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Bouquets

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

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

A Bouquet of Tears by Sherri Matthews

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

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

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

But it cannot be.

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

***

For Mark, dear brother. ❤

🥕🥕🥕

Hope Beneath the Loss by Ruchira Khanna

“Hi, Pink Carnations!”

“Hi, Chrysanthemums!”

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Precious Spring by Saifun Hassam

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

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

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Bundled Batch by JulesPaige

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Wild Blooms by D. Avery

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

 

wild blooms, household jarred

bear witness at the table

everyone belongs

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Tale for a Winter’s Night by Liz Husebye Hartmann

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

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

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

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

She loved chili.

🥕🥕🥕

New Bouquets at Cheever’s by Paula Moyer

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

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

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

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Sundown Stroll by Chelsea Owens

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by the darknetizen

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Robbie Cheadle

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

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

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Complexity by Reena Saxena

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

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

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

“And what would interest you?”

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

🥕🥕🥕

Finally Blooming by Frank Hubeny

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

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

That winter Alice died.

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

🥕🥕🥕

Summer Posies by Colleen Chesebro, The Fairy Whisperer

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

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

My summer posies—

awash with an early dew

standing sentinel.

A gift of fertility,

honoring the summer sun.

🥕🥕🥕

Flower Power by kate @ aroused

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Simple, Humble Things by Kerry E.B. Black

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Posey Mosey by Bill Engleson

He thinks, “I could do better.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Red Roses by Wallie and Friend

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Farewell Flowers by Anne Goodwin

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet Business by Miriam Hurdle

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Smart Home by H.R.R. Gorman

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

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

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

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

He stepped back. “It wasn’t me.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquets by Susan Sleggs

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

“Your birthday.”

“That’s next week.”

“We know. Surprise!”

“I’m going to cry.”

“Not allowed. Open the wine instead.”

“How did you get wine?”

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

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

“Really?”

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Wedding Bouquet by Hugh W. Roberts

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

With Love by Di @ Pensitivity101

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

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

‘From the garden’ she announced proudly.

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

Mr Robbins looked over at me and smiled sadly.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Love’s Bouquet by Kay Kingsley

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Special Bouquet by Norah Colvin

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Death By Roses by Sarah Whiley

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

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

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

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

“Just a hunch! Glad you like it.”

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

Feeling pleased, she didn’t notice at first.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Love & Betrayal by Anurag Bakhshi

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bitter Bouquet by Mardra Sikora

Dried petals and stems standing in clouded water greeted him.

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Bouquet by Jack Schuyler

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

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Deborah Lee

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

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

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

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

“A pungency.”

“A stench!” Jane squeals, giddy.

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

‘Morgan, they’re young, they…’

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

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

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

‘You use them to contrafabulate the listener.’

‘You made that up.’

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

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

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

‘Shut up, Logan.’

🥕🥕🥕

Catch Me If You Can by Juliet Nubel

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

[misled] by Deb Whittam

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

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Offering To The Land by Jan Malique

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by FloridaBorne

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

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

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

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

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

He’d learn to hate child support more.

🥕🥕🥕

Hi Noon at the Bouquet Corral by D. Avery

“Pal! Where’s Shorty at?”

“Whoa, Kid, what’s wrong?”

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

“So?”

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

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

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

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

“What?”

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

June 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

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

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

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

“Winter’s coming, hey,” she says.

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

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

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

“They must have just bloomed,” she says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man Glisten

A softer, gentler beard — a man who dares to glitter and reveal his man glisten. This sort of man breaks ties with traditions and expectations. It’s vulnerability. And perhaps more.

Writers explored the unusual side of what society expects of men and what men choose to do independently.

The following is based on the June 7, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about man glisten.

PART I (10-minute read)

It’s What’s Inside that Counts – Believe That If You Want by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know, Logan, I thought I’d get a tatt.’

‘Berk. That’s for teens and Maoris.’

‘Just want to be different.’

‘Don’t bother with such fripperies. Just be your weirdy self.’

‘Yeah but that doesn’t make me stand out. What if I dyed my beard?’

‘Call that a beard?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You know, the other day when that guy collapsed at work?’

‘Yeah?’

‘They shouted ‘Man down!’?’

‘Yeah?’

‘I thought someone was trying to describe your beard to someone who’d not met you.’

‘That’s not fair.’

‘It’s bum-fluff, mate. Rub hard with a flannel, and you’d lose it.’

🥕🥕🥕

Glitz Man by kate @ aroused

Mick streaked his hair, wore classy clothes, saw himself as a leader of the Men’s Liberation Movement. Had applied for paternity leave before his wife gave birth, a public service entitlement. Bragged about the number of nappies he’d changed In a radio interview, he had counted every one.

Being a migrant, he took his wife’s name for she was from the landed gentry. Once his kids were at school, he ran for local council with never a qualm that his wife earned more.

Kid sprinkled him with glitter as he left for a meeting, laughing, comfortable with his choices!

🥕🥕🥕

Glistening by Jack Schuyler

Glistening, he took the stage.

I sipped my drink and pushed the pink cherry back into the glass with my tongue.

He was strong and graceful. With all the force of a tribal chieftain, he exercised his charm with the delicacy of butterfly wings.

It was mesmerizing.

Using every corner of the stage, he came face to face with the pulsing audience one second and flew high into the air the next.

When the dance finished, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. In a daze, I rose from my barstool and burst into embarrassing applause.

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten by Kay Kingsley

“What makes you feel good?” she asked him. “I don’t know. Sports? Or maybe working on my car.” He paused, thinking harder about this question than he anticipated.

She smiled a soft, playful smile. He was the kindest person she ever met.

“You know I love you, right?”

Now he was the one smiling, a smile colored with a bit of blush.

Embarrassed, he stroked his chin exposing hidden beard glitter that sparkled in the sun.

Only the strongest men play dress up with their 6 year old daughter and his man glisten is an endearing badge of honor.

🥕🥕🥕

Metallic Man by Juliet Nubel

The tiny drops of water clung to his broad shoulders like sequins, sparkling in the hot summer sun. Some fell to the ground, others were blown dry as he sprinted from the beach to the bike park.

His eyes scanned the dozens of lanes, searching for his space-age contraption, the one he would crouch over for the next five hours, pedalling for his life.

Then would come the marathon, where more pearls of sweat would bejewel his pounding body – this body he had transformed from a large white lump of lard to a lean, tanned, glistening piece of Iron.

🥕🥕🥕

Choosing by D. Avery

Both were tall, strong, good looking. Both had good prospects. Both were getting frustrated over her reluctance to choose.

Wade finally confronted Emerson, demanding they fight each other like men. He demanded this despite her protests for him to stop.

“It’s the only way!” he insisted. “Best man wins!” A crowd gathered around what was sure to be a close and brutal match.

But Emerson refused to fight, said he wouldn’t treat her like a prize purse. He turned and walked away. She caught up. When his eyes glistened with happiness, she knew she had chosen the right man.

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten by Frank Hubeney

Peter’s daughter laughed. She could see the glitter in his hair. Not much, but enough to sparkle.

“You still got it!” She said.

“You gave it to me,” Peter responded.

“You’re glis…glistening?”

“Yeah. I’m glad you let me glisten for a while.”

Peter really was glad. It was not easy for her to throw that glitter on him last week. She showed unexpected initiative. In case showering removed too much of it, he retouched his hair to make sure she would see some before he guided her wheelchair to the kitchen table for breakfast.

What a sparkling day!

Secret Love by Heather Gonzalez

At ripe old age of 99, all Sarah could remember of her true love was the way his skin glistened in the sun every time he got out of the water that summer.

No one ever knew about their secret love affair. They had been so careful. Most of their encounters were at an abandoned part of the river. That summer, they let their bodies intertwine beneath the surface.

To this day, no one knew that her daughter’s father wasn’t her husband.

She could only remember the way his skin glistened in the sun, but that was enough.

🥕🥕🥕

Silver Sparkles by Kerry E.B. Black

They celebrated their silver anniversary on a cruise.

Haley donned a new gown, but nothing disguised the ravages of a hard life on delicate skin. She thought she’d packed her cares, but they manifested in dark bags beneath her eyes. Worries snaked from her temples, dye-defying silver streaks. Translucent powder sunk into laugh lines and danced along crow’s feet.

Larry took his wife’s hand, enamored of her beauty. When she nestled in for a hug, she left some of her makeup glistening in his beard. It caught the light so that when they toasted, not only their smiles sparkled.

🥕🥕🥕

All-Inclusive by Bill Engleson

“Move over,” she directs. I have no objection, so we shift our baking bodies inches deeper into the shade of the giant parasol. Temporarily reprieved from the ferocity of the Varadero sun, she points to the apparition.

“Italian, maybe?”

“Not American, that’s for sure,” I opine, adding, “stupid embargo…”

“He’s not alone.”

A sleek cinder-burnt woman in a leopard bikini joins him.

His leopard briefs are band-aid thin. His body, muscular, with just a hint of paunch, is a Vaseline vision.

“Envious?” she prods.

“If I was an oil spill, maybe. Do you want another Havana Loco?”

“Hmm, yes.”

🥕🥕🥕

Summer Shower by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Her bus was late.

Benny stood under the awning, doing his best to shield his dog with the umbrella. Nevertheless, the pooch was soaked.

“Sorry, Roger,” he murmured, kneeling to stroke the dog’s ears, “We’ve gotta give up.”

Roger whined, licking a runnel of rain off his master’s forearm.

Benny stood, closing and shaking the umbrella. He leaned it against a wall. “Don’t need this, eh boy?”

Together, they strolled into the twilight as the streetlights lit up.

Minutes later, she marveled at her good fortune in finding the umbrella. It would be a long, wet walk home, otherwise.

🥕🥕🥕

After the Adventure by Wallie & Friend

She found him sleeping. The sun through the leaves warmed his skin in green and gold light, his long lashes casting shadows across his cheek.

Ami sat beside him. When she had gone looking for him, she hadn’t expected to find him here like this, but it seemed somehow right that in the aftermath of their adventure he and she should find a moment like this, a moment of apart from the others—a moment of rest.

Ami didn’t wake him. Instead, she settled beside him, her cheek on her arm, and watched the sunlight glisten on his face.

🥕🥕🥕

Magic In The Air by Sherri Matthews

Rumours of the old man living in the woods ran rife through the village, but nobody had ever seen him. Tim, determined to prove his existence, donned binoculars and strode out towards the abandoned house in the woods. Hours later, Tim’s flagging excitement surged when he saw a man walking towards him. The man wore a black cloak with a hood over his black hair, but his white beard glistened in the sunlight. Tim gasped, and the man smiled. “I’m not who you think I am son, but if it’s magic you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.”

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten in the Madhouse by Anne Goodwin

In some ways, Henry found it reassuring. This was a madhouse after all. But the poor man, boogying to a solitary rhythm, would attract derision outside. Someone should restrain him. Was it light reflected from the Christmas tree, or was that glitter in his hair? Was there alcohol in the punch?

At least Henry’s role would be minimal: passing the patients’ gifts to the Mayor. Then home to sanity. Yet his face froze as glitter-man sashayed over, grinning as he offered his hand. “Thanks for coming, Santa, Santa’s Elf. I’m Clive Musgrove, charge nurse. We spoke on the phone.”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

The Last Story? by Di @ pensitivity101

She sat on his knee as she’d always done, waiting for him to begin telling a story.

He faltered, looking into those big hazel flecked saucers, feeling lost, overwhelmed, inadequate, and extremely blessed.

How many more evenings would they share? He was old and tired, time was precious.

She looked at him quizzically, touched a finger to the jewel glistening on his leathery cheek.

‘Granpa?’ she said, ‘Why are you crying?’

He smiled, taking her tiny hand in his liver-spotted and gnarled one, slowly raising it to his lips.

‘They’re not tears, sweetheart. They are the Diamonds of Love.’

🥕🥕🥕

Glitter Smiles Glisten by Norah Colvin

Relentless rain meant no beach for the country cousins. They spent eternity on the verandah, making artworks, playing games, and bickering.

On the last day, when Mum said to clear space for their mattresses, they fought over who’d do what. Toys and games ended up in a haphazard tower with the glitter bucket balanced on top.

When Dad bent for goodnight kisses, he stumbled and demolished the tower. Glitter went everywhere—including all over Dad. The children gasped.

“Your hair glistens, Dad,” smiled the littlest.

Dad smiled too, then everybody laughed.

Dad wore a hat to work that week.

🥕🥕🥕

Prideful Glisten by H.R.R. Gorman

The little girl surveyed her dress and scratched at the crinoline lining. “Why am I dressed up?” she asked.

Dr. Roberts crouched and poked his daughter on the shoulder. “Today is graduation day. It means you’re growing up. You want to dress up nice for graduation, yes?”

“I sure do – thank you, Daddy, for this fancy dress!” She twirled in her sequined skirt, the gems catching the light.

Dr. Roberts reached out a hand and led the kindergarten graduate to the station for the ride to school. He smiled, the glisten of his teeth outshining the sequins’ prideful sparkle.

🥕🥕🥕

Educational Enigma? by JulesPaige

“Mommy why doesn’t Papa man glisten?” Adrianna asked her mother.

At the cliff’s edge, Stan had wanted to clear the debris by their home by the lake. He’d at least asked Junior with him. Though Joan wasn’t sure
that father and son had enough engineering genes between them both to change a light bulb. Joan was curious as to what Adrianna was getting at. “What do you mean, honey?”

“Well,” the five year old daughter proclaimed as if she knew all the secrets of the world,“Teacher said most animals, the boys are show-offs,
like the peacock bird.”

🥕🥕🥕

Pride by D. Avery

William, reaching for his tuxedo, wondered why, of all the birds in the world, men emulate penguins when they dress up. His eyes hungrily took in the myriad colors, and his hands explored the many textures of his wife’s clothes. The teal feathered boa from the masquerade ball complemented her sequin shawl that he had draped over his shoulders. He marveled at how both sparkled, the colors shimmering. Emerging proud as a peacock from the walk-in closet, William joined his wife, still pruning and preening at her vanity mirror. Her eyes glistened as he reached for her eyeliner.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

The ogre woke to fairies jumping on his bed. Pink tutus and wings flapping, giggles, pixie dust dancing in the morning sunlight.

“Get up. We made tea.”

