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Seeking Trees

Trees root us to life. Traditionally, cultures believed trees to be life-giving, and modern science proves our ancestors were right. Trees provide oxegyn, shade and building materials. What would a world without trees look like? Life in the extreme polar regions hints at the bleakness — we would miss trees.

Writers explored all that trees have to offer. Some wondered what their loss might mean.

The following are based on the May 16, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes in search of trees.

PART I (10-minute read)

Planning a Poem by TNKerr

The hour is early – predawn.

The clouds – vanished,

the storm – over,

the moon – full.

I shiver by the back window, listening to some nameless chanteuse croon and confess from the confines of the FM dial.

Warming my hands on a cup of tea, I watch the last two leafs in the tree.

They dance in the moonlight. Embracing, spinning, reaching – enjoying one another.

Caressing like lovers until one falls away; surrendering to the pressure of the wind and the weight of the clinging raindrops.

The fallen leaf touches down. I pore over archaic words and phrases, planning a poem.

🥕🥕🥕

Knowledge of Tree by D. Avery

He’d gone to her, as most did, as a last resort.

“The peace you seek is held by a special tree.”

And so he wandered. He’d crossed desert landscapes and alpine heights but none of the few trees encountered were the one. Deep in the forests he searched among the many trees, seeking the special one.

After many seasons he knew well the different tribes of trees, recognized their many gifts. Resting now, back against a sturdy trunk, cooled by the leafy whispering shade, he realized he had long ago ceased to search for the one. He sighed, content.

🥕🥕🥕

The Golden Tree by Gordon Le Pard

The tree was new to him, a massive silver needled pine. He climbed off his horse and walked slowly round the fallen giant, in the root plate he noticed a yellow glint, carelessly he dropped the golden nugget in his pocket, then found what he was looking for. In what had been the topmost branches were mature cones. Carefully he collected the seed.

His letter to Kew began; “Wonderful discoveries, you must think I have been manufacturing pines, I have found so many.”

He never mentioned the gold, to the plant hunter David Douglas, trees were much more important.

🥕🥕🥕

The Last Forest by H.R.R. Gorman

I plodded into the forest with a tape measure. The age of a tree couldn’t be divined without coring, but I don’t have that equipment. Size will have to suffice.

Grandma once told me that the forests hold memories and grudges. She taught me how to ask forgiveness from the apple tree in the backyard, to seek the oldest tree for the absolution from a grove.

I decorated what limbs I could with prayer tags. “Please, don’t leave. Please grow again.”

It didn’t work, but maybe that wasn’t the oldest. A lot of trees had a five inch diameter.

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Lucy Lockett’s Missing Trees by JulesPaige

within a mist dream
desert sands cover the land
cacti arms blooming

Where is the sprocket, asks Lucy Lockett
To turn on the watering hose, who knows?
Where are the oaks and willows, north moss for pillows
In this dust dream of desert rust?
Show me a sign, with an arrow to the Pine.

within a mist dream
Haleakala rises high
date palms far below

Where’s the maples and wild crab apples.
Tossing and turning, is a fever burning?
And where’s the spade, I laid?
A plum, peach, yes one of each!
Let a ripe apricot, hit the spot!

🥕🥕🥕

Oh Tannenbaum by Annette Rochelle Aben

The local radio station announced they were reviving a time-honored tradition for the holidays. The Carol Tree would “dance” to the music and all were invited to gather around to witness the jolly sight.

She had never heard of such a thing but needed to be there. It did not disappoint! Bright colored strings of holiday lights were blinking in time to the rock and roll oldies pumped through the speakers at the base of the stately pine tree. Oh, so much fun and it was difficult to know who had a better time, the people or the tree.

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Tree Search Exclusive Tours, Ltd. by Chelsea Owen

“And this…” he paused, turned, faced the group with the red sun at his back and ash clouds beneath his boots. “Is where trees once stood.”

If the group had breath to gasp between their regulated air streams, perhaps they would have gasped. At least they stood in silence. Wearing the most stylish protective suits and SCBA money could buy, they stood in silence.

He shook his head inside his own, more functional suit. What good did these exclusive tours do, anyway? Surely these people, heads of companies responsible for the radioactive waste around him, did not actually care…

🥕🥕🥕

Homecoming! by Anurag Bakhshi

I’d returned home after a long time, but I knew in my heart that I would find her in the grove, picking up those lovely oranges.
And I was right.

There she stood, head wrapped in her red scarf. My heart leaped up, and I started grinning like an ass.

I moved closer, wanting to surprise her.

SQUELCH!

Startled, she turned around! A horrified look came on her face, and as she threw an orange violently at me, she exclaimed, “YOU! I thought I’d driven you away permanently. Grandma was right, you donkeys don’t have much brains, do you?”

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What Lives in Trees? by Norah Colvin

The teacher displayed photographs of trees.

“We’ve been learning about where animals live. Today, we’ll list animals that live in trees.”

Hands shot up, bursting to contribute.

The teacher wrote:

possums, koalas, beetles, snakes, birds …

Amir’s English was developing but his classmates were puzzled when he said what sounded like ‘goat’.

“Repeat,” encouraged the teacher.

“Goat.”

When asked, Amir drew a tree with a recognisable goat standing in it.

“Not story,” smiled the teacher. “Real.”

Amir nodded and pointed to the laptop. “Google.”

A quick search confirmed it.

Everyone cheered. Amir added to their knowledge tree that day.

🥕🥕🥕

Children !!! by Brendan Thomas

“Careful. Stop swaying. You’ll shed leaves, maybe break a branch.”

“But it’s fun. Weeeeeeeeeee.”

“Listen to Dad. He lost branches playing like that. They never grew back to full size.”

But he didn’t listen. He swayed watching with glee as leaves fell, some swirling in the chaotic wind, some falling slowly to his roots.

“Look I’m naked,” he shouted.

Finally strength won. The sound of timber cracking as a branch fell to the ground. Surprise, anguish, large sobs,

“I’m broken. It hurts Mum.”

“I know son. It’ll grow back bigger than before,” she lied.

His father looked away,

“Children !!!”

🥕🥕🥕

Childhood Memory by Nancy Brady

Before Mister Rogers Neighborhood and Sesame Street, there was a local program called Luci’s Toy Shop.

Luci had puppet characters including George the Giraffe, Dragon, and Mr. Tree.
Mr. Tree talked after he was awakened with a song.

“Hi there, Mr. Tree, we’re very glad to see you.
Wake up Mr. Tree; it’s daytime, can’t you see?’

With a big yawn, Mr. Tree would finally wake up, and he and Luci would converse about the day of the week. Eventually, Luci would slip, saying the word sleep and Mr. Tree would fall back to sleep until the next time.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s Not Where You Walk, It’s Who You’re With by Anne Goodwin

Swinging my arms, I followed him up the slope towards the spinney. Casual. As if a country walk with my dad were an everyday thing.

He pointed out the ash and the spindly silver birch, its bark like alligator skin. I showed him a squirrel, scampering across the path, up a tree trunk shelved with bracken fungus.

At a sudden tapping, he grabbed my shoulder. Though we strained our eyes and necks to scan the treetops, the woodpecker eluded us. It didn’t matter; the shared not-seeing made me feel close to him. For the first time, he’d seen me.

🥕🥕🥕

Space. Boring! by Floridaborne

Most people have to share a small cabin with three other people. I get a 4 x 6 room. They want windows, but I don’t care to see what’s coming at the ship.

I spend my days cleaning floors, repairing worn machinery that creates our food, and thinking about my father’s Earth stories.

He died last year, on my 10th birthday… radiation leak in the engine section. The bastard didn’t die quick.

With his final breath he said, “I wanted to touch one last tree.”

If we find a habitable planet, the trees can have his ashes.

🥕🥕🥕

Trees by Roberta Eaton

The enormous tree drew her. Its branches reached up into the bright, blue sky, far above its fellows. She knew only too well that all of the trees were nourished with the flesh of humans deemed by society to be wasteful squanderers, but she still admire this particular tree’s tenacity in beating its competition and achieving such great proportions. She thought of another tree. The one she had seen on the eve of the Great War after the bombs had rained down. She recalled the tendrils of fire running up its wide trunk and licking greedily at its branches.

🥕🥕🥕

Aftermath by Sarah Whiley

My feet crunched on the blackened ground. Even the rocks had not been spared. So intense was the heat from the bushfire, they too had been singed.

All around me was devastation.

Twisted sheets of metal were all that was left of the house. I bent down and touched the ground where our mailbox once stood, my fingers trailing through the ash.

I trudged the perimeter fence and noted with irony, the eucalypts still standing.

Charred.
Naked.
But still standing.

Then, I saw a tiny patch of green – the tree already beginning to regenerate itself!

We too would rebuild.

🥕🥕🥕

Through the Woods by Susan Sleggs

Me and my dog walk down the hill through the woods to the river most days, usually to bring the cows back up to the barn. In the springtime we pick leeks that grow under the black walnut trees. Rascal rolls in them and Mama gets mad because he stinks. In the fall we collect the nuts. They’re bitter but add a good flavor to cookies. If we sit quiet under the willow in the summer we see beaver swimming and deer drinking. I wish the house had been built down by the river. It’d save lots of walking.

🥕🥕🥕

Laid to Rest (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni asked Ike to fall the tree, an ancient Ponderosa with thick plates of bark assembled like puzzle pieces. She estimated it had stood over the abandoned cemetery at least three centuries before burials. Mostly sawyers and log-camp followers found final rest beneath its branches. A hundred years ago, this Ponderosa would have netted the logging company enough money to cover wages. Yet they had spared the tree. Danni didn’t guess why, but she asked her husband to fall it because he understood the code of the forest. He’d remove the diseased old-timer with respect to those it guarded.

🥕🥕🥕

Twin Trees by Kerry E.B. Black

They grew from a single trunk, an anomaly of separate identities jointed by common roots dug deep into the loam of fallen ancestors. They vied for sunlight, pushed against each other’s branches in an attempt for superiority, but neither bested the other. Their leaves shook to distinguish themselves, but noone addressed them as individuals. In concert, they burst into flower, fleshed out greenery in time. By autumn, their leaves rustled the same impatient song. After years of struggle, they towered over others, since woodsmen stayed their axes when confronted by twin trunks. Others wished they, too, had a lifetime companion.

🥕🥕🥕

Garden Tree by Anita Dawes

I don’t have to go too far to find a great tree.
It is in my garden, my beautiful gum tree.
Tall and magnificent, a small amount of wind
sets it swaying like a row of flamenco dancers
I can almost hear the roots tapping away
in time with the rhythm above.
Soothing and calming my mind.
I sit there often unburdening the misery
I have accrued over the last few days.
I know it listens, never judging.
The soft sway of its leaves above my head,
A blessing, a benediction.
Gentle giants, they are the air we breathe…

🥕🥕🥕

Exposed by D. Avery

Strong leaders of proud communities, they were protectors, providers of sanctuary, comfort, inspiration.

How they danced! Sweeping, stretching, swaying movements, at once bold and gentle, a beautiful ballet.

They were poets and prophets, translating the ancient secrets of stone, their every whispered word lyrical and mystical. They were emissaries, bridging Heaven and Earth. They were heard by any who listened.

Nobody listened. Their ballet became frenzied, their movements frantic and desperate. Their toppled bodies and exposed roots a broken covenant, we are disconnected.

The sky is falling.

We didn’t listen.

They are silenced, gone. Winds and waters roar, unimpeded.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Comforts of Crab Apples by Kerry E.B. Black

She’d grown too old to climb, but the crab apple tree in her family’s backyard remained her favorite spot. She leaned against its rough bark to meditate or reflect as life rearranged. Here, beneath a tree whose bitter fruit none ate, in whose boughs she hid as a child when life bruised her burgeoning psyche, she regained balance. In the spring, lovely pink-kissed blossoms speckled new grass like fairydust. Summer shade soothed. Autumn saw a lack-luster display of spotted, pale yellow foliage, while Winter’s bare branches reached toward Heaven like prayers, yet year-round, this tree welcomed and comforted her.

🥕🥕🥕

Our Tree by Di @pensitivity101

It was just one, but in the company of others.
It was an elm, or was it an oak?
It was tall, and had several broken branches, one of which dipped down to the earth as if bowing in servitude.
It was along this path, or was it that one?
No, it was this way, towards the clearing, where it stood magnificent and almost alone.
One mile in, or maybe two? So long ago. It may not even still be there.
I hope so.
We designated it as Our Tree, and buried bottles with love messages in its roots.

🥕🥕🥕

Island of Trees by Bill Engleson

They’re always there, you know. Likely always have been.

Eons, I expect.

I don’t think about them much. Maybe I should. There’s that old saying…you can’t see the forest for the…and here I am, knowing they are there. In my face. Never really paying them any heed.

Like the air.

The dying air.

Or the sea.

The dying sea.

Every so often, we get hit with storms. Fierce gales, they are. Whipping in from the north, the south, occasionally from the west.

The trees sway.

Loom.

They surely loom.

Sometimes, threatening, bending towards me,

towards my house,

my life.

🥕🥕🥕

Alive by Carol Arcus

It was dark when she woke, wintertime, dark mornings and cold biting winds. The coffee machine made a hum that could wake the dead. She smiled knowing her husband and daughter would rise soon.

She looked forward to speaking to her son.

He loved the trees, the hills around the property were his refuge, especially when he was ill. She always took him to that one special tree at sunset. It was summer then, those glorious warm days.

Today she stood under the tree, and chatted about everything.

He was still alive to her, this way, under this tree.

🥕🥕🥕

Carved in Wood by Sally Cronin

She traced the names, carved in the bark of their special tree fifty years ago, with her fingertips.

Peter loves Sarah forever.

But they had taken different paths. She to a wonderful husband and children, and now as a widow and grandmother. She often wondered what had happened to him, and if he had been happy. On a whim, she had returned to the wood to see the bluebells, that like their romance flowered so briefly. Beneath the carving were numbers. Intrigued she took out her mobile and dialled.

‘Hello, who is this?’

‘Sarah’

‘What took you so long?’

🥕🥕🥕

Apple Tree by Ann Edall-Robson

“Liz.”

“Mac. Coffee?”

“No thanks, just looking for the kids.”

“Kids?”

He pointed out the window.

“They’ve been out there toe to toe debating for quite a while.”

A quiet rumbling from Mac told Mrs. Johnson he was laughing.

“He sure gets under her skin.”

“And she pushes back just as hard.”

Mrs. Johnson’s comment was accentuated by Hanna poking Tal in the cheese before walking towards the barn.

“We’ll need to keep an eye on those two. Might be the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.”

Liz heard the door close, leaving her alone in the cookhouse.

🥕🥕🥕

White Pine by Sascha Darlington

I wanted to return to my soul home, West Virginia. Didi wanted to go with me for a white pine, a strategy he plotted with his younger brother Uli.

Funny how all these years later, I don’t remember walking the soil with him, him being there, although we did dig up pines. A neighbor mowed over mine, devastating me during the break-up. Mother yelled at him despite neighborly kindness. She could be a fierce mother lion.

So many years later, air conditioning humming, my always love snoring, I consider affectionate memories, although coldness pervades, just like Didi’s eyes, calculating.

🥕🥕🥕

The Red Maple by tracey

She bought the house in winter and didn’t realize the tree in the backyard was dead until spring. She had it removed at the end of the summer and told herself she didn’t want to rake leaves anyway.

As the year progressed she thought the yard looked naked and found she missed raking leaves.

In the spring she wandered around the nursery feeling overwhelmed until she saw a six-foot tall red maple. Her tree.

She took her home and named her ‘Betty’.

Thirty years later her heart still contracted with joy as she raked up Betty’s jewel colored leaves.

🥕🥕🥕

The Tree Fort by Susan Zutautas

Johnny and Cindy were at Grandma’s summer cottage having a heated argument. Cindy wanted to see Johnny’s tree fort, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

When Johnny left, over to the tree she went climbing the rungs up and into
the fort. She was sitting with her back against a curtain when Johnny appeared.
“There’s not enough room, leave now!”

“Sure, there is,” Cindy replied, moving back thinking there was a wall behind the curtain. Out she went, falling onto the ground just missing a boulder.

Startled but fine Cindy got up, brushed herself off, never again to return.

🥕🥕🥕

Tree of Memories by Ritu Bhathal

I need to find it.
I know it’s here somewhere.
We used to visit here regularly when we were courting.
Where is that tree?
I think it was an Oak.
Huge sprawling branches that created a vast canopy, under which we used to sit, backs resting against the thick, sturdy trunk.
It was here we had our first kiss.
Here, we professed our love.
Here, you proposed.
Is it this one? My fingers trail over the rough bark. A spark of memory.
Yes, here.
Here, my love, I’ll lay you to rest, scattered amongst the memories of our love.

🥕🥕🥕

Renewal by Saifun Hassam

Ancient olive trees grew on the cliffs overlooking the sea and along the foothills of the extinct volcano. One flagstone path led to a grove of olive trees planted around a stone fountain. Their great gnarled trunks were intricate colorful patterns of countless shades of brown and yellow. Warm sea breezes set their silvery green leaves sparkling in the afternoon sun.

Ammerra loved these ancient trees. Legends spoke of how the trees grew again when the volcano erupted covering the foothills with lava and ash. She loved the peace and solace here, a sense of renewal through life’s difficulties.

🥕🥕🥕

Portents by Joanne Fisher

Aalen was suspended above the Bloodwood, the most ancient and sacred tree in their forest. The tree was part of their spring rites when they celebrated the fertility of their people and the forest. As she hung there she noticed there was huge crack in the Bloodwood that went down the entire tree, as if it was ready to split open.

Aalen awoke with a start. She could hear Ashalla softly breathing beside her. Vilja was curled up beside the glowing embers. Bleary-eyed she got up realising they hadn’t set a watch. In the dark she pondered the dream.

🥕🥕🥕

A Momentary Silence by Nicole Horlings

The forest was silent. Where there should have been birdsong, there was only the sound of the wind howled as it thrust through the charred remains of a thicket. He held out hope that their tree had been untouched, since it stood alone in the center of the clearing, a tall and proud elder watching over the saplings as they grew up.

Alas, the forest fire had been indiscriminate in its rage. Their carved heart was ashy beneath the gentle caress of his fingers.
But as they had repaired the damage from their fights, the forest too would regrow.

🥕🥕🥕

Medicinal Mango by Abhijit Ray

“Your mother is not well Sakharam,” the village doctor announced, “feed her mango from Nawab’s orchard.”

“An hour’s walk from the bus stop,” man spoke again before Sakharam could protest at this unusual prescription, “mango from Nawab’s orchard are medicinal.”

“Brother how far the famous mango orchard?” after almost an hour’s trek, the least he could do for his ailing mother, Sakharam asked a road side vendor, “one with medicinal fruits!”

“God! Another one!” exclaimed the tea seller, “Nawab sold his orchard almost a decade back. A warehouse came up in its place. You have walked past it.”

🥕🥕🥕

Restoring a Giant by Jo Hawk

The forest of Laurel’s childhood was gone. She remembered great stands of the mighty American Chestnut tree, which grew nearly one hundred feet tall with trunks ten feet in diameter. It was once the most common hardwood tree in the Northeastern United States. The tree’s wood was rot-resistant, straight-grained, and it produced nuts that fed cattle, hogs and other wildlife. Laurel remembered eating roasted chestnuts every fall.

A tree that had survived for 40 million years, disappeared in 40, destroyed by the chestnut blight. Her children worked to restore a forest they had never seen and could only imagine.

*** To learn more about restoration efforts, check out The American Chestnut Foundation.

🥕🥕🥕

In Place of Majesty by Jen Goldie

The area I live in, is one of the oldest communities
In Toronto, Ontario. It is referred to, as “The City of Trees”.
One day on my usual walk I discovered them preparing
to cut down this magnificent tree. I was astounded
and angry.
It was obviously a done deal to accommodate
some new town houses. I sadly, day by day, watched
the construction of these narrow row houses. They
left the stump of the tree sitting there. I now
pass and think of the tragedy.
Four narrow townhouses at the edge of a road in
place of majesty.

🥕🥕🥕

Paperbark by calmkate

I stand tall, like to shed my bark.
human beans use it to create art
sentinels that guard sacred grounds
unusual majestic versatility astounds

shorter ones produce tea tree oil
we prefer to grow in swampy soil
Australian natives we grow quick
bark is whitish papery n thick

all trees contribute to clean the air
home to many creatures, we care
we grow nuts and fruits with flair
mango plums peach and pear

destroying us is mighty unfair
we grow with grace don’t make us rare
plant more and hug us if you dare
we are vital for survival

🥕🥕🥕

A FINAL WORD FROM THE CHARACTERS AT THE RANCH

Highku by D. Avery

“Look up, Pal. I’m here.”
“Kid, what’re you doin’ up in thet tree?”
“It’s my poet-tree. I’m writin’. Told ya, I ain’t waitin’ on whats-her-name. Here’s yer buckaroo-ku:

when the people fall
and no trees remain to hear
deserts on the march.”

“Two things Kid. First, ya lifted that last line from Paul Sears’ book he wrote back in Dust Bowl days.”
“Yeah, but no one knows that, Pal.”
“Second, that ain’t buckaroo-ku.”
“Ain’t it?”
“No thet’s highku.”
“Highku?”
“‘Cause yer so high up in thet tree. Now git down.”
“About that, Pal… Kin you git me a ladder?”

🥕🥕🥕

Up a Tree Without a Pal by D. Avery

“Kid, ya mean ta tell me yer stuck up in thet there tree?”

“Yep. Seems with trees what climbs up cain’t always climb down.”

“An’ now ya ‘spect me ta git a ladder an’ hep ya git down?”

“Yeah, was hopin’ ya would.”

“Sorry Kid. Ya said ta heck with our writer, so jist now, I’m gonna go write my own flash. Ya kin wait fer D. Avery ta show up and write ya down outta there, or ya kin write the ending yerself. But me, I’m goin’ off ta write a story.”

“Pal!”

“It’s called ‘Tree Huggin’ Kid’.”

🥕🥕🥕

Coffee & Reverse Prose by Susan Sleggs

“Kid, if you think about it, you can get down.”

“Nope.”

“Yes you can. Think about the position of your hands and feet took for each climbing step and reverse them.”

“That’d be like writing prose backwards. I only know how to go forward.”

“Not true….you know how to edit by rearranging or removing. In this case you just have to rearrange by going backwards.”

“Maybe I’ll try it come daylight.”

“I’ll have the Ranch cook brew up some strong coffee in the morning…..smelling that’ll get you moving.”

“Maybe now is a better time if there’s coffee.”

🥕🥕🥕

At Home in a Tree by Charli Mills

A tree stretched its limbs upward and felt the weight of a human nestled in its branches. The tree’s bark tingled where boots had scurried upward more clumsily than the thorny grip of a black bear or the agility of a cat. But the end results remained – the human was stuck. Several visitors tried to coax the perched one down. Stubborn as a cat, the human remained stuck. After the bipeds left, the human hollered. The tree rustled, attempting a buckaroo lullabye –

Get along little humie, get along,
Rest in my branches,
For I will be your new home.

🥕🥕🥕

Shorty’s Call by Charli Mills

“Kid, get yer carcass outta my apple tree. Boots on the ground.”

“Kinda stuck.”

“Pal? Hey Pay – where’d you go off to?”

“Pal’s huggin’ a tree.”

“Kid, looks like that thar tree is huggin’ you.”

“Quilter said somethin’ ‘bout reverse prosin’ my way down.”

“Yep, that Quilter’s a wise gal. Not a wise acre like you or yer Pal.”

“Quilter sure does know her pieces.”

“Sure does. Kid, time you make hay and git down.”

“Down is not lookin’up fer me.”

“Now Kid, I might hav’ta wrangle ya from them thar branches.  Don’t make me fetch the Poet Lariat.”

May 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

Two days after my middlest child turned 29 years old, I’m seeking trees. My daughter, Rock Climber, lives on a craggy glacier island in the Arctic, surrounded by massive mountains, polar bear prints, and eternal snow beneath skies as wide as any final frontier. She travels by Zodiac in seas so tumultuous she has to wear a full life-suit with a beacon. When she flies between islands, she lands on airstrips made of permafrost. For fun, she rides snowmobiles in the midnight sun and sends me goofy snapshots. When her dad was in the hospital, she taught her Norwegian friends to sing a raunchy rugby song she learned when watching him play in a Montana league.

This is my Bug Child. My wild girl crafted in her Ranger/Rugby father’s image.

She tells me she misses trees.

Have you ever lived someplace where there were no trees? Even in the North American deserts, juniper, pinion, and Joshua trees grow. I was born beneath a canopy of California oaks and raised in the Sierras where the Jeffry pines and cedars grow. Eyes wide open, I can still smell their scent — Jeffrey pines smell like vanilla when the sunshine warms their broom-like clusters of needles. I’m not a tree-hugger as much as I’m a tree-cuddler.

I used to ride my horse Captain Omega (don’t judge, I named him when I was 12, reading Greek Mythology) to the cedar groves. There, I’d sit with my back to a cedar with its auburn bark that I could peel like fiber. I used to compare the color of my long braids to the tree and pretend we were distantly related. I’d read, devouring books and traveling in my mind to places as remote as where Rock Climber now lives.

Trees are in my DNA. Bumpa, my nonagenarian great-grandfather who used to tell me stories when my mother dropped me off to visit him in the nursing home beneath the oaks. I only knew him in his nineties. He died when I was ten, and he was 99. But those stories live on within me, roots of his life touching mine. His parents were farmers from Denmark, immigrating to America. They came west to California and planted apricot orchards. He grew up, tending those trees. My grandmother continued to harvest their fruit even after her father sold the orchards. My mother and her sisters would eat green apricots until their bellies ached. I grew up eating dried apricots every Christmas. When my Bug Child was two, my mother taught her to filch fruit from low-hanging branches, declaring these were the one’s Bumpa’s father planted.

