into the future. Inherited wings feel light on shoulders, as wheels whir before leaving the ground.

A force stands ready to support, send or receive anything as per instructions. Vehicles are cleaned and polished to carry stories into the future.

Somehow, the mud on tires refuses to go. It is mixed with blood and gore and talks about wheels skidding to death and a car forced to speed away from life.

A son wipes his tears away, as the prince gets ready for the throne.

Memories are subjective. Stories change form on being retold.

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Mud on the Tires of Life by Miss Judy

Growing up rural in 1950’s was hard. Small rural schools taught reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, home economics for the girls, shop for the boys. Teachers were strict, parents stricter. Girls would be wives and mothers; boys would be husbands with jobs. Futures were cast.

The school of hard knocks taught how to survive, things not learned in textbooks, experiences gained navigating young lives. Some prospered, became successful and happy; others survived.

The experiences gained, lessons learned, successes and failures, whether thick or thin, it’s all just mud on one’s tires of life. Only one knows how thick the mud.

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Driving Lesson by Kerry E.B. Black

Mia chewed her lip, shoulders tight enough to snug her ears. Heart pounding, gaze darting everywhere. Good speed. Not too close to the white. Not too near the double yellow with its onrushing traffic.

“You’ve got this.” Her mother depressed an imaginary brake on the passenger’s side. Her white knuckles belied a different story than her calm voice. “Stay in your lane.” Tone shift. “Back on the road!”

“You’re making me nervous!”

The car veered further.

“Pull over.”

While her mother checked for damage, Mia fought tears.

Her mother pulled Mia into a hug. “Just muddy tires. Try again.”

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Driving Lesson by Duane L Herrmann

I let my youngest daughter drive on empty country roads. We turned a sharp corner and she abruptly stopt.

“I can’t dad.”

“Go slow, it’ll be all right.”

“No. You drive,” she insisted.

I did not argue, so we traded places. It was easy – for me, I’d driven on a low-water bridge before. The road went sharply down the bank to the nearly dry creek bed, then sharply up again. The “bridge” was just one lane wide, and narrow at that. She didn’t want to drive any more that day.

No mud on those tires.

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The Ranch Christmas Party (Part I) by Colleen M. Chesebro

Montana winters are brutal, but this one started out like a lamb—until today. The road to Dearborn Ranch swerved sharply to the right. I hugged the curve. The mud on the tires of my red Chevy Sprint spattered the windows. The swarm of snowflakes caught in the glare of the headlights blinded me. Winter had finally arrived.

The ranch Christmas party featured Angus flat iron steaks, baked potatoes, and freshly baked bread and desserts from the Hutterite colony down the road. Drinks were on the house. This was when the city girl got to mingle with real cowboys!

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The Ranch Christmas Party (Part II) by Colleen M. Chesebro

My thoughts were on the party, and not the road. Now, the snow blew sideways against the car. It was then, the biggest deer I’d ever seen in my life walked across the road! I slowed to a stop. The animal was huge. The bottom of his belly almost touched the hood of my car. Then he was gone.

I arrived without a scratch. The first thing I did was retell my adventure on the road. The cowboys hooted with laughter.

“Colleen, that wasn’t a deer. With that size, it had to be an elk,” the ranch boss said.

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Mud Covered by Ann Edall-Robson

The rain from the past few weeks added to the level of the creek and she missed the crossing by five feet. Trying to correct her error, one front wheel sunk into the bank. Now she played the game…reverse, first gear, reverse…rock, spin…repeat. No use arguing with a tire covered in mud. Sloshing up the creek bank on her way to get help, she was glad it was mud and water and not ice and snow. It would undoubtedly be added to the dinner table banter, and living this one down wasn’t going to happen soon.

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Stuck in the Mud by Joanne Fisher

Jess got out of the tractor. Due to an excessive amount of rain the south field had turned into a swamp. Her tractor was mired, the tires caked with mud. She sighed. Already she had tried for several hours to get the tractor moving again, but to no avail. Cindy had gone to Faerie to meet the Elven Queen. She had been gone a couple of days now. Jess hated it when Cindy wasn’t here. The farm never felt right without her. Jess decided to walk back to the homestead and figure out what to do over some coffee.

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Last Ride by Charli Mills

Mud on the tires slid the truck toward the unpaved road’s edge. The sandstone plateau loomed above the serpentine track. Jan aimed the hood left, then right, spinning the steering wheel to counter each skid. She refused to let off the gas despite every thought screaming to brake. She ignored her fear, pressing onward, upward. Windshield wipers swiped rain and smeared red mud. When clay gave way to exposed sandstone her truck glided sideways. No traction. No response between steering and tires. Like rain over the rim, Jan’s truck poured off the road. Dropping, she lit a final cigarette.

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A Muddy Disappearance (Part 1) by Kayla Morrill

I open the door and foggy cold air creeps past my ankles uninvited into my house.

“Good morning Miss Charlotte Begolonni? Have you seen Sarah Lancaster recently?” Detective Morgan asks.

“I was with her last night until about…11 o’clock and…”

“A-a-a-n-n-d-d?” the detective asks.

“I-I don’t remember,” I honestly say.

“Can we look around?”

I nod.

“Sir, there is mud on her tires.”

“Can you explain where the mud came from?”

“No I-I can’t,” I reply confused.

“We are going to have to take you down to the station to ask you more questions and impound your car.”

“O-okay”.

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A Muddy Blur (Part 2) by Kayla Morrill

I sit on my bunk reading the paper headlined “Sarah Lancaster Still Missing 10 Years Later”.

I turn my eyes towards the picture of my mug shot. My red hair parted like a wet mop and my bloodshot eyes searching for answers in a faraway land. Next to my photo was Sarah’s, as if the journalists wanted to make it obvious who the bad one was.

I tried to remember that night many times but can’t.

What was worse, muddied brain or muddied tires?

According to the court, muddy tires were good enough to put me on Death Row.

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Back Tracking by D. Avery

“Relax, it’s not a spider.”

Her husband’s voice startled her more than the string that brushed her face. She switched on the light, illuminating the motel cabin, a stringed balloon at the ceiling, her husband sitting up in the armchair, the portable oxygen tank in his lap.

“I put the top up on the convertible.”

“And stole a balloon.”

“Just before this downpour.”

He was wheezing and didn’t argue when she gave him morphine drops.

“It came on fast.”

“It’s just rain,” she said. “What’s a little mud on our tires?”

He smiled wanly. “We should head home tomorrow.”

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Nature Cure? by Anne Goodwin

She cursed when she saw the sign for the diversion, barely a mile from the edge of the moors. She took a chance and drove around it; the road crumbled beneath her wheels. She abandoned the car and stomped through the heather, the wind whistling around her ears.

She hadn’t come for answers. She hadn’t come to forget. But here in the moody landscape she could let her emotions roam free.

She returned to the parking place as darkness gathered. Footsore, hungry, tired. Mud on her boots, mud on her tyres, the ghost of a smile on her face.

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Rut-riding by Nancy Brady

Annie learned to ride a bicycle long after her younger sister did. Soon, she could keep up with more experienced riders. Often, Annie raced her sister home and won when she rode her older sister’s bike. The bike didn’t look racy at all with its balloon tires, but it was deceptively fast. It was fun to ride, too.

Annie discovered that if she rode on the berm, she could ride in the ruts. She named this activity rut-riding and enjoyed the bumpy ride especially when it was wet. Splashing through puddles with mud in her tires made her smile.

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Mud on Tyres by ladyleemanila

When Mark and Pat renovated their home, they discovered an old bicycle. It was Mark’s old bike when he was a boy. He remembered all the adventures he had with that bike. All the scratches, bruises, mud cakes formed and mischiefs.

He checked it out, it still works. He has to pump air in the tyres, check the brakes, scrub and paint the rusted parts. Voila! A new bike for their son, Peter. He’s looking forward to teaching Peter how to ride a bike. He might even buy a second hand bike for himself. That was a good find.

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Muddy Tires by Sadje

The layer of caked mud on the tires was thick and the wheels were stuck hard. Jessie pulled hard without success.

She then had a bright idea, she brought the water hose, turned the water on the bike to make it easy to extract. Now the mud was acting like bubblegum and the bike was stuck fast. When Jessie pushed harder, she slipped in the mud and the bike fell on top of her.

The bike was free at last, all they both needed was a hosing down, hopefully before her brother found out that she’d taken his bike.

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Complex Chocolate? by JulesPaige

When you can’t drive you can’t get mud on your tires, but adults can. They got mud on their tires when we went to visit relatives in the country. I didn’t know the eldest son of my grandfather from his first wife. The Grands lived with Randy and Kate who I don’t think were happy to see us. But Grampa was Dad’s father in law. Gran, Mom’s mother.

My sibling and I were told to go out and play while the adults talked. Together we found a water hose and dirt and had fun making stacks of mud pies.

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Mud on the Tyres by Norah Colvin

After the wedding, Teddy and Ollie scrunched into the back of the little red convertible.

As Amy and Lucy drove them away from the faraway forest, the guests cheered and threw confetti. The empty cans, now replacing balloons on the bumper, clattered across the wooden bridge and scattered gravel along the mountain trail.

At the honeymoon resort, Teddy and Ollie splashed in the pool first, but they were overexcited, and the grounds were soon a mucky muddy mess.

When Mother called, ‘Dinnertime!’, the girls were mud-spattered, from the hair on their heads to their convertible’s tyres.

‘Coming!’ they replied.

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Mud by Sylvia Cognac

My older sister called to warn me that a monsoon was coming.

“The more time we spend on the phone, the later I’ll get home,” I said.

A moment after hanging up, I was soaking wet, and my legs, feet, shoes, and tires were all soaked in mud.

My muddy shoelace caught in my pedal, nearly ejecting me off of my bicycle into the monsoon.

Stopping in the storm, I tied a stronger knot.

“I cannot believe you took a bike ride during a monsoon,” scolded my sister when I arrived home an hour later, drenched to the bone.

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Mud Flats by Bill Engleson

She’s a little putout. “You can’t bring them in here. This is a house. Not a mud hut.”

“Ma,” I scream, “The river’s rising. All of my tools and my bikes will get washed away.”

“I don’t care if the heavens are weeping buckets till forever, I will not have all that gas-guzzling machinery in this house. Put it all back in the garage like it always is.”

“Ma,” I point out with clarity and passion, “The bloody garage is already a foot under…”

“Then, Sonny boy, that was the way that he intended it to be. Now scoot.”

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A Sweet Tragedy by Frank James

Convict Carl Brown trained a blind veteran’s dog, Maverick. Every day, he pushed a cart down a clay path and mud caked his tires and boots. He slogged to the kennel giving him meaning. Training ticked years away. Without noticing, Maverick became his visceral life.

Feeding Maverick flashed thoughts of him eating at five-star restaurants. Other times, Carl imagined him trotting from a boat or plane onto an exotic island.
Six-years later, Carl cleaned the mud because Maverick’s veteran arrived. Carl kneeled with Maverick, “I’ll miss you. Go experience the life I’ll never have.”

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The Drive that Changed Everything – A True Story by The Curious Archaeologist

He had kept raising difficulties. From doubts about the engine to mud on the tyres.

She was more confident, her money had helped built it, she had helped design it, she knew it would work.

She planned it carefully, told her husband she was going to her mother’s home more than a hundred miles away, he expected her to take the train, she waited until he had left the house.

Then her sons rolled the ungainly machine out of the stable, pushed it until it started, and Bertha Benz took the world’s first motor car and drove into history.

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As Clear as Mud by Doug Jacquier

The ashen-faced homicide detective said ‘We know it was you from the mud on your tyres matching the crime scene. So confess.’

I said ‘It’s a supermarket car park.’

The detective groaned ‘OK, but we’ve got your prints on the murder weapon.’

I said ‘Which was?’

The detective grunted ‘OK, so we haven’t found the murder weapon but you’ve been positively identified as being in the vicinity shortly after the crime.’

I said ‘Boss, I’m your Sergeant. I came with you.’

The detective yawned ‘I really need to get some sleep. Just don’t leave town without letting me know.’

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A Brand New Chevrolet by Nicole Horlings

When Brad’s sedan broke down, he thought about what car he wanted to buy next. He had recently gotten into crafting coffee tables for a hobby, and having a vehicle with a big open trunk would be perfect if he began taking commissions.

After he drove home his new Chevy pickup, his uncle happened to stop by to drop off something, and seeing the truck, laughed and asked, “So Brad, when are you going to get some mud on the tires?”

Brad looked confused, so his uncle played a specific country song for him. Brad listened then laughed too.

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Gender Reveal by Sue Spitulnik

Lexi and Adam’s families were excited the day of the gender reveal party but the fact there were no decorations caused a lot of hushed comments. Everyone had eaten and some were ready to leave. A cousin was snooping in the house for color clues. Then a cheer started from near the garage when Emma came out pulling her wagon that had blue balloons fastened to it and was hauling a cake with blue frosting. After the group settled down, it was disclosed that mud had to be cleaned off the wagon wheels before Emma could pull it easily.

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A Stain Transformed by Gary A. Wilson

“Yo babe! What’s this? It was in your old dresser”

“Oh that. It’s from the night some jerk drove through an oily, muddy puddle and sprayed me outside my prom.”

“You – may have mentioned this.”

“I had mud and road grit in my hair, down my cleavage. The dress was ruined. I saved it to recall my hatred and anger.

“But – years passed: college, first jobs, a war, an unplanned child and a marriage – all happened. That dress transformed from an icon of hatred into one of blessing when you, that same jerk, transformed into my husband.”

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The Phynx’s Riddle by Christy Gard

When I woke that morning, the reak of new rubber wafted off the tires. I imagined buffing that black every hour until it shined. I’d keep my tires pristine until dusk.

He arrived that afternoon, insisting on taking my vehicle for a spin. I begged him not to blemish my beauty. He promised he’d be careful. I argued that just driving down the street would cover the tires in dust.

That evening I scrubbed and scrubbed at the muddy stains left behind on my ruined tires. His recklessness had tainted my entire view of the day.

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Internally Combustive by Geoff Le Pard

From three, Sandy Mudd wanted to be a car mechanic. He re-sparked plugs and dipped sticks until everyone said he’d surely be the youngest ever winner of the Total Spanner award. His ambition to join Little Tittweaking’s star team at The Greased Monkey, was set back when he displayed his supersized big end during a speed-dating event at the Compost and Rot for which he was temporarily banned. Sadly, his exceptional dexterity when nipple greasing Penny Forthem’s open top failed to help and anyone asking as to his whereabouts was always answered with ‘Mudd’s on the tyres.’

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Homicide by Simon

Andrew never thought the mud on his tires could serve him jail sentence.

A rainy night, cold climate, while she hung up on her Secret friend, Andrew hung up his knife on her neck. Dragging her body he disappeared in woods, resumed back to his routine life like nothing happened.

It was a month now, he made everyone believe she ran away.

Andrew was confident that nobody could find any dead body, he was wrong.

Police were clueless except the tire mark and muds that matched Andrews car for all 8 murders .

Andrew regretted, for not changing his tires.

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A Red Faced Wang by Scott Bailey

In police headquarters garage, the Captain showed two detectives the stolen Jeep and said, “Detective Cagney, Detective Lacey this is Forensic Specialist Dr. Wang HangLow”.

Dr. HangLow showed them the white chips he dug out of a mud packed tire. “Definitely bone fragments from your missing man,” he said confidently and beaming with pride.

“What about that big piece sticking out on top?” Cagney pointed.

With tweezers, Lacey picked it out of the mud, looked closely, turned it over and remarked, “It says made in China”.

“Great work, Dr. HangLow, you found an old coffee cup”. Cagney said.

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Plenny a Problems With the Prompt (Part I) by D. Avery

*Some ya might recall thet ma last words last week was, “What could go wrong?” Kin tell ya: plenny.

First off, beavers is good at a lot, but not knot tyin, though them knots held fer a bit, longer on the rear a the truck.

Seconly, a hot air balloon ’parently ain’t powerful ‘nough ta lift a ranch truck outta a creek, though it looked promisin fer a bit.

Thirdly, worse’n thet truck ta begin with is thet truck flippin in the air an landin belly up in the creek. Dang tires ain’t got no mud on ‘em!*

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Plenny a Problems With the Prompt (Part II) by D. Avery

“That didn’t go swimminly, Pal.”

“No shift, Kid!”

“Uh-oh, here comes Shorty.”

“Hey Kid. Seen the Ford?”

“Ford’s in the stream.”

“I don’t want to ford the stream. I want the Ford truck.”

“Oh shucks. Um, I’m havin it cleaned?”

“That’s thoughtful, Kid, but unnecessary. I want to go back-roadin, get some mud on the tires.”

“Thought ya was inta kayakin? Mebbe ya wanna go boatin ‘stead a takin the truck.”

“Stop spinning your wheels Kid. Where’s the truck?”

“Long story, Shorty.”

“Think thet story’ll hold water?”

“Shush, Pal.”

“Tell an abridged version.”

“A bridge! Yer truck’s become infras-truck-cher.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Balloons on a Bumper Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

No Ordinary Delivery by Anne Goodwin

The run-up to publication was always hectic, whether or not she had a publisher to hold her hand. With so many plates spinning, it felt as if she’d be crossing the finishing line in her pyjamas.

She breathed more freely once her box of books arrived. They made it real. Yet the driver plonked them on the doorstep like an ordinary delivery: the week’s groceries not the sentences she’d sweated over for years. But someone must’ve dropped a hint that this latest book was special. The bumper of the truck that stopped outside her window was festooned with balloons.

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A Homecoming Parade by Nancy Brady

The homecoming parade was scheduled for Saturday before the big game with a cross-county rival.

First, however, the parade floats were built; the marching band practiced their music, and the homecoming court was selected. All was readied for the parade.

Leading off the parade were the local police and fire department vehicles, followed by the cheerleaders, the homecoming court on a float, the local high school band, the football team’s float, and candidates riding in classic convertibles. Last, but not least, was the vintage fire engine. The bumpers and sides were covered in ninety-nine balloons (no more, no less).

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Balloons on the Bumper by Norah Colvin

“Where to today?” asked Amy.
“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.
“Whose party?”
“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”
“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”
“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”
“Right. Which way?”
“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”
“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.
“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

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Three, Two, One: Bumper Balloons by Chel Owens

Flip – flap – flutter
went the bits of man-made rubber
as he took away the rudder
and he waved goodbye to mother.

‘I’m an engine of the sky,’
sang he, loud, while he sped by,
while his mama dabbed her eye,
while his wobbly wings a-try

To lift, or maybe thrust,
by ignoring drag, or just

By the will of boyish hope,
as his canter speeds to lope;

And seven small balloons
circle ’round, like rainbow moons;
dip and swirl ‘gainst the noon;
flutter, drag to boyish tune

Of hasty dreams, of racing knees
Of birthday dreams on summer breeze.

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Katie Puts Her Foot Down by Sue Spitulnik

The Irish Dance Troupe sponsored by the No Thanks was always featured in the Fireman’s Carnival parade, some dancing and some riding in convertibles. This year the oldest group felt they had earned the right to ride, but were arguing over which car they wanted to carry them. Katie listened long enough, then went to make a private phone call.

Later, when it was time to leave, Katie had each dancer pick a crayon out of a bag. She said, “The convertibles have balloons tied to their bumpers. You’ll ride in the car whose balloon matches your crayon color.”

Author’s Note: Katie is Mac’s adult granddaughter and teaches the Irish Sword Dance.

