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Optimism 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.

Antique Aquarian by Kerry E.B. Black

In a lecture hall filled with youthful angst and energy, Rose sat erect and attentive, her wider bottom spilling over the fold-out seat. Instead of using a laptop like her fellow students, Rose jotted in a spiral-bound notebook balanced on her knees.

She knew others gossiped about her, saying things like “why’s that grandma in the ecology lecture?” Rose didn’t mind. In fact, she enjoyed attention.

Maybe they’d realize some “Boomers,” especially silver-haired free spirits from the Age of Aquarius, not only cared about the future of the earth. Some intended to continue to “do something” to improve it.

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The Pursuit by D. Avery

“My glass is always half full.”

“That’s because you’re a slow drinker, Ilene. Mine’s half empty but I’ve already got another round coming. Power of positive drinking.”

“You asked about my exes, Marge. This one’s glass was always half empty.”

“I’m listening. A half-glass sad-ass.”

“That’s about right. I finally realized that happiness is a personal responsibility. And unhappiness is contagious. I’ll tell you from experience— men age about as well as fish on the counter.”

“And yet you always seem to have one.”

“My indomitable optimism, Marge. And, it’s catch and release— gives the fish another chance too.”

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Plant a Dream by Dawn Benedict

For ten years George and Irma had been covering their land with apple trees. Thank goodness these were the last, they weren’t as spry as they used to be.

“When are Jacob and Lisa coming?” George asked.

“Next week.” Irma replied. “You doing okay?”

“We knew when we started planting we’d never see the full harvest. At least we have this summer to teach them the secrets of the orchard, and they can help us pack up the house. I hadn’t planned on this cancer spreading so fast, but at least we were able to give them their dream.”

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Building Blocks by Norah Colvin

Clare’s tower was almost the tallest she’d ever made. One more block would do it.

Harry accidentally backed into it and sent blocks flying.

“Sorry,” said Harry.

“It’s okay. I can build it again. Wanna help?”

“Sure.”

“We need a bigger base. That one was getting wobbly anyway.”

“Let’s go as high as the roof,” said Harry.

They carefully placed the blocks and soon had to stretch on tiptoes.

Clare stood on a chair. Harry passed the blocks.

“We’re outa blocks,” said Harry. “It won’t reach the roof.”

“Let’s build on the table,” said Clare. “It’ll reach the sky!”

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Optimistic Thinking by Ann Edall-Robson

“You sent those kids to do what!” Mac’s voice boomed.

“It needed to be done, and they are not kids,” replied Liz.

“They’ve never been to that part of the ranch. You know the road at the crossing is tricky.”

Liz looked out the window and started laughing.

“From the amount of mud on them and the truck, I’d say they figured out the crossing.”

“How’d you know they’d be okay?”

“A little bit of optimistic thinking,” she replied to the man leaving the kitchen.

Mac needed to hear about the first supply delivery to the summer cow camp.

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Pause, for Lucky by JulesPaige

Open book
New words and new worlds
Rabbits and
Mirrors that
Take us to new spaces shared
Fueled by hopes’ joy

Jane watched as Emme allowed the rabbit to sniff first her hands then her face. It was as if a magic portal had opened up.

Emme actually giggled. The weight of the water of tears, unshed rushed out of the little girl’s laughing eyes. “Miss Jane, does this bunny have a name?”

“Only the one that you give her,” Jane replied.

“I think; Lucky, because she has all her paws. Do you have any carrots in your basket?”

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Follow 6 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“A most satisfying repast,” intoned Roland. He rolled on his back in the clover, examining his rabbit feet, belly full of carrots.

“Good choice, Jill.” Betsy stretched on her side in agreement, cottontail twitching happily. “You’ve fed the colony with the magic tablecloth. Take it, and whatever the buckets hold, to speed your journey.”

“Do we leave the buckets here with you?”

“Nay! Fill them from yon stream. It’s a long hike to the castle and Queen Buttermilk.” Roland rolled to his feet.

“I’ve got this, Jill.” Jack picked up the buckets and slung the yoke over his shoulders.

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Follow 7 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Jack and Jill wandered through the swaying grass until they reached the stream. Shading their eyes, they followed its flow to the far castle.

“That’s a good sign,” whispered Betsy to Roland. “Her choice to feed us, and his offer to help.

“What else was in those buckets besides the tablecloth?” Roland picked up a small bunch of carrot greens and nibbled it from stem to leafy end.

“The acorn thimble. The corkscrew. Not sure about that strange glove.”

“The buckets do the choosing, but they have to guess how to use them,”

“I’m sure they’ll come out fine.”

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Being Happy by Mr. Ohh!

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning
But then remembered that I woke up
My breakfast and coffee were ice cold
But then I remembered that I could still taste and get out of the house
I now have a new positive attitude, and it carries me through the days like I’m flying on a cloud. Then I remembered clouds are made up of condensed water vapor and I felt cold and wet and like I was falling from said cloud and got sick.
I went back to bed and felt warm and happy

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Optimism by Reena Saxena

“Optimism is a lens” she said, “it helps you tide over life. Isn’t it a wonder that we cannot see things beyond a certain point, and cannot hear anything with a volume less than 20 decibels?”

“Again, you need a lens when there is no option. It’s called optimism.”

“There are days when there is darkness all around, and even breathing feels optimistic.”

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Optimism by sweeterthannothing

Optimism is just not for me, life taught me, crushed me, nothing good happens, nothing is easy

Optimism doesn’t come freely, not when you’re me, it was stamped on, smothered, beaten out of me

Optimism took me, years of hard work, trying and failing and trying again, therapy finally helping me

Optimism brought him to me, he’s happy, care free, light, he loves me, grounds me, frees me

Optimism brought me back to life, back to love, a home, a family and a future finally

Optimism is still hard, I have to try, I have to work on me

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The Optimist by C. E. Ayr

I suppose I’ve always been an optimist.

When I was young and my father beat me and slapped Mum, I kept believing things would get better.

When he had that horrible accident and they took her away, even though she’d done nothing wrong, I still hoped things would improve.

The children’s home was horrendous.

I was small and scrawny, so I got bullied until Big Basher had that terrible accident.

I went into foster care but they were nasty people.

Then they had that ghastly accident.

I’m in prison now, but still quite optimistic.

Even here, accidents can happen.

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Too Good by Geoff Le Pard

Beatrice Hapi started Little Tittweaking’s Optimists Anonymous after the pessimism pandemic drove optimists underground. Bea found each session hard work, trying to re-instil a cheery positivity alongside inexhaustible supplies of sugary treats. Realising undiluted glee wasn’t working she sought support to add a smidgen of cold reality while offering guidance against pre-diabetes. She found her perfect companion in Eva Afta who came to national attention with her Anti-Gloom potents and unguents that acted on facial muscles, creating a sunny disposition on even the most hardwired miserablist. They married though neither changed her name:
Bea Hapi – Eva Afta
just worked.

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I’m Going Up the Portal by ladyleemanila

I’m going up the portal
To be full of fun
To the sea to snorkel

Get on with the hurdle
For sure it shines the sun
I’m going up the portal

May die tomorrow we’re mortal
What we have done is done
To the sea to snorkel

I like to giggle and chortle
Negative vibes away I shun
I’m going up the portal

I think all soil’s fertile
Complaints I have none
To the sea to snorkel

I love yellow and purple
In the summer I like to run
I’m going up the portal
To the sea to snorkel

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Street Café Philosophy-At Half the Price by Bill Engleson

“Buck up!”
“Pardon?”
“Sorry. Saw you sitting there like you weren’t enjoying your coffee…looking like a glum chum.”
“It’s hot chocolate.”
“Not a coffee drinker?”
“Was. Doctors’ orders. Cut back on caffeine.”
“Gotta do what the doctor says, I suppose…even if you become a gloomy Gus.”
“So, you don’t do what your Doctor recommends?”
“Mostly. But the way I see it, tomorrow’s another day and I want to enjoy every minute on the way to it.”
“So, cutting back on stuff that’s harmful…?”
“It’s not the getting there, it’s the journey. “
“Personally, I’d like to get there intact.”

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I Can See Clearly Now by Joanne Fisher

“I can see clearly now the rain has gone…” Sofia sang along to the car radio. Phillipa, who was driving, joined in.

Sofia’s father had beaten her when he found out she was gay and had a girlfriend. He forbade her to see Phillipa again. Social workers intervened once the bruises became obvious and she ended up in foster care.

Now that school was over, Sofia and Phillipa packed all their things and headed to the city where they would live together. It would take time for Sofia’s scars to heal, but she was in a better place now.

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Basic Features by Jenny Logan

“Was there anything worse at school than Latin?” she asked as she zipped up her toiletries bag.

“Amo, amas, amat? Where would we be without it, my love?”

“Now language learning represents something else. Something more hopeful.”

“Indeed. Ready?”

She picked up her backpack and followed him out.

“‘Saklamak’?” he asked.

“Oh! I know this one. To save for the future. How about ‘beklemek’?”

“To wait for, to expect. Like this overdue holiday.”

She ignored the empty space where her womb had once been and they trudged through the snow to the airport bus, conjugating verbs all the way.

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Snow Queen by Kelly S.

A paper white bunny with a ruby red ribbon tied around her neck. Her name was Snow Queen, after the color. That and the movie where the kids disappear inside a closet and have an adventure. She was given a cage lined with the softest bedding money could buy for around fifteen dollars. The girl who got her as a gift gave her something very special. She bought a music box with the song Clair de lune. There was no particular reason. She just figured that if a rabbit was going to like any song, why not that one?

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Futures by Hugh W. Roberts

Jackie was optimistic that she’d see at least one more Christmas. She wasn’t going to allow a dodgy heart to beat her.

When her mother’s last days arrived, they celebrated Christmas in February. Her mother’s wish was to celebrate Christmas optimistically before she departed this world.

Everyone was shocked when Jackie’s heart finally gave up in April when Jackie joined her mother on the next adventure.

In December, Jackie’s husband celebrated Christmas with his new wife. While her optimism for never getting caught for what would be a triple murder gathered momentum, she knew she had the best sanguinity.

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Optimism by Colleen M. Chesebro

The witches’ chanting affected Hilda. Her tears flowed. Her coughing stopped, and the rabbits quit multiplying. The shadows that had clouded her features lifted.

Hilda’s voice wavered. “I can’t fix what happened to the human when my spell backfired. I can’t make him whole again. But I can make his life easier.”

She whispered,

“May your outlook brighten,
optimism fills your heart—
this spell is your new start
true love is yours.”

In the darkness of Coven Hall, tiny twinkling stars lit up the room. The witches smiled, and with clasped hands, they circled Hilda.

“Welcome back!” they shouted.

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Ever the Optimist by Margaret G. Hanna

Canada, here I come.

No bending the knee to some high and mighty landowner, like Dad. No working someone else’s farmland, like Dad. Nope, I’m going to have my own farm.

To do that, I’m leaving not-so-merry old England. Leaving my friends, too, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

I don’t quite believe the picture the agent painted of Canadian farms. I’ve worked with Dad long enough to know farming is hard work. You don’t just throw the seed in the ground and watch it harvest itself.

Tomorrow, I leave on Mr. Cunard’s Ultonia. My farm awaits.

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The Optimistic Boss by Nicole Horlings

By all rights, she should’ve been seething mad. Her assistant’s blunder caused serious issues regarding scheduling, which would significantly reduce revenue.

Yet, she wasn’t mad. In fact, she cheerfully dealt with all the complications, confusing the anxious assistant. “But isn’t this a bad thing?” the young fellow asked.

“It could be. Or, we can take this extra time as an opportunity to make our product even better, and become even more successful. I’ll tell you a secret: I made a similar blunder when I entered this industry, but effectively under-promised and over-delivered. Now I can afford to hire you.”

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Choir Practice is Uplifting by Sue Spitulnik

Wednesday lunchtime, Michael said to Tessa, “I made a mistake when we talked about my sabbatical?”

“You did? I’m enjoying you being home more. You aren’t going cross country for a speaking engagement, are you?”

He chuckled. “No. But somehow, the church youth choir got left out of the conversation.”

Tessa looked at him in mock horror, then laughed. “You silly man, guiding those kids renews our optimistic outlook each week, especially when one of them has a personal breakthrough to come tell you about. I never thought of that changing.”

“I should have known that’s what you’d say.”

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Hope — A Story by Sadje

Mom was always optimistic, perhaps too much positive at times. Her kids learned to ignore her most of the time, but there were instances when she got on their nerves.

When her eldest went through a bad divorce, mom tried to buck her up with positive things in the whole situation, it backfired.

Whenever the younger got into a power struggle with her in-laws’ mom tried to point out the positives about them; the daughter stopped discussing her issues.

When mom got seriously ill, they wanted to cheer her up, give her hope. But it wasn’t needed, she knew!

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Fred Likes Jane by Larry Trasciatti

Fred was sitting in his sparsely furnished bedroom, alternately looking at the papers and books on his desk, and the crucifix on his wall.

He was trying to devise a ploy to win Jane’s hand.

Although the weather outside was bitter, damp, and rainy, he knew she was the woman for him so what could go wrong?

After having asked a few friends for advice he made his move.

All he did was greet her in a chipper tone of voice.

‘That spoonful of sugar in my coffee this morning,’ he thought to himself, ‘was such a wonderful idea.’

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Fresh Start by Doug Jacquier

We didn’t care that the rain came in sideways, driven by the same scouring winds that had delivered the dust from farms hundreds of miles away for many summers now and sent our own on a similar journey. As long as there was enough to drown our despair at fly-blown carcasses in paddocks, 100-year-old trees falling like matchsticks, creek-bed roads and harvesters rusting in sagging sheds, because these days real seeds only produced phantom crops. We hoped the rain triggered flash flooding, washed out the roads and cut the power; that was a fresh start we could gladly endure.

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Optimistic Opal by Sam Kirk

Unlike other days, Opal jumped out of bed the moment her alarm went off. New day, new year, new ME!

Having created a gap between her blind slats with her thumb and index fingers, she peered outside. Rain clouds. Got to reschedule beach plans. Opal sighed at the thought but quickly recovered. I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful day anyway!

With a conscious pep in her step, Opal exit her room. In the hallways, she tripped over an uneven rug.

I think I broke something…

New new year resolution – stop listening to others and remain a realist.

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Proud to Be British? by Anne Goodwin

We were small, but we were mighty. We planted flags of industry across the world. We stole their artefacts, smashed their cultures, raised fine buildings from the sweat of slaves. When times changed, we adapted, but in our history books we stood tall.

We crushed the pessimists back home with promises. When our neighbours wouldn’t recognise our stature, we cut our ties.

Who cares if we’re the laughing stock of Europe? We scorned their health and safety human rights to take back control. Our red tape is stronger and shinier than their red tape. Our tape makes tighter knots.

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Ray of Hope by Duane L Herrmann

The situation was die. Incompetence held all the power. The people suffered. Unexpectedly, like a thief in the night, a Message came. It spread from one heart to another. At first, those in power did not notice, but gradually they became aware as crowds, and money, began to diminish. They sent spies to discover the reason. They learned about the Message and began to stamp it out. Despite their efforts, the Message continued to spread. This Message said real power is held by every person and each person has the right to their own power. This is happening now.

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Love by Elizabeth

listen to me
in a world without gods
cherish love
because it transcends matter, time and space
it keeps us going, it fills us with optimism
it’s the ultimate resource for survival
in a forgotten world
as a breeze carrying seed to a distant land
love spreads infinite hope
when the spell is broken
look up at the stars
memories of scattered love
will spring from the universe
and fill up your soul
you will keep that moment
forever ever
and find the goddess inside your pure being
waiting to be pleased
a constellation of joy will guide you

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Shiftin Topic by D. Avery

“Ello Keed. Where are you goeeng?”

“Hey, Pepe. I’m tryin ta git a lead on this prompt. ‘Parently optic ain’t the topic, but thought I’d visit with Frankie anyways. She’s got a positively unique way a seein the world.”

“Dat is true. An, eef I do say so myself, Logatha and I are optimists. We feel like everytheeng works out in da end.”

“Where is Logatha?”

“She ees visiteeng her seester, Cheri Le Shart. Cheri’s too positive. Suffers from optimal illusions.”

“She does have a bubbly disposition.”

“Dat one has de personality of a Skeetle®. Not Logatha. She’s solid.”

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

Lady Shadows 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.

The Shadow Lady by D. Avery

I didn’t see her.
Only saw a raven,
black wings whispering over fog filled valleys
through winter gray sky,
lustrous shadow in flight.

Only the raven
roosting high in the pine
before dropping gracefully down to the snow
to dig for her cache—
she has been here before.

Creation’s shadow,
death and resurrection;
guide and messenger, she is light’s reflection.
Or, just a raven,
scratching familiar ground.

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The Moral Injury of War by Sue Spitulnik

The Band of Brothers was finishing a practice session at the No Thanks when two young women arrived. They purchased beers and went to the back corner, darkest booth like they were regulars. Soon, Kurt joined them.

They sat in the shadows long enough to have a second round that Mac delivered. At the bar, Katie asked who they were.

Mac explained, “We met them on Thanksgiving eve. Their MOS was the same as Kurt’s, but a generation later. They are discussing how to deal with things I hope you never experience nor volunteer for.”

“I won’t volunteer, Grandpa.”

Author’s Note: MOS stands for Military Occupation Speciality Code. In past episodes, it was revealed Kurt was an army sniper. Currently, there are less than 100 women in the Army that could be assigned the same job, but women are gradually becoming part of the front lines. It’s also a fact that only 10% of the troops deployed to the front experience combat. Others are mechanics, cooks, vehicle drivers, medics, etc.

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Shadow Talk by Hugh W. Roberts

I followed the lady’s shadow on her journey. She took me around the house and waited for me when I fell behind.

If rooms were dark, I’d flick on the light to see her. She talked to me on our journey and reassured me that everything would be okay.

When I heard the key in the front door, she had to leave, but another shadow took her place.

