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September 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

September silence settles over the Keweenaw with misty rain. Pockets of tourists remain but the din of extra folks cruising the peninsula subsides. The woods exhale, the waves churn, and when the clouds part in the cool of night, the Milky Way burns bright.

With the equinox (fall in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern) lining up next week, I felt the call of the wild to bring balance to all my professional pursuits. A camping trip was in order, a return to the sandy side of the Keweenaw.

Packing my car required a choice — camp kitchen, tent and comforts or kayak? Alas I could not fit it all. Comforts, by the way, include an array of layers for fluctuating temperatures, pillows, camp chair and firewood. My kayak stayed behind this trip with a promise to glide the Bete Grise sloughs before autumn leaves fall from their trees.

My friend, C, joined me at the old mink farm in Schoolcraft Township where a rustic campground offers ten sites along Big Traverse Bay not far from the desolate black sands of Gay. On an arc of golden sand, we set up at campsite #1. A family occupied #4, and the memory of a summer visit still warm in my veins lingered at #5. It was a quiet campground weekend, perfect for rituals of release.

C is a grief counselor who sits with people’s deepest losses and excruciating emotional pain. She led community workshops at her Ripley Falls Home of Healing before the 2018 Father’s Day flood and landslide hit her house. It’s livable but far from restored. Her backyard is filled with rubble from the landslide. When she was ready to begin workshops, the Pandemic hit. We’ve experienced parallel disasters, hers natural and mine veteran caused.

Together, we’d form a weekend retreat for two to release the trauma of homelessness and open up to the hope for a better future. We both live with uncertainty instead of stability on the home-front and yet we both work to help others find purpose in healing and writing. We needed to find our own healing path.

On Friday, after my last class at Finlandia for the week, we arrived to sunshine, wind, and crashing waves. We set up camp and I got into a battle with the ants. That entire spit of sand must be an ant metropolis! I struggled to find a flat spot to perch my tent without getting swarmed. Finally, we found a truce and I pitched my tent in the trail to the beach. Once settled, I headed to the waves. The frothy rollers reared up and the sun shone through like a lens. I tried to wade but water pummeled my legs with sand and riptides rippled beneath my feet.

That night we ate kale salads and cauliflower soup next to a fire that danced in the wind. Our campsite had a deep metal fire ring on a sandy knoll out of the trees and we watched it closely. The brighter the stars got, the less the wind blew. Finally, we had nothing but embers and shooting stars. We expected rain the next day and we decided to read in our individual tents until it eased.

We woke up to sunshine, not a rain cloud in the sky. That’s Lady Lake Superior’s doing. Hard to predict her impact. She was calm and inviting that day, showing ripples in the sand beneath her water where she had danced forcibly the day before. Many ripples held small stones. I bobbed in the water and then floated above the curious little pieces of quartz and sandstone. Leg cramps drove me to seek the warm sand of shore and I reluctantly left my mindless float.

Sand flies found my ankles until I buried my feet in the sand. Ants ran every direction in a frenzy of gathering food. I began to wonder if their scurrying meant a rough winter ahead. But like most things in my life at this moment, I’m trying to stick to the here and now. What is coming will unfold with or without worry. It was sunny and ants were foraging. Nothing to be concerned about. With curiosity, I watched them.

Later that day we held our ritual of release, naming emotions and circumstances to let go. We chanted with a singing bowl, and C’s dachshund howled, the higher our pitch. We smudged with sage and built cairns of our tiny collected rocks. We journaled and fixed beans for dinner, burning birch bark letters of release. Then the rain came. We retreated to our tents. Despite the beauty of the day, I found it difficult to shake the sadness.

Raindrops.

Raindrops.

Raindrops.

Each a meditation. Each a prayer.

And then a cotton candy sunrise broke through the mist and clouds. The rain stopped. The Lake let out misty breath caught by a warming sun of pink and gold. The sadness lifted but I felt no joy. Just emptiness. Until the Big Black Horse arrived.

At a particular moment, I decided to walk not to the beach, but rather to the road. I had heard the gronking of sandhill cranes and followed their call, hoping for one last sighting before they left. C and her dog still slept. The other campers had left, maybe the night before when the rain came. No one was around. No one. Then the distant rumble of a truck. I could see a trailer hitched and surprised it was not an RV but a livestock hauler. When I woman stepped out of the truck, my heart soared.

To me, it was a Captain Marvel moment. The one where Carol Danvers decides to rise…again. I took it as a sign to rise and claim my joy. I had released and now I was about to receive. A new door opened. In fact, I asked if I could help open that door. To the trailer, that is. She said yes and I helped her with a new horse and an enthusiastic golden retriever pup. She was experienced and courageous, taking the horse to the lake for introductions. I followed with the pup.

Meanwhile, C woke up and ventured to the beach. She told me later she saw a most beautiful sight — two women, a Big Black Horse and a dog. She wanted to wake me up, thinking I needed to see this vision. She had her phone so she filmed it for me before realizing I was one of the women.

Charli Finds a Woman with a Big Black Horse

There’s a reason the Indigenous call horses “big medicine.” You have to build trust with a horse. The woman I met was dedicated to that, leading her horse to water, walking her in the sand, familiarizing her with new territory. Eventually, she mounted the Big Black Horse and and walked the campground. I secured her dog in her truck, told her to honk when she got back if she needed a hand loading her horse. And off they rode.

I was beaming. Horse medicine is a always a good sign to me.

It’s been a good week at school. I danced for one of my classes. They laughed. I promised them a “sun” day on Monday. Weather Predictors are predicting sunny and 81 degrees F. I’m scheduling class outside on the green to read or work on research on their laptops. I will give them yoga and poetry (Joy Harjo) breaks! My other class shared their 99 word stories. It was interesting to note that the number one fear students expressed was that they “did it wrong.” I’m teaching them that recognizing their differences from the norms is the beginning of realizing their unique voice.

Tomorrow, I’m wearing a dress (again) and starting to get used to it. We get stiff when stuck in patterns. We need stability and framework but we also need flexibility and freedom to grow. I might dance again. Twirl my skirt. If I do, this is the song, I’ll be stepping out to:

September 16, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a Big Black Horse. It can be a horse, a metaphor or an interpretation of KT Tunstall’s “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 21, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

A Wild Ride by Charli Mills

Clods of dirt flew. A big black horse thundered through the apricot orchard, a small child perched bareback, her knees drawn up to his withers, tiny hands grasping long mane.  A woman in a kerchief ran, bellowing like a calf separated from its mother. Saucy, the Australian Shepherd with one blue eye, zipped past the woman and caught up to the horse, nipping at his hind hooves. The dog turned the horse around at the one lone cherry tree planted at the orchard’s edge. He trotted smooth as butter back to the barn. The woman wheezed. The child grinned.

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The Cooking Show

Time to find out what’s cooking! Lights, camera, start the stove…

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Witch’s Brew with Morgana Blackwing by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Welcome to this week’s broadcast of Witch’s Brew. Please welcome our guest, Morticia LeFay. This barista-witch knows how to mix her infusions!”

“Thank you, Morgana. This week, we’re brewing up a new concoction called Writer’s Essence.”

“Sounds perfect for all the writers out there.”

“That’s right, Morgana. It’s guaranteed to stop writer’s block!”

“How’s it made?”

First, bring a kettle of water to boil. Drop in a pinch of periwinkle, a shot of vodka, and some lemon juice. Let the tincture cool. Next, set your intention. Drink up!”

“Thanks for stopping by witches! To your health, bottoms up! Wassail.”

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Seabright Port Newsletter, June 1963 by Saifun Hassam

“On the first Saturday of June, Seabright Port overflows with visitors from nearby towns. It’s time to check out the Teflon Kitchen Exhibition and run in the 10-mile Teflon Kitchen Race. No one knows how the race got renamed “Teflon Egg Race.” Every year all the posters around town vanish with the visitors at day’s end.

The Seabright Seafood Omelette cooking show draws over five hundred entries. Five of the region’s best chefs are the judges. Fifty people are selected by a random drawing for the contest, more popularly called “The Teflon Stuffed Omelette Contest.” It’s a tough contest!”

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Debt to be Paid by Rebecca Glaessner

Radiation reached his skin through UV-resistant clothes.

“Four-hundred-thirteen billion credits for today’s contestant! If he survives…”

A hidden crowd cheered.

He retrieved his only permitted secret ingredient with a blistered hand.

“What’s today’s contestant chosen for us?”

Blinding light. The crowd gasped.

The glare receded and he staggered forward, balancing a platter, alien delicacies piled high.

“I… think he’s done it!”

Thunderous applause.

“Come. Into the shade. There. Tell us, what’s your secret?”

“I saved… a Moru life… once,” he wheezed, stumbled, “they owed me- Ma! I can finally fix the air-con now!”

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Missed It by Ann Edall-Robson

“What channel is it on?”

“Seventeen.”

“That’s the cooking channel. We want local.”

“It’s being televised on the big network.”

“You sure?”

“Yes! Your channel surfing is getting us no where.”

“Seventeen?”

“We are going to miss it. Their group is on first.”

Flashes of shows popped up on the screen one after another after another.

“Stop. Back up. Whoa! This is the one. They’re at commercial. Don’t go to another channel!”

“And now we return to the teen division. The judges have made their decision.”

“We missed the beginners. Why do you insist on not sharing the remote?”

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Rachel’s Cooking Show by Joanne Fisher

“Welcome back.” Rachel said smiling at the camera. “Today I’m making my no fail chocolate cake. In the last segment I mixed the cocoa, flour, and baking powder. Now I’m going to cream the butter and sugar. A microwave is good for softening the butter, but make sure you don’t melt it…”

They looked at her through the glass window.

“What do you suppose she’s doing?” asked one,

“She thinks she’s hosting a cooking show. A rather unfortunate case.” the other said, as they watched her beating an imaginary bowl. They then moved on to observe the next patient.

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Weighty Tales by Reena Saxena

I couldn’t believe it was her.

The eyes shone bright as ever, but the rest of her was lost under pounds of flesh. Yet, the famous hostess of a cooking show attracted attention.

She starts with a story.

“I dated an overweight guy and wanted him to lose weight. It did not happen, but I married him and got drawn to the world of good food.

So, here’s a dish we devoured on our first date…”

I’d rejected the same rich guy, but ended up being overweight myself. There are weightier matters to think of, while dating a man.

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Annoyed by Simon

What the rock is cooking?

Rock is cooking? is that a dish name?

Rocks don’t cook, yes it is a dish name.

Stares blankly… can we skip that question, what are you cooking for our show?

Cooking a delicious meat to eat.

How do you cook?

Obviously, In the fire?

I mean what style are you going to cook?

A style that needs to cook well.

How do you like it to be cooked?

I like it to be cooked well.

You know what? I quit! Channel, find a new anchor!

Are we stopping a boat now?

God!!! No!!

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Fishermen’s Stew by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“The first part of your feast begins with a kettle of cold mountain water, placed over the fire like so.” Sonja swung the kettle arm over the flames. “Tussen Takk for hauling water from the waterfall, Narn.”

Narn bobbed his head and blushed, then sat back on his haunches.

“It’s best to start with root vegetables, as I’ve done here. They take awhile to soften, so adjust by size of the protein source,” she continued. “What d’you think? When do we add the protein?”

“Later. They’re so skinny.”

Sonja nodded approval.

The tiny fishermen, wide-eyed, sweated in their cage.

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Cooking Show by Robert Kirkendall

“Today we’ll be cooking octopus,” the chef said to the camera. “The key is to cook it quickly on a high heat so it retains moisture and doesn’t get too chewy.” He held his hand over a skillet. “Our cooking surface is now hot, so let’s get it out.”

He opened a basket, then an octopus suddenly jumped out and wrapped its legs around the chef’s face. He struggled to pull it off as he thrashed around the studio, his screams muffled. He finally pried it off and the octopus quickly crawled away.

“But first, make sure it’s dead!”

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Cooked Rat by Doug Jacquier

The famous chef strolled onto the TV kitchen set and, after he’d waved the adoring response of the audience down, he announced he would be showing them how to make perfect ratatouille.

Suddenly, a woman stood up in the audience and yelled, ‘No. Today you’re going to make perfect amends. Sixteen years ago you got me pregnant and promptly disappeared, leaving me to raise our son alone.’

She turned to the young man seated next to her and said ‘Stand up, James’. As the boy stood, she turned back to the chef and said ‘Meet your new apprentice, Gordon.’

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Intercultural Cooking Contest by Anne Goodwin

I hope she doesn’t cook curry, thought Mary, offering the other finalist her hand. The smell!

Please don’t cook beef, thought Manju, greeting her rival with palms joined as in prayer.

Winking at the audience, the compere showed them their separate kitchens. Manju gasped at the oak cupboards, the marble worktops, the built-in stove. Mary gasped at the water pump, the stack of firewood, the grey clouds above.

Defeated by the controls on the cooker, Manju diced raw onion into yoghurt, garnished with coriander. Mary grated raw carrot into cream. Wisdom worth more than money, both felt they’d won.