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Balloons and Binder Twine by Ann Edall-Robson

Watching from the kitchen window, she wondered what her girls were imagining today. They wrapped binder twine around stones, making odd-shaped balls. Then they disappeared into the trees near the pasture, returning with sticks, attaching twine to each piece of wood. The balls and sticks were tied to their bike fenders. Curiosity got the better of her, sliding the window open in time to hear them laughing as they put crowns of wild flowers on their heads before peddling down the road yelling, “Just Married”. Sticks bounced behind and the twine covered rocks became balloons tied to fenders.

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Down the Road by D. Avery

“Should we warn them?”

The giggling newlyweds disappeared into a motel cabin.

“They wouldn’t believe us.” Wheeling his oxygen tank, she followed him into their own cabin before unloading the remaining luggage and supplies from the convertible.

Preparing dinner in the small kitchenette while he dozed, she wondered at all that smiling bride hadn’t been told.

That night she dreamed she was popping the balloons that were tied to the honeymooners’ bumper, one by one. She awoke to rain drops bursting on the cabin’s tin roof. She sighed, remembered she hadn’t put the top up on the red convertible.

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Future Things by Hugh W. Roberts

“Why pink balloons?”

“I feel that in 50 or so years, pink will be the colour for people like us,” replied Giles.

“I hope they don’t damage the bumper of my new Ford Model C Ten,” responded Roger.

“Damaging the bumper of your new car is the least of our worries. What happens when we get there matters more.”

“Yes, you’re quite right. We may not be married in law, but the reaction of our parents when we tell them we married each other is something I dread. I wonder if same-sex marriage is a thing of the future?”

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Balloons on a Bumper by Shari Marshall

I have to stop their fatal mistake. “Check your colours,” I yell as I run, waving my arms frantically. They’re trying to use only cloud white balloons. “STOP.” I holler. “You need more colours.”

I blow out the breath I was holding and turn toward the balloon stand, grabbing two blue and two yellow to help with weightlessness, heat, and part of the rainbow. We need grey for storms and one red, orange, green, indigo, and violet. I hurry to the car and pass the balloons to Sam. “Tie these balloons to the bumper and let’s fly.”

They stop.

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Balloons on a Bumper by Jenny Logan

My brother and his wife’s friends were ‘extra’. They tied so much stuff on the wedding car it hit a tourist. My Dad, a bit merry and oblivious, told the gentleman it was customary to pin money onto the dresses of bridesmaids. The man was not amused and said, “Is it also customary to knock over tourists with a trash can?”

None of us had seen the incident, so it’s possible he was exaggerating. My Dad suggested he sue the Oxford University College in question as they “have plenty of money”. I expect the visitor was even less amused.

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Balloon by Scott Bailey

Mistake number one: following that hot air balloon.
Mistake number two: racing across the open fields to be there when it lands.
Mistake number three: letting Phynias T. Schmebbs tie off his ballon to the back bumper of my pick up.
Mistake number four: helping him untie all the ballast sand bags.
Mistake number five: watching the balloon ascend, lifting the rear of my truck.
Mistake number six: believing him when he said all I had to do was get in and drive and the balloon would settle down.
At least the view is nice from way up here.

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The Buffoon in the Balloon by Doug Jacquier

Rufus Dufus had decided that Branson had the wrong idea going ballooning in a basket. He figured the only vehicle worth taking to the skies in was his red convertible and he’d provide live commentary. Despite having the lung capacity of a politician, he realised his own hot air wasn’t going to do the trick and helium balloons attached to his bumpers was the way to go. That way, when he wanted to land he’d just slowly let out the helium through each balloon’s narrow neck. Bystanders swore that just before he crashed, Rufus was doing Donald Duck impersonations.

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A Good Death by Geoff Le Pard

Harold Cottonbud, Little Tittweaking’ infamous aviator, always wanted to fly. As a small child he made wings from two wire coathangers and Sibelius, the pet chicken’s feathers. Sibelius’ complaints on being defeathered, if not melodious were certainly symphonic. As for flying, Harold’s ensuing faceplant offered the denuded bird the chance of some avian schadenfreude. Finally, Harold devised a foolproof plan, attaching helium balloons to his toy car’s bumpers. As Harold disappeared skywards, Sibelius’ clucks became chuckles, while locals used ‘what goes up, stays up’ to connote stupidity. In time Harold became renowned in Little Tittweaking as a ‘stupid plucker’.

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Guards on Duty by Nicole Horlings

The balloons swayed from the bumper, seemingly cheerful, to the muffled loud music. However, their eyes were slightly narrowed, scanning the parking lot for danger.

“Attention, squad,” the commander said, his face grim, “We have a drunkard stumbling out of the east entrance.” The fellow zigzagged across the parking lot, seemingly towards the Honda Civic, until he veered off towards the taxi whose driver called out to him, and the balloons all let out a sigh of relief.

Some of the younger balloons relaxed and started bouncing. “Stay alert!” their commander reprimanded them, “until the bride and groom arrive.”

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Set Free by Reena Saxena

Volatility makes one feel insecure. Flying with no strings attached is a nightmare.

My daughter wants to go abroad for a doctorate, and I’ve spent three sleepless nights in a row. Umbilical cords remain. Relationships become tumultuous if one side holds tighter.

Quivering balloons on the bumper of the car driving ahead tell me she needs a vehicle of her own – to drive to her destination. I can’t continue giving her rides.

At the next red light, I get down and cut the balloon strings. I’ll compensate the owners for their loss. But someone needs to be set free…

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A Bumper Crop by Bill Engleson

Never thought they’d do it.
I was twenty-one.
Sucked the heart out of me.
We were an INTENTIONAL FAMILY.
Our own communal construct.
It was the swinging sixties.
Marriage was so bourgeois.
Pointless!
A free-love ball and chain.
Maybe we actually weren’t all that advanced, all that liberated from predictable orthodoxy.
Those two literally gushed announcing their connubial treachery.
“It isn’t me,” Arbutus whispered. “Underneath, Hyacinthe’s a conventional girl. Needs a bloody ring.”
They rented a limo.
An actual limousine
Tied a rainbow festoon of balloons to its brash bumper.
Like it was still the fifties.
Maybe it was.

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Missing Jed by Charli Mills

At breakfast, Joan flipped flapjacks with such vigor each resembled a squashed bug. No one complained. Ross left for town in a wake of dust. Joan yelled, “Good riddance!”

The crew lowered their brims and she stomped into the cookshack to scrub every inch. When Ross returned, the crew gathered outside. Their laughter fortified Joan’s misery. Jed would’ve been 62.

She decided to tear into the crew but stopped in the doorway. Colorful balloons floated above the bumper of the ranch truck, and candles flamed on a store-bought cake. They left a big piece and balloons at Jed’s grave.

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Celebrating Life by Sadje

Mourning the death of a loved one is natural, but most people who have lived a full life prefer that their life be celebrated rather than mourned.

When I die, I’d like there to be balloons tied to the hearse, people singing and dancing and telling each other of happy occasions they spent with me. I’d love to leave behind a happy legacy in the hearts of people. I do hope that they would recall only the good things that I did or said and not the petty stuff that we all are guilty of from time to time.

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Balloon and Beer for Bumper by Gary A. Wilson

Kirby looked at his peer frat members and lifted the mic. Most were drunk already.

“Alright, it’s countdown time. Please welcome – the Bumper 8 V2 rocket – the first launched at Cape Canaveral on July 24, 1950.”

The crowd cheered, glasses clinked, and beer spilled as a three-dimensional, opaque video appeared before them.

A projected countdown expired, and the simulation played to rowdy cheers.

“Next; commemorating Bumper’s 100th anniversary, the folks at Huntsville’s Rocket Republic Brewing have a six-pack for whoever can pin a balloon on Bumper’s photo within the circle representing the null-gravity field of our 2050 quantum engine.”

Author’s Note: See link for history references and photo.

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Inflated Ego? By JulesPaige

As a young woman enjoying the freedoms of the 1960’s, she was bedazzled by riding a motorcycle driven by a handsome man who doted on her and respected her independence and strength. A huge red balloon was tied to the rim of the back seat when he picked her up for their date.

Out of the back of her helmet her long silky black hair flowed as they maneuvered the community streets of Greenwich village. They rode south around Washington Square Park to Chinatown. Back then Hong Fats on Mott’s Street was the place to go and be seen.

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Tailgating by Kerry E.B. Black

Tailgating grew in popularity as the Steelers won football games. Stout-hearted fans arrived hours prior to kickoff with increasingly elaborate spreads served from the back of their vehicles. With parking at a premium, finding tailgate parties proved difficult at times. To become easier for invited guests to find, the Toggart family hung black and gold helium balloons from their bumper. However, many fellow tailgaters noticed the increased visibility the balloons provided, and they began employing the same technique. Soon, all of the bumpers outside of Three Rivers Stadium boasted sparking, helium-filled mylar balloons, a sea of black and gold.

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Safety Net by Ruchira Khanna

“Hi, Girls!” said Amy with a wide grin and gleaming eyes as if twilight, “I drove to school today,” she said while bouncing from foot to foot.

“Huh! But, the last time you drove, you crashed the bumper of your dad’s Ford Escort into the wall. How did your dad allow it?” asked Gloria with a gulp and curious eyes.

“Balloons! are my safety net.”

Seeing the puzzled look in their eyes, Amy walked them to her car, which had balloons on the front and back of her bumper.

“They’ll pop, and I’ll know when to screech the brakes.”

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Pickup Lines (PART I) by D. Avery

“Pal! Throw me a line!”

“Um, okay… Say, what’s a nice Kid like you doin a-settin in a creek like this?”

“Toss a rope Pal! I’m a-settin on the roof of the ranch pickup.”

“I’ll fetch ya ta shore so’s ya kin ‘splain how ya put the truck in the creek.

“Well?”

“Was tryin out a idea is all. Usually we jist ford the creek, but sometimes, like now, it’s too deep. Tied a bunch a balloons ta the bumpers, tried floatin it across. Mebbe I shoulda used more balloons.”

“Shoulda tried this last week, Kid. Woulda gone swimminly.”

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Pickup Lines (PART II) by D. Avery

“Ya cain’t leave thet truck in the creek, Kid. Thet’s litterin in a big way.”

“This’s a big time litter-ary community.”

“Speakin a littered air, here’s LeGume.”

“Ello Keed. Pal. I sense trouble, no? ‘ave no fear, Pepe ees here.”

“Reckon ya might hep. Still got thet hot air balloon?”

“Oui, Pal.”

“Plenny a gas? ‘Nough ta pick up thet pickup?”

“Mais bien sûr.”

“Git yer rig ready, LeGume. Kid, call Curly an her beaver friens. They kin dive unner an tie ropes from the hot air balloon ta the bumpers. Then up an away. What could go wrong?”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Swimmingly Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

A Short History of Swimming in Little Tittweaking by Geoff Le Pard

No one swims in Little Tittweaking now. During the Wars of the Ripe Plums from 1791 to 1803, the Jam Makers Of Desultory on Scum were rounded up and forced to exfoliate in the River Titt using granite chips and overripe Victorias. Disgraced MP Callous Hardpustule was paraded through the town in spiked budgie smugglers before being dipped in Lake Peachtingle until severely wrinkled and scrotally perforated. Any reference to anything swimming related is to court disaster. Thus when Harold Understaine, at his 127th birthday said things were going swimmingly, everyone knew his days of twerking threesomes were over.

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Life’s Mixture by Ann Edall-Robson

One foot in front of the other
Step, step, stumble, step, step
Sunrises, lofty clouds, sunsets
Picnics, bugs, wading in the creek
Hurt, love, joy, loss
Horses, rodeo, win, bucked off
No more, no less, 99 words
Blizzards, -40, skating snowballs
Marriage, divorce, first love
Print, cursive, computer
Seedlings, water, sun, harvest
Cozy mystery, novel
Children, grandchildren, nana
Thunderstorm, drizzling rain
Stick men, paint, watercolour
Write, edit, shelf, write
Flash fiction, 5-word sentence,
Stories, poetry, haiku
Baking, canning, recipe books
Animals, stories, children’s books
Trails, gravel roads, grounding
Cut up, sew together, quilting
My life’s mixture works
Swimmingly!

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My Writing Process by Nancy Brady

When the writing prompt is posted, I start thinking about what to write. Ideas are considered and rejected. Once an idea comes, I write until what I wanted to convey is expressed. Then I edit, removing irrelevant words to reduce the number.

Sometimes the prompt doesn’t resonate at all. This is one of those prompts. Still, it kept nudging me, making me hyper-aware. I’d read something and the prompt would appear in it. Some television programs used the word. I heard people say it, and eventually, I decided to allow it to dictate this post, and it did, swimmingly.

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Sink Swimmingly by Kerry E.B. Black

After a bracing breath, she marched into the bookstore, smiled at a harried man ten years her junior, and withdrew her book from her shoulder bag. “I think you’ll want my novel on your shelves.”

The shopkeep paged through the volume while she filled the near silence with her elevator pitch and nervous banter.

He closed the book and slid it across the counter. “I don’t think it’ll sell. Sorry.”

Her heart leaden, she thanked him for his time. In the anonymity of her driver’s seat, she steeled herself for the next bookstore, picturing the interaction finally going swimmingly.

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Pixels and Petals by Reena Saxena

“Say what you may, but those forsaken futures at the end of the road live only in your mind. They have found their place somewhere else in the lives of people who walked that road.

Could it have been a swimmingly smooth ride, instead of the sanity-stretching sojourn to glamorous, glossy goals your life has been?

Whatever happened was concrete, cavernous – calamitous and cacophonous for some, canonical for others.”

I don’t know the stories she carried with her. I keep those pixelated pages and perishable petals on her coffin. It’s all I can do to convey posthumous acceptance.

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Peter’s Story by Frank James

Peter, medic, swam into triage. He clamped a leg wound gushing blood. Off to surgery. He splinted a fractured arm, notifying Orthopedics. Peter took on a head wound, started an I.V sedating the combative soldier. He rolled him to surgery.

“I need a surgeon!” Peter hollered.

A masked man charged in, “Hi ho, let’s go!”

Back in triage, a leg amputation demanded Peter’s skills. He wrapped the patient in a blanket: anesthetizing and elevating the stump. He sat, “I’m here. You will survive. You are strong.”

A British soldier said, “You swimmingly treated them.”

Peter smirked, “A day’s work.”

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The Hustle by Joanne Fisher

So we found two marks. They were a couple of successful businessmen. We pretended to be investment brokers who had discovered a way to get speedy returns. They were suspicious of us at first, but we convinced them to invest a small amount of money which we gave back to them shortly afterwards with some of our own. Satisfied, they then gave us a couple of million in briefcases to invest, which we then ran off with. It was all going swimmingly until we were suddenly surrounded by cops. It turned out our marks were undercover policeman all along.

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Fabulously and Swimmingly by Kerry E.B. Black

She’d bobbed her hair, an affectation to blend with peers. With shortened skirts and a smear of lipstick, she might pass for a modern woman. If she lifted her chin and looked life fully in its terrifying face, that is.

The key, she decided, was to emulate fabulous flappers. Zelda Fitzgerald’s devil-may-care attitude or Dorothy Parker’s scathing wit. She straightened her back, hummed the Charleston tune, and approached the front desk for her interview. She thrust out her hand to shake.

He smiled around his old-fashioned mustache. “I like a good, firm handshake.”

She laughed. “I believe we’ll get along swimmingly.”

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Deep Water Romance Woes by Bill Engleson

I like the shore.

Sure do.

Don’t talk about it much. Usually, when you’re on the shore, you’re headed into the water.

She’s out there. Where the horizon meets the rim of the sea. “Come,” she beckons. “I’m waiting.”

But I like the shore. The firmness of the stones and sand.

I smile back at her.

“You’re teasing me,” she says, her voice a smooth stone winging its way across the water, circular, a pleasing motion.

“I’m not a good swimmer,” I say.

She smiles back. “I’ll hold you.”

I dip my toes.

This first date is going swimmingly.

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Reclaiming Summer, 1964 by Anne Goodwin

It was all going swimmingly until Doris went for her Woodbines. True, the coffee was bitter but their sense of themselves as they drank it was sweet. Matty blames herself. She should’ve known that the chap who flourished his lighter wasn’t a gentleman from his lanky hair.

But oh, how delicious it felt to skip away from the asylum unaccompanied except for her friend. To ride on the bus among regular people, to browse the menu in the burger bar. To be treated as customers, ladies who lunch. Whatever the consequences, no-one could take the taste of freedom away.

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Swipe Right by Chel Owens

Stanley Klülez stared across the candlelit table at Cindy Titepaunts. She looked just like her profile picture -a rarity. Stanley had started making a game out of how much his dates would differ from their appearance, as girl after girl after ‘girl’ proved …surprising.

“So.” He cleared his throat. “Do you like the color pink?”

Cindy, dressed head to toe in varying shades of coral, salmon, and rose, blinked at him. “Obviously. Do you like bargain-shopping?”

Stanley puffed out his chest in his cuffed, oil-stained coveralls. “Of course!”

He smiled happily as she snorted. This date was going swimmingly.

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A Wedding by Sadje

“Well, that went swimmingly”. Ali, the father remarked as the last of the guests departed. It was a small affair. The small intimate wedding function with just the families from both sides present.

There were no relatives of the relatives, no second or third cousins removed, no colleagues or even friends. The bride and the groom wanted to keep it simple and so it was.

Every detail was arranged by them both and the parents had little to do but to pay off the caterers.

“I wish every wedding was that simply done and was so hassle-free,” Ali said.

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Kate’s Date by Hugh W. Roberts

Kate couldn’t believe how swimmingly her date with Vera had gone.

They may have both been in their eighties, but sixty years ago, when they first started dating people of the same sex, life was more difficult. You could hold hands without drawing much attention, but a passionate kiss on the lips was a no-go area. Murdering someone was easier.

Looking at Vera’s lifeless body, Kate carefully removed the poisonous lipstick from her lips and took a swig of the antidote to be on the safe side.

Murdering someone was still as swimmingly as it was sixty years ago.

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Death by Jenny Logan

You’ve killed it. I am so relieved. It was like one of those ‘Herman’ cakes, constantly requiring attention. Feeding and baking. Feeding and baking. No end to its need. But too much attachment and guilt on my part to just chuck it out, however sick of yeasty cake I’d become.

Anyway, you did the decent thing and murdered my affection for you with one snap of your putrid jaw. It was misplaced anyway. Now I am entirely detached as though having an out of body experience. No doubt life will go swimmingly without your energy tugging at my own.

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A Modern Conversation by Sue Spitulnik

Text from Lexi. “Mom, do you know what human chorionic gonadotropin is?”

Answer from Tessa. “No. Google it.”

Answer from Lexi. “LOL. I know what it is. It’s a hormone in a lady’s pee. You better sit down.”

“I am.”

“Good news. Adam’s little swimmers did their thing and I can put away all the red stuff.”

“Are you telling me you’re pregnant?”

“Yes! Isn’t that great?”

“Wonderful! Michael’ll want to know immediately. Can I tell Grandma?”

“Not for a couple months. We just found out.”

“Okay. I’m happy the red sheets helped everyone have a swimmingly good time.”

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Swim Team Tryouts by Nicole Horlings

A plate of dinner was waiting on the counter for Alex when he came home, which he put in the microwave while waving bye to Jordan and his mom through the kitchen window.