As I quickly took off my mother’s dress, pearl necklace and high-heeled shoes, my father’s voice called out.

“Are you ready, William? Time for you to hit the under-elevens football pitch.”

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The Shadow Woman by Elizabeth

You are not alone
Within you
There is a woman
The true version of yourself
The one that lurks in the dark
The one that steps side by side with you
The one that sees what you don’t see
But remains quiet
The one that talks to you through dreams and nightmares
The one that holds you when you need it most
You are not alone
Listen to her and evolve
The wise words of someone that sees the truth
The shadow woman
Carrying the experience of generations
The ones that were here before you
You are not alone

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Into Light by Chel Owens

The townsfolk knew she lived there; maybe. Sometimes Mrs. Beardy, nine miles North, said she’d seen someone hanging wash. Old Frank, the property South, couldn’t say the same -he didn’t pass Monty McCrae’s place for no reason, he’d said.

Or would’ve said. Maybe.

Old Frank wasn’t into talking, especially about others’ business. Everyone felt that way: leave someone alone if he wanted.

That’s why no one, not even Angelique (formerly Mrs. Monty) McCrae, recognized the lady in red who finally left a life of shadows, walked down the dirt path to a hired car, and rode away to freedom.

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No Shadow by C. E. Ayr

when you came
you brought no shadow
you just brightened
the wintry skies
and your light bathed
the cloistered corners
making darkness flee
from your approach

green springtime
became glorious summer
with blue skies
and rainbows
that held no hint of rain
you gave warmth
to the land
and to my life

then in the mirror
I glimpse a shadow
as soft and dark as midnight air
my eyes are slow to see the outline
of the space
where once you were

ah yes
when you came
you brought no shadow
but
now you’ve gone
that’s all
that remains

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Outside the Training Centre by Anne Goodwin

Clem passes the training centre five times before she dares to enter. How she detests this timid version of herself. What happened to the woman who single-handedly brought up four children? What happened to the woman who, when they were grown, moved to a town where she knew no one simply for the adventure of living by the sea?

She’s still there, she tells herself, as she pushes through the door. Crushed by injustice but continuing to breathe. A new skill is like medicine, strengthening her muscles, armouring her skin. It will launch her from the shadows, triumphant again.

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The Rock Star’s Daughter by Nicole Horlings

She lived her entire life in the shadow of her father. Always referenced, yet never personally spoken about. Her talent always eclipsed by whichever show he was performing next. Never famous enough to feel influential, but too famous to move elsewhere and reinvent herself. Courted by aspiring actors desperate for any claim to fame, or a spot in the tabloids.

After her father’s death, she was merely the silhouette the media used to keep his name in the magazines. They pitied her when she also released an album, seeing it as a pale imitation of what he had done.

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The Shadow by Ann Edall-Robson

For ten years she had lived within the small town’s shadow. She was known as the lady who spent hours in her garden and signed out books every other week, or so the librarian had once said. One month after she’d typed ‘The End’, she anonymously sent the manuscript to the news station. The team kept it under wraps while they investigated the damning, dangerous words only an insider might know. Stonewalled by vague obituaries and news clippings identifying a bystander killed in an attempt on the business owner named in several chapters, the author’s identity was still unknown.

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Living In The Shadow by Geoff Le Pard

Priscilla Ou-Ette, Cill to her friends was Little Tittweaking’s shadow puppet expert. She found fame as an Influenza when she launched, in a sneeze of publicity, a set of personalised middle-finger shadows for the discerning teen. Going mainstream, she wooed the monarchy with her royal profiling that removed any spare hairs from coins and stamps. Ennobled as the Lady Shadow for her work creating an award-winning diorama of every shadowy character serving in the Cabinet (all of them as it turned out) she died when she launched her life-sized fox logo just as the Tittweaking nocturnal hunt passed.

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Shadows by Miss Judy Writes

We met on the rocky, seaside cliffs. He was walking north, I was walking south. Our eyes met and instantly fell in love.

An ethereal shadow came to us on our marriage bed, a woman. She rustled the night air sending a chill that burned my sex glistened skin. He moaned, I knew it was not for me.

He lives with her now, somewhere a shadow. Mother and son, a bond never to be broken.

Me? You will find me walking along those rocky cliffs, sometimes north, sometimes south, searching for my husband’s shadow on the rocky shore below.

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Lady Shadow by Simon

Centuries ago, there was a demon believed to be lived amongst us. People scared to come out in the moon light as she lurks in the shadow of darkness. Rumours said it was lady shadow escaped from hell ate shadows to live amongst normal people, and people died had no shadows. Recent times after witnessing people die at moon light and has no shadows, is this possible? Is this the sign the lady from hell is back. If she living amongst us, who is going to save us?

The lady shadow posted her blogpost and smiled, a cruel smile.

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Revenge: The Shadow Woman by Greg Glazebrook

Lilith fretted. She was comfortable skirting the periphery. Biding her time and studying the beast. Plotting how to best secure its loyalty. She needed it to support her primary mission.

Years had faded since she last saw him but not her memories. His captivating charm, the lost hours and waking up disoriented. His voice mocking as she stumbled dazed and half-naked into the corridor.

He was the real predator, worse than this unholy beast. Still, she clung to her script, leaving the dark recesses unprepared could prove severely disastrous.

“Show yourself,” the beast snarled. Slowly the shadow woman emerged.

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Shadow Lady by Jaye Marie

I think I am invisible, and I must be, for no one smiles when I pass them by. No one answers when I bid them a good morning.
There is no shadow attached to my feet, and I never get wet when it rains.
I have no memory of what I am, or who I am supposed to be.
I walk the streets, hiding in dark corners, wanting someone to find me and tell me where I belong.
But the streets are empty now and I am cold, lost and alone, what did I do to deserve this fate?

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Lady Shadows by Joanne Fisher

Call me Lady Shadow, for that is my name now. I was queen of a great elven kingdom, but my heart was rotten and the Shadow Lord ensnared me. I began working with him to undermine my kingdom and neighbouring lands. Once my schemes were found out my throne was taken, and so now I help rule the Shadow World instead.

We work to shroud the entire world in shadow. I will not rest until I have reclaimed my throne and spread darkness through the land and in the hearts of my subjects. That’s how the Shadow World wins.

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Lady of Shadows by Kerry E.B. Black

Birdie stomped to her bedroom, threw herself across the mattress, and sobbed into her pillow. Nobody understood her misery. Classmates bullied her. Teachers picked on her. Worst of all, her own family treated her like she didn’t matter.

Somebody watched, not from the doorway, but from the shadows. Somebody Birdie couldn’t see but felt.

Birdie held her breath and blinked away tears. Although she strained, she saw nobody.

Still, gooseflesh raised along her arms and chills raced along her vertebrae. Her voice wobbled. “Who’s there?”

No answering voice. Nobody appeared.

But perfume drifted on an odd breeze, bringing comfort.

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Cold Darkness by heyaisya

I try to force myself to sleep. But then, I saw her. “Why you’re here?”, I asked her in desperation. “I’m the one who should ask you why you take us here. We could live happily right now with your son but you proceed to kill the woman when you found your husband was blackmailed by her”.

The lady in the shadow is a reflection of a wife charged with a murder sentence for killing her husband’s mistress. Until today, there are a lot of women stuck in prison with murder charges because of their husband’s own mistakes.

🥕🥕🥕

Shadows by Reena Saxena

I hear sobs and curses amidst deafening applause.

Yes, the story of women in the British army being raped, and then misdiagnosed as suffering from emotional disorders weighs heavy on my thoughts.

It happens in other fields too, not necessarily in the army, as the sadistic diagnosis facilitates their elimination from active social and professional life.

The question I want interviewers to ask men is about the women behind them – women who were abused, discarded and silenced on their ascent to the pinnacle of success, or descent to the gallows.

Let’s face dark shadows before we applaud or condemn.

🥕🥕🥕

She’s Invisible by Sadje

A perfectly running home, a family whose needs are all taken care of, food cooked and served on time, clothes washed and ironed and floors mopped and everything dusted.

The lady of the house, a woman who has given up a lot of her life to raise the children, maintain the household, and make sure that everyone’s life runs smoothly, is herself like a shadow. You see her yet she is invisible. She doesn’t demands anything for herself.

We need to see the woman casting this shadow, look after her needs, fulfill her desires as she has right too.

🥕🥕🥕

Shadow Woman (Part III) by Colleen M. Chesebro

The witches tried every spell they knew. But rabbits appeared when Hilda coughed.

Finally, Glinda the healer said, “I know what’s wrong. Hilda’s shadow woman needs to be realigned. The Covidwitchitus affected her sense of self.”

Faeryn asked, “Shouldn’t we treat her cough, to stop the rabbits?”

“No, the shadow self is the parts of yourself you don’t want to accept. If we cast a spell for Hilda to accept that she injured the man, she should be cured,” answered Glinda.

The witches formed a circle and chanted, “Hilda’s mistakes don’t define her; how she puts them right does.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Shadow by sweeterthannothing

“Come,” she beckoned me, cooking a finger in my direction.

“Who are you?” I questioned, mouth dry and heart racing.

The ethereal voice didn’t answer my questions, “come”, the obsidian silhouette of a woman crooned from my bedroom floor.

“No,” I tried to shout the word, but all that came out was a whisper of a breath, against my will my feet starting shuffling forward. “Please,” I begged, as I crept ever closer to that black figure.

As my feet touched hers I was plunged into an icy darkness, and I found myself laying on the floor looking up.

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Shadow Child by Margaret G. Hanna

I wonder what she would have been like, my little girl that never was.

A mother’s worst fear, a miscarriage, a child born too soon.

People said, “But you already have three children,” or “You can always have another.” How could people be so cruel? No one can be the same as this child.

I sometimes dream of her, what she might have been. Sometimes when I’m in my garden, or sitting quietly embroidering a pillowcase, I hear her voice, her laughter, and I look up, but no one is there. Only a ghost of what might have been.

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Reunion by Jenny Logan

She stepped out of the shadows.

“I’ll be taking her now.”

“What?” the other woman said. “Who are you? You can’t take my baby. What do you want?”

“Only what you stole from me.”

“I didn’t steal her. I’ve got adoption papers. She’s mine now. I love her.”

“She belongs with me,” she said, gathering the small bundle in her arms. She inhaled her scent and kissed her head.

“I’ll call the police!”

“You do that. You must have known she’d been pilfered.” She put her down and clipped on her lead. “Come on, Peaches, home. I’ve missed you.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Terror of a Moment by MarlaPaige

Lost, scared and confused, he backed into a dark corner that smelled of urine.

They had been walking in this big new city, but he tried to pick something up off the ground. He let go… he let go. It was his fault he was lost.

Back against the bricks, he slid to the ground, knees tight to his chest; crying.

Hearing something, he looked up and saw the most beautiful shadow he had ever seen in his life. “Mommy,” he almost yelled with joy, leaping up and running full-speed into the waiting arms of the shadow’s grateful owner.

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First Date by Kate Spencer

Trees, trees everywhere! Anna was fuming. She was exhausted and starving and regretted ever coming on this miserable hike.

“Ralph, admit it. We’re lost.”

“Shush. I’m listening for Queenie… Hold on… Yes, I found her!” Ralph yelled, rushing into the woods.

“Hey, wait for me!” Anna hurried after him until they reached a hidden mountain stream.

“We made it.”

“Made where?” Anna asked.

“To Queenie,” he said pointing to the stream. “She’s the lady who runs in the shadows and never failed to guide a lost hiker home.”

“Hah! So, I was right. We were lost.”

“Oh, shut up.”

🥕🥕🥕

Angora Advance by JulesPaige

Shadow mask
Cautious to evolve
Safe high up
In the tree
Until a furry creature
Becomes a cute lure

Emme wasn’t ready to come out of the shadows. At least she thought she wasn’t. Safe up the lone tree in the middle of this open field she could see far and hear nature. She must have dozed, when she woke, beneath the tree was a furry animal munching on something. Carefully she climbed down. The tame rabbit watched as the little girl, who after reaching the ground, sat down. Jane watched them both from the blanket she sat on.

🥕🥕🥕

Chasing Shadows by Norah Colvin

Unable to catch their own shadows that stretched across the sand, they jumped on each other’s then dashed for safety in the tumbling waves. As they dived and splashed, the playful wind captured their laughter and carried it far.

Dragging their shadows up compacted wet sand, they compared footprints that waves would soon erase. Where it met dry, another’s shadow immobilised them as might a barbed-wire fence. They cast their eyes along the lady shadow’s length, then squinted upward at the face, obscure and unreadable, haloed by the setting sun.

“It’s time to go,” said mum.

“Coming,” they chorused.

🥕🥕🥕

A Lady in the Shadow by ladyleemanila

a lady in the shadow
silhouette by the sea
on such a calm evening
some people having tea
sunset they are watching

a lady in the shadow
shadow covered the sun
on her way to see him
waited for her all day
her response to his hymn

a lady in the shadow
she’s as pretty as rose
others look as she walks
she says hi as she goes
invite her in their talks

a lady in the shadow
such a charming person
wish she could be my friend
will go dancing at night
have fun at the weekend

🥕🥕🥕

Comin Ta Light (Part I) by D. Avery

“Stop gawkin inta the shadows Kid. Jist tend the fire, keep conversatin. This un needs time.”

“Is it a unwrit character, Pal??”

“No, ain’t no unwrit character.”

“Is it a character got writ an killed off fer the sake of a story?”

“Ain’t a character from no story, Kid. Thet person lurkin in the shadows is a story keeper.”

“Kin she speak?”

“When she’s ready. Ain’t sure a her voice jist yet. It’ll come. Put another log in.”

“What’ll we say when she does set down ta the campfire?”

“Same as you was told.

‘Howdy. Welcome ta Carrot Ranch’.”

🥕🥕🥕

Comin Ta Light (Part II) by D. Avery

“Meantime, Kid, whut’s yer story this week?”

*Once upon a time on a faraway ranch thet was near an dear an accessible ta all, a ranch hand went wanderin off a-lookin fer inspiration. Went beyond the upper pastures, on inta the forest. It was gittin dark an shadows amongst the towerin trees were thicker an figgy puddin.*

“Figgy puddin?”

“Had some leftover, good campin food. Anways,

*Someone or somethin was in them shadows. Who could it be? What could they want? That ranch hand offered figgy puddin an sure ‘nough. She come forward an took it!*

“Who?”

“Sassy-squatch!”

“Hmmf.”

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Comin Ta Light (Part III) by D. Avery

“No ’fense, Kid, but that weren’t much of a story. An ‘thick as figgy puddin’? Ain’t thet a cliché?”

“If it ain’t, should be. There’s more ta the story, Pal.”

“Do tell.”

“See, Ol Sassy-squatch was hungerin fer more’n figgy puddin. Since she’d spied Carrot Ranch’s hairy-man, Sassy was in love.

“With Ernie?”

“Yep. Sassy squeezed hersef inta the dress that was lef behind an come outta the shadows feelin sweet as cherry pie.

“Oh my. Good thing Wanda’s on one a her sabbaticals.”

“Ernie’s got lots in common with Sassy.”

“Yep. Hairstyle, shoe size, an a reclusive lifestyle.”

🥕🥕🥕

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

Rabbits 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.

Snowy by C. E. Ayr

My name is Petal.
I have a little black bunny.
Her name is Snowy.
Mummy says that’s a funny name for a black bunny, but my last bunny was called Snowy, and I cried for years and years when she died.
So this one’s Snowy too.
I’m worried about Snowy today.
She’s not eating anything.
That’s a shame, because I tried so hard to make her happy.
I thought she looked a bit sad this morning, so I took her to Mummy’s little workroom.
We found some very pretty pink thread.
And I sewed her a lovely new smile.

🥕🥕🥕

In the Rabbit Hole by Norah Colvin

Edward completed every form, followed all protocols, even smiled sweetly at bully boss bunny; but his request for leave was denied.

“When numbers ease,” his supervisor promised.

“If ever,” muttered Edward. The monotony was as overwhelming as the numbers that increased exponentially. Who said rabbits multiplied quickly? If only they’d find another burrow to tumble into.

“Next!”

Edward recorded the unremarkably similar responses without enthusiasm.

“What brought you here? Where did you begin? Did you find what you wanted? What do you want now?”

“Out of this rabbit hole.”

“No more than I. Close all tabs. Start over. Next!”

🥕🥕🥕

Bunny Rage by Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

It was the constant munching and twittering that did it. He had tolerated it for as long as he had been able to, he thought. He’d been driven past any human’s endurance and felt no remorse, now. Many times he had politely asked her to move her menagerie of bunnies, but she had ignored his requests

He lifted the heavy lid of the cast iron pot. Waves of savory scented steam rose from the bubbling brew, his stomach rumbled in anticipation. He added herbs, a few more spices, stirred and returned the lid, heat wafting from the big top.

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The Hunt by sweeterthannothing

“You better run little bunny” he rasped in her ear before pushing her through the cabin door.

Amanda staggered, stumbled, crashed to her knees and rose again. She would not be broken.

“This rabbit is stronger than you think” she spat through gritted teeth before disappearing into the trees. If he wanted a hunt, she would give him one.

As soon as she was out of sight she paused, held her breath and listened, hearing him crash through the undergrowth some way away she took her chance, scaling a tree she perched in the canopy and bided her time.

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbits and Tea Parties by KL Caley

Alice enjoyed afternoon tea with her aunt. She was a tough woman, disliked by many, but she had a liking for tea, cards and croquet. Even the cat looked amused when Alice visited, although he often disappeared when she went looking for him.

Alice’s second cousin appeared one afternoon with a gift. Alice crept towards the cage. Peering out at her was a large White Rabbit. Her Aunt was not amused and began to shout. So as fast as she could Alice hurried home for the day. That night she began to dream the strangest of dreams.

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbits by Joanne Fisher

Jess and Cindy went through the portal. They walked among tall trees, always staying on the path. Once it got dark, they made a campsite while watching the sky above them.

