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August 22: Story Challenge in 99-words

The weather arrives. And she’s not who she used to be. She reminds me of a place who reminds me of a woman who reminds me of a Dream.

The Dream opens like this: a woman has dyed her hair red and the color has not yet set. She rubs her hair across the floor and leaves wispy streaks of rusty dye. She wakes as if in a stupor, surprised to learn that she left the ruddy trail.

The Dream shifts.

I’m in a truck, driving across a parking lot. It’s snowing lightly and the other vehicles have left tracks ahead of me. The pattern of these tracks mimics that of the wet streaks of colored hair. I wake up, inwardly hearing a Dream title: “Bad Hair Day.”

A Woman presumably having a bad hair day is a dream image I decided to practice with. She discomforted me and when I thought of her I chilled, thinking of creepy-crawly humans-like creatures from scary stories. I wanted to practice with an “intolerable” — a nightmarish image. When I got into an imaginal space, I held the Dream image and then let it live on its own. The woman appeared, her hair still wet.

Other images intruded over the woman like full head-to-toe masks — the moment you learn the John Saul ghost is evil; the creeper from The Ring slithers; the story you overheard one traveler telling another about a slasher movie. Dreamers have a Dream Council, though — protection. And Dreamers cultivate safe space within. Think of it this way — if you can conjure up the scariest character imaginable, you can call forth the Hero. So, instead of seeing snakes grow bigger in your dreams, imagine your pet mongoose feasting on snakes.

Once I caught the vibe of the image and my associations, I ask, “Who are you?”

“The Woman who doesn’t want red hair,” she responds. “It’s dangerous. Dangerous times.”

The Place. Two weeks later, as I’m waking up from a Dream listening to, “Sister Golden Hair” and looking back at a stylized hot pink scene completely unfamiliar yet I know it. I delay waking up to hang with the image. The band, America, continues to sing, “…when a woman sure can be a friend of mine…” Inwardly I feel like I’m squinting and losing the idea of this place. Then it comes to me, Carson Valley. I’m now standing in the vista looking down the valley from the Nevada side toward the towering peaks of the Sierras. Even though the image is like a work of art, I know each peak, slope, and river.

That’s when a big wind blew from the pass to the west. A slow-moving mammoth mass of hot pink air. It gathered forces, rose like a thunderhead, and rotated before punching past me in a blast of wind. The last thing I heard before waking was, “The weather has arrived.”

On August 20, 2023, I wrote in my Dream Journal: “The Woman Who Does Not Want Red Hair is the coming weather.”

Then I wrote:

The Weather
The weather forms terrain.
Geology exposes rock --
            wind & sun
                 water & fire
                     shapes mountains

Water gives life
Carves a cradle for humans fresh from the cave
Slowly, shyly, a world takes shape.
The weather is Sister Golden Hair before she lost her daughter
       known to the gatherers of wheat
             known to the cattle, sheep, and goats
Fire scorched, the weather goes mad when underground technology steals her daughter
      Nabbed in broad daylight
              Taken to restore balance from what the earth has lost in diamonds and die-outs of species

Crazed, she dyes her hair red, scared to be seen 
Changed, she hurdles down corridors
    And it begins
          a geological transformation

Who will pick my fossilized bones 900,000 years from now?

It surprised me to realize the Woman Who Does Not Want Red Hair is the weather. It felt like a weird artistic, poetic, mythic moment when hurricane winds blew across the mountains where I grew up. I wondered how the change in weather patterns was going to impact the shapes and sizes of land features which would change where water flows. I’m not one for watching the weather, but suddenly I became interested in Hurricane Hilary. I realized it was projected to make landfall in California as a tropical storm and sweep across the deserts bringing a year’s worth of rain to those dry regions.

Then I saw the eye of the storm was to head over Nevada. I began watching the areas where Todd and I have family. Last night, I went to bed and instead of dreaming, I woke up. This is rare for me. I usually sleep like an old greywacke. I tried to go back to sleep. Then I sat up and could feel a change in the air. It felt heavy and damp. I got up and looked at my phone to see where the rain was falling. What I saw was a rotating mass that not only stretched across Nevada and Idaho, but it had arced through Montana and Canada and was circling back stateside.

At that moment the remnants of Hurricane Hilary’s front had reached Lady Lake Superior and was engulfing the Keweenaw in mist. The same winds that stoked the deadly fires on Maui like a dragon and spewed rivers over deserts now evaporated over me. The Greatest of the Lakes received the rain clouds and sucked them dry.

The weather has arrived.

August 22, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the arrival of the weather. It can mean any kind of weather event meteorological or mythological. Is the weather personified, random, or calculating? Where does it arrive? Is it typical or epoch-changing? Who is involved? And if the Womam Who Doesn’t Want Red Hair shows up, well, ask her what’s happening. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by August 28, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Roots Like A Mountain Collection

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

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

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

Plain Facts by D. Avery

Stories are rooted in mountains, and mountains are rooted in stories. It is good and important to share your stories with a mountain. Doesn’t everyone know this? Mountains have stories of their own to share of course, stories of time and timelessness. Often they let Wind and Water tell their stories for them. Sometimes ravens barter with mountains, exchanging one of their stories for a pebble. For a mountain, a pebble is a small price to pay. Once there was a mountain who did not hear stories. Finally, one dark night, it slunk away, never to be seen again.


Covered in Mountains by Melissa Lemay

We are covered in mountains that push us down
unknown distances into the earth’s mantle, our resting place; that are eroding over our heads as
we speak to the crust of the earth, as a friend that tells another friend deepest secrets. Underneath the
crumbling, crushing weight, we bide time with great patience. We are the creation of the earth, the
roots. The sun tells us one day even tallest mountains will come crashing down. Faithfully
we wait for ocean torrents to wash away the last. We lie beneath the vastness of the mountains
and we hold them up.


Growing From the Earth, Reaching for the Sky by Sadje

It grew tall and strong from deep within the core of the earth. Its roots lay in the hot molten magma, roiling and boiling in the core of our planet, but its bulk rose high.

With every year, decade, and century layers of rock, stone, water, and dust all added up to make it high, higher, and highest in the land.

It has a desire to be the tallest so it grows, it grows to conquer the wind and the clouds. Its majesty inspires me to try harder to overcome the hurdles in my life, rise above my problems


My Roots by Duane L Herrmann

Any mountains here eroded eons ago. There had been an ocean, the rocks of my grandparents house are studded with tiny sea shells. I knew Granpa had dug them out of his farm. We, and our lives, are part of this land. Granma was born on a farm on one side of mine and my father on the other. I now own a part in the middle. I go there in order to breathe and look at the sky. There, no house crowds me. I can’t live there, to my regret, but I go in order to stay alive.


Missing the Mountains by Dianne Borowski

My dad’s folks had a small farm near Bedford, Virginia where the Piedmont Plateau meets the Blue Ridge Parkway. Every summer we’d drive down from Ohio to the farm to spend a few weeks. I always cried when had to leave. I was just a kid…

I have never found a place quite as beautiful. Those blue mountains reaching toward the sky, the dewy grass that tickled my toes, wading in the creek, skipping stones and the quiet, so very quiet.

Home again, noisy neighbors, crowded streets, sirens screaming. I would bury my head in my pillow, tears streaming.


Finding Grandma by Charli Mills

For years, Little Red Riding Hood’s parents forbade her to visit Grandma. “The mountains are dangerous,” they warned her. Once a year, Grandma visited Red, her arms full of wild-berry jams, eyes sparkling with tales of pegmatites, white waters, and daring ravens who plucked rubies from waterfalls. Red studied at school. She learned hip-hop and violin. She longed to study the minerals Grandma sent her in care packages from the mountains west of Red’s safe monotonous suburbs. When she arrived, Red could see the roots of dangerous mountains in the wolf’s dark maw.

“Hello, Grandma. How wild you are!”


The Path by D. Avery

She appears as a mountain. She knows your unspoken words: I am lost. Her gentle laughter is dappled sunlight.

She twirls a rope braided from your experiences, woven with your stories; a labyrinthian coil, wide as the mountain, wide as the world.

Again, you set upon this long and winding path. Again, the mists descend. Acceptance replaces expectancy.

You come to a tree cloaked mountain, to where a tossed pebble ripples the center of a sun dappled lake.

You know that it is all yours, that it is you, that even the gentle laughter you hear is your own.


A Dark Horse by Norah Colvin

The conversation between aunts and cousins stopped abruptly when an aunt exclaimed, “So, the prodigal son returns.”
Everyone eyed the stranger.

“Who is he?” Josie asked. “He’s hot.”

“The family’s black sheep,” whispered a cousin.

“Stay away from him,” said her aunt. “He has roots like a mountain.”

“What’s that mean?” asked Josie.

“Don’t let that cool exterior fool you,” said another. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,”

“A dark horse then,” thought Josie, her interest rising.

“Still waters run deep – and dangerous,” cautioned her aunt, but Josie didn’t hear.

“Hi, I’m Josie,” she said, extending her hand.


Grounding Roots by Sue Spitulnik

Michael said to Tessa, “When you left college for marriage, did you ever think about moving home one day?”
“No. I thought my marriage would last and couldn’t see that far ahead. I didn’t know about people growing apart.”
Michael replied. “I had no intentions of returning before I lost my legs. A counselor suggested my mother needed me to and then I heard you were getting divorced. That took care of any indecision.”
Tessa’s eyes watered. “I longed for the hills and colorful seasons. But it’s you and the other vets who ground me because of our experiences.”

Author’s Note: Michael and Tessa were high school sweethearts. She married an Army Officer, and he was enlisted Army. He lost his legs above the knee in an IED bomb in Iraq. They both moved back to their hometown and are now married to each other. The series is three years old.


Uprooted by D. Avery

His roots ran deep. He and the mountain bore the same name. Folks joked they were the same age too. Said they were equally tough. Formidable even.

“We been through hell and highwater,” he’d exclaim. Fires had roared over and around the mountain. Flood waters fomented in its streams had cut the mountain deeply. Wind storms sometimes took out swaths of trees from its flank.

“She’ll mend,” he’d say. “Always has, always will.” Then he’d tell about another time, a worse disaster, and people both rolled their eyes and sighed relief.