“How did the team tryouts go?” asked Alex’s mom, putting down her Sudoku puzzle and walking over for a conversation.

“I bet it went swimmingly,” said Dad, guffawing to himself, and eyeing both of them, hoping for at least a light chuckle.

“It went well,” Alex said. “Coach said I have a strong backstroke, and I have a lot of potential.”

“That’s wonderful,” said Mom, smiling.

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Word List by Duane L Herrmann

Swim
Swimmer
Swimming
Swimmingly
Swimmeret
Swimsuit

“What are you doing?” Rafiq asked Stan.

“Making a list of words.”

“That’s not a word,” Rafiq pointed to ‘swimmeret.’

“Yes, it is. It’s another word for a pleopod.”

“You’re weird!”

“A pleopod is a forked swimming limb of a crustacean, five pairs of which are typically attached to the abdomen,” Stan explained, but Rafiq had walked away.

Stan didn’t understand why none of the other kids wanted to be friends.

“Don’t be mediocre!” His father would say. Stan liked words, the more unusual, the better.

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Disappeared 49 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The spell had been well-cast – he felt it to his core — but Bethany and family had seemingly disappeared. The Scottish Mage was alone in a dark, silent space. He barely felt support under his feet.

“Well, THAT went swimmingly.” He grimaced, bushy eyebrows raised as he fingered the cleft in his chin.

There was nothing else for it. He waited for enlightenment, presumably from the Fates; he could sense their delightful femininity at the edge of whatever reality this was.

He’d not say “Uncle.” Let them make the next move, as if it could be any other way.

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Dad Is Going Swimmingly by Doug Jacquier

Courtesy of the pandemic and brain plaque, I can’t touch him anymore, not that he would know who I was anyway. All I can do is wave to him through the nursing home window and watch him wave back, like he does to everybody. His manners remain intact.

On his lap is an album of old photographs that he leafs through constantly. Whether the staff put it there in the hope of a spark or whether he clings to its importance without knowing why is anybody’s guess. To me, through the glass, he seems like a goldfish with Alzheimer’s.

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Road Trip by D. Avery

“How did we get here?”

“In this shiny new red convertible.”

“I mean Here. This.” He indicated his oxygen tank, his medical bag, swept his hand through his thin gray hair.

“Oh. The aging thing. I’ve no idea. I remember signing a contract with a young handsome man… something about in sickness and in health. It’s gone swimmingly.”

“Yes. Gone. Swimmingly… up Shit’s Creek. Next stop, Death.”

“That’s grim.”

“What do you expect?”

“I expect you to paddle!”

Eyes on the road, blinking back tears, she clutched the wheel of the red convertible, her emotions tangling in the wind.

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Gallium Goes Hollywood by Gary A. Wilson

“Mom – you were right. I love chemistry.”

“Well, that took all of two classes. What got you so excited?”

“Liquid metal – just like the Terminator.”

“Sweetie, that’s Hollywood.”

“No – it’s real. It’s a silver-colored metal named Gallium, that melts just above room temperature. It can be used to make robots.”

“I’ve never heard of it. We can make robots from it?”

“Yes, microscopic ones that move, swimmingly, through fluid. They could be injected into people to precisely deliver medicines.”

“Oh – I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

“Mom – don’t think ‘Hollywood’, think how they could have cured grandpa’s cancer.”

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Don’t Mess with the Ranch Cook by Charli Mills

Freda stirred and poured. The cookshack steamed with pickling and canning. Putting up meant no one was put out when larders grew lean in winter. Ranch-hands fared according to the contents of Ball jars. She’d pickled beets, jalapenos, cucumbers, and dilly beans. She canned peaches with whole cloves and chunky applesauce with cinnamon. Fancy, them ignorant hands would coo, living high until snowmelt drove them back to the line-shacks.

When Freda caught Lefty and Juan snitching a jar of peaches, she said, “Thems’ flies swimming in the syrup, fellas.” Wide-eyed and untrained to spices, they let go their prize.

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The Party by Colleen M. Chesebro

The conversation had not been going swimmingly, and I’ll take part in the blame for the chilly turn. I could not fathom why Marcy stayed with her boring husband. I rolled my eyes as Rob blathered on about nothing.

“Sorry, I’ve got to go.” I deposited my untouched glass of champagne on the table and walked out of the room.

In the hall, Marcy met me at the door. “Leaving so soon?” She slurred.

“Yes, I’ve got an early meeting.”

Marcy was plastered. It was a shame to leave, especially when it was obvious the party had just started.

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Routing the Tarnished Signet by JulesPaige

gilded words
ran afoul, became
soft as eggs

Oozing, dripping, uncooked, contrived, or hard boiled. Jade saw through them straight to the green patina covering bronze. She would not go swimmingly into their false pretenses. She had worked up from the scullery, learned from the cook, would not become the next parlor maid. Silver shillings saved would buy her passage across the pea green sea. Dressed as a deckhand in brown stable boy’s clothes, as Jay, would escape those had been fed with silver spoons – The Master had lost his last bet and there’d be no fixing the castle.

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Starting Over by Miss Judy

The day had come to a close, Howard left to turn-out the lights. He had maintained the hotel swimmingly for over 50 years, she was his baby. They were being retired. As he closed the door, a tear caressed his cheek.

Howard arrived home to find Martha busy preparing a king’s dinner – her king she said. He swung her in his arms, both giggling like school children.

As the flames died to embers, Howard and Martha knew they had unfurled a passion forgotten, a love taken for granted, understood but unspoken. The future was theirs; they were ready.

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Fun in the Pool by Norah Colvin

A perfect summer’s day: azure sky with not a hint of cloud, a whispering breeze to kiss away humidity, children’s laughter sparkling like glitter; it was all going swimmingly, until … Kevin kicked furiously, and … the tube crashed.

Tina tipped heels over head, chipping Chelsea’s chin, as she smacked into the water.

Chelsea fell against Liam, who yelled, “Get off me!” as they splashed down.

The three resurfaced together, and grabbed the tube, catapulting Kevin overhead, arms and legs flailing, into the water.

“Wow!” “That’s fun!” “Do it to me!” “I’m first!”

It was all going swimmingly …

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Swimmingly by Scott Bailey

Watching my Grandson, Puggsly, splash around the shallow end of the kiddy pool kind of reminds me of a nature documentary about a baby hippo spastically reveling in its first dip in the watering hole.

Puggsly’s twice the size of the other kids his age, no matter which direction you measure, but that’s okay, he gets along just fine.

One of the other kids, same age as Puggsly, is just the opposite. A small thin kid by the name of Lee, this kid is like a fish. The kids used to call him Swimming Lee. Go Swimming Lee, go!

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Swimmingly by H.R.Allen

She stared at the blank screen, and observed the little line of doom blinking almost mockingly. She watched as white refilled the space where a few clumsy sentences once stood.

She scoured her brain, inspecting every nook and cranny for any flicker of an idea. When she came up empty, she decided to shift her focus to the space around her. Surely there would be an idea here, right?

Soon, she turned back to her screen, readied her hands for the next best short story of her generation and found…nothing.

“How’s the challenge going?” Her teacher asked.

“Just swimmingly.”

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Rockin the Deep End (Part I) by D. Avery

“Phew! Nuther challenge met an corralled, Kid.”

“Yep.”

“Still wond’rin why thet sidewinder Slim Chance was sidlin up ta the Saddle Up.”

“Say agin?”

“Was like he was spyin.”

“Spyin an tryin previous prompts. But Slim don’t git it, don’t git that the challenge is whatever anyone wants ta make of it, it ain’t no competition or nuthin.”

“Thet’s write. Practice amongst a frien’ly ‘preciative literary community.”

“But Slim says there ain’t no two ways bout it, ya either sink or swim.”

“Thet is two ways. But they’s a third way— float!”

“Yep. Floatin works swimminly fer me, Pal.”

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Rockin the Deep End (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal, d’ya think mebbe I float too much?”

“What’re ya gittin at Kid?”

“Meanin I’m mebbe more adrift than afloat. Shore feel washed up.”

“So start paddlin, Kid.”

“Feel like I’m jist thrashin aroun. That ain’t the same as makin a splash.”

“Ya ain’t here ta make a splash Kid. But ya done got yer toes in the water. Swim!”

“Cain’t Pal.”

“Whut’s thet Kid?”

“Said I cain’t swim! Never learned.”

“We’ll s’port ya Kid. Oof! Yer heavier then I figgered.”

“Found some shiny rocks. Mebbe I should empty my pockets?”

“Reckon lessons’ll go more swiminly if’n ya do.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Red Convertible Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Playtime by Kayla Morrill

Top open wide, a red convertible slows down and comes to a stop at the incredulous bumper to bumper line forming behind the pay station. It’s thirty cars deep and the sign estimates a thirty-minute wait before the red dirt covered, currently tan, convertible gets a wash. The cars begin to move quickly as the pay station lady allows more cars to cram into the car wash.

“Lacy, dinners ready!”… “Coming mom!”

Hands quickly drive the convertible into a bucket of browning water along with the rest of the Matchbox cars. Lacy content with her work goes to eat.

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The Little Red Convertible by Norah Colvin

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest,” said Lucy.

“Be home in time for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The little red convertible chugged to the peak of the highest mountain where the children danced in clouds. It rolled through misty valleys and onto the plain where the children played hide-and-seek in patchwork fields. It trundled across the wooden bridge over the river that led to the forest where they fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns.
Rumbling bellies told them to head for home.

“Just in time,” said Mother.

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The Red Convertible by Duane L Herrmann

We were in eighth grade and drew names for the Christmas gift exchange. I got the name of a neighbor girl who I’d been friends with since long before we started school. With her name she had written that she wanted a red Corvette convertible. I was stumped but managed to get her the car. She was overwhelmed. After decades of going our separate ways, we met again.

“The red convertible you gave me was the only one I ever had,” she remarked.

“Really?” I was amazed.

“Yes, that toy model I had to put together.”

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The Toy Car by Hugh W. Roberts

I’d spent all my pocket money. Mum wouldn’t buy me the toy red convertible car, so I stole it after hearing somebody say the seller was blind.

That night, I woke to the roar of a car engine and was shocked to see the toy car I’d stolen now full-sized.

Behind the steering wheel was a figure I recognised with dark glasses, who was shaking a white cane.

My screams got drowned out by the constant sound of the car horn while full-beamed lights blinded my eyes. Now I’m deaf and blind.

I wish I hadn’t stolen the car.

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Read, Converted by Anne Goodwin

It wasn’t her kind of holiday, but a beach resort with familiar food made sense for the kids. She tried speaking Spanish to the servers, but they returned the volley in scripted English and poured more wine. On an evening stroll they stumbled upon a bookstall and she couldn’t resist a classic Garcia Marquez, although he said they had come to relax. By the pool the next day, she wished she’d heeded his warning: she understood one word in ten. It wasn’t much clearer with Google translate. But she persisted and finished the novel as they arrived at Heathrow.

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Two Ford Convertibles by Nancy Brady

Over my lifetime, I have owned all makes of cars: a Comet, Hondas, a Mitsubishi, and Toyotas, but none were convertibles, red or otherwise.

I have ridden in convertibles, the latest being John’s red Ford Mustang. John drove me home. My hair whipping around, the sun’s warmth, it was a brief, exciting ride.

At the other end of the spectrum, my first ride in an open-air vehicle was a Ford Model A, riding in the rumble seat, going out for ice cream. My next-door neighbor spent years restoring the car, and this was a gift one warm summer night.

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Roadtrippin’ with The Beach Boys by Miss Judy

Hittin’ the road, the top down on my 60’s red Roadster “I get around…town to town.” No real place to go, no real time to get there.

Just me, Brian and the Boys, drivin’ fast as I can, radio blastin’ all our favorite songs, “I’m pickin’ up good vibrations.”

Got the wind in my hair, sun on my face, not a care in the world and “warmth of the sun within me tonight.”

Maybe we’ll head on down “Off the Florida Keys there’s a place called Kokomo.”

“We’ll have “Fun, Fun, Fun…” livin’ for today, no worries ‘bout tomorrow.

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Red Rider by Bill Engleson

Thumb’s out, heavy as a stump, it seems, after a few minutes.
Super busy highway.
Damn muggy day.
I’m not looking my best. Been a while since that heyday.
Smile, buddy!
Show them pearlies.
You’d have to be nuts to stop on this highway horror show and pick me up.
Lots of crazy folks though.
My salvation, the loose screws of the world.
They love fellow travelers.
I’m gonna start fantasizing, I can feel it.
Hitchhikers’ hallucinations.
Had them countless times.
A sweet little blonde in a red MG.
Almost happened once.
Swear it did.
Even if it didn’t.

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Oops, Sorry! by ladyleemanila

She knew she’d hit something. But what? She saw the shadow suddenly running in front of her red convertible. Her heart was racing, maybe it was just her imagination. Or the fog and the darkness setting in. Then her heart froze – a deer! Poor deer, she didn’t mean to hit it. Michael would be furious when he sees the damage to the car, again! Last time, Sheena nearly went to the lake when it skidded through the rain. They’ve also just replaced the tyres because she kept on driving it home even though the “tyres alarm” was blinking.

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Karma  by Colleen M. Chesebro

Shadows patterned the tree-lined road into the boneyard. I stood at the entrance, confused at how I’d arrived there.

The last thing I remembered was holding a gun. I shook my head. My memories had vanished like smoke in the wind. A cold lump twisted in my gut.

I paused when I heard a car approach. A red convertible turned into the driveway entrance and stopped. From the radio, Polka music blared, hurting my ears.

Breaking news abruptly interrupted the song. “The Ridgeway killer is dead.”

The door swung open. “Get in,” Satan purred. “I’m your ride to damnation.”

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Red Convertible by Ann Edall-Robson

The baseball cap was locked in place over her auburn ponytail. Cheeky aviator sunglasses settled snugly on her nose, and a flashy wild rag knotted at her neck, flying and snapping behind her in the wind.

Sunset’s lofty clouds added to the evening cruise to visit her biggest supporters, her grandparents. Encouraging her to build the business from her years of dreaming and planning, they helped her to buy this version of a red convertible. She lovingly patted the dash of her red bi-plane crop duster before dipping to the left, moving into position to buzz their ranch.

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Reunited by Charli Mills

Sylvia blew past the parked vehicle on a lonely stretch of Hwy 50. Flashing lights spun in her rearview mirror. She hadn’t meant to drive so far outside Las Vegas but with an open highway and a fast car, what else was a bored starlet to do? She lived life in the fast-lane. Movie locations, premiers, body-sculpting, interviews, empty dates, and false friends. She slowed the convertible and time stood still. She knew him. The Sheriff. They graduated Eureka High together, sharing the stage and dreams. She left. He stayed. Neither removed their sunglasses. He smiled. “Can I drive?”

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Top Down Management by Doug Jacquier

She wore the dress she knew he liked, the one with the cleavage that promised the Grand Canyon but only exposed a small but perfectly formed ravine. She slipped on the high heels that had cost her a month’s wages and required the poise of a ballerina to cross a room without breaking an ankle. (She knew every woman there would watch like a hawk.) Then she tightly pinned her flowing auburn waves to the back of her head, slipped on the cap and finally the platinum blonde wig. She knew how much he’d always wanted a red convertible.

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Dating Scene by Jenny Logan

“Hey, Janey, how d’your date go?”

“So so.”

“Deets?”

“We had a lovely ride in his red convertible.”

“Nice.”

“Just not my thing, though. He told me all about his flying lessons.”

“Ooooh!”

“Again—heroic hobbies? Nah. Plus, he’s got two kids. I’m too young for all that.”

“You sound fairly definite.”

“I am. He’s a cosmetic surgeon. He said, ‘So, if you ever want anything doing’. The cheek of him! I don’t need tweaking. I’m alright as I am.”

“Good for you. So, you’re throwing this one back?”

“Yeah. He’s not for me.”

“Can I get his number?”

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Transformative Insight by JulesPaige

I thought I’d get to ride in his red convertible, see touristy places on my vacation. My host picked me up from the airport in a rental, the spiffy vehicle was in the shop. He’d chosen not to take any time off work that week either. No sightseeing!

While he went to work Monday I took a walk. Almost to the Santa Monica State Beach pier, hours on the sand there (then back), filling my lonely day. He’d the nerve not to believe me! I saw plenty of red, silently fuming. Converted my rage to action, and left him.

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Feet of Clay, Buttocks of Delight by Geoff Le Pard

When the church’s highly regarded musical director, Don Quaydraws was caught in flagrante and on camera, Little Tittweaking’s previously enraptured citizens were devastated. The local paper reported the shock of watching Don display his mastery of the portable organ while using his delicate fingering to bring the second violin to a syncopated climax inside his red convertible. ‘There is no doubt,’ intoned the leader, ‘that watching those highly-strung buttocks appear and disappear out of the roof like two beige bellows during All Things Bright and Beautiful has been what many consider to be the director’s first bum note.’

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The Red Convertible by Joanne Fisher

Once the divorce happened I let her keep virtually everything. She could have the house and all the things in it as far as I was concerned. It was mostly hers anyway. My lawyer thought I was crazy letting her get way too much. They said I was going to regret it, but the truth was I was happy, as I got the red convertible. The only thing I actually wanted.

When all was settled, I got in my convertible and drove off leaving everything behind me. I drove on until I found some place new to begin again.

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Dreams by Reena Saxena

A question marked Urgent perplexes me. A millennial wants advice if he should opt for a car loan and invest his money in mutual funds to earn higher returns. It takes tough questions and hard calculations to make him see sense. I question his assumptions of the future.

The session leaves me with more questions than answers. Owning that red convertible is an obsession with him. All other goals for the future are blurred.

I visualize him driving into the metaverse in his dream car. It’s a world out there I can’t fathom, with my feet on slippery sands.

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Don’t You Touch My Car! by Sadje

When Alfred realized his dream of owning a red convertible, he became very stingy and possessive about anyone touching or using his precious car.

He even demanded that anyone admiring it should wear cotton gloves before laying a hand on its glossy surface.

Cynthia, his girlfriend got so fed up with his concern for his car, more than her, that she refused to set foot in it. He was shunned by his friends for the same reason.

The result of this over-obsessive attitude was that he became a loner who spent most of his time alone with his car.

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Convertible (Part I) by D. Avery

“This is not how I thought it would be.” He looked at the bloodstained towel, pressed it back to his nose. “Used to think I’d get myself a red convertible for old age. Maybe die in that.”

“I always thought I’d kill you well before we got to old age.” She exchanged his crimson towel for a clean one. “You’ve got to pinch it more and talk less if you want the bleeding to stop.”

“It’s slowing down. Finally.” He smiled. “Not dead yet.”

She kissed the top of his head then fixed his oxygen tube. “No. Not yet.”

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Convertible (Part II) by D. Avery

While he napped, she cleaned up after the latest nose bleed. She put laundry going, filled the portable oxygen tanks, and organized his medications. As she started to prepare dinner, she heard him clicking rapidly through the TV channels and begin his complaints of boredom. She tossed the dishrag into the sink.

“So let’s buy that red convertible,” she said, facing him. “Go touring.”

“What? Now?”

“Can you think of a better time?”

“You’ll have to drive.”

“Yes.”

***

He smiled in the passenger’s seat. “Not dead yet.”

She preferred yellow, but was willing to compromise while their journey continued.

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That Car by Jenny Williams

The car was parked across the road from the cafe. It called out to my soul. The liquid red paint job screamed fast, the open top, freedom. I knew I had to have it.
Over an hour, I lingered at my sidewalk table checking the street, looking for the owner and formulating a plan. 2 minutes is all I need to hot wire the car and drive away.