I once wrote a story about the sweetness of stolen sunshine, keeping in mind the female tradition of San Benito apricots. Those trees produced fruit I thought must taste like the ambrosia of the sun. Throughout life, I continued to nibble from trees. First apricots, and then the nuts from Sierra pines. Jeffry pinenuts are flat and acrid but carry that luscious scent. Pinion pinenuts are fat, greasy, and sweet. Yet they don’t produce every year. When pinenuts come into season, the Washo and Ute would flock to high desert groves and harvest from pitchy stunted trees. I can taste American history with each nibble, I can experience Johnny Appleseed with the plucking of wild apples. I dream of Rock Creek and Little House on the Prairie when I slurp the tart fruit of a wild Nebraska plum.

Family legend holds that my other great-grandfather could create trees. He knew how to splice and get a crab apple to grow on a Macintosh. What scientist do in labs with genes, my ancestors did with trees. They brought their own hybrids with them from the Basque lands, the Azores, and beyond. Not from Ireland though. I once had a family member tell me that the English cut down all the trees in Ireland, and perhaps my Irish blood still misses those trees. I’ve watched shows on how the modern English take care of ancient oaks, and Monty Don is welcome to teach me anything about trees. My British roots are all mixed up in the different eras of history, place, and culture but undoubtedly go back to the Celtic worshippers of trees.

Deciduous trees of the Keweenaw have root systems that communicate throughout the woods. When  I’m alone on a trail, I can hear them talking. White pines once grew in abundance on this peninsula, but like most other places, trees of today displaced the trees of yesterday. Climate change is displacing us all. Weather patterns and extreme weather events change what trees grow where.

At times I feel like a wind-whipped pine holding onto the cliffside. Then the sun comes out, or a gentle rain washes away the dust. Maybe I’ll find a home in a tree, a nest to call my own.

So I ask again, have you ever lived someplace without trees? Can you imagine having to hunt for them, to grow up not knowing what it is to smell bark or rake leaves or taste fruit?

My daughter misses trees. So I am seeking trees to give her stories to remind her.

May 16, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes in search of trees. It can be one particular tree, a grove, woods, or forest. What makes the tree worth seeking? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 21, 2019. 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.

 

Laid to Rest (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni asked Ike to fall the tree, an ancient Ponderosa with thick plates of bark assembled like puzzle pieces. She estimated it had stood over the abandoned cemetery at least three centuries before burials. Mostly sawyers and log-camp followers found final rest beneath its branches. A hundred years ago, this Ponderosa would have netted the logging company enough money to cover wages. Yet they had spared the tree. Danni didn’t guess why, but she asked her husband to fall it because he understood the code of the forest. He’d remove the diseased old-timer with respect to those it guarded.

Growing Older

Perhaps growing older is a disgusting venture, but as one writer quipped, it’s better than the alternative. We can age with dignity if we simply allow each other the forgiveness for doing so. We can forgive memory gaps and welcome each day as a chance to yet live. Wrinkles never stopped a grin or an expression of love.

Writers took to age as if they’ve been living a long time to write about it.

The following are based on the May 9, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older.

PART I (10-minute read)

On Aging by Susan Sleggs

When I dream I am younger, energetic, and always thinner. There is excitement, intrigue, people I don’t recognize and fascinating cartoonlike experiences. There are animals, unlikely pets, a tiger on my bed, horses waiting at the window for an apple. I travel to exotic places, by sailboat, with a dark haired sexy partner. I go back to laughing about life’s entanglements and mistakes don’t happen. There is no pain, no memory loss, no pills to take, no hurt feelings, and no guilt for bad decisions. Then I awake. I am old and infirm, but still happy to be alive.

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Hands Across the Years by Nancy Brady

An early memory of Mom was of her wearing a yellow, full-skirted seersucker dress to the zoo on a bright June day. Her dress rivaled the sun and epitomized a young mother full of energy. I was only five at the time.

Time aged us both, and suddenly, I was a mother myself. Visits to my parents brought both delight and sadness as I noticed her worsening rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands became more gnarled and disfigured through the years.

Now, I look at my own hands for signs of aging and wonder what my sons see when we visit.

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From Mother to Son by Anne Goodwin

“Did you hear the one about the Japanese Emperor, Mamma? He ab-ab-ab …”

”Abrogated his responsibilities? Abandoned his subjects to his imbecile son?”

“Don’t you get tired, Mamma? All that travelling. Dressing up in your gladrags. Smiling at proles waving silly flags.”

“Of course I get tired. I’m ninety-three. But duty must trump human frailties. That’s what monarchy means.”

“Talking of The Donald, how can you …”

“There’s a man who tears up the rulebook …”

“As you could too, Mamma.”

“You know what I’d really like, Charles? If I could skip a generation. Give my grandson a turn.”

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Tooting Marvellous by Ritu Bhathal

Mabel sat in her armchair and glanced around her surroundings.

Look at them all — old fogies.

She was, undoubtedly, at least ten years younger than them. Goodness knows why they’d put her in here. There must have been some mistake.

But that silver-haired Derek, sat across the room, he looked rather dashing. Someone to get to know and, maybe, help ease the boredom.

Shifting slightly in her chair, she felt a build up in her stomach, and a loud fart escaped.

At least there were some benefits to growing old…No embarrassment factor; she could toot to her heart’s content!

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Photograph by Brendan Thomas

Peig sat in the middle, between her standing daughters, grandchildren clustered to her right, great granddaughter Nelly standing closest, touching her shoulder.

“Hold Nelly’s hand.”

No, her old arm wouldn’t bend. She remembered previous photographs, standing behind her Nonna, moving across the screen, left to right as she aged. Now promoted to the seat in front. She once was the light hand on the shoulder and missed it.

“Ready? Cheese!”

Photographs were boring now, no smokey flash to enliven, no wait before enjoying the outcome. “Will photographs exist when Nelly’s a Nonna?” she wondered, before approving the digital image.

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Runner by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Sophie gazed down the long oaken table, half-light of a dozen candle sticks melted to shining copper holder. She squinted to blur the face drooping at table’s end.

Looking down, she studied the pattern of barn red, deep woad, and white twined with emerald leaves. Were these flowers from her homeland? She barely remembered weaving the runner for her trousseau…or the excited young girl she’d been. Her parents had been proud to boast her move from farm to manor as a wonderful match.

After so long, she’d adjusted her dreams. Looking up, she wondered what he thought of her.

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Ada by Violet Lentz

Ada never visited the small wooden crosses that marked the sandy loam where her husband had interred the tiny corpses of the babes that would never suckle at her breast.

She never shed a tear at their passing, nor spoke the christian names they had been given.

She was a dutiful, if not loving wife, and reared the one child she was spared with a firm, yet caring hand.

She was on her deathbed the first and only time she ever told her husband, or her son that she loved them.

Just a moment after she realized it herself.

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Growing Old by Pete Fanning

The boy sat against a tree, watching the tall grass in the field. The sky held a few clouds overhead, clouds in no hurry to do anything but laze in the blue. A soft breeze, a whisper between leaves, scurried through the stalks without order or sequence, weaving and bending and—

“Boy, what are you doing?”

The boy stood, eyes down, face flushed. “Nothing.”

“Nothing, huh? Must be nice. When you get older you won’t have time to watch the grass grow.”

The boy took one last look back, at the dancing grass, and promised to never grow old.

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Menopause by tracey

A woman spends the latter half of her life in three phases:

Perimenopause – Characterized by so many different symptoms you are sure you are losing your mind. Coping mechanism is eating brownies while hiding in the pantry. You long to live alone in a mountain cabin.

Menopause – This phase has many false starts. Six months without a period and then you get surprised by your ‘friend’. Still eating brownies, you now wake up in the middle of the night and have to endure hours thinking about brownies.

Post-menopausal – The sun comes out again and you live happily ever after.

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Being Seen by Sascha Darlington

She fell. Nothing was broken, something twisted, enough to keep her down. Down, like her brain, her emotions, her feelings.

When she started walking, nothing worked the same. Sadness poured through her veins instead of blood. Overnight, she felt…old.

Every morning she rose, thought, this will be the day to turn it all around, but she didn’t, couldn’t. It was like being mired in molasses.

Maybe the worst thing was: no one noticed. No one saw her struggles. No one hugged her or recognized pain that grew beyond physical.

On bad days, she evaluated ways to completely, finally disappear.

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Generations by Floridaborne

Grandma loved our visits to her nursing home. From her window, she’d watch us find a place to park in a treeless lot.

She’d give us hugs and say, “Thank you for coming.”

Grandma listened to stories about our lives and once, when I turned 9, she said, “It seems like only yesterday I danced in the streets at the end of the Great War.”

My dad said, “Do we have to hear that story again?”

She looked down at her hands in the same way my father does now, as he waits for a family that never visits.

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Aging by Dorinda Duclos

I’m living a wonderful life, though age has decreased my gait. Still, I manage to have some fun, I want to live it, before it’s too late. Life, is much too short, to leave it on the side of the road. The older I get, the more I know, take it all, before you’ve slowed.

Growing older is beautiful, I was put here, for a purpose. Until that is complete, I’ll remain here, on this surface. To live, laugh, love, play, until time is not a thought, then I’ll say I’m finally done, but… I haven’t lived for naught.

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Wisdom Lines by Kerry E.B. Black

My friend calls them wisdom lines, wrinkles etched into the face. They’re experience trickled, as though life’s efforts leave sweaty tracks. Smiles, worry, and frowns use skin not to mar but to record.

Like marionettes, we’re often controlled by emotions, and as we age, this becomes evident in our countenance.

I think of tree trunks. They also begin smooth, and their texture grows course and tough with age. So, too, our exterior seasons to endure difficulties and challenges.

As I study the patina of my aging skin, I decide my life’s experiences make a pretty pattern. I’ve a good life.

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Growing Older by Robert Kirkendall

“Grandma, tell us about the time before television.”

Grandma leaned back in her rocking chair nostalgically. “Ah yes, the Golden Age of Radio. Every night the family would get together and listen to Jack Benny, Bob Hope, or Edgar Bergen. Those were the days; good, clean wholesome entertainment.”

“Ever want to go back, Grandma?”

Grandma sat back up. “Hundreds of channels, On Demand, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, podcasts…this is a new platinum age of entertainment. You really think I want to go back to listening to some old, tinny AM radio when everything was repressed and censored? Hell no!”

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Old Bones (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“That bone is heavy as iron,” Ramona said, picking up a fossil from Danni’s workbench. Ramona no longer recognized the bone or knew its story. Nothing seemed familiar these days.

Ike put his arm around Ramona, grinning. “It’s old as you, Gran’ma.”

Danni was brushing glass shards, musing over what they might tell her about 19th century occupancy near her garden. She paused. “Ike, you know that’s a dinosaur bone.”

Ramona winked. “Well, if bones get heavier with age then that explains the numbers on the bathroom scale.”

Danni laughed. At least Ramona hadn’t forgotten her sense of humor.

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Great-Grandmama’s Teeth by Norah Colvin

The sound like freight trains roaring through a tunnel assured Billy Great-Grandmama was asleep. He turned the doorknob ever so slowly, pushed the door gently and slipped into the darkened room. A chink of light bounced off the glass at the bedside. He daren’t breathe as he tiptoed over. Three quick whistles and he froze. The cavern with wibbly wobbly edges stretched wide. Would she wake? No, but better be quick. He lowered his fingers into the glass and withdrew his prize. All that was left was to fool the fairies and he’d buy his Mum that birthday cake.

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Growing Older by Susan Zutautas

Joan was the lively one, with the most energy in her group of friends but lately it seemed she was starting to slow down.

Partying was no longer her choice for a fun evening. Now content to stay home and watch TV. She never dreamt she’d see this day come when she was younger.

Getting up in the morning some days were painful on her joints. She could no longer kneel on the floor let alone sit on the floor like she always did before. Afraid that if she got down, she’d never get back up.

Growing older sucks.

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Aging Out by Deborah Lee

“You need to hustle. You can only stay in this program for two more weeks,” the placement advisor says.

Jane’s stomach plummets; her veins ice over. Fear. Cut loose. Again.

“Why?”

Shrug. “It’s the rule. If you’re still here after three months, we make way for others who are actively looking.”

Jane bristles. “I am active. I’m here at least twice a week. I’m applying, interviewing. I want a job. I need a job.” Tears press.

Eyes drop. Silence.

“Just wait,” Jane says, “until you’re fifty, with all the skills and triple the experience, and nobody wants you anymore.”

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Aging Disgracefully by calmkate

Ageism is rife here, anyone over fifty can’t get employment. Considered over the hill, senile and well past their use by date!

Milly played on that, on being the poor old lady. She would speak forthrightly and con many into doing various tasks for her. If they were foolish she wouldn’t fight it, easier to go with the flow and make it work for her.

Although physically declining her grey matter was sharp as a tack. She attended several Church services, any who would provide a lift to and from as she found those Christians ripe for a con!

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Growing Old by Hugh W. Roberts

She sat, watching the world around her getting older, her included. It had been a rather tough day and she disliked what ageing did to her.

I may be wiser, she thought, but I feel like I’m on my last few breaths before I leave this world again. I don’t want to go, but know it is time to move on.

As she sat back to take in the last sight of the world she loved, a door behind her opened and slammed loudly.

“Move over, Saturday. The day of rest has arrived. See you in a week’s time.”

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PART II (10-minute read)

Aging by Roberta Eaton

Would you really want to live for longer? It is an appealing idea to slow down the aging process and retain the good looks and vibrant good health of your 20s, but there is a down side. Imagine having to work for double the amount of years. Instead of spending 40 years of your life caught up in the turmoil and intensity of paid employment, 80 years would be required. After that amount of time, even the most interesting job could become mundane. Maybe we would have to switch careers and go through learning and training years again. Ug!

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Young at Heart by Di @ pensitivity101

Neil looked in the mirror, wondering who the old man was looking back at him.

He pulled his cheeks in, brushed his teeth then put them in his mouth, changing the shape of his lips. He smiled, a gleaming cosmetic whiteness in a rugged face.

It was an old face, accompanied by old joints.

Old age was a bind.

He could no longer do what he used to, or if he did, it took longer or he forgot half way through the task.

He flicked on the radio and Ol’ Blue Eyes sang out Young at Heart.

Yeah, right.

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Birthday by Abhijit Ray

“So the big day is here!” asked a friend, “is a gala celebration on the cards?”

“Celebrate ageing!” Shefali wondered, “earlier a birthdays ushered in anticipation of impending adulthood and glimpses of independence; now birthdays have become just another number.”

Crossing thirty, Shefali wished she was a teenager again when life was more colorful and full of possibilities.

“Thud, thud, thud,” her daughter knocked on the door, “mom, everyone is waiting for you, hurry up!”

“Coming dear,” Shefali answered with a sigh, wore her smile and got ready to mingle, “another year, another day and another party.”

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Becoming 100 by Kelley Farrell

The chair creaks under me, weighted by century old bones.

“Congrats! You just amaze me; to think of the things you’ve seen and done!”

I shift through the archives in attempt to place the young girl. She has the family blue eyes and my sweet Harry’s smile. A fanged man dominates her dark shirt.

“Old stories say witches and vampires drink blood to stay young.” Her face contorts uncomfortably as she slinks away, no doubt on her way to tell.

I can’t hide my sneer.

Maybe tonight I’ll run away. Surely it’s not too late to become a vampire.

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Growing Old by galaxywanderer

Every grey hair, every new facial line, made her face a universal truth she didn’t want to. Contemplating one’s own mortality, is, after all, not a pleasant business, for anyone. In the ledger of regrets, the reds were the things she never found the time to do, rather than the ones she did. Watching the seasons go by had a poetic beauty that appealed to her. But the reality was a tad more daunting. To think that one day in the not so distant future, she will cease to exist was almost unfathomable, no matter how real it was.

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Geiron (from Crater Lakes) by Saifun Hassam

Wild rhododendrons and berry shrubs were in full bloom spilling over the broken backyard fence of the Marta Jensen log homestead. Built over a hundred years ago, its west wall was tilting as tree roots grew under its foundations. Old oak and elm trees provided an enormous canopy of shade.

Geiron was a retired forest ranger and writing a book about the history of the Crater Lakes Biohabitat. Over time, Marta Jensen’s journal became a wellspring for him to write richly imagined novels of the pioneers, filled with his beautiful sketches of the Green Lake and Lizard Lake Craters.

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Older . . . Wiser by Ann Edall-Robson

Tal and Hanna watched the leathery, old cowboy walk slowly to the middle of the corral and stop. It wasn’t long before the curious young horse moved towards him, neck outstretched, sniffing. The man never moved, his voice barely audible. Each day was the same with little additions introduced to the routine.

Over coffee one morning, Tal questioned the cowboy’s tactics.

“Why didn’t you just rope that colt and show him who was boss right from the get go?

A lazy smile creased the cowboy’s face.

“Son, there’s no use getting any older if you don’t get any wiser.”

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Senescent Sighs by JulesPaige

Only once did Aubrey feel the terror of aging. It was when she, as the second child was going to have her own second child. Because it was when she was about two years old her own mother died. Those two years of her second child went by quicker than she thought. Bountiful happy memories were added to her life.

Without warning her second child became engaged. Where did the time go? The saddest thing though, to her was that child’s choice to be childless. We can only live our own lives and remember all the happiness we have.

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To Be Old Again by The Dark Netizen

Has this road become longer, or have I become slower?

Definitely the latter. I really have become old.Look at me, can’t even manage to walk without my cane. I see the road is covered with petals from the tree. The same tree that only a few months ago, stood barren and cold in the winter. If only all us humans had that ability to shed our old skin and look young all over again. Well, I can’t speak for all the humans. But, I’m lucky I discovered the fountain of youth.

Now where did I keep that water-bottle?

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Flashback by Jewel Ingalls

I’m so excited. Mommy promised to take me to the roller rink if I kept my room clean. My army men were off the floor everyday by the time she was home from work.

I think she’s pulling in now! I hurry to use the bathroom before we leave.

“Arnie?”

Weird. Mom’s voice is different. I wash my hands lifting my head. An old man stares back. White beard; wrinkled face.

A woman rounds the corner. “Arnie. You shouldn’t be walking around with no one home.”

The visiting nurse dried Arnie’s hands and led him back to his recliner.

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A Year Old by Ruchira Khanna

Happy-birthday-for-grandmother-from-granddaughter

“Sammy, blow the candles!” Christine said with delight.

Sammy claps her hands with joy and walks with ginger steps towards the table. She attempts to puff in the air as she pouts and her chest expands. Tired, she pauses with her lips contracted and then huffs the breath with all her might.

“Oh, Oh!” All shouted in the background as something blew across Sammy and onto the cake.

She forgot to remove her dentures before the blowout!

Needless of the incident, her grandchildren applauded Samantha who preferred to be addressed by her name had entered a three digit number.

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Flash by Nancy Brady

Flash is our cat. Born in April, 2001, she is now eighteen years old. What that exactly equates to in feline years, we can only guess. According to the veterinarian, she is probably a centenarian.

Despite her geriatric status, Flash has always acted like a kitten. Even now, as she deals with minor tooth infections and cloudy vision, she still manages to act like the feisty little kitten she once was, racing and meowing through the house as if hellhounds are chasing her.

Flash has aged, but so have we. Her time is limited, but then so is ours.

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Simple Things by D.G. Kaye

I dropped a fork, bent down, took a minute to get back up, but I did.

I went to the fridge, forgot what I went for, so I closed the door and saved on calories.

The days of putting on socks while hopping on one foot are long gone or I’d fall flat on my face. A chair now works fine.

Naps used to be looked at as punishment when young, now a treasured opportunity.

Days pass too quick as years progress.

More wrinkle cream, vitamins and brisk walks. Whatever it takes, I’m in.

Getting older aint for sissies.

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‘It Always Seems To Be Breakfast’* by Geoff Le Pard

‘I suppose this death fixation of your mum’s is worrying about growing old.’

‘She’s a “do not go gentle” sort of person, actually. But having gone, gentle or otherwise, she wants some sort of certainty.

Like she wants to wear her flowery Doc Martens in her coffin.’

‘Nice.’

‘Maybe. She’s not said what else.’

‘Oh…’

‘Exactly. Though Dad had this saying: he’d get his own back on his kids and live to be a hundred.’

‘Didn’t make it, did he?’

‘No, though that didn’t stop him practicing just in case.’

‘Old sod. Got to love him, haven’t you?’

‘Indeed.’

*said by a famous nonagenarian, when asked what change was the most notable now he was in his nineties

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Growing Older by Janice Golay

Reminder: consult Dr. Einstein about “Time” and growing older. “Sir: Why does our perception of time change as we travel the average human lifespan? Is it subjective or is it ‘real’?

“For example, no longer a young filly eager to escape the corral but not yet ready for pasture, I’m falling very slowly between the cracks. Previously I moved easily, judged hastily. Now 70, my real-time movie is shot in slow motion. Slow is vexing when targeting destination X, exquisite while sauntering through a garden of fragrant June roses.

“Please reply before the rapidly approaching end of the film.”

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Wisdom of the Ages by Jo Hawk

It was the time of Antiquity. The temple rose, constructed with care to mark a sacred spot. Tested by fire, its original purpose faded from consciences. Each day, the sun painted the walls in a soft luminous glow, recording the years, decades and millenniums. The Oculus recorded the words of countless stories and etched them on the dome’s geometric perfection.

Time evolved, morphing into something different. It became elastic and unimportant. Wisdom replaced foolish desires and meaningless acquisitions of petty trinkets. It distilled the truth, divulging the secret simplicity of being, seeing and feeling with no reservations, without judgment.

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Towards the City by Joanne Fisher

As Aalen, Ashalla, and Vilja got nearer to the city they saw the land become more cultivated and ordered.

“How many years do your people usually live?” Ashalla asked.

“We don’t measure time the same way as you.” Aalen replied. “So I don’t know. As we get older our responsibilities increase. I helped protect the borders, so little was expected of me, but if I survived I would have eventually become an Elder of the village who were the sources of our wisdom and knowledge.”

Aalen looked out at the land. She knew that future was gone for her.

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A Small Price to Pay by Sally Cronin

The old man stood to attention by the memorial in the village square, as he did each day during his afternoon constitutional. His knees were playing up, but nothing a stout stick couldn’t handle. Getting older had challenges, but unlike his drinking pals in the pub each evening, he knew aching joints were a small price to pay. As was his habit, he read the names on the brass plate aloud, remembering each one of his comrades who did not live to grow old. He wiped away a tear and continued his walk, feeling like the luckiest man alive.

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POETIC REFLECTIONS

Gramma Dear by Chelsea Owens

Flowered pots and colored notes
fly gently on the walls;

Whose smiling, standing stick-men

Wave out from rainbowed pen?

Wrinkled cheeks and vacant eyes
of startling, once-clear blue;

What’s inside now, Oh Gramma dear?

What’s cloudy and what’s clear?

Gnarled hands and anxious grip
that once held mine with love;

Whose fingers do you think these are?

Whose hand felt from afar?

Silent words and down-turned mouth
mar lips that laughed and spoke;

What joke or story would you say?

What do you think today?

Who are these strangers milling round;
unfamiliar people?

Where is the you

You know?

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AGE – One Letter Short of A Four Letter Word by M J Mallon

AGE IS ONE LETTER SHORT OF A
FOUR LETTER WORD!

Desire’s three syllables entwined in kinky Karma Sutra positions,

Movement’s six hundred plus muscles belly aching to stop,

Career crises simplified, await twin oldies bus pass, plus pensions,

Adolescent giggles groan as multiple false teeth fracture,

Luscious locks lost greying in gazillions.

STOP!

Six pack? Remember that? Welcome new look naughty pot belly,

Two elastic boobs yonder yoga style yodeling the floor,

Face it fellows, we’re on
TRACK…
NUMBERED…

Until… endless sleep of blessed youth,

FORESHADOWS ETERNAL
SLEEP TO US ALL!!!

🥕🥕🥕

How Did I Get This Old by Susan Zutautas

Growing older

Growing wiser

Kids are grown and gone

Bones are aching

Back is breaking

Arthritis settling in

Many memories to enjoy

When I can remember them

Retired early

Now I’m squirrely

But writing is my thing

Gray hairs are abundant

Get new ones every day

Always looking forward

To the month of May

Cataracts developing

Sight is getting worse

I really think the eye doctor

Put on me, a curse

Look forward to my naps

Each day at three

If I didn’t have them

I’d be cranky as can be

So, let it be told

I am old

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A Dogs Perspective Of Growing Old by Susan Zutautas

When I was a puppy, we’d play every day

Now that I’ve grown older, lie down is what you say

I’d still love to fetch a ball even though I’m ten

A few years ago, I was your best friend

I hope I’m not too old for you, and you get a younger pup

Get rid of me because I’m old and you think I’m fed-up

Dogs do grow older every day

Please oh please don’t send me away

I have arthritis in my hips, but I still want to play

Let’s go outside and have some fun today

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Growing Old by Anita Dawes

I don’t look in the mirror these days, because there is a road map where my face used to be.
Time makes strange marks on all of us, some you cannot see.
From my window, I have watched my neighbours grow old. Two that used to walk to town, now in wheelchairs.
One used to pedal his bike everywhere, now uses a stroller.
We are shrinking back to childhood.
Others I have watched through nine months, waiting to produce new life. Now that same child walks beside her mother on her way to school.
I watch life go by…

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At The Mall by Joanne Fisher

my niece is the grand display

at the Westfield food court

delighting us all

with her furtive glances

and wide open grins

it’s my birthday so

I’m being treated to lunch

and opted for Chinese

my sister and I ponder

we are getting older

I tell her

I thought by now

I would have found

a soul-mate

and now it’s getting

too late

maudlin thoughts

on your birthday

my niece smiles and giggles

saying things in gibberish

that only Carmela can

understand

she holds her tiny hand

outstretched to us

offering

a mostly eaten cracker

with marmite on top

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A Couple of Old Farts Flatulatin’ by Bill Engleson

“Then there was that fella…”

“What fella, Whit?”

“Ya know, Stewie…that European fella. It was on the news. Went to court. Changed his birth year. Made hisself twenty years younger.”

“Ya can do that?”

“Yup. Over there in Europe, you’re only as old as your paperwork.”

