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May 4: Flash Fiction Challenge

Someone has propped a frail and wrinkled woman on a metal folding chair by the entrance to Earl’s diner. The folds in her face are deep, like an dried apple doll I once saw in a folk museum. Her white hair is piled on her head in Navajo style, and she seems shrunken with thin arms drawn up. Her dress is traditional Navajo and I approach her with the respect due an elder. She’s selling beaded medicine bags and has a few dollars and quarters on her display tray.

“Ya’at’eeh.” I cringe at how poorly I form the greeting in my mouth, hoping she doesn’t take offense.

Softly, I hear her words, clicks and sounds I don’t understand. I kneel beside her and she touches her hand with bent fingers to each bag. I hear clearly, “$45.” More clicks, more explanation in Navajo, her hand on the next bag. “$45.”

I shake my head. I don’t have the money and won’t dishonor her by offering her $10, the only bill I have.

She moves on to each bag, “$45.”

“They’re beautiful. Thank you for letting me look.”

Then her hand with the bent fingers taps the change on her tray. With the saddest eyes she looks right at me and says, “All I have.” If it weren’t illegal to nab a woman from the streets, I’d have picked her right up and given her room in my RV, adopting a forever Grandmother. How could I leave her there? We gaze into each other’s eyes. Wiley old woman. Her black eyes twinkle. She knows she has me.

A younger woman, as in 70 not 240, steps up and begins to talk in Navajo and I’m let off the hook. As I walk away I hear another woman click in the Navajo way, but say in English, “I’d have offered you $35.” I smile. Humor in this culture is subtle, polite and true. Inside Earl’s I catch up with the Hub and we take a table in the full restaurant. Earl’s is the heart of Gallup. No matter which reservation or pueblo you come from, this is where you go. I’m aware that we are the only Anglo faces. Bilagaanas.

What is it to be a minority? Is it about culture, skin tone, position of power? I don’t feel like a minority in Gallup, the Indian Capital of the World. It’s not so much a reflection of my own sense of being, but that I feel welcome although a stranger to these parts. No one stares, or glares. I don’t hear snide comments or feel dehumanization of the other. Those are disconnecting experiences for any marginalized group. Toas musician, Robert Mirabal, sings a sad song about the disconnection that leads to the high rate of suicide among Native youth:

“Can you take it away,

can you kiss it away,

can you take it away,

can you kiss it away…

I’m the mirror that reflects all…”

I’m the mirror that reflects the forgotten and disenfranchised in America. I know what it is to feel alone and broken. I can recognize the brokenness around me in a place called Earl’s. And what I mirror is not disconnectedness, but acceptance, beauty and strength. There’s no pretense here. No one is on a diet, recovering from plastic surgery or driving the latest luxury car advertised for discerning tastes. I don’t know the stories seated around me, but I know they are rich with love and loss, pain and beauty. Beauty, not suffering. Recently a veteran therapist said to me and the Hub, “Pain in life is inevitable; suffering optional.” To me beauty is taking that pain and working it into something meaningful and connected.

Not everyone understands.

Since becoming stranded in Gallup, we’ve come to know that this is a busy RV park for travelers going elsewhere. This is not the destination. We’re the odd ducks who stay longer than a recovery day or two from driving what was once Route 66, America’s Main Street. Gallup emerged as an overnight hub for travelers going to LA from Chicago. Old motels with peeling paint and faded signs line the old Route 66 strip. Trading posts that once attracted tourists on the road now sell Chinese-made knock-offs online. Others sell plastic beads to local artists. A recent RV neighbor told us she went downtown and there was “nothing.” Gallup has nothing is a common phrase we hear from travelers.