Tools in hand and totally focused, I crossed the road.

Stupid bus blindsided me. Intense pain as my pelvis shattered. Dreams of that car vanished as the crowd gathered around me.

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Red is Definitely My Color by Tina Stewart Brakebill

I was never a “convertible person.” Hot in the summer. Cold in the winter. Buggy. Windy. Nope. Not for me.

But … I had to admit, I looked good. Red was definitely my color.

A horn blasted and I shifted my gaze to the truck also reflected in the store window. Resisting the urge to flip them off, I meekly waved. They roared past me, blasting exhaust.

As that rumble faded, the sound from the trunk grew louder. Time to get back to the task at hand.

I indulged in one last look. Yes. Red definitely was my color.

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Throttled by Nicole Horlings

It was the thrill of the wind blowing through her hair, the sun caressing her face, and the power controlled by her hands and feet that drove her to taking the red convertible out for a spin a second time. A route formed of twisting bends and sloping hills only added to the joy ride.

The bright red paint, and her exposed face when the top was down… She should have realized the risk she was taking. It didn’t take long for the police to find her.

If only she had waited until her employer was again on vacation.

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The Magic of Red by Sue Spitulnik

Each time Tessa visited her daughter she saw more red: glass art pieces, cookware, vases, flowers, candles, pillows, and even candy. “Lexi, what’s up with the red?”

“Remember that vacation when Adam and I rented a red convertible? We believe Emma was made in that car. Under the stars. You Know.”

“I get it.”

“We’ve been trying so our kids aren’t too far apart but no luck, so Adam thought maybe some red would make the magic happen.”

“Are you practicing magic in the family area?”

“No, our sheets and towels are red too.”

Tessa rolled her eyes. “Oh.”

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Into My Sunset by Gary A. Wilson

Only 3:58am. Why am I awake? It’s still two hours before the alarm won’t go off, but I’ll get out of bed anyway.

Gloria will ask what I’m doing today and all I’ve got are quick yard chores, a clock battery to replace and six bills to pay. I could review the ads in my email but there won’t be anything of substance.

Damn but I miss thinking!

I thought our empty nest was a shock, but retirement leaving me with nothing significant will take me out before any virus.

Perhaps it is finally time for that red convertible.

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Hats Off by D. Avery

“Phew! Was so busy back in the comments a this challenge post, a-heppin Shorty git back ta HQ, almost fergot bout the act’chal challenge. D’ya got anythin fer ‘Red Convertible’ Kid?”

“Shorty traded me that sorrel hoss fer that oversized felt hat, so that’ll have ta do.”

“Speakin a red convertibles, I see Mikhail Gorbachev has passed.”

“May he rest.”

“Thet seems so long ago, when he was leader a the Soviet Union. Bringin walls down. Glasnost.”

“Ain’t no dis-putin his impact. But fer ev’ry action there’s a re-action.”

“Ain’t no dis-putin thet, Kid. Best hang onta yer hat.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Shame Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Shameful — Conversation Overheard by Norah Colvin

“Look at that,” one mother tut-tutted.

“So shameful.”

“What is?”

“That. I’d be totally ashamed to send my child to school looking like that.”

“That’s a shame.”

“Unfortunately, our children have to mix with the likes of that. Have people no shame?”

“I’m not sure what you mean by the likes of that. Our world is enriched by diversity. The more the better, I say. It’s true some people have no shame. Nor should they. They should be proud of who they are. Except for the likes of you. You’re shameless. Shame on you.”

“Well, I —”

“Never. Obviously.”

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Wrong by Gloria McBreen

His tiny bones were found buried deep in the earth; unworthy of a holy grave. He did no wrong! He was born from the innocent womb of a young woman. Her voice too small to be heard. Powerless against a society filled with sanctimonious humans. She did no wrong! An insignificant woman, robbed of her deserving place in society—impure, blemished, broken. But she did no wrong! Those who hid under black and white habits, the ones behind the twitching curtains, and the men who robbed and walked away, weren’t the ones who carried shame. But they did wrong!

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Shamed: A Young Jess and Cindy Story by Joanne Fisher

“Cindy got caught kissing another girl in school!” Stephen suddenly blurted out at the breakfast table. “It was Jess she was kissing.”

Cindy’s father shot an angry look at her.

“Is this true?” Cindy’s mother asked. Cindy’s face had gone a bright red.

“Of course not!” Cindy lied. Her no good brother had tried to shame her.

“Homosexuals burn in Hell.” Her father stated. “No child of mine is going to choose to be gay.”

Cindy ran from the table and hid in her bedroom. She knew her parents would never understand. 

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A Mother’s Shame by Nancy Brady

Julia wasn’t a natural mother, hated babysitting, but she loved her children. Julia wasn’t perfect, but she aspired to being a good-enough mother to them. When they were crying infants, Julia would sing made-up songs of “It’s okay,” and rocking them until they calmed. But over the years, there were times when she realized that she probably was less present than she should have been. Sometimes, late at night, when Julia can’t sleep because thoughts like these fill her mind, she wonders if she failed them in some way. It’s then that her face flames, feeling guilt and shame.

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Shame by Reena Saxena

It’s that moment when you are made to feel less human – for not following a code of conduct devised by other humans. You don’t understand why the majority matters more than your originality, your right to be. You’re unable to achieve your goals because you are excluded from the club. And then you make it your business to tell others what they should do – anything to prevent shame being brought on the family or organization. You tell them affiliation is important, and secretly hope no one finds out you were guilty of defiance – once when you were more human.

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That Harry, He’s a Hell of a Guy by Doug Jacquier

Preamble: I spent many years as a social worker and a probation and parole officer. What follows is an example of what most of us know as ‘shame’ doesn’t begin to cover what human beings are capable of and that certain lines once crossed can never be uncrossed. And, apart from psychopaths, those people know that redemption is a pipe dream.

What Harry had done was beyond shameful, so egregiously evil that his family and his friends recoiled from him in disgust. They wondered how the man that they thought they knew could do such a thing. Confession made his victim re-live the secret kept in order to survive. Harry’s punishment, even his execution, would not bring the myth of closure for them. The only way he would pay was to stop him taking the coward’s way out and make him live with what he had done until the day he died, just to be sure there was a Hell.

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An Unoriginal Life by Scott Bailey

Why did I steal it? The one I already had was probably good enough. Now it defines me, but it is not me. I only kept it because it worked so well. The longer I had it, the better I got at using it. From the onset I learned how to leverage it for everything I wanted. I still use it like that, even at this age. Yet here I lay, withered and dying, regretting every day that passed. Me, but not really me. No one knows what a phony I am or of the shame that I carry.

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The Building Blocks of Shame by Anne Goodwin

I thought I was hungry, but Mummy laughed because only greedy-guts ask for second helpings. I thought I was tired, but Daddy laughed because only weaklings want to rest. I thought I liked algebra, but my classmates laughed because algebra’s not cool. I’d have liked to buy the purple dress but my sister said I couldn’t carry it off. I’d have liked to date the shy guy but my friends called him a creep. I wore the clothes and married the man that met their approval. Every morning I paint a smile on my face and camouflage the bruises.

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The Blame Game by Hugh W. Roberts

“What are these cuts and bruises? I got them when I fell over. How did I get my black eye? I walked into a door. Am I sure this is how I got these injuries? Yes. But I’m sorry for the tears. If I told you the truth, I’d bring shame on myself. The truth is that I’m a victim of domestic violence. Why does that bring shame to me? Because I’m male, and men don’t admit to being victims of domestic violence when being beaten by their wives, do they? Can you imagine the shame if people knew?”

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Making Guilt Worse by Gary A. Wilson Stories

“You made a mistake Jodi and a family died because you threw a burlap sack over that stop sign. It was a terrible idea. A healthy person would not have done it.

“You’re guilty of making a horrific decision.

“We didn’t know your mind was such a mess until we had you checked when you told us.  You’ve been on these new medications for only a week and look how clearer your mind is.

“But sweetie, not confessing might cause authorities to penalize an innocent person. That would increase the damage you’ve done and turn your guilt into shame.”

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Caught by Jenny Williams

My wife walked into the bedroom and I was wearing her black lace dress. The blood drained from my face, making my red rouge and lipstick glow.

“What are you doing?” She screamed, after the unexpected image of my alter ego slowly registered and then totally confused her. I was caught and in a panic stumbled out of sight into the bathroom. I struggled to undo the jammed zipper. My shameful secret was exposed. She had discovered I am a cross dresser, something I have lived with since I was four. My life and future has suddenly changed forever.

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The Song of Shame by Nicole Horlings

If shame was a song, it would be played on an out of tune piano in a large empty room, the notes painfully, obviously, off key. The melody drifts left, lower, and deeper, and does not return to the right. The simple beat of the chords is a slow thud in the echoing silence. Close the window, lest someone below on the street accidentally overhear what is being played. Cancel plans, let no one enter this room, and bar the door if necessary. This song was meant for only one recipient: the one who needs to hear the apology.

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Shame by Kippy

I stared at the ring he’d casually handed me and back at him; slouched on the wrought iron sofa in my livingroom. It’d been barely a year of whirlwind courtship; we were still learning each other. But the kit we’d bought stated we were well on our way to parenthood. My heart broke into a million pieces for I’d never know if he’d planned this all along, see, I lacked the courage to ask. Also, I’d always know that my “yes” resonated more with fear and shame of premarital pregnancy.

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A Letter to Mac by Sue Spitulnik

My Beloved Mac,

I’m sorry I didn’t have enough courage to visit the United States. I have so much guilt for bowing to my family’s wishes years ago. I’m also filled with shame, for I have never told my other children about their brother, and now I am afraid to. Life is such a funny thing. My happiest memories are of us laughing and feeling alive during a horrific time. I must accept that they are only memories, not the reality of today, but they do help me carry on. I’m happy for you in your life.

Love, Truyet

Author’s Note: Truyet is Mac’s son Thad’s biological mother in Vietnam. Her father forced her to send Thad to be raised by his American father 50 years ago.

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Mr. Shame by Ruchira

“Mr. Shame,” announced the nurse with a broad smile that displayed her braces. Her thick spectacles and wonky walk made her look like an alien. The young man raised his hand and was about to take steps toward her when a blonde sitting next to him got his attention.

“Is that your name?” she said with a snort.

“It’s Shaine. But, Teresa tends to lisp.”

“And, you have no issues with it?”

“This noun is nothing if I have not performed any shameful action. It’s all about your consciousness,” said Shane with a broad smile leaving the blonde speechless.

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Arjeet Egoistic Villain by Simon

Arjeet Egoistic Villain by Simon Arjeet an Indian gang leader planned to make million dollar deal with an ancient map. On that day, he presented the ancient map in front of hundreds of big shots, to his shock it was written “Map” in place of map. He was humiliated, he must find the map to save his reputation, before that he must find Sherloq. Sherloq grinned as he shoved the map in his coat pocket and walked away disguised as one of them. Arjeet will soon find Sherloq and his treasure hunting journey. Sherloq teased an evil ego, he will face wrath of Arjeet.

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Reimagined by D. Avery

This woman seems kind, look how she is with the children. Look at that garden! Go to them. It’ll be alright.

She clung to her imaginary friend. “No.”

I’ll go with you.

“I’m ashamed.”

Of me?

“No! Of me. Of my family. You know…”

I do know. I know that is your sorrow, but it is not your shame.

She sobbed then in the strong comforting arms of her imaginary friend. And when she opened her eyes, she was in the embrace of the woman, who told her she was safe now, everything was alright, she would be alright.

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Friends Reunited by Jenny Logan

We caught up over tea after over thirty years. We had one hour and managed to cover the basics; the “edited highlights” of a lifetime.

“She’s a proper grownup,” I would tell my husband later.

I reflected on all the things not said. I didn’t mention the divorces, the abuse, the years wasted. Nor did I mention time served in a religious cult. Am I ashamed of my life? Perhaps. A bit. Had my long-ago friend done the same thing? Put a positive spin on her history? If so, had we only succeeded in making each other feel inadequate?

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(Spot On?) Contemptible Chagrin by JulesPaige

Home rules – from the nest of your parents. The ones you are taught for polite occasions; like to mind your ‘P’s and Q’s’, don’t talk with your mouth full. Especially when you are a child to only speak when you are spoken to. Gertie learned all the right lessons. But she felt shame for those, especially the people from high political families or those with huge inheritances that they believed they could ignore some of the very basics. Some didn’t even have to have consumed great amounts of alcohol – to talk with their mouths full of food.

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Weapon of Shame by Sadje

Don’t wield the weapon of guilt, don’t make me wear rags of regret and the ashes of shame. Your views and mine are vastly different and making me ashamed of my choices, will make us part ways forever. You don’t own me. We all have the right to live our lives as we think right. Making me feel that my choices are to be condemned is your failure. Look in the mirror and you’ll look at a hypocrite, who needs to wear that cloak of shame more than me, for usurping my right to choose. Live and let live!

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Shame by Gia

What was happening, why were my eyes following him? Our eyes crossed again. Every time he looked at me, he saw me. He saw my imperfect emotional and perfect physical contours. I felt that look, like someone gently running a finger down my back. It was like some drug rushing through my blood and giving me a high that I had not felt in years. I was being touched, kissed, and pleasured, but I was not desired. Not this way. Damn! What was happening? Why am I thinking this? I had a ring on my finger. Shame on me!

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A Letter to Mac by Sue Spitulnik

My Beloved Mac,

I’m sorry I didn’t have enough courage to visit the United States. I have so much guilt for bowing to my family’s wishes years ago. I’m also filled with shame, for I have never told my other children about their brother, and now I am afraid to. Life is such a funny thing. My happiest memories are of us laughing and feeling alive during a horrific time. I must accept that they are only memories, not the reality of today, but they do help me carry on. I’m happy for you in your life.

Love, Truyet

Note: Truyet is Mac’s son Thad’s biological mother in Vietnam. Her father forced her to send Thad to be raised by his American father 50 years ago.

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Shame by Reena Saxena

She says she did not get the kind of daughter she wanted. I’ve just poured myself a drink which she considers sacrilege. One fine day, uncharacteristically she heaps praise on me. I’ve carried the garbage out twice because the house help did not turn up. Someone else who moves about with a duster in hand all day is efficient and lovable. But me – banging the keyboard or speaking in sessions – am not feminine enough. Rejection has been the predominant theme from childhood. I don’t know where to place the shame. She is not the kind of mother I wanted.

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She Hung Her Head in Shame by Marsha Ingrao

Victoria had secrets in her younger years. Longing for a life fulfilled to have a man to share her bed and arms to hold her tight at night. She fell prey to the compliments of a married man who made her feel alive. She hid him in her closet, and let him out at parties, pretending to be friends. Her face was glass, through which she thought everyone could see. Though she tried to pull the curtains, and let down the blinds, what she had done at midnight was like the noonday sun. She hung her head in shame.

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The Shameless Princess (a true tale) by The Curious Archaeologist

“Shameless!” The shocked women looked at the statue of Venus. A beautiful reclining semi-nude woman.

“But it’s her! A princess and the favourite sister of the most powerful man in the world. How could she do it?”

Princess Pauline Borghese entered the room, the ladies curtsied. She watched as the statue was rotated in front of her, the likeness was unmistakable. “What do you think?” she asked one of her ladies in waiting.

“Very fine,” the woman hesitated, then asked nervously. “Didn’t you feel nervous when you posed?”

“Oh no!” The Princess laughed, “The studio was very well heated.”

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A Cryin’ _____! by Bill Engleson

Gibson listens to my sorry-assed tale. After I wrap it up, he rubs his ear the way he usually does before unloading one of his set pieces.

“That’s a cryin’…”

“Don’t say it,” I cut in.

“It’s beneath you…”

“You’re right. Shame on me…”

He gets up, strolls to the bar, orders another jug, and returns. “Help yourself, Vinnie.”

I pour the liquid solace into two glasses. He downs half of his brew, all the while shaking his head. “You’re a fool to cheat on her,” he declares.

I chugalug all of mine. Truth really makes me thirsty.

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Making The Best by Geoff LePard

Anthony ‘Tone’ Deaffe lived with his shame. He barely left home, so embarrassed was he. When Annabelle Ringer, seeking new members for the Little Tittweaking gleeclub, called round, Tone nearly didn’t answer. However, before he opened the door, she knew his secret. ‘Oh!’ squealed Belle, ‘what balls.’ Belle knew – she’d suffered her own despair, having a whistling vagina since puberty. She studied musical genitalia at Cambridge and consoled Tone that his tinkling testicles weren’t unique. Freed of shame, they formed a duet, playing ballsy versions of film scores, being especially popular at bar mitzvahs and S&M recovery parties.

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Shame on the Airlines by Charli Mills

The airline scam begins:

“Welcome to Chicago! Your flight to Hancock departs from Gate E5 at 6:47.”

Passengers think they have a plane to go to their destination. They’ve paid their fare. But the switches start:

“Hancock flight now departs from Gate F6 at 6:47.”

These are more gate changes. The airline is switching planes. Crews do not come with the plane. Bait and switch continue. Passengers are stranded, sleeping in clusters on seats, luggage, the floor. They rise at 3 am cold, cranky and deprived of coffee. At 6 am, the scam resumes. After a dozen changes, a single flight departs to Hancock 24 hours later.

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Hangin Out Without Shame by D. Avery

“Pal, I’m worried I won’t come up with a response fer this un.”

“Thet’d be a shame, Kid, but nuthin ta be ashamed of.”

“What if I try somethin an it falls flat?”

“Might be a might awkward, Kid, thet’s all. Reckon this is a tough prompt. Cause there ain’t no shamin at Carrot Ranch.”

“Yer sayin this’s a shameless place?”

“S’pose. Ain’t ta say mistakes ain’t been made.”

“Guilty.”

“Uh-huh. But we’ve all learnt from em. Nuthin ta be ashamed of.”

“So it’s okay that I’m wearin ma chaps but not ma jeans?”

“Em-bare-assed ain’t a-shamed.”

“Cool beans.”

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 “Seriously, Pal, this’s a tough prompt.”

“Ain’t’cha got sumthin yer shamed of ta write ‘bout, Kid?”

“If’n I did, d’ya think I would?”

“What’re ya most shamed of Kid?” “

Reckon it’d be if’n I ever shamed anuther. Sometimes we kin say somethin hurtful an not even know we’re doin it. But then that person ain’t gonna say anythin. Cuz their shamed.”

“Be more shameful if ya knew ya were shamin.”

“Some folks do mighty shameful things.”

“Yep. An some folks forgive em anyways. An that’s acknowledgin their mistakes an letting em learn an grow from em. Givin em room.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Floppy as Puppy Ears Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Imagining by D. Avery

I love it here she whispered.

Her imaginary friend smiled in reply. She knew that even though they were away from the house they should still be quiet. But she agreed it was a cozy safe spot.

The moss and needles are so soft and warm in the sun.

Like a puppy’s ears. But then she got sad remembering the puppy. I want to stay here forever, she said.

Let’s.

And why not? The spruce boughs would keep them hidden. But eventually shadows overtook the sun. Her tummy growled. I’ll be back she said.

But she wasn’t so sure.

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The Rag Doll of Friendship by Anne Goodwin

At day’s end, the girls huddled over their needlework, growing calluses on their fingertips, eyes strained in the dim light. Some knitted scarves for winter, others sewed toys from scraps that they stuffed with straw.