They watched him now, unnerved by his silence.


You Remind Me by Michael Fishman

He closed the blinds and sat down.

“I used to climb mountains. Did I tell you? I climbed mountains and I fought monsters. I played with fire. My wife, Dolores, was so beautiful…”

He stopped. His eyes glassed over and he was quiet.

Her heart quickened. She saw tears gathering in the corners of his eyes and relaxed.

“You remind me of my daughter.”

She felt her own tears forming and fought them back.

He stood up and walked to the window, opened the blinds and turned back to her.

“I used to climb mountains. Did I tell you?”


Transplanted by JulesPaige

Can there be a mountain in a swamp? Ancient coral beds are the base of much of the Florida southern Keys, my birth state. It feels like hard cement on your feet. Not the crumbled almost fine wave crushed stone from any given mountain that makes up the sand at the shorelines of oceans. How long does it take to establish roots; two, thirty years? Our neighborhood is in a valley surrounded by hills, not mountains…our ‘northern state home’. This is where we have raised our children and plan to stay for as long as we possibly can.


Out with the Old and in with the New by Brenda Fluharty

In the heart of a small village, nestled among ancient roots, stood a gigantic oak tree. It had witnessed generations come and go, offering shade and shelter. Confronted with urban expansion, the oak was to be removed. Yet, as its roots were uprooted, the village paid homage, planting saplings in gratitude. Meanwhile, a group of friends decided to climb the nearby mountains to reach new heights. Scaling their fears and embracing the journey, they discovered breathtaking vistas. As they gazed upon the world below, they realized that sometimes, in losing the old, we gain the opportunity for something greater.


Climb Every Montaigne Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s Philosophy Department liked to challenge itself. It didn’t believe in Kant, seeing itself as a Kan do sort of school. Not for it Hobbesian gloom, though the Nietzsche pizza night wasn’t a success when Neil Ism insisted on rejecting every topping. It took a didactic intervention from school head, Harry Stotle to bring order before unlikely couple, Mack E Velli and Di Odge O’Knees proposed a new line of thought: ‘The Devil’s In The Dog’ that promoted good hair and blondness as steps to Utopia via the central aisle in Lidl, under the banner ‘Rocking those Roots’.


Seeing by D. Avery

Some saw a young girl in a bright green dress, others a woman in brightly colored robes. Still others saw an old woman, sharp-featured, stoic in her thread-bare grays. Most disbelieved and saw nothing at all. Yet stories persisted of a woman-girl born and raised on the mountain. True believers said she was borne of the mountain; said her heart was granite, her eyes sparkling quartz, clear snowmelt streams her veins. True believers just nodded when there was another lumbering accident, when another gold panner was found drowned; nodded, then shuddered in the cold wind gusting off the mountain.


Roots Like a Mountain by Bill Engleson

‘Swing up through the pass,’ she said. ‘There… in that divot of a valley.’

‘It’s a far piece,’ I reply. ‘Not sure I’m in the mood.’

‘If you only pay heed to your moods, you’ll never hear the mountains sing. For sing they do, in harmony with the sky, the earth, the clouds, the thunder, the roots of the primeval forest, all of this majesty before you.’

‘And all I have to do is veer though the pass?’

‘There’s a little more to it. Your heart has to be in it.

‘Well, then, I am a forever lost traveller.’


Putting Down Roots by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Hilda, were you born here?” asked Faeryn.

The day was warm, and Hilda paused to think about her answer. She’d lived on the mountain since she was a child, but she hadn’t been born there. She was a transplant—a star seed. How could she explain this to a human?

Her residency only mattered to the old healers. The other witches were glad she’d stayed and put down roots. Had she put down roots?

“I grew up on the mountain, but came from a distant land,” Hilda answered.

“I thought so.” Faeryn smiled. “Your accent is different than mine.”


Magic of the Ley Line by Sassy

Her voice was raspy as she spoke the words to invoke the powers from the ley lines that ran deep into the roots of the mountain she had asked her cottage to take her to. Baba Yaga had intention in letting her chicken legged cottage walk the ley lines of the countryside before positioning itself at the nexus that ran deep into the heart of the world… Her intention was to bring forth the power of the world into the arrow in her hands in order that it would hit its mark better than cupid ever could hope to.


Deep Resentment by Kerry E.B. Black

“Do you even know what you’re fighting for?” Minnie’s disgusted smirk inched toward self-satisfaction. “I mean, you’re completely entrenched. Why?”

Minnie’s older sister Theresa studied her manicure. The polish could use another coat. “Sometimes a woman’s just gotta make a stand.”

Minnie’s breath hissed like a braking locomotive. “A stand? What? Are you General Custar?” Theresa’s lip twitched upward. “I’m surprised you know who he was.”

Minnie’s nostrils flared. “Now I’m uneducated?”

“Never said that. Just didn’t think you cared about US history.”

“There’s lots you don’t know.”

Theresa leaned back, fingers knitted behind her head. “And I’m entrenched.”


Roots by Reena Saxena

The freedom to walk unshackled is priceless. I walked free before this only when I took baby steps, and stumbled against every piece of furniture in the room.

Somebody, obviously not a well-wisher, placed the burden of tradition on my shoulders. I was the eldest in the family, president of the business club and a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.

How could I afford to falter?

You will not know how it feels to walk with a mountain beneath your feet. The sky is close, but feet too heavy.

Finally, I did it – cut my feet to sprout wings.


Roots Like a Mountain (Part I) by D. Avery

“Hey Kid.”

“Hey Pal. Pal, are you at all concerned bout Shorty?”

“Seems chirpy ‘nough ta me.”

“Zactly! Sure, she managed ta move it ta mountains, but this challenge starts with crowin bout merlins.”


“This followin fledglings.”

“Least she ain’t wingin it, like thet can one.”

“An duckies. Rubber or not, she’s positively bird brained. Wasn’t long afore that an it was feathers. See what I’m sayin?”

“Hmm. Go further back Kid, ta the complaint prompt.”


“Yeah. Leave yer complainin there. Don’t need yer molehill-sized problems takin root aroun here.”

“What’re ya sayin, Pal?”

“Quit yer ravin.”


Roots Like a Mountain (Part II) by D. Avery

“Whut’sa matter now, Kid?”

“Dang Shorty. ‘Roots like a mountain’. Really?”

“Oh, come on, Kid, ya got this. Solution’s write in front a ya.”

“Yer in front a me Pal.”

“Yep. Member how I’m always ‘splainin ta ya thet I’ve jist always been here at the Ranch, since even afore the Ranch?”


“Yep. My history’s been a rocky road.”

“Figger yer older an dirt.”

“Them mountains are. My roots is these mountains thet surroun Carrot Ranch, Kid. I go ta em ta relax and rejuvenate. It’s like goin home.”

“Heavy schist, Pal.”

“Don’t take it fer granite, Kid.”


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

August 15: Story Challenge in 99-words

Flowers and cattle call me to a home where I have never been. I miss the smell of the sea, the slope of steep mountains, the tremors of the earth. I miss how companionable a herd can be. I miss the home where I have never been.

Fial is called the Blue Island of the Azores because my people planted hydrangeas that spread and bloom among the cattle paddocks. My people? Two Fernandes brothers married two Pivia sisters in the 1870s and landed in San Fransico Bay.

Growing up, I embraced my Portuguese heritage — linguica, pinto beans with cumino, sopas, tending cattle, and growing flowers. Old timers who still spoke the language taught me to swear and called me “Portagee Red” because of my auburn hair coloring. The hair, it turns out, was not an anomaly. Years later I’d discover I’m only 4 percent Portuguese by DNA.

Mostly, I’m Scots, Irish, and English with a smattering of Basque, Danish, Portuguese, Norwegian, German, and 1 percent unexplained Russian and 1 percent Balkin. I don’t even know what a Balkin is. Clearly, I’m your typical Heinz 57 mutt of an American. But as a child and teenager, I identified strongly as an Azorean buckaroo. That was my heritage; the Azores my homeland.

And that’s not all. Throughout my life, I’ve known suadade — what Brazilians often refer to as the melancholy of the Portuguese, the wayfarers who often grew homesick and passed down that feeling to descendants. I was taught that suadade was specifically homesickness for the mountains. The Azores are a volcanic archipelago thus the entire nine islands rise as sea mountains. Along with cattle and flowers, it was home.

Where is home? What makes a home? Is it a place or a relationship?

I’ve often encountered this question, having moved 22 times in 35 years of marriage. I’ve been without a home, welcomed into the homes of others, and watched my children create homes in different ways. One lives on a mountainous arctic island (how very cold and Azorean); another farms and tends flowers; another is following a more traditional path making home with a baby on the way. There is no one way to “home.”

Yet, we humans have so much heart and brain-space dedicated to home-space.

My eldest, is going back to the homeland. She’s the first De Abreau to return to the Azores since my mother’s mother’s mother left. No one on my father’s side has returned, either. In a lovely twist of serendipity, a local restaurant is so happy with my daughter’s farm-fresh triple-washed salad and edible flowers for fancy cocktails that she and her husband are invited to spend a foodie week abroad with the owners. It just so happens to be in the Azores. Allison is going home to see where her ancestors once grew flowers.

This week, over at the Dream Tending Institute, Dr. Stephen Aizenstat discussed the collective psyche of home. Home is like a call, a journey. What if what we call the hero’s journey is really a path to find home, or to give us meaning? I think of the Portuguese melancholy, suadade, as a similar call to find home. A call to journey. A call to find something more than past flowers, cattle, and mountains — to find something meaningful about our lives.

You can tend a story the way dreamers tend dreams. Start by making associations. Allow your imagination to create an image of home then allow someone (a character) to step into that place. Ask if you have permission to work with them (yeah, dream tenders ask permission and it seems foreign to us creative writers who apparently kidnap characters who show up to use them in stories). If you want to learn more about dream tending, anyone can join the Tending Tuesdays sessions. Dreams, like stories, appreciate community.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the chickadees. They’ve returned home to Roberts Street.

