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Guest Compiler: Rough Writer & Ranch Hand, Norah Colvin
Last week when Charli wrote about games, she wrote about games for the fun of it, and more serious games that give us the run around with very little enjoyment. She challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves playing an outdoor game, like tetherball, hoops, tag. It can be made up, traditional, cultural or any kind of twist. Go where the prompt leads. There was no question about whether writers were game or not, and many joined in the fun. These are their contributions, starting with Charli’s own:
Games Across Rock Creek (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
“Rawr!” Cobb charged his five children on his hands and knees in the cropped grass in front of the west ranch house. Lizzie stood and giggled, blind since birth, she relied on her brothers to get around. Even playing games, the boys guided Lizzie. Cobb gently bumped her with his head and she squealed in delight. Young Charl tried clambering up Cobb’s back. Monroe boosted his youngest brother so he could ride Da’s back like a horse. Laughter carried across Rock Creek.
Sarah watched from the shadows on her side. Away from his precious family. The games they played.
Flash fiction by Pensitivity
It was the annual family picnic, everyone brought something for the table, we had a portable stove for making tea and loads of games.
With inherited grandchildren due to second and third marriages, there were over forty of us now, so we had plenty of options for team games and even a treasure hunt.
There were prizes too which was why the kids loved it so much.
The grand finale was always Scrabble.
Wrapped sweets were thrown into the air for the little ones to catch and collect. The older kids helped them so no-one went home empty handed.
Like Mother-Like Daughter by Ruchira Khanna
“Twist your waist along the loop,” she commanded from her balcony on the fourth floor.
“You silly girl!” she screamed when her daughter’s hula hoop came sliding down, “You ought to move your waist all the way!”
“Mom!” she cried out, “Chill!”
Sara’s friends tee-heed while the embarrassed mom stepped away.
There was a pause, and the daughter clarified with perched eyebrows as she adjusted her plaid skirt and put her loose strands of hair behind her ear, “My mom is the best, and she wants me to be the best too! What can I say!”
I’m Game by Geoff Le Pard
‘What shall we play? Rounders? Frisbee? Wheelbarrows?’
Penny and Mary exchanged a look as Paul pulled a ball from the bag. Penny giggled. “I’ll look after Charlotte, mum. You can be dad’s stooge.’
‘Stooge?’ Paul put hands on hips. ‘Is that what that school teaches.’
‘Love the double teapot, dad. What about a sand sculpture?’
Paul smiled. ‘Best one gets to choose the ice cream.’
‘Does everything have to be a competition, dad?’
Paul began digging. ‘Hmm?’
Mary whispered to her daughter. ‘Give it an hour and he’ll be fast asleep. Then we can go and get some tea.’
Bush rescue by Rowena
Bob saw the helicopters hovering over the lookout again.
“Blimey, another bloody tourist’s lost,” Bob announced, taking his eyes off the footy. “All our taxpayer dollars going up in smoke. They should pay. This isn’t a free country.”
“Daddy! Daddy!” The kids puffed. “Jet’s stuck in a tree.”
“How on earth did the dog get stuck in a tree? You gone mad?”
“Hamish threw his tennis ball over the edge, and Jet flew straight after it.”
“Bob, told you that dog’s a maniac.”
“So, all those helicopters are out saving our dog???? Thank goodness, he doesn’t have a collar.”
Bricktown Boys by Pete Fanning
Ron and I rode our bikes past the abandoned brick factory that lined Clay Street. I checked for new graffiti or tags or any signs of life.
Our part of Fairview was known for bricks. The blackened stackhouse stood defiantly against the sky as our monument, the teeth-like shards of broken windows were a warning, and the immovable darkness inside those old walls seemed to live in every man who’d walked into my living room.
The factory was our landmark. A big, tough, ugly, brick trophy we held up to prove how tough our neighborhood was. Bricktown. Enough said.
Counting by D. Avery
“Come on, Buddy, that’s at least fifty.”
When they were younger, they counted to ten. Then twenty-five. Fifty was a maximum.
Sometimes they just had their hands, clenching a fist with the index finger serving as barrel, thumb as hammer. Sometimes they’d find perfectly shaped sticks. Christmas might bring a realistic looking cap gun.
Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians; “Bang, you’re dead”, and if it was an obvious hit you had to fall down for a specified count.
Now they were playing army. They were the good guys.
“Buddy, just get up. I don’t want to play anymore.”
Flash fiction by Bill Engelson
May 30th 1955
We were not supposed to play after dark.
“I want you back before the sun goes down. You pay heed.”
And our old lady meant it.
But the thing about dark, it sneaks up on you like the devil.
When your kid brain is consumed by the action, heart pumping, feet stomping, bush tromping, heavy breathing, finding that sweet spot to nuzzle into, to hide, to be sought but not found, that was the rush.
But there was that thing about dark.
It snuck up on sister Sue.
It stuck her in a sack.
And she was lost forever.
Come, Play along! by Kittysverses
The elders of Vasant Housing Society, were in a fix. It’s was two weeks since the summer vacations began, and all that they could hear was silence in their compound. True, the kids were forced to studying during the school days, but it was the vacations the elders wished they played. The victim in the form of modern gadgets was found. This kept the elders thinking, and they came up with a planof organizing traditional Indian outdoor games for the young and old. *Kho-Kho,**Gilli Danda, ** *Lagori, ****Dog and the bone were among the main events of the D-day.
Remembering Kabaddi by Anne Goodwin
Ram often dreamt he was a child again, running barefoot across the dusty earth. Amid the singsong voices of the staff, he often felt a child, unable to dress, wash or eat without assistance. But never before had he been led to believe he’d been transported back to childhood, his playmates’ chants ringing in his ears: Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi …
He opened his eyes. The care staff considered the sports channel invigorating, but Ram wasn’t interested in cricket, rugby: English games. Now TV had stolen his memories, his village roots, taming the ancient game with a court and referee.
Let’s Play a Game (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane smooths lotion over her knee, pausing over the scar. Ten, she’d been, suited up in roller skates with the key around her neck. Her friend Carla on her bike, eyes full of the devil. “Hold on to the sissy bar and I’ll pull you. It’ll be fun. Just like waterskiing.”
And it was. Hair flying, eyes streaming in the wind, both of them shrieking laughter, blazing down the middle of the street until Carla wiped out and Jane went flying and blood flowed. No helmets or kneepads back then.
Kids can’t come close to fun like that now.
Golem’s Truth by Jules Paige
Carrie wasn’t sure she wanted to play Golem’s Truth – being
Mal de coucou in this new neighborhood. The tendency in
these new situations was to play the awestruck outsider.
Be a parallel player without spilling too much of her own
With a strong desire to fit in with this group, Carrie had to
build up some nerve to please these ‘new’ friends. Without
putting up too much of a smoke screen.
This new twist on Truth or Dare and Spin the Bottle. A
couple had to go behind the barn, do something – And not
tell what they did.
Around and Because by Kerry E.B. Black
Henry stepped to the plate. Eager teammates turned from loaded bases. “Come on, Henry. Don’t blow it.”
“Again,” added Henry.
Two outs. Two runs down. The last inning of a decisive game weighed.
Queasy wriggled his stomach. His hands sweated. He gulped and swung.
Coach yelled, “Shake it off, Henry.”
He blinked tears. Two balls. A foul tip.
He prayed, swung, connected. The ball soared. Unaccustomed to hitting, he watched it ascend, bounce, roll. Team mates screamed, “run.” He did not. Three slid past him to home plate. They won around and because of Henry.
The First Game by Gordon Le Pard
“We will have to stop Sir.”
Prince Frederick looked up to the sky, there was no way the rain was going to stop.
They stopped the game sadly and walked into the tavern.
He enjoyed sports, and knew that this was a way into his subject’s hearts. The British loved sport, so did he and knew he had to show he was British, ‘Glory in the name of Briton’ he had told his son, and playing traditional British sports was one way to show it.
This game, however, was new to him.
“What’s it called?”
Lord Middlesex replied.
Safety first by Anthony Amore
The neighbor kids started using a basketball but it proved too heavy to shoot with a hockey stick. The six rode either skate boards or roller blades around the cul-de-sac taking turns shooting into a lacrosse net alternating between a tennis and a soccer ball.