With a grunt, the ogre shuffled to the kitchen.

“One or two sugars, Daddy?”

“Make it a double.”

Two pinches of glitter. The ogre slogged down his tea, wiped his mouth, a rare smile cracking the cast of worry on his face.

Knock. Knock.

The fairies flitted. “Mom’s here.”

The ogre started for the fairies’ bags. The smaller fairy took his hand. “Do you want my wings?”

The ogre nodded. “Of course.”

🥕🥕🥕

Forget-Me-Not by Sarah Whiley

I lit the candle, marking five years since our loss.

A single tear rolled down my cheek, which I indulged with just a little self-pity. Thinking again, of what might have been.

It never got any easier. And to make it worse, this year, my husband had totally forgotten.

I was hurt. He knew how hard this day was.

I heard the key turn in the lock and quickly wiped my eyes. I turned and was greeted by a beautiful bouquet of forget-me-nots.

More beautiful, was the glisten in my husband’s eyes, as he pulled me into his arms.

🥕🥕🥕

Daddy Can Dance (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs

Two years after a bad motorcycle accident, Carl was the only father at the Kindergarten Father/Daughter dance in a wheelchair. He had trouble keeping track of Katie in the crowd, but he came home with a feeling of exhilaration.

His wife smiled at the glitter on his suit. “How did you get covered?”

“Lots of Katie’s friends wanted a ride on my lap, and they had on sparkly dresses.”

“Pretty, but I’ll never get it all out.”

“That’s fine, every time it glistens, I’ll celebrate being alive, and remember twirling with Katie and her friends.”

“Well said, my love.”

🥕🥕🥕

Hair, Skin, Sun by Paula Moyer

Jean and Steve did summer weekends at Mille Lacs – that gigantic, shallow inland lake, smack in the middle of Minnesota. Swimming off the pier was a near-sunset event for Steve. Jean often looked at him and marveled. We’re both “white,” she thought, but Steve? Seriously white.

That evening he lathered up in sunscreen, slid off the pier and floated, belly up.
His chest hair was so thick that sunlight glistened jewel-like on the strands and then refracted when bouncing against his wet, shiny skin. Sunrays danced against Steve’s chest, a giant iridescent opal, resting displayed on satin Mille Lacs.

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten – Progress! by M J Mallon

‘What’s that?’ asked the little girl in the department store.

‘It’s the new Father Christmas. He’s called man glisten because he listens to all the little girls and boys while he glistens.’

‘But I liked the old Father Christmas with the long white beard, fat tummy and the red suit,’ said his daughter with a tear in her eyes.

‘It’s progress, honey. Old Father Christmas wasn’t bringing money into the department store anymore.’

‘Do you want to meet him?’

‘No!’

‘Look! His long beard, psychedelic suit and his reindeer glisten.’

‘I don’t care! I want old, fat, red suit!’

🥕🥕🥕

Man Glisten by MRMacrum

Joyce looked up at her husband John and said, “Oh great. Look what you’ve done now?”

Oblivious to verbal cues, John just looked at Joyce and grunted.

“Hey, snap out of it. I think we’re done here. ………….. Would you please move. Your sweat is dripping on me.”

“Huh?” John’s eyes said, “Nobody home.” He composed himself. “My Sweat? What about those sweaty handprints you left on me?

Joyce smiled at John. “Women don’t sweat, they glow.”

“I see. ………… men don’t sweat either. We glisten. …. Now let’s move on. These fence posts aren’t going to plant themselves.

🥕🥕🥕

The Roughneck by Teresa Grabs

For twelve weeks at a time, Buck was a roughneck on an off-shore drilling rig. The men were men, and that’s the way they liked it. Leathered skin, often covered in dirt and sweat, only amplified his ruggedness and no one could take a punch like Buck. His beard made him look like he just walked out of a Jack London story of the North.

Daisy squealed as Missy opened the playroom door. “Daddy funny!”

Missy couldn’t help but laugh at Buck sitting on his knees, at a tea party, wearing pink fairy wings, with glitter in his beard.

🥕🥕🥕

Glitterbeard by Allison Maruska

Darkness settles on me, around me, through me. It’s impenetrable. Undeniable.

I shake the bottle. Ten seconds is all I need. Ten seconds to escape.

One last glance outside. I used to feel joy on a spring day. I remember it as a cold fact.

Zach sits on his porch with his preschooler. His chin is lifted, and she’s sprinkling something into his thick, black beard.

Glitter?

I set the bottle down and head across the street.

Glitterbeard looks up as I approach. “Hey, man! You like it?”

I smile.

It’s enough to poke a hole in the darkness.

🥕🥕🥕

The Humble Man by Michael Grogan

The humble man knew he was up against it. The shelter for the homeless was a pie in the sky venture argued so many who coveted everything they thought they had a right to.

Greed and lust prevailed, and it was every man for himself. The homeless suffered the cold, the heat but more so the derision of a society who didn’t care.

He built a rough shelter, it was warm and clean and appreciated by those in need. When he stood back to reflect on his efforts, those who watched were amazed by the glow from within him.

🥕🥕🥕

Lightning Bugs by Papershots

For a long time there had been no reason to do it up. Now it was essential. Who would come to such a secluded spot but with modern conveniences? Inherited deadweight would now sparkle again. The actors checked in a few hours before the opening, to reenact historical deeds. Their makeup glistened in the stage- and moon- light. Somebody’s eyes met and bodies twinkled after the memorized lines and the welcoming of guests. Much later one was still welcoming; the other crying made-up tears in the glare of 19th century lamps. But scintillating coincidences had definitely worked their charm.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Saifun Hassam

The Explorer rafts came swiftly around the bend of the roaring and thunderous Kemper River. Jeff was in the leading solo raft. The old broken bridge had finally collapsed into the torrential waters. Before he could react, an unexpected surge threw Jeff into the churning foaming river. Valerie and Jody rafted furiously towards the right bank, staying close to the man glisten and perilous in the relentless rush of waters. The other Explorer rafts plunged up and down, fighting the downstream surge to form a barrier across the river. Strong hands pulled the man glisten from the raging waters.

🥕🥕🥕

For Our Bearded Buckaroo Bards by D. Avery

“Men listen? They ain’t great listeners Pal.”

“Not like you.”

“Huh?”

“Shorty said ‘man glisten’ Kid.”

“What’s that?”

“Could be glitter in a beard or jist bein’ okay with glitter in a beard.”

“Huh. Well, is it okay? Ain’t ranchin’ cowboy types s’posed ta be rough an’ tough? Buckaroo Nation women are all warriors. Are all the men here good looking?”

“That’s Lake Woebegone. Here men look good if they know when ta hold ‘em an’ know when ta fold ‘em, know that it ain’t weak ta turn the other cheek.”

“An’ if their cheeks are glittered, they’re golden.”

Warrior Women

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Rancha Mythica by D. Avery

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

War Zone by Mirium Hurdle

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

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

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

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

“Right over, Ursula.”

“The blood is gushing out from his chest.”

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

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

“Clear up all the tables.”

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

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

“Sheila, over there.”

“Captain needs a blood transfusion.”

“I’ll be there.”

🥕🥕🥕

Black ‘n’ White by Neel Anil Panicker

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

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

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

His mother’s words ringed her ears.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Urban Encounter by Bill Engleson

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

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

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

“What’s ya lookin’ at, Creepo?”

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

Sadly, my tongue was tied.

I just skedaddled.

🥕🥕🥕

Mama Bear Unleashed by Eric Pone

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Michael Grogan

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warriors of the Dark by Reena Saxeena

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

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

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

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

the jury out there
delivered verdicts
to encase me in moulds

dark, interfering shadows
swooped to enslave,
control my life

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Warrior Women of Ireland by Anne Goodwin

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Robbie Cheadle!

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Warrior by Teresa Grabs

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Revising by D. Avery

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

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

“You’re a cowgirl?”

“No, I’m an Indian.”

“A lovely maiden out for a ride!”

“No, Granpa! I’m a warrior!”

“A warrior princess.”

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

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

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

She galloped off.

Maybe he should call next door, warn Tommy.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Sarah Whiley

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

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

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

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

“Down and ready.”

“Are you ready?”

“Attention.”

Paddles entered the water as the siren blared.

We were warrior women, in our dragonboat.

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Nicole Grant

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

🥕🥕🥕

Not Time: by The Dark Netizen

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

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

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

NO!

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

My time has not come!

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Woman by Deborah Lee

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

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

No.

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Gertrude the Invincible by Norah Colvin

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

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

“I am in-vinc-i-ble!”

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Taking a Stand by Wallie and Friend

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Line by galaxygirl_89

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

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

The Present by Papershots

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

🥕🥕🥕

Mom by Faith A. Colburn

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior Women by Chelsea Owens

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

Two thousand feet nervously stamp the earth.

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

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

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

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

“Our mothers.”

🥕🥕🥕

Wounded Warrior by D. Avery

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

Together they’d built a secret fort.

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

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

Somehow the game had changed.

She wondered if he also missed their friendship.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Floridaborne

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

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

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

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

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

Linda, however, fainted.

🥕🥕🥕

Escaping Leap by Jo

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior, Warrior by Peregrine Arc

“You’re too fat.”

“You’re too skinny.”

“You should stay at home.”

“You should volunteer again.”

“That’s not organic?”

“Why are you breastfeeding in public?”

“That skirt is too short.”

“That blouse is too modest.”

“Boys will be boys.”

“Men will be men.”

“Be quiet.”

“Speak up.”

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

Men may carry clubs, but women carry poison.

🥕🥕🥕

Worth the Frostbite by Kerry E.B. Black

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Avid Reader by kate @ aroused

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Fighting The Invisible Enemy by Geoff Le Pard

‘How are you, Morgan?’

‘At a loss, Logan.’

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

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

‘She’s not giving up, is she?’

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

‘What they saying?’

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

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

‘It sucks, mate.’

🥕🥕🥕

Champion Challenge by JulesPaige

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Brotherhood of Iron by Telling Stories Together

“Again,” said the monk.

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Easy Pickings by Di @ pensitivity101

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

United, They Win by Aweni

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Who’s Gettin’ Schooled? by Liz Husebye Hartmann

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

But Still Single? by Roger Shipp

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Mystery Solved by Molly Stevens

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

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

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

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

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

Ruth flashed him a wide grin.

🥕🥕🥕

Wanda by Frank Hubeny

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

“Morning, Silvia.”

“I want a real waitress serving me.”

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

“She’s just standing there.”

“How about some pancakes?”

“Are they gluten-free?”

“You know they’re not.”

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

“Ever run with wolves?”

“What?”

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

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

She threw down the quilt and rose from bed.

🥕🥕🥕

Independence Day by Anne Goodwin

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

🥕🥕🥕

A Wonder Of A Woman by D. K. Cantabile

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

It Takes a Warrior by Susan Sleggs

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Warrior by The Memory Cellar

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

May 31: Flash Fiction Challenge

Softly my feet pad across the hard-packed trail through the forest. Pine-scent bobs in the air like the dandelion seeds that haven’t yet formed, spring is so new. But the lawns and fields are covered with the promise from sunny yellow heads.

Again, I’ve become the hunter. Some take yoga to go into warrior pose — I take my feet outside; my body and mind follow, feeling the call of the hunt. Alert, my senses feel the dappled sunlight keenly and separate the sounds of chattering birds and lapping waves.

Where has my fierce Lady Lake gone? She’s acting so passive, I wonder if she’s at rest. Over winter she fought ferocious battles between water and sand, upturning the shoreline like a bulldozer. She called in blizzards like flocking white ravens. Now, she sleeps, her seas lightly sloshing. It’s the perfect time to hunt — her guard is down, her waves at rest and a new crop of churned rocks wait on the beach.

But first, I slink through the forest.

To see Lake Superior through the pines is one of my favorite views. From this vantage on the ridge overlooking the dog beach at McLain State Park, I can scout stretches of beach-worn basalt, granite, and gabbro. I’m refining my hunting skills, having studied over winter. I now can identify more of the minerals that fill the mafic bedrock like the clays chlorite and celadonite.

But the hunt isn’t always for the next rock or potential agate. I am also a woman who runs with the wolves. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. writes:

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”

My doors to my Wild self are indeed precious — through scars, caught stories, rocks, and water, birds, and sky. I can love the hunt so deeply, I take this path in the forest to savor the time it takes to burst forth onto the rocky beach to step into cold Great Lake waters. I yearn for deeper art to the point that I can feel my writing before I even begin. Art enriches my life, leaves me breathless and yet grounded.

Music, movement, color, words, texture — art fills all senses.

And this is why I love dance. I don’t dance. I don’t run with the wolves across the stage, but I watch from the audience the same way I watch Lake Superior from my footpath in the pines. I love the costumes, the drumbeats, the sharp movements and the flowing visual story. Dance is my daughter’s art. Often we share artistic moments, and that’s better than bagging an agate.

When her dance troupe accepted my idea to incorporate flash fiction into their next performance, I felt giddy at the chance to meld artistic expressions. I met with the choreographers and took note to capture the tone and emotion of each piece. We discussed the music, costumes, and movements.

When I wrote, I had that same feeling as when I step into Lake Superior. Wild self takes over. Intuition spills my words. Afterward, I felt unsure. Would this story partner with the dance? Or would it be a clunky addition to the show? I wrote like a dancer — interpreting each piece with new and different structures.

In the end, I had eleven Mythica Flash Fiction worthy of the warrior women taking the stage. I felt I could run with these wolves and that’s where my writing began and ended. Each flash in between told a story, hailed queens, invented new myths, introduced unknown characters or celebrated the power of the Wild self.

On Friday, 47 North performs Mythica at the Continental in Houghton. The belly dance troupe specializes in tribal fusion and modern. Their literary artist specializes in rocks, history and flash fiction. The first flash opens the show, the second closes it, as I speak directly to the dancers taking the stage in leather, chain mail, and fur, dancing to music from Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur.

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

It’s not easy to be an artist, to be a hunter, to run wild and return home again. Illness, disappointment, injustice, grief — these often erode the shores of who we think we are. But we evolve. Every run, every storm, every story is another chance to turn our own page. Estes writes,

“Though fairy tales end after ten pages, our lives do not. We are multi-volume sets. In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them. Don’t waste your time hating a failure. Failure is a greater teacher than success.”