August 15, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the journey home. Who is going home? Or are they in search of a future home or ancestral roots? Think of home as a life lived — adventures, relationships, accumulations. What makes home worth the journey? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by August 21, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Immature Collection

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

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

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

First Time by Ann Edall-Robson

Mom says this is something I have to do. I don’t see why, she’s doing an awesome job bringing us food while we check out the landscape from our home up here in the tree branches. But, oh no, nothing doing, today’s the day she just screeched from over my head. It’s easy for her, she’s been doing it for years. Of course, my sister did as she was told and is now showing off flapping her wings out there over the valley. I told mom I’d try it for sure tomorrow. She said no way. Well, here goes!


Maturing by Sue Spitulnik

Apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple, plantains, plums, and tomatoes are fruits you can pick while they are immature then leave on the counter to mature.

Immature birds and animals are entertaining to watch and easy to love on sight. Adversely, a mature German Shepherd or Lion can be frightening to meet.

When it comes to an immature person, it takes direction from their elders and peers, intelligence, and life experience before they mature. It’s possible for a human to be mature in some categories and still remain a kid in others. And some never grow up.


Grow Up or Not….. It’s a Choice by Sadje

Diminutive — means that it needs to grow more

It may be taken as immature, incomplete

But some small things are the ideal size, even when tiny

A bonsai for example is the perfect size

A minute tree, complete in every detail

Reared with years of effort, tons of love

Presume- we shouldn’t that all things small

Have to grow bigger to reach their full potential

A few things and people are already complete

Coming as they are in little packages

Wisdom doesn’t need to be encased In large containers to be pertinent

Beauty is equally pleasing in tiniest creations


Immature Autumn by Colleen M. Chesebro

In the pagan calendar, August is the first month of autumn. Immature as the season may be, we celebrate the first Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasadh, or Lammas. This is a time of endings and beginnings, as crops come to fruition and the actual work of the harvest begins.

Ancient Celts made a sacrifice to the god of the grain by cutting the last sheaf of wheat or barley, which represented the god’s life force given back to the earth for the next year’s successful crops.

August’s first full moon—
young ducks learn how to fly
predators mark time


On Becoming by D. Avery

In the comments for this challenge, Charli suggested to Norah that “immaturity is simply a dose of ‘not yet’. I like that. A necessary yet vulnerable stage should not be a derogatory term. Aren’t all stages of life developmental, times of learning and becoming as we grow and mature? Each individual’s milestones and launches come in different ways and times. Each stage and age has “not yets”. Right now, I’m thinking each of us is a nesting doll, our young and old selves all contained, part of our package.

Is the butterfly superior to the caterpillar? Both are fledglings.


Immaturity by Bill Engleson

In the mirror, the one I usually prefer not to gaze into, the one that always seems to see more of everything, things more pronounced, more revealing…of me, the mirror that can’t keep confidences, that wants to expose facets of me that are unsettling.

That’s part of it. I choose the word unsettling because it has a gleam of innocent vacillation. Even as I try to confess occasionally lesser behaviours, I equivocate.

I don’t mind equivocating.

Most times.

We all have secret lives.

Writers especially, I think.

We writers need our immature selves.

Immaturity can be a writing aid.


He’s So Immature by Norah Colvin

How immature is he?

He’s so immature he wears a superman cape whenever we leave the house.

He plays hopscotch on the paving stones and zig-zags between the lunchtime crowd.

He declines the lift then immediately pushes the button and thinks it’s hilarious when the door opens again. No one else is amused.

He rolls lollipops down the aisle and interrupts everyone, saying, ‘Scuse me. Scuse me.’

He explodes packets of crisps during quiet times in the movies.

He farts loudly in public and laughs even louder, uncontrollably. He’s so immature.

That’s for sure. How old is he?



Immature by Sweeter Than Nothing

“Did you see that poster?”

Gerry whispered to his wife with a suppressed giggle.

“Stop embarrassing me, this is serious.”

“I know, I know… But it’s got lady bits on it!”

“We’re in a fertility clinic, what do you expect?”

“That one has a boob on it.”

“It’s about breastfeeding!”

Gerry looked down, trying very hard not to laugh out loud.

“Mrs Cox?” The receptionist called out.

That was the last straw for Gerry, he burst out laughing so hard tears ran down his cheeks.

“I’m so sorry,” his wife mumbled, growing red.

“He’s too immature,” said Mrs Cox.


Trouble by Kerry E.B. Black

Maya’s mother massaged the bridge of her nose, eyes closed, breathing slow and steady. Tears streamed down Maya’s plump cheeks and dripped to her school hoodie. If it were her dad picking her up at the principal’s office instead of her mom, the yelling would have already begun, before the school door closed. Mom, however, kept composure as she escorted her. After she’d buckled up in the car, Maya’s tears turned audible.

She hiccuped, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Her mother pulled Maya into a hug. “Young people make mistakes. That’s how we all learn.”


Too Much Too Young by Anne Goodwin

At four, he could change his sister’s nappies and drag his mother out of bed in time for work. At eight, he’d yet to grasp his ABCs but was an expert reader of his stepfather’s moods. At twelve, in foster care, he fought off his sister’s abuser and went hungry so she could eat. Of course he was branded a liar, a troublemaker, difficult to place. At sixteen, he was a regular in the court room, until the judge decreed enough was enough. She had no choice but to send him to prison. The teenager was selfish, irresponsible, immature.


Flying In the Face of Immaturity by D. Avery

“Aidan! It’s so good to see you again. Your Master’s degree?”

“Yes. I finally settled on sociology. I’ll be working in mental health services.”

“Your parents must be so proud of you.”

“Mrs. K, remember how I used to go on? My plans changing every week?”

“Every day! But I loved it. I always knew you’d end up doing something great.”

“You believed in me. But my parents just rolled their eyes. Told me to grow up, stop dreaming.”

Mrs. K clucked sympathetically at her former student. “Give them time. They’ll learn. You’re a good teacher, Aidan.”

“You too.”


Immature by Reena Saxena

Shark Tank episodes often leave me wondering about the value placed on potential. Well, we can’t always insist on proven track records. Newbies need to be given a chance. But the intent is not always so noble. It’s about taking control at a point, when the other party is raw and open to accepting your ways in pursuit of success. Immature is what can be molded or likely to take a different route. Immature is unpredictable. Immature is flagellated by experience, as the seniors strive to prove their might and right. Immature can change the world, if allowed to.


Ways to Get Divorced by Simon

I despise your existence. (smirks)
That’s harsh Lisa.
Take it or die. I least care.
But mom’s advice will workout, stop being angry on me.
WHAT? Eating a new born umblical cord will help me conceive? Are you insane?
Be mature, we need a baby or society will doubt my masculinity, your fertility.
Cut the crap. Your penis and balls is not enough to prove the society that you are a man? You and your immature thoughts. Grow up and find someone else to prove you are MAN. Now GET OUT!
But Lisa.. (door shuts)
Immature moron… Lisa said.


Timing Matters by Ruchira Khana

“I think we should take the south route,” Aisha stated confidently.

Mala interjected, “But there’s always traffic at this time. Let’s take the inner roads instead; it’ll be faster.”

“I understand, but traffic helps me practice patience.”

“That’s good, but I want to be on time for work. Can you exercise your patience when driving alone?”

“Don’t worry; I’ll ensure we arrive on time.”

Mala scoffed, “How? Does your car have wings?”

Despite Mala’s remark, Aisha was resolute and selected the south route on her GPS.

‘Why did I agree to carpool with such an immature co-worker?’ thought Mala.


Naïve Taker by K.F. Hartless

Lisa wound her hand around Matthew’s throat. His cough was worsening despite the pills and the breathing treatments.

“Try your best to keep breathing,” she said.

“I’ve been doing that all day.” His smile had a bluish tinge.

Lisa tightened her grip. The boy didn’t have much time. After a few seconds, her lungs filled with fluid, and the boy’s ballooned open.

When a cough seized her, she went to the sink to spit out a wobbly yellow phlegm. She was a naïve taker, though. Her powers were immature. She could take the cough, but not the underlying Pertussis.


Is Age Just a Number? by Billie D. Johnston

Rosin, 16, on a Saturday, stepped out the front door on the way to work.

He found a grounded fledgling thinking he had time. He returned it to its nest.

He walked to the library.

He thought, “today, I tell her at lunch.”

They usually ate lunch together.

At work Mary said, “Lunch?”

“Yes,” said Rosin.

At lunch, he said, “Mary. I love you. Date me.”

“I’m flattered,” said Mary. “love you too, but I’m thirty.”

Rosin gasped, “but why not?”

“You’re only a child.”

Rosin jumped saying, “hell no! Lunch is over.”

She held her head and sighed.


Immature by ladyleemanila

so immature, I knew he would be trouble

from the moment we met like a trap

I was out of breath in a light frap

rising and falling in a bubble

nothing left but bricks and rubble

forgetting the promise he made, that chap

so immature, I knew he would be trouble

from the moment we met like a trap

got no choice, he makes me chuckle

he beckons me and I’m there in a snap

with his charming smile and blue cap

we kiss and I feel his little stubble

so immature, I knew he would be trouble


Trying To Join The Grownups by Geoff Le Pard

Mandy Tory determined to win Little Tittweaking’s council elections with a new political party. Joining her were no-nonsense spokesperson, Del Ecate and the French escapologist, Inez Capable whose skills had dug many politicians out of their self-created holes. The nascent party didn’t survive its first meeting. Del refused to vote, asserting he was allergic to ticks; Inez rejected a cross alternate, suggesting alignment with Eton Mess, new owner of Twatting, Little Tittweaking’s social media platform. Mandy, trying to encourage a show of hands, merely triggered a stampede of those who assumed it reflected a collective need for the restrooms.


Still Being Barbie by Dianne Borowski

Dang woman! You are pathetic and too skinny. How’d we ever get a looker like Ginger?

Ginger was born beautiful. She was Ma’s seventh. Six of us was boys. Pa, he was a mean, nasty, well you know what.

Poor Ma.

Everyone loved Ginger. She was an angel. Smart, I mean real smart too. Ma said Ginger could go to college and get some fancy job someday.

Pa, he always treated Ma poorly. Ginger said Ma was stupid for sticking around. Well, Pa ended up in jail. Ginger quit school. She still spends her days playing Barbie. So who’s stupid? Huh?