Gallup has warrior-artists, people who battle the pain of displacement, irrelevance and poverty to produce visual treasures. I’m razzle-dazzled like the ghosts Mirabal sings of, “The dawn has come…” At Earl’s I anticipate the dawn, the parade of “sellers” as they are called, walking through the diner with their trays full of their art. Different genders, different generations, different clans or tribes. Each artist expresses their own designs, stamps artist initials to distinguish authenticity and politely shows what they have for sale. I’ve become curious to know about their designs, meanings and stories. I’m the literary artist seeking shades of words to tell the tale.

“It’s the sunset,” he leans in to tell me as if disclosing a secret. I’m chatting over a full cup of coffee with the Hopi man who makes pottery in traditional colors (black and white or red and black with white accents). Yet he has a few pieces with non-traditional hues. The one that catches my curiosity is a red clay pot with a band the color of butter circling its middle. Above lavender darkens to purple. Below is a band of dark green like mesquite. When he says it’s the sunset, I see it. I’ve seen it out my RV door. I can’t buy the pot but neither can I un-see the gift of its beauty, the sharing of its intent.

“Hey!” At the loud and friendly voice I turn to see my favorite silversmith. She’s the artist who walks to town on her Goodyear tires, in joking reference to her tennis shoes. KJ was the first artist we met and today she makes us feel like family. “You still here?”

“Still no transmission,” I say and she commiserates with us a moment then shows me her near empty tray.

“Sold ’em all. Ha! I better go make more!”

I’m happy for her. It’s like running into an author with a near-empty box of novels at a book fair. She tells us her son, one of three children serving in the military, has shipped out to Korea. Suddenly, politics have become real. How many patriots has this community lost? I’ve seen the profusion of American flags snapping in the wind at every cemetery we’ve passed on the reservations. Gallup is also known as the Most Patriotic Town in America. Home of Code-Talkers, medal recipients, those who gave their lives in service. It’s not a populist patriotism. It’s dedicated, honorable and non-partisan.

We don’t eat out often and usually we make it our one meal of the day, snacking on cheese and crackers or PBJs later. We don’t come for the food but for the community, the connection. I’ve ordered meatloaf, comfort food. The menu describes it as Spanish, which means it will have a red or green chili sauce. It wasn’t specified. In New Mexico chilis come green or red. You have to be careful. Red is actually mild. Green can blow your head off, especially if it has chunks of bright green chilis. Christmas is not just a holiday in New Mexico; it’s a combination or red and green chilis.

“Excuse me, I overheard you are having transmission troubles,” says the man at the next table, who had been quietly chatting with two women in Navajo. Turns out he’s a diesel mechanic. He and the Hub discuss the transmission and how to solve our problem. I listen, interject and continue to watch the walking art show.

Then my salad arrives and I’m transported to my roots. I’d ordered Thousand Island, a dressing not often on menus. Now I’m tasting the Thousand Island dressing of cowboys, a Depression-era recipe of ketchup thinned with mayo. It then occurs to me that meatloaf is also a Depression-era recipe, extending ground beef with saltine crackers. I once thought I grew up with traditional recipes, but now I’m facing the truth of that tradition — it’s poor food. I don’t mean the food is poor, I mean the people consuming it know poverty. The farmers, the fruit pickers, the Oakies, the Mexicans, the ranch hands, the transient. And I know why I’m struggling with the pain of my situation. It’s the shame of my impoverished roots.

I’m the mirror that reflects all. I realize my comfort in what should be a strange culture. We find comfort in poor food. We’ve gathered in a restaurant to pay money to eat poor food! The foodie in me wants to gasp and run away. Certainly for the same amount of money I can go buy some gourmet ingredients at the Gallup Safeway and whip up something tastier, fancier, richer. Instead, I own it. With absolute relish I eat my runny dressing, dig into my meatloaf with red chili sauce next to mashed potatoes with brown gravy and relish my plain pinto beans.