Then someone upped the ante.
“Put the net at the end of our driveway,” he said. “No, there,” he added pointing down the steep asphalt incline.
The first nodded, “We skate down, shoot, score.”
“How will we stop?” someone asked, sensibly.
“Don’t worry; that’s why we have helmets. Who wants to play goal?”
I Got My Dude Right Here by Elliott Lyngreen
This dude had strolled up the cosmic black walkway spinning a gray-weather shreaded basketball ahead of himself so the english zipped it perfectly rolling atop the backside of one hand, up his arm, around his chest, swiftly down the other arm to a flip-spin onto the original hand with the middle finger extended in such wobbling revolutions he casually slapped, straightened so the ball turn smoothly and faster with each tap; then dropped so sweet as his knee come up, bumped the rock back up in one continuous motion continuing the tight whirling.
Asked, “who got last ya’ll?”
Face tag is our game by Joe Owens
Kaley looked at Casey with an unsure expression.
“It’s simple. Make sure they don’t see your face. If they do you are frozen.”
Kaley nodded with her understanding. She was totally zoned in until they picked the tagger.
“No!” she thought without speaking. Not him. Anyone but Eric.
Casey saw her expression, tapping her on the arm while asking with her eyes what was wrong.
“It’s nothing. I am good.”
“Wait,” Casey said her look of concern morphing into a wide smile. “I guess I know who you like now, huh?”
“Don’t say anything, promise!”
“I won’t have to.”
Wifflduff by Michael
This is a fun game to entertain kids in the back yard. The idea is to disassociate the words given with their meanings. For example, spaghetti. If you answer pasta or food, you would be wrong and out of the game. If you say dog/cat/elephant, you would be correct.
In the one minute, you attempt as many as you can. If you survive a minute, you accumulate how many you got right. One wrong and you are out, and as added fun, you have to prance around the yard like a chicken saying whiffleduffwhifflduffwhifflduff.
Hours of fun and excitement.
Wanna play? by Norah Colvin
From the verandah, the park looked enormous and inviting. The men, lugging boxes and furniture upstairs, stopped chatting. Mum bustled them too, ‘Here. Not there.’
‘Stay out of the way,’ she’d commanded. He suggested the park. ‘Not by yourself,’ she’d said.
He went anyway, crossing the wide road alone. He watched a group of kids kicking a ball around. They looked friendly, but… He glanced back at the house. Not missed. Would they let him play?
‘Hey, kid,’ one shouted. He turned to run. ‘Wait!’ called the voice. ‘Wanna play?’
Reassured by smiling faces, he joined in the game.
Strategy in the game by Jules Paige
Longhorn knew it was a paradox; Janice full of tension but
being in a semophoristic mood, she didn’t want to talk, not
in the park. The detective would have to bite his tongue on
all the questions that were musing around in his head. No
woman deserved the smooth playhouse of thieves that
people like Richard played in.
Once Longhorn had moved Janice into the safe house
code named ‘Neptune’ – he could end this stalemate and
she could open up about any information she possessed that
would put a final checkmate on Richard and put the rogue
Aw, Skip It! by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“Find one that’s flat and smooth…no bigger than your palm.”
“Bigger than your palm?” she tipped her head. “Or mine?”
“Great question! Let’s look and see what we find.” The water was clear, chilling his pale feet. She followed, knee-deep, eyes round.
“Curl your finger around the edge, and flick!” The stone sailed, tripped half a dozen times and sunk.
She grabbed a rock from his hand and threw it underhand. It arced and splashed.
“Good first try!” He spied the perfect stone, heard a deep splash and got soaked from behind.
“How’s that?” she laughed, hands on hips.
Up and At ‘Em, by D. Avery
“Come on Kid, up and at ‘em.”
“Uhhnn. Where’s Shorty at anyway? I heard she mighta went into town.”
“You heard, you heard. Ever heard of herdin’ cattle?”
“Shorty’s in town, probly playin’ cards, havin’ fun.”
“Shush. Shorty’s busy. And she might be gambling, but it’s a serious game she’s playin’.”
“I heard Shorty’s at the rodeo.”