Lily called her doll Bridget after her former friend. The other girls urged her to use more stuffing: the doll was as floppy as puppy ears. Lily replied that she stitched in imperfections lest her handiwork be taken away. But that wasn’t the real reason. The doll represented Bridget as she last saw her: hanging from the rafters with Lily’s scarf around her neck.

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The Duster by Jenny Logan

“It feels like puppies’ ears,” said a colleague of it. I loved that coat.

“You’re sweeping the stairs with it,” said another. It was always a bit grubby after walking down the car park steps.

I had seen it on someone at church, fallen in love with it, bought my own. That love lasted longer than many others. Olive green, it was. Not very warm. Perfect for a cool, spring day.

I wonder where it is now? What did I do with it? Did I donate it somewhere? Why would I have done that when I loved it so?

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First Meeting by Charli Mills

Her battered suitcase had no wheels. Her eyes widened when I reached for the leather bag. Was I breaking protocol? Uncertainty flooded me. Would she want a coffee? I needed a slug of gin. A white hanky covered her hair and I glanced sideways for signs of familiarity. We were strangers.

“This way.” What an ass, I thought. Why didn’t I hello first?

We walked in silence out the airport doors and into the bustle of my city. The flap on her suitcase flopped like a puppy’s ear. I swore from behind me I heard her whisper, “My son.”

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Floppy Problems by Hugh W. Roberts

Ben’s whole day had been as floppy as puppy ears.

His job was floppy; his life was floppy, but at least he wasn’t dying or had any significant problems to solve.

A notification on his phone gave Ben the chance to stop all the floppiness.

‘You have a match – Janet wants to meet you.’

Later that evening, nothing was floppy while he and Janet talked on Skype. They had the time of their lives.

It wasn’t until a few days later that Ben had wished everything had remained floppy.

‘Pay now, or I’ll publish the video,’ demanded Janet.

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Floppy As by Joanne Fisher

“What do you think?”

“It does seem rather floppy.”

“Yes.”

“The question is how floppy is it? To me it seems to be as floppy as puppy ears.”

“Puppy ears?”

“Yes puppy ears is my standard for measuring floppiness. Is something as floppy as puppy ears or even floppier? That is, if such a thing is possible. That’s my Puppy Ears Floppiness Index. For there is no other way to measure the state of floppiness.”

“You must like puppies.”

“Well I love puppy ears and how floppy they are.”

“So what about this floppiness problem?”

“I think it’s perfect.”

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Ear Raid by Nancy Brady

Although I’m a cat person, the one thing that I love most about dogs is their soft, floppy ears.

Susie, our neighbor’s dog, had the softest ears, which I always stroked. Tucker, as a puppy, had one ear that flopped over while the other one always stood upright. The floppy ear was cuter.

The floppiest ears, though, belonged to our beagle, Callie. Long, soft, and floppy, Callie used her ears in place of barking. Getting our attention was easy; she would stand nearby, shake her head intentionally, setting those ears to flapping. Those ears were a true alarm clock.

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Emma’s Jester Imitation by Sue Spitulnik

Adam watched his daughter flap the skirt of her sundress while she ran from the kitchen into the family room, around the footstool, and then down the hallway toward the bedrooms. Shortly she ran back, the best a two-year-old can run. Fearful she might get hurt, Adam said, “Emma. Walk!”

Emma stopped and looked at him, still holding her skirt. “I’m being Jester.” She giggled.

Adam looked confused. “Being Jester?”

Tessa appeared in the kitchen doorway. “She’s flapping her skirt to imitate Jester’s ears flopping when he sticks his head out the van window.”

“I see. Be careful, Sweetie.”

Author’s Note: Jester belongs to Emma’s grandfather Michael.

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Don’t Eat the Bunny by Sadje

Oscar’s floppy ears were drooping. He couldn’t just get it. He was the beloved pet of his humans, especially Cindy who was always so kind and loving towards him.

On Easter morning he got the fright of his life when he saw a few of his kind in a box with ribbons on it; golden-colored bunnies with red bows. He thought that he was getting some friends to play with, but when Cindy took one bunny out of the box, took off the golden wrapping, and bit the bunny’s head off, he almost fainted with fright!

It was brutal!

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Disappeared 42 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Bethany and her three daughters stumble through the limestone tunnel, Twins leading. The Twins shrieked as one, as if they’d seen a ghost. Which they had; the Speakeasy, though decimated, still gathers in death the same people it had in life.

The tunnel rumbles, shifting.

“Hurry now,” the Mage calls. “Andrew needs you!”

Breathless, The Twins grab their sister and mom and pull them past.

Meanwhile, shifting mud opens a fissure over Andrew. Muddy water caps him, curly hair flopping onto his shoulders, mud running over his face. Blinded, Andrew flails, nudging the plaque toward the murky sewer’s tumult.

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Floppy Is as Floppy Does…by Duane L Herrmann

Looking like a floppy brimmed hat, it’s not. It’s a building, or will be when finished. There is the ground level, with entrances on each of the nine corners, topped by a floppy brimmed hat. The peak of the hat is a nine-sided cone. Around the brim are nine eye-shaped spaces, and at the peak, on each side, are half-circle opening. These could be part of the ventilation system, pulling air in below, letting it out above; in the tropics, cooling air movement is essential. The brim provides shade. This will be the Bahá’í House of Worship in Kinshasa, DRC.

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As Floppy as Puppy Ears by Norah Colvin

As floppy as puppy ears

As cute as a button

As happy as Larry

As cranky as a hippopotamus

As ripe as a banana

As silly as a sausage on a stick

As weird as a walrus (but don’t tell it I said so)

As tall as a giraffe

As small as a flea

As funny as a giggle

As rude as a fart

As crazy as a top hat on a donkey

As scary as the dark unknown

As awesome as a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis

As amazing as children’s imaginations

And, as wonderful …

As you!

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Wild West Showdown by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Barmaid, bring me a drink,” shouted Jim Hammond. He threw his cards down on the table. Another loss was hard to take. “Where’s that girl? I want a drink, now!”

Miss Kitty glared at the poker table. She had served these gritty cowboys for years. She knew just how to handle the rowdy ones. She smoothed her dress in place, paying special attention to her bustle, which in later years had become as floppy as puppy ears. She sauntered over with a bottle of booze in her hand. “Here ya go, Jim.” With one fell-swoop, she knocked Jim out!

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Doctors Visit by Kayla Morrill

Dear Dairy, Today mum tok me to the docktors ofice bekaus my arm hurt. A big harry monstar came in an tuched it an made me cry. He put a hevy blankit over my body an I was skared. He told my mummy my radeus was frakchured, that my rist was as flopy as pupy ears bekaus of it. I was mad an sed my rist is not a pupy ear! The monstar lafted and that made me even more mader. He sed I shud stop climing trees. My rist is now casted so its not like pupy ears.

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Floppy As Puppy Ears by kathy70

Ears are not exciting, puppies tripping over their own ears are funny. Me falling on a just mopped spot is funny, if only I don’t break a leg. Who draws that line between funny and not? Does the universe draw it for us or do we each have a different line? I miss some of those people in my life who loved to laugh. The ones we just had to look at each other and we knew if something was funny. I don’t want a puppy and it would be great to have more to laugh at in life.

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The Most Egregious Of Crimes by Geoff Le Pard

Pat Bottoms, Little Tittweaking’s entrepreneur had many money making ideas. None succeeded until the ultimate stress reliever: a material which when fondled released something akin to dopamine, instantly reducing anxiety. Called Puppy’s Gift, it was an instant winner. When Pat was interviewed on his invention and asked, ‘How do you make them feel so much like puppy’s ears?’ Pat looked confused. ‘I use puppies’ ears,’ he answered. How they laughed at what had to be a joke. ‘No, seriously…’ When Pat brought out two smooth headed Labradors the interviewer fainted, Pat was arrested and irony died a sick death.

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Sherloq Part 2 – Dalia’s Revenge by Simon

She looked at her empty ear lobe remembering how her Ex husband use to play with her soft ears, an erotic whisper “soft puppy ears”. She turned to see no one, tears swelled up her dark circled eyes, drop of tear fell on the gun. She wiped her wet eyes, clenched her teeth and unlocked her Glock 42 handgun. Sherloq killed her Dad to retrieve the missing clues to his treasure, he tried to kill Dalia too, somehow she survived. Dalia, was on her way to assassinate Sherloq. A revenge story began in the middle of a treasure hunting.

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Floppy As Puppy Ears 2 by: Kathy70

Floppy ears on a puppy are cute but being a flip-flopper has developed a bad connotation in lots of areas. A TV game show calls out one, an acquaintance may accuse you of being one, a politician may lose because of it. If I at one time enjoyed watching soap operas and no longer do am I a flip-flopper or have I just matured or regressed? I hope as adults we will again be able to change our minds and have others simply accept it. Maybe it’s best to refer to this as puppy ears not as floppy attributes.

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Action Jaxxon by Doug Jacquier

Albie ‘listened’ to his grandson, Jaxxon, passionately explain the issue, again. He felt a little guilty that he wasn’t that passionate about anything anymore himself but he remembered when he was. Besides, he knew that under the unwritten rules of grandparenting, it was important to provide Jaxxon with an audience. When he finished, the boy said ‘Now do you get it?’ Albie said ‘I’ve never heard it explained more clearly.’ Jaxxon sighed, ‘You didn’t, did you?’ Albie replied ‘The important thing is that you do and that what you believe in doesn’t become as flip-floppy as your grandpappy’s ears.’

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The Return by Kerry E.B. Black

The librarian lowered her glasses and fixed the patron with her no-nonsense stare. The patron fidgeted beneath her scrutiny as he slid the books across the returns desk. “They’re on time.” He offered a wavering smile.

She sniffed, never breaking eye contact. “You know, Mr. Monroe, I distinctly remember including bookmarks when you checked these out.”

“Um, yeah. Did you need me to return them, too?”

“No, I need you to use them.” She flipped the cover of the top book and ran a finger along the pages’ upper corners. “Dog ears are darling on puppies – not library books.”

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Tears Mixed With Relief by JulesPaige

Will she meet up with those

Who are now breathless

All those she once loved, pets too, those with floppy

Puppy dog ears, and the

Siamese purr cats

Will she dance in fields of

Butterflies, will it

Be a stretch to think she will visit as a

Cardinal to my yard…

But not in winter

Will she now rest in peace void of all those ills

And be able to remember whatever

She wants when she wants to

We can only hope…

She liked red colors, but she did not like the cold.

Now she’s free as a bird

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Rubber Legs by Bill Engleson

“He said that?”

“Yes. Bold as a brass spittoon…he said, I’m no Crazy Legs Hirsch.”

“What do you think he meant?”

“He was reporting a dream. Lying in bed, and sensing that his bones were dissolving, turning to rubber, melting like plastic.”

“So, he was hot?”

“Yes. Unbearably so. In fact he said it felt like he was being cremated…”

“Nasty.”

“You would think. Yet he said he imagined he could get up…the footballer reference…but that his legs were as…and this was odd…as floppy as puppy ears.”

“Strange thing to say!”

“Well, it’s therapy. Strange is on the menu.”

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Stormy Winds by Reena Saxena

Winds blow in a different direction, making me struggle to retain balance. The world on the other side is unfriendly. So what if I’ve been there a couple of times…..I don’t like it. It seems perfectly natural to some … fluttering of a butterfly’s wings or a movement like floppy puppy ears. I know that it will cause a cyclone and my carefully constructed world will fall apart – on alien ground. Will the next eclipse or planetary transit change the direction of winds? I throw down the chart readings for the umpteenth time. I’ll sink or rise again.

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Hat Is Wear the Home Is by D. Avery

“Hey Kid. Was thet Frankie?”

“Yep, makin her appoin’ned rouns. Hat I ordered’s here. Check it out, Pal. Nice wide brim’ll keep ma delicate features outta the sun.”

“Hmmf. What material’s thet made of?”

“Some sort a felt. Feel it, Pal, it’s soft an floppy as puppy ears. But looky, it’s flexible but tough, kin turn the brim this way an that way. Kin roll the hat up an it’ll keep its shape.”

“Ya mail ordered it ya say?”

“Yep.”

“How’s it fit?”

“Here goes.”

“Yep, plenny a shade.”

“Shift!”

“Mebbe we kin turn it inta a hoop skirt.”

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“Kid goin tentin?”

“Hey Shorty. Thet big top outfit ya see is Kid’s new hat.”

“It’s disarmin. Only knew it was Kid cause I recognized the boots stickin out unnerneath.”

“Think ya jabberjawkeys could hep me outta here?!”

“Shorty, if’n thet’s felt, think it could shrink up?”

“Sure, Pal. That’d be a way ta git this hat ta fit Kid’s head.”

“Hello?! Ahh!! I done flopped over! Pull Pal.”

“There! Yer out from unnerneath thet hat. Hey, where ya goin Kid?”

“Campin.”

“Looks like rain.”

“I’ll be cozy in this oversized hat-bedroll. What could go wrong?”

“Sleep tight Kid.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

The One Who Left the Dress Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

A Living Canvass by Benjamin Nambu

A soothing song sat softly on her mind all day and wouldn’t leave, like the way her story was trapped in that old dress and wouldn’t fade. The moving notes guided her fingers groping the margins of her heart for the right words to describe what that dress had come to symbolize for her.

Although time has hemmed her to death, years upon years have lip-synced and hummed her dress, but none has ever been able to truly sing its symbol.

The tenants are no more, but this old dress has lived to tell stories that once slept here.

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The Ghost in the Dress by Hugh W. Roberts

The ghost always returned on the night of February 14th. Dressed in World War II uniform, we’d watch as it undressed and put on the dress we’d found behind the wood panelling in the main bedroom.

Our mother didn’t want to keep the dress in the house. She referred to it as an evil piece of cloth, but we couldn’t allow her to dispose of this piece of 1940s history.

“Does it still fit me?” the ghost always asked.

We’d nod our heads, smile and reply with the same answer.

“Yes. And you look so pretty in it, David.”

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The Dress by Colleen M. Chesebro

Mildred hung the dress on a peg in the changing room she shared with the other actresses. She shivered. This place gave her the creeps. She’d felt odd ever since she’d arrived.

As a Betty Grable look-alike, Mildred often stood in for the star. But today, they had filmed the scene in this abandoned shack in the woods.

“Jack, in here,” a woman’s voice called out. “It’s still here.”

“What’s still there?”

“The dress. You know, the dress Mildred Setterfield wore as a stand-in for Betty Grable in the movie, “Suspense”. She died of an aneurysm in this cabin.”

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Dress Rehearsal by Bill Engleson

I was looking for a career change.

“Real Estate,” Herb said.

Herb was retiring after a lifetime of selling dreams.

Dreams the shape of houses.

“I’ll give that a shot,” I said.

Herb mentored me.

After a year, he announced, “You’re good, kid. People like you. One more test.“

Herb took me to the Woffington Mansion.

Decrepit.

“Anyone can sell a beauty. Selling a hovel with…history…takes talent.”

“History?”

He pointed to the stained dress hanging above the great mantle.

“Blood?”

“Tears. Letitia Woffington’s. Lover killed in the war. Inconsolable. Wept ‘til she died.”

Next week, my ex bought it.

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World War Free, 2075 by D. Avery

The dress is displayed for all to see, to honor our foremothers. Over so many years, it’s now a collage of material and threads from its many patchings and repairs, each one a story within a story.

It was last worn in 2045 in commemoration of the Great Realization, begun some twenty years prior. By then the efforts of sisters the world over were coming to fruition, and our great Mother, Earth, had begun Her healing.

Acting from love, our sisters drew on their skills, strengths, and even magic to remedy the world’s ills.

Today people live without fear.

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Thereby Hangs a Tale by Doug Jacquier

Her car broke down on an old highway on a winter night. Seeing a light in the distance, she trudged to the door of a house adjacent to a rundown motel. A man answered her knock and said his phone was out and then showed her to one of the units. In the room hung a dress like ones she’d seen in old movies and the man took it, saying ‘Mother’s. Sorry.’ As he left he wished her goodnight, smiled broadly and said ‘By the way, my name is Norman. Norman Bates. Would you like some milk and cookies?’

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The One Who Left the Dress by Norah Colvin

The rotten timbers remained upright thanks to the bushes, branches and vines. Grassy tufts sprouted through decaying floorboards where leaves, animal scats and other detritus littered. The only hint of previous occupants was a wardrobe, miraculously still standing. Sandy gasped as its door fragmented as she opened it. Using her phone’s torch, she peered through cobwebs and dust, hoping for treasure. All she found was a dress, completely in tatters, but still hanging.

“Isn’t this your great grandmother’s — the one in the photo in the hall?”

“Could be.” said Angus. “So what?”

“I wonder why she left it here.”

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A Photographic Memory by Nancy Brady

My sisters and I found the dress tucked in the back of Mom’s closet after she died. While I remember many dresses she wore when I was young, I don’t remember this one.

It was navy with polka dots, a large lace collar, and belted at the waist, and it was unlike any dress I had ever seen her wear.

We continued cleaning the house, discovering a professional photograph of her and our aunt, taken in 1943, after her high school graduation. In it, Mom is not only wearing this dress, but smiling, something she rarely did in photos.

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The One Who Left the Dress by kathy70

Closets are small or non-existent, most of us don’t have a lot of clothes. My sister, brother and I share a dresser, we each have one drawer and the 4th is everyone’s socks.

Except for the closet under the stairs which has some clothes that no one wears.

Who gave us those things?

Why has mama never worn this blue dress, did this belong to her sister who died after getting so sick?

Was she afraid the dress would make her sick too and she would have to move away?

The doctor said grandma is doing very well today.

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The Dress by Joanne Fisher

Jess discovered a dress in the spare room she had never seen before. She found Cindy in the study working at the computer.

“Whose is this?” Jess asked holding the dress up. Cindy turned and looked at it.

“Technically mine. Cousin Stacy left it here when she last visited. I never liked it, so I stuck it in the spare room.” Cindy explained.

“Um, it’s okay.” Jess remarked.

“Then maybe you should wear it.”

“I never wear dresses.” Jess stated.

“It’s not too late to start.” Cindy said. Jess looked at it again.

“Let’s just give it to Goodwill.”

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That Dress by Duane L Herrmann

It was a simple dress, even elegant, from the 1940s. Her mother had been married in it, her pregnancy not yet obvious. Weeks after the birth, the mother died. The dress is all the daughter had left. She would look at it and wonder: What did she look like in it? How did she get it? What did her father think of her in it? The woman didn’t really remember her father, just a man who held her in his big strong arms. Then was gone. Later, she learned he was drunk with grief and drove off the road.

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Satisfied Spirit by JulesPaige

I had always wanted to stay in this house. The house my husband built. But his only son, the one from his first marriage and also helped to build it, thought that after my husband died I was too much of a burden. And fostered me onto my middle daughter.

I always wanted to be a part of that house. I took one of my small cotton summer dresses, folded it and stuffed it in a loose floorboard when they weren’t home.

After that house was sold to finance my eldercare… I waited to return to my beloved home.

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The One Who Left the Dress by Jenny Logan

That dress was the last straw. She had been wearing increasingly modest clothing for the last decade trying to appease him.

Her eyes were opened. She realized she had had more freedom in a religious cult than she had now. When a visit to Out Patients for a general and “getting the guts ripped out” felt like a nice daytrip, one simply wasn’t getting out enough.