The beans I savor. Bare naked dried pintos hard boiled at least a day. This was the staple of my childhood kitchen. When you bite a boiled pinto, the fiber releases a distinct bean flavor. My grandmother grew these beans, dried them and boiled them with cloves of garlic. Even better, is to fry these beans in lard, mashing them as they fry. Refried beans. Mana of every westerner. Edward Abbey writes about refried beans and every initiate to the West eats them as the “Edward Abbey diet.” It’s my go-to. I always have a can of refried beans and a packet of corn masa tortillas. A little jack cheese and I’m transported to my comfort zone.

To realize this connection between my childhood and the those around me, I feel like I belong. Earl’s would not be the kind of restaurant I would have written about in my food column years ago, but it has given me a valuable insight. I’m no longer ashamed of my poor food roots. In fact, I didn’t realize I was and I’m pleased to have extracted that awareness. It brings me back to Mirabal when he sings about the burn of conflict we all feel because no one escapes walking in two worlds.

There’s the world represented by the ancient Navajo woman outside, the medicine world. Call it your spirituality, your Christianity, your Muslim or Hindi faith, your atheism. It’s your inner beliefs, your culture, your desire to know who you are and why you are. Mirabal says it has a dance, a language, the music and the arts. It’s all the beautiful things. The other world is that of confusion and computers, of cars and telephones. It’s chaos and yet we need it. He shouts, “Do you feel that burn of conflict? DO YOU FEEL THAT BURN OF CONFLICT? Yeah, I thought you did…” But then he prays for the next generation that their paths and transitions will be smoother, easier and that their fires will burn with hope, desire and love. “Do you feel that love? DO YOU FEEL THAT LOVE…”

Like the Taos People we live with our angels and demons. This is the dance between pain and beauty. Push into the fire, extract your art.

One concern I have as a writer it is that of right. What do I have the right to write? I’m all about diversity in books and making the literary arts available to all cultures. But do I have the right to write about other cultures? This was a topic at BinderCon LA in 2014. The grievous act is that of perpetuating stereotypes in fiction. In memoir, the concern is where does our story end and invade the privacy of another? I’m not sure I have the answer, but I’ll do my best to kneel in respect and try to understand. I’ll look for connections and common ground. I’ll share handshakes, art and laughter. I’ll be me and recognize you.

Writing Ike’s best friend, Michael Robineaux, as Native American initially felt uncomfortable to me. It wasn’t gratuitous. It was to honor a teenage sweetheart whose uncles had all been Marines. We worked together at a state park and he drove me crazy with all his boyish teasing. I didn’t know until later that he had wanted to ask me to be his girlfriend. I would have liked that, but I think we were both shy in that regard. I knew even as a teen that Natives were proud to serve in the military and I wanted to find a way to recognize that, thus my character’s creation.

What helps with developing any character is to think of him or her outside the frame of the story. What was childhood like? Did he move around or never leave until military service? What’s his favorite book, or does he like to fish after work? Is he neat or untidy? Who is his sister? What’s their relationship like? Does he hate a certain band? Why? And what food did he grow up with? What brings him comfort, or feels familiar?

May 4, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about comfort food. How can this familiarity influence a story or character? Is it something unusual, like Twinkies from the 1970s? Or is it something from home, from another place or time? Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by May 9, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published May 10). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Normal Tastes (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Tobasco Sauce?” Danni sat down with Michael and sprinkled her eggs liberally.

“I tasted it once on raw oysters, and it was not pleasant. Might have been the oysters, though.”

“I love fried oysters. If we ever ate out as a kid, we’d go to the Red Lion in Elko. I’d have liver and onions or fried oysters.”

“No hamburger and fries like a normal kid?”

“Nope, but if I’m to eat slimy things I like them peppered, breaded and fried.”

“Hmm.” Michael sprinkled two dots of sauce on his eggs. “Not sure I like food that bites back.”

###

Food for Fiction

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionWhether it’s an idea to chew on or a recipe for a story, this week writers have used food to explore writing flash fiction. Food is nourishment, refreshment, problematic and inescapable. You need it on the frontier, in outer-space or the deepest jungles. It gets in our teeth, our bellies, our thoughts and our way.