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Tough Cooking by Kerry E.B. Black

Mostly bare cupboards, yet Rayne needed to feed her hungry family of five kids, plus herself and her husband. She pulled cans of tuna from the back of a low shelf. Butter and cream from the fridge. Peas and herbs from the garden. Rayne imagined herself on a cooking show. In her “basket” she found few luxuries, yet she wished to wow the judges. She whipped up a tuna noodle casserole and sampled the finished product. She smiled and set the table.

“Dinner!”

Family trickled to the dining table, grumbling. “Yuck! I don’t want this!”

“These judges’re tough,” she thought.

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Cake in the Pan by Norah Colvin

Deidre laughed, sang and clapped on cue at her first-ever real live Christmas pantomime, until … the clowns prepared the cake. Deidre knew how to make cakes — she’d made them with her mum. The clowns obviously didn’t — tipping more flour over each other than into the pan, splashing the milk, and cracking in eggs, shells and all. The audience roared as the clowns placed a lid on the pan, shook it vigorously, then tipped out a magnificent cake. When offered a slice, Deidre folded her arms and clamped her lips. A cake made like that could never taste good.

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On Course by D. Avery

It was a marvel what she produced in such a short time and with so little space, just a narrow counter top and a butcher block kitchen island.

She commandeered the small kitchen, flour clouding the roiling tempest of her activity. Then, while the oven did its transformative work she swabbed the surfaces and restored calm as she stowed the dishes and debris from her preparations. Snapping a table cloth over the butcher block, she displayed her confections. There was Black Forest cake, lava cake, and even rocky road ice cream. The butcher block was an enchanting desserted island.

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A Hare-brained Idea by Sue Spitulnik

Normally Michael had other band members along when he drove the Veterans Music Van to the VA. Today he needed silence to brainstorm. The Irish Dancers needed money so they could attend a competition. How could he get enough people involved so it wouldn’t be a hardship on any wallet? His mind wandered to his stomach. He hadn’t eaten breakfast. Food! What if they had a cook-off? Each group he belonged to could make the same meal using their own recipes. Voting for favorite dishes could be done with dollars. Cooks would get ribbons, and the dancers the money.

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Able Canning-Celebrity Chef by Bill Engleson

“Louie, caught your new show last night. Breakfast with Bernie.”

“That was episode two…you missed the pilot. What did you think?”

“No, I caught the pilot. Porridge! He ate porridge, Louie.”

“Bernie’s all about healthy breakfasts.”

“Last night he ate Gruel. Gruel is porridge.”

“No, it’s porridge-lite. There are innumerable porridge possibilities.”

“I don’t know. Shoulda went with Able Canning. The Dark Web’s feasting on his cooking show.“

“We looked into it.”

“It’s got fantastic numbers. Excellent audience participation.”

“Yeah. Once. Then they become filet mignon.”

“Earth’s overpopulated.”

“True enough. Still…”

“Food for thought, Louie. Food for thought.”

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It’s What’s for Dinner by Michael Fishman

Everyone wrote about the zombie apocalypse, but no one really believed it could happen.

Surprise!

I won’t bore you with viral genetics; I’ll just say that as SARS-CoV-2 continued to mutate over 103 years, the infected – 94% of the population – didn’t suffer the same as their ancestors, but instead became zombies.

A world of 10.8 billion zombies, all of them interested in different culinary traditions because there’re only so many ways to cook human flesh.

***

“Huuhnee, please turn on TeeVee?”

“Uhh kay, sweetie.”

“If you dish not cut it, chefs. Youuu wuhl be chopped. Open baskets now.

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The Cooking Show Bombs by Charli Mills

Carl chewed on his bottom lip. The basket revealed to him contained squid, maple syrup, goat cream, and volcanic black rice. The crowded rotunda erupted as the host of the MOA Cooking Challenge explained the secret ingredients. Sharon, fellow chef-restauranteur in downtown Minneapolis, gave Carl the side-eye. The squid. How in the world…? Ink. Black. Rice. Cream. But goat? He released his lip and ran to the pantry nearly colliding with Li Sun of the Golden Dragon Sushi Bar. She’d be his competition this round. Sharon froze on stage, flummoxed. Then, security rushed the stage. Saved by a bomb.

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Chef of the Hour by FloridaBorne

Jill yawned. Her best friend Kara had free tickets to “Chef of the Hour” and wanted company.

Four chefs battled for the $10,000 prize each week? Boring.
Why was there one empty station?

“Jill Jones,” the host said. “You’re our monthly mystery chef. If you can beat out these three, you’ll win $50,000!”

She walked to the station, and waited for the bell. Thirty minutes later, she’d perfectly created her mother’s chicken pot pie recipe. An hour later, she’d won!

Kara ran on stage, expecting a hug.

Jill glared at her. “Was the deception worth losing your best friend?”

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GBBS by Nancy Brady

Weekly, Julia watched mesmerized as twelve amateur bakers were whittled down to the best baker during this reality cooking show. Each baker was tasked with making baked goods based upon the theme.

There were three timed challenges: the Signature Bake, a special themed recipe that the contestant was comfortable preparing; the Technical Challenge, which consisted of one of the judge’s tricky recipes. Ingredients and minimal instructions were given to each baker, prepared, and then blindly judged; and the Showstopper, an over-the-top concoction.

Julia was most impressed with the unique flavor combinations, the imaginative designs, and each baker’s baking skills.

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Baking Her Way to Fame by Ellen Best

After watching The Great British Bake-Off, Sarah decides to self-tape her efforts to launch a cooking show. The next Nigella, she mused Mary Berry of East Anglia. She planned and tried recipes for days hoping to perfect a bake that would stun and make her go viral on Instagram or Tick-tock. Eventually, Sarah settled on simplicity after all, just how hard can a limoncello cream stuffed choux balls wedding cake, a Croquembouche be.A new apron couldn’t disguise the abject failure of her bake. She now is a star on tick-tock as ‘The Comedy Baker.”

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Hosting Facts and Fictions (in the Early Iron Chef Kitchens) by JulesPaige

“Allez! Cuisine!” or “Go! Kitchen!” was the instructional lead of a favorite cooking show “Iron Chef”. Katsuta Shigekatsu was an actor who played Chairman (Takeshi) Kaga. Kaga loved musicals; starred as leads in the Japanese theatrical company Gekidan Shiki as ‘Jesus’ and ‘Tony’

Mark Dacascos (born in Oahu, Hawaii) hosted the American version and was introduced as Kaga’s nephew. The only thing they had in common was that they were both actors. Apparently Mark did do the opening flips for that cooking show. Dacoscos could still flip in 2009 at the age of forty five! But could they cook?

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More or Less by Myrna Migala

“Deciding what recipe to donate for the recipe book; while encouraged to give our very best!”

“My opinion, share your mother’s muffin-tins “tatoe-bacon” recipe, and while your add it, whip a batch for the freezer for an occasional snack.”

“Good idea, since the ingredients are not written in stone, more like less of this and more of that, I’ll note the measurements.”

Mix 1lb of hash brown frozen shredded potatoes
one grated onion
one cup bacon-bits
two cans evaporated milk
three eggs
1/2 cup of flour
salt and pepper to taste
pour into muffin-tins bake at 375

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A Tiny Flaw by Ruchira Khanna

To the lightly roasted course semolina, add one cup of lukewarm milk.

Allow it to cook on a slow flame.

Once it’s semi-solid, add half a cup of granulated sugar.

Give it a vigorous stir before turning off the gas.

Now, I’m going to serve the audience.

I said with a wide smile as I approached them with serving bowls garnished with sliced almonds.

With fingers crossed, I watched them take a spoonful of my sweet dish into their mouth.

They ejected the morsel in unison.

“Major flaw!” one declared.

“You’ve put salt instead of sugar.” the other screeched.

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Light Charcoal Action by Annette Rochelle Aben

There is something special about charcoal-grilled hot dogs. Frank made sure he rolled them for even browning. He loved to use the grill. The taste of the food, along with the oohs and ahhs from hungry diners made his day.

Poised and ready for the first taste was Zeus, a patient, playful Rottie! His head followed the action of his master’s hands in syncopated rhythm. It was as though he was willing Frank to drop something on the ground.

Aware he was being watched, Frank laughed, “Gee, Zeus, I didn’t realize I was putting on a show here!”

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Pot Luck (Part I) by D. Avery

“Whatcha cookin’, Kid?”

“Makin’ beans fer Ernie an’ Wanda’s potluck gatherin’ Pal. Problem is, I got wind that Pepe’s also makin’ beans. An’ so’s Shorty. I cain’t no way compete with Shorty’s beans.”

“Is it a competition?”

“No. Jist a frien’ly gatherin’. But my beans is dif’rent. Folks’ll compare ‘em ta the other beans.”

“An’ they’ll notice thet each bean dish’s dif’rent, each good in its own way, reflectin’ the maker’s hist’ry even. Folks’ll be glad ta sample ‘em all. Kinda like the buffet a flash fiction responses thet Shorty puts out ever week.”

“So it’s all good?”

“Yep.”

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Pot Luck (Part II) by D. Avery

“So whut’s some a the others bringin’ ta the table, Kid?”

“Wanda’s makin’ her fire-in—the-hole chili. Ernie is a course makin’ his special cookies. Frankie says she cain’t deliver on cookin’ but will bring olives.”

“She did thet last time. Ate one a Ernie’s cookies an’ spent the rest a the night in a starin’ contest with one a her olives.”

“Ha! Yep.
Heard Logatha’s bakin’ up loaves a brown bread. What about you Pal?”

“Think I’ll roast corn over the fire.”

“There’s always a good fire ta set aroun’.”

“Thet’s where we share our stories.”

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September 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

My class discussion flopped today. Despite preparation in class and posting discussion questions in advanced, none of my ENG I students prepared. It was a stark contrast to ENG II where the discussions have been thoughtful, deep and my students brave in offering up stories of their own to share. I think if I had showed up with pliers to pull teeth, the class would have been easier.

At first, I thought I might respond with a pop quiz to see if they are even reading the book. A few students displayed knowledge of the story. But pop quizzes feel punitive. I realized, I’m the teacher and I need a different tool. Maybe they aren’t engaged, or maybe they don’t know what is expected of them in a discussion group. That job falls to me.

This is the same class who groans over flash fiction. On Tuesday, none groaned. A few even appeared eager. And I can already see the difference between

Next week we are going to watch Brené Brown’s classic TedTalk on vulnerability and I plan to use it as a practice discussion. Plus, the message might help some get over their reluctance to speak up. For the next book discussion, I’m going to require each student to read one passage (of their choosing) and say why they selected it. We’ll see how it goes. I’m still learning, too! And I understand feeling vulnerable as a new college prof.

Since we can all use a little Brené Brown inspiration in our lives, here’s a refresher on vulnerability.

After class today, I drove to a friend’s house who is also a writing client whom I coach. She’s an authorpreneur working on several creative projects at once and wants to have accountability for her progress. She also knows that she doesn’t know everything she needs to be successful. I thrive on coaching people with a vision. Many people find vision work too vulnerable and prefer stumbling around in the dark. If you don’t know what success and the work is to get there, then you don’t have to be accountable for a lack of success. I get it. It scares me to share my vision work because if I don’t do it, everyone knows I failed. But I believe less and less in failure. (Thank you, Norah Colvin, for introducing me to the growth mindset that says, “not yet.”)

Everything becomes possible when you can say, “not yet,” until you can declare “done it!”

When I was in school, learning effective ways to teach creative writing, I didn’t think I’d make it to a university campus. Maybe, I thought, after I published a few books. Even though many colleges are hiring adjuncts (a fancy academic way of saying faculty hired on contract), they still want to see university classroom experience. I get that, too! My learning curve as a newbie is huge and some days I get butterflies in my stomach riding that arc.

I’m learning technology, systems, access, resources, and responsibilities. I’m finding out that I’m responsible to track academic success and alert the college about struggling students, yet, intuitively, I was already doing that. Now I know there is a formal process. I had already set up a meeting with a struggling student and planned to coach him to get back on track. It is not failure to delay or get lost. Yet, it takes courage to get back into the game.

By January, I plan to embark on a journey with a motivated cohort of writers I’m calling The Thirty. Thirty writers will participate in a group coaching experience for a year to practice craft, strategy, critique and platform construction in real time with real submissions and real feedback. This will be the foundation of an education platform I want to build with writers from our community. Carrot Ranch will remain a place of mentoring and fellowship but also give me a launching pad for my next career move.

But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I’m working on small steps and incremental development. I’ve always believed that we should love what we do and do what we love. I also find it exciting that when we follow our vision, we evolve and what we love becomes more accessible. I don’t believe we ever change dreams; I believe we refine dreams as we grow.

My ENG I class is reading The Fire Keeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. The author has a fantastic story of perseverance as a writer. You can listen to her here:

Coming off my learning curve this week, I’m going to make a left turn with the prompt. I had been thinking about an event I loved when I worked in the natural food industry in the Twin Cities. The Mall of America, known regionally as the MOA, hosted a live cooking show where local celebrity chefs competed to prepare a series of dishes using a fully stocked pantry and unexpected food ingredients, like beef tongue or purple cauliflower or quinoa. It was always great fun (accept for that one year the MOA received a bomb threat and the chefs and hosts were whisked away to a safe room while the rest of us contemplated our lack of social standing, left to be potentially blown to bits, though nothing came of the threat and the show resumed).