She laughed aloud, slightly maniacally, packing her bag. Some people were never satisfied. She vowed not to become one of them and reversed all the way down the driveway, spraying gravel like confetti.

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Sherloq by Simon

A 1940’s Era dress, hung in style on a big large mansion. For 82 years this was a treasure.

For Sherloq the dress wasn’t the treasure, but the secret it held. A small silver thread under the collar, 100 year old currency with a missing thread.

The clues matched precisely, this was a treasure that never reached the right person.

Sherloq found where the map is, the button is the direction, but the button was not there. After browsing thousands of museums found the button.

Sherloq began his solitary journey, he believed he was the only one, he isn’t.

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Disappeared 40 (Part I) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The Mage had left Joseph wandering the haunted mansion’s grounds. As memories returned, Joseph needed time away within the Shadowlands to grieve his losses. Given time, Joseph’s moans would quiet as he began to return to himself.

The Scottish mage also needed time away. He thought of The Twins and their mother, Bethany: just like that, he was there.

First to Bethany, in an unfamiliar, dark attic room. A vintage dress, ivory-colored with a lace veil, hung in the dusky light. She knelt beneath it, burying her face in its skirts.

“Good-bye, Joseph.”

The Mage’s heart cracked, “Poor girl.”

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Disappeared 40 (Part II) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The twin girls slammed the attic’s trap door, excelsior and cobwebs tangled in their curls. “Mama, lookit what we found!”

The Scottish mage looked from the girls gripping the vintage dress they’d found, and to Bethany’s distraught face.

“It’s just an old dress. Here, I’ll take it. It’s probably moldy,” Bethany said.

“It’s ours to keep!” mewled Duckie.

“Let go, girls,” the mage murmured. “It’s her most special dress.”

Chuckie gazed at her mother’s face, nudged her twin. “Here, Mama.”

Bethany took the dress, running trembling hands over the embroidered bodice.

“You’re right, Shadowman,” whispered Ducks.

“Who’s Shadowman, girls?”

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The Last Day of the Dress by Raelyn Pracht

The mustard frock with its dulled glass buttons hung askew on a wire hanger in the upstairs closet of an abandoned house. She rubbed the sheer nylon between her two fingers – transporting herself back to the last day she had worn it.

That morning was beautiful with the sun beaming through the eastern windows of the large house. She smiled brightly at it as she drew back the heavy drapes of the bedroom.

“It’s the perfect day to die.”

She laid down on the bed, smoothing out the yellow dress so she would look pristine when he found her.

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A Box of Clothes Left Behind by Sadje

My mom passed away 55 years ago, when I was barely 6. When I was 15, my grandmother showed me a box of her clothes that she had preserved with care for me. It was such a unexplainable feeling to touch the clothes she had worn when she was alive, because I hardly remembered her.

I altered most of them to my size as I was quite good at stitching by that age. And wore them with pride. It didn’t matter to me that the fabrics were outdated, just that they once belonged to my mom whom I loved.

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Dress to Dust by Annette Rochelle Aben

She said yes to the dress. It belonged to her grandmother’s sister, for whom she was named. She had only seen photographs of her great aunt in the dress. It was all so romantic idea.

With her best friend by her side, she walked into the old family home, heading for the attic stairs. Cobwebs covered the walls and dust motes danced in the sparkling shaft of sunlight that stood between them and the dress.

On the other side of the sun, they gasped! As they watched, the beautiful dress from the picture fall apart right before their eyes.

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The Abandoned House by E.A. Colquitt

Iris didn’t want to go. If somebody saw them – she wasn’t a burglar!

Participating, however, would make her one of the group much more easily…

She compromised, walking the house’s perimeter while the others went indoors. Around the back, colour unfurled through a broken window: pale yellow, like the inside of a banana, but it had once been gold.

How did she know? Iris touched the snagged material, avoiding the jagged pane, and – and found herself in a bright dance hall.

Everyone was done up: victory-roll hair, dresses with capped sleeves.

Iris looked down. She was clothed in sunshine.

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Unknown Logging Camp 1901 by Charli Mills

Lindy laced the boots Stan stole for her over socks Joe nabbed the week before. She used her flimsy hosiery to belt a long flannel shirt she stripped from Gary when he was drunk. No pants. She’d escape if all she wore were boots. Lindy greased her hand with lard Fred swiped from the cookshack. She slipped the shackle, slinking past tents and shacks. Her dress still hung in the log boss’s window like a conquered curtain. She’d leave it behind with the memory of that night they stripped and chained her to the deep nowhere woods of Michigan.

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Hidden Memory by Ann Edall-Robson

“Gran, do you remember we bought the property next to your parent’s old place?”

“I might be old, but I remember,” she paused, “everything!”

“There’s an abandoned cabin near the creek.”

The old woman nodded.

“I found this.” She said, lifting the lid from a soiled box. “Do you know anything about this wedding dress and tiara?”

Tears streamed down her grandmother’s anguished face.

“Gran?”

The family matriarch searched for the hankie tucked in her sleeve. Sniffing, she knew it was time to tell the story she had kept hidden, along with the dress, since that day in 1949.

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A Blue Reminder by Sue Spitulnik

While visiting Tyrell’s parents’ beautiful remote home, Tessa spotted the abandoned house almost hidden by trees. Tyrell offered to take her to see it.

As they entered, Tessa noticed the faded fancy blue dress hanging by a window.

Tyrell said, “Mama tells, my Grandma was to wear that to wed her beau, but another migrant killed him in a knife fight about who was to be boss. Grandma died soon after, so my Mama, already a young girl, hung that dress there to be a reminder to break the family cycle of poverty and violence. You’re witnessing her success.”

Author’s Note: Tyrell is the African-American drummer in Michael’s band.

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Unsolved Mystery by Ruchira

“Milo! Don’t forget to take your prom dress and lock the main door before you leave.” Mom shouted while leaving for work at at noon.

Milo heard her and dozed off.

The alarm clock blared at 4 pm, which made her spring up with a jolt.

“Gosh! I’m late. Let me wear my dress here instead.” She locked the door behind her.

Hours ticked by, and Mom returned from work to find the dress in her closet.

She rushed to her school with knitted eyebrows to find Milo in one.

“Whose dress are you wearing? Who left this behind?”

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Nea’s Dress Returned by Charli Mills

Throughout 1944, Nea stitched the dress in anticipation of welcoming home her brothers. She’d expanded their farm into a blooming enterprise. Flower bouquets sold well, despite disapproval from jilted men too old to farm or fight. Nea’s land flourished in ever-changing color patterns. Florals earned her keep. Only one brother returned the day she wore the dress. Rumors of her flower dalliance and refusal to marry agitated him. He hacked her plants, burned the dress, and sent her to the asylum. The flowers reseeded and witnesses claim to see a pristine dress waiting in a window. Undeterred, she returned.  

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Mystery Solved by Anne Goodwin

“You’ve got the figure for it,” said Janice.

Heather fingered the fabric. “It’s rather faded, but I do love vintage clothes. Especially polka dots.”

“I wonder who wore it. How it ended up here.”

Heather glanced at her watch. “Let’s sort this out later. It’s nearly time for the group.”

Heather locked the door on the abandoned suitcases. The women hurried to the ward. The patients assembled in the group room, bribed by the promise of biscuits and tea.

“Remember we’re going an outing next week?” Heather prompted.

“Tea with the mayor,” said Matty. “I’ll wear my polka-dot dress.”

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The One Who Left the Dress by D. Avery

1945
“The factory is giving our jobs to the men. Some thanks.”
“What are you complaining about, Maeve? Your husband made it home, intact. He wants to start a family.” She giggled and slapped her friend playfully. “Time to get back to the real business of being a woman.”
“I liked working.”
“So be a secretary.”
“Rick agreed to secretarial work. He even bought me this dress.”
“It’s perfect! Oh, gotta run. Dinner!”
“I built airplanes,” Maeve whispered as her friend let herself out.
Then she packed her suitcase. She included some of Rick’s clothes. She left the dress behind.

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1973
“This looks like it’s from the forties.”
“It is. I think it’s perfect for my first day. At Ms. Magazine!”
“I thought they wore pants. Where’d you get it anyway?”
“Family heirloom. See, my mother had a friend who left this dress along with her husband soon after the war because she didn’t want to be a housewife or secretary. After my mother divorced her crazy first husband, she married the friend’s husband and got the dress too.”
“That’s not family.”
“Sure it is. That sister left this dress behind. Her choice helped get us where we are today.”

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2015
“Uh-oh. The dress. What’s wrong?”
“I think my mom never gave her mom enough credit.”
“Oh?”
“Grammy got herself out of an abusive relationship and into a good loving one. She chose to be a housewife and mother and was damn good at it.”
“Is it the promotion?”
“Same old story. A guy I trained got it.”
“I’m sorry.”
“We can’t afford to do what my grandparents did.”
“Have kids?”
“It should be a choice. An affordable choice.”
“Maybe your mom will lace up her marching shoes again. Really? Kids?”
“No. Maybe. Who will I leave this dress to?”

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Myth of Wholeness by Reena Saxena

Do they know how much I loved my existence here?

That dress is just a part of me – one they chose to preserve. There was so much more which has been destroyed or left alone to perish.

A thought process, small impressions stitched together to blend with the whole called personality….

If you choose to remember this, it becomes a part of you.

And yet, wholeness is only a myth. I know it now, as I disintegrate, reform, reshape to touch the universe in different ways – once again, maybe forever…

Enrich the smallest parts to make a large impact.

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Keep Karm and Carry On by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking was once a libertarian sanctuary. Only when the Mayor, Marmaduke Cornplaster was left three octaves beyond comfortable and Councillor Ali Bye had nowhere to hide did the tide turn. Constance-Lee Horrified led the defence in the middle of festival week that was dubbed: ‘Fed up with the Karma Sutra? Enjoy more Frantic Sutras in the company of percussive contortionist Elle Astic-Thighs and her vaginal wind orchestra, The Whistling Fannies of Tallinn’. Using brollies and hat pins Constance-Lee drove out the naked exhibitors, whose abandoned dresses were flown from the Town Hall as a warning.

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Side Lines (Part I) by D. Avery

“Ain’t seen no one kayakin the irrigation ditches lately, Kid. Helga an Hess still aroun?”
“They left.”
“Ever figger out which one’s which?”
“Sure. One prefers Fords, one prefers GM.”
“Which un perfers which?”
“D’oh! Well, still, it proves they ain’t sisters afterall.”
“How’s thet?”
“Cause clearly one weren’t raised right an the other was.”
“Which— oh never mind. They comin back?”
“Reckon we’ll see em agin Pal.”
“Good. Think one of em left a dress.”
“Which one?”
“How would ya know?”
“Good point.”
“Which way’d they head?”
“Def’nitely north. Helga’s got a GSP.”
“Helga?”
“Hess?”
“Aw fric, Kid.”

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A Purty Dress, Well Hung by D. Avery

“Kid, what’s a dress doin at the Saddle Up?”

“Address? The Saddle Up is jist over the line. Whyn’tcha ask Frankie, she’d know.”

“Not an address. A dress. Who’d leave a dress behind?”

“Lemmons Pal.”

“What about lemons? Thet why yer face is all puckered? Don’t be so sour. I jist wanna know bout thet dress.”

“Tip an Top.”

“Yep, Kid, thet dress is in tiptop shape. But who left it?”

“Tip an Top, the Lemmon brothers. They’s the only ones I kin figger’d leave a dress behin. But they always say it’s what’s behin the dress that matters.”

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Side Lines (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal, that dress weren’t Helga or Hess’s. A Lemmon brother come got it.”
“Tip, or Top?”
“Um… frac, cain’t say fer sure.”
“Kid, I feel bad fer characters like Tip an Top, Helga an Hess… indistinguishable, always spoke of as one an the same…”
“Mebbe it’s more a sidekick thing, Pal.”
“Sidekick? Like Mini-Me?”
“Or Festus ta Matt Dillon. Pal, I kin think a tons a male sidekick combos, but I’m hard prest ta come up with women pairs.”
“Mebbe cuz sidekicks trail behind, unequal. A frien balances an supports, always at yer side.”
“I kin git behind that.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Remote Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Working from Home by Kayla Morrill

My manager asked me if I would like to work remote. I told him I would appreciate some time to think about it. Later, I sat at home looking around and picturing myself remote.

I feel a slight breeze blowing through my hair and a warmth on my arms. I smell the wildflowers with their yellow pollen stuck to the bumbling bees that I hear in my ears. Looking up I see wispy clouds on my bedroom ceiling. I could finally be happy.

The next day I told him, “I would love to work remote; can it be Alaska?”

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Thirty Minutes by Frank James

“Thirty minutes,” the driver told Jerome. He drove away. Jerome trotted into thick foliage toward an isolated radio tower needing service. His snowshoes crackled against crystalized snow. Hacking dense trees to climb higher, he paused resting. A mountain lion growled, so he scurried up the ridge. Twenty minutes remained. His GPS displayed his destination at the crest. He stepped from the trees to see he was on top of the world. He reached his tower, servicing it. Shooting his flare, a helicopter arrived.
Jerome gasped, “Why couldn’t you fly me here?”

“They contracted for one location,” the pilot smirked.

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Too Remote by Ann Edall-Robson

The road, two single tracks wandering over hills and between the trees that had grown up with her. The children argued the location was too remote for a reunion, mostly because there was no cell service or wifi. She knew the ones who had spent childhood summers there would jump at the chance to bring their families. It would be like old times, playing in the creek, picking berries, playing cards by the light of a coal oil lantern, and watching shooting stars from the hill. The perfect venue for family history lessons. Yes, those who remembered would come.

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Remote by Joanne Fisher

“When you said we should go on holiday, I didn’t think you meant a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere.”

“It’ll be great. There’s no WiFi, so we can talk and do things together without it distracting us.”

“What can we do?”

“We can fish, go for walks, cook meals together. We’ll be on our own with no one else around for miles.”

“I’ve seen several horror films starting with this premise.”

“You and your horror films. I think it would be good for us to get to know each other more intimately.”

“When can I go home?”

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Alone Time by D. Avery

The bottle was old and weathered, but still. He’d just go even farther off-trail to find the unlittered, unpeopled remoteness he sought.

Time passed quickly but drinking the last of his water he realized he’d walked for miles. So he was surprised to see the discarded bottle again. Hadn’t he been walking straight away from it and the trail? Now he’d just have to walk straight back toward the trail.

When he saw the old bottle a third time his stomach lurched. This time he saw the skeleton with its grinning skull.

No one heard him laughing at himself.

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Misled by Charli Mills

Rustic and remote. The vrbo listing advertised with snapshots of blue sky and glittering water. Helga and Hess shoved their kayaks into a rented SUV and drove for hours across the UP to paddle the Grackle River. Devices unplugged and hair undone, they followed directions to a farm road with three names. When the road shifted right, they stayed straight and wheeled over a two-track promising remote. The shabby-no-chic cabin squatted in shadowy woods like a horror novel. No river in sight. No place to unload kayaks. The composting toilet with cleaning instructions and no cleaner proved too far.

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Maxed out by the Min Min Lights by Doug Jacquier

Charli and D. had become mesmerised by the Appalling Lights and soon they ventured into outback Australia, far beyond the Black Stump that marks the end of civilisation. They went in search of the Min Min Lights, only to find that the Lights followed them, not the other way round. When they tried to get closer, the pulsating discs in the sky that changed colours constantly, evaded them, always hovering just out of reach. Intrepidly, but inadvisably, they ignored the advice of locals and pursued this Fata Morgana. Their ghosts may be heard as you camp by the billabong.

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Forest by Simon

Missed you so much during the pandemic lockdown.
Are you sure?
Yes. I was happy that I don’t have to hear your lame jokes, otherwise I still missed you.
You liked getting stuck in the forest?
I do, by the way who doesn’t love nature.
Nature… I saw a video about Crow. Before crowbars invented, crows just drank at home. Ever been to crow bars in forest?
Shut up! She giggles.
You are a micro biologist right?
Giggles … I am.
But you are much bigger than I expected.
Hahahaa…. Shut up! I am going back to forest again.

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Up in the North of Pakistan by Sadje

In the remote mountains, in a small village lived a girl who wanted to get educated. Her family supported her in her efforts, sending her to the best school in the area.
But not everyone in that area was in favor of women getting educated. One group threatened her and then made an example of her and shot her in the head. She survived this attack and after recovery kept on advocating for women’s right to education.

At the age of 17, she became the youngest person to win the Nobel peace prize for her efforts. She is Malala!

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From Darkness To Light by Hugh W. Roberts

Although Fatima knew this remote, off-the-radar place had existed for many years, she’d never plucked up the courage to visit it.

But instead of the darkness, isolation and dread she’d heard existed inside; she found her true self when stepping through the door.

Throwing off the shackles of a life lived as a lie, she swapped it for one she knew she wanted. Gliding toward the lights, she danced while being watched by rainbow-coloured faces.

As happiness finally filled her life and laughter filled her lungs, she decided she would tell her husband she was gay in the morning.

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An Englishwoman Takes Precedence by The Curious Archaeologist

It was impossible, somewhere as remote as this and another man had reached the summit first.
He furiously stamped through the snow to the tall figure.
“How did you get here? I am the Prince of Moscowa and should have been the first man to climb Vignemale.”
The figure turned, he gasped it wasn’t a man but a woman in a long black dress.
Anne Lister smiled. “You may be the Prince of Moscowa, but here an Englishwoman takes precedence. As for how, my wife advised me to bring crampons.”
She nodded, turned, and left him gasping in anger.

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A Remote Getaway by Gary A Wilson

Benjamin staggered through the silent, remote castle again because it comforted him. His head was bandaged, arm throbbing from infection, one knee weak from a bad twist, and everything else, just plain hurt, but walking in silence helped.

The tall stone walled rooms echoed each footstep and each heavy breath misted slightly in the unheated air.

A screaming rocket and explosion broke through his cherished image, rocking the ground, pounding his ears, and spraying him with loose soil.

“Ben!” yelled Andrew. “You have to wake up! The tallies are on us. You’re going to have to heal later brother.”

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From One Extreme to the Other by E.A. Colquitt

A screaming bride: NOTHING was going how SHE’D imagined, PLANNED, and convinced herself it WOULD.

Her groom: filming the whole thing, cackling, resisting attempts to get him to do something, anything, more decent.

Father John sniffed. If he’d officiated, these two would’ve known gratitude long before the altar…

Still, being a guest had its perks. He slipped outside, following a familiar way into woods so silent, you’d soon forget that civilisation was near.

Father John prayed on a bench riddled with carvings: ‘R ❤ D 4 eva’, ‘I & J’…

Things could’ve been so different. Yet, he found calm.

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The Philanthropist by Gloria McBreen

Dressed as an old peddler woman, I scrutinise everyone that gets off the small passenger ferry. No strangers today; only a few locals returning from work on the mainland. No city folk looking to escape from civilisation. And no uniforms looking for me.

I stroll along the shore, watching two puffins floating lazily on a crestless wave—in tune with Island life. This is where I belong now. Not in that shit hole prison. I’m not a killer. I’m a philanthropist.

‘Put me out of my misery,’ he begged as he lay in his sick bed. So I did!

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Bereft on a Beach by Kerry E.B. Black

I walk along a lonely shore. Without even the screeches of gulls for company, I count a half-hearted breeze my only companion. Overcast skies meld into the steely sea, and the sense of the monochromatic drips with tears – mine and the clouds’ – to inhospitable gray sand. Waves slap and hiss, strikes from inner turmoil manifested.