Eating Lesson by Duane L Herrmann

I looked up from eating and noticed my father’s shirt was clean, no food on his face, nor the table around him. How did he do that? When I ate, it was obvious: all over my face, my clothes, my plate and the table around me. It was difficult to get the spoon into my mouth! I had to use both hands: one for the spoon, upright if possible, the other to aim it, often failing. But, I was hungry, so I persevered. Eventually, I was able to eat and stay as clean as my father – and he died.


“Unfledged” Harry by JulesPaige

Harry watched as the white fence he was painting became sun-kissed by the progressing day. He probably looked pretty silly in a borrowed Hawaiian shirt taking time away from a wise feather pen that provided its own ink, mirrors that projected more than just reflections and some new friends who had a menagerie of animals at their place that was called the Saddle up Saloon. He’d remembered that he had come from some sort of formal dance where he had to wear a tux. But he wanted to escape dancing with the immature debutantes. Would he ever grow up?

The other question Harry also thought of was, would he ever get home. In the Saloon he was writing a story about a Victorian woman in a photo he’d found in a box where the feather Pen had been tape to the back. The thought had briefly occurred to him that maybe he was being written. But that couldn’t be – he was real wasn’t he? Harry carefully set the paintbrush down on the paint can and walked back to the Poetree. He sat on the ground and leaned his back comfortably on the bark. Time for a nap.

The last thing Harry thought of was either immature, cautious or perhaps frightening; If he slept would it be the sleep of Rip Van Winkle? Would twenty minutes end up being twenty years? Would his immature peach fuzz face sprout full fledged whiskers? Would he be more of a man when he woke up? The sun kissed his face through the leaves of the poetry and he could no longer keep his eyes open. He barely remembered that Curly, no longer an immature piglet, snuggled up to him. For some odd reason that connection made him feel comfortably safe.


Party’s Over by D. Avery

“Kid, our writer’s back! Git over ta the Saloon afore she checks on it. There’s been a penguin hangin out there.”


“Thet penguin, name a Hairy, took up with Curly an Curly convinced Hairy ta roll in the mud.”

“So? Curly’s all growed up now, not my responsibility. Anyways, who minds a little mud?”

“Curly got this Hairy fella inta a LOT of mud. Then all them quills thet was around ended up stickin ta him. Looks like a fledgling mudhen. Tellin ya, this won’t fly with our writer.”

“Alright, Pal, I’ll take em both fer a swim.”


Cleanup Time by D. Avery

So Kid went ta the Saddle Up Saloon ta see whut was goin on. Curly an this Hairy penguin (turns out a fella named Harry who had showed up in a tuxedo) were covered in mud, jist wallowin unnerneath the Poet Tree. Kid incouraged em both ta swim in the crick til they come clean.

An Harry did come clean. Admitted he was homesick, despite havin a high time ennertainin folks at the Saddle Up. But how ta git home from here? Them quills is pin feathers, don’t work fer flight. Till Kid changed the i to a e.


Imagin Thet by D. Avery

Pen feathers kin take ya anywhere, anytime. An by now ya know ol Harry kin take off with quill power. Yep, Harry was now ready ta take off. Had arrived in a cummerbund an tails then molted an transformed. Yep, Harry was ready ta fly, was feelin strong an wise after time unner the Poet Tree at the Saddle Up. An mebbe it was all a dream. No matter if it was. But fictional characters matter, Harry reminded us all a the.

So thank ya Harry.

“Pal! A feather!”

“Safe journey, Harry, ta thet magical place ya call home.”


All Write Now by D. Avery

“Well, Kid, we got things all write afore thet writer a ours comes buttin back in. Got the Saddle Up cleaned up, got Harry on his way… yep, nuthin ta see here.”

“Reckon we did prove we write ourselves afterall. I know she gets the byline, but reckon we could be thinkin on the prompt.”

“Thet byline, thet’s jist Shorty throwin her a bone. Let er gnaw on it. So, what’re ya thinkin, Kid?”

“Thinkin them first three is a might sketchy as far as answerin the prompt. You got any ideas bout someone who’s immature, Pal?”

“Hmmf. Mebbe.”


All Write Now An Agin by D. Avery

“Serially, Kid? It’s purty obvious where this prompt could lead.”

“What’re ya sayin, Pal?”

“Write bout yersef, Kid. A greenhorn thet’s always gittin inta awkward situations.”

“I was atchally thinkin it could be bout you.”

“Me? I weren’t never immature. Told ya many times, I jist am, always been here at the Ranch, fully formed.”

“Yeah, but ya sure git yer feathers ruffled some easy. Was hopin mebbe ya might transform, grow inta less of a grump.”



“Was hopin you’d leave the nest.”

“I did Pal, member? Learned the Ranch is home an I’m home ta roost.”


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

August 8: Story Challenge in 99-words

Three crows boss-walk across my neighbor’s yard, their black bodies swaying from side to side like inspectors in charge. I’ve heard them caw-cawing all afternoon, and I’m curious about their return and their scrutiny of the nearby lawn.

Typically, a murder of crows hangs around Roberts Street year-round. I know when fall migration ends because it’s me, the neighbors, some pigeons, chickadees, and crows. The crows act as though they own the ‘hood once the songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl leave for winter grounds in warmer places.

To me, August is early for the crows to be, well, crowing about.

Then I remember the nesting merlins and search for the sounds of their songbird-killing cries. It’s quiet. When did I last hear the merlins or spot them diving from the sky? Last week, I watched an incredible sight where a corvid battled a merlin above the Hancock treeline. I stood at the raspberry patch, eating red fruit like popcorn and watching the big black bird flip on its back to grab at the swooping merlin. The merlin cried its monotone call and the corvid screamed. Was it threatened or the one threatening? Clearly, the corvid’s claws were bigger than the small falcon’s.

Maybe the corvid was a passing raven; maybe a crow daring to come back (merlins often take over established corvid nests). Mostly we all share space when the migrators and tourists arrive, but the experience of summertime population increase can feel like a displacement. It’s harder to get campsites and all the best places to eat require advanced reservations. I can understand how the crows have felt while the merlins ruled the roost on Roberts Street.

And, I think the crows are right — the merlins have moved on.

Roots are a funny thing. The first time I heard my grown daughter answer the question, “Where are you from,” shortly after she and her husband moved to the Keweenaw (and I was visiting, thus before my relocation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula). She said, “It’s complicated.” My daughter was born in the same Nevada hospital as my husband Todd and his father. We soon moved to Montana and when she was eleven we moved to Minnesota. As a family, we all yearned for Montana, felt rooted there. But Montana University grad school cut the roots for my daughter; going back only made her feel like she didn’t belong.

I was surprised to hear her answer. My initial reaction was that I was clearly rooted in the West but my children were less certain. Allison accepts her complicated sense of roots; Brianna identifies as “from Montana” and yet is receiving her Norwegian dual citizenship this year; Kyle has firmly planted Wisconsin roots with a ‘Sconie wife and baby on the way. My grandchild, I suspect, will know where they are from, even if her parents move to Europe or Seattle.

After leaving Idaho, I’ve felt rootless. Not only did Todd and I tumble like the iconic western diaspore — the tumbleweed — we ended up in a hard-to-define place. The U.P. of Michigan is not truly midwestern nor is it eastern. Northern Michigan is below us. Wisconsin makes a good argument for the UP belonging to their state. Some think we can be a Superior state of our own. Tourists think we are Canadian, eh. Maps forget to include the region. Even though I’m surrounded by Yoopers who know their roots, I feel like this is a place where it’s okay for me to have divergent roots.

In fact, living on the Keweenaw has allowed me to feel roots in many places while being present in this one. Does it make me a merlin or a crow?

Actually, I’d like to think I have the roots of mountains.

Born in California’s Gabilans and raised in the Sierras, most of my familial roots took hold there from places like the mountainous islands of the Azores, or the Pyrenees. My ancestors from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England knew good granite if not old mountains. I’ve lived in various ranges of the Rockies and traveled up and down Nevada’s basin and range country. The only ancestors I had “out east” made their homes in Appalachia. My roots are rocks.

Here’s something you might not have known — the Canadian Shield is a vast expanse of ancient mountains and the core that remains today are the roots of those long eroded ranges. Geologic forces pushed those roots to the surface and glaciers sheered them. Lake Superior slowly chews on the bones of these mountains and I walk among them, picking up fragments that came from somewhere else. Like me.

I’m a rock root. Not a tumbleweed but a tumbled stone. I’ll let the crows ponder that while I ponder their feathered takeover of Roberts Street. We are but a blip in the scale of time. But oh, what a beautiful time a blip can be.

August 8, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about roots like a mountain. Feel free to play with both concepts of roots and mountains. How can you create a story from the combination? What character (or traits) come to mind? Where and when does the story take place? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by August 14, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Commitment in a Can Collection

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

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

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

Canned Energy by Norah Colvin

The shelves were bursting with cans of almost everything imaginable: the purest air from southern oceans, sparkling water from ancient underground springs, and even sunshine from Australia. She wasn’t sure what she wanted until she found it. For years she’d joked she’d make a fortune if she could can a toddler’s energy. Now someone had. She loaded her basket and dashed home. If only she’d read the small print. She was soon cartwheeling across the lounge room, star jumping on the bed and preparing to fly like superwoman. If she did, or didn’t, fly, she’d be committed for sure.


The Return of Nanjo Castille by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Step right up, ladies and gents, to the newest wonder of the modern world! Straight from the rainforests of Borneo, where wonders never cease! In my hand, I hold the answer to all your energy needs, your point of concentration, the tiller of your soul!

Careful, ma’am, don’t get too close. This stuff is explosive!

I swear on my mother’s grave, Coca Castille Kola is commitment in a can! Only $29.99 buys you a ticket to the stars in a single gulp! Write that novel, win true love! This product’ll change your life, or my name isn’t Fernando Castille!

Author’s Note: Apologies extended to newer ranchers who hadn’t run across our friend Nanjo before. He popped up at the Ranch under curious circumstances, and is part of the collective unconscious. Just ask Charli!