Anyhow, after a week of prompting my students, I’m feeling inspired!

September 9, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the cooking show. It can be any cooking show, real or imagined. Who is there? What happens? Make it fun or follow a disaster. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 14, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Cooking Show Bombs by Charli Mills

Carl chewed on his bottom lip. The basket revealed to him contained squid, maple syrup, goat cream, and volcanic black rice. The crowded rotunda erupted as the host of the MOA Cooking Challenge explained the secret ingredients. Sharon, fellow chef-restauranteur in downtown Minneapolis, gave Carl the side-eye. The squid. How in the world…? Ink. Black. Rice. Cream. But goat? He released his lip and ran to the pantry nearly colliding with Li Sun of the Golden Dragon Sushi Bar. She’d be his competition this round. Sharon froze on stage, flummoxed. Then, security rushed the stage. Saved by a bomb.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Everyone Fits

Inspired by Ellis Delaney’s song, “Not Everyone Fits,” prompted by “prom dress” from within a creative circle of songwriters. Prompted music prompted literary art. We break free.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Ess-sense by Doug Jacquier

Not everyone fits a prom dress
Not everyone fits a compress
Not everyone spurns a temptress
Not everyone earns their distress
Not everyone wears a nightdress
Not everyone cares to undress
Not everyone has a headdress
Not everyone has the right address
Not everyone has their wounds dress’d
Not everyone is super-stressed
Not everyone gets some redress
Not everyone feels they’re repressed
Not everyone is a seamstress
Not everyone is a mistress
Not everyone is a waitress
Not everyone is a priestess
Not everyone is a tigress
Not everyone has to digress
But everyone needs a hand to press.

🥕🥕🥕

Dress Code: Fancy by E.A. Colquitt

Kara was stuck. The only dresses in the approved shop were a trip hazard. And dinner jackets just felt so restrictive! By day, they barely stood the school blazer, throwing it off as soon as they got in.

Around the house, Kara just wore superhero costumes. They longed to inspire their peers, as their namesake had them. But how?

Mum was unfazed. ‘What’s the problem?’ she asked. ‘It says fancy dress.’

So, masked-up, Kara flew off to prom. Those knee-high boots with hidden jets easily vaulted the venue’s ha-ha.

No flowing cape, though. It’s not exactly à la Mode.

🥕🥕🥕

An Unexpected Guest by Joanne Fisher

“My name is Gruu’nuh. I wish to look pretty and go to prom.” Gruu’nuh announced after emerging out of a portal in Samantha’s bedroom floor. Samantha was going to say that prom was for students and guests only, but she looked up at the towering figure with claws and writhing tentacles, and well, who was she to say no?

Nothing in the house would fit Gruu’nuh, so Samantha draped material over her and stapled it together. Satisfied, Gruu’nuh applied lipstick to her many mouths and eyeliner to her clusters of eyes. It was going to be a memorable evening.

🥕🥕🥕

Dressed for the Prom by Norah Colvin

She surprised them when she emerged, resplendent in formal gown, announcing, “I’m going to the prom.” With a smile as wide as a rainbow after rain, she twirled for them to admire her from every angle. Gorgeous, they agreed, though it was a little wide in the shoulders and a little long in the hem. The neckline would be revealing without underclothes. Someone suggested the beads were overdone, that one or two strands would suffice, but the decision was made. As soon as Billy arrived in the limo for big sister Maud, she was ready. What was keeping him?

🥕🥕🥕

If the Dress Fits by Duane L Herrmann

“Dad! NO! DON’T!!” Tuzulia shouted as her father went into the dressing room.

“You said you would be the ugliest person in this dress,” he replied. “I want to find out.”

“Oh, Dad,” she moaned and slumped in the chair by the door. Why had she opened her big mouth? Though she knew her father would do something incomprehensible; she never anticipated this!

“So,” he announced later, stepping out. “Who’s uglier in this prom dress? You, or me?”

“You,” she moaned.

“Now,” he asked gently. “Which one do you want to try on?”

🥕🥕🥕

Not-so-haute Couture by Nancy Brady

Steve surprised Julia by asking her to the winter semi-formal. In high school, this didn’t mean a gown, just a dressy dress. When she asked, he told her the same thing.

Julia never went to prom; nor had a prom dress, but Julia was always worried about dressing inappropriately for events.

Julia wore her best short dress, but she was the only one. The other women wore gowns, but Steve didn’t seem to mind. He stopped and kissed her on the way in. It was her first kiss; he tasted like cherry, and she stopped worrying about her dress.

🥕🥕🥕

One Size Does Not Fit All by Joanne Fisher

Max (short for Maxine) had always been a tomboy. Now into her teenage years others assumed she would finally become more feminine, but she continued to defy expectations by always wearing jeans and t-shirts and keeping her hair short, but now it was time to attend prom.

After going around clothes shops and trying on dresses, Max knew it wasn’t her every time she looked in the mirror. Her father remarked: “Not everyone fits a prom dress” when he saw her frustration. So Max went to the prom in a tux instead. No one was the least bit surprised.

🥕🥕🥕

Sumita by Saifun Hassam

Dress? Sari? Sumita was adamant. She was not going to the prom dance. She thought of her music class at the temple that same evening.

Growing up in Chicago, Sumita enjoyed many things American and Indian. When it came to music, she loved Indian devotional music.

She went to her music class, playing ragas on her sitar. She came home to find a gorgeous bouquet of star lilies for her. It was from Paul. He wanted to learn to play the guitar to the sounds and rhythms of Indian music. Could he join her next Saturday at the temple?

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Haunted Prom Dress by Simon

Group of college students walked into an abandoned hotel for thrill.

One of them opened a room and there was a prom dress, bright and shiny. Amazed with what he saw, he tried to call his mates.

Before he does, he disappeared!

The moment he opened his eyes, he was wearing the dress.

His plea for help, scared his friends away, since then he is missing.

The investigations found a simple note

“Not everyone fits a prom dress, the one that fits will disappear”

The missing guy screamed, nobody heard his plea, all they saw is hung prom dress.

🥕🥕🥕

Red and White Dress by Anne Goodwin

The bodice crushed my bosoms. Which would burst first, the seams of my dress or me? But I refused to wear that ugly smock for my homecoming. They could keep it for some other unfortunate girl.

Through the taxi window, nothing looked familiar. As we stopped at a palatial building, Sister Bernadette began to pray.

“Am I to go into service?”

A man descended the stone steps to meet us, his gaze on my breasts. I hoped he’d mistake the leakage for a white spot in the pattern of my dress.

“Welcome to Ghyllside.”

The asylum? I’d been tricked.

🥕🥕🥕

Promenade? by Connor Dickinson

9am, Friday 4th July. I’m Cinderella’s lost slipper.
IT girl Melania indulges a tarty-red-number. Then weighs me up, ‘Who would want that porker?’
I’M LAYERED. Yet humiliated threadbare. Our Queen’s classless jibes. Her King dumbwitted: screwed.
Hailstones marble.
God, am I unworthy? I’m prettier, voluptuous perhaps?
Fantasy. A tuxed-Casanova, spins me. The dance floor explodes purple- organza-Catherin-wheels.
4pm. Door opens. I tremble. Damn, another false alarm.
4.55pm. Hopeless. Mother outlaw’s suitors after 5pm.
I hang?
Execute me please?
4.59pm. Chubby Clare Rogers trundles in panting, pounding Gallow-boards.
‘That beauty.’
I nearly die. Relief. Gracefully hooked off the rack.

🥕🥕🥕

Something Old, Something New by Sue Spitulnik

Becca asked Tessa, “Is there any chance you still have your sparkly white prom dress from high school?”

“It’s probably in a closet at my parents. Why?”

“Michael frequently mentions how you looked in that dress, and he’s carried the picture all these years.”

“Really? You must realize there’s no way it’ll fit.”

“But I’ll bet we could use the skirt fabric layers to make a new bodice, even with sleeves if you want, and add a different skirt. Michael would be thrilled.”

“Won’t it be too formal?”

“Not if I design it right,” she said, sketching her visualization.

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Forgetting by D. Avery

A June night. Prom night. ‘A Night to Remember’. “You’re beautiful,” he said.

An August evening. “I’ll do the right thing. I’m working full time… we’ll live with my mom.”

A September morning. She would have been at college. It was a small wedding.

The baby came in March. “He’s perfect,” he said. “He looks just like his father,” his mother said.

Another August evening. He held the sleeping baby while watching baseball with his mother.

“I’m going out for a bit,” she said.

“Home run!” they shouted, waking the baby.

She left her prom dress and son behind.

🥕🥕🥕

We Might Have Danced by Bill Engleson

We might have danced in the morning,
We might have breathed the sweet early air.
We might have flown like an eagle soaring.
We might have landed almost anywhere.

Maybe you think that we knew it all,
that there was nothing else left to learn.
But if we listened to our hearts love call,
We might have found a new fire to burn.

We might have danced in the evening light.
We might have breathed the cool night air.
We might have put up more of a fight
If we hadn’t been wearied from all that wear and tear.

🥕🥕🥕

The Fitting Challenge by Fiery Females

“It tastes heavenly, but this is not the traditional recipe.” The mix of approval and disapproval in her expression is priceless.

“I tweak recipes everyday, because I don’t like food from graveyards. Those recipes were invented and perfected by people long gone. Food needs to be alive like me – thinking, changing, evolving and just the right fit for today’s moods.”

My aunt looks disgusted with “food from graveyards.”

“We need to respect our heritage.”

“By all means, I do improvise on heritage. Just don’t ask me to fit into old dresses or old lifestyles. You will always be disappointed.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Inevitable by Charli Mills

A deputy pounded on Faith’s door. Time to flee. When evacuation orders came, Faith rushed.

Living in the Tahoe basin, she memorized a fire-safety plan she never believed she’d use. Nervous remote workers had fled earlier. For weeks, impenetrable smoke curdled blue sky. Her weather app displayed a gas-mask for air quality. Neighbors passed a rumor that the Nation would deploy the Army. Who would let Tahoe burn?

Climate reality answered with unstoppable flames jumping HWY 50 and the Pacific Crest. Faith double-checked her mental list shoved into a car.

The prom dress from 1985 she hung to burn.

🥕🥕🥕

Mother Teaches by Myrna Migala

“Mom, Dad look and see that house you often admired its yard. It’s for sale! You would often say the grass was ever so green.”

“Yes, dear, but the grass always looks greener on the other side.”

“Huh, what does that mean?”

“It means some people are never satisfied with their own lives and wish for what they should not desire. They even believe that God makes mistakes.” Mother continues. “When/if they arrive on the greener grass, they might find out where they were was the best fit after all. Always trying to fit in can be boring.”

🥕🥕🥕

Successful Stress by JulesPaige

I didn’t want to fit into a prom dress. Especially the one my mother picked for me. Nor did I really care for the blind date my father had set up. I’d have done just fine if I never attended my High School Senior Prom. In that white eyelet lace halter top, floor length gown. My waist long hair plastered in a ridiculous updo because the hairdresser my mother took me to, said it was all the ‘rage’. Bologna! I don’t think one other gal had such a stupid teased updo.

peer pressured
parent pleasing fail
year end dance

🥕🥕🥕

The Pact by Annette Rochelle Eben

Senior prom, the biggest night of high school life, even bigger than homecoming. Cheryl was in tears. She had just been cast as the female lead for a local community theatre production of Butterflies Are Free. Of course, the production would run her senior prom weekend. It meant that she’d be the only one in her senior class who wouldn’t be at the prom.

Hearing her crying, her friend Annette promised to work backstage on the production so Cheryl wouldn’t be the only one not at the prom. There’d be at least one friend there for Cheryl’s big night!

🥕🥕🥕

Not Everyone Fits by FloridaBorne

I didn’t want to go to my high school prom; I’m a terrible dancer and didn’t have a boyfriend.

My mother would have made a dress for me had I wanted to go, but who wants “mom” driving them to the prom?

When my boyfriend in college invited to the ROTC dance, she made an empire-style prom dress out of black velvet on the bottom with orange satin top. Mom had sewn it using a dollar’s worth of remnants and it was an inch too short.

My dress received lots of compliments from girls wearing expensive Scarlett O’hara dresses.

🥕🥕🥕

Cigarette Smoke and Bad Memories by Ellen Best

On the anniversary, she hung her dress at the window. From her mattress, she watched the morning sun catch the turquoise fabric making it shimmer. She studied it through a haze of thick Cigarette Smoke.

The dress was the cleanest thing in there. The dress still bore the stain of his urine. Time had turned the intricate chiffon bodice a dirty shade of chartreuse.
Such a glorious name ruined as she had been ruined. It wasn’t only the prom he spoiled, but herself, her innocence, and the only connection to family that she had left, her Grandmother’s beautiful dress.

🥕🥕🥕

Why I Didn’t Make It to the Party by Anne Goodwin

“Sorry, can’t let you in.” The bouncer thrust the invitation at her.

Anne checked it over: right date; right nightclub. “You’re joking!”

The bouncer flexed his muscles. “Your outfit contravenes the dress code.”

“What?” Anne knew she looked good tonight, even if she didn’t always, in her faux-silk trousers and high-collared blouse.