“Ain’t that a wonder. Might give it a try, myself. Wouldn’t mind gettin’ an extra twenty years.”

“Don’t quite work that way, Stewie. Yeah, you’re twenty years younger on paper…but nothin’s really changed. You’re still as old as you’ve always been.”

“That don’t seem fair.”

“Life’s chock full of weird wrinkles, ain’t it.”

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FINAL WORD FROM OUR YARNIST

Clodhopper by D. Avery

“Jist ‘cause D. Avery’s been ridin’ herd on her family we git left behind? Tellin’ ya Pal, we gotta part ways with her, do our own writin’. We cain’t always be waitin’ on her. I ain’t gittin’ any younger.”

“Good thing, ‘cause the prompt’s ‘bout growin’ older. Ok, Kid, what’s yer idea fer the prompt?”

“Uh, well, nuthin’ yet.”

“Try haiku.”

“Bless ya.”

“Haiku!”

“Bless ya agin. Jeez.”

“No, Kid, haiku. Like this:

Bunkhouse floor dirt tracked
Every clod has a story
Time swept clean away”

“That ain’t haiku, Pal.”

“Ain’t it?”

“Naw, that there’s buckaroo-ku.”

“Yer cuckoo, Kid.”

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Sisu

The Finns of the Keweenaw have an enduring core of strength called sisu. An English equivalent doesn’t exist, but stories across place and cultures capture the ability to overcome adversity. Sisu is not short-term like a moment of courage. Sisu is life’s marathon.

Regardless of familiarity with the word, writers searched their experiences and imaginations to craft stories of sisu. It’s a world-wide look at Copper Country Strong.

The following are based on the May 7, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social.

PART I (10-minute read)

Sisu by Floridaborne

“Hey, mom!” Callie shouted. “I learned a new word today.”

Mom rolled her eyes and asked, “What is it now, skooder-do?”

“Sisu!”

“What!” Mom shouted, reaching for homemade soap to wash her daughter’s mouth out.

“It’s not a curse word, Mom! It’s a word that describes you.”

“This better be good,” Mom grumbled.

“You sew clothes from remnants, make all our curtains and you reupholstered our furniture,” Callie said. “You grow our veggies in the summer and can the rest for later.”

“We can’t afford anything else.”

“Mom,” Callie said, hugging her warmly. “You’re the strongest person I know.”

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Bricktown Boys by Pete Fanning

Mom pulled me into her, holding me as she sobbed. “Sam, I’m so sorry you got hurt.”

I hugged her back. A stale, bitter smell clung to her shirt, to her skin. I realized it was the smell of our apartment. Of our lives. How we smelled to people. The stench of desperation, mistakes, of dating the same men over and over again.

She rocked along with sobs and apologies, but I wasn’t about to wait for Troy to hurt us again. I was tired of the stench. Of our lives.

I would take matters into my own hands.

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Sisu by H.R.R. Gorman

“What’s this two year gap in your resume?” The hiring manager pointed to circled dates on the paper. “What did you do there?”

Joaquin clenched his fist. “There’s a Finnish word – sisu. It means to keep trudging through multiple adversities.” He tapped the circled words on the resume. “That’s why I’m here. I want this job because I can overcome my past.”

The manager scowled. “So you were traveling? To Finland?”

“No, I…” He coughed. “I was in prison.”

“For what?”

“Drug charges,” he squeaked.

She handed Joaquin his resume. “Thank you, but we won’t be needing your services.”

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Abundant Optimism by JulesPaige

The man has sisu. Very close to living to that century mark. Served his country in the Navy. Got into computers at the git go. Loved his wife for over fifty years with unflappable devotion.

The Vets Administration told him he was legally blind at ninety five. Sold his car to a local dealership, who then drove him back to his house.

The man has sisu. He’s lived alone for over twenty years. Refuses to leave his home. Finally accepts help from the neighbors, on his terms.

enduring strength, life;
living as you choose daily
the man has sisu

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Sisu by Brendan Thomas

Jane opened the door, I was shaken. Back to back to back Cancers took a toll on her body, but not her spirit. We sat, drank tea, talked, laughed long and loud, planned for future meetings.

“I can do that, I’m in remission. My calendar is filling up with fun appointments again.”

As I was leaving I remembered the t-shirt, removing it from the bag to give to her.

“This is for you.”

Unfurled it read SISU, blue letters against white.

“What does it mean?” she asked.

“It’s Finnish for Jane,” I responded. I’m not sure she believed me.

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After The Funeral by Joanne Fisher

I had just come back from the funeral of my girlfriend. We had been in a car crash. I survived, she didn’t.

“How do I go on without her?” I cried out to my father who had come back with me so I wasn’t alone.

“With sisu.” My father replied.

“Sisu?” I didn’t understand.

“It’s a Finnish word for having determination, or possessing inner strength. I know you are strong Kathleen. It may not seem like it now, but I know you will get through this, like I did with your mother.” he told me.

I really hoped so.

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Sisu – DNA by Sally Cronin

They found the old bones in a cave in Southern France. They were packed carefully and dispatched to a laboratory where they identified them as the remains of a woman in her 40s. This was elderly for her time, with arthritis and healed broken bones evidence of her hard life. Her mitochondrial DNA was matched to millions of women who migrated across the continent as ice thawed, populating almost every part of Europe and beyond. Her genes survived through the centuries and 20,000 years later matched to a young woman, who discovered where all her strength had come from.

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More Strength Than Meets the Eye by TN Kerr

It is born from bitter winter cold
Not a nip or chill, but a biting, vicious cold
A cold that comes with long, nights, and
Northern lights
It has nothing to do with gain
It’s about diving into the water
Simply for the sake of it
It’s about laughing in the face of tragedy
It’s about mocking and defeating whatever adversity is thrown your way
Always getting up
Something akin to, yet more than,
Dogged perseverance
Intensity that thrives in the long days of summer

You are stronger than any one of us, or even you, could ever imagine

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Plowshares by D. Avery

Her little boy and her daughters worked chores according to their size and ability but he, the youngest, wasn’t scolded when he sometimes fell to playing. But this?

Flinging the stick, she stalked off to the barn.

“Ma, it was just pretendin’!”
He had never known his father and older brother who used to do the heavy fieldwork. ‘Back before harvest time,’ they’d said, left together, eyes bright with adventure.

Pressing her forehead against the horse’s broad neck she confessed her worries.

She wouldn’t allow another son to play at war.

She harnessed the horse and hitched the plow.

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Snow Storm by Abhijit Ray

Mikka was out to do some fishing, catch up with reading and have some quiet time in his cottage up north. He must have missed weather forecast. Storm caught Mikka unprepared. Running low on food and fuel, and suffering from poor cell phone connectivity, Mikka realised the extra can of gasoline in the trunk will only last so long.

“Either I make an effort to reach home or freeze here to death,” Mikka reasoned and made his way following a weak GPS signal.

“Show Sisu, when in trouble,” dad taught him. In his country, “sisu” meant grit to overcome hurdles.

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Make It Work by Kelley Farrell

“Find your inner strength. We all have something we’re good at. Something we’re prepared for, even if we don’t realize it. What ignites that fire in you?”

That was when Becky had one dollar to her name.

Joe was right of course. Everybody has something to be fanned from sparks of passion.

Becky had three mouths to feed and an extensive debt to the local sex shop.

“Made it work indeed!” Joe admired Becky’s new business locale. “Mistress Cyan’s Pleasure Room.”

“Number 1 in the city.” Becky smiled, “Want to try it out? No charge for my oldest friend.”

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Dedication by Shane Kroetsch

Langdon sat staring at his hands. He scratched at the dry skin on his knuckles. “I did what needed to be done. It wasn’t easy, but I found a way.”

“That’s something to be proud of, isn’t it?” Emma said.

Langdon shrugged. “I gave my word. Not much more to it.”

“I think it says a lot about your character, the fact that you dedicated years of your life to the cause.”

Langdon’s lips went thin and he looked up to Emma. “Maybe it does say a lot. What it doesn’t say is whether it was worth the cost.”

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Sisu by Anita Dawes

Sisu is woven into our DNA
lying dormant, waiting , trapped quicksilver
hoping the day never comes where we will be tested
Do we freeze, or jump into action to save a life?
where we meet a part of ourselves
we would not recognise in the mirror
the hero who hides behind that pinstriped suit
mild-mannered like the man of steel
we would you run into a burning building
because you heard a cry for help?
many think we could go one step beyond
if called upon to act
would you leap without thinking
does quicksilver run through your veins?

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Sisu Book-su by Ritu Bhathal

Finally, time to sit down and read.

“Mum! I’m hungry!”

Don’t worry book, I’ll be back.

“Okay dear.”

Child fed. Back to my book.

“Honey, do you know where my tie is?”

Tie found. Where was I?

Raised voices and screaming.

Book down.

“What is the matter with the two of you? Okay, Tom, you sit here with that Lego. Amelia, draw me a picture over here. No, not near your brother!”

Ah, chapter two I think–

Ring, ring.

“Hello? Hi mum…”

Twenty minutes later.

“Okay, bye mum. Speak to you tomorrow.”

That book. I will get it read.

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PART II (10-minute read)

Says You by Bill Engleson

In that moment, he prepared to let go.

Time had stopped.

Nothing moved in the room.

A spike of sun slipped along the ceiling.

No breeze ruffled the curtains.

Outside, there were street sounds.

Tires.

Metal clanging.

Voices.

Life moving.

Jill held his hand. Steady. No squeezes. Just steady.

“You’ll be fine,” he thought.

“Says you,” she said.

“Says me,” he thought.

“A lot you know,” she said.

“I know you,” he thought. “I might waver without you, but you, you have a steel spine. A Viking’s heart.”

A gust of warm wind blew in.

A candle flickered.

Darkness.

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New Bride by Ruchira Khanna

“Dad, I can’t take it anymore!” the new bride lamented over the telephone.

“Give it some time. Don’t make a hasty decision.”

“But, Dad his family’s so different than how I’ve been brought up! They have weird tastes, and most of the time they live with us,” she sobbed.

“Look at the positive side; you have a loving husband. Give it some time; otherwise, we’re always there for you!”

She put down the phone as she wiped her tear, “For the sake of Sam, I shall become sisu for a few days and then decide what to do next.”

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Cross Roads by Saifun Hassam

As a marine archaeologist, Pierre Yandeau loved exploring deep ocean waters. Then his fiance and colleague Georgina was killed in a diving accident off the Great Shelf Peninsula. Sisu. Pierre returned to his research at the Pacific Institute. He would never forget Georgina. He knew he had a decision to make.

The Great Shelf Institute invited him to join their ecological and archaeological faculty. He walked along the endless desert shores of the Shelf. Once this was under deep ocean water. Who had carved those ancient runes on the rocky plateaus inland? He would explore, he would learn. Sisu.

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Sisu by Kay Kingsley

She’d been through a lot more than most but she knows it’s not as much as some others. Described as a rock, strong and sturdy, people were drawn to her strength like a magnet. And when she was young that need fed her soul, gave her purpose, direction, and she felt like a mountain.

But as the years passed, she learned that even the toughest rocks are worn smooth by a gentle trickle of water and strong winds can erode mountains into dust.

It’s a fine line she thinks between sisu and stubbornness and she walks it with grace.

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Claire’s Sisu by calmkate

Claire a vivacious 32 year old roamed the world sorting out ‘awkward’ situations for a billionaire for over a decade. Confronted with aggressive breast cancer her imminent demise was her greatest challenge.

Resilience is our inner strength, our ability to deal with overwhelming even impossible challenges. It has a strong spiritual component supplemented by mental and emotional factors. Most don’t realise they have it until they are truly tested.

Claire had to dig deep and with the right support her sisu kicked in empowering her until the brain tumour took over. She died with dignity, love and real peace.

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Seeding by Sascha Darlington

he rains come early. My granddaddy used to say: can’t put seeds in drenched soil.

Almost immediately it’s hot. The cool weather crops produce little. Too hot, too soon.

And then there’s more rain, and Daniel yells at me and the kids, while taking off his Cardinal’s cap, splaying his fingers through his crop of hair, his eyes searching here and yet remotely for answers that won’t come.

He sits on the edge of the bed, staring at the floor. “The seeds rot in the soil, Cam.”

“We’ll start them indoors.”

“Might work. But we’d need a butt-load.”

“So?”

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Sisu by Ann Edall-Robson

Some mornings she watched the moon set as the sun rose. Night and day blended into each other. Days off became planning time for the days to come. Often the work made her brain weary and physically worn, yet Hanna continued to push herself.

Mrs. Johnson understood Hanna’s tenacity, her sisu. The older woman had seen it before. There was no doubt why the young woman would not rest until she had accomplished what she had quietly taken on.

Others didn’t understand Hanna’s attitude, but Mrs. Johnson could see the reasoning in her eyes, her stance, and relentless perseverance.

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We Got Grit by Susan Sleggs

“Remember when we were teenagers, we thought we had the world by the tail,” Lillian mused.

“Those were the days,” Maude answered.

“Guess we learned life wasn’t easy didn’t we?”

“Yeah, about my 40th birthday I figured out I didn’t know sh*t back then.”

“Now you’re 90, what do ya think?”

“The truth; there are only tiny snippets of peace in any one’s life. Responsibilities, hardships, and illness are ever present and only thing means anything is how a person handles all the crap.”

“That’s grit my friend.”

“Good thing we both got it. It’s what’s kept us goin’.”

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Paid in Full by Nicole Horlings

He sat down heavily. She looked up with disappointment. “No overtime?”

“Not today. And I may come home early tomorrow. The market’s been dead lately.” He leaned back and groaned. “I promised to provide for you.”

“And you are. I was able to pay all of our bills in full today.”

He looked surprised, then a grin broke across his face. “Really?” She nodded, and pulled a letter out of her pocket, handing it to him. “Your artwork won first place? That’s fantastic!” She grinned, took the cheque, and slipped it into a jar of loose change labeled vacation.

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No Lion Sleeps Tonight by Susan Zutautas

One scorching sunny morning everyone gathered together by the Quiver tree, deep in the forest to discuss the shortage of food.

Leo starts the meeting with, “Good morning” to the pride.

“Tonight, we will go and hunt a zebra. I spotted a dazzle last night and if we’re quick and stealth there won’t be a problem.”

“Papa, papa, can I come too for the hunt?” said Leo’s cub.

“Yes, I think it is a fine time for you to join us, time to develop your sisu.”

“Okay all, we’ll meet back here at dusk, don’t be late,” said Leo.

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The Animal Facts of Life by Chelsea Owens

“Elephants are pregnent fohr two years!”

“Really?”

“Uh-huh. Dhey also have duh biggest bwains of mammals.”

She smiled in the rearview mirror at her son. He sat hunched over his animal facts book.

“You know,” she ventured, “there’s a saying that ‘an elephant never forgets.’ Maybe because of their big brains.”

He didn’t answer. She knew he heard; he always did. That, the slight speech impediment, and his obsession with one topic made adults think he didn’t.

She sighed and rubbed her stomach, wondering how he’d handle being a big brother. Unlike an elephant, they only had nine months.

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Targets Targets! by Anurag Bakhshi

“Get up,” he called out, insistently, incessantly.

I shook my head and tried to get on to my feet, but tumbled down, again.

It was just too cold, and my body needed rest, desperately.

But he just wouldn’t give up.

“Get up,” he cried out again, “they’re counting on us.”

And that, more than his pushing, is what led me to dig deep into my sisu, my inner strength, and with a huge heave and a loud wheeze, I finally got up.

Harsh winters or not, Christmas Eve was no time for one of Santa’s chief reindeer to sleep!

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Sisu by Roberta Eaton

I have been thinking about my situation. Now that my headache has receded, I need to formulate an escape plan. I must exhibit sisu and find a way out of this locked room.

I have no idea why I have been locked in, but I know that my wife and son must need me. Someone brought me food and drink while I was sleeping so my superiors are clearly monitoring my movements. I need to find a way to fool the microchip in my head into believing I am sleeping. Then, when someone comes, I can make my move.

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Something Evil in the Night (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Successive gun shots startled Danni from sleep. 2:04 a.m. She reached for Ike’s AR-15 resting between the dresser and wall. Years of Ike drilling her lent a strange familiarity to her husband’s weapon. But he was halfway around the world in Iraq. She dialed 9-1-1. The nearest deputy was 25 minutes away. Stepping outside, rifle cradled in the crook of her arm, Danni watched a silent pack of wolves run like liquid silver across the frozen pond in moonlight. Danni understood: Wolves run with sisu in their blood, outpacing the malevolence that follows – men with no regard for life.

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His Darling Susi by Di @ pensitivity101

Her name was Susi, but to him she was his little Sisu.
From an early age, she had always been the stronger of the two of them. She had this way about her, would accept anything that life pushed her way and simply deal with it without complaint or fuss.
He’d read to her that night and like every other night, she told him she loved him.
‘Don’t worry Daddy,’ she said snuggling into his chest and pointing to his heart. ‘I’ll always be in here.’
God came for her that night, his darling Sisu, just ten years old.

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Marathon Reversal by Anne Goodwin

At fifteen miles, she hits the wall. A stich in her side, legs in cramp, she staggers, sapped of juice. But she’d run through the pain in training. Today, the crowds and her fellow runners would cheer her on.

Wolfing down an energy bar, she recovers her mojo. But what the fuck? When she turns around to jog back to the beginning, they ask if she’s lost her mind.

If all goes well, she’ll do the distance. And a little more. She laughs at the thought of missing that marathon medal. ‘My way’ fills the hollow in her head.

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Keeping Promises by Jo Hawk

Eino said caring for his invalid mother wouldn’t be easy, but his work took him abroad for months. The cabin had been her home since childhood. I didn’t imagine it would be this difficult. The closest neighbor lived miles away. We were alone.

Daytime was bearable. Aiti’s care and the daily chores kept me busy. I marked the calendar, counting days.

Then the storms descended. Howling winds crashed waves against the cliff, and spray pelted the windows. The house creaked, while my mind played games. The meager fire staved off ghosts while the clock counted the minutes until dawn.

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Ranch Yarns by D. Avery

“Pal, you been on the ranch yer whole life?”

“Yep, reckon ya could say so. In thet I cain’t remember nuthin’ afore bein’ here.”

“Well, that’s a whole lotta hard work, all that ranchin’, day in and day out.”

“Yep, I reckon. Jist what a ranch hand does, Kid. Roll out ever mornin’ an’ jist do what’s gotta be done.”

“That’s sisu, Pal.”

“How is thet Japanese physical combat training?”

“Finnish. Sisu.”

“Says you. An’ finish whut? Ranch work ain’t ever finished Kid. No matter the weather or season. But it’s who I am. It’s what I do.”

“Sisu.”

***

“Sisu, Pal. Means yer tough, resilient.”

“If ya say so, Kid. Jist know I like ranchin’, an’ this here’s a good outfit. Shorty’s good ta work for.”

“Ya sure ‘bout that, Pal? This job have benefits?”

“Lots uv’em. Fresh air, wide open spaces, good folks,—“

“No, Pal. Benefits. Health insurance, fer instance. What happens if ya git hurt on the job?”

“Reckon Shorty’d take care a me.”

“Ya’d let Shorty take care a ya?”

“Yeah.”

“Now that’s true grit. Heard she heps till it hurts. Might wanna talk ta her Cowboy ‘bout her care givin’ skills.”

“That’s cold, Kid.”

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Exhaustion

Exhaustion can grind down even the most energetic person. It fogs the brain and slows the limbs. Slumber, rest, reprieve, all or sought as remedies. Sometimes we get a second wind.

This week, writers overcome exhaustion to write about it. That doesn’t mean these stories will put you to sleep!

The following is based on the April 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion.

PART I (10-minute read)

Comfort Food by Saifun Hassam

Diamante struggled with the Abbott’s decision. To be a scholar, yes. But to be a priest? He loved to teach the village children. Being a guardian of the ancient temple was fine. He was exhausted emotionally and mentally, trying to find a way out.

From the cliffs overlooking the sea, he trekked down to the ancient temple. He sank into the shadows and fell asleep. A fragrant aroma of mint and giggling laughing children woke him up. A feast was ready for him: potato patties, fried fish and sun drenched peaches. He would find a way through his dilemma.

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Exhausted by TN Kerr

“Raul, please rest. You can’t help us if you’re dead.”

“I’m sorry, Alondra. I have to finish before the rains come.”

She shook her head and returned to the house, where she made a big jar of Sandia Agua Fresca. Then she made Pambazos and wrapped them in a napkin, to keep him going. He was bleary-eyed when she returned with the food.

“Raul, you need to rest.” She took his hand and led him to the cool shade of a large Alamo tree. They ate. They made love in the dappled sunshine. Afterwards, she watched him sleep, exhausted.

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Making Hay by D. Avery

“Hey. I’ve got dinner warmed in the oven. You’ve been haying since before sun-up till after sunset. You must be exhausted.”

“No, just tired.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Hmm. Well, this is good work that matters. It had to be done, especially with the rain forecast. Luciene helped us then I helped him. Our cows are provided for and our families. I’m a little sore and tired but it feels good. Especially coming into this kitchen seeing you, knowing our Hope’s asleep upstairs, safe and sound.”

“Hmm. Are you too tired? For more good work?”

“Not if we’re working together.”

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Exhausted Love by Bill Engleson

He went to bed late. It was after nine.

He told the cat, “You should’ve reminded me.”

The cat squawked as if to say, “Yeah, right.”

It was only him and the cat these days. Sal had packed up and split a month or so earlier.

He’d said at the time, “The cats yours,” meaning quite clearly, he thought, “take the cat.”

She didn’t.

All she said was, “I can’t hear you.”

He thought that an odd thing to say but he didn’t tell her.

There would’ve been no point.

The upside was, he’s almost sure the cat listens.

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Exhaustion by Pete Fanning

I couldn’t believe she would show up like this, tapping on my door. Like I had nothing to do but sit and wait for her. She was drunk, or close, her hair up in a lazy bun, curls dangling, spilling in a way Hollywood could try to replicate but never get right.

She was breathtaking. And she knew it. And she wasn’t supposed to be within 100 yards of my door.

Her smile widened, like her path of destruction. “Hi.”

I closed my eyes. From exhaustion—no, to stop seeing her, stop wanting her—when her lips found mine.

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Heavy on Dark by Michael B. Fishman

Table, paneling, carpet, the room was heavy on dark.

She cited “irreconcilable differences”. Two dark words.

I said, “Is there anything in life that’s really irreconcilable? You know, outside of death and taxes.”

She looked at her lawyer and said, “See?” He looked at me like I was a child and offered a dark nod.

I said, “Would it have been easier if I’d cheated?”

She and her lawyer exchanged a dark glance and they both gave me the disapproving parent look. “You’re exhausting, you know that,” she said.

I signed the paper. Stood and walked into the light.

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Catching a Nap by Susan Zutautas

Flopping down on the couch with pillow in toe, I knew I’d be asleep in no time at all. Hopefully Sandy would let me get an hour’s sleep or so before calling me. Exhaustion had kicked in and out I went.

I woke with a startle, looked up and saw Ian standing there.

“Oh no, I hope I didn’t wake you, Meg.”

“No, that’s okay I was just sneaking in a few zzz’s while your mom was resting. I should get up and check on her.”

“No, no, you stay put, I’ll tend to her for a few hours.”

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Bonding Via Fabric by Susan Sleggs

Lillian leaned on her cane and perused the only two shelves of fabric she had left. She needed four complimentary ones to make the project she had in mind. After trying many combinations she exhausted her options so limped to her chair and eased herself into the worn seat. After a little nap, she called her granddaughter. “Would you have time to take me shopping.”

“I can on Friday.”

When they returned from their excursion, Sally said, “My youngest starts school in September. Could we schedule time to sew together?”

Lillian’s misty eyed response was, “Of course my dear.”

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Exhaustion by Anita Dawes

There isn’t enough hours in the day to do all that needs doing
I can’t afford a maid, I don’t have a rewind button
Although I could do with having one fitted
Maybe some new batteries, like the ones that keep the bunny running
Now I don’t have the strength to run, to hide just for a while
Sleep does not help much, I awake with a backache and sore feet
Head spinning with the thought of all that is yet to come
The day is full before I start
I can get through another one because of love…

🥕🥕🥕

Taking What it Wants by Dorinda Duclos

Exhausted. The mere thought of the word makes me tired. I suppose staying up until the wee hours of the morning isn’t the best way to overcome it, but writing has a way of taking what it wants. There’s never a choice.

Still, finding the chance to sneak a few winks before Marsha shows up is difficult. Once she is here, there is no hope of relaxing. She is a spitfire, a jumble of energy. I am just a tired old woman. She never understands. But then again, editors never really do.

Chapter 1… my mind is a blank.

🥕🥕🥕

Sleepless in a Dormitory by Anne Goodwin

What an eventful day! Matty could sleep standing up.

Yet she lies on her back. Then on her side. Her thoughts racing, jumping, spinning: packing one away, another springs up.
When the guests retire, she must contend not only with her own mental disarray but the groans that are the external manifestation of theirs. Could she smother them one by one with a pillow? Simpler to step outside.

Shivering in the cobbled courtyard, she cinches her dressing gown. Finally soothed by the diamond-studded sky, she makes to go indoors. But, when she tries the handle, the door won’t budge.

🥕🥕🥕

Exodus by D. Avery

“I know she’s old but just two days ago she was walking and talking and taking meals with us. You try talking to her.”

“Bobe?”

“Come in child, sit. I’m old it’s true but I see and I hear. Come, talk with me but do not talk to me of getting out of bed, of eating food. I tell you, I am done.”

“Why? Why are you giving up on life?”

“I’ve seen enough. I’ve seen too much. When I was a child. And now in this country. At Passover no less. I’m tired of the hate. I’m exhausted.”

🥕🥕🥕

Getting The Right Signal by Geoff Le Pard

‘You look exhausted, Morgan.’

‘It’s mum and her death wish.’

‘Death wish?’

‘Well, wishes. This whole “when I go…” malarkey.’

‘It was the music last week…?’

‘Oh that was easy. She told me yesterday she doesn’t trust me to carry out her wishes.’