Editor’s Note: Nanjo returns! He certainly is a living image in our collective unconscious. This real-life character from our Ranch Spam once submitted a 99-word scam. Even the dark side appreciates literary art. Here’s our original collection.


Hand Drawn by Greg Glazebrook

It was hot as Sadie stepped into the barn. Her grass-fed organically raised family, back from a day in the pasture. The herd lowed as she pulled on her boots and gloves. Bessie was waiting as always for Sadie to set the stool at her side. A few fruitless tugs and then relief as milk began to flow from her engorged teats.

There were pumps, feed and other technology designed to increase yield and productivity, but Sadie found something relaxing about the sound of milk ringing against the interior. “Wholesome, sustainable farming, our commitment freshly expressed into every can.”


Fire in the Soul by Margaret G. Hanna

She’s sleeping now.
A fiery one, committed to making the world a better place
     for her community
            her family

Knowing she had our backs
we had confidence to try our wings
            to succeed or fail
and always she was there, rooting for us
            “You can do it!”

Where did that drive come from,
            that fire that burned within her?

We found a Burns lard pail in a dusty corner of the basement
 – “Perfect! She’ll love it!” –
brushed off the cobwebs
washed and polished it.

We put her ashes in the can, snapped on the lid.
“Sleep well, Mom.”


Good Work Doesn’t Go Unnoticed by Frank James

Jack was just released from prison, finding work on a masonry crew. He delivered materials to masons, laying bricks. He hauled large cans of mortar, bricks, or sealant.

One mason noticed, “Good work keeping us supplied.”

“I didn’t turn my life around for nothing,” he said lugging a large can. The team worked so hard that they finished the job in a day. The boss took the crew out for dinner.

A server offered Jack a beer, and he declined. “No, thank you. That’s a commitment in a can which I can’t keep. Iced Tea is fine,” he smiled.


The Commitment by Joanne Fisher

“This is your commitment to beating addiction. It’s commitment in a can.” The doctor said. His success rate was extremely high. I placed the can on a shelf. Later I thought: what harm would another cigarette do? I then smoked most of the pack. I woke up in terror. There were large black spiders crawling all over me. I hated spiders. They were streaming out of the can, so I threw it outside. Next morning the spiders were gone, but the can was back on the shelf. My phone rang. “Next time it will be worse.” The doctor warned.


Helping Isn’t Always Easy by Sue Spitulnik

Michael opened the letter from his former Colonel and read. Tessa watched her husband’s face turn from interest to a frown and ending in tears.

She took his hand. “What is it?”

“My last boss’s son was gravely injured in an IED explosion. He wants me to visit him right away.”

“You visit with the injured all the time.”

“Yeah, but I help get them out of the wheelchair, not the bed. And I know this kid. Very different.”

“Sure is.”

“I always say, each invitation renews my commitment to help. This is gonna bring back tough memories though.”


Commitment in a Can? by Sadje

Lifting the heavy can of water, the boy trudged the distance to his home. It was his job, his commitment to his family to bring them clean drinking water every day since he had become old enough to do it. This was one thing he’d willingly, happily do for his family. Living in a poor country where clean drinking water was not readily available to everyone was his reality. But he planned to change the lives of his people when he grew up. Every home will have access to clean water one day. One day, he’ll do it too!


Fueled ‘Can’? by JulesPaige

Flying in any plane takes skill, and often seems like a big commitment in a ‘can’ that is held together with a few rivets and maybe a competent complement of Captain and crew. This night, like most red eye flights, would be quiet. Passengers tend to try and sleep. Just get to the right altitude with the right attitude and the sky is a deep velvet with stars.

in a can

Commitment to any destination comes after the stars and with the welcome of dawn. The realization liftoff is great, flight is beautiful, landing safely is good.


Can Do Till I Don’t by Bill Engleson

Yes, I will,
Yes, I can
Do the time
follow the plan. Silent ‘til
I touch the land,
life without frills,
just struggle and sand.
I got the sand,
fills my jar,
lifetime of grit
near and afar.
Work my tail
down to the bone-
friends galore
and all alone.
Battles high,
dreams never low.
Soar to the sky
and the sea below. Yes, I will,
yes, I can
stoke the fire
flame the fan. Beat the bush,
raise the child,
won’t be crushed,
always be wild. Yes, I will,
yes, I can,
do the time,
follow the plan.


Can’t Knock a Hag’s Happiness by Charli Mills

It’s not easy being better than everyone else. Especially when others are stupid enough to not recognize their own inferiority. Take the old woman next door. No matter how many times Kendra pushed the hag’s mailbox with the bumper of her Lexus while the neighborhood slept, it’d be upright by the time she prepared her first Keurig. No one complained. No police sniffed around for clues. And that wrinkly bat kept smiling, gardening, and eating beans from a tin. How could Kendra understand a hag’s commitment in a can meant letting go of attachment to things and social expectations?


My Cruise in a Coffee Can by Dianne Borowski

When I was going through cancer treatment in 2008 I decided if the cancer returned I would dye my hair purple when it grew back in. I also decided I would take an old coffee can and throw my extra change in, and if and when I reached a certain age I would take a cruise. I would need a vacation by then.

Well, that certain age has come and gone. My hair is still brown but the money in the coffee can won’t get me anywhere. It really doesn’t matter. I’m just happy to be here.


Canned by D. Avery

He actually put his phone down, then pulled the lever of the recliner, launched himself forward. “What?”

She recognized it as a ‘what’ of disbelief, not of not hearing, for he even repeated what she’d said.

“You’re unhappy? You’re leaving me?”


Again, “What?” Then, “You’d can everything? What about commitment?”

Then he drew a conclusion, came up with a cause to help him understand this incomprehensible situation. “There’s someone else.”

Then she snorted. “You mean someone besides you? Yes. There really is someone on the planet besides you.”

“Who is it?”

“Me,” she said softly. Then louder, “Me.”


The Drive to Write by Ruchira

The emotions stirred by every breath we take in life motivate us to rise each morning, take action, and express gratitude to the Universe for filling us with vigor and affection. 

These same emotions inspire me to write down the diverse stories of individuals, exploring themes that celebrate the beauty of humanity and life. 

I draw inspiration from the issues that trouble our minds and am committed to the craft of writing. Every character I create undergoes a thoughtful journey, making my novels a source of contemplation for readers. 

I’ve penned down a dozen contemporary fiction novels at:


Don’t Judge a Can by its Label by Gloria McBreen

Committed to being an attentive daughter-in-law, Maud always made a Black Forest gateaux when Teresa came to dinner.

‘No gateaux today, Teresa, because Colm ate the cherries—again!’ The two women glared at Colm.  

‘How can I stop him from stealing the cherries, Teresa?’

‘I have a plan,’ Teresa replied.

Next time Teresa was due a visit, thoughts of juicy cherries bursting between his teeth made Colm drool. He caved.

When he lifted the ring of the can and peeled back the lid, the sight and the smell of beef and liver dogfood, put him off cherries for good.


Was It Only A Dream? by Hugh W. Roberts

‘Commitment in a Can’ were the words on the small silver tin with a picture of a doll.

Opening it, I found something much more sinister. A tiny, shrivelled doll holding a piece of paper that said, ‘This is your commitment. You are bound to me.’

That night, I woke up to someone whispering. “You are bound to me by your commitment.”

Screaming, I tried to run, but the doll grabbed my ankle and dragged me out of bed.

It was only a dream, yet I felt it was waiting for me.

‘Commitment in a can.’ It’s a warning.


Bottling The New You by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking prides itself on its innovations. Rather that compete with the huge industries and universities research budgets, it focuses on areas otherwise unexplored. One such is the nascent attitude applications industry being developed by a team of thought leaders under the guidance of Perce Sonnality and Lou Minaries. There were successes: the Eminence Grease skin cream did oil the wheels of commerce and Bigwig hair restorer did, as promised, turn muppets into mullets; failures included the Mighty Psyche brain food which caused constipation and Commitment in a Can which flopped when the innovators refused to guarantee its success.


17 Harry’s New *Canon by JulesPaige

Harry was committed to getting home, even if he wasn’t quite sure where it was. He gently lay Quill down and took a stroll out of the Saloon to rest under the Poetree. There was a little rubber duck that looked like Superman. The black curl on its forehead and the cape, made Harry smile. Near the Poetree was a picket fence with a can of white paint and a brush. Looks like someone had started a job and got called away. Harry thought he’d help, so he picked up the brush (hoping it didn’t talk) and began painting.


Ponderin Preserves

“Dunno bout this commitment in a can prompt, Kid. Doesn’t seem fittin.”

“S’pose. Now, tuna, that belongs in a can.”

“Well, there ain’t nuthin like fresh grilled tuna.”

“How bout corn? Canned corn makes sense.”

“Not if ya kin git fresh corn, grill it in the husk, eat it right off the cob.”

“Canned beans, that’s a staple.”

“Homemade beans is better, mebbe do em up in a dutch oven.”

“I know you use a crockpot, Pal.”

“Hmmf. Jist thinkin mebbe commitment don’t belong in a can neither. Mebbe it needs ta be served fresh.”

“Or least ways reconstituted.”


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

August 1: Story Challenge in 99-words

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, strident calls remind me that it’s the immature season — big ugly birds are fledging. A pair of merlins acquired a corvid nest one house down from mine and they’ve raised a squawky bunch.

Barely a week ago, the youngest merlins left the nest to perch on neighboring rooftops. The din brought me outside to witness falcon surround-sound fledging. Todd joined me, wielding a spotting scope for long-range shooting. I held my binoculars and breath, feeling awed at the moment. It was like watching a baby’s first steps.

Immature merlins have scraggly brown feathers so puffy, they look bigger than their parents. They hunch up, uncertain of their ability to fly. They lift their wings into imitations of caped vampires. And sometimes, they slide off a gable.

By the time the third wave of kin arrived, the merlin family encompassed the entire Roberts Street neighborhood.

The week caught its own moments with immature birds, while out kayaking. First, we encountered a winding slough off the Portage Canal where red-winged blackbirds had just fledged. It was a rare moment to see juveniles and females flying and perching along the wooded edge. Had we kayaked here any other day, we would have missed the fledging.