“The slippers.”

“What’s wrong with them?” What was wrong with him? If only the embroidered dragons on her pink satin shoes could breathe real fire.

“Let’s go!” Hari took her hand.

Anne’s cheeks roasted. It wasn’t her footwear that caused offence. It was her boyfriend’s brown skin.

🥕🥕🥕

Timeless by Rebecca Glaessner

Despite countless weeks spent on coding and design, she’d almost forgotten the outfit.

School notification; dance-hall activated.

Eyes closed, chest tight, time to upload.

Other students uploaded too, filling the dark virtual dance-hall with a chaos of colour. The guests contrasting with timber decor meant for long-lost tuxedos and ballgowns.

She took a moment to escape above the excitement, drifting in a sleek, flight-encoded, wavelength-shifting jumpsuit.

Someone announced her name, startling her as she landed.

Everyone cheered. Friends embraced her.

She’d won best-dressed.

Breathing deep, she ascended again in a shimmer, and soared, feeling free and utterly glorious.

🥕🥕🥕

The Night Owl by Donna Matthews

5 am, and my alarm is blaring.

Last night, frustrated by my less than stellar morning routine, I decided to start waking up earlier. But now that the moment arrived, what the hell was I thinking?? I didn’t even bother with snooze, just shutting the damn thing off.

Noon, I’m berating myself with a pile of unpaid bills, errands unrun, no workout. What’s wrong with me???

Later, after dinner, I break out the watercolors, inspired by a book I’m reading. Around midnight, I step back to admire the piece. The night owl stares back…two kindred spirits sharing the night.

🥕🥕🥕

A Stitch in Time by D. Avery

“Kid! Thet ol’ Singer’s singin’! Didn’t figger ya fer a sewer.”

“Cuz ya make assumptions Pal, which limit yersef as well as me.”

“Hmmf. What’re ya makin’? Thet looks like a pile a old prom dresses thet yer takin apart at the seams.”

“Yep. Then I’m sewin’ ‘em all t’gether inta a parachute. Curly wants ta keep at flyin’.”

“S’pose thet pig told ya thet hersef.”

“Don’t assume she didn’t. If pigs can fly,…”

“Kid, thet was last week’s prompt. This’s pretty lame.”

“Tough prompt. What else I got?”

“Yer fergettin’ the Lemmon twins.”

“Shift! Mebbe I’ll be back.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bespoke an’ Be Speakin’ by D. Avery

“Here they are! Tip an’ Top Lemmon!”

“Hey Kid. Heard ya was strugglin’ with the prompt.”

“It ain’t a good fit, fellas. Um… Yer wearin’ cowboyin’ duds.”

“We been cowboyin’, Kid. Was ya hopin’ we’d be wearin’ prom dresses?”

“Um…”

“Anyway, growth is good, but it sure makes it hard ta squeeze inta them old dresses.”

“Why d’ya do it? Hasn’t puttin’ on women’s clothin’ made it hard fer ya ta fit in?”

“Women’s clothin’? Clothes is clothes.”

“We’re comf’terble enough in our own skins ta cover our skins with whatever’s comf’terble.”

“So if it feels good—”

“Wear it!”

🥕🥕🥕

September 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

Honey bees work the pollen from the nodding heads of the sole Lemon Queen in my garden. Only one grew — a volunteer — but the sunflower has over twenty heads. Soon, the petals will shrivel, drop to Roberts Street, and seeds will form to feed the winter birds. So many gifts grew from a determined single seed that fell to a mosaic of garnets. Rocks, flowers, and veg frame hope and potential.

Growth is good.

In the hallways of Finlandia University, I passed a corkboard display to explain the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. I smiled, passing the colorful artwork and encouraging message, aware that I’m walking the right halls. I lugged an armload of binders and notebooks having learned something new — I can better use technology for homework assignments.

Bees must strategize to collect pollen from different flowers. Sunflowers must be easy pollen picking. Hummingbirds are buzzing, too. Soon they will make a long migration to winter grounds. They flit among my petunias and one even poked at lobelia. I can’t imagine much nectar in such a tiny flower, but I admire the tenacity to try. Just as I respect my students who are beginning their own journeys to collect pollen and discover who they are in the world.

I don’t think they like flash fiction. And I say this with a chuckle because I know that a few might be converts by the end of the course, many will be relieved to have survived it, and others will carry forward all the writing lessons they need in building blocks they can re-use. I’m beginning to enjoy the sounds of groans, opening notebooks, and the silence of pens across paper. I can’t make them listen to me. I can’t make them engage with all the resources I provide. But I can make them write in class.

Despite the unpopularity of my favorite form of literary art, I do think they are opening up to the novel I selected for them to read (Fire Keeper‘s Daughter by Angeline Boulley) and they are all deeply thoughtful when they reflect in their journals. They have much writing to do in English I and I hope to show them the connections between craft and writing elements and the connection of academic writing to the world they navigate and the similarities of voice between essay and fiction writing.

As an instructor, I look to impart the material through different modalities. It was something I did as a trainer, too. Basically, we all learn through our senses, primarily visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. In education, we refer to these as the VARK learning styles, but in the workplace, many experts argue that people have more than a single preference. When I was learning to teach, my profs emphasized that we all learn better if given multimodal learning opportunities. It’s my belief that writers need to write to learn. Thus, my passion for the 99-word format.

However, many experts also point out that writing can’t be learned from writing alone. There must be engagement and a feedback loop. My students receive classroom lectures with my colorful and connected drawings of graphs on the board to “see” how craft elements and story structure works. Then, they “hear” the stories and craft elements in works I read aloud and then go back to point out the structure and elements at work. I give them written, digital, and auditory resources. Picking up a pencil and making them draft three flash fiction in 15 minutes is a kinesthetic act.

If I had a big van, I’d take them to Lady Superior with me and let them roam, explore and write descriptions or dialogs with the rushing water. I’d take them hiking and have them find a tree to interview. Most definitely, I’d load them up and take them to the Red Jacket Jamboree to experience a live radio show. On Sunday, I got to go listen to Ellis Delaney perform live.

What a delightful singer-songwriter and beacon of joy! During the show, I found out that Ellis participates in a weekly songwriting challenge among a group of music artists. I was wiggling in my chair with excitement to listen to her speak about the impact of inspiring and supporting one another through their art. Her song, “Not Everyone Fits” was written to the prompt, “prom dress.” As a non-binary person, the prompt was far from her life values, but she turned it into a powerful song. After the show we briefly connected and I asked if she had a link to the song. She expressed excitement over what we do here at Carrot Ranch.

The artists will save the world.

If ever we need art — and the thoughtful interaction and inspiration it creates — it is now. Gather up all the pollen you can, and write, write, write!

September 2, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to the theme, “not everyone fits a prom dress.” You can take inspiration from Ellis Delaney’s song, the photo, or any spark of imagination. Who doesn’t fit and why? What is the tone? You can set the genre. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 7, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Inevitable by Charli Mills

A deputy pounded on Faith’s door. Time to flee. When evacuation orders came, Faith rushed.

Living in the Tahoe basin, she memorized a fire-safety plan she never believed she’d use. Nervous remote workers had fled earlier. For weeks, impenetrable smoke curdled blue sky. Her weather app displayed a gas-mask for air quality. Neighbors passed a rumor that the Nation would deploy the Army. Who would let Tahoe burn?

Climate reality answered with unstoppable flames jumping HWY 50 and the Pacific Crest. Faith double-checked her mental list shoved into a car.

The prom dress from 1985 she hung to burn.

🥕🥕🥕

Flight of the Pigs

The impossible has come to pass. And look — pigs are flying!

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Landing A Flight Of Pigs by Mr. Ohh!

Barnyard Air Four Three Niner this is Old MacDonald tower. Do you copy?

Oink Oink Here

Roger that. The winds are out of the north at two knots, we will be asking you to use runway one eight zero. That’s the one by the silo. Do you copy?

Oink Oink There?

Roger. The other runway is currently blocked by cows Frankly It’s just everywhere a moo moo, down here. Also be advised that Colonel Porker will want to see Captain Swine upon landing. The call letters are Epsilon, Indigo, Epsilon, Indigo, Oscar. Acknowledge

Here an Oink There an Oink

🥕🥕🥕

A Healthy Pork-Life Balance by Bill Engleson

It started when I built that house of brick. You remember that story, right? Made the social media rounds. Pretty soon every pig and his brother wanted to know how to build a brick house.

I kept on saying, read the book. That’s what I did. One hundred years old.

Lots of pressure from my brothers.

“You wanna be a one-brick piggie all your life?” they asked.

Anyways, soon I had to become a consultant.

Flying all around the country.

Showing porkers everywhere how to build brick pig houses.

Brought in a lot of bacon, let me tell ya.

🥕🥕🥕

The Pigs In Their Perfect World by Larry Trasciatti

The big Piggies chase

After the small Piggies

Their bacon supply is low

There is a flight

To freedom at midnight

Only available to those

Who have purchased tickets

Most local streets are vacant

Except for the ones

That lead to escape

The Large Piggies demand equality

‘Conform at all costs’ is

Their defiant battle cry

Equality is conformity for

All in their world

There are porcine gunmen

Always patrolling the streets

For some reason the

Road leading to the

Airport is much foggier

And icier than the

Other roads around here

Equality is the ultimate

Priority for pigs

🥕🥕🥕

Unexpected Cutoff by Rebecca Glaessner

“Apologies all, our project must end,” the speaker announced.

“One more day!” Someone stepped forward, “we’re so close. Their brain’s are simple. I can prove-“

“No. We leave now. It’s not safe anymore, they’re volatile.”

With a thought, doors opened and the nervous crowd filed out.

Their commotion grew as others joined.

“Hostile movement ahead.”

Someone triggered a different thought-command, halting the hostiles.

The speaker hesitated, shouted, “run!”

As a crowd of feathers, fur and wool flew by, armed humanoids watched, immobilised by their own neural-chips.

Headlines the following morning read: Intelligent Lab Pigs Plot Mass Breakout. Now Citizens.

🥕🥕🥕

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad by Doug Jacquier

As he tentatively trottered onto the plane, Napoleon ticked off another first for an upright pig. Squealer followed close behind, as always, and when they settled into their first-class seats, the hostess brought them complimentary champagne. Both pig-men were excited to be attending the first international convention of animal farmers, where Napoleon would deliver the keynote speech and covertly lobby to become their President. The plane shuddered into the sky but, after leveling off, suddenly changed course and flew towards the ocean. At the controls, a revengeful Mr. Jones was ensuring the flight of pigs would remain a myth.

🥕🥕🥕

This Little Piggie Went… by Deborah A. Bowman

The little piggie that went to the store, while the other stayed home, are usually connected to a foot. Tiny little toes and big fat pigs. Go figure?

How did we get this size thing all switched around and upside down? Humor and fantasy are close knit friends.

I see a minuscule world on the tip of my tongue. The clouds are my cheeks; the sun my nose; the Universe is violent shades of color, depth, and rambling highways mimicked in arms and legs.

When I scream, the darkness in my throat is a black hole.

I am complete.

🥕🥕🥕

Head for the Hills by FloridaBorne

“Tell me again why your pigs fled for the hills?” Officer Benton asked.

Farmer Fred held a hiking staff, his backpack sporting a sleeping bag and supplies. “Granny says there’s an earthquake coming.”

“Where’s your granny?” Officer Benton asked the man of 70.

“Over there,” Fred said, pointing at the family graveyard.

“Your dead grandmother told you?”

“I was 30 when she said, They’ll be an earthquake here when pigs fly. You’d better tell folks to flee north.”

Fred walked away toward the hills. Benton drove away. A mile from town Earth shook; then the ground opened beneath Benton.

🥕🥕🥕

Fear of Flying Course by Anne Goodwin

The registration desk is closing when I show the clerk my booking reference. After scanning my phone, she scans me. “You didn’t bring a pet?”

Hours searching for Marmaduke had made me late. “My cat had other plans.”

“No problem. You can pick one from the menagerie outside.”

I try to decline but she insists the treatment won’t work without an emotional support animal. I follow the direction of her thumb. The dogs, cats and hamsters are all taken. No way can I cuddle a rat. I board the plane with a piglet. Hoping pork can assuage my fears.

🥕🥕🥕

My Guardian Angel by Annette Rochelle Aben

Roxanne’s daughter, Tiffany, made a bed in the hay, right next to her pet. Angel. The young sow was ill and the Vet said they had done all they could. Kneeling down next Tiffany, Roxanne covered the crying child with a warm blanket. It seemed like the only comfort she could offer.

“Mama, tell me something. Will Angel go to Heaven when she dies?”

“Honey, I believe she will always be with you because she found Heaven in your heart.”

“So, she’ll be like an Angel, I mean one who watches over me, right?”

“Right.”

“Will she have wings?”

🥕🥕🥕

Beer Flights and Bar Fights by D. Avery

“That your girlfriend?”

Ignoring the two men beside them at the bar, Nard and Marge continued talking about Nard’s beer brewing projects. “I finish it in plastic 2 1/2 gallon dispensers, called pigs. I’ve got different kinds of beer going, Marge— a flight of pigs!”

“Your girlfriend looks like a pig.”