“The stars are so bright!” Jess stated.

“And they’re different from home.” Cindy remarked.

“How big is Faerie? Does it go on forever?”

“No idea.” They fell asleep in each other’s arms. A family of rabbits came out of the bushes and regarded them.

“Humans? In Faerie? How strange.” Said one rabbit.

“They’re both females too.” Said another. They watched them a bit longer and then hopped away.

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Real-life Snow White by Kerry E.B. Black

Like a Disney Princess, Mom befriended woodland creatures.

I told classmates of this wonder, but they disbelieved. “Sure,” one insisted. “And you have a pony who follows you, too.”

The injustice! A pony at the riding stable where I volunteered did follow me when I called her! Although I couldn’t take her to the stable to prove this, I could bring the scoffer home to marvel at Mom’s friendships.

We shushed as we approached, tiptoed, hunched together.

Mom sat on the front step, feeding a carrot to a darling rabbit who nibbled with thoughtful watchfulness.

“Told you,” I whispered.

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius’s Wish by Nancy Brady

One afternoon Aloysius, the white cat, discovered some rabbits in the garden eating lettuce and carrots. When they saw him, they ran. Actually, they hopped away quickly.

Aloysius was impressed. He could run, but could he hop like them? The rabbits’ back legs looked similar to his back legs. He tried and tried to hop, but he couldn’t. Aloysius’s muscles allowed him to jump, but he couldn’t hop like rabbits, which were nibbling on clover.

Aloysius knew the clover helped him once before, and he wished to hop. He found he could hop if he was standing in clover.

🥕🥕🥕

Page by D. Avery

“Are you a hunter?”

She’d noticed me looking at tracks in the red sand. She noticed my interest in the sparse plants.

“That one we made soap from.”

She’d led us through the slot canyon. Now we walked in a sandy gully, a wash, the path water would take, should it rain hard. The carved walls of the slot canyons hold ancient stories of fast water.

Another plant. “That one the rabbits like.”

The sixty year old lake that brings people like me to this place is drying up.

“I remember,” she said, “When all we ate was rabbits.”

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Rabid…No, I mean Rapids….No, Damn it, What I’m Trying to Say is…RABBITS! by Bill Engleson*

“Lovely day for a drive. Good idea.”

“We’re both stressed and need a break. Check out this countryside.”

“So peaceful. And look Paul, over there…a family of rabbits.”

“More than a family, I’d say. A damn convention.”

“You’re right. There’s quite a few of them in that field. How far away would you say they are?”

“Hard to say…but they’re bouncing this way…”

“And quickly…goodness, Paul, maybe it’s my eyes but don’t they seem…”

“HUGE! Yes. My God, it’s like that Janet Leigh movie…”

“Psycho?”

“No…the one about the giant rabbits…”

“Psycho Rabbits?”

“Yeah. Maybe. Let’s get outta here.”

*A Flash Homage to the 1972 film, Night of the Lepus, based on the novel, Night of the Angry Rabbit, which I hope to read one day.

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There’s a Rabbit Off Somewhere* by Anne Goodwin

They claim we don’t have funds for a nurses’ pay rise. They claim we can’t afford to prevent kids being too hungry to learn. Yet this isn’t a banana republic; it’s one of the richest countries in the world.

Perhaps they’re lying when they say we’re in this together. We all have to cut back. Shamming when they wring their hands at food banks, at shelters for those unable to heat their homes.

Or is it something worse?

I didn’t vote for this reverse Robin Hood government. Yet still they take my taxes to fatten and flatter their friends.

*A Geordie expression for something fishy going on.

🥕🥕🥕

At It by Geoff Le Pard

Warren MacGregor spent thirty years establishing his rabbit farm at Little Tittweaking. Each success led to a setback: a spate of foot amputations for the lucky charms’ market; the mass desertion seeking seeking parts in a live adaptation of Watership Down; Bunny Builder’s campaign to instal a human proof fence to keep Warren out; and the myxomatosis outbreak leaving only one pair unculled. To most, Warren’s dreams must be over. He remained sanguine. After all, he said, ‘Rabbits breed like, erm rabbits and, anyway, with any rabbit farm there’s always the risk it will be, Hare today, gone tomorrow.’

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Hullo, Rabbit! by Chel Owens

Skyford sniffed and stood, his haunches holding his readied weight. It was a powerful thing, to be a rabbit: one could spring away, avoid detection, or squeeze beneath a barbed fence.

He barely twitched when Neumann padded to his side. A whisker moved as Suphia straightened near his foot. Skyford cocked his enviable ears, hearing rabbit after rabbit join their ranks amidst the cabbage patch.

So many men had teased with the expression, “Breed like rabbits.” Skyford’s face hardened into a leer. Today, man would change his aphorisms. Today, man would realize what purpose rabbits had been breeding for.

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The Rabbit by Ann Edall-Robson

Her eyes focussed on the storm coming towards her. She had to check the cows before it hit.

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

Heart pounding, she glanced around. Her peripheral vision caught sight of a rabbit near the fence.

“It’s going to be a bad storm.”

Her mind raced. Was it her imagination, the wind, or the rabbit talking to her?

“Tell me something I don’t already know!”

Pain ripped through her body when the cow hit her.

“Got any wise words now, rabbit?” She screamed as consciousness slipped away.

“Help’s coming,” were the last words she heard from…

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Went to the Zoo Today by Miss Judy

Visited the zoo today.
So many animals. Big, small, tall, short, standing, sitting, lying, flying.
Momma Elephant, two babes teetered beside.
A giraffe craned his neck to grab a leaf.
Lions, tigers, bears, elk, deer.
We giggled at penguins playing in their pool.
Spied the illusive snow leopard sleeping on a rocky shelf.
Creepy crawly slithering reptiles, Oh My!
Brightly colored birds sang their songs.
On the farm: goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, on a horse we got a ride.
My most favorite of all, the sweetest, fluffiest Rabbits, Angora they were called.
Such fun, a visit to the zoo!

🥕🥕🥕

A Rabbit With a Pocket Watch by Sadje

Alice in wonderland was perhaps one of the first classic books that I read. I think I was in grade 6. This book belonged to my late mother. John Tenniel wood-engraved 42 illustrations for the book.

The rabbit with his pocket watch and waistcoat was one of the first sketches that captured my imagination.

This Victorian-era book made me fall in love with classic literature and my love of reading deepened. We always had lots of books in our library and many classics resided there. I’m glad that my passion for reading was passed on to my daughters, and grandchildren.

🥕🥕🥕

Inspirational Bonding? by JulesPaige

Without voice
Those cold stone faces
Marble busts
Spoke volumes
Provocative reaction
For the new recruits

Gertie screened all the new volunteers in the same way. Men and women alike. She had to know if they would be compatible and empathic. First they had to help with the angora rabbits. That was one of the ways Gertie raised her funds.

Gertie also placed new folks in different museum positions. They needed to be trusted to carry and pass information in her network.

Jane wanted to help Emme. Gertie brought home a rabbit to help them bond over its care.

🥕🥕🥕

The Year of the Rabbit by Mr. Ohh!

My daughter needed a pet to calm her anxiety. She chose of all things a rabbit. Much to my chagrin we picked out a slow-moving large female, thinking she would be easy to bond with. We did not know how much bonding she had already done.

Rabbits aren’t supposed to get fat we were told, so we took the lady to the vet. It seems when we got her. she was with liter, but the heartbeats were undetectable. My daughter was ecstatic.

In two more weeks. I was the less-than-proud owner of six bunnies. Now I have the anxiety

🥕🥕🥕

Foolish Decision by Elizabeth

Two little sisters were in need of a pet.

Papa, may we have a puppy? Too much barking! Papa, may we have a kitten? Too many claws.
The girls were sad, and papa was worried. Which pet would be convenient for all? Bunnies! Two of them, the girls are happy and PomPom and Fluffy are growing each day, one black and the other white.
The girls are all smiles as the months go by. Suddenly one day: Papa, the TV isn’t working. Papa, the phone isn’t working. Papa, the refrigerator is warm… Girls, what are the rabbits chewing on?

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Bad Dog by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa was babysitting Emma and when Lexi arrived to pick her up, she found the toddle sitting on the porch pouting. Emma said, “Wanna go home. Jester’s mean.”
Lexi went inside and asked what the dog had done.
“We were watching a rabbit in the yard, then Jester saw it too and asked to go out. Without thinking I opened the door and he chased the rabbit into the field.”
“That’s all? She’s acting like it was more than that.”
“I explained he didn’t hurt it, but that didn’t help.”
“If it were a squirrel she would have laughed.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bunny Love by jenne49

Susie is my bunny. She lives in a hutch. I play with her and we tell each other stories. She knows about Cinderella and Prince Charming and she says a handsome boy bunny is going to come and set her free. They’re going to live in a burrow on the meadow. My mum says this is all my imagination.

Today mum looks very sad. She says somebody left the hutch open and Susie has run away. But I’m not sad. I can’t wait to get to the meadow and see the burrow. I told mum it wasn’t my imagination!

🥕🥕🥕

Fairy-tales of Cottontails by Nicole Horlings

Hidden within a copse of evergreens, nestled between the cornfield and the quiet front yard sheltered by a tall lilac hedge, the rabbits had entrenched themselves in the local folklore. Kindred spirits with the fairies, they snacked on dandelions and mushrooms. Alike to cryptids, they would allow themselves to be seen, but disappear the moment a camera appeared. Stories circulated about their presence, yet visitors left in vain without a sighting. Upon nights when fresh snow dusted the ground, they danced beneath the moon, their tracks a fleeting tribute to the tales of wonder told about their mysterious lives.

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Year of the Rabbit by Hugh W. Roberts

As she carefully avoided stepping into any blood on the blood-splattered, white-tiled floor, she thought she’d ask the question again.

“So nobody was here at the time of the murder?”

“Not according to the CCTV footage from outside the room. The murder occurred six to eight hours ago, and nobody came in or out until Professor Doebuck discovered the body.

“Inspector. Hop to it! Bring the forensics out here now, please,” yelled her boss.

Nobody noticed the unlocked door to the cage containing a new rabbit breed as they left the animal-testing laboratory.

The case, now closed, remains unsolved.

🥕🥕🥕

The Temptation of Rabbi T. by Doug Jacquier

Rabbi Tannenbaum trudged through the snow and knifing winds until he saw the diner. Inside, he was greeted by an older blonde woman.

‘Cold enough for ya?’ she said, her face rigid, her eyes taking in the yarmulke.

‘Could I get something to eat, please?’

‘Ain’t had no supplies in 2 weeks. How ‘bout a toasted ham or bacon sandwich.’

‘Anything else?’

‘I just made a pie for my husband, Pastor Schicklgruber. We got lucky. Caught a big rabbit in one of the traps last night.’

‘Can I just have coffee?’

‘Kosher can’, she said, her eyes daring him.

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbits by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Look,” whispered Luna.

“Hilda’s going to address the Coven,” answered Faeryn. “Shhh…”

All eyes turned toward Hilda.

“Witches, may I have your attention? I’m here to explain how one of my spells injured a human.”

“My familiar is a rabbit, the symbol of fertility. I can’t stop them from multiplying. Weeks ago, I cast a spell to stop the rabbits from copulating so often. Instead, the spell affected a human man. He will never be the same.”

Hilda coughed. “I have Covidwitchitus.”

Surprised gasps filled the room.

Each time Hilda coughed, another rabbit appeared.

It was a hare-raising experience!

🥕🥕🥕

Superstition by Jenny Logan

“Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits,” we’d always say on the first of the month. My father was raised in a fishing community and they are as superstitious a bunch as anybody. I suppose it’s a way to feel in control of one’s environment.

I no longer dread Friday 13th , a broken mirror, ladders or wonder if I did laundry on the wrong day when a sailor drowns at sea. It’s not all about me? It’s quite freeing to pass salt hand to hand and not feel responsible for the world’s ills.

I look for blessings and not curses these days.

🥕🥕🥕

Follow 2 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They stepped through the stained glass window, of course! He was awfully cute, and his weird ideas always led them to amazing adventures. What chance that this portal to another world might lead them into trouble this time?

He grabbed her hand and they stepped out onto a ledge, in the middle of a field of fragrant grasses. The ground rumbled, and both tumbled, and rolled down the hill, like famed Jack and Jill.

His lederhosen and her sweet dirndl had replaced their grubby jeans and T-shirts. The portal winked out. Behind them, the red-eyed rabbits began to gather.

🥕🥕🥕

Meanwhile, Back at the Saloon, Kid and Pal Split Hares by D. Avery

“Better git hoppin, Kid. Wer gonna miss the roundup.”
“Warren trouble with this prompt, Pal. Rabbits?”
“Least they ain’t gotta be up on a roof. Figgered this’d be an easy prompt fer ya Kid. What’s the problem this time?”
“Reckon Shorty really meant rabbits?”
“Thet’s what she said, Kid. Rabbits.”
“But mebbe what she saw was actchally hares.”
“Hares? Who cares? Whut’s the dif’rence?”
“Cain’t member the zact dif’rence. Let’s fire up the computer in the office.”
“Ya know I cain’t stand Goggle, Kid.”
“Shush, I’m re-searchin. Hare Krishna, harengon… huh, look’t that…”
“Kid! Git outta thet rabbit hole!”

🥕🥕🥕

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

Sabbatical 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.

Lost in a Nightmare by Judy Marshall

“Jason, please come in here.” He hesitated when finding Terri sitting on the sofa. She motioned, “Please, sit.”

Whisper-quiet, Terri spoke, “Jason, you seem distracted, worried. We are concerned. Is everything ok?”

Not wanting this conversation, Jason mumbled, “It’s all good.”

“I’ve spoken with the partners, you are a valuable collegue, but we need you 110%. Take some time off, 6 months, a year, get yourself together. After, if you want to come back, your job will be here.”

Stunned and speechless, Jason left. Six months? A year? Jason wondered, can you fix what you don’t know is broken?

🥕🥕🥕

How To Take A Long Break by Hugh W. Roberts

Some think my job is one of the toughest, so I deserve a sabbatical.

Rain, shine, blizzards or gales, I have to do my job. I pledged that I’d never let anyone down. Some think I have too many days off, but people need to learn what goes on behind closed doors.

What’s the best thing about my job? Tearing the date ‘December 24th’ off the calendar and starting my sabbatical for another 364 days.

🥕🥕🥕

Nirvana by Reena Saxena

“You failed to fulfil your duties as a wife and mother”…. screamed accusing fingers.

But who says a wife and mother is not an individual, and has her own needs and desires.

The fingers folded into fists which broke through the windows on her private existence. It was an identity crisis for them. How could she claim to have an existence beyond their reach?

“No, you can’t…”

“Yes, I can….”

The battle ensues.

She decides to quit everything other than her independent will – the marriage, house and comfort zone.

She wanted a sabbatical. She attained Nirvana in the process.

🥕🥕🥕

Break by Jenny Logan

She buried her husband and waited six months before joining the agency. She hushed her guilty conscience and reminded herself that some people remarried in less time.

Her sabbatical had gone on long enough. She’d left the workplace to be a SAHM, but no children came.

She checked the website daily, then weekly. Nothing.

Turns out nobody wants a Mrs Doubtfire or Nanny McPhee in real life. The jobs went to younger applicants—students who’d sign up for babysitting duties, too.

Before long, her profile was on a different agency.

Stay at home wife wasn’t so bad, after all.

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A Required Reset by Nicole Horlings

Lisa found herself at breaking point at the semester’s end. Beyond marking an astounding amount of essays and exams, her Cuba trip during winter break was ruined because her Visa application was denied. The weight of stress was crushing her, with no let-up in sight.

In a fit of anxiety she broke off her TA contracts for the spring semester. When the department head confirmed her release, she realized she had cut off all of her income for the next few months. However, she also felt an excitement for the future that she hadn’t known for a long time.

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Yup! Another Year by Bill Engleson

“Yup.”

“Yup what?”

“ ’Nother year in the hopper.”

“Went fast, didn’t it.”

“Don’t remember. I suppose.”

“You don’t remember? The War? The storms? The heatwave? Trump’s taxes?”

“Coulda been almost any year ’cept for that.”

“Not exactly a revelation. You know what they say…the poor always pay more.”

“I need a break from all this.”

“All this what?”

“This…this sameness.”

“You mean life!”

“I guess.”

“For heavens sake, you’re retired. Stop thinking so much. Relax.”

“Easy to say. Maybe I need to take a…whaddayacallit…a scabbatical.”

“You mean…sabbatical.”

“Scab…sab…salve…a change at any rate.”

“Before you leave, pass the bottle.”

🥕🥕🥕

Stay Indoors by Liza Mimski

Bomb cyclone. Atmospheric river. Rain pelting. Sandbags. Trees down. Highways, streets closed due to flooding. One hundred mile per hour winds in the North Bay. Thirty-foot waves in the South Bay. Breaks in electricity. Stores closed.
I’d been so tired lately, running here and there, always busy, trying to get caught up, never relaxing. Take this in. Buy that. The dog needs another walk. Now, I sit on the couch watching the Breaking News, reporters planted in front of huge maps of Northern California. It’s advised that residents stay safe by staying indoors, they emphasize, music for my ears.

🥕🥕🥕

Death of an Artist by Raelyn Pracht

“Sabbatical? Are you serious?” She dropped her half-smoked cigarette into her styrofoam cup—the bitter black coffee inside extinguishing its power.

“Get away from work. Go somewhere. Stay home. It doesn’t matter.” Dr. Shelley leaned forward. “Just put the paintbrushes and easels away.”

Jayne puffed angry air out her nostrils. 

“I won’t see you again until you do.”  

Jayne knew Dr. Shelley was serious. She didn’t mince words. That’s why Jayne liked her, plus, she too was an artist. 

She lived.

She understood.

The mental death of an artist was slow and excruciating. 

And Jayne’s gravestone was already being written.

🥕🥕🥕

Remotely Working by D. Avery

“I’m going.”