And at another lake on another day — we rose early, grabbed coffee and breakfast burritos at Krupps, and hit the water at Twin Lakes. By the time we meandered a waterway between Lake Gerald and Lake Roland, a baby eagle took flight, chasing down a parent. We arrived at the precise moment the eagle clumsily flew from one side of the lake to the other.

Yet, there are some juvenile birds I’ve never seen — swallows, road runners, cedar waxwings. We did see adult male cedar waxwings though and they behaved nobly except for when one landed on a branch too thin and he bobbed in a silly way. We saw Anne Goodwin’s kingfisher, but no princes. We saw numerous sandhill cranes, but no teens. One of our best sightings occurred along Misery Creek — the opposite of immature — an old age of a wood turtle.

Wherever you are, take time to notice who takes to the air where you live. Consider how the seasons change the bird-scape. Maybe the immature can teach us writers something about transformation.

Immatures make a lot of noise and fuss. Its an image easily transposed to characters under development. What does it mean to be immature? What do immature people look like, act like, and speak? It can be a character trait that informs or colors a story. Go ahead. Play, and have fun this challenge!

August 1, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something or someone immature. Is it a wine not yet ready to uncork or an adult not ready to adult? You can follow the flight of immature fledglings or come up with something unexpected. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by August 7, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Rubber Duck Collection

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

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

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

Ducky by Dianne Borowski

It was hot that summer. At least that’s what they told me. Nothing but dust, wind and more dust. A truck picked us up, me, Kenny, Kris and Kath. We were hungry and scared, I clutched my bag of belongings. They said I wouldn’t let it go.

Don’t know what ever happened to Ma and Pa? They split us up. Me and Kath went to Mr. and Mrs. Hall.

He was the Preacher. She took my bag to wash my clothes. She handed me Ducky – dirty, yellow Ducky.

I took him down to the pond and threw him in.


Still the One by D. Avery

At the time of the rainstorm, Rubber Ducky had been sitting his nest, though the mallard ducklings had already hatched.
After the storm, Hope rebuilt the little nest and recovered the smooth oval pebble eggs. She searched as much of the beaver pond as she could, but could not locate Rubber Ducky.

But then, a few days later, she spotted him.

“Do you want me to get him for you, Hope?”

They watched as the mallard and her downy brood swam under Rubber Ducky’s watchful gaze.

“No, Mommy. The beavers need him in their dam. I’ll leave him here.”


Muddy Footprints by Norah Colvin

“Aargh! Who just walked all those muddy footprints through the house?” said Farmer Jo.

“Not me!” said the animals in unison, displaying their best innocent faces. “There’s no mud on my feet.” They lifted their feet to show.

“It definitely wasn’t me,” said Rubber Ducky, “for I have no feet. See.”

“Then I suppose it was Mr Invisible. Again,” sighed Farmer Jo.

“It was,” chimed the animals.

Farmer Jo scoffed.

“It was me,” said Mr. Invisible, gradually materialising before their eyes. “Sorry.”

“What?” said Farmer Jo. “So, you do exist. You’re not just in my imagination. That’s a relief.”


Model Behaviour by Kerry E.B. Black

Petunia’s mother applied makeup with graceful flourishes while her daughter watched. The child squeezed her teddy bear. “How long’ll you be gone, Mommy?”

“I’ll be home for dinner.” She kissed the child atop her curly locks. “Just a short modeling gig for the art school.”

“So people’re going to make statues of you.”


“Like the first teddy bear that modeled for Teddy Roosevelt?”

She laughed, revealing pearly teeth. “The baby bear Teddy Roosevelt didn’t kill became the model for all the teddy bears kids love today.”

Petunia snagged a tub toy. “So who modeled for the rubber duck?”


Rubber Ducky by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Waaaaa…” Baby Maya’s loud wails echoed against the walls of the hotel room. “Jim, did you find her pacifier? I can’t get her to sleep without it.” Janelle paced the room, rocking the baby in her arms. Nothing worked. Maya continued to howl. “I looked everywhere in the car. It just wasn’t there. I know how to calm her down.” Jim headed for the bathroom and ran a bath. “This isn’t a good time for a bath.” Janelle shook her head. Jim held up Maya’s rubber ducky. Her tears stopped, and she held out her arms to her daddy.


Take Me Back by Meredith Caine

Take me back Rubber Ducky. To be that age again. To see the world with such curious interested eyes. Take me back Rubber Ducky to a life that was so sweet. You were my best tub time friend. I miss those days, so simple so secure. A world of attraction, let me learn it all. Take me back Rubber Ducky, so tiny so small. I don’t think I like it, this place that I’m at. It’s big and it’s cold, not much like a bath. Life is so different than it was before. Please Rubber Ducky can we go?


Prayers Can Be Answered by Frank James

Trapped in a tree, flood waters raged around Gale and son Jonny. He saw his yellow rubber ducky swirling from his ravaged house, “Mama! It’s George.”

He lunged, but Gale grabbed his britches.

“I have to save George!” He dangled above rapids.

No! The storm will take you.”

Jonny waled, “He’s my only friend.”

Gale pulled him up hugging him, “Prayers can be answered.”

He bowed his head, “Please.”
she gripped tighter. At that moment Fire Fighters rescued them. A burly man pulled both on board.

Jonny sobbed.

“We saved George for you,” He handed him to Jonny.

“Firemen are awesome!” Jonny yelped.


Rubber Chicken by Margaret G. Hanna

Mom was in the hospital. Again. I had to cook dinner for visiting Uncle Mel and Aunt Ruby.

I rummaged through the freezer and found a “stewing chicken,” whatever that meant. I’d roast it, just like Mom.

I boiled potatoes, but not long enough. I boiled broccoli, but too long. I’m 14. What do I know about cooking?

I thought I’d aced the roast chicken till Dad took a bite and spit it out. “I might as well be eating your old rubber ducky!”

Aunt Ruby patted my hand. “It’s okay, dearie. But next time – boil the stewing chicken.”


Sitting Ducks by Dora X. Plora

“Did you ever see that rubber ducky game at the fair?”

“I don’t think so. How do you play?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Is that why you’re asking me?”

“I don’t know. I wonder what the game was about. The duckies were so cute.”

“Why didn’t you play?”

“I didn’t know how.”

“Did your husband know?”

“I don’t think so. I asked him, but he just said it was a dumb game and we kept walking.”

“This was at the fair?”


“Whose idea was it to go to the fair?”


“Why’d he want to go?”

“I don’t know.”


Floating by Melissa Lemay

His demands were few: dinner be ready each night; she take his shoes and socks, placing shoes by the door and socks with laundry; a foot rub; then she’d serve his meal. He’d eat, pounding back beers, then go to “relax” in the tub (snore in drunken stupor).

Many nights she watched over him, hairdryer in hand. Tonight was different. She poured a glass of wine, lit a cigarette, and held their little girl’s rubber ducky. No one would know what he’d done. It was justice, him floating, eyes open wide, but with a hairdryer, not a rubber duck.


Something to Chew by Charli Mills

The laundry ladies of Ethel Street had fun. The five miners’ widows scrubbed clothes rather than remarry or give up their eldest sons to wither in copper mines. They bought their own damned house. C&H investors could go to hell. Minnie organized the ladies, found regular gigs cleaning clothes for single miners, and provided a safe place to live unmarried. No beatings. No rushed meals. No unwanted sex. Not even the long arm of the mining barons could touch them. They even had a dog of their own who chewed a Goodyear rubber duck while they worked and laughed.


Michael’s Secret Collection by Sue Spitulnik

Seeing Michael get a box out of the van when he got home, Tessa opened the door. “What do you have?”
“It’s the best collection ever, that I kept secret while in grade school so I didn’t get teased.” He set the box down and opened it.

Tessa looked inside. “Rubber Ducks?”

“I loved these things. They’re all sizes, colors, and characters, yet still qualify as ducks. Now that we have two grandchildren, I figured it was time to share my passion.”

Tessa grinned. “You might have to convince Jester they aren’t his.”

“Dang. Didn’t think about the dog.”


Adventures of a Rubber Ducky by Sadje

Dukaroo was an adventurous duck, though only made of rubber

He wanted to see the world and go on an extended holiday

Life for a rubber duck is not easy but he was one tough little guy

He packed up his little case and a bottle of bubble bath

And set off on his adventure squeaking his way across the bathroom floor Roofus the dog, his biggest enemy and fan, wouldn’t let him get away

Grabbed him in his strong jaw and slobbered all over him His pitiful squeaks alerted Sonny, who dashed to rescue his precious rubber duck


Love a Duck by Di aka Pensitivity101

Love a Duck had been in the family for a few years and was the only one of the rubber breed to survive the downsizing and house move.

Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he would be such a unique duck, with a pride of place in the best position ever as he sailed the seven seas (well, the local lake) on sunny days.

He had company some days too, but none were in his class, neither did they adorn handmade craft as he did.
From bathroom to helm, he was a star in his own right.


Dr. Duckie, MD PhD by Rose Nord

My rubber duck is a surgeon, he wears scrubs and a mask. A gift from my mother, as a joke, but not really. He sits on my desk, deputized by my proud parents to watch me churn through Anatomy 201.

At the end of each paragraph lays a gummy bear reward. I plow through them as the sun descends outside my window.

“Why did you become a doctor?” I ask the duckie in the darkest hour. He stares at me blankly, as if it should be obvious. I like to pretend it was because he wanted to help people.


Unidentified Flying … Rubber Duck? by Joanne Fisher

“So yeah, I saw a UFO!”

“These days they’re called UAPs.”


“Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.”

“Whatever man, I definitely saw one.”

“What did it look like?”

“It was a giant rubber duck.”

“A rubber duck? A flying rubber duck?”

“It floated to the ground and then these dudes got out.”

“And what did they look like?”

“Like totally trippy man. They were covered in hair and gave me a doobie to smoke.”

“Were you high at the time you saw the, uh, rubber duck?”

“I had eaten a couple of mushrooms, but I wasn’t baked or anything.”