‘She still hasn’t decided on cremation or burial?’

‘That’s part of it. It’s after that.’

‘After?’

‘She doesn’t want to be lonely.’

‘Sorry?’

‘If she’s cremated how can she guarantee I’ll spread her ashes near her friends so she can keep up with the news.’

‘And burial?’

‘She’ll take a radio but will she get a signal?’

🥕🥕🥕

The 36 Hour Day by tracey

Last night’s game had gone thirteen innings followed by a long flight across the country. A 5:00p first pitch the next day left no time for a nap.

The radio announcer found himself giving an involuntary snort of laughter over the airwaves. An unexpected foul ball in the booth started the infectious chuckling. The announcers couldn’t look at each other for fear of bursts of mirth escaping. Their words came out strangled with laughter.

Punch drunk with exhaustion the radio announcers lost it in the seventh inning. Baffled listeners were confused, not recognizing sleep deprivation when they heard it.

🥕🥕🥕

Night Watch by Joanne Fisher

They had spent the entire day walking south and now they were both exhausted. In the darkest part of the night Aalen kept watch. She could see quite well in the starlight.

She looked at the sleeping form of Ashalla covered in a blanket. She had grown fond of this human. She would never have thought that possible. All her life she had been trained to keep humans out of their forest, or to hunt them down if they dared to enter. And now she was friends with one. Maybe they weren’t all as bad as she’d been told.

🥕🥕🥕

Exhausted by The Dark Netizen

Living on as a survivor is not easy in this wretched world.

I have fought countless battles through my life: For glory, for food, for money, and some times for the sheer fun of it.

In my youth I courted war, but as the years passed, my disgust of those who fuelled conflicts began increasing.

Every man that I have ever killed, every instance when I ended a life, sometimes swiftly, cleanly and sometimes slowly; they are still fresh in my memory.

I am exhausted now, awaiting a quick death.

However, my blade still remains hungry for more blood…

🥕🥕🥕

The Royal Bodyguard by Anurag Bakhshi

The sword almost slipped from his hand, as his opponent feinted sharply. He was weary with exhaustion, but giving up was not an option.

Giving up meant breaking the trust of the king who had made him his royal bodyguard.

And so, he dug deep into the inner recesses of his soul, and attacked, one last time.

A fountain of blood spurted out, followed by a cry that shook the palace to its core.

And as he looked in alarm at the king’s bloodied nose, and the triumphant fly flitting about, all that the monkey could say was, “Oops!”

🥕🥕🥕

Exhaustion by Shane Kroetsch

“I can’t do this anymore.” Sabine said.

“Do what?” Kalvin said.

Sabine spread her arms wide. “Any of this. Put up with people who refuse to use their brains. People who care so little about their own responsibilities that they don’t see the rest of the team struggling to pick up their slack. Why should I be the one working after hours and losing sleep over whether or not the job that these idiots refuse to do gets done?”

“Come on, Sabine, we can figure this out, can’t we?”

Sabine shook her head. “No. It’s too late. I quit.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Hard Life of a Hector by H.R.R. Gorman

Home defense is no joke. I thwart dozens of attempted break ins, assaults, and thefts every day.

Look at that two-legged creeper. “BARK!” I shout, warning him that my house is occupied by a threatening set of teeth.

“WOOF!” I combine it with a growl to ward off that four-legged menace. Other dogs make me so mad – sometimes I get a little over the top and attack the walls. Hooman doesn’t like that, but at least the house is still standing, I say.

Guard duty’s exhausting. It’s nice to settle down with a peanut butter Kong and a snooze.

🥕🥕🥕

DIY by Di @ pensitivity101

‘My get up and go has got up and left,’ Hubby said.

‘Lucky you,’ I replied. ‘ Mine hasn’t got the strength to actually get up!’

These days, our energy levels are a fraction of what they were and it takes weeks to get over any additional exertion.

Despite being exhausted though, both of us have had restless nights this past week, managing only a few hours sleep.

Our routine is the same, and we take our cue from Maggie who puts herself to bed at 9pm. Wish we could sleep at the drop of a hat like she does!

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

The Author of a Long Night by Chelsea Owens

The cursor blinked from an empty screen, the only light in a night-draped house. Walls slept; world slept; he, for a moment, slept. She looked over at his backlit-shadowed features; they frowned.

She sighed and could not frown. Or smile. Expressions felt as elusive as the absent story arcs on her page.

I must write something, she thought.

Blink, answered the screen.

Anything?

Blink.

Then; through morning oatmeal mind mush, an idea came. Her fingers poised to type…

He groaned. Sat up. Named her.

She turned to his care.

The cursor sighed, yawned, and went to sleep without her.

🥕🥕🥕

Life in a Wakeful Trance (two parts) by JulesPaige

Part 1

You know you’re a parent when you seem to be exhausted all the time.
Especially in early years when multiple night feedings happen.
Or when the little tyke has regular two and four o’clock nightfrights.
To bed by ten, and up at six the child; not remembering the screams.
The advice is; don’t turn on the light, coo and calm the itty bitty.
And you wonder how many months or years this is going to go on.

where’s independence
the confident adult who
just now needs some sleep?

Life goes on, they grow up, move out; and you retire?

Part 2

You know that you’re a child when you seem to be exhausted all the time.
Especially in years when multiple calls to your old folks occur.
When your elderly parent starts to have memory and health issues.
You’ve the same ten minute conversation three times in thirty minutes.
Mother or Dad never seem to sleep or be awake when they should be.
You offer support, loving them; trying to keep your own sanity.

where’s independence
that confident adult who
you wanted to be?

Life goes on, and you can only that hope your own children remember you… with kindness too.

🥕🥕🥕

The Longest Days by Susan Zutautas

Meg never realized how fatiguing it would be being the main caregiver for Ian’s mother who’d fallen and broken her hip.

It had only been four days since she’d been released from hospital and Meg still had six to ten weeks of this to look forward to.

If there weren’t so many stairs in Sandy’s house it would be so much easier but at the same time, Meg knew she was helping someone and getting exercise.

On one trip Sandy said to Meg, “I’m so lucky to have you and so is Ian.”

That made all the exhaustion worthwhile.

🥕🥕🥕

Exhaustipated by Ritu Bhathal

Tired?

Seriously, you don’t have a clue.

Yes, so what? You get up, get ready, catch a train and work 9-5. The evening commute is hard, so you need a drink at the end of the day. Then you sleep. And repeat.

At least you sleep.

Me?

I’m not sure what time I wake up, because I’m not entirely sure I go to sleep. It’s an endless round of feeding, changing, getting housework done whilst he sleeps, then all over again. Babies don’t have a clue about tiredness.

Exhausted?

No. I’m exhaustipated.

Simply too tired to give a sh*t!

🥕🥕🥕

Exhausted 24/7/365 by Ann Edall-Robson

“You’re exhausted?” Hanna’s voice reflected her disgust.

Tal lay stretched out in the shade next to the hay bales. His hat covering his face so he didn’t have to see the look in Hanna’s eyes. He knew what was coming next. She was right, but it still didn’t make it any easier to watch her work as hard as everyone else. She shouldn’t have to. She was a woman, but he would never tell her that.

“You’d think by now you would have learned that ranching is 24/7/365. It doesn’t stop just because you think you’re exhausted!”

🥕🥕🥕

Expedition by Miriam Hurdle

It had been thirty-five days in the ocean desert. Their boat was beat up brutally. The sun was on their right, but the boat was drifting.

“We have exhausted the food supply and fresh water.”

“Such a pity we couldn’t pass Cape Town.”

“We set out together and will end here together.”

“Some of us could hang in a little longer.”

“How?”

“We’ll draw the lots to decide who goes first to sustain us.”

“What? I’m throwing up.”

“I’m in the same boat. Here are three straws in my fist.”

“Wait! I spotted something.”

“A bird.”

“Ay, the land.”

🥕🥕🥕

Exhaustion by calmkate

Emily was totally exhausted after another sleepless night.

All that worry and anxiety caused her so much fright

The abuse had been hideous, nobody had the right

to violate a child who always felt as if no end were in sight

Her experience had left her with nightmares pale and white

Victimhood wrapped tightly around her with all her might

Family and friends tending to avoid her odious plight

could she now become victor by wise choices in spite!

Experiences shape us but our attitude and choices define us

Forgiveness can heal although we never forget such blight …

🥕🥕🥕

Exhaustion by Floridaborne

We run, from church to church, telling our story.

People smirk, as if they know it can’t be true. Then the accusations begin.

“No one bombs a peaceful congregation. What did you do to enrage them?”

“We prayed,” I said. “And they beheaded our children for believing in the wrong religion.”

Still, it gives me no joy to read about another church being bombed, or burned. Exhaustion is our constant companion as we make our way north.

We have lost our family, our home, and tire of arrogant people who will not listen. Perhaps the human race deserves extinction.

🥕🥕🥕

Our Hero? by Joanne Fisher

She walked out of the smoking crater in the middle of Kingsport City. A crowd stared at her in fear and excitement and at the blasted remains of Dr. Hat, the latest super-villain to threaten their world.

“I am so exhausted.” Giant Explosion Girl said. The Mayor congratulated her.

“It’s amazing the job you do for us. Can I ask a question?” The Mayor asked.

“Sure.” she replied.

“Why do you put your life on the line to defend us every time?” She looked at him.

“Because I want it to be me who destroys the world, not them.”

🥕🥕🥕

Drama Lama by Annette Rochelle Aben

Legs with the strength of over cooked spaghetti, kept her from being able to stand at the kitchen sink. If she could raise her arms from the dead, she’d move the shock of hair that had fallen, blocking her view. Instead, she made a feeble attempt to blow it out of the way.

“Motheeeeerrrrrr.”

“Puhleeeeezzeeeee.”

“I am sooo tired!”

Mother had heard it all before. Of course, her daughter didn’t have the energy to get the dishes washed. If she expended all that effort doing chores, then she’d have no energy left to spend the evening with her friends.

🥕🥕🥕

Bad Decision by Tina Stewart Brakebill

God she was exhausted. The constant questions. The scrutiny. Knowing she was being judged. Constantly. About every single thing.

Her friends had tried to warn her but she didn’t listen. “It’s not like I’m new at this this.” Her naïve arrogance dripping off her words. But California isn’t like New York they insisted.

Now she believed. Too late.

What it would feel like to escape it all? Just run. Dive in. Sink. Just rest.

Free? Quiet?

“Ms. Emma? … Ms. EMMA!”

The kids weren’t even the worst. It was the parents. Private school teacher in Malibu. Worst decision ever.

🥕🥕🥕

Pilfered by Violet Lentz

The pen wasn’t worth anything, but Maddie pocketed it anyway. It wasn’t about the pen. It was about the rush. Stepping so far outside of her exhausted reality, that she could feel the hair on the back of her arms standing at attention.

Sometimes Maddie believed, stealing was the only thing that made her life worth living.

Mindlessly whisking her toddling two year old into the car seat, Maddie caught a glimpse of something sparkly dangling from her daughters tightly clenched fist. A necklace pilfered from the display adjacent the cash register, where Maddie herself had pocketed the pen.

🥕🥕🥕

Tramp’s Heartbreak by Sally Cronin

He had been walking in the lashing rain for hours. He contemplated the long straight road ahead known as tramp’s heartbreak and bowed his head in exhaustion

Cars had ignored his raised thumb all day as they sped past. In the distance he heard a vehicle approaching and braced himself for icy spray. Instead the truck stopped.

‘Hey old timer, hop in’. The teenager smiled from the warmth of the cab.

The lad chatted away as he sat in grateful silence. His eyelids fluttered and he slept, leaving his fate to a boy with the heart of an angel.

🥕🥕🥕

Exhausted Possibilities by Norah Colvin

Jolted awake when the bus reached the terminal, they grabbed their belongings and stumbled out. The driver shrugged when asked about accommodation.

‘NO VACANCY’ signs flashed along narrow streets. ‘NOT WELCOME’ lists accompanied the few with vacancies.
Trudging back to the terminal, hoping for seclusion, a ‘VACANCY’ appeared where none before. An old man bade them enter, waved away their money and installed them comfortably.

“Thank you. Thank you,” they bowed, and collapsed into sleep.

In the morning, they were alone. A note lay on the table:

“When you think you have exhausted all possibilities, there is always more.”

🥕🥕🥕

Tired No More (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Trench work became harder with an archeology field school of newbies. The questions exhausted Danni more than digging on her knees.

“What’s this,” was the most common question.

By late afternoon the scrape of her trowel sang a different tune. Instead of soft forest duff, the trowel made the higher pitched scrape against something hard. “Do you hear that,” Danni shouted to any close enough to hear. They all came running.

As she revealed the flat of something large and human-made, they all lost their sense of exhaustion. Curiosity woke them up and eased the aches of hard digging.

🥕🥕🥕

Exhaustion by Reena Saxena

Feeling exhausted is not worth it, when a world of opportunities awaits out there. Maybe, it is time to shed old skin and don new apparel. Maybe, it is time to refill the tank. Maybe, it is time to find new inspiration.

The immediate world around has shown its true colors, and changed those again like a true-blue chameleon (or is it true-green?). I’m ready to paint on a new canvas.

Moving on is not quitting. It is well, just quitting something that has outlived its course.

To be exhausted speaks of a limited stock. And I am unlimited…

🥕🥕🥕

NanoWriteMore by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She dropped her pen, hand cramping. Why had she defined success as the number of pages she filled?

She’d been sure that using paper and pen would slow her thoughts, access a deeper, more creative part of her brain, that would result in less typing and less editing.

She squinted at the stack of curled, etched paper, unable to decipher her scrawl.

Certainly what she had was good, publishable work, ready for the next stage?

Except her hand was cramped, her vision blurred, and her stomach roiled with hunger and nausea.

And most of all, she needed a nap.

🥕🥕🥕

If Ya Try Sometimes Ya Git What Ya Kneed by D. Avery

“Hey, Pal! Where’s Sho-mmmfff?”

“Kid, I will remove my hand from yer big mouth if ya kin hush and jist whisper. Okay?”

“Mmmffhhhmmff.”

“Okay.”

“Where’s shorty at?”

“Shorty’s Cowboy finely got inta the sawbone’s. Done got a new knee.”

“YEEEHmmmmf. Oopfff.”

“Tellin’ ya Kid, ya wake Shorty up whilst she has a chance ta rest, I’ll more ‘an cover that mouth a yers.”

“Ah’m whisperin’. Shouldn’t Shorty be celebratin’? This is good news at last.”

“Ain’t really news, Kid, more like the happy endin’ to a long story a the frustrations a gittin’ ta here.”

“Reckon Shorty’s exhausted.”

“Yep.”

***

“Now Shorty’s heppin’ her Cowboy git on his feet after the surgery.”

“She’s some sweet on that Cowboy. An’ he let’s her wear his shirt.”

“Don’t be givin’ Shorty shit over that shirt Kid.”

“Who’d ever give Shorty shit over a shirt that her sweetie shared with her?”

“Mebbe a shithead thet don’t know enough ta look where he’s steppin’.”

“Reckon Shorty’s Cowboy’s gonna have ta learn ta walk right agin. Pal, with jist one good knee ain’t there a possibility he’ll end up walkin’ in circles?”

“Reckon thet’ll make it less exhaustin’ fer Shorty ta track him.”

“Mebbe.”

🥕🥕🥕

Gender

Baby showers often declare blue or pink party favors. What those colors denote of sexes, have evolved back and forth over the centuries. Like color, gender identity and ideas are becoming more fluid, more colorful.

Writers addressed gender in literary art. These stories reflect broad perspectives from around the world — gender stories that color outside the boxes with more crayons than blue and pink.

The following are based on the April 18, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about gender.

PART I (10-minute read)

Two Cents Worth Sense? by JulesPaige

Our eldest child was almost three years old when the second one was due.
A soft baby doll resembling our eldest was bought for love practice.
Changing the cloth diaper, singing lullabies, ever gentle hugging.

crabby old lady
said what good was it for him
to have a dolly

Our eldest is now a Daddy; he’s got one of each a peach, a plum.

crabby old lady
may not have had children or
a dolly to love

He’s changed diapers for both, sang lullabies and gives gentle hugs with love.

The world is a better place with gentle love.

🥕🥕🥕

Third Gender by Abhijit

“Boy or girl Sakharam?”

“Dr Saheb wants to see me?” Sakharam answered, “I have cleared dues.”

“Sakharam, your baby is a third gender,” Dr Sahai head of obstetrics and gynecology informed “we can make her a girl by surgery; it will cost money.”

“What is this third gender, brother?” a confused Sakharam asked.

“Bhai looks like your baby is a hijda,” a better informed Dayaram explained.

Sakharam, a daily wage laborer, was found hanging from a tree next morning. Hoping for a son, after three daughters, Sakharam lacked money and conviction to face the reality of fathering an eunuch.

🥕🥕🥕

Why Choose? by Charli Mills

The conference held at the UCLA campus thought of everything to address gender identity. The bathrooms were resigned, and attendees could declare their preferred pronouns.

“I’m not a pronoun. I am me.”

“Yes, but do you identify he or she.”

“Yes.”

“Which?”

“I am he or she.”

A line piled at the registration table. The woman seated, and we’ll call her a woman because a petunia pink ribbon beneath her conference Volunteer badge declared such, tapped her finger. “Look, organizers are sensitive to your identity. But you gotta tell me – do you want a blue ribbon or pink.”

“Both.”

🥕🥕🥕

Her Story by Joanne Fisher

She had grown up as a boy, but never felt like she was one. Her outward form never mirrored what she felt like inside. She developed anxiety, depression, and tried to kill herself multiple times. Then one day after losing hope of ever being herself, she finally talked to a therapist about her secret. This led to hormones and testosterone blockers, and changes. Her body became more curvy, her skin softer, and her breasts grew. When she looked in a mirror now she began to see herself. For the first time her body felt like it was hers.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s a Choice by Reena Saxena

“Gender roles are assigned based on biology. A man cannot give birth.”

“Sure! But he can raise a child.”

“Why did the caveman not do it? There must have been a reason.”

“They had no feeding bottles and breast pumps. We live in a different age.”

“Is that your condition for marriage?”

“Marriage is a choice. You are an artist who paints in a home studio. I am a civil engineer who has to be on the site. Who do you think can manage home and kids better?”

“Well, I’d prefer being child-free.”

“That is a choice – fully acceptable.”

🥕🥕🥕

Gender Comrades by Bill Engleson

“In my day, there weren’t no genders. Just men and wimin. Pretty sure that’s the way it were. Hard to remember, though.”

“Well, Luke, I’ll tell ya, your day was my day. I recollect it different.”

“Ya do, do ya. How so?”

“That time I sailed over ter France, daddy told me, ‘neither a borrower nor a gender be.’”

“What the heck did he mean?”

“It befluxed me, too. Said it were from Shakespeare’s Piglet… or Cutlet…anyways, it meant, be yourself, and keep your hand on your purse. Or your person. Somethin’ like that.”

“It’s a headscratcher, alright.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Greenhorn by Ann Edall-Robson

The greenhorn was getting his ranch introduction under Tal’s tutelage. The kid, as Mrs. Johnson called him, was an exchange student. He would be with them for a couple of months.

Hanna leaned on the fence listening to Tal explain the difference between the horses found on the ranch.

“Mares are the females. They get bred to stallions. Most of the horses here are geldings.”

“What’s a gelding?” The kid asked.

Tal thought for a moment before answering. “We classify them as being non-gender specific.”

Hanna couldn’t help but laugh. She had to agree, Tal was bang on.

🥕🥕🥕

Confusing by Di @ pensitivity101

Life was straightforward growing up, you had girls and boys.

Girls liked pink, boys liked blue.

Girls played with dolls, boys played with soldiers.

Or did they?

Suddenly pink shirts became fashionable, and from then on, the colour stereotype got slung out of the window.

There is no such thing as one or the other gender now.

It’s confusing, and the space on the job application form has multiple choice.

For security staff, it’s a nightmare, especially when it comes to body searches.

The world’s gone mad.

Imagine when asked

‘What gender are you?’ the answer is

‘You pick.’

🥕🥕🥕

Gender by Y. Prior

Ben placed me on hold.

Said he found my online stalker.

Exhaling with relief, I was eager to possibly have normal again. I could reconnect the wireless at home. No more power outages when I walked into the store or café. This stalker dude would sometimes get into my phone – so I stopped using apps. The airlines called me because someone unauthorized accessed my itinerary. And last year, he drove –

“Well Mrs. Jansu,” Ben said, “Your hacker is Lisa Hazel with the ip – “

“What? Lisa? Thought my stalker was a guy.

“Nope. Female. Thirty-three – from Boston.

🥕🥕🥕

Gender Bender by Deborah Lee

Jane holds up a flash card with a dress on it.

“La vestido,” Chelsea says promptly.

“El vestido,” Jane corrects. “It’s a masculine noun.”

Chelsea blows out an exasperated breath. “Women wear dresses! How is a dress masculine?”

Jane shrugs. “I didn’t invent the language. Try learning the article along with the word, and don’t look for male or female quality about the object itself. A pen may look phallic, but la pluma is feminine.”

“Well, it’s stupid.”

Jane picks another flash card. “The test is tomorrow. Be glad you’re learning Spanish and not Polish. Polish has five genders.”

🥕🥕🥕

Life’s Big Question by Anne Goodwin

“What are you having?”

“Isn’t it obvious? A baby!”

“Hah, right! Boy or girl?”

“Probably.”

“Gosh, sorry, if you don’t want to tell me … I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“It’s fine. I don’t mind.”

“So, er, which?”

“We’ll find out when they’re born.”

“Didn’t you have a scan?”

“Of course I had a scan. Had to check they were okay.”

“They? You’re having twins?”

“Just the one. Thank God!”

“But you don’t know what it is?”

“Like I said, a baby.”

“But, but, what colour outfit do I buy for it?”

“Who cares if it’s chosen with love?”

🥕🥕🥕

Boys and Girls by Anita Dawes

My mother’s despair plain to see
At my unladylike behaviour
As I climb the conker tree
With my dress tucked inside my underwear
To beat the boys was my game
I take my brother’s double cap gun holster
Make my own bow and arrow
Dolls and frills were not for me
Until a daughter came to me
I dress her in silks and frills
As my mother would have liked to see
Quite the woman I turned out to be
My daughter never climbed a tree
No guns, no bows and arrows
Today’s boys and girls play the same…

🥕🥕🥕

The Guest Room by Luccia Gray

‘Alice, Billy’ll have to stay in the guest room, tonight.’

‘Mum, we’ll be up late, finishing our project.’

‘You can’t sleep together, not since…’ She nods towards Alice’s waist, ‘you were ill.’

Billy frowned. Alice didn’t look unwell.

‘It’s not contagious.’

‘You’re not a little girl anymore.’

Billy’s eyes widened. He stared at Alice. She looked the same to him.

‘So, you’re going to punish Billy because of me?’

‘Everything’s different now, Alice.’

‘Billy’s afraid of the dark. I’m grown up, so I’ll look after him, won’t I Billy?’

Billy’s jaw dropped and he nodded. Alice was always right.

🥕🥕🥕

Rainbow Futures by Norah Colvin

The children went around the circle telling what they’d be when they grew up: police officer, paramedic, teacher, doctor, prosecutor, influencer …

Laughter erupted when Rudii responded, “Mother.”

“You can’t be a mother,” taunted one.

“Can too.”

“But you don’t have, you know, boobies,” said another, glancing at the teacher.

“Dad said I can be anything I want,” retorted Rudii.

“But—”

The teacher silenced them and the circle continued, punctuated only by an occasional half-giggle or nudge.

A rainbow of opportunity awaits, Teacher smiled inwardly, contemplating the question he and his partner were processing: who would be Mom?

🥕🥕🥕

I Fixed Your Car! by Joanne Fisher

“I’ve fixed the carburetor and the oil leak, and given the engine a tune-up.” I said. The man smiled handing over some money.

“Thanks miss. Remember to thank the mechanic for me.” He said walking to his car. I rolled my eyes.

“Hey I fixed your car!” I called out after him. He just got in his car and drove off.

I’m wearing overalls and I’m covered in grease yet still some people just think I’m a receptionist or something. What do I have to do to be taken seriously? I shook my head and went back to work.

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Are We Not All One? by David Harris

“What an idea this woman wishes to preach a sermon. Not sure it will fly with some of the congregation though.”

“Did God not make man and woman?”

“Yes, but didn’t He make us before them?”

“The Bible, Pastor.”

“Yes what of it? I recite scripture everyday, young deacon.”

“Does it specify what gender can or cannot speak of it?”

“…..No…No it doesn’t?”

“If you know scripture, do you not recall Galatians 3:28 saying no matter the race or gender, we are ‘all one in Christ?'”

“Hmmm actually it’s been a while since I saw that one.”

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Prince Charming by Papershots

The little girls, four to eight years old, form a line backstage, demanding a kiss from Prince Charming. Prince Charming, a gay guy, texts his fellow – “How did I get talked into this? Got to kiss all these girls! I’m an actor, for god’s sake!” Pay is good, though. Before the show, the little girls were restless already, fidgeting in anticipation, no idea Prince Charming is not who he is, no suspension of disbelief. PC hides his phone, flips back his golden locks, and his charming smile opens the door to his dressing room. The little girls fire up.

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Transient by Kelley Farrell

Rian floated from one form to another. Ice to water, glitter to dust, male to female and back again.

Rian frothed, dissipated, cycled through the clouds to the ground again.

Every nerve was disconnected. Each sensation coagulated around the indecisive form.

Rian’s thoughts blitzed the sky above. The ground pulsed with a steady heartbeat.

There was understanding. Then it was gone.

There was breath. Then stone settled in its place.

There was anger, now blinding regret.

Rian slipped between fire and glass, remnant of overheated ash; a permanent in memoriam to the transition between football and a silver dress.