Opportunity energy is high right now. I’m hunting down each one. Not everything will stick, but at the end of the day, I won’t go home empty. A significant transition looms for me. As life with my spouse evolves, as my daughter leaves the dance stage to undergo tests and possibly surgery at the Mayo Clinic next week, and the organization that was my anchor client leaves, I turn to my Wild self to adjust not with fear but with a welcoming of the challenges.

Roundup, a small weekly e-zine, returns from the ashes to spotlight three flash fictions a week and highlight one of our many writers. It’s intended for an audience of readers, to get people excited for what forms literary art can take 99-words at a time. Writers can benefit from a subscription to learn craft tips. It will connect to each weekly collection so you can share Roundup.

Books by authors in our literary community will be featured on Rough Writers’ pages and individually in Roundup. You’ll notice rotating books alongside the blog posts with house ads. I emphasize “house” because Carrot Ranch does not use AdWords. I’ll be promoting local events, workshops, author books (from our community and at my discretion), my services, literary art patronage, and an upcoming subscription to Marketing Mavericks. You can catch my #NaNoWriMo post at BadRedhead Media for a taste of what Marketing Mavericks will be like.

Literary art continues to be my focus. I want you to have unencumbered access to play with the art form among a group of people who see writing as one of their doors to the world. Please submit your badges for any goals you set and earned (see Rancher Badges). This is a self-motivated personal development opportunity. Now is the time to set new goals for the next three months.

Any Rough Writer who wants to offer Wrangling Words to their own community library, please contact me and I’ll get you set up with some basic training, materials and an outline for how to get established. It’s a great way to spread literary art where you live. I find it a rewarding program, and you can adjust it to fit what you want to offer.

All Patrons of Carrot Ranch (monthly supporters) have been gifted the full Mythica Flash Fiction collection. You can catch 47 North Belly Dance live streaming Friday night starting at 9 pm (EST) on their Facebook page.

I’ve set my vision for how I see art in my life as my northern star, and I write and run. Listen, you can hear the wolves howling. The warrior women gather.

May 31, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about warrior women. It can be myth or everyday mothers and wives. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by June 5, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

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

 

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

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

“Ever run with wolves?”

“What?”

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

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

She threw down the quilt and rose from bed.

Property Values

Many factors influence property values, including unexpected changes and situations.

Who is impacted and what responses do owners emply? Writers explored the possibilities.

The following are based on the May 17, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about property values.

PART I (10-minute read)

Value in the Balance (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Property values go up the more improvements we make.” Cobb replaced his years of responsibility as a sheriff with a drive to improve every inch of Rock Creek Station.

Sarah unpacked the latest freight of sundries from St. Louis While Cobb sawed planks for the new schoolhouse. The wood gleamed gold like the barn, toll booth, toll bridge, post office, eastside station and horse stables. The store Sarah operated had gray wood, showing its age. Sarah calculated Cobbs improvements and noted that it added up to more debt that income.

“Those values had better go up soon,” she muttered.

🥕🥕🥕

Property Value by Deborah Lee

“But I don’t want to sell my house,” Michelle says.

“Property values are up,” Caroline presses. “Now’s your chance to make a killing.”

“Just move for no reason? I like my house.”

“Roll it into a bigger house, with land.” Duh, says Caroline’s tone.

“Uh-huh,” says Michelle, “with an even bigger mortgage, double the payment.”

“Not if you buy farther out, get ahead of the next gentrification rush.”

“Yeah, so then my commute is two hours one way instead of one. No thanks.”

“But property values–”

Michelle holds her hand up: stop. “There’s a big difference between value and worth.”

🥕🥕🥕

Rise and Fall by Sherri Matthews

“Can you believe it, she took the broiler pan from the oven?”

Joy smiled sweetly at her new neighbour. “I’m sure it was by accident, if she did.”

“Well, I’m not happy about it.” Phyllis Mather huffed.

That night, Joy emailed her best friend Shirley and told her everything Phyllis had said. “Accused you of taking the drapes too, of all the nerve.”

Shirley had bigger fish to fry with her divorce and didn’t care much, but she smiled when she read Joy’s further news that property values in her old neighbourhood had since slumped. Broiler pan my ass.

🥕🥕🥕

Property Values by Susan Sleggs

The elderly nosy sisters returned home to see a sold sign on the house next door.

“Damn, we missed seeing who bought it,” Ethel said.
To their dismay two noisy Harley’s arrived a few weeks later just before a moving van.

“Bikers! There goes the neighborhood. I wonder if they know their back yard connects to a cops. This could get interesting,” Maude said peeking out.
The next day the sisters watched the cop and his family walk in next door with a six-pack and a heavy picnic basket.

“Well there goes our fun. They already know each other.”

🥕🥕🥕

New Decking by Jacob Powell

We found a body in our back garden. Right where we wanted our new decking. What are the chances?

The estate agents obviously never said anything about it.

Of course the local media soon caught wind and documented the whole thing: forensic tents, police detectives, us.

Months later and they’re still camped outside our door every day.

We’re sick of the attention and want to move; start again somewhere else. But we can’t because the property is now worth pennies, and no one wants to live in a suspected “murder house.”

And we still haven’t got our new decking.

🥕🥕🥕

Moving Day by Teresa Grabs

Moving day is almost always noisy, but this time was exceptionally loud; even Taft heard the commotion three subdivisions over. The new neighbor is young and that always makes a difference.

“Son, we’re a quiet neighborhood,” Pershing told him, patting the young man on the shoulder.

“We have the best property values in town,” I added. “Quiet, peaceful, and away from the Blue Line.”

“Oh, lord knows, I feel for those by the Blue Line,” Pershing agreed, nodding. “Welcome to Arlington.”

“I could get used to it here,” the young man said, looking around. “Just thought I’d be older.”

🥕🥕🥕

Property Values by Frank Hubeny

Tim’s intuition played tricks on him. What he thought would turn a profit didn’t. What he gave up on suddenly succeeded.

He didn’t want the Langford place, but Jennifer loved its enchanted forest. So they bought it. They also bought the Stevens property. Its value rose, as did their taxes, but this year they sold it for a loss.

Jennifer walked with him through the Langford woods. She pointed out, “We could build a home near the fairies if we keep it small.”

Tim felt his intuition smile at Jennifer’s innocence. They built that home and kept it small.

🥕🥕🥕

Hen Pecked by Molly Stevens

Chester slammed his fist on the counter. “I need to talk to the town manager now.”

“What’s going on, Chester?”

“I’ve put up with that birdwatchin’, forest bathin’ woman next door and didn’t even complain when she was arrested for indecent exposure. But I’ve reached my limit.”

“What’s wrong?”

She’s set up a chicken coup, and I don’t like what this does to the valuation of my property. Plus I’ve got her free-range idiots chasin’ me around my yard, peckin’ at my legs.”

“Have you cleaned the tires and trash out from behind your shed?”

“Don’t change the subject.”

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There Goes the Neighborhood by Jan Malique

You wouldn’t associate the words cheerful and vampires as bedfellows, in this case rather apt though. They were new to the neighbourhood, incomers from the Old Country. Things had moved on in the vampire world, the main covens had decided to rebrand themselves, present a positive image of the undead.

Their fellow vampire neighbours were rabidly snobbish and intolerant, considering these incomers as undesirables and blamed for the property values going down. It was a war of attrition alas. Despite this the incomers aimed to be the epitome of everything their neighbours considered “beyond the pale”. Vive la differénce!

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Turrets by thedarknetizen

The castle stood tall, covered in thin layers of white snow. Lush green forests surrounded the secluded dwelling. It was perfect for my friends and me. The four of us could now live our dream. It was the right decision to buy this isolated castle, got it for cheap as well. The surroundings will need a lot of work, but we are up for it. We are willing to go to any lengths in order to achieve our dream.

Now, all we need to do is to find young witches and wizards who are eager to learn about magic.

🥕🥕🥕

Witches Next Door by Kerry E.B. Black

Poppa scowled at the moving van, inventorying items deposited next door. Movers left garden items – astrolabes, statuary, tools, and potted plants – along the fenceline. Poppa stomped out a cigarette. “Darnnit, there goes the neighborhood.”

Josey crinkled her forehead. “Why, Poppa?”

He pointed. “Spell books. Magic chests. At least four cats. Witches’re moving in.”

Two plump, frizzy-haired ladies smiled and waved.

Josey waved.

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Window View by Deborah Kiyono

Through the large window of her bedroom, she can see all the constructions of the city ending in a line of hills far enough to touch the sky. The sun comes by to greet her every morning with his gentle rays waking her up for another day of adventures.

Looking at the view, sitting at her desk, she flies away and explores many kingdoms, travels to unknown galaxies and meets other beings of different realms.

Grateful, she returns, blessing this most valuable item of her apartment for preventing her from feeling trapped in a cage, away from the world.

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Property Values by Lady Lee Manila

The three little pigs were busy building their brick house.

Their neighbour, Little Bo Peep arrived and said angrily: “I’ve had enough of you! I don’t think you have building permission constructing your house.”

“You started attracting vermin (she meant the wolf) and my sheep started disappearing!”

“That’s why we’re building this house, because of the big bad wolf, who kept on huffing and puffing.”

“This is not the end of this. You pigs started moving to this area, and look what’s happening to our property prices- I bet they have gone down a lot.” And off she went.

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Priced to Sell by Heather Gonzalez

“How did we manage to get such a good price for the house?” Mandy asked putting down a heavy box of dishes on their new kitchen counter.

“The realtor said the owners were motivated to sell.” Jackie replied opening a box.

Once the sisters had moved everything inside, they decided to call it a night. Mandy found that the silence made it hard to fall asleep. She tossed and turned until she heard the door open. When she felt the bed move, she rolled over to talk to her sister only to find an empty side of the bed.

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Property Value by Jack Schuyler

The realtor walked them through the last room, and the couple looked shyly about with suppressed enthusiasm. The man smiled at his wife, exhaled and then turned to the realtor.

“It seems like a nice house—and we’d love to buy it—but why is it so cheap?”

“Well…the thing is—there’s really no other way to put it… The previous owner never left.”

“Cold feet about saying goodbye to the old residence, eh?”

“Well yes, but not in the way you might think.”

“In what way then? Belligerence? Legal trouble? An apartment above the garage?”

“He’s a ghost.”

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Infinity by Deepa

I lay awake thinking about the crystal bell I had broken when I was eight.

At 78 you broke a porcelain plate and felt a burden of yourself.

I have replaced everything in the house except for the bell. I did not throw the broken pieces, but drilled holes and tied them from strings that hang like a tinkle now.

Mom, you made me promise not to cry when you go and I kept it. I leave the door open so that the tinkle can ring and make me feel you‘ve come back home.

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Property Value by Robbie Cheadle

“But it’s a symbol of love,” he pleaded with her. “The roundness of the ring indicates infinity. It is endless and eternal, just like my love for you.”

“I am not wearing a ring,” she told him firmly. “That is a lovely romantic notion, but it makes me feel like a possession. I will not be someone’s property.”

He never managed to dissuade her from this determined view about rings. He bought her both and she kept them in the safe. Beautiful and expensive, their value could only increase. she would sell them if he ever cheated.

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Plummeting Values by D. Avery

They sat together in their one bedroom apartment with their laptops, looking at real estate listings.

“There’s lots of listings that have everything we want, but are out of our price range.”

“Yeah… wait, look at this. It has a porch… big backyard…. family room… plenty of bedrooms and storage… and it’s less than our maximum.”

“Oh, it sure looks nice. That is the exact place I’ve imagined raising a family. Where is it?”

“Let’s see… located close to schools…”

“Stop. We can’t raise a family close to schools.”

“What, why not?”

“Why not?! Guns. Schools are dangerous places.”

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Property Values by Sarah Whiley

Amy pressed the “Sold” banner across the For Sale sign. She thought about the commission she was making and smiled. She had really upsold this one, completely overstating the value. ‘Suckers’, she thought.

She put her hands on her hips, stood back and surveyed the property one more time. As she turned to leave, she noticed smoke billowing from the back of the house. An orange glow flickered.

‘Shoot!’ Amy cursed, frantically grabbing for her phone.

Although the fire department responded quickly, by the time they’d arrived, the house had gone up in smoke…and Amy’s commission along with it!

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Always Up by Neel Anil Panicker

“And what’s the guarantee it’s going to go up?”

‘Damnt it!!! Rajesh always wondered whether his wife was a born fool or turned one after marriage.

Employing his best milk and honey voice he volleyed, “My dear wife, life you know comes with no guarantees. At least, that’s what I thought until you came into my life. You’ve managed to change all that. Look at you. You’ve been a revelation. Haven’t you been delivering on your promise of giving me everlasting bliss day in and day out. Likewise, take it from me, this property will give us the same.’

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Part II (10-minute read)

Home Owner by R S Sambrooks

Suzanne types a letter ‘Dear Mr and Mrs Ross’; each word tapped bullets, then printed onto headed paper, signed by the boss and folded into a creamy thick envelope.

Mr Ross waited to open it that night when his wife came in from her shift at Belushi’s. No amount of tips could cover the mortgage, her tears flow whilst his don’t work anymore, the colostomy bag took those along with his job.

They take to the road without ringing the bank, tent carried on an old pram. Mrs Ross drops him at a hospital, makes the road her home.

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Forty-Three into One Will Go by Di @ pensitivity101

It stood alone, neglected and run down for at least six years that I remember.
In order to avoid local taxes, the family had the roof removed then sold it for just under £1m.

Properties round it were a mix of apartments, terraces and semis, most privately owned before the Buy to Let craziness started. Nothing was valued at more than seventy grand.

They knocked it down and developed the site with a mix similar to that already in existence. The company made a killing, as forty three homes were erected on the plot previously occupied by one bungalow.

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Flash Fiction by Penny Mason

In 1968 we purchased a cute, craftsman style cottage. We paid twenty thousand.

Two children celebrated birthdays and graduation parties under the softly sloping roof.

When they left us with an empty nest, a realtor said we could sell for $200,000, enough to finance a Florida retirement.

By the time we retired, the real estate bubble had burst, and the Crabtree family with their ten children and collection of motionless autos has moved in next door. Our property value plummeted to less than $100,000.

Perhaps one day the Crabtree residence will be condemned, condos constructed, our southern dream restored.