I step over the transparent blob of a beached jellyfish. Within its carcass pulses malignancy. Dull driftwood ornaments the shattered black shells crunching underfoot. Values of darkness manifest along the shore, speckled reflections of my own failure.

I squint, searching for an understanding soul.

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Britain’s Brilliant Solution to the Refugee Problem by Anne Goodwin

It took patience, imagination and dogged determination, but we achieved our objective by playing on your fears. We showed you oversubscribed schools and overloaded hospitals: you could see they’d collapse if we took in more of them. Of course we felt for the families in the crowded dinghies but we didn’t make them cast their fortunes to the waves. If it weren’t for the traffickers they’d never leave their homes. Problems need solutions, that’s why we were elected: Rwanda’s climate and culture are closer to their own. How can it be racist when our skin’s as black as theirs?

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Who Killed Virginia Branch? by Judy Marshall (Miss Judy)

High in the Catskill hills sits the rustic, yet elegant, Hilltop Lodge. Visitors come from near and far to bask in the luxury and serenity of this remote location, Owner Virginia Branch’s dream come true.

We entered the bar as a wedding party was ending. No one noticed the happy couple had already retired. We settled in for drink and sustenance. All was quiet when we retired. Pondering a few days of solitude and self-reflection we quickly fell asleep.

Awakened by screams, sirens and loud chatter, we stepped onto our balcony and heard someone cry, “Virginia’s been shot, dead!”

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Reference to actual persons or places is unintentional. To my knowledge there is no Hilltop Lodge owned by one Virginia Branch in the Catskill hills.

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Remotely by Jenny Logan

If you want to kill your marriage stone dead, don’t speak to one another for ten days. There’s no going back from that—not once you’ve reached double digits.

So, blow your whole life up, by all means. The remoteness caused by a petty struggle of not backing down first will have you straight to the divorce court. If you need to keep winning all the battles, you’ll lose the war.

Can you afford the crushing blow to your self-esteem? No? Think twice. Apologize and stop squabbling. You’re not as young or as hot as you think you are.

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Remote by Reena Saxena

A remote in my hand lets me control devices. I’m happy.

How close is far, when the pandemic does not allow me to be a part of my neighbor’s joys and sorrows? Isolated by the virus, I draw closer to the world with messages and calls.

But those who are far … remain far. I can share, but feel. Warmth is to be felt in words, not touch. Vision needs a screen, if not eyeglasses.

Distance is the newest oxymoron. But wait, hybrid modes are not far behind.

It’s a new world, a new vocabulary. Realign, redesign, redefine …

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Pass the Remote by Charli Mills

Rhea said, “Pass the remote,” but no one answered. Her screen continued to flicker before her eyes. Images of cats and nonsensical signs. One read I peed in her shoe. Tasteless.

“Pass the remote…please…” Rhea remembered her manners. Perhaps they ignored her because she forgot the “magic word.” Who were they, anyhow? Her eyes drifted to the people gathered around. Some were laughing at the dumb cats. No one answered.

More growl than request, Rhea said, “Pass the fucking remote!”

“Hey, Grandma’s eyes are open.” They all turned and wondered at the single tear down her silent frozen face.

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Television: the Remote Wasteland by Nancy Brady

When we were young, it was black and white television only, and the remote was the distance to the set, turning to one of three channels.

My family was the first in our neighborhood to own a color television, but there wasn’t a remote control.

Technology brought cable television, with a remote to scan through many channels.

Televisions in rooms used for eating or sleeping became common, and with it, more remotes.

Now our television requires two remotes to find something worth watching; some days, it’d be easier to return to three networks, getting up, and flipping the dial.

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Conflicted ‘Issue’ by JulesPaige

Many years ago, up in the north country where the stars were able to fill the night sky with the Milkyway… ‘They’ got married. Her Pop, in that quaint little church, slapped the new groom on the back… “You’re her problem now!”

What an odd receiving line, with divorced parents of the groom on either side of the newlyweds. Those two never spoke to each other that day. Attempting to enjoy themselves, separately. The father of the groom had been her first husband, but she wouldn’t give him the time of day. They kept their distance, emotionally remote.

Author’s Note: Issue; 13: offspring, progeny

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Mom Has the Answer by Sue Spitulnik

“Mom, Adam seems remote lately. What should I do?”

Tessa looked at her daughter. “You and Emma are often here when he gets home. Are you sure it isn’t Adam feeling you are being remote, so he’s reacting?”

“Emma gets crabby if I wake her up when she falls asleep here.”

“Maybe you should leave sooner so she naps at home. You could have quality time before she wakes up.”

“I don’t remember you and Dad doing that.”

“We didn’t. But you see me doing it for Michael. Learn from my mistakes.”

“Got it. I won’t be over tomorrow.”

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Beyond the Mountain by Bill Engleson

How far could one go,
follow the path through the woods,
follow until the hungry forest
swallows you whole.

How far could one go,
flattened against the rooted earth,
flattened ‘neath the crushing undergrowth,
swallowed whole.

How far could one go,
could one find a day without end,
could one not look back to the beginning,
engulfed in the quest.

How far could one go,
shattered by the weight of one’s life,
scattered on the mountains beyond,
absorbed into the wilderness.

How far could I go,
aimless into the arboreal,
aimless, gripped by the descent,
the deep swabbing wood.

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Breath by Charli Mills

Life draws first oxygen and death expels it. The inhale of birth and exhale of death mark each person’s life. They say the wind is the breath of our ancestors blowing across the world. Wind of our bones and castoff creations. Nothing is ever wasted. Not breath. Love expands hearts and lungs, in and out, in and out. When grief visits, we gasp, losing our breath. Silent sobs follow until, realizing we are not the ones yet dead, we suck in breath like hungry babies and howl. No matter how remote we feel, we are all connected. Through breath.

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Recluse on the Loose by Geoff Le Pard

Miss Ann Dree and Miss Ann Thrope are Little Tittweaking’s two spinsters. Both loath company and seek solitude. Miss Dree slavishly follows the concepts of local guru, Dee Poll, as revealed in her work, the Road to Remoteness, aka the Socio Path and keeps digging. Meanwhile Miss Thrope is inspired by that most famous work, the HHGTTG*. Adapting a technique for hiding from the Bugblatter Beast, she stays covered in her towel. While everyone knows she’s there and remains polite, when asked Miss Thorpe says she ignores everyone and ‘is not taken in by any of their old flannel’.

*the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: ‘uses of a towel: [you can] wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you)’

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The End of the Road by Norah Colvin

Sandy coughed, gagged, groaned, and complained in the unbearable heat as the car slewed along the track with air-con and windows locked to keep out the dust, failing as miserably as Sandy’s attempts to convince her stupid parents to go home. No phone. No internet. No nothing. Might as well be dead.

“When I was your age, there were no mobile phones or internet. You’ll survive. We did.”

Don’t punish me for your deprived childhood.

Finally, they arrived. Mum did the introductions.

“Good name for yer,” said the boy, grinning.

“I guess you’re Angus,” Sandy snapped. “Aptly named, too.”

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Disappeared 38 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The mage froze. He’d traveled the world, shadow and otherwise. Yet no one in the terrestrial world ever saw him, except for these two Twins.

They stared at him with fierce green eyes, daring him to step closer. One wiped a grubby hand over her cherry-flavored, dimpled chin and said, “Stay ‘r go. We’re in no mood, old man.” She clenched her tiny fist.

“Well then,” he stalled, “Will a song cheer you?”

“’Pends on the song,” said the other, raising one eyebrow.

“This is the song that does not end…” he croaked.

They listened, giggling, and joined in.*

*Again, for your listening pleasure: 10 hours of Shari Lewis and Lambchop and friends singing “This is the Song That Doesn’t End”

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Remote Learning (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal! Yer back from yer back forty staycation in the restful remote edges a the ranch.”
“Jeez, Kid. Is it remotely possible ya could quit yer yammerin? An whut’re ya doin a-settin here on the bunkhouse veranda with yer feet up? Ya was s’posed ta take care a things whilst I was away. Don’t remotely look like yer workin.”
“But I am workin remotely. Got a Yooper Scooper mounted ta radio-controlled monster trucks, with a go-pro camera strapped ta the handle. Look here, you’ll see how clean the barns are.”
“Why’s thet little bigfoot wearin Shorty’s hat?”
“Oh shift.”

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Remote Learning (Part II) by D. Avery

“My Yooper Pooper Scooper backed Shorty inta a corner an kep pilin it high an deep.”
“Shorty’s done got a PhD. Remotely. We best hose her off Kid.”

“Pfft! Thanks for your help, Pal. Kid, no more automation.”
“Sorry Shorty. That was a shitty thing what happened ta ya.”
“I’ll say. But let’s move on. Pal, how was your staycation? Did you find some beautiful remote spots on the ranch?”
“Closer than ya’d think. Didn’t kayak, didn’t balloon. Floated in a hammock up in the poet tree.

suspend time an space
vast remoteness within reach
when you reach within”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Sweet as Cherries Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Sweet As Cherries by Marsha Ingrao

Jolene walked towards him. No time to wipe the telltale signs of nervousness and Oreos. Everyone would see if she wiped on her gown. She rubbed her fingers together to make the stickiness disappear before she reached him.

She remembered her first dance. Worse than sticky hands, beads formed on her nose. Boys looked and turned away. This time she wasn’t going to be defeated. She had already performed. Her accomplishment felt as sweet as cherries.

Jolene reached out her hand as she reached him.

“Well done, Jolene. You earned this.” And the University President handed her the diploma.

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Had I a Cherry by Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

Had I a red cherry for every memory lost
I’d own the largest cherry tree
from the East to the West Coast

Sweet mountain cherries all fresh
Picked daily in the new morning dew
Each one a memory returning to me

Some so tart set my mouth a-pucker
Others sweeter than honey’s nectar
Good ones or bad ones memories all

Erubescent rubies piled up so high
A delicious bite of cold crimson fruit
Bringing magical memories to mind

Each remembrance is treasured true
Lay in a bowl full of luscious cherries
Lovingly shared with every one of you

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Cherry Wine by Kerry E.B. Black

I sip cherry wine from a crystal goblet.

Within its red swirls a summer spent on a picnic blanket at the edge of Lady’s Lake, dandelion fluff caught in our hair. Birds sang of hardships to come, but we didn’t heed, tangled in each other, legs entwined, hearts beating the same romance. Ants collected scraps as we tasted sweetness in each other. When summer storms threatened, we’d roll until the blanket enveloped us, its red and white checks deepening to burgundy and grey as rain soaked through. Nothing dulled our love. We lived on cherry wine and each other.

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Honeyed Memory by JulesPaige

On the postage stamp lot of our first home there was a Black Cherry tree. It had to be over eighty years old. That’s at least how old the house was when we bought it. It was so large it was able to shade all of the backyard. Bing Cherry trees can live to be over two hundred.

Those sweet cherries were unreachable for humans. We never got to see its fruit on the longest day of the year. We only got to see it bloom once before we had to move.

newlyweds
bowl of cherries life
That old tree

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Cupboard Love by Ann Edall-Robson

The warm breath before the sensation of his facial hair tickling along the neckline of her shirt made her giggle. She playfully pushed him away with a gentle hand. She didn’t mind the interruption, cleaning stalls was not her favourite chore, but a necessary one. She felt him nibbling at her ear, and giggled. Turning, she buried her face in his warm neck. He was the sweetest thing in her life. Certainly better than a bowl of cherries. Stepping away from her embrace, he reached for the oat pail. Laughing, she scolded the foal. “You’re nothing but cupboard love.”

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Sweet Cheeks by Charli Mills

“Look at those cheeks, sweet as cherries.” Old Fran cooed, grasping the blurry face inches from her nose with gnarled hands.

The young farmers watched their ancient neighbor fuss and sputter. Chad glanced at his wife. Worry furrowed between his brows. “What do we do?”

“Don’t whisper,” Jenna said. “Old Fran’s deaf as mine-rock.”

“Blind, too.”

“Apparently.”

Old Fran creaked when she pulled away, gumming a smile. “Put that youngin’ to bed. Read to him.” She shuffled away muttering, sweet, sweet baby.

The farmers resumed their walk, tugging the lead to their rosey-cheeked red goat. “Think she’ll ever notice?”

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Break for the Border by Jenny Logan

It was my maiden visit to Galashiels, the capital of Scotland’s border towns.

We had cherries for dessert—the richest, juiciest, sweetest, plumpest. I romantically imagined they had been purchased from a farm shop. But no. Tesco.

We counted the pips. I was to marry a tailor.

“Imagine the dresses!” Perhaps my tailor would be too grumpy and tired at day’s end. A busman’s holiday? Is that how he would see me?

Maybe I’ll find a Taylor instead. Bulging muscles and an inferiority complex—would I have to constantly massage his ego?

Maybe I’ll stick with the first one.

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Fresh Meat by Sylvia Cognac

She was laying across the steps behind Storke Tower, colossal chemistry book strewn wide open over her tiny lap. Blonde ringlets twirled past cherry red lipstick, cascading past her collarbone, finally falling onto her cherry-print halter top. Other than a blue jean mini skirt, flip flops, and matching cherry accessories, she was all cleavage. Being raised strictly Baptist in my conservative hometown in the Mojave Desert, I’d been told that only sinners dressed that way, but she looked like Heaven to me. She glanced up, interrupting my pondering as to whether her lipstick tasted as sweet as it appeared.

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Sweet Cherry Pie by Colleen M. Chesebro

It was time. Hazel opened the oven door. The sweet scent of cherries filled the room. She knew this pie would be a winner at the Pie Bake Off at the park this afternoon. After all, she’d added her secret ingredient.

Later, she watched in fascination as the judge took his first bite. His eyes lit up with pleasure at the taste of her sweet confection.

“This is the one,” he said. “First place!”

Then he crumpled in a heap to the ground.

Hazel smiled. She had finally found a way to deal with her ex-husband once and for all.

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Disappeared 36 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It wasn’t that they didn’t miss their stepdad. He was fun, taking all four children to the zoo, the pool, or out for ice-cream right before he brought them home for dinner on Sunday nights. When they made a mess of his house, his maid picked it all up.

And he always had Smith Bros cherry cough drops in his pocket.

Then he lost his job, his maid, and his coterie of girlfriends. Eloise and Andrew had to pick up his slack.

The Twins were bereft. “Weezy, where’s Daddy?”

She’d shrug, and hand them a cherry cough drop, instead.

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Cough Syrup Memories by Sue Spitulnik

Michael developed a change of seasons cold, so Tessa bought him some cherry-flavored cough syrup. She received an unexpected burst of complaint when she handed it to him.

“I’m not going to swallow that. I remember. My mother told me that it tasted sweet as cherries. Cherries, my ass. That stuff made my mouth pucker and my throat burn. I gargled two glasses of water trying to get the crap off my teeth, and it gave me an upset stomach. Mom fooled me when I was a kid, and I’m not getting fooled again.”

Tessa belly laughed at him.

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Life is a Bowl of Cherries by Charli Mills

A cherry pit landed on the page Lucy was reading. Wet and red, it stained the print. “You jerk!”

Laughter sang from the branches above before a small boy dropped to his boots. “Gotcha, Four-Eyes!”

Throughout the summers, Trevor spat numerous cherry pits at Lucy. At the Fourth of July Parade, the county rodeo, their senior picnic. When Trevor returned home after three tours in Iraq, Lucy met him on the tarmac in Oakland. His hard eyes softened when she spat a cherry pit, hitting him squarely on the chin.

“You jerk,” he said with a lopsided grin.

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A Nostalgic Salvation by Gary A. Wilson

I had no experience with depression.

But losing friends to age – then a nephew and daughter to war all left this man who never cries, soaking in tears.

But losing my precious wife to covid – was the abyss I could neither avoid nor survive.

Searching the attic for papers, I found a boot box of letters from Cherise, circa high school promising to stay in love despite our college separation.

Reading about our innocent love was soothing. Then the phone rang, and voice said, “I heard of your loss.”

Cherise, my Cherry, came to hold me, closing that abyss.

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Bing Cherry Memories by Nancy Brady

I knew Cammie throughout school, but in high school, she became my best friend. Spending days at the pool, we followed up by spending evenings coloring or playing various games at my home. At her house, we’d needlepoint or write mysteries, using certain phrases. There, Cammie’s parents gave us huge bowls of Bing cherries as a snack, expecting us to eat them all. As an adult buying Bing cherries for my family, I realized just how generous they were. Cherries are expensive particularly the vast quantities they gave us, yet to my knowledge they never begrudged me a one.

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A Bowl of Cherries by Sadje

Sara brought boxes of dark succulent cherries for everyone in the family when she returned from her trip up north. Dark and sweet, they were hard to resist and we had gone through almost half of our share by morning.

“Don’t eat everyone’s share”, she said, because they were so tempting. “Also you might upset your tummy from eating too many”. Needless to say, her advice fell on deaf ears and greedy fingers, with consequences foretold.

Next morning, I asked her to send the leftover fruit to her brother and sister’s so that I don’t have another bad night.

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Glee by Simon

Hey little cherry
You grew up as a family
What will be your taste
for your color I don’t hesitate
I am looking for a fruit
That taste very absolute
What will be your flavour?
Will you do me a favor!
Tell me about you
I’ve decided to chew
How will you be
I’m searching glee
Will you be sour
That only is bore
Will you be sweet
That’ll be a treat
What if you are both?
I’ll give an oath
Let me put you in my mouth
And bite you with no plea
Sweet lord, I found glee!

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The Sugar Wars by Geoff Le Pard

While in 1642, Little Tittweaking refused to take sides with either Roundheads or Cavaliers, not that either noticed, it has had its own civil war, when Di Abetes barred Sue-Lynn Shotte from their jointly owned sweet shop concession. Di’s supporters, The Humbugs were hard, rather brittle and considered to be sucky sods; Sue-Lynn’s supporters, the Pastels by contrast were colourful, inclined to believe they were good-for-everyone and chewy cuds.

Things got out of hand until St Pancreas brokered a peace by persuading Di Abetes to let in Sue-Lynn Shotte, achieving a balance previously unattainable.

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Are Cherries Allowed on a Low-potassium Diet? by Anne Goodwin

“What do you think of the food?” asked the dietician.

“It’s okay,” said Anne. “There’s plenty of it but it’s not very healthy. The vegetables have the flavour boiled out of them and the fruit is tinned.”

The dietician handed her a leaflet. “Let me explain the low potassium diet.”

No coffee, chocolate or bananas: she could handle that. But no stir-fry, roast or steaming without pre-boiling? No muesli, lentils or nuts? No beetroot, blackcurrants or tomatoes, would she have to compost the crop?

It’s summer and she fancies cherries. High or low potassium? They’re not on any list.

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Cravings by Hugh W. Roberts

Life was a bowl of cherries for Vinnie.

Despite what was happening, he still had ample food.

Life was fun, and had given Vinnie a sweet tooth. When he saw Mrs Longacre running past his kitchen window holding a cherry pie and screaming, he knew life was about to get sweeter.

Within seconds, Vinnie was out of the house and sinking his teeth, not into a cherry pie, but into Mrs Longacre’s neck. The sweetness of flesh helped his sweet cravings.

Having been a Zombie for an hour, Vinnie hoped the sweetness of this new life would last forever.

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Un’altra Notte Rossa by Tina Stewart Brakebill

All around me, conversations swell. I understand little but instead of seeming cacophonous, the words soothe. They distract from my reality until the prosecco dulls the pain.