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Alex by Saifun Hassam

Alexander and Alexandria were super-intelligent AIs. Like other AIs in the Zeta-Tau galaxy, their digital code was integrated with DNA code from the genius brains of humans and galactic races. The AIs could take on any physical form; as humans, they could be a woman or a man. Aboard their starship “The Tsarina,”,they would startle Captain Mira and her crew by dressing to the hilt, in full officer’s uniform, or a tuxedo or a ballroom dress, jeweled pins adorning blue flowing tresses; their voices exactly matched. You could not be sure which Alex you were really talking with.

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PART II (10-minute read)

The Devil and Some Deals by H.R.R. Gorman

“You let me screw with Job,” the Devil said to God, “Let me take away any gender-determination.”

God nodded. “Go for it, man.”

The Devil clicked clawed fingers, and bathroom signs became unreadable. Gender reveal parties ended with green colors. Identification cards lost a few M’s and F’s. The ability to think that way didn’t come back.

But, to the Devil’s horror, long-seated problems went away. Men’s fashion finally eclipsed Beau Brummell, and women could finally choose the veil or not. The two sexes and everyone outside and in between no longer guarded their supposed uniqueness.

“Lol,” said God.

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Gender-proof Names by Susan Sleggs

The proud parents of toddler twins, a boy and a girl, couldn’t wait for Christmas morning to see which child picked which “rocking horse.” Without hesitation, Taylor went to the black and white motorcycle shaped one and Devin went to the golden pony. The parents smiled.

Years later the gender argument arose when the twins got their driver permits. Taylor asked, “Dad, in this day and age do we really have to mark the Female or Male box on this application?”

He answered, “It’s only good for statistics these days, each of you pick one, but make them different.”

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The Shadow Show by The Dark Netizen

“Mommy, what is happening here?”

I looked at my child looking confused.

“This is a shadow show, my darling. It’s just like the movies we watch, but this is done right in front of us, in real.”

“So there are heroes and heroines here also? But I can’t tell which ones are boys and which ones are girls.”

My child was too young to understand this. This show was made so that the artists and the story is highlighted. It aimed to show genders are inconsequential. My child was too young to understand. I smiled.

“That’s what’s special here.”

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Simon’s Pink Card by Charli Mills

Simon’s best friend Frank had crashed his bike, breaking his ankle. Simon’s mom suggested he make his friend a card. But Simon couldn’t draw the lines right and this made him sad.

“Let’s go buy Frank a card, okay?”

Simon brightened. Standing before rows of cards, he finally found the perfect one. The words described what he tried so hard to draw and couldn’t afford to purchase.

“But it’s pink.”

Simon smiled. “I like the words.”

That day, Frank grinned from ear to ear when his best buddy delivered a card that read, “I’d buy you all the flowers.”

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Girlie by D. Avery

“Do you get picked on?”

“What do you think? Two moms? My style?” She twirled a finger in the long snarly part of her hair.

“You could change your style.”

“I could.” Jamie stroked my hair, “Long hair would look good on you.”

When I chickened out on one of Jimmy’s stunts he’d call me Girlie.

I knew I’d be following Jamie to edges and dangers unkown, knew I’d man up in ways that only this wild girl would appreciate. School wasn’t going to be much easier, but it would be some easier. I’d no longer be sitting alone.

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This Diwali by Rupali Banerjee

Walking back home, little Riya asked Aunt Sarla why she didn’t buy her crackers for Diwali while she bought them for her own son. Aunt replied “Girls don’t burn crackers. They are meant for boys“.

After returning home, Riya went to her father and asked if what her aunt told was true. Her father replied “Absolutely not, my dear. Girls can do every task that boys can do and even more. But burning crackers pollute the environment. Even your brother shouldn’t burn them.”

Her father then took the children to the market, returned the crackers and bought lamps instead.

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The Basketball by Tien Skye

She was puzzled when her seven-year-old girl left the counter empty-handed. “Where’s the basketball?” she asked.

“The man at the counter said I should play with dolls instead,” her little girl replied. “It’s ok, Mama. I don’t like the ball anyway.”

Furious, she grabbed her daughter’s hand and marched straight to the counter, pausing long enough only to get the basketball on the way.

“Here, we’re getting this basketball. For my girl! And don’t you dare tell her what she can and can’t play.”

Both the man at the counter and her daughter learnt a valuable lesson that day.

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Heading South by Joanne Fisher

Aalen and Ashalla traveled southwards. Aalen could hear Vilja ahead bounding along.

“In my village we do what we’re best at. If you’re good at protecting the borders then that’s what you do. It doesn’t matter if you’re female or male.” Aalen said.

“Where I’m from it tends to be the men that are the hunters and use bows. When I told my parents I wanted to be a hunter it raised a few eyebrows.” Ashalla responded.

“Why do you only let men be hunters? Do human bows need penises to operate them?” asked Aalen.

Ashalla laughed out loud.

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East to West – Which Gender is the Best? by Ritu Bhathal

“Hmmm, what is it?”

“Not what. Who!”

“Huh?”

“It’s the scan picture! There. That’s your grandchild right there!”

“Looks like an alien.”

“Well, we all know where the weirdness will have come from, Dad!”

“So, a he or she?”

“Does it matter?”

“No, not to me. Just as long as the child is healthy and happy, that’s all that matters. But you know what the rest of the family will be like…”

“I know, they’ll all want a boy. Typical Indian families.”

“Gender doesn’t make someone right or wrong, it’s their actions. Teach your child well. Make me proud.”

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No Place for Friendly Men by Roberta Eaton

Sannie and I spent an anxious night locked in the house with the four children. Earlier in the day a cloud of dust appeared on the horizon. As it drew ever closer, we could make out a great crowd of horseman and ox-wagons.

The Boer Commando* stopped in our yard and the commandant knocked on our door. He told us they would be resting at our farm overnight and asked for some milk. I was angry with the commandant. A lonely farmhouse inhabited by two women and four children was no place to rest with so many “friendly” men.

* – The Boer commandos or “Kommandos” were volunteer military units of guerilla militia organized by the Afrikaans-speaking farmers of South Africa. The term came into English usage during the Second Boer War of 1899-1902.

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Benders by D. Avery

Marge drew the blanket closer, nuzzling Ernest, snuggled cozy together on the couch. She could smell bacon and coffee and hear Ernest in the kitchen.

Marge sat upright. Ernest was in the kitchen.

“Nard! Ernest? What’s going on?”

“You two kept drinking. When you passed out together the love-hate relationship was in love gear so I only had to spread one blanket. Don’t worry, I have pictures for insurance.”

“Mmm. Morning Mommy.”

“Morning Nard. Breakfast’s ready.”

“Ernest. And after I slept with your fiancée. You’ll make someone a fine husband one day.”

“I intend too, Nard. When she’s ready.”

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A Question of Identity by TN Kerr

Jimmy and Nancy continued to go steady for about three more days after the party. A year after high school Jimmy managed to secure some venture capital and founded a software company in San Jose. There’s a scholarship fund named after him now. Nancy works at the Speedy Mart.

Tito never came back from Vietnam, still MIA.

Becky is the Assistant DA of Lincoln County and has been in a committed relationship with Samantha Christian since she got out of law school. Samantha is a stay at home mom, taking care of the two boys she and Becky adopted.

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Sequins and Heels by Violet Lentz

“Poor little thing. She looks so unhappy. All sad, and overgrown.”

“Can’t you just imagine her with a fresh coat of paint, maybe change the dark trim to something a little more vibrant?”

“Seafoam?”

“Heavens no. She is definitely not a seafoam kind of gal. I was thinking of something a little brighter. Maybe in between salmon and cerise?

“Gavin, dear, your crown is showing.”

“And that my darling Marcus, is exactly why you love me.”

“That being true, I’ll meet halfway, at rouge- if you’ll cut the grass.”

“Only if I can do it in sequins and heels….”

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Room 112 by Nancy Brady

It’s an historic building where Julie worked, and according to some people, it was once a home for orphaned children. Some of her co-workers claim they still hear the moans and screams of children when the building is empty.

One office suite was unusual as it had been converted. It was the only one in which girls, women, and those who identify as female entered and exited with regularity. Julie, too, visited the office regularly and always felt better (perhaps relief would be a better word). Rarely was she not satisfied even with her short visits to Room 112.

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Gender Fluidity by calmkate

Born a pretty blonde Joel’s mother decided to dress and treat her fourth son as the daughter she so desperately wanted.

Simone had grown into a lanky young man who desperately wanted to be a woman. He had long flowing locks and preferred slinky dresses.

Joel is happily married with three children of his own. He always knew he was a man but was comfortable playing the daughter for his mother.

Hormones meant Simone grew perky firm breasts and shrank his manhood. He decided not to undergo surgery because most men got excited to discover she was a he!

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Charity’s Childhood by Kerry E.B. Black

Charity played football while wearing her tutu and tiara. Her Barbies explored sunken treasures, donned armor, and battled evil warlords. She named her bike Ragnarok and imagined charging into battle every time she pedalled, yet she stopped to admire flowers, searched for fairies in mushroom rings, and danced like Shirley Temple.

Deeana broke from a group of gossiping classmates, manicured hands on her designer jeans. “Charity, why do you think boys like you because you can hit a baseball?”

Charity’s nostrils flared like a wolf scenting prey or a doe ready to flee. “Why do you hate me because I do?”

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Questions of Gender by Irene Waters

I was a girl. I wore dresses but I didn’t have those monthly cramps and pains my friends suffered. Lucky, I thought. Perhaps I was. Boys attracted me. I fell in love but no pregnancy happened for me. My friends all had babies, cooking and changing diapers. My husband cooked for me. My friends led a conventional life but I did what I wanted – no constraints were placed on me. Menopause came unnoticed. No mood swings or hot flushes unlike my friends. Lucky me I thought. Now I wonder as talk is of grandchildren – was I ever a woman?

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There They Go Again by D. Avery

“Let’s git goin’ Pal, Shorty’s steerin’ us ta some delicate ranchin’ chores. Git it? ‘Steer’?”
“No, I don’t git yer meanin’, Kid.”
“We’s ta do some gender fixin’. Ya know, gelding the colts, deballin’ the bulls.”
“Kid, that ain’t what they meant when they said fixed gender.”
“They? Shorty said; jist the one Shorty. She.”
“Nowadays ya kin say they fer a singular pronoun; gives ‘em wiggle room. Fluidity.”
“Pal, yer nuts, an’ speakin’ a such, do we or don’t we got some geldin’ ta do?”
“No! No geldin’!”
“Ok. But there goes dinner. Was gonna serve ya oysters.”

****

“Okay, Pal, then what is this prompt about? I’m confused. Ya know as well as I do when a calf is born we look and’ there’s only so much we’s expectin’ ta see.”
“It ain’t about that neither Kid. It’s mebbe more how the calf sees itself and how it sees itself in the world an’ all it kin do in the world.”

***

“Pal, then what’s this prompt about? I’m confused. Ya know as well as me, when a calf is born we look an’ there’s only so much we’s expectin’ ta see. Innies or outties.”
“It ain’t about that neither Kid, ain’t about parts. It’s mebbe more how the calf sees itself , how it sees itself in the world.”
“Ain’t really ‘bout calves, is it Pal?”
“Nope.”
“But folks is folks, kin be who they want, dress how they want?”
“Yep.”
“World might be a more peaceful place if we weren’t jammin’ folks inta jist a couple a boxes.”
“Yep.”

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Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

When you have nothing but the sack slung over your back, beggars can’t be choosers. But does lack or a downturn in circumstances really negate choice? Who says, “Beggars can’t be choosers”?

Writers explored the proverb and its potential for stories. Pack a little sack, fling it over your shoulder, and come with us on a literary adventure.

The following is based on the April 11, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers.”

PART I (10-minute read)

Beggars Can’t be Choosers? by Sally Cronin

The memo announced the chairman would be evaluating managers for a senior position. Everyone set out to impress

Outside, tucked into a doorway, an old man huddled, a dog by his side. Most staff ignored him. But every day one particular individual would place several coins into his hand, smile and pat the dog before entering the building.

On Friday an elegant man stood in front of the eager staff and announced the manager who would be promoted. Delighted a young woman stepped forward and looked into his familiar face…

He smiled warmly ‘Who says beggars can’t be choosers’.

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Beggar That by calmkate

The lady in the welfare office is banging on again,
why do you move so often you need to get a life plan!
The recipient once more belittled tries to explain
it’s difficult to live more than 40% below the poverty line
in a supposed developed country.
But the highly paid worker has heard this song far too long,
got several pay rises due to the hardship of listening to the whiners.

Dole has not changed for 25 years
and how much has daily cost of life risen?
Landlords prefer those with jobs and income
Beggars can’t be choosers!

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That’s the Way It Is by Susan Zutautas

What’s for dinner Mom?

You won’t like my answer, but we are having roasted chicken, broccoli, rice, and a Caesar salad.

Oh great, chicken again. I hate chicken and you know that.

Chicken is what’s on sale this week, and you know that we don’t have a lot of money right now. It’s funny how you will eat Popeye’s chicken and Wild Wing but you give me a hard time every time I make it.

I don’t know why; I just don’t like homemade chicken. Never have.

You know what I always tell you, dear, beggars can’t be choosers.

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Discerning by Abijit

“Tock, tock, tock, tock,” repeated knocks on my window pane brought my focus back from the e-mails I was checking on my phone, as I waited at the long traffic signal under an overpass. “Give me some money,” a young girl with a baby  pleaded, “I have not eaten all day.” Her face forced me to look for some change money. Not finding anything lower than a ten rupee, I handed over an one rupee coin from the dashboard. “Beggars can’t be choosers,” went the adage till the girl disproved it saying, “what do you get for a rupee?”

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Brother Francis By Violet Lentz

“Alms for the poor!” Brother Francis cried out from the corner of High Street on which he’d become a fixture. Scarcely noticed, his pleas mingled with the street sounds. His robes became part of the scenery.

He often returned to the monastery penniless, and was reprimanded by the Abbot, as the tenants of the order stated they must subsist on the kindness of strangers alone.

But Brother Francis was not chided by the Abbots rebuke. He knew, it wasn’t the pennies, but the feeling of comfortable acceptance he experienced every day on his corner, that gave his vows meaning.

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Boundaries by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Holly sighed, dropping her sweaty forehead into her palm. It was the same words, the same argument that wasn’t an argument. She tugged her bangs and tried one more time.

“You can’t keep doing this.”

“Why’s it such a big deal to you?” Rita crossed her arms over her chest, and leaned back.

“I see the future,” Holly whispered. “It’s not sustainable the way things are.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers, Dear,” Rita hissed.

“I’m not begging,” Holly picked up her baby. “We’re leaving.”

“I’m calling Toby!”

Toby was the Ex-boyfriend, not the father.

So Rita wasn’t Gramma.

Problem solved.

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Beggars Can’t Be Choosers by Anita Dawes

Years ago when I wore second- hand clothes
Worn out shoes
Sleeping in a room with no heat
Blankets as thin as rice paper
I made my way long ago,
I am happy
Some I know are still searching
Most days, he sits at the corner of Waitrose
Playing his clarinet
I hear the coins drop into his open case
At his feet as I pass
Today, I would give him a choice
Between a sandwich and coffee or a two- pound scratch card
I walked home eating the sandwich
Without waiting. I hoped he made the right choice.

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Evie’s Choice by Margaret G. Hanna

“Evie, why don’t you leave? He’s no good for you!”

“I have to stay, Mom. I don’t have any choice.”

“Yes, you do. You can leave.”

“Leave? Him? No way. He’ll find me, just like all the other times.”

“Evie, there are safe houses. They’ll protect you.”

“There’s no such thing as a safe house, not from him.”

Mona clasped her daughter’s hand. “Leave him. Now! I beg you!”

Evie yanked her hand away, stood up. “No, I can’t. Good-bye.”

She stormed out the door, slamming it behind her.

That was the last time Mona saw her daughter — alive.

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No Choice by Michele Jones

Dane stared at the tracks. Ahead could be anything, but he couldn’t go back, Zell had made that very clear. He had no choice if he wanted the money. And he did. He had to move forward.

The path looked clear, but noise echoed from the tunnel ahead. Inside, the key to his freedom. If only he didn’t need the money. Sweat rolled down his brow and his heart pounded. He sucked in a deep breath and moved on.

If only he’d listened to Amy. He’d have a choice.

A loud growl echoed from the cave.

God help me.

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Juma by Saifun Hassam

Juma was sixty years old when the small railroad station closed. He had earned a living transporting goods for the farmers and businesses in nearby hill townships. Now he was reduced to working odd jobs, begging for food and money. In a nearby forest, he made his home in a small cave among banana and mahogany trees. Beggars can’t be choosers. One day, as he puttered around a junkyard, he found planks of wood, even a hammer. He scrounged for nails and wire from the local hardware store. He would build himself a splendid hut among the banana trees.

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Beggars Can’t Be Choosers by Floridaborne

Sharing a hotel room with four high school girls on a trip to NYC, I’d never been anyplace quite as opulent.

I still felt the pain of an unsatisfying breakfast, when a waitress yelled out, “This is New York! We don’t serve grits!”

I was the tiny one, the poor outcast wanting to be accepted, always put down. Girls were swapping clothes, but I was told, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

That day, I learned from a waitress that I might be poor, but not defenseless. I honed a mighty verbal sword, wielding it toward anyone who dared cross me.

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Choice Metaphorical Beggary by Bill Engleson

Doubt

I began writing this elegy rather niggardly,
And by that I mean I was gracelessly leaning
To thoughts quite obscure, wrought somewhat haggardly,
Thoughts gaunt, sickly, words with barely a meaning.

Confirmation

What ho, scripting peasant, why are you so buggered,
With slapdash terms, such sloppy old bruisers,
Ungainly lexes that daub you a sluggard,
A slouched writing beggar snubbed by the choosers?

Doubt

He had me there by the byzantine tail.
I’d wended my way to the edge of the page.
Ninety-nine words with no wind in their sail,
Fresh bottled wine with no time to age.

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Flaking Off the Walls by Papershots

A gust of warm wind rushed in with the man from the foyer. The chandeliers rattled; dust whirled down onto the carpeted floors.

“Lily and Becky?” he asked.

“My sister couldn’t…”

“Yes, it’s you and your sister. The gig’s outside the castle. 6am to 8pm.”

Lily nodded.

In the abandoned megaphone-shaped auditorium, ghosts of opera-goers gazed at their own paint flaking off the walls. Mr. Reynolds excused himself with his best beggars-can’t-be-choosers look; rushed backstage echoing orders. Now a car horn reached Lily’s ears from outside. Becky, of course, double-parked! By the entrée des artistes – the Irony of it.

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Aftermath by Joanne Fisher

“Beggars can’t be choosers!” Ashalla said as she tried on a pair of boots she had taken from the soldier’s camp. They almost fit.

With their leader dead, the army had become fragmented and disorganised. It wasn’t hard to pick them off in smaller groups.

“Now all we need is to find the person who sent them. The one they call The Baron.” said Aalen as she washed herself in the river and Vilja hungrily crunched on a joint he had found.

“Not an easy man to get to, but I’m sure we can find a way.” Ashalla replied.

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Beggars Can’t Be Choosers by Roberta Eaton

“I’m not eating it,” he said. I could have cried. My entire day had been spend foraging for fruit and now he was rejecting it.

“Why won’t you eat it?” I asked. He pointed towards a large, brownish bump on the skin of the apple, “It’s damaged and it might make me sick.”

All the fruit looks like this. Since the war, nothing is perfect. Thomas may be right about the dangers of eating the food but there is nothing else and beggars can’t be choosers. Next time, I’m going to peel the apple before offering it to him.

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A Choice by Ruchira Khana

“Come on! you can do it, Nate!” Mom urged her teen as he sat all heartbroken with a droopy head.

“Beggars can’t be choosers. I shall take what’s offered,” he shouted back at her.

There was silence.

With moist eyes, but a stern voice she said, “That’s untrue! Cause even beggars get an opportunity

to choose. But they choose to take the easy route!” The son looked at her with a frown as she

continued, “What do you choose to do about your low grades? Accept defeat or get your concepts

right and take the retest?”

“Choice is yours!”

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Chosen People by D. Avery

When John Williams comes to Kahnawake I feel an old fear of being taken by force from people I love. My family, and even Governor Vaudreuil, agree; it is my choice. I am no longer a child, I am a Catholic woman of the Bear Clan, Marguerite Kanenstenhawi, no longer John Williams’ daughter Eunice. I no longer understand the English words he speaks, but I remember his contempt for the Jesuits and the Kanienkehaka people. Should I return to New England I would truly be captive. He pleads but I choose to remain with the family who chose me.

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Equally Nice by The Dark Netizen

I walked around the shop.

With every step I took, I was met with a pair of adorable eyes. There were more beauties in the pet-shop than I could buy. I walked up to an Alsatian. It looked majestic just like its price tag. I shook my head and turned to the shop attendant. I told him my budget. He nodded understandingly. He showed me a white Pomeranian, not as good-looking as the Alsatian, but it would have to do. Beggars can’t be choosers, after all.

Besides, I bet both of them would taste equally nice in a stew…

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Kid Friendly by Sascha Darlington

After Daddy died, my mom, who was fifty-two at the time and out of the workforce for six children and thirty years, tried to make ends meet. It was a different time when kid friendly meals comprised: “You sit at the table until you’ve finished every pea on your plate.” Tough love, but we were a healthy bunch.

When you’re a kid, you don’t comprehend adults nor why your four brothers, so much older than you, rarely visit or why visits end in bitterness.

You just hear your mother say, “Beggars can’t be choosers” and choke down every mushroom.

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Grape Juuuice by Kelley Farrell

“Uggghh.” Janey’s fingers left long claw marks in the hot sand around her.

As the sun beat down on her bare legs the scent of burning flesh tickled her nose.

“Ugghh … grape … juice …” In all of her five years she had never been so thirsty.

“Janey!” A mirage of her older sister appeared; just like the movies. “Mom said to sit up. You’re taking up too much room in the sandbox.”

Hana dropped a bottle of water into the sand beside her younger sister. Janey flopped onto her back, “Grape juuuice.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers, Janey.”

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Santa’s Surprise by Kerry E.B. Black

We were poor. We didn’t indulge much. Basics filled bellies. Hand-me-down clothes drew derisive attention from their classmates. I scrimped and did without while trying to shield them.

Holidays stressed me most of all. I supplement their experience with hand-crafted traditions, but I couldn’t fulfill their wish lists. Failure pressed and drained maternal enthusiasm.

One afternoon, I answered a knock. Nobody greeted me. A package on the stoop read “from Santa.” Inside, gifts for the kids burst with cheer. I spirited the box into my bedroom and dissolved into tears. Gratefulness battled embarrassment, yet for my kids, I’d swallow pride.

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Cheerful Choices by calmkate

those trying to survive well below the poverty line

do have basic choices

public housing seldom available some return home

or share with strangers and all the unknown

many choose a life of crime

to cover their bills

people who would never consider such risks

or sell their body then their soul, become homeless

but we can choose our attitude

embrace our inner wealth

serve others by volunteering

spread cheer and good will to all we meet

don’t let long term poverty poison your soul or defeat

sure it severely inhibits life choices

Reflect wisely and turn that around!

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

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Maggie’s Sulking by Di @ pensitivity101

I always get treats. Always, always, always!

Now I get some pongy stuff they call ‘breakfast’ and they’ve pinched my food bowl!

My big brown eyes usually work to get some titbits off plates, but I never pinch. No sir. Don’t want my nose tapped thank you.

Got to keep the sniffer in tip top condition.

It’s not fair. No biscuits either, not even in my dinner!

And they’ve told the postman I’m not to have any!

I’m hungry. My heart is set on chicken.

Guess I’ll have to eat the pongy stuff.

Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.

🥕🥕🥕

No Beggin’ Dogs at the Table by tracey

I couldn’t catch the rabbit no matter how fast I ran. Darn, I was hungry. My twitching paws woke me up and I looked at the clock but I had never learned to tell people time. My stomach gurgled. I yawned and stretched and then trotted through the house sniffing for small child. Ah, he was at the kitchen table. He smelt of peanut butter and yogurt. I licked his foot but found nothing tasty there. I was impatient but settled on the floor under his feet where food was sure to be dropped. I hoped it was bacon.

🥕🥕🥕

The Chosen by Allison Maruska

I skulk on the edge of the wasteland, my movements quick to avoid detection. Once a bounty, this place is now barren. My stomach remembers, just as my heart remembers the once-constant presence of The Chosen.

The Other is near. I don’t want to approach, but beggars can’t be choosers. Securing sustenance is worth a little indignation.

Softly, I creep up. With expert dexterity, I jump.

The Other has me. She squeezes, barraging me with unholy shrieks. “Aw! Does Mr. Snooglepoof want some din din?”

I purr a little to appease her.

The things I do for a meal.

🥕🥕🥕

Choosey Little Beggar by Ann Edall-Robson

Hanna had drawn the short straw, meaning the night shift. The calf needed to be fed every three hours using a big plastic bottle. If she couldn’t get the orphan heifer to suck, she would have to call for help. She didn’t want to give Tal the satisfaction.

Squatting next to the animal, she lifted the calf’s head, hoping she’d take the bottle.

“C’mon you little beggar, quit being so choosey.”

“What’s the matter, can’t get her to ear?” Tal’s smirky voice sliced through the darkness.

Sounds of sucking made Hanna smile.

“Us girls gotta stick together.” She whispered.

🥕🥕🥕

Safer To Eat At Home by Susan Sleggs

Eight year old Becky came home from school to see her mother had liver and onions ready to prepare for supper. She sought permission to go play with best friend Arlene and bolted out the door. Together the two girls hatched a plan then went to Arlene’s mother to ask if Becky could eat dinner with them. They were triumphant until they sat down to lima beans and fried Spam. Arlene’s mother, seeing Becky’s face said, “Beggars can’t be choosers. Eat up.”

Later, outside, Becky said, “Lima beans are yuckier than liver. Do you think they called each other?”

🥕🥕🥕

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers by Frank Hubeny

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Ryan pontificated.

“We’re all beggars. We all depend on a handout, on something going right once in a great while.”

“Not all of us. Some of us can choose.”

“You know you’re a beggar just like I am.”

“Nope. I can choose.”

“What can you choose?”