Step up to the table and dine on this feast of flash fiction. Based on the September 3, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include food in your story.

When Chow Becomes a Debris! by Ruchira Khanna

Leila rushed into the patio with a rolling pin in her hand; her mouth was giving away a foul language in a high pitch as she was moving the pin in an agitated way to drive that thing away, and never to return.

After a few minutes she was at peace with the situation.

Walked in to see the mess.

Nodded her head in dismay, as she pulled her hair back and took a mop and started cleaning up the goo caused by the spill of the red sauce from the pasta and the custard that had splattered everywhere.

###

Food Flash by Anne Goodwin

Kay clocked the cut-price stickers in her workmate’s trolley. “Bill’s roasting a salmon on Sunday. Why not join us? Bring the kids.”

Sharon demurred. “They eat like gannets.”

“Bill cooks for an army.”

Cooking to Impress on the marble counter, Bill plated the food. Three helpings later, Gareth asked for more. With a rictus smile, Kay popped a frozen lasagna in the microwave. Gareth wolfed it down in seconds.

“You can’t still be hungry,” hissed his mother.

“No problem,” said Bill. “I’ll cook whatever you fancy.”

“Scrambled eggs,” said Gareth. “Like Mum makes.”

“Shit! We’re clean out of eggs.”

###

Mr. Cool by Pete

Courage, they must have put in the soup today. Because when I saw Jill Cawthorne just after lunch, I didn’t duck away or hide. Instead, I slid one hand into my pocket, ignored the storm of nerves in my chest and strode right up to her locker. And I was on. She ate it up, her eyes like two ponds of shimmering fluorescence. I joked, she laughed, then the bell rang.

“Dude, were you just talking to Jill?” Jake asked in Chemistry. I felt my lips part.

“Yep.”

“Because you have like a branch of broccoli in you teeth.”

###

Food for Thought by Larry LaForge

“You can’t be serious,” said chief academic officer Jeremy Roggins.

“Times are changing,” development officer Roger Caperly responded. “We have to roll with the times.”

“But we’re a university, not a vacation resort.”

Caperly shot back. “We have to be whatever our students want us to be. Otherwise, they’ll go somewhere else.”

President Wilson Cumbert reluctantly agreed with his development chief. With enrollment falling and costs rising, he plans to transfer significant funds from academics to student amenities.

The Board approved and President Cumbert announced their new strategic initiative to grow enrollment:

Gourmet food in all campus dining halls!

********
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.

###

Space Station Surprise by Sarah Unsicker

Mary maneuvered to the computer. She wondered what was wrong.

“Shouldn’t you be in school?” she scolded. Was he growing, or was it an illusion from Skype? She wouldn’t know until she returned in six months.

“Mom, it’s Saturday!” her son yelled. “And do you know what else?”

Her husband appeared with a beautifully decorated cake.

Her colleague brought out a cake with forty-one LED candles on top. Mary’s family and co-workers started singing together.

Mary’s eyes filled with tears. She had been so busy working in this foreign world, she had forgotten it was her birthday.

###

Losing Caleb by Sarah Brentyn

I lost him on a Monday. Caleb and I were digging for pretty rocks near Copper Brook. Mama packed us a thermos of sweet tea, plastic forks, and cheese sandwiches with mustard. I don’t know what the plastic forks were for but Mama always put them in our brown bag when we went out for the day. She knew where we were going. She gave us our lunch. But then she blamed me for going. For losing Caleb. Everyone blamed me. I was the older sister, supposed to be looking out for a toddler. But I didn’t blame me.

###

The Enchanted Tea Room by Tally Pendragon

“So, you will go then? You’ve decided?”

“All but, yes.” She grinned. It made her realise how much she was looking forward to a new adventure. With a man. With Brian.

Their lunch arrived. Salmon sandwiches, with the crusts cut off, cut into fours and placed on … a doily? Who used doilies these days? She noticed that the china was just that, china. Lifting the lid of the teapot she noticed that it was full of real tea leaves, and realised that the tea must have been poured through that strainer in its silver holder on the maid’s counter.