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Baby Doll by kate@aroused

Melanie’s china doll had a hallmark on her neck. Which is how the antique dealer traced her manufacture to a Polish toy maker in Germany. The doll was well over a century old and in pristine condition.

People love dolls and this one was exceptional. Her baby sized paper mache body had dimples and details to delight. Yet her value was priceless as such a doll was exceedingly rare and the sentimental value to Melody and her family knew no comparison. Their attachment to and pride in this unique family heirloom tore at their hearts but funds were needed.

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The Highest Bidder by Lisa Reynolds

Tina stood before the bidders. It was an auction for her hand in marriage. She wished she could run. Run anywhere and be free from this madness where twenty men were treating her like an object.

Soon her price was rising and she was sold to a man twice her age. He licked his lips like the pervert he was and Tina, head down, made her way towards him. Purchased. Violated. Another business deal for the auctioneer. A woman filled with greed.

No allies, Tina got into the man’s car knowing her future would be bleak.

Property, property, property.

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The Lament of Kowloon by H.R.R. Gorman

I was born when they put rocks around me, shy and still despite my welcoming gates. More humans came with houses and wells, and I ensconced them in my earthen folds. Invaders stole my stone walls, but I supported the burdens of my precious humans. Thousands moved in, and my houses became towers and dark alleys.

With more bodies came squalor and chaos, and the outsiders failed to help my precious charges. I tried to support them, but my veins ran out of water and my body became overcrowded. Humans demolished my structures then abandoned me through forlorn gates.

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Home is Where– by Wallie & Friend

The house behind them looked small. As they rounded the hill it vanished entirely from view as if it had never even been there.

“Will you miss it?”

Annie glanced at her companion sideways. “Why do robots always ask questions that are kind of obvious?”

The synthetic man met her glance without flinching. “I miss it,” he said. “Do you ever stop missing things that go away?”

Her face tightened. This time, she had no snarky reply. “No. I don’t suppose you do.”

“I’m glad you’re with me, Mabel.”

She tried to smile. “I’m glad you’re with me, too.”

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Flash Fiction by Eric Pone

Eowyn stared at Windsor Castle and sighed. “Ono I need to dump this place. It is a huge drag on finances.”

Ono responded. “Let’s get a realtor!”

Betty Whitehurst sat across the desk from Eowyn in sheer shock. “You want to sell Windsor?”

Without a beat, Eowyn smiled. “I do. This place is too large, I can’t the income I need out of it. It has to go.”

Betty had the property appraised and the art and tapestries…the history. Sitting down again with Eowyn.

“It’s priceless. Don’t be a dumbass and sell!”

Ono, replied. “How much?”

“Billions Love.”

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Land Reform by Anne Goodwin

Kare kare the land owned the people, rooted to the soil by their ancestors’ bones.
Until the white men’s rifles commandeered the territory for their queen.

Even after independence, red-brick buildings squatted where thatched rondavels belonged. Even when war veterans forced the whites to flee, a fence barred the people from ancestral lands. Unless to labour for the government minister who now owns the property: a fat fellow with ebony skin in a white man’s clothes. Or so they say: those who sweat to feed his greed have never seen him. But neither had they seen the English queen.

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Values of Stuff by Peregrine Arc

“And here is a Parisian armchair, part of our priceless Sun King collection,” the museum guide announced. “Louis the XIV, you know…”

I tapped one of my dozing students and gestured for our guide to continue.

“And over here are more…No cell phones, please!”

A student fumbled to silent her phone, paling as she read a text message.

“There’s another school shooting…” she explained breathlessly.

“I think,” another student spoke,“armchairs have more value than us nowadays…”

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Not in My Backyard by Anne Goodwin

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against them myself. I’m thinking of the old folk, and the kiddies walking past to school. With that lot shambling and gurning, shouting obscenities or proclaiming themselves the second coming of Jesus Christ. It wouldn’t be nice, like Halloween without the dressing up, the apples and sweets.
Am I concerned about house prices? Not really, I wasn’t thinking of myself. But now you mention it, it does seem unfair. Of course, the poor souls have to go somewhere. But this is such a pleasant neighbourhood. Why do the authorities want to spoil it?

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La Casa’s Lament by Aweni

They attribute my worth to irrelevancies.
Does it not suffice that I give shelter?
That I shield from harsh winds?
That my hearth warms?

They come in, asking, ‘how big is the garden?’
‘Are the kitchen tops marble?’ ‘How many rooms are there?’

I don’t mind that last question though. You see, humans are weird, they do need their space.

They ask, ‘what about the neighbours?’

What about them?! Not that I’m a fan.
So loud, abusive and those graffiti! Eeewwh!

I see, you cringe too. Yes, my neighbours do drag me down.

But that’s not the issue.

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Investment by Hayley Hardman

It was unreal to think the manor house I was standing before was now our’s. Sadly, the place was a memory of it’s former self. Lucky, the walls and roof were all sound but there were broken windows and doors to replace then the rooms to strip and redecorate. There was no running water, working electricity or gas and it was uninhabitable.

We were going to change all that, make it into a fine home then perhaps a hotel and open gardens. It was a life’s investment but once done up the property value would soar into the millions.

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[standoff] by Deb Whittam

“I’m not having it, it’s an affront to all that we hold dear.”

Looking up at the belligerent tone she noted the nods of agreement and with difficulty repressed a sigh. No one had said being a property developer would be easy.

“I’m sorry but I’m not sure I comprehend your objections,” She replied, as she considered the development they had tabled, “Properties like yours would become gold mines – house valuations would skyrocket.”

Looking up she caught the sly twinkle in his eye and her stomach contracted, she had swallowed his bait.

“Exactly.”

The troll stated with a smile.

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Property Values by Norah Colvin

The letter lay unopened for weeks. She had no more interest in its contents than she had in the house. She’d finished with all that when she told them to sell. Why were they contacting her now?

When a second envelope arrived bearing the same logo she thought to bin them both, but hesitated, and opened the first.

A cheque? She squinted at the numbers, then held it to the light. She counted the zeros, again. Really? How could a property that held so little value for her hold so much for someone else?

The second letter explained — developers.

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Property Value by Irene Waters

“Turn round. Go back. If we bought this place I’d never leave it. This road is terrifying.”

“No! We said we’re going and we’re going.”

Jemma, white with fright, surveyed the tree-dotted property complete with a platypus populated cooling creek. They shook hands with the owner who said, ” We’ve had so many calls from people saying they’re coming but you’re the first to show up.”

“We wouldn’t have shown up if I’d had my way,” Jemma said. After a cuppa they left. The property held no value for them yet a week later it sold to National Geographic Photographers.

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Value of People or Property by Miriam Hurdle

“We got a good deal on our 10 acres, honey.”

“First time hearing of Sequim in Washington Peninsula.”

“Many retirees here.”

“See the logging. The previous owner made a fortune.”

“We need to dig a well and have electricity connected.”

“What was the noise last night?”

“Humm… a bear visitor.”

“Wait, we park next to a beehive.”

“Get in, I’ll move the camper… Isn’t this a peaceful place for retirement?”

“What? No way. Making new friends after retirement and the neighbor is 10 acres away?”

“What do you want to do?”

“Divide the land into 4 pieces and sell.”

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My Mother’s Cottage by Luccia Gray

I wished I hadn’t inherited the beautiful, but run down cottage from my eccentric yet inspirational mother. I’d have preferred to hear her reading extracts from her bestselling novels, but she finally succumbed to a long illness and donated everything else to Cancer Relief.

It didn’t feel right to sell her home, but I couldn’t afford the maintenance, until I met Jason, who contacted me on Facebook. He was the first to offer to pay for spending a few hours in my mother’s study.

Now we’re married, the cottage is fully booked for years and the value has tripled.

🥕🥕🥕

This Old House by Chelsea Owens

Their school year had already begun when he looked around their 10-year-old house and said, “How about we move?”

His wife glanced up from grading homework, glasses perched down her nose. Eyebrows raised, lips pursed, she said, “Okay.”

And that was how they ended up in front of the 1917 farmhouse in a town of 257 people. Only the wind spoke, with an occasional canine interjection.

“It’s about half our current mortgage,” she noted, as they surveyed almost an acre of yard.

“It may need some work,” he observed, peeking around a musty, boarded-up section.

“It’s perfect,” they said, completely smitten.

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Flash Fiction by Bladud Fleas

Smart Alec, so-called because his sleeper once cost a hundred bucks, his mattress an unfolded packing case from Bergdorf Goodman, his rain shelter another from Saks. He never panhandled below Fifth, and never slept east of 49th; if he could help it. If the cops moved him on, he’d keep walking the block, until the cops moved on, or got a call.

He said he knew Trump, knew the price of any building in NYC, but they say you’re just one step away from the streets and, once there, you’re a million miles away from where you were.

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Rebrand the Swamp by Bill Engleson

“Let’s go for a spin,” he said. So, as a good and gullible friend, we headed up the valley in behind the old Mission. Three dirt roads later, he pulled off into the scrub.

“It’s over that hill.”

And it was.

Whatever he saw, I didn’t. “It’s a swamp, Charlie. A mosquito-invested puddle of muck and muskrats.”

“Infested, Henry. Infested. Smell that. It stinks of opportunity.”

“Oh, it stinks all right. Look, if I need to take a bath, I’ll jump in my tub.”

“Ground floor, Henry.”

“My loss, Charlie.”

It was.

Who could have predicted International Swamp Tours?

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Part III

Up The River by Juliet Nubel

They had taken refuge upstairs when the river had come crashing angrily out of its bed and swept into their home.

It had ignored their screams, settling itself comfortably throughout the ground floor, drowning their precious belongings without a hint of regret. The watermark high on the walls still showed today in spite of their scrubbing.

The prospective buyers always noticed it, their eyes growing wide when they realised what it was. They then left, never to be heard from again.

They had been imprisoned that fateful day. They would now be prisoners forever in a beautiful, worthless home.

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Property by Floridaborne

“Mrs. Miller,” the tax collector said, staring into the barrel of a .45.  “You have ten days to pay your taxes or you will have to vacate.”

“My father owned this farm, his father and his grandfather.  You have no right to extort money from our meager earnings or take our home if we don’t pay an income tax!”

“The 16th amendment…”

“My husband died in the great war!  While he fought for our freedom you bottom feeding scum found ways to steal our property!”  Fifty miles from town, she pulled the trigger.

His body fertilized her vegetable garden.

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Back to the Country (Ownership) by Papershots

I’ve become the gardener at my own home (my family’s. I’ve left.) Kindly contributing to the communal sharing of hardships, I was mowing the lawns when more and more grass was being left behind. Rake it away, naturally. So I went out back where… I didn’t know where a rake could be. I vaguely remembered the rake; but that wasn’t enough. And one I found leaning against a wall in the toolshed, its keyless door shut by a big tree fork, the previous owner – great-grandfather! – must have had a story about this “bifurcation in the trunk of a tree.”

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A Day in the Life of a Banker by Reena Saxena

My boss: How good is your best salesperson if he cannot add value to the book at the end of the financial year? Think about replacing him.

A loan applicant: My property offered as collateral is being undervalued. The adjoining plot has been sold at double the rate.

Me: The adjoining plot has been purchased by a businessman, who will multiply his investment 10X in two years. We will not always find a buyer like him. It is only the distress sale value of an asset that really matters. It’s about being as good as the last deal clinched.

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The Original Black Marketeers by Anne Goodwin

Black lead didn’t burn like peat or coal, and their wives complained it marked their clothes. So the shepherds who discovered it didn’t protest when a wealthy lawyer acquired the title deeds for the mine. A century on, their descendants cursed them, now graphite cost more than gold. These men scavenged for scraps by moonlight, sold on to Flemish smugglers to carry by packhorse to the coast. If they believed they were only claiming their birthright, it was no defence in court. The original black marketeers, betrayed by the stains on their hands, flogged and transported for their crimes.

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Plowed Progress Offering Refulgent Reward via Burnished Boxes? by JulesPaige

The light through the whole in the roof, due to the fire – was distressing. A few of the bushes were cordoned off so that when repairs were made that maybe the workers wouldn’t trample them. What are the property values along a busy
road?

Just perhaps when the building gets fixed, or torn down and rebuilt all of those other little aged homes on the street will also do some sprucing up? After all, the farmland right
across the road has almost vanished, replaced by mini-mcmansions, and several storied Condos… and a nice park for all the neighborhood children.

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Cultural Value by kate @ aroused

Traditional landowners clearly had a strong spiritual connection to the land, waterways, animals, plants, seasons and dreamtime. Nomadic they survived by respect and understanding for their environment and folklore. White invaders, colonisers, committed mass genocide while raping their land and women, with blatant disregard for seasons or songlines. They mowed down forests and the people, polluted everything obsessed with their own wealth! What value could you put on plundered life and land? Stolen generations continue to this day, overseen by those who use and abuse what chance to sustain their language, culture and pride. Denigrated in every way …

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Them Foreigners! by Ritu Bhathal

“This neighbourhood is just going to pot!” Sue looked out of her front room window, staring at the new arrivals on the street. “Seriously, I mean, that is the fourth family of foreigners to move in here in the last few months!”

She turned towards her husband. “Jake, I do think we need to seriously consider our options, you know darling. Property prices are plummeting because of them. Have you seen the litter? And the cooking smells?”

Jake looked up from his accounts. “Really, Surinder? Have you looked in the mirror recently? And stop calling me Jake, it’s Jagjit!”

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Flourishing by D. Avery

“Carrot Ranch, Pal, it’s pretty big.”

“Yep, gits bigger ever day, seems.”

“It’s set up good fer cattle an’ hosses, plenty a range.”

“Yep. Shorty knows how ta take care a such.”

“But they’s also wilderness fer forest bathing; big skies fer dreamin’; plenty a space and cover fer unicorns, longhorns, an’ all manner a birds. They’s even fishin’ holes an’ bat caves.”

“Yep. Shorty’s got quite a spread.”

“An’ she welcomes ever’one.”

“Ever’one what kin behave.”

“Big di-verse spread like this, must be pretty valuable.”

“Kid, this place is priceless.”

“I sure value it, Pal.”

“Me too, Kid.”

*****

“Yep, I sure admire what Shorty’s done here. Got herself a fine spread.”

“Thing is Kid, land don’t really ever belong ta anyone.”