“I can choose to sit right here.”

That’s when they saw Hawkins, a policeman, approach.

“I wonder what he wants?”

“You know what he wants.”

Hawkins stopped. “OK, guys, it’s 10 o’clock. Time for both of you to go to the shelter.”

“I get top bunk.”

“No, you don’t.”

🥕🥕🥕

If Wishes Were Horses...by Nancy Brady

Julie was one of the smallest kids in her class, and she was always picked last for every team. Despite that, she loved playing volleyball.

The school started an intramural league for the students; the team members would be picked for each volleyball team. First, however, Coach Coffman would decide who would be the captains of the teams. The captains then selected their players.

Julie asked the coach if she could be a captain. Wringing her hands, she implored him, saying, “Please, please, can I be a captain?”

To which, Coach Coffman said, “Absolutely not. Beggars can’t be choosers.”

🥕🥕🥕

In The Beginning, There Was Distraction by Chelsea Owens

Phan clutched her halo, rubbing already-tarnished finish. And sighed. If only she hadn’t been so diverted this morning, with the clouds. Then there’d been flowers. Then path swirls -which led right to the end of the lengthy queue…

“Next!” the angel matriarch called.

Phan floated forward. At a scowl, she hastily replaced her halo and hoped it aligned itself. It didn’t.

“Late again, Phanuelle.”

*Gulp*

“There’s only one assignment left; a newer one.”

Phan peered beyond the matriarch at the mostly harmless-looking blue and green sphere to which she must go. Oh, well. Perhaps it would have flowers, too.

🥕🥕🥕

A Man with a Golden Voice by Miriam Hurdle

A man saw a homeless person begging. The beggar’s voice sounded familiar, but he had to move on with the traffic.

The next day he saw the beggar again.

“Are you Ted Williams, the man with a golden voice?”

“Yes.”

“Hop in… Why are you on the street?”

“I was fired in 1994 for drugs and booze.”

“You’ll clean up and come to the radio station to see my boss.”
~
For the first time after 20 years, the beggar had numerous job offers. He worked in the radio show again.

“Beggars can’t be choosers” didn’t apply to him.

🥕🥕🥕

The Missing Car by Anurag Bakhshi

He gulped, and said, “Well, you see, I was getting really late for a date….”

I stared piercingly at him, and asked, “So?”

He stammered, “So, I drove at breakneck speed to meet her at the Theater, but…”

“But?” I growled menacingly.

“But,” he wiped his brow, “she was already inside. I hunted desperately for a parking space, but…beggars can’t be choosers….and so…”

I sagged even further into the chair as I completed his sentence for him, “And so, you left my Batmobile on the road, doors open, and engine running! Thanks Alfred, that will be all!”

🥕🥕🥕

Reena and Jay Do Beans On Toast by Ritu Bhathal

It had been a long trek.

Those last three mile had really dragged but finally Reena and Jay arrived back at the campsite.

Kicking off her trainers, she sighed. What she wouldn’t give for a pedicure, long soak in a tub and a chilled glass of Prosecco…

“Reens, can you remember how this works?” Jay was fiddling with camping stove, so they could prepare the feast that was Beans on Toast.

He rummaged around in the food bags, found some cans of lager and tossed one over to her.

Not even chilled. Reena sighed again. Beggars can’t be choosers.

🥕🥕🥕

Smart Beggars (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Danni overheard the receptionist say. She had stopped by the division office to resupply the fire-camp. Her grimy skin felt foul as her temper. Danni would set that uppity woman straight.

When Mavis hung up, Danni asked, “Who’s that?”

“Oh, hi, Danni. You look a fright.”

“I’m taking back the new supplies.”

“The ones that didn’t arrive?”

Danni slumped. “What will we do,” she mumbled.

Mavis answered brightly, “Beggars can’t be choosers, but Daddy raised no fool. I just sweet-talked old Jeb at DNR to find a roundabout way for us. Beggars can be smart.”

🥕🥕🥕

Who Says by Reena Saxena

He asked for help.

His father was a renowned doctor, so a drugstore was set up for him. He could not garner any new customers other than his father’s patients. The money was not enough to raise his children, so his father supported them as long as he lived.

His real face was exposed after the parents passed away. His brothers found to their dismay, that every valuable from a silver coin to diamond jewellery had been stolen. The parents’ bank account had been drained out to pay for the grandson’s foreign education.

Who says beggars can’t be choosers?

🥕🥕🥕

Imaginary Characters by M J Mallon

Brick fitted in the space well. It was narrow, like a cupboard to slot in, a place to be noticed. Brooke Trout sauntered past him. When she saw Brick her eyes opened wide. He smirked at her bemused expression. She didn’t notice but he followed her up the escalator. When she exited out of the toilet he was there angling for her.

‘Beggars can’t be choosers,’ she wasn’t much of a catch but she had a sense of humour. He valued that.

Brick smiled, ‘Babe join me? We can disappear together…

🥕🥕🥕

Tables Turned by Anne Goodwin

She hammers on the door, pleading, begging. It’s too late. She’s made her choice.
I’m not without pity, but her desperation soothes me, cancels the pain from when I was the one in need. From when I begged and Liesel chose.

She gave me two options, both impossible. If she left, I’d lose everything; if she stayed on her terms, how could our love stand the strain?

When she’s calm, I’ll go down to the cellar, take her some food and some clean underwear. I’m no cook, but she’ll relish whatever I give her. Beggars don’t get to choose.

🥕🥕🥕

Harsh Reality by Rupali Banerjee

One morning, as I was taking my car out of the Garage, I heard a pleasant sound of flute been played. I could find no one in close vicinity. Mesmerized at the sound, I drove down the valley. The music of the flute was like a beautifully cascaded flowing river. After driving some distance, I found an old man playing the flute and begging alms. A crowd had gathered around. When suddenly he started coughing, the crowd dispersed. Panicked, he again picked up the flute and somehow managed to play. “Beggars cant be choosers“, I thought sympathetically.

🥕🥕🥕

Restoration of Hope by TN Kerr

He didn’t hold a sign or jingle a cup with a few coins.

He wasn’t selling apples or matches, or singing street music.

He sat with his eyes closed in the chill evening air; had his blanket pulled tight.

So, he didn’t see her approaching from across the road.

“Hey,” she said to catch his attention.

When he looked up at her he was startled.

She was well dressed, but looked stern, the way his teachers had done.

He took the white paper bag that she proffered.

“It’s warm,” he said.

She simply nodded, turned around and walked away.

🥕🥕🥕

Breaking Old Stereotypical Molds by JulesPaige

Being the younger in a hard working family means hand me downs.
Maybe there’d be one new outfit a year, shoes when needed, things like that.
Cheap proteins; buckets of peanut butter, making due with leftovers.

there are choices, yes;
some allow us to reach stars
others for handouts

life throws all curve balls; cannot
beggars be choosers for love

To remember to give when we are comfortable can be key
To stretch outside of that comfort zone to help another, would, could you?
Without expecting some reward, remembering to give of the self.

Who says beggars can’t choose?

🥕🥕🥕

Hat Trick by D. Avery

“Pal, ya ain’t noticin’ my new hat.”

“It’s a beautiful day, Kid. Good day ta ride.”

“Yep. An’ ya still ain’t said nuthin’ ‘bout my hat.”

“I see ya’ve got a new hat settin’ on yer head.”

“Cain’tcha tell me what ya think of it?”

“Why? You went an’ bought it. You must like it.”

“Come on, Pal. Do ya like my hat?”

“No, Kid, no. I do not like yer hat.”

“Jeez, Pal, ya gotta like this hat.”

“No, Kid, I don’t. Ya begged me ta respond, ya don’t git ta choose my response. Now go Kid, go.”

🥕🥕🥕

On Fire

Burning bright, fire gives us power — to create, to destroy. Flames follow us through time and life, giving us memories of camping trips and ancient moments witnessed by the moon. We dance to fire and we let it burn within us from our sickbed.

Writers wrote flames that readers will seek like moths. Stories that will linger.

The following are based on the April 4, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fire.

PART I (10-minute read)

Condemned by H.R.R. Gorman

I feel like a traitor.

There had been a military tribunal, and the officer acting as judge declared guilty. Death by firing squad.

I take a deep breath while the soldiers line up. What a way to die. Every soldier was given a gun with a bullet, some blank while others are deadly. But someone has the gun which will kill.

“Aim!” an officer shouts.

I struggle to keep my eyes open.

“Fire!”

I pull my trigger, and the man drops.

Was it my gun that held the bullet that killed him?

Did the judge know he’d condemned me?

🥕🥕🥕

Flame by Anita Dawes

Prometheus stole fire to give to mankind.
For this the great Titan was punished by Zeus
tied to a rock so an eagle would eat his liver
which would heal overnight
to be eaten again the next day.
Until a hero comes. Hercules to the rescue.
I have thought of Prometheus as my hero
his punishment did not fit the crime.
Now he is mostly forgotten,
we sit on the beach, toast our marshmallows
the fire taken for granted.
Fire can take a forest, leaving burnt ash
yet it will grow again like Prometheus liver,
magic in the flame…

🥕🥕🥕

The Haunted Seas by Saifun Hassam

Tormented turbulent seas flung “Aurora” onto the promontory’s rocky shores. Lightning split the skies like a needle-thin tree with myriad fine and delicate branches. The clouds shifted into terrifying monstrous shapes as they raced across the sky driven by gale force winds.

At dawn the sky and seas were gray, and fog shrouded the shores. Beacons of fire were lit along the promontory where the lighthouse had sunk into an underground cave. A deep sense of loss and mourning filled the hearts of the seafaring community. The “Aurora” was listing over the rocks. There seemed to be no survivors.

🥕🥕🥕

Testimony and Sacrifice by Liz Husebye Hartmann

A moment, all I remember:

Her face, cupped by the flickering glow of a night fire shared against a greater darkness.

Her hands, rolling thin-shaved bark around crumbles of tobacco, mushroom, moss, bone-white shards… something I couldn’t identify, even as she tossed it into the edge of the roiling embers.

Her voice, raised only slightly “And thus we vanquish you, Darkness” as she stepped, barefoot, into the circle of stones.

An exploding funk of flesh and forest as I’m thrown back, onto the ground.

Moon’s cold eye staring down on me.

She is gone, but the darkness? Defeated.

You’re finished.

🥕🥕🥕

Prodigy by Sherri Matthews

What kind of Firestarter? A crazy, twisted one, that’s right. Hair horns and piercings mother would not approve – get them and you’re out, got it? My house, my rules. Yeah…one day… YouTube takes me down that tunnel night after night. Never too loud, thank God for earphones. Mother’s not here but the nurses are, so I crank up the music and it blasts my eardrums and I wonder what it was like to be a teenager in the 90’s. My generation now, sick but I’ll mend. Keith Flint’s gone but his flame still burns, that brilliant unleashed Firestarter.

🥕🥕🥕

Soul Dance by Di @ pensitivity101

She watched the flames dance within the stone circle.
Sparkles shot skywards, like prayers to the gods in times past.
She closed her eyes, and let the memories wash over her.
Hugging herself, she thought of another night like this.
Here, dreams were realised, emotions explored, passions spent.
Innocence surrendered, lives changed forever and a new life begun.
She wouldn’t change any of it. She called for him.
Footsteps approached, a hand reached down to caress her neck.
Eager lips nuzzled and nibbled.
They were young, together again, as one.
The fire died, leaving just embers of a memory.

🥕🥕🥕

Internal Inferno? by JulesPaige

When playing with matches one can get burnt or burn things to powder ash.
Sometimes a child is lucky, they only burn down a kitchen curtain.
What though would make a child want to get attention by flamboyant flame?

Is it a crime to want to be in the limelight, to have some, any attention?
Elder sibling gathering no dust; displays intelligent conversation.
Baby in nappies still, needs and wants blend; screams at fevered pitches

a burning desire
pulses in a shadowed soul
can laughter be found?

phoenix can rise up from flame
but they must be consumed first

🥕🥕🥕

As the Flames Fling High by Papershots

In the smoky gray courtyard, the firing squad is lined up, awaiting those to be shot. The former smoke while the latter lit candles in the night on their windowsills. But a section of the confiscated buildings is on fire and firefighters are trying to tame the ever-spreading flames – those who live in the area are out firing questions at officers ill-equipped at this fired-up injustice. The morning sun rises firing the tops of burned-out trees. “Fire! Fire!” a second of hesitation too many, “Fire, fire!” And all, at present, is gone up in tiny little bits of smoke.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire Mage by The Dark Netizen

We were never promised a glorious battle nor death worthy of remembrance.

All we understood was that if we did not fight our hardest, the dark king would slay our loved ones, and ravage our lands.

The Dark King’s minions were summoned from the blackest depths of earth, where no men wander.

Vicious and vile to the core, their only weakness was the blaze of holy fire.

As a senior mage of our kingdom, the responsibility of supporting our troops had been shifted to my shoulders.

I wasn’t the type to shun responsibility, besides I loved playing with fire…

🥕🥕🥕

Attack! by Joanne Fisher

The sentries were taken out silently. Aalen and Ashalla moved quickly into the camp. In the center was a fire-pit still burning. While Ashalla took care of the drunken stragglers Aalen spied the largest tent and silently went inside.

She roused their leader awake. He look confused.

“I thought we had killed you all.” he said.

“Why destroy my village?”

“I was only acting under orders. We wanted your forest for timber but we knew your people wouldn’t like that. So we decided to get rid of you. The Baron sent us.”

Aalen stuck her knife in his throat.

🥕🥕🥕

Blazing Pen by Reena Saxena

He has experienced gut-wrenching hunger in his early years.

Later, he found that fighting hunger is easier than fighting evil which suppresses independent thought.

He is a writer who dares to present things in a different manner, and superimposes his vision on existing or non-existent objects. The vision may contradict known logic.

The fire in his belly refuses to die, as does his metaphoric pen blitzing across a literary canvas. The hunger for his share of the pie continues to drive him. He changes the code of subservient minds. He unleashes control of a different kind – hypnotism with words.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire on the Moorland, Fire in the Writer’s Head by Anne Goodwin

Beneath the surface calm, she smoulders. Quiet now, change is on its way. The fuel’s deep, it only takes a spark to ignite it and, when it does, it sets her whole world alight.

There, a glowing flicker! There, another, crackling the bracken. The fire jumps from one hummock to the next. Connect, connect to horseshoe around her. Should she stay inside the circle or race to safety through the gap?

Peat burns and engulfs the moor, like ideas in a writer’s head. Should we douse the flames to save the landscape, or fan them into a new story?

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Sally Cronin

The firelight flickered across the walls of the cave and the healer stared into the flames.

Fire was a precious gift that had been passed down by their ancestors, but for some it brought a great burden. Those with healing skills saw visions within the heart of the burning mass.

It would not happen in her lifetime, but as the healer sat transfixed by the prophetic images, tears rolled down her wrinkled face. Her time was nearly over, but she hoped, that in the future, one of her descendants would be strong enough to put out the coming conflagration.

🥕🥕🥕

Olympic Achievement by Chelsea Owens

Panting, moving; legs dance; running? Slow he moves, yet forward goes.

Yelling, waving; crowds smile; cheering! Quick their hands and banners flow.

Road goes under, step by stepping; even’ning sunshine asphalt raised.

Signs flash by, their message flapping; glinting sun and wind-blown praise.

Turn now, hero, enter warmly; enter ‘neath the crowds and flares.

Swift and surely, climb the mountain; climb your metal, switchback stairs.

Raise your head now, torch-lit runner

Lift your eyes from up and under

Hear now, see now raised-face crowd sight

Bring your arm: the dimmer torch light–

To zenith goal; now, flame -IGNITE!

🥕🥕🥕

The Torch Relay by Miriam Hurdle

“Did you see the torch?”

“The flashlight?”

“No, the torch carried by the runner yesterday.”

“The tick with fire burning at the end?”

“Yes, the runners were on their way to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.”

“There’re 337 competitors from my country Britain.”

“Yes, 522 from the United States. The Torch Relay began in New York City and ended in Los Angeles, traversing 33 states. There were 3,636 runners passing on, carried the torch on foot for over 9,320 miles. Los Angeles will host the Summer Olympics for the third time in 2028, 44 years from now.”

“I’ll be here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Geoff Le Pard

‘Why the long face, Morgan?’

‘It’s Mum.’

‘Really? Is she ill?’

‘She’s planning her funeral.’

‘Some people do. Was she miserable?’

‘Not at all. Quite energised.’

‘That’s good.’

‘Is it?’

‘What did she say?’

‘She wants to choose her music. Three songs. Two were easy, cabaret stuff, but the third caused the difficulty.’

‘How?’

‘She couldn’t decide if she wanted to be cremated or buried. If cremated she wanted Arthur Brown’s Fire…’

‘And buried?’

‘Going Underground by the Jam.’

‘What’s bad about that?’

‘I can’t have a mother who’s a punk fan. That’s just wrong on so many levels.’

🥕🥕🥕

Sebastian’s Bird by Nancy Brady

Sebastian didn’t know where it came from, nor where it disappeared to every so often, but he loved that bird. It appeared most often when he was upset, angry, or needed help, or at least, that was the way it seemed. That is, until his bird became lethargic and his red-gold feathers began to droop. He fed his bird a special diet to bring him back to health, but nothing he did for his bird seemed to work. In fact, the bird burst into flames, and died. From the ashes of the fire, the phoenix arose to new life.

🥕🥕🥕

The Bonfire – Haiku-Style Poem by Susan Zutautas

Firewood is gathered

Firepit is made, wood is placed

Kindling set throughout

A match is stricken

Holding the flame to the twigs

Smoldering begins

Seconds pass quickly

Twigs caught, setting wood a fire

Bonfire has begun

Aroma intense

Flickering flames hypnotize

Heat is powerful

People gather round

Rubbing their hands together

Over the fire’s glow

Someone starts a song

Everyone joins in singing

Party has started

Guitars are brought out

Strumming and picking is heard

Hands clap out a beat

Cheerful happiness

Cold lagers are abundant

People having fun

The moon is shining

Fire is blazing overhead

Submersing begins

🥕🥕🥕

Autumn Camping Joys by tracey

Crisp air
Achingly blue skies
Trees full of red and yellow leaves
Crunching leaves underfoot
Legs pleasantly aching after a long hike
Sizzling hot dogs over the fire
Laughter as yet another marshmallow bursts into flame
Smoke scented air drifting up
Hands stretched toward the warmth
Darkness falling
Stars emerging
Ghosts stories making you glance over your shoulder
Crackling logs
Steaming mugs of tea and cocoa
Sparks snapping
That drying leaves smell
Bursts of flames from pinecones
Snuggles under a fleece throw
The hooting of an owl
Moonlight shadows
Feeling the joy of togetherness under a vast sky
Contentment

🥕🥕🥕

Hard to Take a Break (from Miracle  of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Fire spun a halo in the night sky. Danni’s stomach churned. Nothing more she could do tonight. She leaned against her Forest Service truck, away from the camp chatter. Some recruits buzzed from the adrenaline, fighting wildland fires for the first time. Nearby, the Canadian Bombardier pilot regaled his earlier flight to the crew of Australians newly arrived. Danni scanned the distant flames, feeling impatient. In 1910 they didn’t luxuriate in rest and strategy in shifts. Is this what Ike felt before he left –restless while others fought a war he had to watch burn from the sidelines?

🥕🥕🥕

Making Notification by Susan Sleggs

The Army officer stopped the fleet car in front of the brick house at 217 Maple Avenue. As they looked at the house, he said to the Chaplain sitting with him, “I hate doing these notifications. All the family has to do is see us walking up the sidewalk and they know what they’re going to hear.”

“True, but these days they can hold on to the fact their child volunteered and had wanted to serve their country.”

“Doesn’t make losing one any easier, especially when I have to admit friendly fire was the cause. And they always ask.”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Nope! by Nobbinmaug

I thought she was cute the first time I saw her.

Nope!

That smile.

Nope.

The more I talked to her, the more I thought about her.

Nope?

The more I saw her, the more she smiled at me, the more I realized she wasn’t just cute, she was beautiful.

Maybe?

The more I got to know her, the more I saw how sweet and kind she was.

Maybe.

It wasn’t until it was too late that I realized, she lit a fire in my soul. The likes of which I’ve never known. It might just burn me alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Love Spell by Kelley Farrell

“Dear Ana,
My love for you burns brighter than a thousand suns. I would walk through fire for you. You would never wonder where my heart lies. Please Ana, be mine.
Yours eternal,
Marco”

Ana rolled her eyes. This was the third one this week.

All she wanted was a trip to the mall. Her ever pious mother refused and took her to antiques roadshow instead. She bought her an old rusty teapot.

It was better than expected, but when she told the genie she wanted love spell to wear she meant the perfume.

“Marco,
No.
Don’t write again.”

🥕🥕🥕

Streetlights in Winter By Erica Schaef

There was something I wanted. The glow of home, or the bittersweet ache of fulfillment. Something not tangible.
Looking at street lights in winter gave me a sort of peace. Here you belong, they said. Here, you may rest. I sipped my coffee, having long since abandoned my attempt to join in the conversation at the table. The restaurant was crowded, too loud, too bright. I sat by the window, watching flurries dance around white glowing orbs outside.

A man appeared under one, lit a cigarette. Its flame intrigued me, illuminating broad shoulders and full lips. I wanted him.

🥕🥕🥕

Machine Man by calmkate

machines were his passion, they really lit his fire

collected one of each kind, had a burning desire

had the skills to maintain them all

loved the variety, it was his call

but they don’t come cheap

long hard work just to keep

yet his infatuation ran deep

they haunted his dream sleep

when using any he would visibly ignite

his eyes lit up, the flame burnt bright

his well trained wife accepted his flame

she enjoyed his childlike delight as it came

his kind heart helped those he met

if using a machine it was a sure bet!

🥕🥕🥕

The Heart of a Teacher by Norah Colvin

“It’s storytime, children.”
They gathered at her feet, bright-eyed, transfixed.
Jane read, instructed and encouraged. They never tired.
Later, all snuggled up in bed, Mum asked, “What will you be when you grow up?”
“A teacher.”

“Storytime, children.”
They gathered at her feet, bright-eyed, hearts open, minds buzzing.
Miss Jane read. They hung on every word, contemplating obstacles and possible resolutions, following the heroes’ journey into the cave and out.

“Ple-ease!”
“No time for stories. It’s test time.”
They slumped at desks, eyes glazed, minds dulled, hearts heavy.
The cave was cold and dark. Were they ever coming out?

🥕🥕🥕

Friendship by Joanne Fisher

“Who’s there?” The Anointed One called out frightened. She had woken to see a shadow in the doorway. She was barely twenty summers old but had been chosen to be the Keeper of the Sacred Flame and brought to this temple against her will then burnt by the Fire.

“It’s me Kali!” A familiar voice replied. It was her best friend Ananya.

“How did you get here?” Kali asked.

“I followed the soldiers and priestesses after they took you. Then I sneaked in.” Ananya replied jumping onto her bed. They hugged. “I’m going to get you out of here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Where There’s Smoke… by John Rieber

The restaurant was packed as usual. The busboy was frantic, maneuvering through the crowd with a large round platter on his shoulder, filled to the brim with half-full water glasses, dirty dishes, old napkins and candles. His head was turned so he hadn’t noticed that one of the napkins had caught on fire. If he saw flames, that platter was going airborne – what a disaster! Just then, a Waiter sauntered up and said: “hey man, you know you’re on fire?” He reached up, grabbed a water glass and put him out. The Busboy’s eyes widened. Dinner service was underway.

🥕🥕🥕

Scared as Hell by Susan Zutautas

Sitting by the pool I looked up to see smoke coming out from our apartment window.

Panic-struck, I yelled, “Oh my God”, I’d left candles burning in my bedroom unintentionally.

Panic turned to terror then into shock thinking my step-mother would kill me for setting fire to our home.

A neighbour saw how stressed I was, grabbed me and took me into her apartment where she made me get into a cold shower and drink a straight shot of whiskey hoping that this would calm me down.

Everything turned out okay. My step-mother was happy that I was alright.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Roberta Eaton

Jack woke up, coughing. Thick, choking smoke filled his room. Within moments he realised the house was on fire. Pulling his blanket over his head, he slipped out of his bedroom door and up the stairs.

“Fire! Wake up!” Turning back, Jack could see tongues of flame licking at the first wooden step. Tendrils of bright fire ran up along the banister.

Mr Farriner appeared with his daughter and the maid. “There’s no way down. We’ll have to climb out of the window and crawl along the guttering. We can climb in the window of the house next door.”

🥕🥕🥕

Tyranny Tango by Macy Brown

My eyes shot open.

What was it that had awoken me?

Then I heard it again… that ear shattering scream. I jumped out of bed and raced out into the hallway, but as soon as I opened my bedroom door my heart dropped. Bright orange and yellow flames danced in front of my face, engulfing the west side of my apartment.

I got down on the ground and crawled on my belly under the flames to my front door.
How could this happen to me? I asked myself. This was the kind of thing that only happened in movies.

🥕🥕🥕

Campfire by Kerry E.B. Black

While the other Girl Scouts gathered close to the campfire to sing traditional songs and roast marshmallows for s’mores, Lottie kept to the shadows. She studied the ground and regretted the trip.

Her friends regarded the fire as an exotic beauty shooting fairy sparks to dance with the starry sky, but Lottie could only recall its destructive power. Fire consumed without mercy, devoured with no discrimination.

She shrunk from its warmth. She hated the smoky stench. When the wood popped like gunshots, she squeezed her eyes tight. Flames flickered like an antique film, replaying her family house consumed.

🥕🥕🥕

Smouldering Fire by Ann Edall-Robson

After a month of loading hay bales and mucking out stalls, Hanna had become one of the depended upon employees at the ranch. She didn’t flaunt her ability to work shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the crew, and she volunteered when opportunity arose. She ignored the grumbling remarks when she was singled out to show a newcomer around. So when the request came to help Mrs. Johnson in the cookhouse, she automatically stepped forward.

“Not you, Hanna. Tal can go.”