Finally, he lifted his head up from his phone, saw the suitcase.

“We’re going on vacation?”

“No. I am going on sabbatical.”

“That job gives sabbaticals?”

“No. I’ll continue to work remotely.”

“Then how is it a sabbatical?”

“I’m taking a break from you. From our marriage. It’s way too much work for me lately.”

“You? What about me, I do plenty around here. And why didn’t you tell me you were going somewhere?”

She held in a sigh. “I have told you, many times.”

“Must not have heard you,” and he went back to his phone.

🥕🥕🥕

Finally by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She smiled, waiting for the bell to ring, backside leaning against the desk, hands folded in her lap. She said nothing, no longer irritated by the heads bent over ill-concealed cellphones. They waited for release, too.

No need to fill the silence, walk around and urge, by activity, a little class participation. Year-long sabbatical granted, she’d head north tomorrow. No final exams or papers, so no grading. She gazed out the window, at clouds scudding across the sky.

“So, Professor Simpson, will you be offering the next level up in Resilience Studies?”

At that moment, the final bell sounded.

🥕🥕🥕

Sad Article by Geoff Le Pard

Briefly Little Tittweaking became famous for its Death Sabbatical Society. Its pitch was ‘Are you dying for [insert preference]? Let us temporarily euthanise you.’ For a fee, DSS would take your life (minimum period: a week) and leave you to rot while you indulged your desires. Life was restored via electric shocks and a chilli poultice to the genitals.

Business remained brisk, even surviving a scandal when the cadavers were squatted by homeless spirits claiming on their life assurance. The business folded, as do so many, when the Inland Revenue decided temporary death was in reality a tax dodge.

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Finding A New Balance by Gary A. Wilson

“Hey Lance. Welcome back. All’s well I hope?”

“Ah! Thanks Sharon. Yea, I think all is well; different but okay.”

“And Tracy; everything settle out okay?”

“Yea – she left; moved to a different hemisphere; didn’t want the kids or the dog. She just left.”

“Wow! I didn’t see that coming. You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m just tired mostly; burned one week fighting, a second signing legal papers and helping her pack, then two months with the kids; finding our new balance. They suffered with their mom’s breakdown.

“I don’t know if I need a sabbatical or just survived one.”

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Hopeful Harmony by JulesPaige

Jane felt like she had been ‘gifted’ a sabbatical. With time to think and turn old boots into planters. Aunt Gertie had given her a new life. Now there was talk on the island about Emme, a little girl who had been rescued, but would not talk. Was it time to go back to the main house and see if she could coax some words out of the little girl. Jane felt free to once again offer herself to a child.

Rethinking
Reconnecting yin
With the yang
Balancing
The scales of karma; to teach
And of course to learn

🥕🥕🥕

Taking a Break by Sadje

Can I take a break from parenting? A sabbatical from being a mom?

Ah….I know the answer so don’t bother replying. Once a mom, always a mom, even when we don’t need to be. All my kids have crossed their thirtieth birthday, and officially I am not required to mother them. But….

My mother hen instincts override the reality of reason and need many a time and I carry on as if their welfare depends on my actions, till they, irritated tell me to step out of the way so that they can carry on with their parenting duties.

🥕🥕🥕

Michael Needs a Break by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa noticed that Michael’s morning routine was taking longer than usual. “Honey, do you feel all right?”
Michael gave her a funny look from where he sat on the bed. “Why do you ask?”
“You act tired and are moving slower.”
“I didn’t think it showed,” he said. “Maybe a type of sabbatical is what I need. Keep up with DC and the band only. That would leave more time for us and guarantee I would be home when Lexi has her baby.”
Tessa sat beside him and took his hand, “That’s a fantastic idea. I’d love it.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sabbatical From Me by Elizabeth

One year not being me. Who would I be? A person carrying the weight of the past, or new thoughts would populate my mind. No attachment to society, no deadlines, of course, no blogging or Instagram. Total freedom of being. A cabin on a small island; a beach or a mountain; a fireplace and white lace curtains dancing with the soft breeze. No watch, no time, just flowing as the sun and the moon. Lots of journals and books. A garden with fresh vegetables and fruits. A cat as a companion, a golden one, to brighten up the cabin.

🥕🥕🥕

On Sabbatical by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Have you seen Hilda lately?” asked Luna.

“No. After the witch’s conference, they instructed her to leave for a three-month sabbatical,” answered Faeryn. “Don’t repeat this, but I heard one of her spells went awry. She injured a human.”

Luna’s eyes widened in shock. “That’s a supreme violation. How will she come back from that mistake?”

“Well, a sabbatical means she can return to her previous position after her break.”

“You’re kidding. She’s in charge of the Witch’s Committee on Rules. How can this be allowed?” asked Luna.

“That’s the problem with the concentration of power in the Coven.”

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On the Hundredth Year by Tabare Alvarez

My people sent me here 99 years ago. To observe from Luna and determine, quote, the best approach. Do we send down a single ambassador? Hundreds of merchants? I suspect that regardless of the initial approach–given how we are (self-righteous but greedy), and given how they are (stubborn)–eventually we will be dropping objects of large mass on them. If I quit, I’ll be replaced. So. I do believe I will fold myself back into the ship. I will write the kind of report that encourages dithering. I will stall. And I will teach the Earth how to prepare.

🥕🥕🥕

The First Sabbatical by Anne Goodwin

He’d toiled bloody hard, there was no denying it. Beginning with light so he could see the results when he created the sky, the soil, the sea. Some think he should’ve spent less time on the galaxies, but he never suspected they’d waste their precious resources on rocketing to the stars.

After two days on the animals – land, air and water – he was knackered. Yet he regrets devoting the seventh day to relaxation when there was so much left to do. Those hours swinging in a hammock should’ve gone to improving the humans, ensuring they wouldn’t ruin his work.

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Sabbatical? Could They Help? by Nancy Brady

In academia, professors are allowed to take a sabbatical, time off to study, do research, write, rather than teach. While at college, many different professors took sabbaticals during my schooling.

Using my profession as an example, I know pharmacists never have the opportunity to take sabbaticals. Yet all are required to update our medication knowledge through lifelong continuing education, which is completed on personal time, not pharmacy hours. Pharmacists’ vacation time is limited with those hours picked up by other pharmacists.

Maybe If all high pressure professionals could take a sabbatical from their profession, there might be less burnout.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer Sabbatical by Ann Edall-Robson

The tranquil, rocking pace soothed her. Relaxing the rein, her horse dropped his head to forge on. Behind them, the pack mule loaded with a month’s supplies followed. The trail through the trees took the trio to a meadow alive with wildflowers, where they stopped at the creek before heading into the rolling hills, to the lake and the cabin camouflaged by trees, hidden, except to those who knew of its existence. A deep sigh escaped her. The meadow view from the veranda and the tranquil pace of her rocking chair had become the summer sabbaticals she longed for.

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Takin a Breather by D. Avery

“Pepe? I was expecting Kid and Pal.”

“Ello Shorty. Doze two are steel arguing wedder or not being snowed in at da saloon all dat time counts as sabbatical. Pal says eet was, because dey weren’t doin deir regular chores and eet also was not a vacation. Keed says eet cannot be a sabbatical as dey haven’t even worked here for seven years.”

“No? Seems longer.”

“Dat ees what Pal said. Keed also said dat a sabbatical ees meant to be a producteeve time. All we deed was tell stories.”

“A breath of fresh air, Pepe! Tell Kid— sabbatical.”

🥕🥕🥕

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

Lies 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.

Lies by Michael Fishman

Jerry’s mind was everywhere but where it was supposed to be. His quick eyes darted away from the person in front of him to look out at the crowd.

He spied an attractive brunette and wondered what she looked like from the back. Then what she’d look like lying down. He looked forward to answering those questions later.

Then he saw Robin and smiled at the warm memory.

Jerry turned his attention back to the man to his right and tried his best to focus.

“…and do you, Jerry, take Elizabeth to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I do.”

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Living a Lie Via Zoom by Gary A. Wilson

Bryce watched his screen as peers discussed an expense management slide.

Progress is so tedious, he thought.

Suddenly his kids ran into the room screaming joyfully with his wife scrambling to silence them. He quickly muted the microphone and roared.

Furious, he was on his feet cursing and threatening his family when his phone rang – it was his boss.

“Hello Marcel.”

“Bryce, you’re in my office in an hour. We thought we knew you but, your outburst; unacceptable and completely out of character.”

He’d turned the sound down, not his mic off.

“Your options are intervention or termination.”

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Lies Can Be Expensive by Frank James

“Have you been drinking?” The Trooper asked Molly. She shook her head: no.

“License and registration, he replied. Her hands trembled, offering them.

“Are you sure?” He repeated.

“I never drink and drive, and it would be stupid to lie to a Trooper,” she snorted.

He smiled, “Uh huh, you don’t want to lose your truck.”

He asked for a simple test. Feeling spry, her eyes followed his pen. They wobbled a bit.

“Okay,” he reluctantly said writing a warning ticket.

She grinned, pulling away. She didn’t see a beer can tumbling from the bed. He radioed a wrecker.

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Incompletely Lost or Completely at a Loss? by JulesPaige

Blanks in the data bank memories of mother…
Disillusioned tweenager, angst filled teenager
Angry adult (at established rules and thieves)

There will always be holes, those holes filled with lies
Like ‘The check is in the mail,’ or where to place blame
With either ‘Ida Know’ or ‘Not Me’

Lies completely fabricated, Lies completely created for comfort
Lies by omission -The little white lies we pretend are OK
As to not upset the person who couldn’t cope with truth

That magician’s gun that was supposed
To have blanks but the murderer switched bullets…
And now there’s a big blank.

🥕🥕🥕

Tell The Truth by Sweeter Than Nothing

Deb had never been one for the truth, ever since she was little. Who wants horrible, pointy realty when a nice soft blanket of lies can cushion and comfort you?

She used that motto for good and bad.

For example;

“Of course you don’t look fat in that dress”

And

“No, I would never cheat on you, I love you.”

Debbie hid behind her lies right up to the very last moment of her life.

“Who knew she was sick? She always said she was fine.” Said all, shocked.

Now here lies Deb, finally, telling the truth at last.

🥕🥕🥕

De-merger by Reena Saxena

It’s an interesting family tree.

Each carries a different name by choice, with scant regard for belonging or social identification.

Anna tells me it was reinvented after her grandfather left the field open for choice of names.

“I’m sure there’s a lot behind that story. I’ve heard about his multiple marriages and large number of foster children”. I can’t resist digging graves for a good story.

“It’s actually much more than that. Multiple marriages meant multiple failed relationships, and this was the lesson he gave us.

The greatest lie ever spoken in love is about the merging of identities.”

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Galactic Encyclopedia Entry by Duane L Herrmann

Nouvelle France had developed its trading empire deep into the interior of Amérique du Nord, reaching into the heart of the Grandes Montagnes which formed the massive spine of the continent. The initial small trading posts where the Natives and French had met to trade furs had become towns and cities in their own right. Many, many of the French traders had taken Native wives and now fifth and sixth generations of descendants were the major population. Wars among the natives had ceased long, long ago: it was bad for business. Brits had been expelled long ago for rebellion.

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The Letter by Margaret G. Hanna

“Dear Father,”
The start of the lie. Part of the conspiracy. Would he fall for it?

“Emigrating to Canada was a grievous error.”
It was not. Another part of the lie.

“I want to return home, to England.”
No! Her sister Bessie wants to come to Canada.

“Alas, I can not afford the fare.”
Father could. He had promised to send it. If he did, she’d send it back to Bessie.

“Please send the money. I will be forever in your debt. Your loving daughter, Mary.”
He bought the lie. He sent the money.

Bessie arrived four months later.

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Black Poppies by Anne Goodwin

Their mother would miss them, but the Motherland called. They stowed away on a ship taking rum and molasses to Liverpool and docked the day the country declared war. Eustace lied about his age to join up with his brother. When hostilities ended, he buried his brother in France.

He grieved, but was proud to have served the Empire. Until he learnt the flag that united the colonies was a colossal lie. When riots raged in Liverpool’s docklands, he feared for his life. He learnt that Black men could die for Britain, but they couldn’t live there in peace.

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An Economics Lesson at the Food Bank by Anne Goodwin

“I don’t get it,” says the volunteer, as she distributes bashed soup tins between supermarket plastic bags. “Run it past me again.”

The politician sighs, but her colleague interrupts him. “Remember Robin Hood?”

“Steals from the rich to give to the poor? Of course.”

“Well, this is Robin in reverse.”

The woman sets aside a tube of charcoal toothpaste. The politician flashes a smile. “We scrap the wealth tax. People spend more. The benefits trickle down.”

The woman surveys the empty shelves. “Can’t see that working.”

“Be patient,” says the politician. “We’ve only tried this method for ninety years.”

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Am I Fine? by Ruchira Khanna

“Can you please get my meds from the counter?” requested Pam as she settled with her cup of tea.

“When you have no physical aches, why are you still consuming these pills?” asked a concerned Dave.

“It’s the mental ache, and these pills keep me high,” she said with a forced smile.

Dave frowned and was about to give his opinion.

Just then, the phone rang.

“Hi, Lisa!” said Pam while keeping eye contact with her beau.

“Life is super! I’m rocking it, my friend,” said Pam with shrugged shoulders and a downward glance while fidgeting with the blanket.

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The Big Lie! by Tessa Dean

Lawrence hung down at the bar with a bunch of young men about his age. He claimed he was 21 and old enough to drink. They played darts and flirted with the women. Lawrence wore loose clothes that just hung on him. The other guys were dressed similarly.

One night, while Lawrence was drinking, Anson mentioned that he looked like he was gaining weight. Lawrence just shrugged it off. Suddenly he let out a scream and grabbed his belly. Rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that he was a she and that she was pregnant and in labor.

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A Little White Lie by Sadje

“What does it matters, it’s just a little white lie”

“That’s how it starts my dear and then one becomes two and two becomes too many. Lying becomes a habit that is hard to get rid of”

“But nan, I meant no harm. I just didn’t want to hurt Mel’s feelings by telling her I won’t come to her party, I’d already promised Cindy that I’ll hang out with her”

Then my sweet, you should tell her the truth, gently. If we start to hide behind lies, we will lose our true selves!”

“Okay nan. I promise, never again!”

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A Catastrophe by Nancy Brady

It started innocently enough. My younger sister and I were playing Monopoly. Because I was sniffing a pine-scented cat sachet at the same time, out of the blue, I said the most outrageous thing, “I bit our cat’s ear,” never expecting her to believe me.

“You didn’t, did you?” she asked.

“Yep,” I said, filling in details that made the lie real.

My sister was gullible; she believed me. What prompted this preposterous fabrication, I still don’t know, but finally I told her the truth. That I had never done anything like that to our cat, nor would I.

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Lies Are Allowed for Surprises by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa called her mother and invited her parents to dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant in the next town.

“Tessa, can’t you change the meal time to 7:00 PM, you know your father doesn’t like to eat early with the blue hair crowd.”

“Mom, the restaurant was already booked for prime time hours when I called, it’s the college’s Homecoming Weekend. You can eat a big late breakfast and an early dinner.”

“I suppose.”

***

Tessa called her sister,” I lied to Mom to get her to agree to the time. I’m sure she isn’t suspecting an anniversary party.”

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They Lied by Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

As a child, I began to write. I constantly had pencil and paper, diaries and journals, just like Ernest Hemingway. I learned early on, to stop showing my father my poetry and prose. He told lies. His remarks snuffed out my confidence. 



“You’ll never be a writer. Not possible!” He’d say, tossing my papers up in the air.

I’m now sixty-four years old and guess what? I’m not a Mark Twain or a Hemingway but I am, an author and a poet. Be careful telling someone what they can not be!

🥕🥕🥕

Poison by Simon

He always said
when I lied
He knew, he said.
This time, I said
He never knew When I lied
When I constantly lied
Because the doctor said
He cannot be cured

I lied to his face
Hiding the truth behind
I lied to his face
Smiling with tears behind
I lied to his face
When I killed me
I lied to his face
When I killed him

It was the kindest poison
I made with love and passion
A lie, I named it as a Lie
Kills slowly but definitely we die

Before he died
I died happily

🥕🥕🥕

Laying Down About Lying About the Lie of the Land by Doug Jacquier

His drive had landed in the rough and he groaned when he saw the thicket of trees between him and the green of the par four 17th. Quickly scanning for witnesses, he picked up the ball and dribbled it out of his trouser leg on to the edge of the fairway. His second shot landed just short of the green, making for an easy chip and putt. When his partner asked for his score, he said ‘Four’ and strode to the next tee. His partner grunted and wrote ‘4’ in the box, sighing to himself ‘Whatever you say, Donald.’

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The Big Announcement by Miss Judy

The night had arrived. The audience was gathered. Time for the big reveal. Everyone knew what was coming. Tonight it would be official.

People expected fanfare, fist pumps, and high energy from the wannabe king. It was his castle; he was coming back.

He rambles in – more a wounded goose than a strutting swan. His head hangs, no fist pumps, no energy. He’s alone; he speaks.

The same tired montage of lies, unfounded theories, derogatory remarks of his enemies.  Finally, he proclaims MAGAGA*. A tired crowd cheers and walks away, mostly glad that it’s over. Time to move on.

*Make America Great and Glorious Again

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Talents by Devine Success

“Hello.”

“Good morning sir.”

“Is Muna there?”

Anita’s eyes popped. Why couldn’t Muna take permission before going to her cousin’s wedding? Now what should she say?

“Sir… she’s not feeling well, she went to get drugs from the pharmacy.”

“Oh… it’s alright.”

Barely 5 minutes after the call their boss arrived. Anita’s heart thumped. “Muna isn’t back from the pharmacist yet?”

“No sir she didn’t come at all, she went to her cousin’s wedding,” answered innocent loquacious Priscilla, another colleague, before Anita could reply.

“Really? Anita?”