Just then Kristof arrived and kissed Nard.

What those two men said next needn’t be repeated.
They hadn’t seen Ernest also come in. Ernest lifted both those chauvinists off their barstools and tossed them squealing out the front door.

“Bravo, Ernest! Now that was a flight of pigs!”

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Pigs Don’t Fly By Cara Stefano

Ava didn’t have one of those picture-perfect childhoods; her parents were either yelling or absent. The one thing they got right, however, was getting Ava a library card. Every day after school Ava walked to the library for her daily escape. When her parents got home, usually long after she should’ve been in bed, Ava tried to share her excitement. “What if I was strong like Superman, Mommy?” “Can I be an astronaut when I grow up?” “Can we go to Mars, Mommy?” All she ever heard back was, “When pigs fly, kid!”

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The Time is Now By Cara Stefano

When Ava started reading books about animals she finally learned that pigs don’t fly. After so many years of hearing that her dreams might come true if ever she saw a pig fly, this was a particularly devastating revelation. Imagine her surprise when one day after reading a really great book about farm animals, she happened to look up at the sky; to her delight, there among the clouds Ava saw a flight, a flock, a swarm of pigs, all sporting tiny wings that held them aloft! Her mother stared, open-mouthed, amazed.

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Family Shenanigans by Sue Spitulnik

Who said a forty-something shouldn’t feel like an excited young bride? The ladies in Tessa’s family invited her friends for a personal wedding shower. Michael’s and her sister oohed and aahed as she opened each special gift, but they held one box in reserve to be the last presented. Finally, the most elaborate paper and bow lay on the floor. Tessa held up a life-size felted pink piglet with curly tail and sparkly silver wings for all to see. She didn’t understand the present.
The sisters exclaimed, “Michael swore he wouldn’t get married till pigs could fly!”

Everyone laughed.

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Do Pigs Fly? by Myrna Migala

The day! An excellent turnout if Miss Suzi Qque had anything to do with arrangements. Everything flawless, decorations to the menu.

These ten women had something to celebrate! What was it? A party to rejoice after they worked hard to lose 50 lbs.

The mascot chosen for laughs and keep them on their guard. A pig!

Pigs were the center of the decor; a tasty treat to nibble on was pigs in a blanket, a dish consisting of sausages wrapped in pancakes.

These women also had a catchy slogan, “Do we miss those 50 pounds? Do pigs fly?” NO!

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Drunkard by Jane Aguiar

A man used to come home drunk. One day he fell sick and was admitted to the hospital. He promised his wife that he would quit drinking. He then recovered and came back home.

When he woke up the next morning instead of drinking tea, he started running out of the house. Seeing him wearing sandals. His wife asked him, “Where are you going?” He replied, “I’ll be back soon.”

Wife understood his intention and she tried to stop him. He said, “I’m trying to quit drinking from tomorrow.” His wife ironically replied, “surely you’ll change, when pigs fly.”

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Swine Song by Kerry E.B. Black

We lived outside of Gerasene, a land where the Chosen never harried us.

Or so we thought.

A man swathed in sunlight called to a madman chained in the nearby tombs. “What is your name?”

The darkness within the madman growled, “Legion.”

The glowing man sent Legion into our doylt.

Cold settled into our bones. Acid ate our flesh. Demonic whispers infiltrated our thoughts.

We acted before Legion controlled us as it had the madman of the tombs.

Together, we leaped from the cliff, truly flew, suspended in our divine act before gravity called us to the primordial sea.

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Flying Pigs by Joanne Fisher

“Don’t those pigs have wings?” I asked looking up at the pigs in the laboratory.

“This is our research into flying pigs. We crossed them with bats. Unfortunately vampire bats, so not only do they fly, but they’ll swoop down and drain your blood. Hence the protective safety glass.” My guide tapped the barrier.

“Just one question: why?” He shrugged his shoulders.

“We thought there might be a market for it.”

“Flying vampiric pigs?”

“Well maybe not vampiric…” He conceded. “We’ll iron out the problems in the next trial. Hopefully they won’t escape the lab this time.”

“This time?!”

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Grafted Rethink by Connor Dickinson

Xenotransplantation Zoom Conference.

‘Germany flew twenty chimera-pigs secretly to Bavaria, high-tech laboratory professor Santiago.’

‘Swines. A scientific dew-claw. As FDA Argentinian Chair, I vote pannage for livestock, and no to human-pig trials Doctor Mateo.’

Week later.

I’m hospitalised with sixty-degree, pig-iron burns, my flesh putrid, steaky, nauseating.

‘Sign consent form for xeno/pig skin graft? Most like human skin,’ says silhouette.

‘NO.’ I die from painful heart attack.

Yet a day later I live, with a new pig heart. German maverick doctor glares at me. ‘Now, ethics committee advisor will you say yes to human pig trials?’

‘Definitely!’

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Flying Pigs by Norah Colvin

Children’s squeals drew the principal to the window. Ms Irena’s children were running about the yard tossing bits of paper in the air. What were they up to this time?

“We read a book about a flying pig,” explained Ms Irena. “The children decided to make their own pigs and see if they could fly. Then they wanted to see whose would fly the farthest or highest. After, we’ll write stories about our pigs. So, it’s literacy, art, maths and science rolled into one — STEAM!”

The principal smiled. “A flight of pigs. With Irena, even the impossible seems possible.”

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Indigo Wings by Nancy Brady

Aloysius loved to fly. Yet, he rarely stuck the feather behind his ear unless he found it absolutely necessary.

The day he wandered into farm country, a few pigs had escaped and were being chased by a dog. Squealing in fear, they ran. Aloysius wasn’t fond of dogs either, but he wanted to help.

Finding it absolutely necessary, the white cat put his feather on, grabbed the pigs, and tried to lift off. They were too heavy until the feather turned a deeper blue. Aloysius and the pigs rose, taking flight, sailing over the field back to their barnyard.

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ALotta Piggies in Flight by JulesPaige

Me, be an editor?! When pigs fly. Apparently the pigs are flying. I can now list on my resume that I am a co-editor of a poetry book! I’ve done my part in spell checking, design, and general co-creator! That’s what you get when two people can work together (via the internet) and encourage each other.

like moths to a flame –
do pigs fly when the moon’s full?
maybe in autumn

I’ve zoomed, zigged and zagged. Now I can sit back and cheer. Thanking all the folks who counted syllables to create enchanting verses for ‘The Moons of Autumn’.

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Sometimes a Miracle! by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Maximilian munched on his last MLT sandwich. The sun set over the mesa he lived atop. Years ago, it’d split away – like magic! – as the surrounding continent had sunk under the ocean. The sheep dwindled, while lettuce, tomatoes, and wheat thrived.

He knew it would be fish sandwiches from now on.

Max’s wife, Valerie, had known about his shameful craving for a BLT; pork was unlikely in their situation. On her death, tired of hearing him kvetch, she’d shrieked “When pigs fly!”

He sighed. And then heard the faint squealing and flapping of tiny wings, high above and circling.

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Once Upon Impossible by Duane L Herrmann

“When pigs fly!” She said dismissively because, of course, pigs can’t fly. Generations pass. Chemical pollution generated mutations. Animals sprouted features they’d never had before. New shapes, unusual combinations, appeared. A form of bird lots its feathers, except for the wings, which expanded. It also grew two extra feet, out of its chest, and began to walk on all four. Being closer to the ground, it began to root around and the beak became blunted. It developed a pot belly. They became named: Schwein Vogel, and would fly in herds.

Soon, impossible things occurred, now that pigs could fly!

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Sometimes, You Don’t Need What You Wish For by Frank James

Herbert the guinea pig escaped a cardboard box, scurrying outdoors. Boom! Talons snagged him, and up he went. An eagle found dinner, but Herbert writhed in air. He squealed as the bird swooped into a nest where chicks squawked.

Herbert struggled harder, but the bird squeezed his neck harder. He flipped him into the center of nest. Herbert saw an opening in the nest wall, dashing for it. A hungry chick grabbed his back, but Herbert yanked free into the hole. He hopped down limb-by-limb, except the last one. He had to jump.

“Whee!” He squealed, landing his master’s arms.

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Campout: A Mini-Memoir by Michael Fishman

I dated a farm girl who loved camping. Me? My farm knowledge was the words to Old McDonald, and camping was a room at the Holiday Inn.

You do things when you’re in love and that’s how I found myself camping in her brother’s yard one July Saturday night. The bathroom was close, and all things considered, it wasn’t so bad.

Early Sunday morning I woke to a shove. I opened the tent flap and was face-to-face with a very large pig. The pig snorted. Molly reacted with some deep-seated farm knowledge. The pig ran.

I didn’t scream.

E-I-E-I-ohhhhhh.

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When Pigs Fly by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Come one, come all, the circus is in town,” bellowed the bearded lady.

Me and Jude stood at the side of the road and gawked at the circus wagons. The calliope played with such fervor we had to cover our ears from the noise. We’d never smelled so many smells at the same time.

When the wagon of monkeys stopped, the critters screeched and pointed, like we were the funny ones.

“What do you think, Jude? Is your ma gonna let you go?”

“I hope so. Last year when I asked her all she said was, “When pigs fly!””

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The Fair Opens Early by Charli Mills

For three days, diesel engines have geared low to turn at Satori’s Corner halfway up Quincy Hill. Carnies arrive, hauling chunks of amusement rides and galley games. Trucks towing hot dog shacks, popcorn houses, and ramshackle campers follow. Carnie food and homes. Perpetual travelers from across the nation bring fun and excitement to rural counties on a continuous loop. The Houghton County Fair opens on Thursday. When a trailer full of 4H pigs escape and the Ferris Wheel operator leaves popcorn in a seat before the test ride, a flight of pigs launches the first attraction a day early.

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Sure Enough, I Saw by Artie Camenzind

A herd of roller-skating tortoises by the pond. A beaver family dancing salsa atop their dam. A rookery of herons singing Cosi Fan Tutte. A patch of hazel-nut trees debating souffle’ recipes. A group of teens with mobile phones off. A dog talking about irrigation flow efficiency. A yoga class of cats in downward dog. A stroller pushed by love bright as sun. A flight of pigs, none named Bacon Sandwich.

On Geisel’s Ferry Boulevard, I sure enough saw all this and more; sure enough I did do not say I did not – you were there, you saw.

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Pig Aloft (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid? Kid, where ya at?”

“Psst! Pal. I’m up here in the hay loft.”

“Ya sure flew the coop at this prompt. What’re ya doin’ up there?”

“This’s a cruel an’ unusual prompt. Figgered I’d put Curly in hidin’.”

“How in heck’d ya git yer dang pig up there?”

“The hay elevator. ‘Cept I had it runnin’ too fast. Poor Curly went flyin’ across the mow. Now she won’t come near it.”

“Hmmf. How now d’ya pr’pose ta git thet pig down outta thet hay loft? She’s too big ta carry anymore.”

“I’ll figger somethin’ out.”

“When pigs fly.”

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Pig Aloft (Part II) by D. Avery

“Kid, kin ya mebbe lower her down? There’s a block an’ tackle over the hayloft doors.”

“Poor Curly’s so upset from her elevator ride I cain’t git near her.”

“Now whut’s all thet squealin’? Did ya catch her?”

“No, but she’s all caught up in somethin’. Some sorta sign. Her hooves’ve gone through, she’s wearin’ this thing like a… a wing! Look out below! She’s skidded inta the wild blue! Curly’s flyin’!”

*When pigs fly
Aloft on good grace
Prayer wings*

“Landed at the Poet Tree. Hep her outta that wing.”

“Thet wing was Shorty’s rodeo banner.”

“Uh-oh.”

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August 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

The carnies have come to town. At any moment, I’m anticipating a flight of pigs to buzz Roberts Street. I’d wave, and think nothing of it. Stranger things have happened, and I never expected to be standing in my own classroom this week. Pigs must be flying.

My daughter and SIL have pigs. They think of their homestead herds as animals on the payroll. The chickens (okay, flock) provide their market garden with nitrogen. The goats clear brush and brambles. And the pigs root. After the rooting, the chickens on nitrogen duty perform a secondary function — they follow where the pigs rooted and pooped to eat the parasites. Yup. Pigs have parasites. Everybody has to eat in this environment.

Lately, I’ve been spending more time learning about soil and the health of the environment. My dad is working on a document to inform BLM in Nevada how trees communicate underground. Recently, he sent me a book called, Finding the Mother Tree. It gave me an idea for why my fictional tree wizard showed up in my writing as a lumberjack wearing a skirt. Neither my dad nor the Finnish shaman I’ve met would fit the description of cross-dressers. But through them, I’ve learned more about the varied ways we humans connect to the forests. Clear-cut tree stands are missing their mother. It’s plausible that my character embraces the feminine sacred to embody what the trees are lacking — a mother.

Such is the rambling of my imagination, my creative brain. I’m teaching my students about different ways to think. Our brains can be both analytical and creative. Our hearts think with emotion and out guts think through intuition. Writing is thinking and we use the full-bodied expression. I’m delighting to create weekly modules to support my syllabi and learning outcomes. My students make me think, especially about the future because what they do daily at college is all about their future.