The smouldering look of disgust directed towards Hanna could have started a fire anywhere Tal’s gaze lingered.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Deborah Lee

Again. AGAIN. She can’t do anything right. It’s the 50-50-90 rule: If she has a 50-50 chance of choosing the right thing, there’s a 90% chance she’ll choose wrong.

Anxiety rushes through her veins, ice water for blood. She sidles up to Greg’s desk, opens her mouth, knowing she’s hanging her desperation out for all to see.

On second thought, the whole floor heard the shouting anyway.

Fight or flight.

Barely keeping her voice steady, she asks, “Does Lesley ever fire anyone?”

Greg’s glance is sympathetic. “Sometimes,” he says. “But usually they get fed up and walk out first.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Floridaborne

“Go away,” June said, slamming down the receiver. “Men!”

Her Persian cat, Fifi, purred at June, nuzzling against her leg.

She found men at an on-line dating service, and then used the “cat test.” They’d meet at a park, and if Fifi hissed at him, there were no second chances!

At 35, and still single, she wanted a child. Though she wasn’t showing yet, her last paramour had served his purpose.

“Men want to burn with desire instead of giving comfort and understanding.”

Fifi sniffed June’s stomach and hissed.

“Thanks, Fifi. Looks like I’ll be aborting this one, too.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Threat in His Eyes by M J Mallon

The fire raged, and a ring of flames circled the card, avoiding it as if it contained the deadly plague. The sand timer ran out. The fire burnt down leaving its mark on the card with black singed edges.

I felt a chill creep up my spine. When I searched Dad’s face for some clue to his strange behaviour, I reeled back, struck by the sight of a dull emptiness in his eyes. I couldn’t tear my gaze away from his face. I thought I spotted a weird reflection in his eyes, maybe a bug…

🥕🥕🥕

You’re Fired by Bill Engleson

I wake up in the middle of the night and hear the Donald.

He has a discordant voice, scratchy, like a nicked LP, a voice muffled from reason, as if someone, perhaps his late father, is still holding his head in a bulky, slightly used prophylactic.

Young Donald, six-year-old Donnie, is frightened, terrorized, but I get confused. I see the squeaking child that he was, that he is, for I also see the Presidential poser, invested in his hollow trajectory.

His belly is not on fire.

Rather, it smoulders away, a residue of burnt bunkum it’s final, futile fuel.

🥕🥕🥕

Fired! by Anurag Bakhshi

Clyde had come to the city all fired-up, but the harsh reality of life had set fire to his dreams, till they had all burnt down to a cinder.

But now, the time had finally come for him to take-off.

Clyde straightened up as he heard footsteps approaching. He could not afford to get fired.

Breathless with anticipation, he willed all the noise from outside to disappear.

As the countdown clock in his head said ONE, Clyde shut his eyes…..and the last word that he heard before he went flying through the roof of the circus was- FIRE!

🥕🥕🥕

Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire by Ritu Bhathal

I sat at the bar, nursing my whiskey. Needed to be sensible. I couldn’t afford to be reckless with my drink again.
I hadn’t meant to leave the barbeque unattended, but after a few drinks with my guests, I forgot it, and turned to see the flames licking the sky.

Gina wasn’t planning on letting me back in the house. I had to keep my cool, give her a few hours, then I’d go back, and she’d forgive me.

But would she?

I threw the fiery liquid down my throat in a single gulp.

“Bartender, another one please.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Pete Fanning

Mrs. Cobb screamed for us to get away from the fire. A ball of wrinkles and gums, she charged after us with a cane, demanding we stay out of her yard. Tab grabbed my wrist, gripping me with terror, her fascinated smirk leaking a squeal as we raced down to Grandma’s room.

Mom snapped her fingers harshly, pointed to a chair. “Hush.”

We hushed, trying not to giggle, keeping watch on the door as the nurses sped past. Mom tended to the lump in the bed. We swung our legs, still flushed, waiting for Mrs. Cobb and her fire.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Frank Hubeny

Despair defeats hope with fire.

Pete wondered what that was supposed to mean while reading the fortune to his wife. He felt enough despair for it to feel like the fires of hell.

“What does yours say?”

“It’s blank.”

“Remember when I got ‘A fool at forty is a fool indeed’?”

She remembered, but her blank fortune worried her.

“Maybe I should ask for another one?”

“Let’s switch.”

“Does that count?”

They switched. She read these words, “The fire of hope defeats despair”, and gave it back.

“This one belongs to you.”

She asked for a new fortune cookie.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fire by D. Avery

“Shorty! Quick!”

“Whoa Kid. Where’s the fire?”

“All across the Ranch, Shorty! We better put ‘em out!”

“No, Kid, don’t. They’s flash fires. All the hands’ve been sparked ta write an’ now the Ranch is ablaze with inspired imagination. Jist enjoy all the warmth an’ light, Kid.”

“You started all this, didn’t ya, Shorty? What are ya, an arsonist?”

“Don’t you be an arse, Kid. D’ya think these fires should be contained? Lights kept under a barrel?”

“Shorty, this cain’t be safe, havin’ all these ranch hands playin’ with fire.”

“Yep, writin’s risky. But we’re safe at the Ranch.”

***

Net more information about Ranch safety at https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/how-dya-do-buckaroo/

🥕🥕🥕

 

Eminence

From high above, a distinct vantage point is set. A view from an eminence of land, a hillock, the hump of an anthill, a sand dune. People can also place themselves above others and claim a position of eminence. Those who bow and scrape, acknowledge, “Your Eminence.” And some confuse the word for a white rapper.

Playful or serious, writers set out for the hills to wrangle stories from eminent advantages. A few even found spiders and webs along the trail.

The following is based on the March 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence.

PART I (10-minute read)

Eminence by Michael Groban

His Eminence the Good and Virtuous Cardinal read the morning paper and cringed as he read of another abuse claim.

He felt a twinge of guilt as he read the charges against one of his priests. It wouldn’t be long before they’d come knocking on his door. But he was a cardinal, and they’d believe his story over any kid who claimed he knew or did anything.

He’d taken years to reach this pinnacle within the Church. Hiding and denying, who’d a thought he be so good at it. He took up his pen and started on the crossword.

🥕🥕🥕

What You Don’t Talk About Doesn’t Exist by Papershots

He took a milk carton from a kitchen cabinet, then put it back there even though it was now open – it should have gone into the refrigerator. He took a sip of water. The smell of oranges about to go bad wafted from the fruit bowl on the table (made of wood ever so slightly darker than that of the fruit bowl.) The party at His Eminence swirled in his hangover – its theme: “What You Don’t Talk About Doesn’t Exist” – they called him His Eminence after his ascetic countenance by day, and his “torrent of bizarre gaieties” by night.

🥕🥕🥕

Mongolian Pie by H.R.R. Gorman

The jester bowed before the king and queen. His coat, a tattered, borrowed thing, seemed unfit in the presence of royalty’s eminence. “I will sing you a traditional overtone song of my people.”

The jester pulled the bow across his khuuchir, and the two-stringed instrument wailed. The voices of the people came from his throat, some deep and worrisome while others were clear, melodic.

After the song finished, the king stood from his seat and clapped. “Excellent show!” He bent to look down on the jester.

The jester reached up and snatched the king’s gloried crown, then dashed away.

🥕🥕🥕

Oh to Be in England on Non-Brexit Day! by Anne Goodwin

We voted to abolish experts. Let the people have their say! Don’t bore us with details, wave your magic wand and make it happen. Would a surgeon go through such a back-and-forth to amputate a limb?

Yes, the Leave campaign deceived us. Yes, the rich will win whichever way we go. We’ll wave our flags as pigs fly in eminence above us. We’ll plug our ears when boffins threaten to explain.

We are the mother of parliaments. We are the brave who take back control. We are the laughing stock of Europe. We are the fools of the world.

🥕🥕🥕

Long Live The King by Nobbinmaug

His rise to eminence was halted by my hand. He wasn’t hard to find. Everybody in town knew where he hung out.

I pulled out the gun I took from dad’s nightstand and pointed it at him.

“Whoa! What are gonna do with that, little man?”

“I’m gonna be 10 next month.”

“All right, big man. Put it down before you hurt somebody.”

He reached for it, and I pulled the trigger. The kick knocked me down. The bullet knocked him down.

He was the only person I ever killed. My sister was the last his drugs would kill.

🥕🥕🥕

Portrait of Marion Gray by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Marion stared at herself, staring at herself, daring the other to step over the line.

“What d’you want me to do about it?”

“Can’t you absorb one more?”

“I’ve run out of room to absorb your blemishes.”

“Just one more. I’ll never ask again…Promise!”

“You said that last time.”

She stared at herself, daring herself to step over that line.

“Fine, but come closer. Touch your nose to the glass.”

A moment’s touch, the eminence was grabbed, pulled in.

Marion stepped free, no longer the face in the mirror.

She waved farewell and turned the mirror to the wall.

🥕🥕🥕

Your Eminence by Sally Cronin

As I pass him on my way to the village, I remember to say ‘Good morning your eminence’. To ignore him is to invite untold misfortune. Wise ones tell of signs of impending death if he is seen close to your window. And should that be open to the spring air, thefts of gold and silver. I laugh at the warnings, for I am young and carefree, but ancient beliefs stir in my blood, for lone magpies bring sorrow. So I pay him respect, wishing him a mate for life, to bring joy to those who see them together.

🥕🥕🥕

Prelude by Joanne Fisher

Aalen and Ashalla were hiding on an eminence looking down on the soldiers in the distance. Aalen’s wolf Vilja lay between them.

“Last year there was a drought and game was scarce. These soldiers came to our village demanding food. When we refused because we needed our food stocks for the winter they began killing all the hunters until we acquiesced. I came back to find my brothers had been killed. I painted my arrows black and started hunting them down.” Ashalla said.

Aalen looked down at the army. Once they set up camp, that’s when they would attack.

🥕🥕🥕

My Scar by The Dark Netizen

It is rightly said that behind every scar there is a story of survival.

My story took place many years ago, during the invasion of the dark king.

Led by our Prince, we were fighting for our survival in a battle that defined ages.

Our Prince’s eminence in warfare was unquestionable on the battlefield, as he skewered numerous dark minions in front of my eyes.

In the heat of battle I saw one minion slip behind the Prince, ready to end his life, when I jumped in between.

My sacrifice won my kingdom’s freedom and won me this scar…

🥕🥕🥕

Shattering Illusions by Jo Hawk

Jules was his father’s second son. He was deemed the spare heir to the kingdom. Always second best, he fought to win favor, to stand free from his brother’s shadow. Each passing year, the competition between them grew.

Their rivalry forced his vision higher, to the eminence of Mont Aiguille. He imagined looking down onto his brother’s domain. Determined, he focused on his goal, fought through doubts and fear until his kingdom became a reality.

He grew stronger than the mountain, hardening his heart he stood alone, freed from the shadows, he realized there had been nothing to prove.

🥕🥕🥕

Cross Roads (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

Near the ancient cypress and olive trees, silky spider’s webs interlaced thorny yellow thistle. Early morning dew drops on the silvery threads glittered like tiny jewels. Fleeting and fragile, the jewels would disappear into the warming air.

From an eminence of boulders on the cliff, Diamante gazed out at the seashore. He would miss the coastal villagers deeply. He was a village teacher and became a temple guardian after Father Martinez died a year ago. The Abbott was sending another priest and he had plans for Diamante to enter the Dove’s Ministry, to become a scholar. And a priest.

🥕🥕🥕

Glad Tidings of Nymble by Chelsea Owens

Nymble didn’t stand so much as gently flit above the waving grass, the first of the season’s signs of change. Leaning back as much as her grass and sunlight mote companions; she drank the deep, fresh air.

“Spring,” she whispered. She breathed.

A smile tickled her dimples. It pushed at her mouth-corners. As she looked out and over the gathered folk and fae, the smile spread to every feature of her pointed face. She grinned and opened her arms to hold the warm sun from toe to wing tip.

Atop the eminent rise, she addressed the expectant crowd. “SPRING!”

🥕🥕🥕

Owls and Auks by TN Kerr

He chose to stand atop a grand eminence, banked by steep outcroppings; a sentry, ever vigilant who watches over the Pacific. He has stood this post for more than fifteen hundred years. He is a giant towering over 300 feet high. He is massive, with a base of more than 30 feet in diameter. A Giant Coastal Redwood, a landmark with owls and auks living amongst his branches.

I come here to admire him from time to time. I always come alone. I am humbled.

Majestuoso y eminente, por derecho propio, es bien conocido a lo largo de esta costa.

🥕🥕🥕

The Judge by Roberta Eaton

The judge sat on a chair high raised high above the platform to ensure the accused understood his eminence. My son was forced to tip his head back at an unnatural angle to meet the judge’s eyes while stating his case. The comments made by the defendant were meaningless. Any defaulters who ended up on trial in the arena knew they were guilty in the eyes of the law. The punishment for wasting limited water resources was a swift death. The bodies of the guilty were buried in the surrounding forest to fertilise the trees that provided vital oxygen.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Tracey

I dragged myself into the kitchen and apathetically checked the fridge. Spouse and small child would be home soon and looking for dinner. That was part of my “job”, cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping. I could feel the surge of pre-menopause hormones coloring my brain. I wasn’t even hungry, why should I cook dinner? I checked the freezer. The emergency frozen pizza had already been eaten this week. I started to cry and told myself, “enough”. The eminences would have to fend for themselves this once. I retreated to the couch and a movie. “Double Indemnity” suited me perfectly.

🥕🥕🥕

Age of Imminence by D. Avery

“What? Her Eminence drinking alone? Where’s Ernest?”

“Can’t I be somewhere where Ernest isn’t, Nard? Like you should talk. Where’s Kris?

“Visiting his mother. I just couldn’t.

“Yeah.”

“Hey, Lloyd tells me Ernest gave you a ring.”

“Yeah.”

“Thought you gals were supposed to be all giddy at a time like this.”

“Ernest’s giddy enough for the both of us. Driving me nuts.”

“Am I a peckerhead for being glad Kris is gone for a couple days?”

“Not if you’re looking forward to him coming back.”

“I am.”

“We’ll have to get used to being happy, huh, Nard?”

“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Two Meanings by Susan Sleggs

“Look at all those eminences in the back yard.”

“What are you talking about? Speak English.”

“If you did crossword puzzles like I do, you would know I was referring to all the little mounds of dirt.”

“Oh, yes. We have a mole problem.”

“And if your furry, four legged friend lounging in the sun over there knew she was a cat instead acting like a feline eminence, she might go outside and kill the moles.”

“She’s an indoor cat and I don’t think it’s funny that you used the same word with its opposite meaning.”

“Glad you noticed.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lost In Translation by Geoff Le Pard

‘You look smart, Morgan. In court?’

‘Ha. I’m meeting a rather special person. Very influential. I hope he can help me.’

‘How?’

‘He understands how the system works, you know, all those back passages.’

‘Corridors of power?’

‘Exactly.’

‘A sort of eminence grise.’

‘You what? Immense Grease? That sounds like what you get before an outbreak of spots.’

‘Eminence Grise. Someone who works in the shadows.’

‘He had the lights on when I saw him.’

‘It’s just a figure of speech.’

‘Like Imminent Cheese?’

‘Eminence Grise.’

‘Is it French?’

‘Yes.’

‘Thought so. They’re greasy and like cheese.’

‘God, Morgan…’

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Your Eminence by Norah Colvin

She glided in, regal robes flowing, loyal subjects lining the path.

“Your eminence,” they bowed as she passed.

She occasionally extended her gloved hand to receive their kisses of adoration or stopped to bestow a gift of royal chatter.

Though her crown and responsibilities weighed heavily, she held her head high as she proceeded towards the throne.

Decorum dictated every move. She dared not breathe out of sync. Her subjects depended upon her.

When seated, she motioned for all to sit. They obeyed, listening respectfully.

“I decree– “

“Lunch is served, Your Majesty.”

“Aw, Mu-um!”

🥕🥕🥕

Blessing by Anita Dawes

My school was buzzing today, the nuns were all running around like deranged penguins. We were to receive a special throat blessing from the Bishop and were to address him as Your Eminence if spoken to.

The blessing involved two large candles joined in the shape of a V.
Sister Margaret held my hair away from the flame as the candles were placed around my throat and I have never suffered from a sore throat since.
Not bad going for 72 years.

I have wondered whether it was the blessing or just good luck
It still puzzles me today…

🥕🥕🥕

A Special Guest by calmkate

“It’s highly eminent that His Eminence will join us for tea in the forecourt this morning. So please ensure that our sandwiches have more than an eminence of cucumber!”

“But in high society the bread and filling must be thin to tempt. A sliver to tease”

“Please indulge my preference for something a bit more substantial”

“Will His Eminence be requiring a particular blend of tea or the usual earl grey?”

“I would prefer that you serve a selection of three or four for this highly honoured guest.”

“Your every wish is my command sir!”

“Thanks so much Jeeves”

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Deborah Lee

The house is a lovely lakeside pile on a low eminence above its neighbors, cocooned among trees. Jane lugs her few belongings up the slope easily, eagerly. Hangs her few clothes, arranges her few toiletries.

Hers, hers, for six whole weeks, in exchange for being present and tending to the animals while Audrey is in Europe.

The kitchen gleams, the den lulls, the shady deck beckons. But, she decides, luxuriating, paradise is a bathtub. And it hits her, making her sit up so abruptly she sloshes wine and bubbles. Is housesitting something she could do as an actual career?

🥕🥕🥕

Celebrity Chef by Macy Brown

As I locked my office door and headed down the stairs to leave the building I heard all kinds of commotion coming from outside. What could be going on?! I thought to myself. When I stepped outside I saw a crowd of people surrounding a town car that was parked in front of the building next door. A thin blonde in a perfectly pressed skirt stepped out of the car and the crowd went wild. I did not know who she was, but based on the people around her, her eminence was clear. Maybe she was a celebrity chef?

🥕🥕🥕

The Leader of The Pack by Susan Zutautas

From the day we brought Bruce home Maggie let him know that she was the leader of the pack.

It was sad to see how she showed her eminence over him. Bruce was such a laid-back kind of guy that we were never sure if this bothered him.

I’m sure they had this telepathic thing going on between them. Bruce would go to eat his food and Maggie would look over at him as if to say, “Leave it”. He’d not eat until she had left the room or until she started eating.

I suppose dogs have pecking orders.

🥕🥕🥕

Power by Janice Golay

“So I hear you are your husband’s eminence grise. “

“His imminent grease?”

“No, my dear. His gray eminence. The power behind the throne. That shadowy figure, peering from behind a velvet curtain, who holds and wields the real power.

“Well, we don’t have any velvet curtains in our house, just over-laundered hangings from Bed, Bath and whatever.”

But if you really wanted some velvet curtains in your house, they would appear. Right? You could manage that, couldn’t you?

Of course! But if I had the power and wished for velvet curtains, I tell you they wouldn’t be GRAY!

🥕🥕🥕

On the Couch by Michael B. Fishman

“Did you see ‘his eminence’ on the news today telling us how good everything is?” she said.

“You’ve got M&Ms?”

“No, ‘eminence’.”

“I don’t watch the news anymore. You really got candy?”

“I’ve got M&M’s.”

“It’s all a front, you know.”

“What is?”

“Politics.”

“Let’s both have some candy.”

“The M&M’s?”

“Plain or peanut, I’ve got both.”

“Then let’s have both!”

She went to the kitchen and returned with two bags. “Guess what?”

“What?”

“Dead Reckoning is on.”

“Ooh, Lizbeth Scott.”

“You like her.”

“Not as much as I like you.”

“You’re sweet.”

“Not as sweet as those M&M’s.”

🥕🥕🥕

Feeling Like A Fraud by Ritu Bhathal

“Jill, could you just glance over this, please?”

Nancy thrust a piece of paper in Jill’s hand.

“I’d really appreciate your opinion. Would you mind?”

“Sure, why not.”

Jill smiled and turned around, surreptitiously rolling her eyes.

Ever since her book had been released and had shot to the top ten in the charts, she’d been inundated with ‘friends’ who wanted her advice on their writing. It’s like her eminence in word craft meant she was now a fully-fledged expert.

But that was furthest from the truth.

All she’d done was write from the heart.

And readers had appreciated.

🥕🥕🥕

Teaching by Reena Saxena

“It took twenty-eight long years of struggle to reach eminence.”

My father’s story was interrupted,

“Granpa, are you Eminem?”

“No, darling, the word is eminence. It means reaching a certain height where you tower over others – metaphorically.”

“Two difficult words – what is metaphorically?”

“Like, you are the magic which transformed my life, when I was about to give up. You are not magic, but I describe you as such.”

“Me? Okay, show me which Eminem…”

“I received the Best Writer’s Prize for 2018,” he pointed towards the trophy.

“Can this Eminem sing and rap?”

Teaching is a tough job.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence  by Floridaborne

Their Jaguar stopped, rolling down the tinted windows to sneer at me.  I knew the look, people of eminence…northerners!

He frowned at my ramshackle house and asked, “Is this Azalea Avenue?”

“Yep,” I replied, stroking my beard.  “Why?”

“We might buy the property across from you.”

“It’s full of rattlers. “

“Rattlers?” A teenager with a Gucci bag asked.

“If you don’t kill the 8 inch daddy long legs, they eat 3 inch roaches like this one,” I said, pulling one out of my pocket.

And another irritant flees the trees, never to know my doctorate is in entomology.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminent Domain (Or, Why I’m Moving Out Of My House) by John Rieber

I was just stepping on the front porch when Jill screamed: “SPIDER!”

The Tarantula was a BIG one. I instinctively jumped backwards as it raised itself up on eight powerful legs and announced its eminence. Jill raced to the back of the house and grabbed a bottle of bleach. I poured it on our guest. It got angrier.

In a panic I called Animal Control. “We have a Tarantula on our porch!”

“No you don’t”, the voice calmly replied.

“Yes, we have one!”

“No,” they said again, “you have many. They never travel alone.”

I still miss that house.

🥕🥕🥕

Queen Wolfric Returns by Joanne Fisher

Her Royal Eminence Queen Wolfric III returned to her Court in the cellar after inspecting her Royal Domain. She addressed her assembled subjects:

“It’s great to be back. While it is true I got caught Upstairs, one of the giant denizens that live there managed to free me, but not before another one of them performed a rather energetic dance before me in my honour. I was most impressed.

All this said I think it should a while before I tour those regions again. Those giant denizens seem friendly, but if the truth be told, they really terrify me.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Weight of Time by JulesPaige

From the edge of the field, five deer emerged from the wood line, a brief view.
The car on this long highway emerges from fits and starts of traffic.
Heading south from seven hours north I see emerging signs of late spring.

While away yellow daffodils emerged in the side and front gardens.
A soft smile emerges from my lips, the front of my home looks happy.
On the road home an emerging issue from a distance; Hubby’s work

his eminence to
solve issues drains our time
rising ground slip slides

Heavy sighs emerge, shoulders sag… as day ends

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Frank Hubeny

After moving to the beach town whose eminence attracted him he no longer got up early to join the seagulls as the sun rose above the ocean. He no longer paid attention to the tiny lizards running on the sidewalks. He stopped celebrating the tropical climate and started complaining about the heat.

It shocked him to realize that he no longer wanted to go to the Cuban-run bakery for a cortadito. He made his own coffee.

His relatives from northern lands were still awed by palm trees and lizards, but by moving to paradise he had become a local.

🥕🥕🥕

Find What Glints  (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Eminence of sand rolled across flats, forming dunes. Danni recalled following an old pioneer trail across the Forty Mile Desert of Nevada in her dad’s Jeep, top down, spring sun beating warmly. What was that he said? Turn around and look for the glints among the dunes. Every time he pulled over, Danni scrambled among the hollows of sand, sun to her back. She trotted toward the glints – a purple glass nob from a dresser, a marble, an obsidian arrowhead. Even today, trained as an archeologist, she heard her dad’s voice coaxing her to find the discards of history.

🥕🥕🥕

A Legendary Demise by Anurag Bakhshi

The old man rasped sharply,”How many times did they shoot me?”

The younger man asked tentatively, “Twice?”

The old man immediately corrected him authoritatively, “Make that three times…and… just add that I was poisoned too.”

The younger man nodded, and had just shut his notebook when the old man said, “And just for kicks, also say that I almost managed to claw out of my grave in the frozen river.”

As his PR Head left, Rasputin smiled in contentment.

Nothing went further in helping one attain a position of eminence in history, than a death that was legendary.

🥕🥕🥕

Typo by Sarah Whiley

The neon glow enveloped the city built by and for corporations.

It was late and Sandra was alone in the cavernous office. Pounding the keyboard furiously she tried to finish the never-ending paperwork her boss delighted in giving her.

Bastard, she thought. He actually enjoyed the power, dictating when she could leave and knowing it was her weekend with her daughter.

Her email pinged.

She despaired as she saw yet another assignment.

Gazing out at the city lights, Sandra contemplated her reply. His eminence wouldn’t like it, but life was too short.

Smiling, she typed two words.

“I quit”.

🥕🥕🥕

His Eminence by Ann Edall-Robson

On Hanna’s first day of the job she figured she would meet a few people, be shown some of the ropes, and get her bearings.

There was no surprise when the foreman drove in the direction of the outbuildings.

Along the way, he showed her where she would stow her gear, pointing to the living quarters and the cookhouse. Both, he explained vehemently, were Mrs. Johnson’s domains.

The barnyard came into view, and so did a large grey cat wandering out to meet them.

“That,” muttered the foreman, “is His Eminence. He thinks he runs the show around here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Crowned Eminence by D. Avery

“Kid, yer emanating fear.”

“I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”

“Ever one’s afeared a somethin’ Kid. It’s okay ta admit it. Then ya kin face yer fears. So jist admit what yer afeared of.”

“Well, what are you afraid of, Pal?”

“Me? I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”

“Huh. Was afraid you’d say that. But you gotta admit yer fears Pal. You said.”

“Well. I don’t like spiders Kid. Jist don’t.”

“Right? All scrunchy and hairy and sudden moves. But do ya fear ‘em, Pal?”

“Mebbe… Why ya pushin’ this Kid?”