Another lie brewed instantly. ”Sir she changed her mind, she’s not feeling well.”

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Lies, Damned Lies and Surprises by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s Reptilarium (owner: Jack Natter, something of a toad) comprising: Lounge, a swarthy narcoleptic lizard; Sid, a hissing salamander; and Griselda, a Peruvian gecko with attachment issues was struggling. Sid’s susurrating serenades slumped and when the preternaturally adhesive Griselda stuck herself to some passing Jedi missionaries, things looked bleak. Trying to prove Lounge was a natural levitator by feeding him an exclusive diet of mosquitos was a desperate bid to stave off bankruptcy. His film of Lounge, describing a high-pitched, helium-induced parabola fooled no-one and his humiliation complete when the paper ran with: Fake Newts Shame Little Tittweaking.

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The Betrayal by Joanne Fisher

The Grond had invaded to subjugate our lands and people. We knew we couldn’t defeat them alone, but if we allied with the Olomik people, then together we would be strong enough to send the Grond back across the wide sea.

I traveled through the narrow ravine to meet the Olomik leader. We toasted our alliance with fermented yaks milk and agreed to meet on the field of battle. But when that day came, we faced the Grond alone. Though we Talchek would be defeated this day, we would carry the Olomik and their lie in our hearts forever.

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Family Tree-Sons by Bill Engleson

“Tis so true.”
“T’aint.”
“Tis.”
“No, tain’t”
“We’re goin’ ‘round in circles.”
“If we are, you’re the dizzy one.”
“All I said…”
“I know what you said…”
“All I said was I look like Ma. You, mebbe not so much…”
“She ain’t here to ask, is she? And mebbe I don’t care ‘cause I take after Pa.”
“That’s a crock. Neither of us takes after Pa. I mean, he was gone before I even popped.”
“True enough. And I was in diapers. Got that one picture though.”
“There’s that. Pa sure looked like that actor fella, Gary Cooper.”
“Yup.”

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White Lies (Chapter 1) by Ann Edall-Robson

“I can’t live with these lies anymore.”

The words made him look up from the book he was reading. His heart lurched seeing the anguish on her face, tears pooling in her eyes. Did he dare ask, or let her say her piece and see where the conversation went? He thought better of reaching out for her when she walked past to sit in her favourite chair. Legs curled underneath her, shoulders shaking with sobs.

“Should we talk about this?” He ventured, not knowing what else to say.

She nodded. “There has to be a way to resolve this.”

🥕🥕🥕

White Lies (Chapter 2) by Ann Edall-Robson

Sniffing, she searched for the hankie she always kept in her pocket. Looking at him, she started to laugh.

“You think this is about us?”

“I’m not sure. I didn’t think we had any lies between us.”

“We don’t!” She hiccuped.

Relief settled across his face and he reached across the end table to take her hand in his. She clung to his fingers, letting the words fly out of her mouth unchecked. They sounded silly when she spoke then.

“Every product in our laundry room is a lie! I am so tired of white lies. No pun intended.”

🥕🥕🥕

White Lies (Chapter 3) by Ann Edall-Robson

They were both laughing. “Nothing’s white. Everything’s dingy. I want our linen and clothes to look and smell like my Gran’s used to.”

He stood, pulling her up into his arms.

“I think we can do that,” he said quietly.

“How? I’ve tried all of the products.”

Remembering the stories his own Gran and Mother swore were true, a plan started to formulate in his mind. It would take some doing, but where there is a will, there is a way. He couldn’t wait to get started on the upscale, outdoor laundry space showcasing none other than a clothesline.

🥕🥕🥕

Younger Cousin by D. Avery

The first lie was mine. ‘It’ll be fun.’

We lied about her age to get in. The crowd swallowed us up and we were separated. I was worried sick about her and when I finally found her, I was sick. She said she was okay, said she’d be alright.

She started living life as if it didn’t matter. Said she was in control. Said I could mind my own business, she was a good mom. When she started using, she said she could handle it.

‘Stop,’ I begged her.

“Why?’

‘Because I love you.’

‘You’re a liar,’ she said.

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Geneva Steele by Chel Owens

Geneva Steele was often asked about her name. After all, she shared it with the local mill (closed). The mill gained its moniker from the nearby resort (gone), which its founder named after his daughter (dead).

But Geneva couldn’t answer with any of that.

“I’m Swiss,” she said.

Or, “I’m from New York.”

Locations and events became more elaborate, until Geneva’s great-granddaughter dragged Geneva to school for show-and-tell. Looking at all those faces, the truth exploded:

“I was conceived at the steel mill, out near the railroad tracks.”

Truth might be satisfied, but Geneva isn’t allowed at school again.

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Jobs by Hugh W. Roberts

“How was work today?” asked my wife.

“Good,” I replied as I stuffed notes into a pair of old boxer pants at the bottom of my sock drawer. She’ll never look there.

“Are the people nice?”

“Yes.”

“Will I meet them someday? Perhaps we’ll bump into them when out?”

“Maybe.”

But they’ll never know who she is. And she can never know who they are.

I told her my new job paid well and would take me worldwide. It does both.

I may have lied about what I do, but becoming a male escort is my best job ever.

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A Skeleton in the Cupboard by Norah Colvin

Lucy was opening and closing every cupboard in the house.
“What’re you doing?” Amy asked.
“Mum lied,” said Lucy.
“About what?”
“The skeleton.”
“What skeleton?”
“The skeleton. Mum said Dad has a skeleton in the cupboard. I can’t find it.”
“You won’t find it.”
“Why not?”
“Cause it’s not a real skeleton.”
“Skeletons are so real. I’ve got one and you’ve got one. Everybody’s got one.”
“Not those sorts of skeletons.”
“Then what?”
“Secrets.”
“Secrets?”
“Things they don’t want nobody else to know.”
“So, Mum did lie.”
Amy sighed. “Mum didn’t lie, but there’s no skeleton in the cupboard.”

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Deep in The Wood by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Natalie was born in Enoch Bunch’s trailer bed, a-way pas’ midnight, under a rare third moon in chill October. Or maybe she was left there.

He was early-widowed, growing older, she a promise finally kept. No sign of a mother, so he raised her hisself, taught her all he knew of the woods and river. The rest she figgered out for herself.

Under Natalie’s wisewoman care, he lived longer’n anyone woulda guessed. She buried him next to his wife, then took the truck, built a home deep, and deeper in the woods.

Some swear that house sprouted chicken legs.

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Chickens or Eggs by Miss Judy

My parents are fairly intelligent people. They grew up on farms. Raised cows, pigs, chickens. They would solve a dilemma plaguing my young mind.

I asked Mom, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?”

“Well son, of course it was the chicken. Without the chicken there would be no egg.”

This makes sense, but I must ask Dad. “Dad, which came first the chicken or the egg?”

“Son, it was the egg. Without the egg there would be no chicken.

”DRAT! Why are they messing with my mind? One of them must be fibbing. I am so confused.

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Lyin Like a Rug by D. Avery

“Kid! Git up outta thet bunk. Ya ain’t made a move on the latest challenge.”

“Au contraire, Pal. This is ma move. I’m havin a lie in.”

“Ain’t thet kinda lyin. Shorty’s talkin bout fibs.”

“Cain’t tell a lie. Won’t. Carrot Ranch ain’t the place fer it.”

“How kin a virtual gatherin place fer fiction not be a place fer tales bout a lie?”

“This is a place where fiction tells truths. Where fictional characters are as real as kin be imagined. Truth be told Pal, gonna set this one out by lyin here.”

“Wolf! Curly’s gittin drug off!”

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Tip Top Truths by D. Avery

“Tip. Hey.”

“Yer lookin glum, Kid. Pal weren’t jist cryin wolf bout Curly?”  

“Huh? Oh, Curly’s fine. Thing is I’m worried bout her anyways. Feel like Curly’s a pathological liar. First that confusion whether she were a dog or a hog. Then she had that time amongst the beavers. An now this. See, she was the wolf.”

“A pig in wolf’s clothing?”

“Yep.”

“Kid, we Lemmon brothers sometimes are in drag.”

“So?”

“So that ain’t lyin bout ourselves or to ourselves.”

“Reckon.”

“Curly’s true ta herself.”

“S’pose.”

“Kid? Kinda lied ta ya bout one thing.”

“Yeah Tip?”

“I’m Top.”

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

Squeaky 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.

Squeaky Wheels by Sadje

The squeaky wheel alerted the neighborhood that Frank was there with his wares.

He would load anything he thought he could sell on his pull-cart and do a round of the area twice a day. He had rescued stuff from the dumpsters, things that were found discarded along the road, old toys, and sometimes a chair too.

He would just stand on the walkway, hoping to sell some things, and make enough money to buy food for himself. I’d usually go outside to check his wares.

Today, I found a stuffed Teddy and he got money for his dinner.

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Silent Squeals of Joy for Falling Stars and Fairies by JulesPaige

Her head came up to their hips
They were leaving somewhere – it was evening
The adults babbled, words were way above her head

They missed the comet
But she remembered that falling stars
Needed wishes to keep them alive

OK maybe that was clapping for Tinker Bell
During that stage play with Mary Martin…
As Peter Pan…

There is a very dark, perhaps ancient side
To the boy who left the nursery
And headed into the garden…

But she didn’t know that until much later
And now she doesn’t remember the ‘wish’
But she remembers the squeakless comet…

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Something Lost by Joanne Fisher

Amy was quickly sorting through a box of papers when she thought she heard something squeak. She pressed down, and sure enough, there was definitely something squeaky in there. She dug through the layers and pulled out the hand puppet that belonged to her daughter Stacey.

Stacey went everywhere with the hand puppet seemingly attached to her hand, squeaking all the time. Amy took it to her daughter’s room. At the doorway, she breathed deeply before opening the door. Her daughter’s room was pristine, with everything neatly arranged on shelves and surfaces. Amy hadn’t been in here since the funeral.

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Long Silences by D. Avery

The red convertible sat quiet in the driveway, the top still up.

On the return trip home, he’d told stories from their shared past; sometimes ones she’d forgotten, some appended with an insight she hadn’t considered before. Talking wore him out so his narratives would be followed by long silences, though silence had its own percussions; his raspy inhalations punctuated by the squeaky pulse of the portable oxygen tank.

She hadn’t told any stories, didn’t talk over his whistling breathing, even though the sound grated on her.

Now she was surprised at how haunted she felt by its absence.

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The Rule of New Food by Gary A. Wilson

“Eww – mom, what is -?”

“Austin; you’re nine now. Remember the rule about meals while visiting Aunt Clara?”

Sigh – “No complaints before an honest taste.”

“It’s all familiar stuff served differently. What do you see?”

“Um, mash potatoes, egg, onions, something leafy. “

“That’s cabbage.”

“I see carrot chunks and um, bacon pieces, some kind of oil.”

“Butter; it was fried in butter. Does any of that sound bad?”

“Do I like cabbage?”

“Since you were five, yes.”

“Aunt Clara, what’s it called?”

“Bubble and Squeak dear boy.”

“Eww. Food shouldn’t squeak.”

“Just taste it will you please.”

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The Squeaky Husband by Hugh W. Roberts

“Can you hear that squeaking sound?” Gemma asked her husband.

Peeking over his newspaper at his wife, Malcolm shook his head.

“You must be able to hear it! It’s coming from your direction.”

“I don’t hear anything, darling,” came the reply.

It wasn’t until Malcolm’s death that the squeaking stopped. But as his body began its journey into the ground, Gemma was convinced the squeaking was back.

“Where’s that squeaking noise coming from?” she asked the other mourners.

But nobody could help Gemma because only she could hear the squeaking because only Gemma knew where she was burying Malcolm.

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Alarm System by Ann Edall-Robson

Leaving the barn, she stopped in its shadow, listening to the sounds of the coming night, but tonight there was more. Moving toward the house, her steps muffled by the grass beside the gravel path, she hoped the loudness of her beating heart wouldn’t give her away. Across the yard, the gate she always kept closed at the front of the house, was hanging open. She had meant to oil the hinges until she realized the squeaking noise they made had become her alarm system. The moving silhouette rounding the corner of the house confirmed she was not alone.

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Busted by Greg Glazebrook

Doris lay in the dark. Something had jolted her from slumber. Its source, elusive in that waking haze. The pungent smell of booze was strong enough to induce drunkenness. There again, the squeaky hinge she’d asked Artie to oil.

A bolt of electricity radiated outwards to the tip of each tiny hair standing on end. Carter was asleep down there! She prodded Artie but the oaf might as well be dead. She bounded downstairs grabbing the kitchen broom en route.

Pushing through the door she was greeted by Carter half outside, her ass up, legs dangling from the ceiling-level window.

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The Windmill (haibun) by Colleen M. Chesebro

as autumn flows into winter,
the squeak of the old metal windmill
vibrates in the wind—

The fierce winds howl across the Montana prairie. The brown grasses undulate like waves on a tumultuous sea. There’s a bite in the air. I shiver.

Today, I’m captivated by the wide expanse of winter-blue sky. Clouds hem the gathering storm to the north, a sure sign of the snow to come.

The wailing squeak of the old metal windmill reminds me of the wailing of the banshee back home in Ireland. I swallow my homesickness and make my way to the mines.

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The Master’s Voice by Anne Goodwin

Although I had all his novels as audiobooks, I preferred to feel his words on the page. Literally, as my fingertips danced across the dots. So when he came to talk at the library, Rover and I went along.

From my front-row seat, I heard the clink of his water glass. Heard him inhale, ready to read. But the squeaky voice so startled me, Rover growled. Flustered, I asked the person next to me if this was really Hilary Mantel. I hadn’t realised my favourite author was a woman. I assumed only a man could produce such powerful prose.

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Squeaky Little Alien Tale by Simon

Abandoned Squeaky Alien toy found by a Hippie, he closes his eyes and it communicated to him.

Lonely nights at dark

Dogs bite me and bark

Fell in basket for a smile

Lost in 2 days for a while

I tried, but lost, no tears to cry

just feelings inside a toy

Thought Larry is my bestie

Last seen Larry on west Field

Before he lost control

and hit the bank of petrol

You should take me before I tell you what he did to lose the control.

Ahhh!!! I see, You has tales to say. I got company….

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Voting Intentions by Geoff Le Pard

This year Little Tittweaking’s election to the Parish Council was mired in scandal. Local bylaws required the decision to be through the ancient ritual of pork barrel politicking, which involved the returning officer standing on an ale cask and calling ‘Pigs For’ or ‘Porks Against’. Supporters and detractors made appropriate porcine sounds, the volumes were measured and the winner anointed with the first pint. Harmony ended when Italian fashionista, Cosmo Politan brought his pigs to add decibels to his candidature. Protestors demanded the returning officer hold a re-squeak, a campaign dubbed in the local press as ‘Stop the Squeal’.

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Housesitting by Kerry E.B. Black

Nothing terrifies like an unexpected sound on a creepy night. Alone on a couch, housesitting one autumn evening, a bowl of buttered popcorn resting upon a lap wrapped in a sherpa-soft blanket, a classic horror film flickering on a television so ancient it requires an antenna.

Ears prick. A squeak of an overhead floorboard in an otherwise abandoned house. A groan emitted by the long-disused hinge of a door leading to a decaying basement Poe would admire. The sigh of the wind sneaking into a home believed secure, one betraying its sole inhabitant by seemingly allowing admittance to specters.

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Squeak! by Nancy Brady

With temperatures getting colder, creatures of all sorts look for a warm place to live during the winter, and that includes field mice. Last winter, one appeared in our home. It must have entered the cellar through the fieldstone foundation of our old house.

One evening I heard our cat Regulus racing around the kitchen, his claws scrabbling on the kitchen floor. Wondering what he was up to, I checked on him; I heard some small squeaks, but I couldn’t figure out the cause until Regulus turned towards me. Hanging out of his mouth was the mouse’s wiggling tail.

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Emma’s Got the Beat by Sue Spitlnik

After the Veterans’ Day luncheon at the No Thanks, the Band of Brothers found their favorite places, behind their instruments. They played different genres of patriotic songs while the crowd sang along. Little Emma was dancing by herself until she noticed a register near the end of the bar. She soon figured out she could make it squeak by stepping on a specific corner. Just about the time Lexi was going to make her stop Michael grinned and pointed to the toddler then changed the words in the song. “Listen, my granddaughter is squeaking in time to the music.”

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In Remembrance by Margaret G. Hanna

The bedsprings squeaked as John tossed and turned. Tomorrow he was flying his first sortie. Tomorrow he was flying into danger.

He had always wanted to fly, that was why he had chosen the Air Force rather than the Army like his brother. He had trained for this day, and now it was here. Was he ready for the responsibility? Of bringing his Wellington back? Of bringing his crew back? Of the carnage he would leave behind?

Other bedsprings squeaked. John wasn’t the only one fretting about tomorrow. But tonight . . .

He closed his eyes and dreamt of prairie skies.

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Squeaky Squawk Talk by Bill Engleson

“Caught ya!” and she flips the switch as I pull back my cookie-grabbing mitt.

“You’re pathetic,” she adds. “You know that door squeaks, which,” she pauses, then hammers home, “you should try and fix sometime before the end of the world.”

I want to say, “curses, foiled again”, but it would go over her head.

She never was into cartoons.

So I plant a diversionary seed. “It was watching that Manson movie. I got to wondering what crazy Squeaky Fromme was up to these days. Couldn’t sleep. Got the munchies.”

She shakes her head.

She’s not gonna bite.

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Hollowness Personified by Reena Saxena

Hollowness became tangible in her person.

She sought entry into every household she was acquainted with at some level, and emerged excited, squeaking secrets to every person she met on the street. She felt gratified by inclusion, and boasted about it as ‘closeness’.

She was greeted by a wry smile or snarling glance, when she mouthed so-called ‘nuggets of wisdom’ on topics she knew nothing about.

I imagine her dissolving into nothingness, in solitary confinement. She will not find fuel for sustenance, without borrowing or stealing from others’ lives.