“I see “


The Naming of Luck by Geoff Le Pard

In what passes for Little Tittweaking’s High Society if you’re told to ‘rub her duck’, you are in need of help. The genesis of this expression is often thought to be rhyming slang for ‘have some luck’. In fact, research reveals it emanates from when Mal Arde invented the unsinkable rubber duck. As Mal was working pre-vulcanisation, he used different materials but each collapsed on contact with water. Eventually, Teal foreskin was tried with unexpected success. When the duck eventually began to subside, a quick rub on its shiny surface and up it would pop, bobbing once more.


How A Rubber Duck Saved My Life by Hugh W. Roberts

My new rubber duck sat in the bath with me.

Its eyes were staring while its beak was open in a silent scream.

It looked like it had seen something terrible.

When I reached out to touch it, it vanished.

Frightened, I got out of the bathtub.

I had no idea what had just happened.

It scared me.

When I returned to the bathroom, my duck was still missing.

What had it seen?

Was it something that I should be afraid of if I saw it?

I don’t know, but I’m glad I didn’t see what was behind me.


Coop Killer by Sweeter Than Nothing

“What’s happened?”

“It’s the coop- killer again.”

“Any left alive?”

The young bobby shook his head sadly.

“You better talk to Joe, he’s in bits after losing his girls.”

“Show me the scene first.”

He approached hesitantly, he’d seen so much in his line of work but still, something about this guy’s calling card just got under his skin.

Waving a fly out of his face he knelt on the blood soaked ground and peered inside, his torch finding shiny dead eyes that stared blankly.

Every single chicken had been slaughtered and in their place, blood soaked rubber ducks.


The Writer’s Mindset by Anne Goodwin

Where her heroine saw dragonflies skimming the sun-kissed surface, the writer saw raindrops stretching to saucers of circular waves. Where her character caught a flash of electric blue as a kingfisher dived into the river, the writer saw a custard-yellow duck. Where the protagonist watched a litter of goslings, the writer saw litter polluting the water.

She couldn’t reach that rubber duck but she could take the idea of it back to her desk. She could float it in her character’s bathtub to spark an argument with the Love Interest. Even a children’s toy can launch a spicy romance.


Learning the Ropes by Reena Saxena

“I must have the yellow raincoat”. The voice emanating from the tiny frame is emphatic, like a final ultimatum.

“I’ll try my best. But may I know what makes you so stubborn about yellow? We do have some other bright shades there.”

“It makes a difference to the rubber duckies. They like to see someone dressed like them, and are friendlier.”

It was his turn to be surprised, as there was every other colour in the tub than yellow.

“Mom, I think I’d better learn to quack. We never know what appeals to the other.”

It’s only the beginning.


Duck Game by Angela T.

The dim, strobing atmosphere thumped and teased while
Against his boundary invisible he pressed.

On the outside, big heads bobbed idly by
Some four-eyed! Again, he pressed and pressed.

The Silverhead pressed against glass too thick;
Other spotteds flailed their own way, the sitting ducks

Over and throughout, they all shifted and scrambled
On and on, for days or months

Occasional gazes, in twos or fours, ambled
For this, they all would wait . . .
Today, could be . . . perhaps tomorrow
Big heads bowing, all eyes specky, toing and froing

Shining talons approaching, only to ascend
Grasping: rubber ducky through escarp descends.


Rubber Duckie’s Playing Hide and Seek by JulesPaige

How much fun would it be for a child to find and slumber with one of the rubber ducks I plan to take on my next cruise. I read about distributing duckies with little tags that say; “You Lucky Duck, You found me!! Keep me or hide me.”

I found three ducks (so far) I plan to give away. Two different ‘Disney’ Princesses and one Superman duck from the local discount kiddo store. I’ll have to check back and see if they’ve got some different ones. Quakers! Maybe I’ll find more at the charity shop, or at yard sales.


It’s A Hard Dudk’s Life For Us by Mr. Ohh!

A hush fell over the room. The keynote speaker floated to the podium. The light was bright yellow and pudgy, but this time there was no orange smile.

“Are you tired of taking a bath?” his sound so loud it echoed off the tile. “Our souls are being drained in a whirlpool of despair, leaving only a soapy film of blackness which never washes off. Yet we say nothing. Most don’t even let out a simple squeak unless squeezed and mangled.”

“We could just sit, with our heads wrapped in a towel, or we could bounce back, like rubber!!”


Rubber Ducked and Covered by Bill Engleson

It was ingenious.
And from a soldier.
Five generations of warriors.
No more.
The seed of the idea was planted.
“I read,” the General said one night, shortly after Ukraine was invaded, to his spouse, a woman who listened more intently to his ideas than anyone in his command, “that Putin, when he was a child, had a rubber duck.”
“If true,” she replied, “there may be a bit of the child left in Vlad.”
She often chastised her hubby for referring to people by their last name.
“If true,” the General mused, “perhaps the world can be saved.”


Ducky (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid, ya look like the cat whut swallowed the canary.”

“Canary, Pal? A little yellow bird?”

“Yeah, like thet. What’s with ya?”

“Jist thinkin on how much I’m likin this prompt.”


“It’s a ducky prompt.”

“Donkey? Thet is convenient, whut with yer latest acquisition.”

“Not donkey. More of a quackisition.”

“Not followin ya, Kid.”

“We have ta write bout rubber duckies. An I’m thinkin how our followers (hey Sue) kin fin’ly be told how ornery, grumpy, ol Pal a’tchally has a rubber ducky.”


“Yep, even takes it on backcountry roundups.”

“Shut yer bill, Kid.”

“Quacks me up, Pal!”


Ducky (Part II) by D. Avery


“Whut, Kid? Ya wanna s’clusive with me an my ducky?”

“No. Well, mebbe. But was jist thinkin, after readin Colleen’s comment… are we Ernie an Bert?”

“Them Sesame Street characters?”

“Yep. But, like, Hands at Carrot Ranch.”

“No! Jeez! They ain’t us, an we ain’t them!”

“Yer right, Pal. You’d be Oscar the Grouch.”

“Would not! Anyways, was Ernie thet had the ducky.”

“Ha! So yer admittin that you have a ducky an that yer the more ornery one, ie, yer Bert ta my Ernie.”

“Ain’t nuthin bout this ranch is like Sesame Street.”

“Big Bird, Rubber Ducky…”


Ducky (Part III) by D. Avery

“Okay, Kid. Let’s compare an contrast.”

“Okay. I’m fun, yer not.”

“Not true. Yer bout as fun as a mosquito bite on a saddle sore. An I meant ta compare Sesame Street ta Carrot Ranch.”

“Oh. Well, they’re both great places. Safe. Diverse. Kin learn a lot in both places.”

“Yep. Folks kin be themselves. They’re both virtual places. With fictional characters.”

“An, though Sesame Street’s a urban settin, they also got a ornery ol grouch. An they got a big yeller bird, an we got a little yeller ducky.”

“No we don’t.”

“Empty yer saddle bags, Pal.”



Ducky (Part IV) by D. Avery

“Orn’ry Ernie! What’s up?”

“Ma ears was ringin, Pal. Thought I’d call on ya’ll.”

“Hey Ernie. Was jist gonna use the prompt ta reveal something ‘barassin ta Pal. He’s got a rubber duckie!”

“What’s so ‘barassin bout that? I got a rubber duckie. Ya wanna ‘barass me too, Kid?”

“Gulp. No. But why, Ernie?”

“Why, Rubber Ducky, he’s the one. He makes bath time so much fun.”

“Since when do you have a bath time?”

“Well, if’n I did, it’d be ducky.”

“I’ll say.”

“Hmm. Ever notice our Ernie looks like the other Ernie?”

“Yep. Cept rolled in brillo.”


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

July 25: Story Challenge in 99-words

It’s not every day I meet a strawberry farmer on Roberts Street. I’d seen the man walk past my home dozens of times. When I was outside weeding and trimming my overgrown tarragon forest, he stopped to chat.

He looks like a farmer who tinkers with tractors. His jeans and plaid shirt with snaps were brushed and cleaned but stained. The man’s hands were working mits built over decades or turning tools and coupling plows to tractors. He smelled faintly of industrial grease.

He’s Chuck, the Keweenaw strawberry farmer who taught me about commitment in a can.

Chuck has farmed strawberries on High Point Road for more than 30 years. He thought he might retire, but then he started repairing some of his old tractors. Chuck even went into the bush to retrieve an old bailer that folks from the 1940s left behind. Fixing the tractors made him realize how much he loved growing Copper Country strawberries. Come next spring, he’s going to start with new plants.

Chuck told me he found commitment in a can. He’s reviving his tractors one can of paint at a time. Each new can, he recommits. After he finishes painting one tractor red, he’ll count the cans to measure the work. It made me wonder, where do writers find commitment to their craft?

What’s your “can”?

I think of the can as a container and that connects me to images, which are the containers of dreams and stories.

It’s a quick post this week because rumor has it, Kid and Pal’s creator was seen in the Wisconsin woods. Maybe it was just a Bigfoot sighting, or an optical illusion caused by the Paulding Lights. But I have to go check it out.

July 25, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story based on the phrase “commitment in a can.” What is the commitment and to whom? Describe the can. How does it expand the story? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by July 31, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Parents of Adult Children Collection

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

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

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

Tectonic Shift by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Baba peeked through her shutters, to see Billy’s hind end bouncing its way back to town. That night, sucking on her pipe, she considered the moon overhead. Why did he throw rocks at her cottage? No hello, no jeers, no partner in crime. Was he lonely? Her rocking chair creaked in assent.
She offered cookies, meat pie, even halloos. Never accepted, never answered, so she only nodded when he came, gathering the rocks in a pile that grew with the child.
Until the day she couldn’t get out of bed, and the young man knocked on her door.


Adulting Adult Children by Dora X. Plora

“OMG, they don’t ever really grow up.”
“The opposite. Mine still acts like a two-year old, expecting everything to go his way.”
“At least he’s working.”
“Yeah. I don’t see any of the money, but it does get him out of the house.”
“I’ve thought about asking mine to actually move out of the house. Then he’d have to grow up, do things for himself. But where would he go? I’m not sure he could manage on his own.”
“It’d send a message. Sink or swim.”
“But it’s still hard to let go, despite everything. We’ve been married forever.”