“I’m afraid one’s bein’ an eminence on yer hat, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Bucket of Water

A familiar item found around the world and throughout time– a bucket of water. And just as common — a Harry Belefonte song, Hole in the Bucket.

No matter how familiar, creative writers can shape the ordinary into remarkable stories.

The following are based on the March 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a bucket of water.

PART I (10-minute read)

Note to the Netherworld by Violet Lentz

When I abandoned all aspects of self, and melted into you, I thought, how can I lose you, if there is no distinction between where you end, and I begin?

So when I lost you, still impervious to the fact that I was ever a whole person without you, I built a life on the foundation of your loss.

Recently I remembered, I once had a bucket list all my own. I checked off Aurora Borealis in February, and I am prepared to check off the second entry next month.

No, I haven’t forgotten you- I just remembered me.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunrise Brings Hope by Ruchira

“Wake up!” mom nudged her hard enough to make her sit upon her bed.

After a big yawn, and a stretch Prema walked with empty buckets in her hand towards a destination where the water truck would station.

While she waited in a queue for the truck to arrive, ‘Despite no water in our pipes, Life is beautiful.’ she muttered as she saw how the sun broke the spell of darkness with one drop of shine at a time.

She brought the two buckets of water to her cottage with the intention that the water crisis will end soon.

🥕🥕🥕

Water Wastage by The Dark Netizen

I was shocked at the spectacle I was watching.

People were running around on the street, in a dust-storm of colours, flinging water at each other. They were tossing water from their houses, many storeys high, at the chaotic crowd below. The people were throwing water balloons and using guns to squirt streams of water all around. Nobody seemed to care about the water that they were wasting. If only they knew what us village folk have to bear. I was almost in tears, but I held them back.

I knew the cost of a single bucket of water…

🥕🥕🥕

More Precious than Gold by Norah Colvin

The children observed the bucket.

Teacher explained, “Let’s find out about what’s in the bucket. Ask only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Do not say what you think it is.”

“Is it wet?” “Yes.”

“Is it a liquid?” “Yes.”

“Is it heavy?” “Try.” “Yes.”

“Do we drink it?” “Does it come from clouds?” “Does it make puddles?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

“Is it more precious than gold?”

“Don’t be stupid,” spluttered Andy. “It’s water!”

Teacher glared. Andy’s smirk dissolved.

Ahmed looked squarely at Andy. “In my country… “

Teacher closed the book. Ahmed’s lesson was more effective than any she’d prepare.

🥕🥕🥕

The Penrose Conundrum by Geoff Le Pard

‘My bloody mother.’

‘What’s she done now?’

‘She asked me to take her car for a service…’

‘…Okay…’

‘…so I was in a rush to get to the Post Office to pick up her letter, which had her new credit card in it and she had to sign for it…’

‘…which meant you needed the car to take her…’

‘…who’s telling this…?’

‘…but you couldn’t get it without her paying by her new card…’

‘…has she been talking to you?’

‘Only you…’

‘It’s my dear Liza moment…’

‘…I was thinking Catch 22…’

‘… and there lies the difference between us…’

Author’s Note: dear liza moment: see Harry Belafonte’s song there’s a hole in my bucket
Penrose conundrum: a reference to the Penrose steps drawn by MC Escher

🥕🥕🥕

At the Well by Leara Nicole Morris-Clark

I opened my eyes to blinding sun. I pulled the rope, hoping to finish before anyone noticed.

I was startled by a man leaning against the well. Had he been there?

“Let me.” He took my burden before I could respond. He poured the bucket into my pot. The water flowed until it was full.

“How did you…it takes three times for that container.”

I stared at refreshing water inside the vessel. “Have faith. You’ll do great things.”

I looked up. He was gone.

Somehow, I now held the bucket. I opened my eyes. Morning rays infiltrated my room.

🥕🥕🥕

Letting by D. Avery

Robert trotted right past his little brother without seeing him. Before Thomas could follow, his father called for him.

“Yes, Pa?”

“Thomas, I need an extra pair of hands. Bring those buckets there and come around the back of the barn.”

“Yes Pa. Pa? I thought you didn’t want me helpin’ with that chore yet.”

“Looks like I need you now. You know it’s got to be done, right Thomas?”

“ I know. Them pigs was always meant to feed us.”

“That’s right Thomas. And Thomas? I don’t want you pesterin’ Robert no more for stories about the war.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bucket of Water by Macy Brown

Sweat drenched Elsie’s shirt as she lugged the overflowing bucket of water up the steep hill that her cottage sat upon. She was annoyed she had to do this two days in a row since Sasha decided to disappear into town when it was her turn to collect water from the river to take care of their sick father.

“Here Papa, drink up.” she said to him as she walked into their living room where he laid on his make shift bed in front of the fire.

If only they could afford a warmer house, maybe he’d get better.

🥕🥕🥕

Water is Life by SusanSleggs

Ezra sat waiting for his wife to come home from the field hospital. He had fed their children bacon, biscuits slathered with butter and wild berry jam, and fresh cow’s milk for supper. The garden wasn’t yet producing vegetables, but it would in a few weeks. Keeping it weed free was something he could manage even with his wounds. When Louise finally arrived on horseback, he offered her dinner.

“No,” she said. “Just water. Cold, fresh and clear water.”

Their eldest ran to fetch a bucket of water from the stream, careful not to muddy it while doing so.

🥕🥕🥕

Wet Monday by Goldie

In silence. Side by side. Grandma knitting and grandpa reading the paper.

“Papa, how did you meet Nana?”

He turned towards her, but she didn’t even flinch.

He folded the paper in half three times and said:
“If you think your grandmother is beautiful today, imagine her when she was twenty” – he said and looked at her again.

Blush crept onto her cheeks, but she remained unperturbed.

“Monday after Easter, I dumped a bucket of ice-cold water on her while she was still in bed.”

“Stupid old traditions” – she said with a smile and went right back to knitting.

🥕🥕🥕

The Banty and the Bucket by Faith A. Colburn

I was headed to the chicken house with a bucket of water when the banty rooster attacked my bare legs. It wasn’t the first time. I grabbed and caught him. We looked each other in the eye. I ducked his head in the water. We had another staring contest. He didn’t look remorseful. I ducked him again. He still didn’t blink. After the third waterboarding, he fluffed up his feathers and strutted off. I can’t say he stopped spurring—my son his shirt pulled up, changing a tire, my daughter any time she left the house. He avoided me.

🥕🥕🥕

When It Felt Full (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Unable to stop smiling, Danni bought a galvanized steel water bucket. After twelve years of studying, summer digs, teaching undergrads, and crediting her work to advisors, Danni had completed her Ph.D. She promptly married Ike and bought a horse.

“I was thinking we might need a house,” Ike said, staring up at the stars above their sleeping bags.

“We can find a barn by winter.”

“Mrs. Gordon, we need more than a barn.”

Ike’s uncle sold them his small spread when he moved to town. Danni’s bucket of water felt full for ten years. Until Iraq poked a hole.

🥕🥕🥕

Centered by D. Avery

I am the Moon that orbits the Earth
I am the Earth; I am her Oceans that gather Moon’s beams

I am the woman who gathers water
I am the woman whose water breaks

I am the woman who carries water
Who nourishes, who cleanses, who sustains the child

I am the child who swings the bucket in play
Denying gravity with centripetal force

I am the child who gathers gifts from oceans
Who collects moonbeams in the bucket

I am the Child become the Woman who gathers water
Becomes the Oceans becomes the Moon becomes a centered force.

🥕🥕🥕

Tumbling Tale by Kerry E.B. Black

The condensation trickled down the side of the bucket mimicked sweat slicking the sibling’s reddened faces.

The eldest swiped her forehead. “Carry that, J.J.”

He whined, “No way, Jilly-bean! You’re stronger.”

“How do you think I got strong? Chores.”

He pouted.

She shrugged. “You know, Dad’s the kingdom’s giant killer. He doesn’t want a scrawny namesake.”

“Fine.” He groaned and hefted. After a few steps, his feet entangled, and he tumbled down the hill.

She darted to help, slipped on the spilled water, and rolled after.

At the bottom, she consoled, “You know, this’ll make an interesting tale.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bucket of Water by Robbie Cheadle

The four boys emerged from the sandpit looking like sand monsters. Sand matted their fair hair and stuck like a second, gritty skin to their bodies and swimming costumes.

Earlier, the three bigger boys had dragged the hosepipe over to the giant sandpit and run water into holes dug into the sand. They burrowed into the resultant mud like baby hippos.

Mom laughed when she saw them. “It’s time to clean up.”

She reappeared with a bucket filled with soapy water. “Get in, Michael, and rinse that sand off. I’ll squirt the rest of you down with the hosepipe.”

🥕🥕🥕

Three Plastic Buckets by Papershots

They must both work downtown, but downtown is big. So the suburban rail carries them both in, briefcases and all. They must see a bit of the country in between the dark tunnels, which is “quite something” now that the sun rises early. Once off the train at the Northern Junction they go their separate ways. A have-a-good-day kiss never seemed so week-daily real amidst the morning rush, dusty litter swirling in the breeze and the three (red, blue and green) plastic buckets where the dripping water off the humid station walls sets a rhythm nobody pays attention to.

🥕🥕🥕

Waterfall by Sarah Whiley

The staccato rhythm on the roof became a dull roar.

It was really coming down and the children’s focus had wandered from their work to the window.

“It’s just a little rain, we’ve all seen it before,” I redirected, whilst simultaneously reaching for the bucket for the roof’s long-standing leak.

“Honestly”, I thought, “how hard was it for the school to fix this issue?”

I watched with horror and awe, as it soon overflowed and the roof began to bow.

With a crash, the roof caved in and I witnessed my first ever indoor waterfall… right in my classroom!

🥕🥕🥕

A Basket of Water by Sarah Unsicker

At the shallow river, she hoists the worn basket of water onto her head. The basket her mother mended this morning. The basket carries the weight of her worry. The child walking by her feet, his stomach protruding with malnourishment, trembles with exhaustion. Stone soup will not carry him another day.

She stumbles over a tree root. Catches herself and the water that splashes. The child laughs weakly – music she has not heard in days. The splashes reveal an egg, precious protein for the soup. With some leaves and roots, there will be dinner tonight. Tomorrow is another day.

🥕🥕🥕

Lizard Lake (from “Crater Lakes”) by Saifun Hassam

By late spring, the well near Lizard Lake was stone dry. Jagged cracks ran along the edges of the drying muddy lake. Lizards basked on the pebbly shores. The drying marsh was rich in grubs, larvae and buzzing insects, attracting blue jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.

Jeff watched the changing scene from the old log house on the lower ridge. Marta Jensen and her family once lived here. An underground spring still fed a backyard well. In her journals, Marta wrote of the dry seasons when a bucket of water from the wells was a gift to be treasured.

🥕🥕🥕

My Bucket by Anita Dawes

Sacred water, the giver of life
we do everything with it
bathe, clean windows, wash cars
Leave a bowl out for the birds
Christen our new borns
As children, we splash in it
laughing and screaming getting soaking wet
We go boating on a summer afternoon
hand held over the side
Gentle water slipping through our fingers
Hidden trails of water beneath our feet
The Hindu God of Oceans, Varuna
Salty water, secret life below
Water is calm and violent
we cannot do without it
It sustains all life, take time
to bless the magic that falls on us…

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Trip to the Well by H.R.R. Gorman

Sally lugged the bucket of water up from the well.  Her hands stung from the day of labor, but the taskmaster wouldn’t ease up.  She picked up the pail and carried it while the foreman fiddled with his whip.

Struggling to remain standing, Sally tripped and spilled half the water in the bucket.  She chanced a look at the foreman, hoping emptily that the foreman hadn’t noticed.

Scared of the whip, she dumped the bucket and ran towards the foreman.  She placed the empty bucket over his head, punched him in the gut, and took off for the Railroad.

🥕🥕🥕

Ambrosia by Sascha Darlington

Despite Ranger nipping my heels, I followed the butterfly until it fluttered onto something putrid and not for the first time marveled how a beautiful creature feeds upon death.

The net result of my ill-advised venture was that I was lost.

The breeze kicked wood smoke toward me, so I followed a deer trail toward the smoke and an old piecemeal cabin.

A twangy voice asked, “You lost?”

I nodded.

“Road’s that way.”

“Do you have water?”

The gnarled woman pointed toward a well.

I raised the bucket. Nothing I imagined could prepare me for the cold sweet ambrosia.

🥕🥕🥕

Water Rationing by Miriam Hurdle

“This is the third year we suffer from the drought.” The Hubby said.

“The temperature was above 100o Fahrenheit for six weeks, too hot.” The Wife sighed.

“The city announced water rationing, limits watering the lawn to twice a week, no hosing the driveway.”

“How do we wash our cars?”

“Use buckets of water.”

“How do you wash the top of your SUV? The city doesn’t know if you use the water hose.”

“There must be a way of monitoring.”

“Well, I know. You can still use the water hose, just put a bucket of water by the car.”

🥕🥕🥕

Surprise! by Joanne Fisher

“Do you really think a bucket of water is going to harm me?” the vampire asked as they approached me smirking and sizing me up as their next meal.

I smiled and casually emptied the bucket of water all over them. As they slowly began to burn I watched the look of surprise on their face as they realised they had made a major mistake.

“A bucket of water? No. A bucket of holy water on the other hand? Yes!” I replied as they quickly ran away leaving a trail of smoke and ash. They wouldn’t trouble me again.

🥕🥕🥕

Transformation by Coleen Chesebro

I stared into the bucket of water expecting to see my own image stare back at me. Instead, the image of a Rusalka water nymph wavered within the watery depths. Her eyes glinted with green fire and her golden hair drifted around her shoulders.

She slipped from the water and stood before me clothed only in the gray mists that circled the banks of the river.

“Come, friend. I’ll show you the way.”

“The way?”

“You died before your time, and now you’ve transformed into a Rusalka water nymph.”

“I’m dead?”

“Of course. You belong to the river now.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bull’s Eye by Abhijit

“if you want Draupadi’s hand in marriage,” Arjuna was told, “ hit the fish eye, on the other side of circling wheel, all by looking at its reflection in water.”

“do you see wheel, and eye of the fish, mighty Arjuna?”

“Yes master, I do,”

“Pierce the eye, now!”

Of all assembled royalties from all over Aryabarta, Arjuna alone managed the feat and won Draupadi’s hands in marriage.

Another, equally capable man, suta putra Karna, was not allowed to compete for not being born in a royal family.

Who did Draupadi want? Karna or Arjuna? We may never know!

🥕🥕🥕

Speaking To Me by John Rieber

“The Anishinaabekwe agree that Nibi speaks. But they want us to understand that we must first speak to her.”

I had never heard this before. A name for water: “Nibi”. So how do you speak to it? Staring at the ocean, I sensed its power and peacefulness in equal measure. I grabbed a bucket, ran to the edge and filled it full of briny, icy cold water. I dipped my fingers in it, I waited for a sign, but everything was quiet, still. I was disappointed for a moment, then thought that perhaps that was the point after all.

🥕🥕🥕

Following Elephants by Sally Cronin

The young boy raised the heavy tin bucket full of dusty liquid onto the rolled up shirt on his head. Both hands steadied the precious cargo as he watched the herd of elephants moving slowly off into the sunset. He had followed them all day from his village across the parched earth, knowing they were creatures capable of finding the most hidden of watering holes. They had led them to this ancient secret spring; a life-giving find for his village. He turned and retraced his steps homeward, cloaked in the dangerous predator filled dusk. Today his family would drink.

🥕🥕🥕

Buckets by FloridaBorne

His beard reached to his chest, touching a faded flannel shirt. I held tight to my backpack, thankful the truck with my furniture had waited out the hurricane in another state.

“Where ya from, girl,” he asked, rowing along a suburban street.

“Originally, I lived in Arizona. I just returned from two years with the Peace Corps in Mali, where I lived in a hut. The place was so dry I walked three miles each day for a bucket of water. I swore I’d never live in a desert again.”

“Better watch out what you wish for,” he chuckled.

🥕🥕🥕

That Winter by Joanne Fisher

There had been a snow warning so I stocked up on milk and bread. By the time I got home thick clumps of snowflakes were falling. I turned on the heater, made dinner and settled in for a cosy night in my warm living room, but it was not to be. There was a phone call saying the workshop had sprung leaks in the roof and so within a short time I was back at work emptying endless buckets of icy water in an unheated workspace all night. The rest of that winter I was sick with the flu.

🥕🥕🥕

Fetching Water by Michael B. Fishman

At the top of the hill Jack watched Jill bending over to fill the bucket with water. His eyes roamed over the seams of her denim cut-offs. His mind roamed the ample flesh hiding beneath.

Jill straightened. “What’re you looking at?”

“N…nothing.”

“Nothing is right,” she said as she poured the water over Jack’s head. “Now you fill it.”

A dripping Jack filled the bucket, turned, lost his balance and started rolling down the hill.

“Help me!”

Jill, reaching to help, stumbled, lost her own balance and tumbled after Jack. And the rest, my friend, is nursery rhyme history.

🥕🥕🥕

Farmer Henry by Chelsea Owens

Liza’s dad waited ‘nside the barn; toe tappin’, scowl deepenin’. Where was that girl? He’d sent ‘er ten minutes ago ‘n hadn’t seen hide nor hair since.

“Uhmmmooobreuhhh,” lowed Maybelle.

He patted the cow. “I know, girl. I know.”

Right as ‘e settled on fetchin’ ‘is daughter, a glimpse a somethin’ yeller showed in the winder. Shore ‘nough, ’twas Liza. She weren’t movin’ fast, which perplexed the farmer.

“Liza!” he holler’d. “Whatcha dallyin’ fer?”

Sniffin’ and silent, she showed ‘im what she’d bin sent after.

🥕🥕🥕

Ashes of the Truth by TN Kerr

Kenny hitched his trousers up and plopped on the front porch couch. A cloud of red dust rose up; some settled back on his Momma’s old Chesterfield, while the rest got picked up by the breeze and carried away.

He sat for a while watching the clouds roll in. When he was sure it was gonna rain he went and fetched the old galvanized bucket with the broken bail from beneath the sink. He sat the bucket in the bedroom directly below the ceiling stain.

Tonight he would say his prayers and ask for cash to fix the roof.

🥕🥕🥕

Surfs Up by calmkate

Dad was ever the larrikin, always up for a practical joke and his favourite involved a bucket of fresh seawater. After his early morning dip he’d return to camp with his bucket full then select his targets.

My cousins were all older teens and early twenties trying to sleep off their late night capers … no idea what as I was too young.

Then he would whip their bedclothes back and douse them in water calling out “surfs up!” This gave the others a slim warning that he was on his rounds. He had zero tolerance for ‘lazy bones’.

🥕🥕🥕

Yuck by Annette Rochelle Aben

She always hated camping. The bugs, sleeping on the ground and the weird outhouse bathrooms. Yuck! Here at her grandfather’s place just outside of Bouche, Quebec, Canada, they may have been in a cabin, but it was still like camping. Hauling water in a bucket from the lake to wash dishes, to cook with and with wash your hands before meals. Yuck!
And there was that hateful outhouse! Only during the day, of course. At night, there were buckets in each of the two bedrooms. Buckets that had to be washed out the next day before hauling the water.

🥕🥕🥕

Well I Never! by Di @ pensitivity101

We are more into barrels than buckets these days, but before hosepipes and rain catchers, the bucket was a familiar and important part of our camping gear.

We had two, one black and one orange. It was important to remember which colour was for what, and as far as I can remember nobody got it wrong.

It was my job to collect the water in the orange bucket for washing and drinking.

I filled it to the brim and carried it back to the tent, not understanding why it wasn’t very heavy.

I will never live down the song.

🥕🥕🥕

Chester Has a Little Problem by Molly Stevens

“Why is there a bucket of water in the bathroom?” said Ruth.

“There’s a little problem with flushing the toilet,” said Chester.

“Fiddling with the handle is a ‘little’ problem. Not being able to flush without a bucket is a big problem!”

“Relax. I’m plannin’ to fix it as soon as March Madness is over.”

Ruth walked over to the television and unplugged the cable box.

“Woman! What are you doin’? LSU and Maryland are tied, and there’s only two seconds left to play!”

“I believe your ticket to The Big Dance is waiting for you at Home Depot.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Big Leak by Ritu Bhatha;

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Colin lay on the bed, trying his hardest to sleep but the incessant dripping noise was keeping him from his beauty sleep.

He’s already emptied the bucket, just before going to bed, though it sounded like it would be full of more rainwater before long, and he’d have to dispose of it again.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It was typical that a leak had to spring now, during the rainiest of seasons, with a hurricane brewing, when no roofer was willing to risk his life to patch up a few shingles on his roof.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s Nippy in the Florist’s by Anne Goodwin

After an hour, I texted Mum: Can you bring my padded coat?

The fat suit? she texted back. The one you vowed you’d never wear?

She brought it. By lunchtime, I was snug. Loving my Saturday job, even though Marge wouldn’t let me touch the flowers. Except to bung them in buckets of water.

Then Romeo walked in. No time to shed that coat. So what? He wouldn’t notice me in a bikini.

“For your girlfriend?” Marge made him blush as she added a bow to the bouquet.

He paid, turned, passed me the flowers. What? “Happy Valentine’s, Juliet!”

🥕🥕🥕

Panic by Susan Zutautas

Quick, quick, I yelled.

Where’s the bucket? Asked my son

It’s down in the basement by the washing machine.

Please just hurry up!

A candle that I’d left unattended for a few minutes had tipped over on the nightstand in my bedroom and had started a fire while landing on a book. All I could think was I could easily put it out before it spread.

Damn, I should have run and got the bucket of water myself.

Here, mom, I’ll toss the water on the fire for you.

Thank God it worked, just leaving an awful smoky smell.

🥕🥕🥕

PART III (5-minute read)

Bucket Lost by Ann  Edall-Robson

The roar of the spring runoff over still frozen layers of ice was deafening—making the bridge the only safe place to access the water. Tossing the bucket into the creek with a rope tied to its handle was the easy part. Within seconds of resting the filled vessel on a piece of ice before pulling it up, there came a thunderous crack. The bridge shuddered. The taut rope went limp leaving the frayed remnants swinging in an outstretched hand. The bucket? It sloshed its way downstream on the rural iceberg before being tossed unceremoniously into the swirling water.

🥕🥕🥕

Legend Keeper by Jo Hawk

No one remembered the well digging ceremony, the water pump’s installation, or the water bucket’s significance. During the troubles, it was the only county pump to provide clear, pure water.

This was my family’s land. My land and my responsibility. The caretakers ensured we wasted not a drop of precious life-giving fluid. The task grew more difficult with each passing year. Many had forsaken the old ways, and the relic’s existence faded, erased from common memory.

As the keeper, I held the stories, legends, and rituals. With the full moon, the remaining guardians gathered and spoke with the sprites.

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Water Daze by Bill Engleson

I first saw Sharallee in the brilliance of my youth.

I lived in the far valley.

She was of the mountain people.

We were strangers to each other.

Then, one day, our stars aligned.

I was seeking a change.

She was a restless and thirsty beauty.

The Sweetflower River cascaded down from her hills to ensure that our fertile farm land would produce all the food a people could desire.

Me with my bucket of dreams, she with her grandmother’s locket, some said we were ill-prepared for the adventure.

These many years later, I cannot but disagree with them.

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Bucket of Water  by Frank Hubney

Grace fills a small bucket of water from her sink for four plants on her balcony overlooking the bay overlooking her former life far away. She hopes the plants thrive. They may not like it here and they have no way to escape.

With the water delivered she looks down on the tiny neighbors walking the street all accustomed to being here, mentally preoccupied. They look happy, but who knows? Happiness is not what it’s all about. It’s all about – what?

She figures those tiny plants have to trust her, but sometimes water comes from the sky as well.

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The Wait of Water (American Sentence haiku; tanka haibun) by JulesPaige

A human fish; swimming before being bipedal, so I was told.
I am one with natural liquid, especially salted oceans.
Now that I have a home by a creek; all future homes will have flow too.

If I were to have a bucket list in retirement; home on the beach.
I’d be able to take said bucket and fill it to my heart’s content.
To explore everyday all the gifts therein; brought to me by the sea.

born out of water
Into a sign of flowing
to write on beach sands

am I asking for too much
simple serendipity

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When The Well Runs Dry by Nobbinmaug

They sprinted to the well. Liza frantically pulled up the bucket.

“Test it!” Mike just looked down and shook his head. “Damn it!”

Liza vented her frustration on the bucket.

The same scene played out countless times.

Their pouches ran dry before Mike sighed and smiled.

“Finally!”

They greedily drank from the well before filling their pouches and bucket.

“We have to get home and hope we haven’t lost anyone else.”

Two days later, Mike and Liza stumbled into the village.

“We found water.” Liza held up the empty bucket. “What?”

“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza.”

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The Follies of Youth by Anurag Bakhshi

“Where’re you off to?” I called out to him.

He pointed towards the empty bucket in his hand.

“I’ll come along too,” I said.

As we silently trudged up towards the well, I recalled the times when the hills used to echo with our carefree laughter.

But now…

I quietly wiped off a tear.

If only I hadn’t seen him kissing Mary that day.

If only I hadn’t pushed him in anger.

Jack wouldn’t have fallen down and broken his crown, and I wouldn’t have had to go tumbling after him to prove that it was just an accident.

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Watering Whole by D. Avery

“Well, Kid, water ya waitin fer? The prompt has arrived, it’s time ta saddle up. Oh, let me guess, yer gonna turn water inta whine, gonna whine about the prompt. Again.”

“Well…”

“That’s a deep subject, Kid, an’ Shorty’s done subjected us ta deep thinkin’. Thinkin’ that musta been quite a time, bein’ amongst those water walkin’ women. Sounds right powerful.”

“Reckon it was, Pal. Ain’t nuthin’ more powerful ‘an a group a women ‘an water. Makes me smile ta think a Shorty at a tribal gatherin’.”

“Kid, Shorty’s at a tribal gatherin’ ever week. She leads Buckaroo Nation!”

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