Her existence is a miracle, her physical form an illusion.

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Squeaky Pip by Duane L Herrmann

“I squeak, you squeak, we all squeak for Pip Squeak!” Sajili sang and danced around the room.

“I’m not squeaking!” Objected Pip in her high, shrill voice.

“Oh, but you are,” assured her father gravely. “We always know when you’re happy.”

“Your voice gets higher and higher,” her mother calmly added.

“Oh.” Pip said as her voice dropt.

“Come here,” her father reached out his big hairy arms to hug her.

Pip gratefully lunged into his welcome embrace, sniffling.

“It’s alright,” his deep voice rumbled around her.

Daddy’s arms felt SO good.

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Bedtime Antics by Kayla Morrill

“Have you ever realized how annoying a squeaky door can be?”

“Well yeah, hasn’t everyone come to that conclusion?”

“What about a squeaky chair?”

“Yes, even more annoying.”

“What about a squeaky floorboard when trying to walk along the floor at night?”

“The worst.”

“Worse than a squeaky person?”

“People don’t squeak.”

“Eee ooh eee ooh eee ooh eee….”

“Alright stop,” I interjected, “I suppose the worst thing is your squeaky questions.”

“Questions are squeaky?”

I rolled my eyes, realizing she wasn’t going to stop. Little sisters never do.

“Goodnight, squeak tight,” I replied.

She giggled, eyes closing.

Success.

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Squeaking Hello! by Tessa Dean

Rex, the hamster, ran on the wheel in his cage, happily squeaking away to whoever would listen to him. He was not the only thing squeaking as I needed to find some oil to try and oil the hamster wheel before it drove the whole family and me crazy.

After finding the oil, I gave Rex some treats so he would get off his exercise wheel, then I oiled it well, so it no longer squeaked. Rex finished his treats and then jumped back on the exercise wheel and began happily running and squeaking to anyone willing to listen.

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Last Word (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal, did ya hear that?”

“Hear whut?”

“A creakin soun.”

“A creak or a screech?”

“More of a cheep.”

“But not a squeal?”

“No, like I said it was more of a cheep.”

“Oh, or maybe a peep.”

“So ya heard it?”

“No, Kid, I didn’t hear nuthin.”

“Thought I did. A cheep, or mebbe a peep.”

“Probly jist where them branches rub on the Poet Tree.”

“Look, Pal, now there’s a glowin light out there.”

“Now yer squealin, Kid. But yep, I see it. Hear whut souns like chatterin squirrels too. Why, it’s—”

“Helga an Hess!”

“Huh.”

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Last Word (Part II) by D. Avery

“Helga. Hess. Hullo. Welcome back ta Carrot Ranch.”

“Heehee. Thanks Pal. Hey, Kid.”

“What brings ya back this way?”

“Heehee. We’re here ta tend ta high-pitched whines.”

“Ya mean Kid?”

“Heehee. No, not Kid. We’re tinkers, here ta grease any wheels or movin metal bits that screech, scrape or squeal.”

“Heehee. We’ll put the spin back in yer spurs.”

“The gates will swing great. Heehee.”

“Heehee. No twinges in the hinges.”

“We’ll even put a shine on yer shovel, Kid.”

“Shift, thanks, Helga. Hess. Would ya ruther stay in the bunkhouse?”

“No thanks. We’re squeaking in anuther camping adventure.”

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

Wheels Keep on Turning 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.

Coal Miner’s Son by Frank James

“Keep the wheels turning, boys. We have a deadline to make,” Reb, foreman yelled at coal miners pushing squeaky metal carts to collection. Wyatt, eighteen, struggled with the largest one.

Reb throttled his eyes at him, “Your job relies on speed.” Wyatt stumbled.

“I took a chance on you, so man-up,” Reb growled. Wyatt stood, grunting to collection.

Elliot his father stopped Wyatt, “Family depends on you.” A cart broke free barreling toward Reb, and Wyatt rammed his cart in its path. Coal dumped everywhere, and Reb smirked. “I guess you can handle the job. Clean up the mess.”

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Up the Mississippi by Tessa Dean

Rodney anxiously waited his turn to go and see the paddleboat exhibit that was being shown at the river near him. At one point, those boats floated up the Mississippi and other places, and the paddles kept the wheels turning to propel the boats up or down the river.

Rodney struck up a conversation with one of the people around him, and he found out that there were still authentic paddleboats that you could actually ride on up and down the Mississippi River. The old boats carried people and animals up and down the Mississippi River over the years.

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The Wheels Keep Turning by Colleen M. Chesebro

The wheels of America’s evolution keep turning
everybody’s talking, but no one’s listening
all they want is to win the argument

Opinions over facts—lies deny truths
social media—the louder we talk
no one hears what the other says

Political and financial earthquakes
shake our democratic foundation
to the breaking point…

We’re headed for a breakdown
the wheel of time spins us into the darkness
unstable powers abound, time slows,
distorted reality, our new actuality

Will we find our collective turning point?
What if the desired results aren’t met?
From within the darkness…
can we find the light?

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Wheels of Time by Duane L Herrmann

There are anniversaries that mark centuries. Awareness of these, one gains understanding of one’s place is history. Members of the Bahá’í Faith recently marked two such anniversaries: the births of the Herald and Prophet-Founder of their faith. Though only two centuries ago (every religion has to begin some time), the changes in that time have been massive: steam power, flight through the air and space, the contracting of the globe to a single neighborhood, and today, with zoom, anyone is just a computer screen away. Two hundred years ago our everyday life would have been a fairy tale miracle.

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A World in Motions by Geoff Le Pard

Lazarus Pomegranate, High Factotum of Little Tittweaking’s science faculty launched his novelty invention prize to much fanfare. There were many entries seeking to meet the one requirement: to create a perpetual motion machine. Some went old school with spinning wheels and clicking clogs, some were more hi-tech, amalgamating the latest developments in antigravity Pilates and bifurcating voting patterns. The winner, which the judges considered best embodied Little Tittweaking’s motto – Life is like a sewer: what comes out depends on what goes in – continued to produce an endless stream of little turds despite everyone’s best efforts to turn it off.

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Halloween City Planner by Gary A. Wilson

So, my options range from fully-cancel to doing nothing. Both are too extreme, a straight jacket of safety or the risks of chaos running free.

We know that tales of razor blades and needles in candy were mostly urban myths, but are the current reports of fentanyl disguised as candy true or just more politically motivated media-hype?

Halloween is supposed to be playfully scary, not a modern Russian-roulette with candy.

A city-sanitized celebration would surely fail, but what if parents or schools hosted the parties with known safe-sourcing? Would and should other parents trust them?

Best call our attorney.

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Hallowe’en Wheelies by Bill Engleson

Gaylord Hawksbury struggled out of his grave on Monday night. It was the first Hallowe’en after his expiration. He preferred expiration to death. Death always seemed so final. Expiration was like a carton of milk…the date of expiration was flexible.

Gaylord appreciated flexibility.

In the graveyard, Lucas Wallenby, a smartass thirteen-year-old was grave-hopping.

Gaylord hovered above his tombstone and watched Lucas, a local skateboarder, wheel through the cemetery, clipping stones, flying high, fast and loose.

“Damn kids, these days,” he bellowed, shocking Lucas in the middle of a backside heelflip, causing Lucas to crash onto Governor Edgar Baxter’s headstone.

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The Wheel Keeps Turning by Sweeter Than Nothing

A life is taken, a life is given and so the cycle continues. 

Not many people would admit to liking being Death, but I do. I am not a gruesome monster here to feast on your flesh. I am here to help and guide confused and lost souls into a world far greater than this. 

The bad side of my job is gathering souls for recycling from the ether and bringing them to life. Sure the humans are ecstatic with their newborn but I know the suffering they will endure in life until I can guide them home again.

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Wheel Keeps Going by ladyleemanila

Fiery and fascinating is what I’m hoping
Claiming a masterpiece I could sing for hours
As I create something, interpretation is open
With stretched imagination, scene is flowing
Seek and I shall find rainbow powers
As the wheel keeps going, my pride’s glowing
Make or break, ours, yours or theirs
My closet is full of creation at the moment
Waiting for critique from my peers
Staying at home this is one way of coping
Creating something or doing some repairs
With clay in my hands and frog’s croaking
And in the afternoon, enjoy the rain showers
Fiery and fascinating

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Spinning Our Wheels by Nancy Brady

The prompt is given; the wheels start spinning around in my brain. Ruminating for a day or two, I consider ideas. I discard one idea in favor of another. Finally, I begin to write, fleshing out the details, and then editing.

Meanwhile, in our cellar, Rob plays with his British locomotives, their wheels running around and around the English countryside. Starting at the station, the engine and its cars filled with coal pass the forest filled with deer, the lake, frothy with waves, and the stone circle. The locomotive continues on returning to the station once again to refuel.

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The Wheels of the Limo by Norah Colvin

“The wheels of the bus go —. No, wait. The wheels of the limo go round and round, round and round —”
“Why’d ya stop?”
“I didn’t stop. We’re stuck.”
“But the wheels are turning.”
“Must be something underneath. Okay. Everybody out.”
Teddy, Ollie, Ellie, Monkey and Bunny piled out. They watched as Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to check underneath.
“There’s a rock,” said Lucy. She reached under, withdrew the culprit, and hurled it into the shrubs.
“All aboard!” she called.
The passengers settled back in, and everyone sang, “The wheels of the limo …”

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Rollin Fer Norah Colvin by A. Kid

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Ain’t no fear a-showin
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Get that pen a-flowin
Raw lit!

Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Get them ideas growin
Let them stories keep unfoldin
Raw lit!

Through work and play and life-stuff
keep on writin, hang tough
Buildin a story bit by bit.
then comes more revision
choosin words fer their precision
Cuz only 99 words will fit.

Write ‘em down, cross ’em out
Cross ’em out, write ’em down
Write ‘em down, cross ’em out
Raw lit

Keep writin’, writin’, writin’
Though yer muse is fightin
No need ta be frightened
Raw lit!

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Spin-A-Thon by Reena Saxena

steel your resolve, the wheel keeps spinning
race against fears, step up acceleration
swear love forever, or revenge in indignation
Challenge destiny, the wheel keeps spinning

race against fears, step up acceleration
conquer the world as you know it
Challenge destiny, the wheel keeps spinning
you know not where it leads, but keep running

conquer the world as you know it
steel your resolve, the wheel keeps spinning
you know not where it leads, but keep running
swear love forever, or revenge in indignation

I call it Time, you may choose another name
It’s the universe, everything is spinning

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Non-stop Thinking by Sadje

The wheels turn in my mind as it thinks unceasingly. Take a pause or a break, I advise it sagaciously but often to no avail.
Only when I am deeply engrossed in another activity that my brain stops this incessant cycle of thinking. Sometimes I tire of this and try to divert it to more relaxing activities, but it likes to spin like rat on a treadmill all the time.
What’s wrong with thinking, you question!
Nothing at all, if it doesn’t go around in circles and keeps on creating questions and answers to problems that don’t yet exist!

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Our Minds in Constant Motion by JulesPaige

Similar to cogs, the brain’s synapses are like wheels that have perpetual motion. Even in sleep there are visions recounted or bringing forth clues to resolve issues.

That ‘darned’ testing company was quick to process the test, quick to send the results to health care providers and quick to send an unjust bill. But not so quick to send results to the person who would have liked to know the outcome sooner than later. The CEO’s going to have their engine running after receiving the letter the customer churned out because of all the wheels not lining up right.

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Stuck in the Revolving Door by Anne Goodwin

When the vestibule is clear of people, Matty enters the space and nudges the metal bar. The compartment advances, and she with it, the brush-rimmed verticals making a satisfying shush. When open-air supplants curved walls, she stops and stands before the outside world. Five steps would take her to the rose bed but, although her nose would welcome a sniff of perfume, her feet refuse to leave the building unaccompanied. Another day, perhaps. Back through the revolving doors to the foyer. Back to the ward. Back to the empty life of the long-stay patient. Back to what she knows.

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Wheel of Freedom by Simon

The wheel keeps turning.

Yep, can see that, I wonder why?

Because that beggar turns on that wheel.

I see. How many wheels have you been turning on lately?

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Is that a question?

No.

I see.

I see a beggar turning a wheel.

Shut up! And get back to your Job every one!

The Jailer yelled at prisoners staring at the beggar somewhere far from the prison.

What’s happening? The jailer continues staring.

The beggar puts a fire on the wheel and the wheel came towards the Jail faster.

A big blast, and all the prisoners walked away free!

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Onset of Night by Chel Owens

The sky wasn’t as bright this evening.
She puttered around, feigning finding things she had forgotten she was looking for.
Ah well; it would all come to rights or she’d do without.

The stars seemed dimmer tonight.
She settled in the rocking chair, having given up on pretense. Only the cat saw, anyway.
No matter; likely, she’d get to it or it would get to her.

The sky outside looked darker.
She turned her head, and rocked to the rhythm of purring.
She’d see; the sun would come out tomorrow.

Night fell on incomplete dreams.
Worlds shifted. She slept.

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Pursuing the Dream by Margaret G. Hanna

I could read his mind.
Every afternoon he brought home the paper. Every evening, he read it. Always the same section – “Farms for Sale.”
He was looking for a farm. His farm. The farm he’d always dreamed of owning. The farm he’d left England to find. The farm he was saving every hard-earned penny for.
I could almost see the wheels spinning as he read. This one’s too expensive. This one’s too far away. This one’s got poor land.
He never stopped searching.
He found it, eventually. We moved there, raised our family there, lived out our lives there.

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The Harvest by Joanne Fisher

“The wheels keep turning, the seasons keep circling” Cindy said to herself. Another year had passed and again she watched the combine harvester move through the south field harvesting their corn. It had been a bumper crop this year, something she felt grateful for. The income from the harvest is what kept them going for the rest of the year, despite Jess’s many side projects…

“We should think about buying a new tractor.” Jess suggested.

“What? You mean you’re finally sick of trying to fix our broken one?” Cindy asked.

“A girl has to admit defeat, eventually.” Jess replied.

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And The Wheels Keep Turning by Miss Judy

Frank and Anne, best friends since grade school, graduated and got married, the wheels of life turning.
They were ecstatic when Anne gave birth to a baby girl. Then the baby died, the wheels of life turning.
Devastated and angry, they fought, Frank drank. Transcending into an abyss, a nervous breakdown sent Anne to “The Home,” Frank drank, the wheels of life turning.

Two years since Frank crawled back from the abyss, alcohol free. Anne, still at “The Home,” is a recluse, the wheels of life turning.

For better or worse, wherever our lives transcend, the wheels keep turning.

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Steady on the Wheel by Kerry E.B. Black

The weather cools, we celebrate another successful harvest, and we experience the seasonal wheel turn. Some call this a metaphor, but we dwellers of Vex Hollow know. As the earth wheels through the cosmos, and we with it, hapless holders-on at the mercy of the whims of nature, we recognize our tentative and fleeting existence.

Call us superstitious, but we acknowledge old ways. There’s a spirit within each simple seed. We give thanks for the gifts, because we’re beholden to fickle fate and are but one poor harvest from starvation.

So give thanks for staying steady on the wheel.

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Not All Wheels Turn Easily by Charli Mills

Once upon a time, I had to turn the flywheel on your truck, the old Red Rooster. A tooth was missing, and the flywheel wouldn’t turn the engine. I’d have to face blizzards, smack the hood hard to release the catch, brush the snow from the bumper, perch over the engine with a socket-wrench and manually turn the flywheel. I’d think, one day, life won’t be so damned hard. Twenty-five years later and you have a tooth missing in your brain wheel. Life’s never gonna be easy, I realize. Why didn’t I take time to enjoy the falling snow?

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Resolution Revolution (Part I) by D. Avery

Some a ya might know from Kid’s comments back at the challenge thet Kid got all cranky bout storyin an decided ta take a break at Ernie’s. Thing is, sometimes a story jist hits ya, outta nowhere.
See, Ernie was up the hill workin on a sustainable energy machine made from empty casks from his previous ennerprises. Was Curly, Kid’s pet hoglet, thet kep it turnin. All it took was a carrot on a stick an gears an axels an sech. When Curly heard Kid down below, she rocked that cask off the rails and rolled write over Kid.

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Resolution Revolution (Part II) by D. Avery

Kid was splayed out, arms an legs like spokes. Curly was squealin, Ernie was stutterin an sputterin, wonderin an prayin Kid would be all right. Kid was dead quiet didn’t utter a word fer the longest time.
Later Kid would recall it felt like spinnin, spiralin down inta a dark cave, would recall havin an epiphany a sorts. Yep, folks, the story thet hit Kid was the rebirth type. Kid got up newly resolved ta takin the wheel when it come ta story prompts, ta takin charge an steerin the storyin afore gittin flattened by a unplanned plotless tale.

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

Bones 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.

The Bone Collector by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Bog. Ravens swoop between the red dogwood branches braced in her matted hair. No one knows its original color. Bog’s hair could be stony white, the color of chalk but oils and eons of grit hide any transformation. Dry oak leaves crown her head, tattered robes flutter about her stout body. “She eats the dead,” they whisper. Bog remembers the old songs. She rattles, drums, and chants.  Like a mother lifting a babe, she collects the bones the ravens clean. She feeds on root fungus and pounded granite, waiting for a blessing.  

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Throw the Bones by Colleen M. Chesebro

The druid priest swirled and dipped in his spiritual dance to the sun’s return. His long white robes glistened in the moonlight, wraith-like.

Within the branches of the oak tree, another priest gathered the All-Heal (mistletoe). One swift slice with the golden sickle and the mistletoe fell into the shroud.

A vast pile of wood forged from the forest stood at the ready. It was time to light the fire to pay homage to the sun god.

“Throw the bones,” chanted the priest. The bones sizzled in the fire.

The next year, “throw the bones” was shortened to “bon-fire.”

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The Bones Know by Margaret G. Hanna

She could feel it in her bones. Something was wrong. She chose to ignore it, avoidance was more palatable than acknowledging.