###

Again by Charli Mills

After the gym, the trio met up at Frutta. Meg babbled about “Baby Einstein” and Jade mistook it for the unborn baby’s name.

“Silly, it’s a learning program. Jacob Marcus Green III will have every educational advantage.”

Bre was browsing her Kindle Fire, slurping a cranberry wheatgrass smoothie. She mumbled, “…black youth killed…riots in the streets…militia called in…thousands homeless…”

“What’s that about?” Meg sipped her carrot juice sweetened with organic pressed apples.

“Sounds like Ferguson.”

“Huh?” Bre looked up to wide blue eyes set in canned-tan faces. “Don’t worry. Just reading one of those 100 Years Ago Today articles.

###

To Die For by Sherri Matthews

“Mmmm…so good…” groaned Adam as he shoved most of his double-double cheeseburger into his mouth.

Reaching across the table he grabbed a fistful of Janine’s fries mumbling, “Mind if I have some?” without waiting for her reply.

Mayonnaise dripped down Adam’s chin to Janine’s disgust.

“Want some?” he offered later on at the movie theatre as he plonked the super-size popcorn container on her lap.

“No….thanks….”

Adam clutched his chest in agony just as the movie started.

In the restroom, Janine called her best friend. “I swear, if he doesn’t quit filling his face, he’ll have a heart attack!”

###

Deadly Dinner by Amber Prince

As usual, she began preparing dinner, but today she carried on in a new calm manner. At first she thought to make his favorite but that would lead to suspect after last night. Spaghetti was too soft anyway.

No, she was making her favorite instead, chicken fried steak smothered in gravy, the earthy smell of boiling potatoes already permeating the air.

Her decision came easily after seeing her reflection in the now broken mirror. Carefully, she ground the glass and combined it with the flour, setting aside some for the potatoes.

Tonight was her turn to leave a mark.

###

A Full Belly by Charli Mills

Cob sprawled in the four-poster bed. He’d picked up enough carpentry skills from his father to build a solid frame. Sarah rested her cheek on his hairy chest. He snugged her close.

“There’s nothing like a full belly.” Cob sighed, drifting toward sleep. Sarah stiffened. She had eaten some stale bread sopped in milk along with a mealy apple from the station.

“Possum pie with the first sweet potatoes from the garden. Fried apple rings. Corn fritters. Cold milk from that cow Leroy brought over for Mary to make sweet cream butter.”

Sarah sat upright. “Hickok stopped by today…”

###

Flash Fiction: Food by Irene Waters

Handed to us on a banana leaf to eat with our hands was an unpalatable greyish barely lukewarm mass. The dish, made from the flour obtained by pulverising the starchy tuberous root of the manioc tree, then mixed with coconut milk until it formed a soft paste, was baked wrapped in banana leaves in an earth oven. Unfortunately it had the consistency and taste of congealed gelatine. It was a feast. From politeness it had to be eaten.

“No I won’t eat it.” My companion pushed it away, his nose turned up.

The drumming started. Instead, we ate him.

###

Something to Chew on by Geoff Le Pard

‘Where are you going, Penny?’

‘Great Aunt Alison is dying…’

‘She’s not your Aunt.’

‘What is she then?’

Mary couldn’t say ‘Grandpa’s mistress’.

‘Please Mum. She’s old and ill.’ A tear slipped down Penny’s cheek.

‘Alright.’

***

Rupert answered. ‘Do you want to help with supper?’

Mary watched Penny spoon food into Angela’s slack mouth. She looked dreadful.

Rupert whispered urgently. ‘She needs proper care.’

Mary nodded, understanding why they had challenged her father’s will. ‘I…’

Alison started gagging, her eyes bulging. Rupert lunged for his mother as Mary pulled Penny from the room.