“You sayin’ this ain’t Shorty’s ranch?”

“I ain’t sayin’ that. But Shorty belongs ta the ranch as much as the ranch belongs ta Shorty. If ya live on a place ya got a responsibility to it, gotta take care of it if’n ya ‘xpect it ta take care a you.”

“Well, Shorty sure ‘nough takes care a the ranch an’ all the critters an’ folks that come through.”

“Yep. Shorty an’ the ranch are gonna flourish.”

🥕🥕🥕

May 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

It’s hard to take silent steps across broken glass. Shards ground into nuggets the size of small peas glitter green, brown, blue and diamond-clear litter the path. In the back of my mind, I acknowledge the oddity of walking on glass, but it’s some Wisconsin recycling measure to pave the trails with glass gravel. Right now. This moment. I’m on the hunt. Shhh…cranes.

Across time many have proposed theories to explain the brain — cranium size and shape, left brain, right brain, synapses firing. These attributes mean something and nothing. Perhaps the final frontier is not the vastness of space, but what is contained in the folds of the mind.

For me, I acknowledge pockets of focus. I put on my thinking cap, or I disappear into my head to read (or write) a good story. Some of my focus might actually be distractions, but I can’t wrap my mind around that quandary at the moment. I know I have Rock Brain and History Brain — oh, look, a squirrel! But most focused/distracting of all is Bird Brain.

I’m in stealth Bird Brain mode.

The gravel crunches beneath my sneakers, and I don’t think I’m sneaking up on any birds. Maybe that’s the actual point of the glass gravel. A sign explained it all, but when one has become a full-fledged member of the International Crane Institute of Baraboo, Wisconsin, one does not stop to read non-bird related signs. I’m hunting the elusive Whooping Crane.

Whoopers remain one of the rarest (and tallest) birds to grace the North American continent. They once nestled on the northern prairies from central Canada as far south as Iowa. In the winter they hung out in Texas and Louisianna. Then settlers, like Cobb McCanles and his family, moved west, and the whoopers disappeared.

By 1941, the Texas wintering flock huddled near extinction with only 15 birds remaining. In 1971, two Cornell University students dreamed of an organization that could protect the world’s 15 species of cranes, including the Whoopers. Serendipity is when you follow your passion, and you find an unexpected gift. It’s a happy chance.

Ornithology students, Ron Sauey and George Archibald, envisioned a place where they could combine research, captive breeding, and reintroduction of cranes to their depopulated habitats. They imagined a place where restoration and education would engage citizens to support a crane-focused organization. The first happy chance came from Wisconsin where a horse rancher offered land to the ornithology students.

The next bit of serendipity came when George accepted an invitation to go on the Johnny Carson Show, a well-viewed late-night program in the 1970s. Part of the appeal to a late-night American audience was the humorous story about how George wooed a Whooper named Tex. She was hatched in captivity and therefore imprinted to humans. To her Bird Brain, George was a potential mate.

Every morning, George walked with Tex, and they danced the crane dance until she readied herself for breeding. While George held her attention, two other biologists artificially inseminated the lovelorn crane. We can all chuckle, but the true heart of the story is that the match yielded a single Whooper from 54 eggs that didn’t make it.

Gee Whiz, George’s crane-son, went on to become the crane that built the Wisconsin flock which now has over 200 of the existing 700 Whooping Cranes today. In a sad twist, the night before George went on the Johnny Carson Show, a marauding raccoon invaded Tex’s pen and killed her.

Everyone laughed about the crane dance between ornithologist and bird, but they put their dollars where their hearts were and that single sad tale on a late-night tv show serendipitously funded the International Crane Foundation. Today, it lives up to its original vision to provide sanctuary for all 15 species of cranes.

I’m hunting the Whoopers in the back pasture by the small pond full of singing spring peepers. But my heart overrides my Bird Brain when a female Gray Crowned Crane begins flirting with my son and husband. With head feathers looking more like thoughts on fire than a crown, I loved the display she puts on like a comedic dancer in a burlesque show.

She shows me what George understood all along — the charisma of cranes.

Whoopers, Black Crowned, Back Necked, Blue, Brolga, Siberian, Wattled, Hooded, Red Crowned, Sarus, White Naped, Gray Crowned, Demoiselle, Eurasian, and Sandhill cranes ignite the imaginations of the world with their compelling attractiveness. We paint them, write poetry of them, and even craft origami after them. Peaceful, graceful, fierce — we fall in love with the charisma of cranes.

A note to the regular Ranch Hands — my trip to the cranes was part of a three-day tour to see our son and visit an orthopedic surgeon at Veteran Affairs to finally get the acknowledgment that the Hub’s knee is as empty as the prairies were of Whoopers in the 1940s. Nothing left to salvage, nothing left to cushion. As the orthopedic explained, “It’s like a bomb went off in your knee.” Finally, a gel shot, and hopefully a replacement.

My technology acted up on the road, and I couldn’t keep up with comments, but the Ranch collection bucket (the form) performed well, and I published the stories when I got back home. I promise to catch up on my comments because that’s an important commitment of mine to give each of you positive feedback on your contributions to the challenge. And I thank the community for commenting, too!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community made the local news. I was not prepared to be recorded and televised, but I was thrilled to share the power of what we do through literary art 99 words at a time. The next morning after our trip, I was invited to present what we do at Carrot Ranch to 1 Million Cups, a national organization with a local chapter in the Keweenaw. I read Pete Fanning’s flash from Vol. 1, “Normandy,” and I read my most recent #CarrotRanchRocks story, “The Girlie Rock.”

The Girlie Rock by Charli Mills

Rex teased Amy about the big pink rock she found on the beach. A gift from Lake Superior days before deployment. He loved her enough that he took that girlie rock with him to Iraq. He placed its cool flat surface against his chest during coughing fits. Smoldering chemical fires seared his lungs. He married Amy and returned her girlie rock. When they drove to the VA for treatment, she rubbed its pink smoothness like some magic genie would emerge and save his life. A pink rock on marble white – in the end, she left it on his grave.

CWW-07-17-24 (Pink feldspar and green epidote)

My head feels a bit like how the crown of a crane looks, all my synapses firing in a bazillion directions, but there is a vision to madness. I hope I can pull off the charisma of cranes and anchor Carrot Ranch and our literary art in the Keweenaw Community which has been so warm and welcoming (despite 304 inches of snow).

Lastly, I’m re-doing my 50th Birthday Party. No offense to the stunning state of New Mexico, but I felt robbed of my milestone birthday celebration stranded and homeless in the Land of Enchantment. You are all invited to Rock the 5.0 with me, snow or sun, at McLain State Park on May 20 with grilled brats, birthday cake, rock picking, WIP-reading, and a Copper Country sunset over Lake Superior. If you are unable to attend, you can send birthday cards to:

Carrot Ranch, PO Box 306, Hancock, MI 49930

Thank you all for your writing and reading patronage! Your individual stories matter, and yet you are also part of a greater, global, artistic calling. A calling to peace like a crane.

May 10, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story defining “the charisma of cranes.” For centuries, cranes have inspired art and philosophy. You can write a crane story or create something new out of the phrase. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by May 15, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

(I just noticed my bird-brained typo last week; you can still turn in May 3 stories if you thought you had until May 15, but use the May 3 Flash Fiction Challenge Form.)

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

 

The Charisma of Whooping Cranes in 1858 (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Slowly lifting on outstretched angel wings, hundreds of white cranes trumpeted and took flight. Nancy Jane dug her bare heels into the sides of her prairie pony, tail flying as she rode beneath the flock. Sarah clung to the pony’s sides with her legs, catching the rhythm of his galloping paces. Her arms wrapped around Nancy Jane’s waist to grasp handfuls of mane. The cranes landed across the Platte, gracefully perching on long legs. Sarah gawked, mesmerized. Nancy Jane slowed her steady mount, and both women whooped loud as the angels who came to charm them in Nebraska Territory.

Lines

Lines from the Rough Writers & Friends at Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsFollow them, get hung up in them, or forget them — lines can guide or entangle. North, south, east, west. You can follow lines any direction. Writers grabbed lines and followed the stories.

You never know what to expect when writers gather from around the world and come from different genres. But you do know that the lines are set high at Carrot Ranch and what follows will evoke and entertain.

The following are based on the May 3, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story.

Part I (10-minute read)

Speed Dating Lines by Luccia Gray

“You’re a writer?”

She nodded, expecting him to make an excuse and move away; instead he asked, “Could you write me an original pick up line?”

“I’m not helping you lie.”

“Are you kidding?” He said waving his arm around the crowded venue. “Everyone’s expecting me to pretend.”

“You’re right. It’s so sad.” She stood, “I shouldn’t have come.”

“Wait, could I borrow your pen and notebook?”

She hesitated then pushed them towards him.

“I’m tired of pretending,” he wrote.

“Just be yourself,” she wrote back.

“Could we both be ourselves somewhere quieter?” he wrote.

She drew a smiley.

🥕🥕🥕

 

Line Prompt by Chelsea Owens

“Oh, Gustavo! I love you so. Tell me you love me in return.” She batted her long, dark eyelashes.

“Felicia,” he passionately answered, “How can I not? You are heaven to my Earth!”

Sighing, she succumbed to his embrace. He kissed her deeply, tasting a forbidden passion. They pulled apart, then… turn to the author.

Gustavo clears his throat. “Line?”

“What?” The author asks, startled. She looks down at her fingers, poised over the keyboard. “Oh. Sorry, guys. I got caught up in the moment.”

“How about:” Gustavo and Felicia became lost, for a moment, in each other’s eyes…

🥕🥕🥕

Thirty-Three Minutes by Debora Kiyono

In thirty-three minutes, she must be ready. It`s her only chance.

“C’mon! You can do this! It has to be a memorable combination of words, to align with his mind and allow him to decipher the code. A key for the map, within the story, that will take him out of the imprisonment and trigger his remembrance of everything.” – She thinks, pacing the floor.

Taking a deep breath, she sits and writes in hallucinated rhythm, smiling when she finds it.

When the window opens, she throws in the piece of paper with nine words written in one line.

🥕🥕🥕

On the Cards by Di @ pensitivity101

One of the designs I attempted when I first started making cards some years ago was curves with straight lines, using silvered thread in various fluorescent colours. It was quite straightforward and similar to the demonstration where we used threads on a serrated circle to get the desired effect. By adding a little diamante in the centre, the cards were simple but effective.

The only drawback I found on mine was that although they looked very nice on the front, the backs were always untidy, so I had to put a secondary card in place to cover my workings!

🥕🥕🥕

Lines by Kay Kingsley

Lines are for drawing, lines are for crossing, for waiting, towing or fishing.

We read lines, write lines, and use pick-up lines to meet others.

We drop a line of communication and build lines of defense.

We are in the line of sight or the line of fire.

Lines make boundaries, create hard lines between us, lines you don‘t want to cross.

We streamline, get our ducks in a line, hang clothes on the clothesline.

Lines show us where we have been and also where we dare to go beyond.

And that my friend, is no line at all.

🥕🥕🥕

Crossing the Line by Wallie and Friend

“You, young lady, have crossed a line.” Mrs. Perkins stood with her arms folded, her heart beating rapidly in her neck.

“Can’t we keep it, pleeease–”

“No. Go and put that thing back.”

Mabel stuck out her lip. “Pleeeeaaaase?”

With her husband in town, seeing the smile on Grandma Perkins’s face, Mrs. Perkins felt her resolve weaken.

“Oh come on,” said Grandma, standing next to Mabel. “Isn’t it the littlest thing you ever saw? What’s the harm?”

Mrs. Perkins pinched her nose. She looked through one eye at the ungainly creature in Mabel’s arms.

“Dragons,” she said, “get big.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lining Up Their Excuses by Geoff Le Pard

‘Did you ever get given lines, Logan?’

‘To read?’

‘No, as a punishment.’

‘Odd idea. I liked writing.’

‘Not if it’s the same thing over and over.’

‘Sounds like a Pinter play we did. That was punishment.’

‘What did you get then? As punishment.’

‘The ruler. That gave me lines. Barbaric.’

‘Not boring though. Wouldn’t happen today. A line you can’t cross eh?’

‘What’s this fixation with lines?’

‘My sis was wittering on about some line or other, causing her all sorts of trouble apparently.’

‘Yeah?’

‘A something party line. She used initials… VPL.’

‘Morris, you’re an utter tit.’

🥕🥕🥕

Guilty as Charged by Molly Stevens

The judge asked, “What do you have to say in your defense?”

“I didn’t mean for this to happen,” she replied.

“Well, you did, and now the damage is done. How did you sink to this level?”

“It started with a greeting in the hallway. Then we sat next to each other at lunch, which led to discussions over coffee.”

“That seems innocent enough.”

“It was. I’m as surprised as you that I was capable of seeing issues from her point of view.”

“You realize I have no choice but to punish you, right? You crossed the party line.”

🥕🥕🥕

Police Escort by Susan Sleggs

When my parents arrived for my son’s birthday party, my father was red-faced and sputtering. “We couldn’t turn off the side road because a cop blocked it for almost five minutes while a line of motorcycles flew by.”

“Did a lot of the bikes have American flags attached and were the riders wearing vests with lots of patches?”

“So what. They made us late.”

“I think you missed seeing the front of the line. That was the Patriot Guard escorting our neighbor’s cousin to her funeral. She was killed in Afghanistan.”

“Oh. I guess she deserved a cop escort.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Dropped Line by Roger Shipp

“Wish you the best.” Tears flowed from my eyes as I hugged my best friend since grammar school.

“Don’t worry,” whispered the beaming groom. “It’s only a week. I’ll even drop a line from Dubai. When I’m back, it’ll be like old times. Crystal understands us.
______________________

Giving one firm push to close the trunk I stepped alongside my wife. “See ya, son. Drive safe. Call us when you get there.”

David waved as he backed away.

“Don’t worry, Hon,” my wife said as she placed her head on my shoulder. “He said he’d drop us a line every week.’

🥕🥕🥕

Throwing a Line by Irene Waters

“Don’t you love being a pensioner?”

” Why? For the cheap public transport?”

“Absolutely. Where are we going today?”

“Let’s go on the Sunshine Coast Line.”

“That’s a long time in the train. What about something closer to home. We could get bored sitting for so long.”