“Always trust the bones,” Grandma Ferris used to say, but then she believed in fairies and the power of the rowan tree. Old wives tales from the old days.

She pushed the niggling fear to the back of her mind and got on with life.

“What’s that?” her husband said one night; they were in bed.

“Nothing,” she replied. But she knew it wasn’t “nothing.” It was something.

She knew it was cancer before the doctor told her.

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Bone Shakers by Jenny Logan

Bone Shakers were sweets sold in the UK during the mid-80s. They consisted of a coloured, plastic coffin containing tooth-breaking hard candy shaped like bones. The candy pieces could be fitted together to make an entire skeleton. I never managed this because several sets were required for completion and I always ate mine lickety-split.

My best friend, Melanie, and I were obsessed with them. We lived in a remote village in the Cotswolds and they were a rarity for us, nay a delicacy.

I wish they were still available and I wish I knew how to find Melanie again.

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Good Bones, Ghosts and Black Cats by Miss Judy

Alice had always admired the old Victorian with its wraparound porch, pitched roof, and turrets. Vacant since the Frank’s moved away, people said it was haunted. Alice saw potential, a happy home for her and Tommy.

Home Inspector Willis reported, “It needs lots of work but has good bones.”

Offer accepted. Deal done.
Just days before Halloween, Alice opened the door to their new home, a cold wind permeated their skin.

“Wow, Mom, that was weird.”

To not worry Tommy, “No worries, son, probably a broken window.”
Then Alice spotted it, the black cat sat grinning on the stairs.

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A Grave Concern by Eliza Seymour

Claire was in a cemetery, which was odd; she had no idea how she’d got there. The moon was hidden by clouds, but she could just make out the name on the closest headstone. It was her name. It was her date of birth. What was going on?

Two figures stood beside a nearby tree. The translucent man nudged the grey-faced woman wearing a bustle.

‘What’s wrong with her?’ the recently-deceased man asked.

‘Don’t mind her,’ the older ghost said. ‘Been here for weeks. Hit her head just before she passed. Short term memory loss – keeps forgetting she’s dead.’

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No Bones About It by Bill Engleson

Gilbert woke up one morning and vowed to always tell the truth. He felt compelled to tell Lucille who replied, ”Seriously, Gilbert, no one wants to hear the truth. Truth is like teeth decay. It hurts. What planet do you live on?”

Suddenly Gilbert was concerned that he may not be living on the right planet. This was a new worry.

Gilbert, of course, had many things to worry about and the addition of one extra worry was concerning.

“The truth is, my darling, when I lie, my bones rattle.”

With that lie, his skeleton shook violently into dust.

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Michael Plays the Age Card by Sue Spitulnik

Wearing Army t-shirt and shorts, Michael sat in a wheelchair on stage, his leg stumps showing so all entering the Walter Reed activity room could see. He spoke. “We soldiers share the experience of missing skin and bones. At twice your age I lived the hopelessness and depression you may be feeling.” He turned sideways in the chair, swung himself to the floor, and put on the prosthetic legs lying there. Then using the chair for support, he stood up and walked around. “I’m proof you can heal and become friends with whatever prosthetic you need. You’ve got this.”

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Final Resting Place by Anne Goodwin

Fortified by Sarah Nelson’s famous gingerbread, we continued our pilgrimage to William’s grave. A balustrade of rainbow waterproofs blocked our view initially; we waited patiently for our turn. In the thirty years since we last visited the shrine, the Lake District and poetry had become much more diverse.

Shuffling forward, however, we saw it wasn’t Wordsworth who had pulled the crowd. We asked a woman taking selfies, “What did he write, this John Kent?” She seemed to think it a joke. Meanwhile, one of the kids had googled him: Britain’s Black policeman died here in this county in 1886.

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Bones by Ann Edall-Robson

Fallen leaves danced in the breeze, tranquil thoughts of how their business dream came to life here. The crunching sound of dried leaves and grass filtered upwards as the couple strolled towards their new property. Inquiries in the nearby town came away with a mixture of what had happened to the man who lived on this land. They were not deterred. Stepping off the path to pick a dried seed pod, a snapping sound made her look down. Neither expected to see anything but a broken branch, and most certainly not bones blending in with the fall ground colours.

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Bodies by Joanne Fisher

“So what can you tell me?” The Chief Inspector asked.

“It’s a burial ground for a large number of bodies. The oldest date back twenty years, some are recent. This city has had a serial killer for the last two decades we knew nothing about.”

“I guess it’ll be a while before any of them are identified.”

“We’re still digging up more bones. We have no idea how many people are buried there.”

“Okay good work. Carry on.”

“Yes Sir.”

The Chief Inspector walked to his car. He would have to find somewhere else to bury the bodies now.

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The Ghost Bones by Hugh W. Roberts

When I returned, she wasn’t there; only her bones remained.

The floorboards still creaked, and Mrs Sinclair was still next door.

“When is your Aunt Marjorie due back?” she’d asked.

Shrugging my shoulders, I wish Mrs Sinclair had minded her own business, but I had invited her in.

The whiteness of the human bones wasn’t as bright as the white light that appeared when Aunt Marjorie killed me in her apartment or when I killed Mrs Sinclair for murdering my aunt.

Now we roam the earth as murderous ghosts. Yes, ghosts are murderers.

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Something More by D. Avery

At the helm of Skipper’s boat, it’s more than chill headwinds bringing tears to my eyes. A corncob pipe rolls on the dash as the boat plunges and heaves, plunges and heaves through the chop.

A solid sure boat. Skipper built it himself.

“Boats— just skin and bones. And something more,” Skipper would say, twinkling.

Skipper’s light has gone out.

I idle the engine.

“Ashes to ashes.”

I dump his remains into the waves. Then his corncob pipe. I watch pipe and ash and bone bob and sink before steering towards shore with a following sea.

“Fair winds, Skipper.”

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Fish Bone by Tessa Dean

As a very young child, I was eating what was supposed to be boneless fish. Whoever did the filleting missed a large piece of bone unbeknownst to my mom. She cooked the fish and served it up. I began eating quickly and suddenly felt something hard stick in my esophagus. I couldn’t swallow it down, and it wasn’t coming back up. I was in a full panic, as were my parents. I can’t at this time remember how they finally got that piece of fish bone out of my throat, but they did, or I wouldn’t be here today.

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Wishes by Nancy Brady

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride…” which comes from a nursery rhyme is something Mom would often say when one of my sisters or I would express an outlandish desire or wish. Outrageous wishes often go unfulfilled, but that doesn’t stop us from wishing, and that never stopped my sisters and me from begging for the turkey’s wishbone every year at Thanksgiving. We’d make a wish, break it in two, with the winner ending up with the larger half. Now I save them for grandchildren; I currently have several wishbones. My wish is to see the grandkids soon.

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Literalism Unbound by Geoff Le Pard

Norman-Alphonse Fornorfolk, Little Tittweaking’s resident literalist helped residents with all their metaphorical problems. When Ben Zardrine arrived, seeking the quietude, free bus pass and access to a badly maintained cemetery for which Little Tittweaking was famed he never thought he would need Norm-Al’s services. But the bones he harvested for his work as an ossification sculptor proved stubbornly resistant to his blandishments. He turned to Norm-Al Fornorfolk.

‘Why won’t they hold their shape?’

‘They’re bone idle, Ben.’

‘Why is that?’

‘No idea. But fear not,’ Norm-Al wasn’t easily defeated, ‘I’ll bone up on the reasons.’

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Bones by ladyleemanila

In the spirit of the past
Pray that it was not so glum
Birds flew and events had passed
Some tune I couldn’t even hum
No need to run after me
Lost to the world but can’t be free
Willowy tree outside my door
Myths of failure that I could score
Growling dog calling for his bones
Water tricking down those stones
One two three and I’m off
Growling dog calling for his bones
Yet I am not ready to scoff
In the spirit of the past
One two three and I’m off
Birds flew and events had passed

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The Bone Blesser by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Hoade, the girl who stole an orox calf. No one in the longhouse heard her enter. She was a flame-haired orphan the Bone Collector salvaged after a raid. Hoade bathed in sacred springs, her head adorned with daisy chains. The calf nibbled at the daisies and grew. Across the middle plains, across the ocean, across the new lands, the eternal child and her ancient calf followed her people. Bog remained old-world-bound, fading into legend and bone dust carried by carrion. Hoade trailed the settlers, blessing the bones until they killed her orox.

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Bone Surprise by Duane L Herrmann

Hidden in the grass, fully articulated, curled as if asleep, lie the bones of a fawn. It was not killed by a predator, in which case the bones would have been scattered, but, died sleeping. The deer here have a disease, now, which is always fatal. Will they all die off? No one knows. Sport hunters will be sad, as well as those who only watch for entertainment, but those who have crops, or flowers, will not miss them. And, there will be less wrecks, and human death, from deer collisions. How will this impact other spieces? Who knows?

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Our Bones by Sadje

Most humans have 206 bones, the largest in our thigh to the smallest in our ears.

The importance of healthy bones becomes apparent as we grow older. Broken bones, deformities, and arthritic bones/ joints are what make us realize that we are aging.

Three fractures in my left foot, 3 years ago were a warning to me. Luckily it healed well In the stipulated timeline. But now I’m very careful and I have vitamin D, and calcium supplements to prevent further damage to my bones.

I would advise you all to look after your bone- health to live healthy lives.

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“I think we are in rats’ alley, Where the dead men lost their bones” (TS Eliot The Wasteland) or Ode to Music Critics by Doug Jacquier

The Barbary apes of music seek to speak with the tongues of angels but they have not love, and are a mere sounding brass, a clanging cymbal of these times, mocking the heroes on whose shoulders they stand and instead playing jacks with their remains but The Day Of The Dead is coming to them and no-one will come to unwrap their paper-thin skeletons of ignorance and ponder the net worth of the chemical elements in their fatuous diatribes against the weight of things eternal because their words will be lost in the ashes of their unremembered empty souls.

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Gus by Nancy Brady

When the builders dug the foundation of the new house on Sunset, the backhoe uncovered human bones. No challenge was made, and construction went forward.

The house belonged to Annie’s parents, who loved their new home.

One night, Annie went down to the basement instead of being in bed. There, she met a young man named Gus. He knew more about the toys down there than she did. He showed her a train, which was stored in a box.

Gus wasn’t scary; he was Annie’s friend. Nightly, she returned to the basement to play until one day she didn’t.

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Make No Bones About It by Norah Colvin

“Go and get changed.”

“But, Muuuum —”

“You will not go to the party dressed like that.”

“Why?”

“It’s not appropriate.”

“But it’s dress up. It’s Halloween!”

“Yes! A skeleton or a ghost. Not a princess. Princesses don’t do Halloween.”

“If I can’t be a princess, I’m not —” The door slammed to punctuate her sentence perfectly.

Mum shook her head. She was teased enough, without being a princess on Halloween.
The following morning, when bones found in the middle of a mystery sticky stinky sludge were identified as her bullies, Margie and Mum gave thanks for their disagreement.

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Calamity Cules! by JulesPaige

The rat ate the poisoned cheese. And being the prankster that I am, I let the body decay and hid the bones in a velvet sack in the storage area under the stairs of the abandoned home on the hill.

Everyone had hoped to find some hidden treasure. I found some old writing paper, and with India ink wrote out clues to the velvet bag. Then I, being up to no good, passed out the clues on All Hallows Eve. Let’s search on Halloween night instead of collecting candy! Only I knew the treasure was the rat’s bones! Bwahahaha!

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Seeing the Invisible (a True Tale) by The Curious Archaeologist

He thought it would work, he knew the strange, invisible, light, affected a photographic plate, and if it did work, the implications were incredible.

He couldn’t do it himself, he had to operate the generator, so he went to the laboratory door and called for his wife.

“Could you put your hand there, my dear?” he asked.

She held her hand still as the machine buzzed.

An hour later he showed her the picture, Frau Röntgen almost fainted.

“I have seen my death!” she gasped, as she saw the bones of her own hand in the first X-ray photograph.

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When Bone Goes Bad by Gary A. Wilson

“Nurse Elsa! It’s a nice day, let’s enjoy the porch.”

“It’s good to see you, Fredrick. Healthy still?”

“Yes, my surgery was a huge success. How are you? Your cane suggests…”

“I have the same condition.”

“Bone spurs in your L4 and L5? I’m so sorry to hear this.”

“The pain is crippling, but the surgery….”

“Ah, it scares you. It was your encouragement that got me through it.”

“So you said. My Henry passed, eight months ago, leaving me – alone. I thought of you.”

“Take my hand Elsa. It would be my honor to get you through this.”

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Bones by SweeterThanNothing

“These old bones ain’t meant for working no more” the old woman’s hands were knurled, bent and broken by work and time. Yet still she soldiered on, creating the most beautiful dream catchers I had ever seen.

I wasn’t going to stop today, I don’t have the time or the money but something called to me.

The sight of that dream catcher in the window, golden beads reflecting the sunlight, bleached wishbone dangling beneath, swaying in the gentle breeze. It took my breath away. It’s exactly what I need to keep the nightmares away.

Tonight, I will finally sleep.

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The Bone Transcriber by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Nat. She’s schizophrenic, a modern woman haunted by stories inscribed in bones. Forgotten traumas. Periodically, they lock her up, but she returns to the streets. For a Starbuck’s macchiato, she’ll read your bones, heal the wounds of your ancestors. “Yester-years I collected the bones to clean them of suffering,” she explains to bystanders, police, and psychiatrists who carry the dirtiest of all bones. “I sent Hoade to bless the bones, but they killed her companion, creating profane monsters instead.” They wash the homeless woman’s dirty hair. Sometimes it’s white. Sometimes it’s red.

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Here Lies; Lies Here by D. Avery

Kid set out ta corral a story fer the collection. Might a been a might skeered.

“Ah’m chilled ta the bone.”

But jist usin the word don’t make a story. So Kid pressed on, rode inta the gatherin gloamin.

“Gloamin? More like gloomy. Yikes!”

Kid found a graveyard!

“I found a boneyard!”

Kid had come upon the remnants a stories whut got started but not finished, parts a stories thet didn’t survive revisions.

“Whut’s this stone say? ‘Here lies the little darlins’.”

But Kid warn’t skeered. Figgered it were all a natcheral part a givin life ta a story.

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Bone Pickin by D. Avery

“Pal, does that up there count as a story? Nuthin much happened. Was jist you narratin an me exclaimin.”

“Well, ya set out an ya come back. Even got over bein skeered. In 99 words.”

“That’s purty bare-boned, alright. Was purty tense fer a bit too. Still, now I’m tense bout the structure a that so-called story.”

“Git past tense. Relax, stories take all kindsa forms. Kin even be all dialogue. Ya wanna try basic story anatomy? Try the story spine challenge at the Cowsino. Kin go over 99 too.”

“Put some meat on the bones?”

“So ta speak.”

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

I See the Light in You 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.

Henry Could See the Light by Colleen M. Chesebro

Henry the cat, lived at the nursing home for over two years. He was a typical tabby cat, adored by the patients.

The first thing I noticed about him was his connection to those who would soon pass. The cat had the uncanny ability to see the light in people. Somehow, he noticed the shadows of death gathering, as if their life-light dimmed in intensity.

The next thing I noticed was that Henry stayed with his patient, offering comfort with a cuddle and a purr, keeping vigil at their bedside.

Today, Henry curled up beside me. I felt peace.

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Gran’s Inside Light by Norah Colvin

Jamie squeezed his hands and clenched his knees, as if that might still his churning belly and stop his heavy heart from falling. Like recycled paper, his thoughts were all mushed up. They said Gran was sick. She mightn’t get better. What did that even mean? Gloom dragged his face into a frown.

“You can see her now,” said Mum. Jamie looked up, questioning. Mum simply nodded. Jamie tentative step-by-stepped, hopeful, fearful, step-by-step.

“Gran?” he whispered. Dull eyes flickered. This isn’t Gran. Gran’s eyes sparkled.

Jamie trembled. “Where’s Gran’s inside light?” Mum hugged him. “In you and everywhere now.”

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A Shining Light by Sadje

It’s easy to see the light in an innocent heart of a child. They are pure, uncorrupted by worldly desires and ambitions. I am always attracted by their sweet smiles, their naughty and mischievous looks, and their total faith in those who they trust and love unconditionally.

My oldest grandson is almost 13 now. He should be more worldly-wise now, but he has this naivety that’s so endearing. He trusts everyone, often to be hurt when they betray him. He is everyone’s well-wisher and sometimes is snubbed because of his well-meaning advice. But his light keeps on shining bright.

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Bringing Light and Joy by Nancy Brady

My first child, a son, was perfect, making me a mom. The best advice I got was from my obstetrician. When asked, he said, “You feed him, you change him, you hold him, and you love him.”

In those first few weeks, when unsure, that’s what I did; it worked. My child became the light of my life. He brought joy and laughter, and my nickname for him said it best.

He and his wife recently had their first child, a son. Does he have the same insecurities as I?

off-key lullabies
will my son call his son
sunshine

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Someone Sees Your Light by Gary A. Wilson

“Oscar? You’re upset. What’s wrong son?”

“The boys at school again. They said that I’m DS-broken. I don’t feel broken, but I want to be normal.”

“I’m sorry. Do these boys trash-talk others?”

“Yes, they do it to Shelly who’s black and Curtis because of his wheelchair, but neither of them need special help with fractions. Maybe I am broken.”

“Nah – they’re just jerks. They mock for fun and ignore the loving and hard-working side of someone, which reminds me, Mazie’s mom called to thank you for helping her with multiplication tables. Sounds like proof that you’re not broken.”

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I See the Light in You by Christine Bialczak

Billy walked sullenly, head hung low. 

He hadn’t meant to look so stupid in front of his friends.

How could a book report turn into a horror show within minutes?

Dennis was how!