‘What have I done, Mum?’

###

Food? by Norah Colvin

His eyes widened, flitting across the table, scanning the feast, a smorgasbord of sensory delights. His mouth moistened and tummy growled.

Where to start? A bit of this. A little of that. A whole lot of that! Mmmm!

He rubbed his belly and licked his lips.
Suddenly he was marched away and slammed onto a hard wooden bench. A bowl of colourless pap was flung at him. “Eat this!”

He recoiled.

“Eat it!”

The overfilled spoon was shoved between tightened teeth.

He gagged.

“It’s good for you!”

He spluttered.

Over time he learned. “Not so bad,” he thought.

###

New prompt on Wednesday. All writers welcome!

(Bootsy has been eating her kibble in the garage for 6 days in a row. Maybe food will get her to stay.)

Bootsy Sept 2014

September 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionShe arches her back into the cup of my hand as I stroke her soft black fur. She’s so skinny I can feel each knobby bone of her spine, tiny and hard against my palm. Her name is Bootsy and she’s a feral barn cat that we feed in the detached garage. Only, I’ve run out of kitty kibble.

Food is many things. Sustenance, for one. Bootsy has come in search of it, but it’s been almost two months since I’ve seen her and all the other feral cats were gobbling it down in her absence. But no one ever comes to my place without being fed. When I saw her slinking across the front lawn as I scrubbed dishes–so black and white against the green grass–I knew where she was headed.

Bootsy paused to sit beneath one of the two great Ponderosa pines that tower above our house at 70 feet tall. She’s classy-looking with her tuxedo markings–black pants and jacket over sharp white vest and cuffs. As she sat, I felt as though she were making her presence known. Not unlike stories on the pioneering prairie when gangly Sioux boys would crouch outside a farmhouse in hopes of a loaf of bread. They never spoke, just watched, but left with their gift when offered food.

Grabbing a can of tuna, I open it and head to the garage. Bootsy is already at the door. The owners of this ranch built a cat door years ago and who knows how long she’s been using it. We were told that part of our rent was to feed Bootsy and that she was wild and don’t bother trying to pet her. The Hub worked his magic and when the Rock Climber (Cat Tamer) visits, Bootsy greets her. By proxy of their patience, I occasionally get to pet this tiny, bony creature.

Today, she accepts the tuna and my hand. This makes me think how food connects us. We share a table, break bread together and gather for family feasts. In a few days the Hub will return from his 10-day shift in Boise and when he does, I’ll be cooking for his arrival so that he’s greeted with evidence that I’m happy he’s returned home.

My thoughts go to Sarah Shull. Was she a cook? Somehow I don’t get that sense of her as homey. Unlike her siblings, she didn’t marry young and take up the expected domestic duties. Instead she worked as an accountant at her father’s store, the core of his several businesses. I assume her mother cooked and she benefited even as an adult. Later in her life when she returned destitute to Shulls Mill, North Carolina after her husband left her (she did marry after Cob was killed) she lived in a tiny cabin outside of town, alone.

Evidently Sarah did not cook in that cabin. There’s several accounts of her conveniently showing up at homes that were friendly to her–and there were but a handful–around mealtime. Toward the end of her life, family members (who had shunned her since having Cob’s illegitimate child decades prior) reluctantly set her up in a shed behind the hotel the family owned. Perhaps they gave her scraps, no one says. But she died as bony as a barn cat, shivering beneath a thin, dirty, gray blanket at the age of 98. One could almost stretch a metaphor to say that her life lacked food–love, dignity, care.

If we look at what Sarah was doing the day Hickok shot Cob, she was in the kitchen with Mrs. Wellman (the station manager’s wife). Was she cooking? Is this an indicator that she’d fallen out with Cob or was she genuinely seeking the comforts of the hearth, hanging out with the women of the Pony Express and being industrious on the prairie? After Cob is killed and Leroy pays Sarah the money Cob owed her for accounting, she left for Denver where she found work as a laundress. Not as a cook.