This is the part where I expect to hear squeals overhead. I though pigs would fly before someone ever called me prof. On Monday, one of my students thanked me for the class and said, “See ya later, Prof.” Everything stilled as if I were in a movie and the director was ready to say, “Cut!” But this is real. As real as the memory that implanted itself on my new office door. I recalled the door to my attic hideaway in the Markleeville General Store and the life-sized monochromatic poster of Indiana Jones.

I wanted to be Indiana Jones. It was a deep dream, the kind you don’t tell other people. It’s the kind of dream I tell writers to explore when they craft their vision of success as authors. It’s the impossible dream that contains possibility. What about Indiana Jones captivated my young mind in 1981. I had wanted to be an archaeologist before the movie came out. I kept my own notes. I also wanted to write historical novels, and I crafted elaborate stories and genealogies for characters with names like Nicodemus and Silver. I sought travel and adventure. And deep down, I want all that Indy had — the exploration of people and cultures, the world travel, the knowledge and storytelling, and the college classroom.

When I was in my MFA program, I also worked toward a masters certification to teach writing online. It aligned with my plans to develop writers workshops, and I learned how to coach and teach. My peers dreamed of college teaching, too and I never shared my deep-down dream except when prompted to write reflective essays. It’s a muddy career because most college professors hold PhD’s. Such instructors have served as lecturers and teacher’s assistants in large universities. However, MFA’s are terminal degrees and count toward teaching in college. Typically, MFA holders are expected to have had at least one, sometimes as many as five books published.

I’m unpublished (yet) although I have an extensive writing portfolio of magazine articles, profiles, essays, and short stories. I have an MFA but no classroom experience. Yeah, I figured I’d get hired in marketing before I’d get hired at a university. But the stars aligned like magic as they often do when you commit to your North Star and express the deep core of your dreams. I sat at my office desk Wednesday and could see my old movie poster materialize on the door across the room. Indy winked. “You got this, Kid,” he said.

Then a flock of pigs flew past my window.

Okay, I’m daydreaming out loud now. But you know the feeling — when only fiction can describe the depth of a moment so profound. I’m not daydreaming in the classroom. I’ve arrived. And I love every aspect of it.

I love having my office mate text to set up another “Ladies Coffee” where she and I sit over a press pot and shared lunch to discuss what we hope is the launch of our college teaching careers. I love having my friend who also teaches at FinnU loan me a plant for our office. I love that one of the full-time English professors who is impassioned about literature and students reach out to ask how my first week is going. I love that the bookstore manager expressed excitement for my choices of reading material. I love that I’m already using the 99-word format as a teaching tool. Micro-essays are a thing now.

There have been hiccups and technical glitches. My contract never arrived and I began to panic that the school found out about that time I was in a gang except that I never was in a gang but fiction writers can easily slip into guilty minds. I did imagine it. But it was a name issue, namely the Annette/Charli thing that I’m going to make my dad write me a note to explain it to employers. And the insane number of programs I have to log into just for a single class to happen. But, as my office mate said, it’s refreshing to be at a university focused on the student learning and not the prestige image.

Yes, I like where I have landed.

The wonderful thing about a work schedule is that suddenly I feel less scattered. It’s hard for me to compartmentalize when my chair remains the same. When I go on campus, I know what I’m doing. When I go to my office, I’m productive in less time. I feel like I have more time and focus. Thinking has cleared, writing has flowed, and I get errands done quickly when before it would take weeks and weeks. I’ve even gone to the lake four days in a row! My new schedule outside the home made me realize the toll personal life chaos has taken on me.

I might go live among the pigs and build a she-shed on the back property with a three season writing nook. Who knows? I’m open to change and a future that doesn’t feel stark and stressful. My future is looking bright as the shine of deep dreams emerge.

August 26, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a flight of pigs. It can be farm or fantasy-related. The idea can be a tale, poem or memory. You can use the phrase as an expression. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by August 31, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Fair Opens Early by Charli Mills

For three days, diesel engines have geared low to turn at Satori’s Corner halfway up Quincy Hill. Carnies arrive, hauling chunks of amusement rides and galley games. Trucks towing hot dog shacks, popcorn houses, and ramshackle campers follow. Carnie food and homes. Perpetual travelers from across the nation bring fun and excitement to rural counties on a continuous loop. The Houghton County Fair opens on Thursday. When a trailer full of 4H pigs escape and the Ferris Wheel operator leaves popcorn in a seat before the test ride, a flight of pigs launches the first attraction a day early.

🥕🥕🥕

Stars in the Sand

Take a walk through storyscapes and stars below the heavens.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Walking Through the Galaxy by Joanne Fisher

Their spaceship had crashed. The survivors had activated an emergency beacon. Ta’an left the wreckage in search of nearby settlements.

When Ta’an got to a plain, she beheld a breathtaking vista. It was as though there were two galaxies before her: the Milky Way above, and it’s mirror opposite below; stars in the sky and stars in the sand. The surface was so reflective that as she walked onwards, it was as though she was walking among the stars. They surrounded her. Looking downwards she saw red lights swiftly approaching. She looked up: the rescue ship was above her.

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Shelley by Connor Dickinson

Immortal sorcerer you wizard words on holy parchment.
I’m an inflated balloon, electrostatically charged.
Buoyant, seduced by my shadow-trickster: a sinking and drowning clown.
The prettiest words I would need.
Warped inside, wanting to honour you with pride.
Chewed-up by Devilish-diction. Reluctance, frustration, defeated. Capsized.

But your eternal-spirit rejuvenates my soul.
A revelation, ‘Don’t compete.’
‘Enjoy my odes and your writing journey.’
Millennia crush my bones to white ash.
Enchanted solar-winds carry my iridescence.
Let us share a Moon Fountain of lunar-sand.
Our pearl essence, caressing and cascading metres or miles-high in ballistic trajectories, timelessly.
Togetherness, stars in the sand.

🥕🥕🥕

Stars in the Sand by Sue Spitulnik

Sand and rocks, all the same color. Windy. The sand didn’t care whose clothing it sifted into; US troops in full battle gear, residents they were training, or the enemy they had trouble identifying.

Then came the explosion. Michael’s legs in a million pieces, splattered in every direction. His driver’s body torn apart. The identifiable parts gathered reverently to return home in a flag-covered casket.

The General visited the compound. His soldiers knew he would come. He had their respect. He cared about their well-being. His stars shone in the sun, the same color as the unforgiving relentless sand.

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Idas and Marpessa by Anne Goodwin

Evenus insisted the man who married his daughter should first prove his worth. Challenged her suitors to a chariot race; a hundred losers’ heads graced his palace walls.

Idas loved Marpessa. She loved him. Yet, when Idas beat her father, Evenus set him ever more difficult tasks. Finding a needle in a haystack. A unicorn on a ranch.

Idas was a patient fellow, but he couldn’t waste another year searching for stars in sand.

Marpessa wept when he left her. But busied herself returning a thousand needles to her sewing box. Gathering a million stick-on stars from the beach.

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Midnight Dream by Jane Aguiar

Midnight, all flat,
Everywhere is quiet.
The twinkling of the stars,
And the moon’s dim light!!

Far away where the horizon is seen,
The sky yearns to meet the ocean.
There, We met each other,
And the pain vanished!!

Slow gusts of wind sound,
Innumerable stars around.
Suddenly you hugged me,
And pulled me on the ground!!

You dragged me into arms,
I stared , through the window of my eyes.
You kissed and cuddled me,
And I gave a good response!!

Suddenly I woke up,
And realised.
My dream was shattered.
But,I saw the stars
In the sand!!

🥕🥕🥕

The Kaleidoscope by Larry Trasciatti

I’ve wandered into a kaleidoscope

The rules aren’t the same here

As I walk on by

I often peel the clouds from

The blue noontime sky with friends
Shall we share a most breathtaking

Lunch of sweet tangerines and marmalade?

Do whatever you want as long

As you get home by midnight

Meet the deadline and you’ll

Always be so very happy

During the frequent truly fine moments

You can truly relish the sparkling

Of the Stars In the Sand

The kaleidoscope will tell no secrets

Let it be your daily adventure

A splendid time is guaranteed for all

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Lake Michigan Midnight (Shore Lunes) by JulesPaige

too soon, the path will
allow me
to arrive coast side

I, imposter here
among the
good trees; hide from day

seek constellations
the sky’s book
notwithstanding dark

Black light at the ready to harvest rocks with iridescent spots. I will seek the stars in the sand as well as in the sky. Did the stars fall millions of years ago? I will create my own origin stories.

From this great lake with its north and south beaches… gifting up fossils, glass spears; marbles, lost china from sunken ships. Those can go to the day hunters. I’ll hoard Yooperlites!

🥕🥕🥕

A Change of Climate by Floridaborne

Sigrid had looked out her window at the steep fjords white with snow many times, and as many times she’d turned her gaze toward the wall mural of Florida she’d once loved.

She’d dreamed of the palm trees, sleeping in the empty hammock strung between them, and shining white beaches with tiny stars sparkling in the sand.

Her plane landed, a taxi carried her to a beachfront hotel with the promise of hammocks amid the palms. She fell asleep to the whisper of waves, awakening inside a Miami hospital.

“Third degree burns,” the doctor said.

Sigrid longed for home.

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Stars in the Sand by Kerry E.B. Black

Lonely footprints in the sand marked her progress, footprints watered with her tears and the exuberant salt spray. She sniffed sadness with each step as she left her marital home.

The moon danced in the dark ocean’s waves and laughed at the woman’s consternation. This orb’s influence led the sea astray, pulling the waters along lunar whims. Likewise, it diverted the woman’s husband, enhancing his basest instincts. Like a madman, he romanced in moonlight with howls, dances, and gore.

In despair and fear, she fled, unaware with each resultant spray of her passage, she revealed stars in the sand.

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Stars in the Sand by Doug Jacquier

Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott-Thomas, their characters besotted with each other, gaze at the stars in the desert heavens and glory in both their mass and their individuality. Suddenly the sky is more sand than stars and they realise they are about to be enveloped by a khamsin. They make it to their truck and spend the night pursuing their mutual obsession as the sand buries them. They have no fear or trepidation because the English are very patient. In the morning, they dig themselves out and their journey continues, because the sand cannot bury stars of any kind.

🥕🥕🥕

Stars in the Sand by Reena Saxena

“Join me to start a new initiative – social, creative or commercial”, I said. “It’s the closest friendship I can think of.”

They give me blank looks.

“You’re busy in a lockdown?” I hear amused remarks.

I stay away, not wanting to be a part of the idlers’ club.

I’m politely labelled unsocial, and treated as if I’m anti-social.

“You’re not counted in the close circle. Nobody likes you,” hisses my venomous mother.

Actually, nobody understands me. Is it fear or envy?

Some day, I’ll write my story with stars on the sands. I’m already visualising my Ted Talk.

🥕🥕🥕

Heavenly Body by Annette Rochelle Aben

She absent-mindedly heard the tide rush towards the shore but felt it touch her toes as though trying to get her attention. A million miles beyond the moon was where she was tonight. Could the water take her to that distant galaxy where she felt she belonged?

One step at a time, she followed the promise of the tide that had obviously been sent like a taxi hailed by her heart. As water swirled around her ankles, she closed her eyes and smiled. She walked until she was floating above her tears which glistened like stars in the sand.

🥕🥕🥕

Promised Waters by Rebecca Glaessner

Solar floodlights expose the beachfront like daylight. Crowds gathered there nightly to escape the endless heat, their music drowning the waves. I move on over slippery rock-pools and round the cliffs further up the coast.

Human sounds fall away as the cliffs lower to reveal a river mouth and marshy swampland, visible now beneath unburdened starlight, and rest upon a tree root.

They don’t have oceans on Mars, yet. That’s why they’re sending me.

Starlight glints off flecks of sand beneath my bare feet.

They say there’re stars in the sands of Mars.

Perhaps the waters will free them.

🥕🥕🥕

The Collector by Hugh W. Roberts

The Collector has an important message for the people of the planet Earth. Will they listen?

***
One hundred and twenty million years had passed since its last visit.

It didn’t like the feel of the granular material, but the stars that had fallen into what humans named ‘sand’ needed replenishing to keep the planet alive.

Picking up an item the waves washed ashore, the Collector studied it. It smelt and tasted good. For every one of these items it took away, it left a star.

As beaches around the planet shone, humans wondered where all the plastic in the seas had gone.

It would only be another twenty years before the Collector returned.

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius on the Beach by Nancy Brady

Although the family, who believed they owned Aloysius, tried to keep him in their house and yard, he often wandered further afield.

One day he made his way down to the shore. The sunshine was shining brightly on Aloysius’s fur; the yellow beams created stars on the sand.

Like any normal feline (and Aloysius was anything but), the white cat reacted as most cats would, he pounced upon each and every star he saw. Aloysius vanquished them all, never looking back. Swishing his tail back and forth triumphantly, he padded back home, each footstep leaving behind another sand dollar.

🥕🥕🥕

Foraminifera by Simon Prathap D

It’s boring here, give my brain something to chew.

How about sand?

Sand? what is there about it? are these alive?

how these sands looks like?

Star shaped?

Stars in these sands, are a living organism,

Living? are you kidding me?