“No problems for me. I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

“What have you done that’s so sensational?”

“Nothing silly. It’s a line from The Importance of being Earnest.”

“Why is it important to be earnest?”

🥕🥕🥕

Unparalleled by JulesPaige

The thin lines of her orange bikini stood out amid the waves and surf of Hawaii. Some of the men, tourists on the beach had to clutch their chests as their heart rates escalated. They all wondered if the woman had any propinquity or sempiternal relationships with the younger men who sat on beaches’ driftwood.

When she exited the water, the woman had a swagger like the local Nene. But that was the only thing the woman had in common with the gray-brown goose.

Imagination was like a hot air balloon – it would rise, eventually returning to Terra Ferma.

🥕🥕🥕

Reading Between the Lines by Norah Colvin

Four lines of footprints stretched along the shore. A line, mostly unbroken, edged one side; the other, a sequence of dots. The smaller prints danced lightly. The larger dragged heavily with one foot sideways. Criss-crosses of triple-pronged seagulls’ prints failed to obscure, unlike the smudge of ocean’s wet kisses. Tiny crabs scuttled their own story tracks through weeds, shells and stones coughed up by the sea. Beyond a collapsed castle, the footprints continued. In the distance—rocks. So far? He accelerated. Didn’t they know the tide had turned? Caught in the moment, they’d missed the signs. Lucky he didn’t.

🥕🥕🥕

The Line by  The Dark Netizen

Gupta was thoroughly bored now. He had been waiting in queue for a long time and the line had only increased rapidly.

Gupta looked around. Most of the people in the line were teens and young adults. Making conversation seemed difficult. The teenage girl standing behind Gupta sensed his uneasiness and broke the ice.

“The line is too slow. However, it is surprising to see you in this line.”

“Isn’t this the entry line for people who died while clicking photographs?”

“Not exactly! This line is for selfie deaths. The regular camera photo line is over there!”

Gupta sighed.

🥕🥕🥕

Dividing Equally by Heather Gonzalez

“You two better figure out how to get along.” Mom said closing their bedroom door.

“That is impossible!” yelled Molly crossing her arms in disgust.

“There is just no way to share this room. We should just draw a line to divide it equally and stay away from each other.” Polly said and pulled out a marker.

“Now stay on your side and don’t you dare cross the line,” Polly said feeling satisfied.

She wouldn’t realize how unequal the line was until a couple hours later when she needed to use the bathroom. Her side didn’t have a door.

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting in Line by Teresa Grabs

The worn-down woman’s bones creaked and ached as she woke her children before dawn.

“Quietly,” she whispers. “Don’t wake the others.”

Dutifully, the children rise and smooth the linen that served as last night’s blanket.

“Mama, I’m cold,” the youngest one says as the cool morning air punctures his skinny body.

“Why do we have to do this every morning?” her oldest daughter asks.

“Shush,” their mother tells them as they reach the end of the line.

“Maybe one day we’ll be able to have food again without waiting in line,” she tells her children.

“Yes, Mama,” they concede.

🥕🥕🥕

Lifetime Passion by Ann Edall-Robson

Speaking volumes of risqué thoughts and borderline worships with an avant-garde, flamboyant collection of pinks, greens and purple shades thrown into the mix. Who would have thought that one day of playing could turn into a lifetime passion? From afar, or near, it’s not easy to see what prompted the glorious, devil may care conglomeration of flowers surrounded by the oddest looking wavy lines of wood. The hooker red and devil black colours of the short picket fence melded with the ambiance of the flora. A subtle shock factor as one board flanked the next in dramatic contrast.

🥕🥕🥕

“Beltane’s Song” by Colleen Chesebro

I plunged my hands into the soil feeling the remains of winter’s damp. I smiled as the sun’s abundant rays covered me in a blanket of warmth and opulence. Today brings the first indication that a line has been crossed from winter into spring.

Consecrating life –

Goddess fertility thrives,

Beltane’s assurance.

Birds cantillate, flowers bloom,

crops sprout neath the flower moon.

Spring has always been my favorite time of year. Beltane is halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Beltane honors new life. It represents that Spring is underway, and Summer is just around the corner.

🥕🥕🥕

Car Wash by Sarah Whiley

“This rain is really coming down hard!” she thought, “I can barely see the lines!”

She craned her neck, and gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to stay in her lane. Suddenly, bright red lights flared in front of her. She slammed her foot on the brake pedal, but it was too late.

The car slid on the wet black coming to rest, in the back of the car in front of her. She pulled over and got out of the car to talk to the other driver. Relief washed over her as she realised it was her husband!

🥕🥕🥕

Lined Up to Go (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Wagons lined up to cross Rock Creek. Early season argonauts set land sails toward Colorado Territory – Pikes Peak or Bust. Wagons hauling wares to mining-camps joined throngs of optimistic miners. Sarah counted several women, rare as mules among oxen. The trek suited the bull-headed. Seated next to Cobb on their Conestoga, they waited. He wanted to reckon crossings. The muddy slopes caused slippage and broken axels. Two wagons tipped, one man drowned, and two-hundred and fifty-four wagons crossed.

“That settles it,” Cobb said after Sarah lined up the numbers. “We’re buying Rock Creek Station and building a toll bridge.”

🥕🥕🥕

 

Part II (10-minute read)

Squall Line by D. Avery

She could weather this one out, batten the hatches; these storms never lasted more than three days.

Somehow they always managed to arrive within moments of each other.

Three cars’ worth of doors flung open at once, spilling grandchildren who swirled behind their parents, the mass of them a single squall line bearing down, gusting through the front door without so much as a knock, her daughters’ smiles flashing like lightning.

The men and children retreated to the beach while her daughters assaulted her home, dusting, scrubbing; organizing her cupboards.

The aftermath was always erosion. She was losing ground.

🥕🥕🥕

Wise Woman’s Warning by Paula Moyer

Her junior year, Jean’s marriage collapsed.

So her mother warned her about “the line”: “My wife doesn’t understand me.”

“They’ll say that,” Mom cautioned. “Watch out.”

Jean blew Mom off. It sounded like an old, not-so-good movie. Until.

She was studying at an all-night coffee shop. Stan was in the next booth. Her best friend’s husband. “What are you doing here?”

“Charlie left.” Jean cried. Stan came over, gave her tissues. Put his arm around her shoulder.

“We should talk,” he said. “Sarah doesn’t understand me.”

Thanks to Mom, Jean was ready.

“Sarah understands you,” Jean answered. “Too well.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lines by Ritu Bhathal

“Here’s ten pence.”

“Sorry, do I know you?”

“Call your mum. Tell her you’re not coming home.”

“What?”

“You must be so tired.”

“Huh?”

“Because you’ve been running through my dreams all night.”

“Just stop.”

“I seem to have lost my phone number. Can I have yours?”

“Seriously?”

“Kiss me if I’m wrong, but dinosaurs still exist, right?”

“Oh, God!”

“Can I follow you home? Cause my parents always told me to follow my dreams.”

“You know, if you’d just asked me out, I’d have probably said yes. But after those cheesy pick-up lines, I really don’t think so!”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by kate@aroused

Just as trains travel on lines society also has lines of acceptable behaviour and anyone who crossed those lines were punished accordingly.

But over the years those boundaries have eroded, and too many elected or paid have stepped over the line. Society ignores these blatant breaches as they investigate their own … #metoo; officers murdering innocent people; corrupt pollies siphoning off all that they can!

The lines are blurred, the moral compass whirling uncontrollably. Finally, women are taking action now society needs to step up and make the lawmakers and enforcers responsible for their dire actions. Enough Deaths!

🥕🥕🥕

Lines in the Sand by Robbie Cheadle

It is not easy

to draw lines in the sand

Preventing the development

of unreasonable and unrealistic

expectations by others

those who are not motivated

to learn from you

expanding their own horizons

It is not easy

to draw lines in the sand

It is less challenging

to simply capitulate

and possibly to bask

in the knowledge

that others admire you

relying on your judgment

It is not easy

to draw lines in the sand

Until one day you discover

it is a usury relationship

that pushes you to your limits

while spectators watch on

witnessing your eventual

destruction.

🥕🥕🥕

Cheesy Lines in Apocalyptic Times by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Air quality alerts had been on “Severe” for the past two months. The pub was filled with exhausted workers.

“Stock in Enviro-domes hit an unprecedented high today,” a googly-eyed hack chirped from the TV above the bar. “So much winning in our war against the Climate Accord!”

Molly drooped over her pint, breath labored and bubbling. “I’m sick of being sick.”

“I know a sure remedy for that!” a skeletal man waggled his eyebrows, his leer thick as the city smog.

“I’d say blow it out your ass, Jack, but it stinks worse than your cheesy lines,” Molly snapped.

🥕🥕🥕

Imaginary Lion by Anne Goodwin

She used to think it was a lion circling the earth. But, older now, she saw how dumb that was: not even an imaginary lion could walk on water. No, it was a line, as she wrote in her essay, anticipating a shiny gold star. And everyone standing on that line – Brazilians, Kenyans, Congolese – would be equal. That’s what equator meant. No billionaires guzzling caviar while others starved. When she grew up she’d join them. Or maybe not. Maybe she’d find a way to thicken the line to a band and stretch it from the Arctic to Cape Horn.

🥕🥕🥕

Lines by Papershots

“And all these coinciding factors caused a state of utter poverty…” He was struggling the get the girls’ attention. Their highlighters drew colorful lines through the paragraphs of the book. That was more interesting than his words. “There’s a striking resemblance with today. Think about the current crisis.” One girl looked up, but the professor’s gaze was on the clear-cut horizon of the fields outside, above the straight line of the window. He wished history could be like that. Surely he couldn’t cross that line? “Personally I like them blonde but brunettes are fine as well, when they’re young…”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by floridaborne

A classroom, 1956, parent-teacher day. Helen struggles to understand why her mother hates the newly married Princess Grace. Where is the line between good and bad? Are movie stars always bad, too?

Better not interrupt their conversation… too dangerous. She sits quietly, hoping her mother’s time will run out so she can go home and hide in her room.

“Look at this!” Her teacher says, holding up a picture Helen had colored. “She made the sky black!”

“They’re rain clouds,” Helen explains.

“Hateful child,” her mother hisses at her.

No one cares to ask why Helen’s sky is black.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Lisa A. Listwa

Echoes of laughter-laced music from last night’s party crept out from behind the tree line and moved across the field. The piney air carried the suggestion of alcohol-doused firewood and nearly frozen vomit, followed by something not quite appropriate to the occasion – the unmistakable scent of fresh blood.

“What do you think it is, Pa,” Robby asked, “a wolf kill?”

“More’n likely a human kill, son. Folks get mighty worked up when booze is involved, find it easy to let themselves go. But there’s lines you just don’t cross, and once you’ve gone over, there’s no getting yourself back.”

🥕🥕🥕

 

Lines Cut by D. Avery

I said I’d drop her a line and left; for adventure, for independence, for life.

I traveled, knew the hypnotic spell of the white line binding the highway’s edge, don’t cross it. I pulsed to the marcato beat of white lines cut on a sad square of mirror, don’t look. Learned to cook with a crucible spoon, quick and easy recipe scratched in welted purple lines on my skin, don’t ask.

My life is a tangled, broken web, doesn’t hold fast. She tossed a lifeline, but I cut it into pieces to knot around my arm, no going back.

🥕🥕🥕

White Line by Lisa Rey

He sat looking at the line of drugs in front of him. It had been a difficult time since his Mum died last year. He had fallen into depths he never thought he would.

But today he heard the news of his buddy Lukas’ death from drugs. It shook him to his core. He looked at the white line once more before pushing it to the floor with an angry swipe. Then he cried bitter tears partly because he was free and partly because for the first time he had to face grief and the horrible reality of it.

🥕🥕🥕

Because You’re Mine…I Walk the Line by Peregrine Arc

I jumbled another quarter into the jukebox, willing the old machine to pick up a record and come back to life.

“Cash for Cash,” I mumbled, my nose pressed eagerly against the dusty glass casing.

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine…” meandered out, scratchy but strong. I sighed and finally sat down to my breakfast.

“Johnny, it’s not going too good here,” I mumbled
between my yolks. “How did you get through life without losing hope and faith?”

“...I walk the line…

🥕🥕🥕

 

 

Fish Tale by Jack Schuyler

The line went taut.

“I got somethin’ on.” My pole bent, and the spool hissed. “somethin’ big.”

“Let it run, or you’ll lose it.”

I braced myself against the boat and put the handle between my legs. Pink brine rolled across the deck, and my boots squeaked as I planted my feet. The line went out faster and faster.

“Don’t fall in.”

The spool was screaming now, and I leaned precariously over deep green water.

The pole jumped. Fifty yards out something cleared the surface and arched over the grey horizon.

“Is that a girl?”

“Can’t be…”

“A mermaid.”

🥕🥕🥕

On the Other Side of the Line by Reena Saxena

A crowd gathered near the shore in the old port town.

“Women have always been punished for crossing the line. Eve took a bite of the apple. Sita crossed the line drawn by one man, to be kidnapped by another. The crimes against women have increased since, and the victim blamed.

I tried to escape on a boat, and had my legs cut off. But I have learnt how to swim. There is no helplessness on the other side of the line.”

So saying, the mermaid spat on the perpetrator…. it was the venom she had carried for ages.

🥕🥕🥕

Served by D. Avery

“Dang, look it thet long line at Shorty’s chuck wagon.”

“Yep, she’s in a bloomin’ good mood Kid. Spring’s got ‘er cookin’ outdoors again an’ she’s fried up a mess a bacon fer ever’one.”

“Yeehaw! ‘Bout time! Let’s go. Oh, yeah, Pal, ya kin smell the bacon even back here at the end a the line. I cain’t wait.”

“Ya’ll have ta wait Kid, wait yer turn.”

“I know Pal.”

“Otherwise ya’d be outta line.”

“I ain’t gittin’ outta this line… almost there, Pal… Shorty! Shorty? Why’d ya serve me a carrot?”

“Sorry, Kid, outta bacon, but carrots aplenty.”

🥓🥓🥓

 

May 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

Between ice and crocus, spring lunges across the Keweenaw Peninsula. No sooner did we hack down the snow bank did the warming sun reveal bursts of snowdrops, scilla, and grape hyacinth. Purples of all hues, creamy whites, and buttery yellows paint the greening grass as tree limbs stretch skyward with fat buds.