Billy didn’t know they were reading the same book and he certainly didn’t know that his abridged version was not only the easier version but it kept some of the best details out! Sharon ran up to Billy as he walked along.

“I thought your report was better! You enjoyed reading and it showed! I see the light in you when you talk, more than Dennis!”

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An Encounter by D. Avery

She searched her reflection in the bathroom mirror, looked deep into her own eyes. She didn’t like what she saw. Still…

‘Aanii,’ the old woman had said. ‘I see the light in you.’ What a strange way to greet someone, someone you don’t even know.

“I don’t see it,” she said to her reflection, her sad dark eyes staring back at her. But she couldn’t forget the twinkle in the old woman’s soft gaze.

She had seen a light in her.

That was something.

She put the pills back in the vial, put the vial back in the cabinet.

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You Glowed by Duane L Herrmann

I was sitting in a room with chairs in a circle, only about half of them filled. A person came in who none of us had seen before. He looked around, then sat down beside me. We became friends. Later, I asked him, why did he choose to sit beside me.

“Because you glowed.”

Me? I’m not a light bulb. I wasn’t even having a good day. Two publishers had canceled three book contracts, an editor sent a scathing response to a manuscript, and my private retreat space had been visually invaded. I was miserable. Yet, I glowed???

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The Light Long Lost Down Time’s Tunnel by Bill Engleson

I so wanted it to be that way, to see the light shining in you. How beautiful that would be. There would only be the glow of the other, not the inferno of mistrust, of envy, but, rather, a human brilliance.

I did want that.

We sat at your table once, devoured your offerings, and radiated communal friendship, me, with her, you with her.

There was a bond.

A link between.

That evening often reappears.

In memory.

Memories crossroads.

I cannot speak for you.

Our tongues do not intersect these days.

For me, however, I will feast on that.

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Him Indoors by ladyleemanila

by the light of the moon
you and me in trance
in your arms I swoon
after all the dance

you and me in trance
as we rock with the boat
after all the dance
together we’re afloat

as we rock with the boat
ring in hand you kneeled
together we’re afloat
tears in eyes I yield

ring in hand you kneeled
the moon as our witness
tears in eyes I yield
grateful for life’s sweetness

fly me to the moon
harvest moon like a dream
together we dance
feeling the chills in our bones
gorgeous night with you

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The Hunger Game by Hugh W. Roberts

It was the light in her eyes that lit up my life.

As she gently dragged her long fingernail over my adam’s apple to the hair on my chest, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I’d undone the buttons for temptation, and it worked.

I wasn’t shocked when she hissed, as the light in her fed our desires. I gasped when she revealed two fanged teeth behind the bright red lips of her closed mouth, even though I knew what to expect.

She never saw the wooden stake I was holding.

Now I could feast.

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Killers are People Too by Anne Goodwin

Matilda’s mother would have been shocked to learn she was sharing a room with a murderess. But Matilda’s mother never had the chance to discover that killers are people too. Although Doris seemed surly on the surface, Matilda sensed the loving spark within. When they’d shared their stories, they’d bring light to their dismal cell. They needn’t rush: they’d have months, years, to compare motives, weapons, plans. Once Matilda had taught Doris her letters, even her mother would struggle to tell them apart. They’d both broken the fifth commandment. Despite their incarceration, they’d both found freedom in their crime.

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The Night Visitor by Joanne Fisher

I woke up in the middle of the night with my neck sore on my right side. Opening my eyes, I saw there was a dark figure standing over me.

“You again? Why are you always feeding on me?” I asked.

“Because I can see the light in you.” The vampire whispered in answer, which was an unexpected response.

“I thought you vampires were creatures of darkness.” I stated.

“Yes we are, but we are still always craving for the light.” The vampire explained leaning over again. I felt her cold breath on my neck as I drifted off.

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Unreachable by Charli Mills

Unwilling to medicate, you say profit-seeking pharmaceutical bullshit billionaires invented diabetes. I have no healthcare schedule to follow. There’s nothing you will consider. The optometrist leans in, showing scans of your damaged eyes. “Sight goes quickly. What about your shooting matches?” He knows you are unwilling to accept a disease you don’t believe is real. You listen. My hope surges until you say your blood sugars only appear high because they changed the test again. TBIs alter cognition, mood, and, apparently, the endocrine system. No matter how much your brain changes, I can still see the light in you.

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I See the Light in You by Jenny Logan

In my experience, focusing on people’s better sides can go one of two ways. It can lead to them living out the version of themselves one chooses to see and speak over their lives, or it can result in one being exploited.

Talking to a friend recently, we both concluded we prefer to avoid becoming cynical and we will keep trusting our acquaintances, hoping for the best and accepting any negative consequences as “things we cannot control”.

Maybe the light in others—even at their worst—is to serve as a test of our commitment to press on regardless.

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Aanii by MarlaPaige

You speak of your video games and how you want to share that with me, even though you know I have never enjoyed the activity. I watch as you morph from the stoic adult that I know into an excited child; words cascading from your mouth, tumbling over each other in the space between us, vying to be the first to reach my ears. The smile snaking across your face is huge and sprawling, your eyes shining with the light of pure joy; silently watching, I see the real you. I smile and nod – for you, I will try.

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A Love Story by Margaret G. Hanna

It was love at first sight.

She was standing in the middle of the flower patch, hair in disarray, dirt on her nose, waving a pair of nasty shears and scolding me for cussing out the horse. I saw a fire in her eyes — determination, stubbornness — and I knew immediately she was the one. We married three months later. She stood by side through thick and thin, through good times and bad.

Forty years later, I sit here, you lying in the hospital bed, I holding your hand, watching that light fade from your eyes. My heart breaks.

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Gerties’ Gifted Power (Spot On? With Shadorma) by JulesPaige

Stupendous
The islands’ gardens
Full of life
Full of light
I seek the shore where the clouds
Ooze smiles like toothpaste

Each garden, some protected by trees, others with ponds that allow you to walk to the middle or those near the sea waving pampas grasses. I enjoy company and other times I wish to be alone – arms in a sun salutation. I believe each of my husbands shines a different spectrum of healing light my way. Giving me strength to pursue my dreams of teaching all my girls, that the love light shining within can brighten anyone’s day.

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Constant Light Within by Ann Edall-Robson

The trail leads to a barely visible path of light-heartedness. The morning’s glow shimmers across the frosted grass. Not one step is the same no matter how many times a footprint is left. Silently the surroundings speak loud to those who listen, observing the cherished stroll to gather one’s thoughts, harbouring them within the soul. Nature’s signs are all around, while the land seeps into the heart, its aroma lingers, and the grounding is victorious beyond normal thoughts. Those who get it, get it, the connection is their constant light for all to see where ever they travel.

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Divine Design by Greg Glazebrook

I’d arranged some free time to take a quiet hike along the Grand River. It was a beautiful day, overcast but bursting with shades of fall in the crisp afternoon air. I stepped from the trail to examine a fallen tree, gnarled and weathered shades of sun-bleached gray concealing a punch of colour nestled within. Red, orange and yellow waves of an inner light radiating outwards across a monochromatic backdrop. I ponder the moments when each broke free from captivity, falling on the autumn wind before congregating in this nook. A series of seemingly random acts so divinely orchestrated.

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It’s All Part of the Spectrum by Geoff Le Pard

Trudy, Maddy and Deepti, the three Grace sisters are the much loved owners of Little Tittweaking’s Rainbow Emporium where, for a small fortune anyone can acquire a weather event of their choice. Since the pandemic, however, the dearth of silver linings has seen business drop because it’s said the bespoke clouds no longer glow with the necessary internal hope. The use of flaming sambucas stopped after the sambucas complained and currently hopes rest on utilising the inexhaustible supplies of hot air that emanate from the local MP’s surgery, if a way can be found to filter out the hypocrisy.

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Final Moments by Reena Saxena

It’s almost dawn, and embers in the fireplace glow in the dark. Spent fuel lends its last bits of energy to the world.

I guess you know that the doctors have given up. Else, what could make you tell me all those stories, as if you are rewriting the truth? Tell me … when we’ve always been on opposite sides of the fence?

No, in this case it is erasing falsehood to reveal the truth. It sounds like a dying confession, but actually speaks of bygone eras with tainted history.

I see the light in you replacing darkness within.

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A Light Shines Behind Sad Eyes by Miss Judy

She appears a mere child, sitting on the sidewalk, a mass of matted hair hanging over sad tired eyes. A sign sits propped in her lap. I drop coins in her cup. Meekly she says, “thank you.”

I ask, “Can I buy you breakfast?”

Skeptical but hungry, “Yes, please.”

Over breakfast she tells me her story. It is sad but typical. A broken home, alcoholic mother, abusive father, she was abandoned.

I tell her about myself. We are kindred spirits. We are comfortable together. I tell her, “I see a light in you. Let me help.” Her eyes sparkle.

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Food Fer Thought by D. Avery

“Kid, has yer flashlight problem worked itsef out yet?”

“Nope.”

“Told Shorty bout it?”

“Nope.”

“Well, I did.”

“Dang ya Pal!”

“Shouldn’t keep Shorty in the dark. Anyways, she’s thinkin mebbe she kin hep lighten yer load. So ta speak.”

“Whut kin Shorty do?”

“She’s cookin up some a her famous buckaroo chili, thet’s whut. An she’s got Pepe’s makin some beans.”

“How’s that gonna hep?”

“Might pervide the motivation ta do whut’s gotta git done, if ya know what I mean. Put a little fire inside, mebbe there’ll be light at the end a the tunnel.”

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

For the Water 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.

Weather Report, Water Blessings by JulesPaige

Today it is raining, a gentle water falling from the sky.
Not an angry torrent or brute strength bent on destruction.
For a good part of this day life falls from above,
The clouds have let their bottom silver linings drop open.

Rich treasure, liquid drops fall feeding the land, making
Competing concentric circles in any water they land in.
The earth drinks slowly and deeply.
For this water we are extremely grateful.

The coffee that has been brewed with water is done.
The beans, their plants were grown with water.

Autumn rain is blessing the farmers’ fall harvests.

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For Want of Water by Margaret G. Hanna

We watched the slough dry up. We watched the soil blow away. We watched clouds roll in with empty promises of rain. We watched our crops struggle, shrivel and die.
We watched families move away. We watched businesses close. We watched villages disappear.
We feared the well would go dry. We feared rain would never come again.
This prairie that once held promises of bumper crops and full granaries was now only a distant memory, if it had ever existed.
And all for lack of rain. For lack of water. For lack of caring how we treated the land.

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Aquarius by Kerry E.B. Black

Born into a winter when the three rivers froze solid, the pretty little Aquarius charmed all who dove into her ice storm eyes. As she grew, so did her charms, from honey-wheat hair and reedy figure to tinkling voice and buoyant cheer. To have her as part of any team meant success. From trouble shooting to efficient enacting of a plan, she waded through issues to bail out even the worst situation.

Lovely Aquarius, with water lilies and marigolds threaded through her beachy waves, donned a new mantle, ‘clean water’ her battle cry. Her leadership swelled awareness and resources.

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For the Water by Sadje

People can sell their souls for a glass of fresh water

They’d murder to quench their raging thirst with water

What flows unchecked through our open taps

Can fill a pail for someone who needs clean water

We use water to wash our cars and driveways when

Some people have no drinking water for miles around them

Can you comprehend this dichotomy between people

Those from rich countries and those belonging to poor countries

Where children cry and can only be given a few drops of water

And some water their lawns with sprinklers on 24/7

Can you imagine?

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Water, Water, Everywhere by ladyleemanila

Water, water, I love water everywhere
Seas, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, pools
We’ll enjoy splashing around, fair and square
Playing in the rain, relaxing in whirlpools
We drink water, so refreshing
Our body needs water, also when we exercise
Good for our spirit, stops us from ageing
Nice to go sailing, make sure we don’t capsize
Swimming in the sea, that’s my favourite
Watching the sun as it rises and sets
Having a picnic or an elaborate banquet
Did I tell you about memorable sunsets?
Aquatic life is quite entertaining and fun
Like what we feel when the lottery’s won

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Let’s Go Kayaking by Sue Spitulnik

The promise of colorful leaves decorating the hillsides, soaring eagles, no waves from loud boats, and few other humans had the veteran friends loading kayaks, paddles, and life-preserver belts into pick-ups. They were looking forward to a relaxing day of natural beauty on Hemlock Lake in western New York State. The lake shores were undeveloped except for a small park at the north end with a gravel boat launch and another launch at the south end. The lack of dwellings was for the good of the water, as it was a protected reservoir for the residents of nearby Rochester.
Author’s Note: Hemlock Lake is a real lake.

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Working Together by Ann Edall-Robson

Spitting out a mouth full of lake water, they watched the water run free through the hose into the now gravity-fed water trough. The last two years had been spent planning and trying different techniques so they could utilize this section of pasture for the cattle without damage to the lakeshore. It all came together with the help of their contacts within the local watershed group. The ranch now had water for the cattle and the group was spending their time doing riparian work along the shore. They’d worked together, creating a plan for the good of all.

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For the Water by Tessa Dean

We were told to think about saving the world’s commodities. I started to think about what I could do to save some of the world’s commodities. This is something I never did worry about. I always believed we would have whatever we needed.

I live in an area battered by drought. I have a garden but getting enough rainwater to sustain it was hard. I started to think about all the water we poured down the drain for baths, etc. We could collect it in tubs and jugs after a bath and use it to water the plants daily.

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Weight of Water (BOTS) by Kerry E.B. Black

She walked over a mile each way to collect water, the liquid of life. Two handmade buckets slung from a yoke weighed on her neck and shoulders, but she bore the burden proudly. She knew the value of her cargo. With drought a looming adversary for all of Africa, she felt herself lucky.

The source of the water shortage mattered less than the fact of it. Who cared about government mismanagement, climate change, little money for infrastructure and support, or corruption when dying of thirst?

Worse, she heard by 2050, more than 5 billion people may face water scarcity.

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But Not a Drop to Drink by Anne Goodwin

My youngest shits brown liquid into the – what can I call it? – lake, ocean, once-was fertile fields. Back in the village, he ran on chubby legs. Now, flopped in my arms, he whimpers, speaks only with his eyes. “You prayed for rain, Mama. Did you pray too hard?”

Forgetting her thirst, my youngest seeks happy endings in the clouds. Yesterday, she conjured a helicopter but where, amid the mass of makeshift shelters, could it land? Today she wants a bucket. Or a pan. “Allah is merciful,” she says. She proffers the cooking pot for the water He’ll surely send.

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Water Issue by Duane L Herrmann

“What’s the matter?”

“Because I recognize the precious value of water, I never think ‘it’s only water.’ When I take water, from whatever source, I use all that I take and take only what I use. Water is precious. Water is life. Not all people have access to clean water. I deplore that, so I use only what I need. I grew up with limited water, so this is natural for me. I am bewildered and angered by any waste of water.”

“You can’t control other people.”

“But, I can be an example.”

“True.”

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Hacking Plastic by Frank James

School started and so did science fair. The teacher, Agnus Bauer assigned dates sending pupils off to positively impact the environment. Chloe thought, recalling Mr. Milton’s back porch.

The fair arrived, and She held up a water bottle filled with sand and pebbles. A clamp sprouted from the plastic carcass. “I did it for the water,” Chloe exclaimed to her teacher.

“But, we have treated water,” the teacher said. Chloe illustrated how Mr. Milton poured paint and oil in his yard. Teacher asked if she made it for him.

Chloe grinned and replied, “I’m attaching it to my faucet.”

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For the Water by Charli Mills

Each woman thrust a fistful of tobacco medicine to the dimming sky. Gichigame, the biggest of the “greats,” glistened below. They followed the road. The setting sum smeared colors like jam across the horizon as the small band of woman marched in skirts and boots. Apricot, raspberry, blueberry. All the colors of forests and lakes and sweet summer fruits swished in their skirts. Above the crunching beneath soles, a song lifted. Nee-ee-bay… Gee-za-gay-ee-goo. A lilting lullaby to Nibi, the water. The women sang, holding high their prayers.

For mama’s health. Please don’t let Dad die, yet. For the water.

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News by Simon

There will be a time when human is going to adapt to live without water. Or more likely with less water.

The toxic waste, irresponsible water usage will soon have the effect and plastic impact, the whole water system is under attack, constantly by humans, let’s see what they can do on mission “For the water.”

This is a threat only to the human species. In this machine era, we should worry more about long lasting battery, isn’t it? Now who checked the latest offer of Mamazon?

More comes after a short break, this is M0101 your machine friend.

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Water Bearer by Jenny Logan

I was born in February on the Island of Cyprus amid familial and political controversy. My brother felt unheard—he voted against another baby. It was two apiece.

Aphrodite walked out of the Mediterranean Sea there amongst dolphins. I imagined myself to be her and my identity was linked to her story. Cyprus always felt home.

Before getting married, I visited with my parents. My fiancé wanted us to consider any doubts we might be having; gallant, but not required. I walked right out of the sea again and into his arms—the goddess of love—never to return.

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AquaSynthetic: Repopulating the Ecosystem One Robot at a Time by Eliza

Moraya had been sitting on the riverbank since the city smog had mingled with the early morning mists. The sun had since passed overhead. Now it glowed behind murky clouds on the western horizon.

Moraya cast the line again and waited. Her eyes were heavy with sleep when she felt a tug, reeled it in, sighed. Another artificial fish. She tossed it back into the filth and looked at her empty bucket. The river used to be teeming with life. All she needed was one catch – one real fish. It looked like it would be another day without food.

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Small Changes by Nancy Brady

For the water, I volunteer at Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve.
For the water, I skip the straw to avoid adding plastic straws to oceans.
For the water, I no longer use shower gels formulated with micro-plastic beads.
For the water, I pick up trash on walks around the city to keep it out of the lake.
For the water, I avoid using one-time use plastic bottles that can’t be recycled.
For the water, for our children and grandchildren, I act to leave them an earth that is livable beyond my lifetime, protecting our most important resource.

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