Foraminifera, a single celled organism, found in open ocean, along the coasts and in estuaries, and they are ALIVE!

ALIVE! now I have hundreds of questions about it.

Good, now explore it and stay curious.

This is not fair

Now you got what you asked for, learn yourself, world is an amazing place to learn before you die.

🥕🥕🥕

The Sea by Saifun Hassam

He is an old fisherman. He knows the seasons. When the Cygnet is high overhead, he walks barefoot along the dark shores.

He listens to the surf, far out, coming ever closer. Phosphorescence creatures ride the waves, sliding down along the walls of waves. Momentarily the dark wet sand comes alive with brilliant greens and blues. Millions of tiny universes scintillate like stars in the sand. The stars dim. Another wave spills its surf on the sand. Instantly the stars light up. Fiery and fluorescent the stars ride back to the waters, lights bound up with their watery universe.

🥕🥕🥕

Stars in the Sand by D. Avery

Grandma says there are stars in the sand.

A lot of people think Grandma’s crazy.

I think it’s crazy that I have to go to school where all I learn is to keep quiet and avoid bullies.

Come on, Grandma says when I get home, Let’s go star gazing, and heads down to the beach, hours before sunset.

It’s not the right time, I say.

We can handle time she says, and we do. Wordless, we marvel at the glittering sand; we smooth it, sift it, lie in it.

You’re a star she says, and I know she’s right.

🥕🥕🥕

The Crooner by Bill Engleson

I was on a late-night stroll along the sea wall. The moon was half full, slipping through the shadows of trees along my way.

I was alone, the last person on earth.

A comforting imaginative thought.

As I rounded a corner, I saw him sitting on a bench, singing: “Don’t let the stars get in your eyes, don’t let the moon break your heart…”

Suddenly I was a child again, mimicking Perry on the Motorola, flubbing the lyrics: “don’t let the stars in the sand get in your eyes…”

Mother would correct me.

I’d try again.

Loved her laugh!

🥕🥕🥕

Stars in the Sand by Norah Colvin

Works of art, created from random pieces of this and that, were incomplete without a generous sprinkling of glitter. When stars were available, the children were in heaven. Though insignificant to others, the works held meaning for the artist, at least for a moment like a particle of glitter passing through a sandglass. Peta watched George painstakingly place his stars. She turned his paper around. “Stars don’t go in the sand, silly. They go in the sky.” George turned it back. “They’re starfish. Starfish go in the sand. Don’t you know anything?” “Oh,” said Peta. “They are beautiful starfish!”

🥕🥕🥕

Ode to the Sandman by Myrna Migala

One day in the home of a happy family, the tiny little boy asked his mommy! “Where was I before I was born?”

“Oh dear, you were the twinkle in daddy’s eye.”

“Like stars?”

“Yes! Like stars.”

“Wow!” He kept saying as he excitedly ran to tell all his friends.
After a few days had gone by, he woke up rubbing his eyes on one fine sunny morning and noticed some sleepy particles on his fingers.

“Mommy, mommy, look and see the sandman came last night to visit me.
“I do hope he put some stars in the sand.”

🥕🥕🥕

Stars in the Sand by Sarah Whiley

That’s right

I’m the sidekick
Riding the tailcoats
Of those braver than I



Too shy
Too scared
To bare my teeth
And so I smile






Push me around?
You can for a while
I promise, I won’t mind
Instead I smile

My knuckles are white
I grit my teeth
Composure like armour
“Yes,” I smile

My soul awakens
She tries to get out
Shh. No one cares
I falter…

Gently I push
Gently I prod
The cocoon opens wide
And I fly right out

I am bioluminescent
I’m ready.
Projecting my stars in the sand
For all to see

🥕🥕🥕

Stars in the Sand by Anita Dawes

They told me that Egypt, the pyramids
Would be the holiday of a lifetime
Leaving the rain behind
Take off delayed
They forgot to load the luggage
Not a good start
We might have left the rain behind
The black cloud had followed us aboard
The hotel turned out nice, mood lifted
Next morning, with the tour guide
We made our way to the pyramids
Wow! They really are something
Somehow, I got separated from the tour
The sand dunes I found myself on
As beautiful as any painting
That’s when I found three lucky stars in the sand…

🥕🥕🥕

To the Stars by Duane L Herrmann

“To the Stars Through Difficulties” is my state motto, a constant reminder that nothing is attained easily and certainly not stars. My life can be defined by its difficulties: social isolation, emotionally crippling effects of abuse, intellectual struggles with dyslexia, ADHD, and the limitations of poverty. There were certainly no stars, nor sand, but dirt – yes.

We farmed the dirt.

Despite all that, I continued to try. Rooted in that dirt, I reached for the stars and now, after decades, have attained some success: being published around the world, in several languages, one I can read and even others.

🥕🥕🥕

White City Sand by Charli Mills

Copper miners’ families crowded the double-decker steamer. Wives and children sported tiny brass stars on collars and lapels. Solidarity for fair treatment twinkled across the open decks. An anonymous patron had provided the striking miners with an exclusive excursion to White City. Thirty-minutes east of closed mines, the summer-weary strikers and families anticipated their lucky day. Respite. The promised carousel, dance pavilion, and ham picnic came into view. Mine enforcers emerged. Hundreds. Clubs in fists. The boat docked. They say you can find stars in the sand where the working class were tricked and beaten into submission in 1909.

🥕🥕🥕

99 Carrot Stars by D. Avery

“Kid what’re ya doin’ lettin’ thet dang hog a yers root an’ dig ever’where?”

“If it’s okay fer Mause, it’s okay fer Curly. We’re lookin’ fer stars in the sand, Pal.”

“Thet ain’t sand, Kid, thet’s Shorty’s garden.”

“Close enough. Hey, another one! Good Curly.”

“Thet ain’t a star, Kid, thet’s jist a carrot.”

“Jist a carrot?! Carrots fer the people, Pal. Tell ya somethin’ else. The people that show up ta the ranch is all stars. Their stories shine! An’ while we ain’t got beach sand here, there’s plenty a folks with grit.”

“Reckon so, Kid, reckon so.”

🥕🥕🥕

August 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

How does a little dog eat a big lake? One bite at a time.

Lake Superior has locked Mause into an eternal game of chase-my-waves. At nine-months-old, this petite GSP is smart. She calculates the roll and trajectory of beach waves and begins her chase at the crest. The waves slant, hitting one part of the beach first and splashing further down. Mause devours water.

It’s been a hot week full of intense work after two weeks of meetings, training and deadlines. I made a water promise — to be in or on it regularly. I load Mause or the kayak into my car and we head out to escape the unseasonable warmth for a brief break.

Despite the high temperatures (today it was 90 degrees F), chasing waves and biting water chills the pup. When we get back to the car, her towel is warm. Mause shivers until I wrap her up and rub vigorously. She has gained an appreciation for a thorough toweling.

Today Mause learned to appreciate a sandy beach. It was hot enough that I wanted a dip, too.

We drove out past the blueberry farm. I saw the ghost of campfires past and imagined I smelled Dutch oven beans. I laughed, seeing that the campers in #5 set up next to my favorite pine to leave a leak. I let the good memories walk with me on the beach, my bare feet scrubbed by the quartz grains. I told Mause, “There are stars in the sand.” She tried to find them and dug.

The water created a new game — fill-in-the-holes. Waves elongated and smoothed over Mause’s star mines. This only made her dig faster. Rooster tails of golden sand shot backward three feet. Water filled the hole. Mause pawed the momentary sludge, digging water, then sand again. In the end, the beach kept its treasure. Except for the grains that ended up on Mause’s towel.

The trouble with trying to eat a big lake is that it overfills a small puppy bladder. We stopped three times on the way home so she could leave her leak outside the car. She’s so tired she didn’t whine when I watered the potager garden without her. I had herbs to cut, banana peppers to pick, and a bunny to greet. She shelters in my lavender bush. I watered beneath the watchful gaze of the elegant Lemon Queens and thought about next week.

Next week, I’ll be in my office on campus. Next week, I will meet my students and discuss success with them. Next week, I have a coffee date with my office mate, a soprano who teaches music appreciation. Next week, I get to Zoom with Sue Spitulnik’s writing group. Next week, I’m going to my first Rosza concert (outdoors) since the pandemic began — Beethoven and Banjos, a celebration of water through classical, folk and indigenous music and dance.

Next week feels like I found a star upon the beach.

Both my classes will learn about clarity in writing, after all, whether a written piece is informative or artistic, the goal is communication. In English 103, we will focus on clarity in what we read and how we form critical thought. In English 104, we will focus on forming critical thought to write clearly.

As literary artists, clarity might vary in degrees. We are practicing what to include in 99-words, and what to leave out. Did you know that the clearest sentence in the English language is the SVO construction? Subject-verb-object. As literary artists, we can vary our sentence lengths. Long sentences slow down the pace. Short ones speed it up. The SVO sentence can be punchy and well-placed after a long, ambling sentence. Or three in a row can build tension. Syntax is a writing element that impacts both clarity and style.

However, in fiction, syntax must also advance the plot and character arc. Marylee McDonald explains how to observe syntax in fiction and create your own cheat sheet of author’s sentences that you admire. Deconstruct the sentences to see the mechanics underneath. She refers to Hemingway’s SVO sentence structures as SV, but otherwise, its an excellent primer and tool on syntax.

To clarify, since we are talking clarity, syntax is a writing element. It has to do with language construction. Craft elements, on the other hand, are the mechanics of fiction. Dialog and world-building are craft elements. Syntax plays a vital role in clarifying who said what, as well as defining a new world experience. As a writer, it is your word choice and sentence construction. As a fiction writer, both craft and writing elements carry the action and emotion from a starting point to a conclusion.

Never doubt there is always something to learn, practice or master in our craft!

For now, let’s chase stories and stars.

August 19, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “stars in the sand.” Your story can be any genre (or poem) and can use realism or fantasy. It’s a dreamy prompt. Go where the it leads!

Respond by August 24, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

White City Sand by Charli Mills

Copper miners’ families crowded the double-decker steamer. Wives and children sported tiny brass stars on collars and lapels. Solidarity for fair treatment twinkled across the open decks. An anonymous patron had provided the striking miners with an exclusive excursion to White City. Thirty-minutes east of closed mines, the summer-weary strikers and families anticipated their lucky day. Respite. The promised carousel, dance pavilion, and ham picnic came into view. Mine enforcers emerged. Hundreds. Clubs in fists. The boat docked. They say you can find stars in the sand where the working class were tricked and beaten into submission in 1909.

🥕🥕🥕

Cacophony

A car alarm screeches, a unicorn snorts, and a spaceship breaks the sound barrier. But writers use the cacophony of sound to craft stories.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Cacophony by Norah Colvin

Children’s voices rose from the street with excitement, until laughter exploded like fireworks, startling a flock of corellas into screeching flight.

Mrs Black in #4 slammed her door and windows tight, excluding the abhorrent noise daring to smother her favourite show.

Mr Judd from #5, pruning his grevilleas, shook his fist and said, “Stone the crows! What’s with all that racket?”

Mr Dredge in #7 dozed on, snoring in decibels way higher than those outside.

But Mrs Twigg in #3 flung wide her window, inhaling the children’s merriment that inspired memories of her own childhood antics so long ago.

🥕🥕🥕

This Sickness by Kerry E.B. Black

Someone with a ball peen hammer pounds every joint, stretching muscle and ligament until bone grinds cartilage.

An orchestra warms-up between the ears, its cacophony deafening, with pulse matching its erratic rhythm.

Eyes receded into aching sockets, where lightshows dance along the periphery.

Shadows sink into vision, obscuring. Strained eyesight triggers migraines, with comic book enthusiasm. “Bang, Pow, Pop!”

Razorblades reside in vocal cords, stripping speech to a barely audible squeak. Amusing to the children.

An anaconda squeezes the midsection, shrinking stomach capacity.

Hazy zombie turns to exhausted fever dreams between doses of medicine that promise returned good health.

🥕🥕🥕

Laying in a Hospital Bed by Susan Spitulnik

An inward sucking noise
An outward swooshing
Over and Over
The ventilator keeps perfect time

The incessant beeping
When the IV bag is empty
“Someone” please turn it off
Where is everyone

Now a fall-alarm is blaring
My adrenalin rushes but
I hear no one running in response
Don’t they care

Too busy to answer call buttons
But I can hear them talking
How many people are working
Where is my friendly nurse

The meal-cart wheels squeak
Compartment doors slam
The tube prevents eating
My mind says I’m hungry

My God, it’s finally quiet
It’s peaceful
Am I dead

🥕🥕🥕

Night Sounds by Bill Engleson

The crow came to my window at midnight,
cawed his screech,
his dark bird speech,
like a bent rusty nail caught in his throat,
pulled out by the sinister hammer of night,
the crow’s squawky plea
in much the same tone,
a raw shattered bone
stuck in his craw
as when he flies the zone
far above my head
In the dead
of day.

The crow stayed at window ‘til morn,
and beyond,
a bent broken bird
sprawled on the sill,
rotting away,
flies pecking its flesh
as the sun lit the day,
as the crows had their say.

🥕🥕🥕

Dream a Little Dream by Sarah Whiley

There’s a cacophony in my head.
And it won’t go away.
I’ve tried sleeping pills
But there’s no guarantee.