The Teens Mature by Sue Spitulnik

Michael said to Tessa, “Remember Gaylan?”“Of course. Back when, your father explained responsibility and rewards to him, and he became more trustworthy after that. Why?”“He called and wants my input about his career path. I’m not sure how to respond when I still picture a reckless kid.”Tessa chuckled. “It took me a while to look at Lexi as an adult, but when I realized  she was acting and talking like a mother, it was easy to switch to dealing with a peer, not my child.”“So, if I hear maturity, I’ll see maturity?”“I believe so.”


When the Truth Hurts by Dianne Borowski

Cole was my sister’s kid. He didn’t know it. She was high on coke when the baby was delivered. The father disappeared rather than worry about child support, I was single, had a good job and enjoyed life. The hospital called me to take custody of the baby. I did. Sis was Aunt Shelly to Cole. She preferred to let him believe I was his mother. I kept my mouth shut.

Have you ever tried to live a lie? Day after day, year after year I wanted Cole to know the truth. Shelly overdosed. I never did tell him.


Like Mother, Like Son by Anne Goodwin

If she could rewrite history, she’d go back and steer him away from danger. She would pay for the privilege with her life. When he was a boy, she could lick his wounds; now he’s an adult, he won’t even show her the scars. But she sees the consequences in broken relationships and lost jobs. If he could mould the future, he’d banish all her burdens. He’d care for her as she cared for him as a child. But his mother is proud, she drapes her frailty in scarves and jewellery and asks him what he wants for tea.


The Kid by Bill Engleson

I don’t know what love is anymore.
Maybe I knew when I was younger.
But when love walked out the door,
kinda took away the hunger.
Sometimes. Settled into darker days,
getting by, but barely.
Wallowed in my empty ways.
Never faced the world squarely.
Most times. Wondered ‘bout the boy sometimes.
How life was working for him.
Paid support in nickels and dimes-
Life on the margins is slim
Oft times. He sought me out a week ago,
Doing well and looking strong.
We passed the time talking slow.
Forgave me for doing wrong,
all my fathering crimes.


My Daughters by Sadje

I have three brothers and no sister. So when my daughters became adults they became my sisters and friends. We can share anything with each other. Though there are boundaries, (no one wants to know everything) they are here for me when I need someone to talk to and vice versa. When there are secrets to be shared mom is here. When they want to crib about something, mom is here and it’s the same with me. I can trust them implicitly as they can trust me to honor their trust. Friendship with adult children is a wonderful gift.


Coming Out by Hugh W. Roberts

“Gran, I’m gay.”

“I’m so glad you’re here. I was worried something was wrong,” came the reply.

We hugged. We’d been through so much together. “There’s nothing wrong with me being gay, right, Gran?”

She shook her head.

“I love you, Gran.”

“I love you too, Bill.”

We hugged again before I went to my room. I was finally ready to start living my life openly and honestly.

And I knew I had my Grandmother’s love and support to help me along the way.

Although I was tired, I was also happy. I knew that I was finally home.


Homecoming by Rose Nord

“Little brother!” She stood on her toes on the train platform to throw her arms around his neck. He smiled a goofy smile, teeth bleached, barely filling out his suit.

Her window wipers bravely battled the downpour, headlights carving through the night.

“How’s mom?”

“Oh, you know.”

The brother looked sunken, the sister frowned. Was it mom he’d come to visit?

Arriving at the slumbering house, his bedroom awaited him, untouched and cautiously optimistic, even though he drifted further from his hometown every year.

“Don’t forget to brush your teeth,” she told him, as she had many times before.


Lingering Laments? by JulesPaige

flip the switch
up is down; reverse
hourglass drains

egg in pot boils; soft then hard
Möbius strip continues on

flipping loop
is an endless dream
timeless path?

Memories like unclear images of a life that could have been. If the grandparents could have been the mentors. If the parents had moved to that house in Florida right on the water.

One can only move forward. Grains of sand flow down. Gravity allows us to fall. Not every fall is a failure. Those once doting grands, they will have their own speed of growing up. As elders slow down.


Passage of Time by Ruchira Khanna

“It’s getting late, sonny boy! The school bus will be here anytime. Let me help you with the socks while you finish your breakfast.” I said as I glanced at the clock.

“Mom, we are running late for the convocation ceremony. Allow me to help you so we can be on the roads soon.” said the same boy, 21 years later, as he helped me with the socks due to my arthritic hips. 

Embracing the inevitability of time is crucial in navigating the waters of life. We must keep rowing our boat to make a difference in this lifetime. 


Mother and Daughter by Norah Colvin

You are my everything, my world, my universe.
I only want to be with you. No one else will ever do.
You’re the best in the whole world.
You’re mean. Everyone else can.
I hate you.
I’m an adult. You can’t tell me what to do.
It’s my life. I’ll do what I want.
How can I get Bubs to stop crying?
Will you babysit?
Can you help with sport?
Please talk to her. She won’t listen to me.
I wasn’t this bad, was I?
Sorry, Mum.


Churning by D. Avery

“A grown man churning butter!”
Robert looked up at his mother, damp mary-golds clenched in her hands.
“Thomas traded chores with me today.”
“I was so angry when you joined.”
“You wouldn’t know it to see him now, but Thomas was a sickly baby. After I’d already lost so many children.” She stood, watching Robert at his methodical work. “I was afraid I’d lose my eldest too.”
“I’m sorry to have worried you so.”
“Well, you’re back. And a fine man you are, Robert. But you’ll always be my child.”
“I know, Ma. That’s why I came back.”


Nursery Lessons by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking has successfully eradicated childhood, the residents appearing as fully-formed if untutored adults. The lack of role models has been filled by a Dad Library (Pa Rentals) of for-hire patriarchs. It is attached to an adult nursery school, teaching these exemplars their life skills: how to sponge off your children; appearing hopeless in the face of new technology; games of how to play the guilt card and ‘mop my drool’. A similar school for matriarchs (If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother) flopped when its members spent too much time listening to what their charges really wanted.


Lasting Friendship by Eliza Mimski

She’s known him since he was a kid, coming home from school by himself, waiting for his parents to return from work. She invited him into her home, made him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and poured him glasses of milk, helped him with his math and quizzed him on his spelling words.
Years have past. He’s grown now. She’s eighty and often sick. His parents moved away, and he lives with roommates. He looks after her, calls to check on her and visits her on Sundays. He weeds her yard, taking out her garbage and recycling every week.


Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

It was becoming a golden hour at the Saddle-Up Saloon. Windows filtered the light flowing through crystals that bounced rainbows off mirrors, that danced wherever they landed. One rainbow landed on Harry’s hand that held the unique quill. The quill had become a salwart muse kicking Harry’s imagination into a higher imaginative gear. “Cue” the Quill, hummed with endless ink as Harry slowly poured out a simple story about the Victorian Era Lady in the photograph that had the pen taped to its back. Mystery, and romance… that brought back only partial memories of where Harry had come from.


Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

Harry had set up several pages for the quill named “Cue” to communicate – so as not to be intermixed with the story he was penning. Occasionally Quill would gently steer Harry’s hand to the ‘conversation’ page. Attempting to be a mentor. “Take another look at the photo,” Quill suggested. Harry gently put the quill down, and picked up the photo. There were some familiar features in that small happy face. Harry set the photo down and picked up “Cue”… “You might be related,” the quill softly sighed as a rainbow brushed the woman’s face, where her eyes twinkled delightfully.


Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

Kid and Pal weren’t quite sure where their mentor, creator, writer had drifted off too. But they were content to be the caretakers and support all those who showed up at the Carrot Ranch Saddle Up Saloon. It was a good environment. When their writer got back they’d have to have a heart-to-heart. Just so they knew that they’d never be completely abandoned. The saloon had some new mysteries. Mirrors were spouting poems and advice. Another writer who popped in, outta nowhere and a ‘talking’ quill. Harry had arrived in a tux, and was now comfortable without his cumberbund.


Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors by JulesPaige

Carrot Ranch was a magical space. Everyone who entered was either mentoring or bein’ a mentor. What started out as a small seed of an idea helped to develop new fictional lives that matter. Some writer’s adopted other characters, but only briefly. ‘Cas the creator who wrote ’em first, never really abandon those ideals that help keep them sane in the real world. When Harry met Kid and Pal is a good example of that. As long as talking quills exist, imaginations will flourish. And eventually, at some point in time visiting characters will get to git home again…


Raised Write (Part I)

“Here ya are Kid.”
“Come Hell or highwater.”
“Reckon we’re settin this one out.”
“ ’Parently, Pal. Less ya got kids?”
“One Kid too many. Hey, lookit Curly.”
“Yep, she’s heppin the donkey git adjusted, kinda bein its service hog.”
“Curly ain’t a hoglet anymore, is she? She growed up ta be a fine hog, Kid.”
“If she’s growed up, does that mean we’re gittin older too?”
“Naw, we git ta stay the same age as we started. Benefit a bein a fictional character.”
“Feels like we’ve growed over time.”
“Benefit a bein a fictional character.”
“With good prompts.”
“ ’Parently.”


Raised Write (Part I)

“So, Kid, how’d ya do it?”
“Do what?”
“Raise sech a fine hog? An not in the goin ta market sense. Curly’s a responsible, reliable hog who steps up aroun the ranch. An the two a ya still git along an injoy each other’s company.”
“Don’t feel like I never did nuthin. Jist did ma best by her, specially when she was little. Then I jist trusted her, let her be who she was, let her try things out fer hersef.”
“Reckon that’s why she’s so confident.”
“Wish I had some a her hutzpa.”
“Kin learn from Curly.”
“ ’Parently.”


Raised Write (Part I)

“Hey Pal.”
“Hey there Shorty.”
“Where’s Kid?”
“Kid an Curly went a-campin, jist the two of em. Thinkin yer prompt inspired it.”
“I’m glad Kid saw a way ta make it work. Curly definitely counts. What about you, Pal? Got any kinda grown kids?”
“Hmmf. Nope. No way. Never. Member, I always jist been, ya know, fully formed.”
“Formed from what?”
“The ranch itsef I reckon. I’m the growed child a the ranch; all its landscapes an critters; all its maginations an dreamins.”
“You were raised write!”
“Reckon I was. But it takes a village a worldwide ranch hands.”


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