Never have I witnessed a spring so eager as not to wait for the passing of snow. I recall the slow gray days and brown transitions elsewhere. Here, I feel transported to a Thomas Kincade scene gone wild throughout my neighborhood.

To exemplify how close spring grazes winter, on Monday we drove the familiar path to Iron Mountain for a VA appointment. As we curved around the Keweenaw Bay in a ying-yang of ice and open water, I watched an ice fisherman walk out to his hole while another man prepared to launch a boat. No changing of the guard, just a strange co-existence as one season fades and the other blazes to life.

Tulip leaves with seductive curves reach out of the grass. How soon before they add to the canvas? I’ve never been as excited to spot flowers as I do birds, but it’s hard to resist the call of the colors. Somehow, it excites me more about the birds. In a mood to drive, to soak in the warmth of days, to spot flowers and winged fowl, the Hub and I meander home the long way from Iron Mountain and end up in the port city of Marquette.

We drive down to the pier where the iron ore dock stands like an abandoned skyscraper above a crackle of broken harbor ice. Lake Superior stretches out winter white and we drive by with windows rolled down. I feel like I’ve run down a rabbit hole where winter is warm, and spring bulbs dot the snow. We lose count of hawk sightings on the drive back to Hancock.

About ten miles from home, the Sturgeon River fills its banks with snowmelt. The week before we couldn’t access the marsh bird tower at this site because snow closed the road. This week, the road is clear, the river full, and the marsh is half ice, half winter grass. Eagerly, I take the wooden steps up to the three-story-tall observation deck of the Sturgeon River bird tower.

Between me and the far reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula, I can see flat marsh, the river, the Portage Canal, and the ridge that hides Lake Superior. White seagulls circle over the canal when I scope the far horizon in my binoculars. A double-breasted cormorant flies low past the bird tower with slow flaps, dipping its head downward to scan the river.

Mallard drakes leap out of a patch of grass. Two veer left, and I keep binoculars on the one flying toward a frozen ditch in the shadow of a bank. It hovers over the bank, and beneath its webbed feet, I see something black begin to move. It glides out onto the ice, and I recognize the form of a river otter.

Slink, slink, glide…slink, slink, glide…

I squeal and watch Otter on Ice close-up in my binoculars. The Hub can see the movement and lets me look, knowing how excited I am. When the otter disappears into an open hole of water, I finally hand him the binoculars. A river otter sighting is like seeing Elvis at the mall. Everybody knows Elvis lives, but no one ever really sees him.

Later, when walking with Cranky (my neighbor who sells crank sewing machines), we talk about the otter and remark at all the crocuses and spring bulbs quilting the neighborhood. A robin twitters overhead as if to point out the buds. I say I want to be an otter — to glide on my belly across ice seems such a delight.

That’s when the bumblebee buzzes past, and we follow his trail to the cup of a purple crocus. Like a  dog rolling in the grass, the bee tumbles about the flower, and I decide I want to be a bee, too. I feel childlike with all senses open — the smells of the earth, the tweets of birds, the feel of the setting sun, the blaze of colors. I want to glide and roll in it all.

It reminds me of coloring and the reproof to color within the lines.

But what if the lines are a part of the coloring? Edges define one place to the next. I’m fascinated by edges and where we go past them. Lines separate and organize. Lines are to be crossed. All lined up feels formal and arranged. Perhaps winter and all its lines have me yearning for the scattering of color outside them. It’s not the end of the line. It’s only the beginning.

May 3, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story. You can think of the variation of the word meaning, or you can think of visual references. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by May 15, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

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

Lined Up to Go (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Wagons lined up to cross Rock Creek. Early season argonauts set land sails toward Colorado Territory – Pikes Peak or bust. Wagons hauling wares to mining-camps joined throngs of optimistic miners. Sarah counted several women, rare as mules among oxen. The trek suited the bull-headed. Seated next to Cobb on their Conestoga, they waited. He wanted to reckon crossings. The muddy slopes caused slippage and broken axels. Two wagons tipped, one man drowned, and two-hundred and fifty-four wagons crossed.

“That settles it,” Cobb said after Sarah lined up the numbers. “We’re buying Rock Creek Station and building a toll bridge.”

Fish Tales

Did you hear about the one that got away? Perhaps the big fish tale is among the oldest ever told. But there’s plenty of fish tales swimming in the sea, rippling the waters of ponds and creeks around the world.

Writers hauled in the catch this week, hooking tales to keep your interest. You don’t have to fish for the best flash fiction to read — this collection is fully stocked.

The following are based on the April 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fish tale.

PART I (10-minute read)

Impossible Homework Assignment by Molly Stevens

“Mom, the worst thing happened today!” said Charli, flinging her backpack onto the counter.

“Oh, what?” asked her long-suffering mother, immune to teen melodrama with daily exposure.

“Mrs. Mills is making us write an essay about fishing. The thought of slimy worms and stinky fish make me sick, and I don’t want to write about it.”

“Perhaps she wants you to stretch your writing muscles,” her mother said.

“She’ll be sorry when she sees puke stains on my paper.”

“I’m sure you can do it.”

“No, I can’t! What’s for dinner? I’m starving.”

“Fish sticks and French fries.”

“Yum!”

🥕🥕🥕

Hooked by D. Avery

“Earnest, I’ll teach you all you need to know about fishing.”
Unable and unwilling to bait his own hooks, Marge had Earnest use a lure. Earnest practiced casting, the lure flying about in all directions.
“Earnest, I’m gonna try my luck further down.”
Marge did not get far. The treble hook of Earnest’s lure pierced Marge’s pants and was firmly set in her ample cheek.
After the ER, eating take-out fish dinner, Marge admitted fishing could be a pain in the ass. The next time she went, Earnest stayed home. He had all he needed to know about fishing.

🥕🥕🥕

The Fishing Trip by Lisa A. Listwa

“Been forever since I fished these waters. Or any. Won’t be much good.”

Joe watched as his grandfather stood in the shallows, silent and motionless. He hadn’t been himself since Gran died.

“Ya know, Gramps,” said Joe quietly, “you always said it didn’t matter if we caught anything, just that we get our toes wet and try. Gran would want you to get your toes wet.”

Gramps looked down at the water splashing over the toes of his boots.

“Well, I’m halfway there already…”

Gramps straightened his hat, stepped out of his boots, and splashed into the cool water.

🥕🥕🥕

Passing On The Spear by Luccia Gray

Manolin pounded his fists on the weathered door. “Santiago, I’ve brought you coffee!”

The old man had spent the last weeks chasing a giant marlin and fighting off sharks with a simple knife on his way back home. The boy admired him as the best fisherman.

“Get dressed, Santiago! We need to go out to sea again. There are plenty more marlins to catch!”
Santiago looked up, his eyes shining and beads of sweat dripping down his brow. “You go. Here, I give you my spear.”

“But you must teach me!”

“Not anymore. Now I must join the lions.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fishing Reflections by Christina Costner

It was the one thing he had in common with his father, their love of fishing. The amicable silence they shared once their rods were cast, waiting for a bite or better still, catch. The only noise came from the stream trickle as water bubbled over mossy rubble and rocks.

A year after his burial, he packed his most prized tackled, loaded his truck and set off for their spot. He was comforted by the familiar stream bubble and poured whiskey from his flask. Casting his rod he whispered goodbye to his boy, remembering the amicable silence once shared.

🥕🥕🥕

The Pacific by Kay Kingsley

If I close my eyes, I’m a kid again, standing in the bait shop with my dad and sister, filled with excitement, in awe of the shining lures that look like toys on the walls.

They beg a closer look, even tricking little humans to their innocence, but behind the glitter hides a hook of death.

I hold the Styrofoam bowl of night crawlers in the dirt, thousands of legs attempting a fruitless dance of escape.

We head to the coast.

On the pier, we underhand cast lines into the morning fog of the Pacific and wait for a bite.

🥕🥕🥕

Big Catch by Heather Gonzalez

My uncle always took the older kids on the boat to go deep sea fishing at the annual family reunion, and I was finally going.

My older brother was the first to feel a tug on his line and caught a baby shark. Everyone patted him on the back with pride. I finally felt a tug on the line of my Barbie fishing pole. I dramatically reeled in my big catch so everyone would notice.

“What did I catch?” I yelled.

I looked down at the end of my fishing line to see a seashell stuck to my hook.

🥕🥕🥕

Fishing by Ladyleemanila

There were two fishermen from South China Sea
They were fishing, and sea was choppy
They have not caught any fish
And they are getting anguish
The wives were there waiting and getting angry

There was a fisherman whose name is Kurdapyo
A henpecked husband of Rosario
They have six kids at home
Their names in palindrome
If they don’t eat, you will soon hear their bellow

His friend’s name is Antonio Santos
Whose wife Rosita is also crossed
He thought it would be fun
To go out with such a pun
Engine spews out black cloud of exhaust

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Farmers at Sea-A Fishy Tale by Bill Engleson

“You’ve talked about this before?”

“From time to time. I was a baby. I have no clear recollection.”

“Your parents were fishers?”

“Yes. Landlubbers who set to sea for the adventure. Then I came along.”

“That must have added to the thrill of the undertaking.”

“So, they told me. It must have been very hard for them.”

“Living on a fish-boat with a baby?”

“I think it leaked some.”

“Really?”

“Well, maybe not a whole lot. Enough for me to kiss the earth and thank my lucky stars I survived.”

“You’re exaggerating, right?”

“Only enough to make it interesting.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fishing by Michael Grogan

The angel looked down on the row of men, each with a pole, each with a line extending into the water.

One man pulled in his line and on the end was a wriggling beast the man removed and dropped into a bucket at his feet.

Inquiring he was told they were fishing. It was an earthly pastime, and people found it relaxing.

The angel thought it looked easy and taking the pole from a sleeping man cast the line in. From the water came a rush of swine fish reminding him of his ability to cast out swine.

🥕🥕🥕

Fishing by Irene Waters

The road stretched out long and straight through the desert.  Signs of civilisation appeared. Bait 1 km. Fishing tackle Menindee General Store. “It’s hard to believe…” I stopped for now in front of me I saw a huge lake. An oasis that replaced the red sand.

“Yep, it’s hard to believe.” The water shimmered in the sunlight. We stopped and bought gear and headed to the water’s edge. We fished all afternoon without a bite, but our friendship was becoming as solid as cement.

On returning to our friend’s place, he said, “Well they caught you hook, line and sinker.”

🥕🥕🥕

Reeling in the Fishermen by Norah Colvin

She sat by the window watching as the invisible painter colored the morning sky. These moments lost in waking dreams, with the youngest of her brood suckling quietly, were precious. Slamming car doors and laughter interrupted the silence but not her thoughts. An occasional word invaded her consciousness…haul, fishing, catch. Wait—her man, a fisherman, was home. The night was not conducive to fishing. She leaned forward. Two dark figures unloaded a ute. They had neither lines nor nets, and it sure wasn’t fish in those boxes. “Fisherman, eh?” she thought as she dialed the local police. “You’re hooked.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Fisherman Becomes The Fish by Teresa Grabs

For close to thirty years Jeff fished on the Grand Banks. Dismissing tales of the magic haddock, he would reel in anything that had the misfortune of swimming near his boat.

“Last summer, we pulled in a baby orca,” he bragged to the new baiter.

“The orca isn’t a fish,” the baiter noted. “It’s a mammal.”

“If it comes from the sea, it’s a fish! Get back to work!”

That night Jeff dreamed of being caught in a giant net dropping silently from the sky.

“If it comes from the sea, it’s a fish,” the alien told his son.

🥕🥕🥕

First Bite by Papershots

This hierarchy nature has set: the seagull will get first bite, whoever fished, whatever was fished. Its menacing mew distances two black crows, left with a minor, resigned twang. They do stay, though. In the sand near the shore, something glistens and sparkles. Seagull swoops down, crows stand back; seagull grabs half of it – a crackling, snapping sound – and flies back up; crows can approach now, get whatever’s left. The sky responds by being blue; lapping waves give rhythm to a natural occurrence. It was plastic. It was plastic. It was nothing more than a piece of unadulterated plastic.

🥕🥕🥕

The One That Got Away by Sarah

I was looking forward to the fishing trip. I always loved the thrill of the catch… well, most of the time! Sometimes I came away hungry!

Arriving at my favourite spot, I saw a couple of men were already there. “Ah, some healthy competition,” I thought. I set myself up and waited.

A few fish were congregating but were disappointingly undersized. They wouldn’t sate my appetite!

Suddenly, I spied a good-sized, juicy-looking trout. I swooped in; snapped up the wriggling fish in my beak, and flew away.

“Hey, Bob! That bird just stole your fish!” a man onshore yelled.

🥕🥕🥕

Bet on the Lady by Paula Moyer

Jean and Steve had always wondered about the “launches” – big flat boats steered by a fishing guide.

That Saturday night on Mille Lacs, Wayne steered them to “his” spot. He baited Jean’s hook, cast out. Steve did his own. They waited. In the dusk, they spied a rowboat, two men. Waiting.

A bobble. “I’ve got something.”

Wayne reeled in the walleye on Jean’s rod, big and flopping.

In the fish house, Wayne gutted, chatted. The rowboat guys gutted theirs. “We had a bet going,” one said. “I bet on the lady.” He grinned.

Jean laughed. “I’d bet on Wayne.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Smallest Fish Story by Chelsea Owens

I caught it -I did; my first fish! I’ll tell you how I did it:

First, all dressed, I ran to the pond. I found a pole, just laying there, and hooks and bait and such. I picked it up and swished it ’round, and -before it even hit the water- something wriggled at its end.

I brought it close and THERE! A flapping, fidgeting fish was hooked. He was a ‘beaut: all sparkly rainbows and twisting, flailing life.

I watched him gape-mouthed struggling, when I heard a shout, “Hey, kid! That’s mine!” and had to come back home.

🥕🥕🥕

Gone Fishin’ by Deborah Lee

“I’m completely renewed, you know how revitalizing a whole makeover is — new cut, new clothes, new toilette, new everything,” Torrey chirps. She raises one wrist, takes a deep sniff, smiles at Lesley, smiles even more brilliantly at Alan’s attorney across the conference table. Alan couldn’t make this settlement negotiation; business. That suits Torrey. She flips her hair and sniffs her wrist again, simpers at the attorney.