I drop some helium
To cull the birds
Coz the tweets are endless
A faithless dirge

And so I’m held
Too painfully aware.
Is it possible to hope?
Do I dare to care?

This fustian pair
Between my ears
See that decisions are made
for me in arrears

Wishes are portable
This I do know
Thoughts are transferable
Wherever I go.

So while there is still
a slit; a gleam
I have to believe I can
Dream a little dream

🥕🥕🥕

Well, Why Not? (Part 4) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Sister Indelicata left the cacophony of squeals and laughter behind her; the tall, hardwood door sneezed delicately shut, blessing the happy, healed family. Indelicata’s bare feet whispered swift and sure, softer than the guttering of the beeswax candles that provided more scent than light.

She caught the perfume of open sea before she saw it, and glided through the marble hallway to the worn spiral stairs and ocean access.

She shimmered; habit, wimple, and net slid free into the freezing waves. Flicking her mermaid’s tail, she dove.

Goodbyes were easiest if her charges never liked her to begin with.

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius’s Changes by Nancy Brady

Aloysius had just finished lapping at the fountain in the middle of the maze. He sat, licking his paws and whiskers. His bath complete, the white cat sauntered away.
Aloysius’s tail flicked from side to side causing a cacophony of colors to burst out. To the left and right, he left a trail of lush wildflowers in his wake. Purple and blue lupine, poppies of red, and yellow and orange coneflowers with deep indigo centers sprung up all around him. Green ferns, too, could be seen waving their fronds.
Not only had he changed, but so had the garden.

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Came the Night by Frank James

Footsteps captivated a smile into a wrinkled face
A final prayer begged forgiveness to no response
Boots thumping grabbed his throat
The lock clanking shivered his body
Rattling chains extorted a moan
His whimpering proclaimed the end was near
Dragging feet marked his last seconds, as guards pulled him down the long hall
Rapping and squealing opened the door to the next life
A priest praying welcomed him into the tiny chamber
A final protest fell hushed by manacles clasping arms tight
His last word: Please
A flip of a switch silent came the night
Whoosh went the spirit

🥕🥕🥕

Voiceless by Joanne Fisher

Harriet loved Lily. She felt deeply connected to her, though Lily never spoke to Harriet. All she wanted was a chance to speak to Lily to tell her how she felt and what Lily meant to her.

Now after years of pining away for her, Lily had unexpectedly consented to meet her in a cafe.

“So you wanted to tell me something?” Lily asked.

With a cacophony of voices behind her, Harriet gazed longingly at Lily’s blonde hair and perfect skin. She found herself unable to speak, as if she didn’t know where to start or what to say.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wooden Sanctuary by Donna Matthews

a past week cacophony clamors around inside my head
harsh self-loathing
a death certificate
grief picked open
bizarre new dizzyness
money— work— purpose— insecurity— anxiety
discordant thinking no one else can see
all reaching a deafening crescendo— when did this concert grow so noisy?

spinning
spinning
spinning
thinking too much

I lace up my boots— and walk
one foot in front of the other
into the cover of a wooden sanctuary.

The clanking noise inside drowns out
a new cacophony—
cicada hum above, babbling creek below.

My breathing settles into a new rhythm—
that wondrous, peaceful melody of now.

🥕🥕🥕

Copse of Cragged Cliff by Connor Dickinson

3pm. Granite bowl. Foxglove pestled. My knotted-knuckles s-n-a-p and c-r-a-c-k:
sinewy-veins, grinding roots of poisonous digitalis for marrow-bone-broth. His last supper.
‘Soup . . . . honeymooner?’
‘Mmm . . . . Clarissa.’
Choking.

Eventide.
His mother’s soul-less s-c-r-e-e-c-h-i-n-g statues me at convulsing ribbed-shutters. My nostrils torch as Romani’s blazing umbilical tail, scorches and whips a million spruce leaves, raven-black.
Thanatos cometh.
Her cavernous, d-e-t-a-c-h-e-d. face: misty-mottled-blue. Hovers around me.
Howling putrid breath, lacerates my barked flesh.
Thrashing her bitches’ acidic tongue, licking bones clean of skin.
Gypsy-blood cursifying. Fracking my bones. E-x-o-r-c-i-s-m.
My jowl r-a-t-t-l-e-s ─ but no-body hears.

As, she entombs me.

🥕🥕🥕

Batter-born Biscuits by Charli Mills

Batter-born biscuits dropped to a sizzling cast-iron griddle. Max held her lips in formation. The day before, her mother complained Max was too pretty to withhold her smile. Max adjusted her prosthetic foot to stand near the outdoor flames. The arrival of a squawking blue jay, twittering squirrels, and her father in a silk robe announced morning with forest cacophony. Weird as her dad might be, she’d take him at her campfire wearing what suited him best over the silent pretense of her mother’s morning prayers, rules, and cold cereal. Funny how grim her mother looked, reading her devotions.

🥕🥕🥕

Judy Says ‘No’ by Doug Jacquier

As she stood in the queue at the bank, Judy was approached by a smarmy suit and patronisingly advised that she could complete her transaction at the ATM outside. Judy said loudly ‘No, I’d prefer to keep a teller in a job, not in another queue, at the unemployment office. That way they can pay the rent and feed their kids.’ The suit approached others and a chant of ‘No’ began to gather in strength, rising to a cacophony that had the security guard retreat with his hands over his ears. But to Judy, it sounded like a symphony.

🥕🥕🥕

Tower of Babel by Anne Goodwin

Beyond the wire, the night was silent. Within the camp, moaning built a tower of noise. Women called, but to little purpose. Words are worthless if those who hear can’t comprehend. Detainees complained in ninety different mother tongues.

A translator fished among the discord for languages she recognised. Echoed pleas in Pashto, Dari, Belarusian and Tajik. Others dredged for schoolgirl Urdu or dialects they’d heard their neighbours speak. Each language a stepping-stone to another, phrase by phrase community took hold.

That’s how they learnt that some were journalists, others lawyers. That’s how their fight for justice boomed and bloomed.

🥕🥕🥕

Cacophony by Reena Saxena

shrill allegations
piercing souls
raised fingers
I’ll break some day…
What are they trying to
make me feel guilty about?

I want to give them mirrors
which show pictures
like those of Dorian Gray
podcasts which repeat
their word bullets
smash their eardrums

deep sense of inadequacy
their egos demand
unquestioning obedience
as they get uglier by the day

screaming
obstructing
objecting
blocking
now helpless…

They all disappear
I transcend
Into a state of being
alone, peaceful
On a solo journey
never to return

No destinations
nor a quest for happiness
finding eternal truths
shedding
Unhappiness
masquerading as Life

🥕🥕🥕

Burn by Anita Dawes

The spiralling crescendo of roman candles
Shot towards heaven
Pulls an ancient knowing from my soul
Like a half-remembered dream
I stumble forward for knowledge
That is stacked up behind me
Above my head, fireworks light the sky
The sound echoes in my bones
An old sound that never went away
The colours remind me of something hidden
The lost pages of the grand grimoire
which have everything to do with
the last cacophony of sound
that will never be heard again.
the world will fall silent
not if I get my hands on it
I will burn it…

🥕🥕🥕

Savannah Lands by Saifun Hassam

The dry winds intensified. The roar of the fire was deafening. Older forest groves were engulfed instantly.

For two days, animals streamed out of the valleys. They ran along ancient treks sounding warnings. Above the thud of pounding feet, you could hear the urgent trumpeting of elephants, the defiant roar of lions, the panicky laughter of hyenas, the howling of monkeys. Antelopes and gazelles ran, graceful, focused, silent. Elands and wild buffaloes rumbled along.

Majid, a biologist, and fireman followed the animals along a scorched forest road. He would do everything he could for the animals to find refuge.

🥕🥕🥕

Dawn by Joanne Fisher

Natasha dreamed she was with Ellie. They were holding hands and walking down the sidewalk. It was sunny and they were heading for the beach. Then she was suddenly awoken. The dawn chorus had begun in the treetops above her. Already there was a cacophony.of birdsong building up. Since the end times they had gotten louder.

Natasha reluctantly got out of her sleeping bag and looked around, in case there was a roving band of survivors nearby. She didn’t want to end up being eaten, or worse. Thinking of Ellie, she quickly packed up her things and moved on.

🥕🥕🥕

Tarnished Tranquility Rebecca Glaessner

She’s trudging through the forest as silence hits, sending chills through her despite the hike and heat of nearing sunrise. Could’ve been peaceful, under different circumstances.

Determined to find her missing friend, she persists. Body growing numb.

The forest’s stagnant silence thickens. Her mind reels.

Shouldn’t have ignored the reports, her friend wasn’t invulnerable.

And neither is she.

Sudden sound startles her, the cacophony yanking her senses back.

From nowhere, her friend emerges, barrels past, yelling “run!”

She staggers, follows.

Noise strengthening her after the eerie silence, they escape back to the comfort of a chaotic, sound-filled, life-affirming world.

🥕🥕🥕

Cicada Circus by Duane L Herrmann

Summertime. Hot. As heat rises: 85, 95, 100 (Dear God, NO MORE!), cicadas increase their chorus. Some in seven year cycles, others – eleven years. This, the eleventh year, they are out in full force shrieking their joy and life in the heat. Today 100, and they did not stop until long after dark when it cooled down to 85. Finally cacophony was over and we could all sleep. The sun would soon cook us another day. As a child I delighted in finding the cases they had emerged from, and attach them to something else, but no longer.

🥕🥕🥕

Myth by Simon

Dog’s are howling, someone’s going to die!

Who said that?

Dad said!

Death is inevitable and no one on earth could predict it.

But dad said, dog’s cacophony is a bad sign.

World is created by men like your dad, don’t believe anyone, question them, even me. Dog’s are our friends, they love us, the abandoned dogs feel lonely and they let out their feelings by howling, if some other dogs Howl, they share their feelings together.

I would like to adopt all our street dog’s.

All of them?

Yes mom, I don’t want them to feel lonely again.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer in Suburbia by Annette Rochelle Aben

The thumping bass of the stereo starts around nine in the morning and blares all day long. Cue the beer-drinking corn hole players who curse if they win and curse if they lose. Then there are the children who bounce from the trampoline into the pool while shrieking like bloody murder at the top of their lungs. Add to this, the poor dog who barks from one end of the yard to the other to remind them that he needs to eat. And when it starts at nine in the evening, it goes on until 4 in the morning.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer of Love by D. Avery

The pair of geese that patrolled the yard were first to sound the alarm. Then his father’s hounds bugled from the kennels. The Jerseys lowed as they closed ranks across the pasture and filed toward the barn. Finally there came the sharp report of the screen door springing shut behind his mother, anxiously wringing her dish towel on the familiar porch, laughing and crying at his approach.

These welcoming sounds began to quiet the shrieks and chants from the gauntlet he’d faced at the airport. But even as his mother refrained, ‘You’re really home’, doubts drummed like throbbing pain.

🥕🥕🥕

Cacophony by FloridaBorne

Summer. Time for fans in the window. In the kitchen, there’s a ceiling fan, and a window fan cools the concrete floor where dogs like to lay.

Each fan sings a different pitch, gentle background music when I used to sit on the steps to watch clouds float by.

Once, a cacophony of crickets, katydids, birdsong, and wind flowing through the pine needles blended together.

A peaceful sound.

People moved from city to country. They play music so loud you wonder if their children are going to be deaf before the age of 15.

Now, there is no peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Unbound Sounds by JulesPaige

All that’s left is crumbs.
Empty pie tin
Pitted the cherries
Cup of sugar…
Quartered the feast

(spoons rattled, clanged
oven door opened with a metallic creek
and closed, bang
fork scrapped the china plate…
scritchty scratch
buttons popping… tapping the wall, ping
rattled and settled, plop)

Ate each quart(her)
Cherries, cherries, yum, yum!
Patterns on her dress
Now on the floor –
Since it don’t fit no more.

(now resting stretched
out on the bed
with a soft pillow for her head…
content and full –
there not so dainty
started as a wheeze,
now an outright snore)

🥕🥕🥕

Bela’s Evenings by Kavita Deo

Every evening Bela sat in her large patio overlooking a green hill and surrounded by greenery. A beautiful view for sure!

Bela enjoyed this hour with her coffee while winding up her day. Highlight of the coffee hour was surely the large gathering of crows that would start making a noise as if they are in a round table and trying to come at a resolution. Hearing them the parrots, the peacocks and sparrows would join them. Bela didn’t exactly mind the cacophony but would be all ears and wished she could get them to chirp in symphony!

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Surround Sound by C Mills

Shorty approached the Poet Tree. Ribbons and leaves bobbed in the breeze. Silence. Kid was off chasing Curly in a unicorn-y snafu. Somehow the piglet got stuck in a child’s floatie after Kid and Pal helped Marge dismount from her big bass adventure. Whatever cacophony hung over the lake between campfires in these parts, Shorty couldn’t hear. Ol’ Captain pulled at the bit. Shorty let the gelding have his head to munch the grass and swung a leg to rest across the saddle swells. Characters laughed, moaned, cajoled, and rose up in the distant ranch ether. All was well.

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