Then the old woman who runs the osteria stands over me, “Ciligie”?

Seeing the cherries shakes me from my stupor.

She continues, “Devi rimanere per La Notte Rossa.”

The Red Night.

Stuck in an unrelenting loop, I had forgotten the world moves on. Ciliegie abound. And the people celebrate. But not us.

The cherries taunt me with their promise of sweetness but my mind fills with another red night as darkness falls.

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Extraordinary Plot by Reena Saxena

The bowl of cherries on the table are pure temptation, and your slender fingers feed my lust.

A champagne flute almost threatens with its glistening transparency, till a golden liquid satiates its dark instincts.

I need to feign intoxication till secrets spill out, and your fingers laced with poison dip into a sea of fantasy.

Evenings can’t get better than this … I know I’ll wake up next morning with a new plot..

or not wake up at all and let the world write extraordinary fiction – a life that others only dreamt of, that I lived and died for…

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Sweet Cherries by Norah Colvin

Mum loves cherries, but are they sweet? She taste-tested. Yes! She tore off a bag and stuffed it with cherries. Further on, she spotted punnets. That would impress Mum more. She grabbed one and ditched the loose cherries.

Code blue. Code blue. Customer down in fresh produce!

“You alright, ma’am? Need a hand?”

“I’m alright — this time!” She was as red-faced as the cherries. “But you should keep these floors clean.”

Later, dignity reinstalled, exaggerating injuries, she demanded compensation.

The video told the story — a cherry, yes — a rogue cherry; escaped her unceremonious dumping; only to be splattered underfoot.

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Sweet by Duane L Herrmann

There was a dessert in my childhood that I loved. It was made with dates, nuts and syrup, and best eaten when covered in whipped topping. Oddly, it was called a “pudding” though when baked, the top layer became more like a cake with a crust. I enjoyed making it, but reserved it only for special occasions. As an adult, when I ate some, my stomach would get queasy. As much as I enjoyed it, I could tell I should not make or eat it anymore. I eventually learned this sweet, delightful treat was no good for my diabetes!

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A Sour Taste by Bill Engleson

The moon glowed full. A sky of brightness. Wise thieves would have stayed in the shadows. I would have stayed in the shadows.

Cowering.

But there was a yearning.

Inexplicable, I know.

A taste for youth.

The honeyed flesh of youth.

Our lost youth.

It went beyond the pale. Anyone with an iota of sense would know that sampling the wayward flesh of youth would not return the nibbler, strips of youthful flesh dribbling from his lascivious lips to full bloom.

But the yearning would not be assuaged.

Though the mind left a sour taste, the craving was sweet.

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What Hodags Are Made Of by Charli Mills

Sweet as cherries and dark as death, a new hodag slithered through the swamp on a moonless night. By the next full moon, her fangs had grown big enough to reflect the lunar light. She hopped on a marsh mat of moss and decayed logs, thrilling to the jiggle of bouncing her spines from head to tail. Jumping strengthened her repurposed bones. The spine of an old oxen, the hooves of a young calf, the ribs of two wolves, the skull of a baby bear, the ear bones of a murdered lumberjack. A Bing cherry pit for a heart.

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Pit Stops (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid! Bout time ya got back ta the ranch!”

“Ya look peeved Pal. Ya gonna ground me? Get it? Grounded? Cause I jist landed in Pepe’s hot air balloon?”

“Kid, thet was one a the most irresponsible things ya’ve done yet.”

“Tough call.”

“Ya left the ranch when ya should a been heppin out. An poor Frankie. She’s been bawlin her eye out worryin an missin Burt. An whatever did ya do with the mail in his mailbag?”

“Airmail! Them letters’ll land close enough fer goverment work.”

“Kid, thet’s it. Yer fired.”

“Sure am. It was a long trip.”

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Pit Stops (Part II) by D. Avery

“Fired! Yer fired Kid.”

“I’m fired up alright Pal. Trip up north was jist what I needed. An Curly too. She an Pepe both met up with kinfolk. Good times.”

“Dang it Kid, I ain’t sure I kin take much more a yer shenanigins. An look up there, ya went through 99 words an didn’t even use the prompt. I oughtta can ya.”

“Canned Kid? Convenient! Like canned cherries.”

“Hmmf. Kid, is thet lipstick on yer pig?”

“No! She’s been eatin fresh Michigan cherries. Here, try some.”

“Sweet! Ow!”

“Mind the pit. Ow!”

“Back at ya, Kid.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Floating Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Suspending Your Ship by Bill Engleson

He was finding himself tiresome. No matter the prompt, he felt an uncontrollable urge to mess with it. Revamp it. Take Floating Your Boat, for instance. It would’ve been a perfectly acceptable title for this particular ninety-nine-word opus.

In fact, that was the first thing he thought to name it.

This was his usual modus operandi.

Invariably he needed a title, a witty aperitif to riff off.

Occasionally he might revise it.

Not often but sometimes the title demanded titular revision.

Like now.

What the heck did Suspending Your Ship actually mean?

Was he waiting for a shipstorm?

Hmmm!

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Music on the Water by Sue Spitulnik

When Michael heard the band had been invited to play on a pontoon boat he wasn’t happy. “I’m not going unless I can use my wheelchair.”

Thad gave him a look. “My aren’t we cooperative today.”

“These metal legs were made for terra firma. Balancing on a rocking boat is not something I’m used to. I can relax in my chair.”

Thad replied, “Fine. Whatever floats your boat.”

“Exactly. We’ll all be able to sway with the waves.”

Tyrell rolled his eyes. “Pontoon boats don’t sway, they glide along smooth and quiet.”

“I’ll pretend you didn’t tell me that.”

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Shapeshifters by Ann Edall-Robson

Moving from the horizon
Towards the unsuspecting
Unafraid of openness
Nothing stops the charge
Tracking their movement
Anticipation stirs, a calm elation
Visible on the child’s face
No fear in the eyes of one so young
Imagination has no limits
Excitement tingles through tiny limbs
Shapeshifters float into view
Above the grassy blanket
Each different, hovering overhead
Friend, foe, pleasing, and menacing
These shapeshifters gather
Arriving as one, leaving together
Travelling in the wind
A game of guessing, identifying
Images in clouds, their transition
Leaving their story to be told
By those who see the shapes
The child within

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Questions at a Parade by Scott Bailey

“Dad?”
“Yes, Son?”

“Why do those big balloons have ropes?”
“To keep them from floating away.”

“Oh, what makes them float?”
“Helium, a Gas.”

“Oh, like gas in a car?”
“No, that’s a different gas.”

“Oh, what’s that thing with all those flowers and people on it?”
“That’s a float.”

“Oh, do they float like balloons?”
“No, they just drive along.”

“Oh, does our elevator float?”
“No.”

“Oh, does a boat float?”
“Yes, but only when it’s on the water.”

“Oh, will a float, float on the water?”
“Hey Son, how about we go inside for a RootBeer Float?”

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Dreaming by Colleen M. Chesebro

It is night. The darkness swaddles me in a tight embrace. I sense this is a dream, and I glide like a bird in flight, arms extended to catch the air currents; I float. It is in this place of zero gravity where I feel the nothingness of just being. There is no sound other than the steady beat of my heart chakra, a green glow blooming in my chest. With a burst of energy, I soar and dive toward the edge of darkness, which fades into a starry sky.

“Mom, wake up! I’m hungry. When’s breakfast?”

Reality bites!

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The Creek (Part I) by Miss Judy

The creek flows down from up above, under the bridge where tiny fish float serenely in crystal clear waters, past the weather-worn house sagging with age like the couple who lived within, down past the garden, over-grown and brown, abandoned, on under Pa’s old barn where only rotted beams and boards still stand, past the privy, over stones worn smooth with time, on to the swimming hole at the corner where the children’s laughter can still be heard floating in the air, on it flows winding through the fields and towns, there are still miles to travel this day.

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The Creek (Part II) by Miss Judy

Sundays were for family. Aunts, uncles, cousins gathered at the farmhouse by the creek. Ma and Pa’s house for as long as I knew. While the grown-up’s were grown-up’ing, cousins headed to the creek. Sometimes fishing off the bridge or to the swimming hole on a hot summer day. We’d float in old innertubes, swing from the frayed robe, skip stones and catch polliwogs. We might lie in the grass and watch the clouds float by – a parade of odd shapes and sizes – a game, “What Do You See?” Those were the happiest of times, carefree, we were blessed.

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Floating by gjef2871

I’m floating at Coogee Beach pool; learning to swim where my Mum learned—my 80-year-old grandma sprightly and upright walking miles up hills and down dales to see us at the beach.

That night I lie in bed and capture the sensation of floating: the relaxation and joy of being in water—being held, supported, and caressed by nature.

My hair gets gold highlights in it and my sister and I walk down the beach searching out shells and treasures.

One time my sister found $10! Just don’t bathe near the storm water outlet cos it makes people sick.

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Ship to Shore by Doug Jacquier

I am an island trader, willing to chart any course to avoid emptiness, still floating but in a race against rust. I am a ship of the line that limps into your harbour to refuel and unload its weary cargo. I lean against your wharf when the tide is at its lowest ebb.

You are a net exporter, with warehouses of new dawns, freely welcoming ships of all flags. You send tugs to listing vessels, like this one with its dreams encrusted, and push them to where the cranes are and show them pylons that defy the sucking mud.

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Nellie Bly on Blackwell’s Island by Anne Goodwin

At first she struggled but it was futile: there were more of them and the door was locked. Curled up in a ball, she tried to protect her head. She howled when they kicked her in the kidneys instead.

Why had she embarked on this crazy project? She could die on the island and none of her family would know. As another blow landed, death seemed the only escape.

Her body went limp. Pain transformed to buzzing in her ears. Feather-light, she floated above the rag-doll version of her. She would survive to scream her story to the world.

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Circle of Love by Hugh W. Roberts

Vikki floated on cloud nine for years while dating two men who had no idea the other existed.

As soon as she knew which one to propose and marry, she’d divorce her husband and end the relationship with the other man she was secretly seeing.

But Vikki couldn’t make up her mind.

Eventually, her bubble burst, and she was bought down from cloud nine with a bump when her husband made up her mind for her when she found him in bed with one of her lovers.

It wasn’t long before all four were floating on cloud nine again.

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Just 3 Breaths to Peace by Gary A. Wilson

“It works. I proved it. I was much younger and seeing my doctor. While taking my blood pressure. His huge-breasted assistant embarrassed me by shoving my arm under hers – pressing me against her.”

“Hm, your BP’s high.”

Of course it is, I thought. “Having heard that this worked, I answered, “Give me a moment and let’s try again.” She smiled and studied her clipboard.

I closed my eyes, took three deep breaths and slowly released each while envisioning floating on thick air – completely at peace.”

“Ready?”

“I am.”

“Wow! Did you just nod off? Your BP is perfect now.”

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“Sink or Swim? Float or Falter?” by MarlaPaige

Laying back, prickly grass jabbing her through her thin dress, she watched the puffy clouds float by. Mind reeling from her most recent break up: “How do I always find the ones who float in and out of my life and never stay? What do I keep doing wrong?”

The thought floated into her mind on a whisper, but slammed down hard like a crack of thunder: “I need to call my ex! He always tells me everything I do wrong!”

She watched as he floated in armed with a mental laundry list of her faults.

She sighed, wearily.

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Al salvataggio (Italian for To the Rescue) by JulesPaige

Gertie sat in her office on L’isola Della Donna. All of her daughters, and the lost women she’d found. They all worked together to restore her faith in humankind. While no men were ever allowed on this island, they did have some men who were helpers. Those men like her father and husbands who knew right from wrong. On her desk coded in a musical score an address for her band of angels to float in and out undetected. Another woman to rescue.

Floating; a
Sea of memory
Lost husbands
Found daughters
Gentle music playing in
Her old pate

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Elixir by Shari Marshall

“Is it so different?” Tallie asks. “Your world, this planet called Earth, floats. It floats in the sea of a vast universe.”

Simon’s eyes flare. “Float! Earth most certainly does not float. In fact, Earth is fall…”

“Are you bonkers?” Tallie gives a fast assessment of herself and Simon. “No wind rushing past, feet on the ground, no discernable indications of falling.” Simon opens his mouth to respond, but Tallie keeps going. “Earth isn’t hanging, there are no strings. Like my planet Earth is buoyant, suspended in the elixir.”

“Elixir? It’s mythical!”

Exasperated Tallie raises her eyebrows. “Is it?”

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The Skies Are Friendly Frank James

“Thank you for taking me away from the crowds,” I say to the captain flaming hot air into the balloon. He releases the anchor, and we sail into the Heavens. I watch people on the beach shrink. We pass through the moist clouds and emerge, floating above white pillows. They break, and I peer down to the seashore and see just offshore a shiver of sharks patrolling for dinner. Terror jolts me!

“I see it all the time,” captain smirks. He guides the balloon to a soft landing.

Delight fills me to float in limbo and land on ground.

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Drifting by Valentina Okorie

The lecture hall, although hot and cramped, was much friendlier than the blazing sun outside. She was in between the inaudible lecturer and her sleepy mind. For the umpteenth time, she drifted up and away. She smoothed her suit and grabbed her purse. She’d rather brave the blazing sun than spend another minute outside her air-conditioned car. She branched at an eatery and grabbed a bite for herself and her housemate. Smiling as she spun her steering wheel, she’d soon be home. She felt hot again. Raised voices made the lecture hall hotter. The lecture was finally over.

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Floating by Duane L Herrmann

Like a feather, but lighter, I drift along – with the clouds, in the clouds, part of the clouds, but my own self. I can hear music, soft, gentle, soothing, refreshing, invigorating. The music gives me strength and energy. I send out thoughts to those around me. We were not alone. We are together in harmony and love. This is such a contrast to what I was used to or what I had expected. Here, there is nothing to fear. This is PEACE! This is so, so much better than my life on Earth. I’m so glad that’s over!

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Disappeared 34 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The mage rocked backward, surprised. Bethany was pregnant, and if he wasn’t mistaken, with twins!

That was fast. 

She and the apparently virile older, second husband hadn’t been married that long. He surely couldn’t tell the fragile Joseph about this; any progress they’d made in recovering his memories and resigning him to his situation would be trashed.

Again, he probed Bethany’s cells, and was greeted by twin giggles. Was there an edge of hysteria to them? Floating in the Shadow World, souls often had a sense of what was coming.

Bethany absently placed a comforting hand on her belly.

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Magical Tooth by Simon

The floating cup amazed her, papa’s magic was always her favourite, a suspicious person, not lived long.

By the time she entered college, she implanted papa’s gift inside her; a craved magical tooth, that gave her skills to defy from gravity, she could able to move things.

With great power comes great responsibility. She spoiled that quote, she became a magician, like her grandfather.

Luckily, Nana was still alive. She helped her, to use her greater powers to help herself.

God of universe watched all of it, he regretted for wasting 2 generations. Tooth decayed, she lost the tooth.

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Floating by Norah Colvin

What a day! The hottest in a long, hot, relentless summer. And it was only just December. After constant interruptions, distracted children and demanding parents, the pool was too enticing to ignore. And she had it to herself. On the Li-lo, miles away, she was oblivious to the world: the knocking at the door, the squeaky gate and the shush of voices as her location was discovered. A sudden WOOF! and a “One, two, three, jump!” annihilated her peace and upended her into the water. “We didn’t know you were going to swim with us, Grandma. You never do!”

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Sink Or Swim? by Geoff Le Pard

Near Little Tittweaking is an ancient sinkhole, the Devil’s Rectum which, every May, fills with the turgid brown snow melt from Mount Zit. True Tittweakers join the crowds for the annual float challenge, made near impossible by the water’s lack of buoyancy. Until Dee Cuppe, exotic dancer and courgette sculptress arrived, the best time was 47 seconds. Her record is one hour, though questions have been raised whether her surgically enhanced embonpoint may give her a lift. Her fame has resulted in several nicknames – ‘pillow pecs’ being one – though her unsinkability has led to the most commonly used: Bob.

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Cooler Than a Pool by Annette Rochelle Aben

Mom banished all the kids from the pool when she wanted to use it. In fact, she didn’t even want us in the backyard while she relaxed. She turned the radio to her favorite station, donned her sunglasses, and floated on her blow-up raft.

That worked for us! We enjoyed having access to the kitchen when she wasn’t around. One of us grabbed the glasses. Another found the long, skinny iced tea spoons, and I gathered the goodies.

Two scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with cold Vernors ginger ale. She floated her way, and we floated our way!

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Processing Time by KL Caley

Laying in the water, she closed her eyes against the blinding sun. Just floating, listening to the water, clearing her mind. In the distance she could hear other sounds, children laughing, seagulls squawking but for now she ignored them all. She just needed five minutes to herself. Five minutes of alone time.

No-one could predict when they would hear bad news, or how they would react when they received it. With children, you don’t allow yourself time to process it, their needs must be met first, your anger, your pain, your processing comes later. Her five minutes were now.

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Wings on the Wall by Echoes of the Soul

She always wondered what it was, that drew her to the inanimate wings etched on the wall.

On that fateful night, on the way back from her office, she was surrounded by the uncouth, lecherous ruffians of the neighbourhood who had been stalking her. As she struggled in the clutches of the evil, she felt helpless and violated as the groping hands pinned her to the wall.

Then in a stroke of a miracle, she started to float. The wings had come alive. She soared in the sky, flying free. Then she turned and dived, going for the kill.

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Floating by Sadje

Imagine yourself floating serenely on a white cloud. A pleasing wind ruffles your hair gently. It’s all very calm, nothing hurried or urgent about it.

Then suddenly, your cloud deflates and descends towards terra firma, and you’re deposited with a rude shock to the living room of your home.

The whole experiment of disassociating the mind from the body and floating through space failed.

Hmmm…..

“If you weigh down yourself with the weight of worries and stress, you won’t be able to soar. Let go of all that’s holding you down”, said the instructor.

“Let’s try again!”

It worked!

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Should Not Float by Kerry E.B. Black

Mrs. Tigerio’s fifth grade science class sat cross-legged along the parking lot curb. All seven kids tracked something overhead.

“I really thought the evidence would prove she was too heavy.” Tom blinked, owl-like.

His best friend stroked his chin, searching in vain for the beginnings of beard stubble. “Seemed that way.”

Chrissie shaded her eyes with her hand. “Guess our computations were wrong.”

“Mercury’s denser,” Tom mused. “Who’d’ve thought?”

Everyone nodded.

“So on Mars, we’d weigh least.”

Another chorus of silent nodding.

Chrissie worried. “How’re we getting her down?”

“She’ll reacclimate to earth’s gravitational pull,” Tom’s brow furrowed. “Eventually.”

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Hot Air Currents by D. Avery

“Hey Pal. Where’s Kid?”

“Look up, Shorty. Kid’s floatin over the ranch with LeGume in thet infernal fume powered hot air balloon a his.”

“You didn’t wanna go?”

“Thet don’t float my boat. Asides, they’re warn’t no room. Curly hopped aboard, then Burt wanted ta go. Have a look with these bi-noc’lars. Thet’s a horse of a dif’rent color.”

“Yer right. Green. Ew! Duck!”

“They’s a duck up there too?”

“No Pal, Burt’s lost his lunch, it’s floatin down.”

“Hay! Aw, horse feathers! Burt’s ruint ma hat!”

“Shake it off, Pal.”

“Hmmff. I blame LeGume.”

“Rise above it Pal.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!