Yet, I’m uncertain as to what food was like in the mid 1800s. What influences would North Carolina have had on Cob and Sarah? I sometimes think food might be the advantage that Mary (Cob’s wife) had over Sarah; the older woman could cook. To learn what she would cook, I reached out to southern food historian, Michael W. Twitty of Afroculinaria. He directed me to the Library of Congress, specifically to their slave narratives and to Horne Creek Living Historical Farm. As he reminded me, corn would be big. Pork, apples, peaches, persimmons, coon, possum (Norah, I thought of you in Australia with your noisy critters), squirrel, rabbit, leafy greens, cabbage, potatoes, sweet potatoes included.

In the modern era there’s a few unappetizing items on the list, but it grounds me in that time, before my time. Most unappetizing is slavery. But it’s a reality that can’t be ignored–America’s original sin. And food ties us to that time and the “peculiar institution” that loomed in 1859. Hickok was an northern abolitionist and Cob a southern unionist. That adds a layer of complexity leading up to the incident at Rock Creek. I thank Michael W. Twitty for his educated response, his vast knowledge and his mission to heal what still ails us in America (take time to read his post on Ferguson).

We cannot escape food and all that binds us to it.

The September air is already cool. Rain has returned to the relief of dusty dirt and crackling grass. The horses are sassy, kicking up their heels with this change in weather. And I am thinking about food. Fall has that profound effect. The cooling air reminds us that we have warm ovens; warm ovens remind us that we like to bake, cook and eat.

It’s not just me–sales in the food industry increase September thru October with a holiday peak of food madness in November and December. By January we wake up from our food comas and hit the gym. Spring gets us gardening, summer grilling, and fall returns with its obsession of food. It’s as much a cycle of life as seasons and milestones.

I’m not sure who is more comforted by the can of tuna–me or the cat–but Bootsy is satisfied enough to let me pet her and I’m pleased to have provided food. The exchange is complete.

September 3, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include food in your story. Is it the focus or part of the setting? Does it speak (à la Larry Laforge style), smell or feel slimy? Is it sensual or practical, basic fare or feast worthy? Food is a part of every day life. It connects us, is a part of cultures and regions, and can be emotive. As Michael W. Twitty writes, “Food is also extremely culturally connected and inherently economic and political. ”

Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, September 9 to be included in the compilation.

This week I wrote two flash fictions. One continues to explore Sarah, Cob and Hickok and the other is inspired by both Michael W. Twitty’s post (where I learned about the Red Summer of 1919) and Pete’s story, Rivals .

A Full Belly by Charli Mills

Cob sprawled in the four-poster bed. He’d picked up enough carpentry skills from his father to build a solid frame. Sarah rested her cheek on his hairy chest. He snugged her close.

“There’s nothing like a full belly.” Cob sighed, drifting toward sleep. Sarah stiffened. She had eaten some stale bread sopped in milk along with a mealy apple from the station.

“Possum pie with the first sweet potatoes from the garden. Fried apple rings. Corn fritters. Cold milk from that cow Leroy brought over for Mary to make sweet cream butter.”

Sarah sat upright. “Hickok stopped by today…”

###

Again by Charli Mills

After the gym, the trio met up at Frutta. Meg babbled about “Baby Einstein” and Jade mistook it for the unborn baby’s name.

“Silly, it’s a learning program. Jacob Marcus Green III will have every educational advantage.”

Bre was browsing her Kindle Fire, slurping a cranberry wheatgrass smoothie. She mumbled, “…black youth killed…riots in the streets…militia called in…thousands homeless…”

“What’s that about?” Meg sipped her carrot juice sweetened with organic pressed apples.

“Sounds like Ferguson.”

“Huh?” Bre looked up to wide blue eyes set in canned-tan faces. “Don’t worry. Just reading one of those 100 Years Ago Today articles.”

###

Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.

Bootsy Sept 2014