“Ah, yes,” the man says drily. “Deep Woods Off No. 5.”

Torrey’s mouth snaps shut audibly.

“You were angling for a compliment, Mrs. Graff,” the attorney says. “Be careful what you fish for.”

🥕🥕🥕

Heavenly Timing by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“How about him?”

Gabby considered, lazily twirling her lariat. “If he finds what he needs on Earth, I’ll hold off collecting.”

“Timing is everything?” Petra peered over the cloud’s edge, wings stilled.

That’s when Gabby spied her. “Now that’s potential!”

A young woman perched on the metro bench, just three feet behind the young man. She adjusted her sandal strap, while he stared into his smartphone.

“Just fish that phone out of his hand. Send it her way!” Petra pointed. Gabby launched her lariat.

The young woman was an excellent catch.

At least, that’s what Grandpa always told us.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

How Mel got Her Own Back by Aweni

Smacking his broad gold lips, Donald did not see the malevolent look Mel gave him.

She made those babies. They should be hers for the eating, not Donald’s.

Dolefully, she plotted with the others. They shared her sentiments.

When a golden-haired girl, not more than six walked in with her mother screaming excitedly, “Goldfish! Goldfish!”, the plotters knew their chance had come.

When the net descended, Donald was pushed and shoved. Next, he knew, the girl was staring at him with glee through the walls of a clear bag. While Mel mourned the eggs, she should have had.

🥕🥕🥕

Inside the Goldfish Bowl by Anne Goodwin

After her injection, Matty enters the lounge, eschewing the armchairs lining the room. Not because of the dull ache where the needle pierced her derriere. Not because the wipe-clean upholstery sticks to her skin. But because she feels too energised for idleness.

From behind the glass partition, a student observes Matty’s elegance in circling the room. Passing their tank, the goldfish pause their back and forth to watch too. Until a maid scattering crumbs across the water makes them swim to the surface, mouths agape. Magic dust to keep them merry. Without it, this place would send them mad.

🥕🥕🥕

First Impressions by Susan Sleggs

I was late picking up my new out-door enthusiast girlfriend to take to dinner at my parents and never noticed something on the front of her wool jacket, but my mother did. On the way home I asked what the small opaque disks were.

“Oh dear, they’re fish scales. I helped Dad clean the fish we had for breakfast.”

“I want my parents to welcome you back if you’ll go with me again, please be more careful.”

“I’ll do that but you should know welcoming a red-neck like me and accepting me is two different things in my book.”

🥕🥕🥕

Intersections? by JulesPaige

The anglers are out again. On the other side of the creek. I mow to disturb their silence. I want them far away. I want my own golden silence reflected by the day’s spring sun.

stay in the shadow
you old trout, leave the lures be;
let me see your stripes

So what’s my angle? In my secluded shaded sanctuary. A good friend sent me a sticker “She believed she could so she did” – I peek through curtained windows in awe of a new day, beginning again.

staying in shadow
I am encouraged to show
my own moxey stripe

🥕🥕🥕

Fishing for Dinner by Di

I’d never been fishing before and was afraid to make an ass of myself as I didn’t know how to bait my hook, cast a line, or reel one in if I caught one. Everyone else were dab hands until we were aboard the privately hired boat and I discovered they were dangler anglers.

I felt better, relaxed and began to have fun.

I caught the first fish, an ugly brute with scissor teeth I was informed was a snapper.

How apt.

I caught some others too, and they all went in the bucket.

Boy, did they taste good!

🥕🥕🥕

Fishing by the moon is rising

They were fishing for hours without a bite when a gentleman came and cut a willow switch and upon its narrow end tied some twine. Dipping the cord into the lake, he seemed then to utter a prayer and finished by removing his hat and casting a low, slow bow towards the water.

Within minutes, he landed a fish, and every five minutes another until he had six. Then he left.

After an hour, the first man rose and bowed to the water, then the second, then the third. The gentleman, hidden away, chuckled as he watched the scene.

🥕🥕🥕

Fishing…by Debra Kiyono

Confused about my feelings, I thought that talking to a friend would help.

“Let’s go fishing, now! It`s going to make you feel better!” – Marcus guaranteed.

Couple of hours later, trapped in a boat, I wanted to scream.

Marcus was clearly displeased when I stood up. Before he could say anything, I dove into the water, taking my time to come to surface again.

“You are scaring the fishes away!” – He shouted angrily.

Having fun, I didn`t bother and swam calmly and smoothly to the shore.

“Definitely, I feel better!” – I realized while letting myself lie on the sand.

🥕🥕🥕

A Fish Tale by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

For one day each year, she could swim in the sea. The rest of the time, Aria found herself choked with fear knowing she couldn’t swim.

At dawn, Aria closed her eyes and dove beneath the waves. With firm strokes, she slipped between the green ribbons of seaweed undulating below. Golden sunlight streaks pierced the darkness reflecting off the jeweled scales of a massive fish maneuvering in the deep.

Aria headed toward the reef. She had to make the most of the day. She flipped her tail in joyous abandon. It was a good day to be a mermaid.

🥕🥕🥕

Holiday Resorts by Reena Saxena

The lantern fish was holding a seminar for other species.

“The bottom of the ocean has a temperature of minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and you need to learn to survive it. We teach you another sport – use your lower pectoral fins as legs to walk on the bottom of the ocean, and explore it well. There are plenty of succulent plants to feed on….”

“Is it a kind of holiday resort for us, with leisure activities thrown in?”

“Call it survival… if you wish to protect yourself from the human picnickers wielding fishing rods and have a good time.”

🥕🥕🥕

Territory by thedarknetizen

As I move around, I see the little ones scurrying about. One look at me, and they start running helter skelter. And they should.

This is my territory. Every rock, every plant, is owned by me. If they choose to make their way here, they choose to give up their freedom and submit to my sovereignty. I am the king. Wait, I see a shadow looming over me. It is humongous, covering my entire territory. I guess it is time for me to exit these waters and head elsewhere.

After all, there is always a bigger fish out there.

🥕🥕🥕

Fish Tale by Frank Hubeny

He wondered if a mermaid was a fish or if he’d catch anything today or if the soldiers would spot him.

Once he was robbed. They almost killed him with the beating. He didn’t mind dying, but he had to bring fish home to Martha and Peter.

He was too delirious from the bombings and hiding to catch food. He slept till she woke him handing him more fish than he’d ever expected to see. “For Martha and Peter. And you.”

As she turned to dive into the water, he thought he heard her say, “I’m not a fish.”

🥕🥕🥕

“The Origin of Goldie” by Goldie

Nearly a year ago I found myself in the woods at the crack of dawn. The dew was still gently coating the fallen leaves as if protecting them from my destructive footprints. Feeling lost, I considered my options: I could turn around and follow the beaten path that got me here or keep moving forward into the uncharted territory of the forest.

As soon as I stepped forward, I noticed a fish floating ahead of me.

“Golden fish, please grant me a wish.”

“What you need is to write. Go forth and create a WordPress blog.”

A new beginning.

🥕🥕🥕

Blood Sport by Nicole

Joanna hated witnessing the doe-eyed trophies suspended inverted from a scaffold at the end of the harbor, their purple tongues pointing toward the bloodied ground. She hated watching fish with gaping gills flop to death on the bottom of her family’s boat. She loathed the mounted antlered head above the fireplace and the bearskin rug in front of the hearth. Harpooned whales may have sustained her ancestors, but they haunted her dreams. Joanna understood the hunted heart. She didn’t see the point in hurting innocents and ached for the day when she’d no longer be her papa’s favored prey.

🥕🥕🥕

She Fought So Hard by Kyrosmagica

For a wee woman, you certainly pull in the big boys,’ joked keen fisherman Robin.

Melinda smiled; it had been a memorable day, she’d caught the biggest fish going. For a moment she’d forgotten her punishing chemotherapy struggle.

She never complained even when her hair fell out and grew back curly. Instead, she laughed; but it sounded hollow. I doubt she recognised herself.

Soft-hearted Melinda died within days of her fiftieth birthday. At the funeral I picked up her old school photo; I wept, I never knew she’d been a gymnast. Cancer the guilt bringer, I should have known.

🥕🥕🥕

The Ghost Fish! by Anita Dawes

I always feel like a picture in a colouring book, snow white, waiting for paint to fill in between the lines. Bright orange and white stripes. Blue and red, something to give me life.

I am a ghost swimming in an ocean of colour, shunned by my fellow beings, happy in their part of the universe while I swim alone, unwanted by the brightness around me.

I have seen how easily a child colours in while her father is fishing. I should throw myself on the hook and hope the child can colour in one lonely white clown fish…

🥕🥕🥕

Fish’N’Chips by Ritu Bhathal

“Oh, he’s going to be so excited!”

“Fish will finally have his Chips with him!”

Voices filtered through the water, reaching Fish as he swam around in his little tank.

What on earth were they going on about? Why was he going to get excited? Who Chips?

Just then, the water rippled, and he came face to face with Chips for the first time.

Great.

“Let me just get this straight,” he said, “this is MY tank, and-“

Chips opened her mouth into a coy O shape and let loose a flirtatious bubble stream…

“-I think I love you!”

🥕🥕🥕

Mermaid Therapy by Peregrine Arc

“Mermaid therapy, this way, please. Swim, lightly. Come now.”

“Excuse me, my good merman–is this the meeting spot?”

“Depends, what meeting are you looking for?”

“The symposium for mermaid therapy…?”

“Why, yes–I’m the therapist. Now tell me, what ails you? Come now, no one’s around.”

“It’s my son, Crustacean. He keeps having nightmares about hooks floating above his head. Ever since the incident with the trawler last summer, he hasn’t been the same. Can you help us? We’re desperate for relief.”

“Yes, I can. I have one word: magnets.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fishy Story by floridaborne

“So you won’t take your daughter fishing?” The old man in a captain’s hat asked.

“I don’t dare,” I replied.

“Why?” he chuckled.

Good. He took the bait. “She had a field trip to a chicken processing plant. They go in squawking and come out in packages. Now, she runs screaming every time I serve it at home.”

“That’s terrible!”

“Sometimes she hears the ghosts of chickens haunt her.”

The sound of squawking seemed to come from everywhere. The old man paled and backed away.

Did I mention I’m a ventriloquist? Five annoying tour guides down, one to go.

🥕🥕🥕

PART III

Osprey by Ann Edall-Robson

She’d pined for the creek where she’d fished. Riding to the old bridge on her horse, her fishing rod fitting nicely in an old gun scabbard her dad had given her.

She had heard there was a new bridge and fish were no longer running in the creek. Sad, she thought as she drove on the gravel road towards the memories.

She could see she was being watched from the top of the steel girders. If the osprey were nesting here, it was a sure sign there were fish in the creek. Good thing she’d brought her fishing rod.

🥕🥕🥕

Fishing Opener by Charli Mills

Harriette wrapped her arms around Ralph’s girth. He slowed down when the trail dipped and skirted puddles of brown snowmelt. A month ago, they had enjoyed the last snowmobile trek of the season. Now it was time to ride the four-wheeler. The couple had strapped their fishing rods, gear and a picnic lunch to the back. At last, mud-splattered, the rough trail broke out of the trees and opened to an inlet along the shoreline of Lake Superior.

Ralph quickly grabbed gear and headed up the small stream to catch trout. Harriette left her pole and fished for agates.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle

Later that afternoon, Beth set a fishing line which she left overnight. Beth was very good at this and often caught an eel or two. She would dig for worms in the kitchen garden to bait the line.

The eels were a greenish-brown and looked like snakes, which was a bit creepy, but they were very good, cooked in milk and water in a frying pan, and flavoured with pepper.

Elsie really hoped that Beth would catch some eels for them to eat. In the morning, Beth would run down to the river to see what she had caught.

🥕🥕🥕

When A Friend Angles For A Companion, Beware You Might Get Hooked by geoffle

‘Do you like fishing, Logan?’

‘Never tried it. Too much sitting and staring.’

‘Don’t you think we could do with more sitting and staring?’

‘I get enough of that in the loo, Morgan.’

‘I’m talking about contemplative sitting, not your comprehensive shitting.’

‘It’s still too boring. There’s so much more to life.’

‘But we need peace and quiet if we’re going to appreciate what life has to offer.’

‘I’d be no good at it. You’d hate it with me fidgeting all the time.’

‘You’d be great, the perfect companion.’

🥕🥕🥕

Koi Fish in the Pond by Miriam Hurdle

“Mabel, I want to have a pond in our garden.”

“Humm, a great idea, but what for, dear?”

“For having ‘yu’ and lotus in the pond.”

“The lotus flowers are elegant and symbolize purity. Why having ‘yu’ in the pond?”

“Well, ‘yu’ means fish, but ‘yu’ of a different word means wishes come true.”

“Now you got my head spinning.”

“Have many colors of koi, especially gold color.”

“Like the ones in Chinese or Japanese Garden?”

“Yes, I’ll order the koi from Caspian or Black Sea. They are the fast-growing koi.”

“Our ten-thousand wishes will fast come true also.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fish Tale by CalmKate

Just like Brokeback Mountain I take my fishing rod to escape family and life, down to my favourite river spot and set up camp.

Always buy the live bait on my trip here then release them later in my veggie patch. Talk about torture threading them onto a hook, don’t they know that what goes down comes round.

Never used that fancy rod … those poor unsuspecting fish swimming about minding their own business. After all every man needs time out and holding that pole is just a substitute for something else similar that we blokes like to do.

🥕🥕🥕

Thar Blows by D. Avery

“What’re ya doin’, Kid?”

“What’s it look like?”

“Goin’ fishin’. But with that outfit? Ocean rod? Trollin’ reel?”

“Go big or go home, Pal.”

“I think yer flounderin’ Kid. Yer way overrigged fer the stock pond or the stream. Ya know thar ain’t a bass hole on the ranch.”

“I’m thinkin’ big, Pal. Gonna bait up right here in the paddock.”

“Hmmph. Yer hookin’ yer leader to a kite?”

“Yep. Let the line out… look at ‘er go… higher…. I’ve caught the wind, Pal! Look at that kite soarin’ over the ranch!”

“Kid, this is relaxin’.”

“Yep. Catch. An’ release.”

🥕🥕🥕