“Well you heard right. She is, and it ain’t her first time. But this one’s big.”
“What can we do with Shorty away?”
“We’ll do what we always do.”
“Yee haw! Time to play with words.”
“That’s it Kid. Round ‘em up.”
Games in white gym suits by Floridaborne
“Gym suits, the only piece of clothing that could make Marilyn Monroe look dorky,” I said, showing my teenage daughter a garment hated by anyone with a brain in the 1960’s. “PE is why I had glasses in junior high!”
“You’re blind without them, mom!”
“I’ll compare it to making you wear one of my suits,” I said.
“We had a saying that boy’s don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. You might as well be hiding behind a wall.”
“Why were you forced to wear glasses, mom?”
“I mistook my archery instructor for the target.”
The serious business of adult life is often learned through playtime. Children’s games, though seemingly innocent and fun, can have a darker side. Consider the origins of many familiar nursery rhymes. Many of the rules of behavior, including the establishment of a societal pecking order, can be passed down in games.
On the lighter side, we almost universally share fun memories of similar childhood games — chasing, hiding, seeking and tagging. Games can teach us the process of learning, and help us to remember through singing and playing.
This week, writers responded with different insights to the June 17, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves a children’s game or rhyme.
A Game of Marco Polo by Ula Humienik
“Not fair. This pool is too small for a game of Marco Polo.”
“It is not. You’re just a sore loser.”
“Mom, Sandy’s not playing nice again.”
“That’s not true. Take it back.” Sandy reached for Teri’s wrist and grabbed really hard.
“You’re hurting me. Mom. Mom, Sandy’s hurting me.”
“Why isn’t mom answering?”
“I don’t know. She’s probably reading her lady magazines.”
“Mom. Mom. MOM!” Teri rushed out the pool and ran inside. Sandy followed her.
“Mom. Mom! Mom?”
“Quick. Call 911.”
Sight by Paula Moyer
For someone as nearsighted as Jean, swimming in a pool, without contacts or glasses, was a lot like “pin the tail on the donkey.” While her dad, the World War II pilot, had the eagle coveted acuity of 20/15, Jean’s chart said she could see “hand motion” at 20 feet.
Then the optometrist suggested prescription swim goggles. They were especially made for her strength, and they arrived a week after ordering.
She stepped into the pool and applied her goggles. It was like removing the blind. She could see things: The clock on the wall. Lane markers. Other swimmers.
A Real Keeper by Charli Barli Mills
Gus drew a circle in the dirt, then a starting line in the middle. The boys set down their clays. The new girl, Dina, added two green porcelains. Gus drew a deep breath. A girl with marbles? He wiped his palms and knelt with his blue slag shooter. Before the teacher pulled the bell rope, Dina added the boys’ marbles to her bag.
Gus walked beside her. “Can I see your shooter?”
Swirls of amber, a real keeper. So he’d think years later as they exchanged vows, and he smiled into her eyes as pretty as her taw.
School Policy by Pete Fanning
Taj sat perched at the edge of his seat.
“Taj, pushing and shoving violate our anti-bullying policy. And running—”
The door cracked open. Taj’s eyes dropped to his feet as his mother entered. A slight tuna smell clung to her uniform.
“Sorry,” she panted, her accent heavy with her breaths. “I ran right over. Had to push my way through a mob on Seventh.”
The principal grimaced. “I see…uh..”
“What did you do?” she snapped at her son.
“Well, Taj organized a game of musical chairs at lunch.”
Mrs. Sallio’s scowl turned upwards. “Did you win?”
Easter Surprise by Susan Budig
Sonja sneaked downstairs, hoping to be the first one to her Easter basket. She spied her cousin Tor popping jelly beans into his mouth.
“Are you eating my candy?”
“Heck no, the Easter bunny only left you little brown souvenirs ,” he teased.
“You mean bunny poop? He did not!”
“Uh-huh, sure did, look!”
Sonja stared at the small brown pellets.
Suddenly, Tor popped one in his mouth. “They taste good, though, try one!”
“Torsten Martin Gustavsson! Spit that out!”
Instead, he scooped them all up. “Funny how they taste like raisins,” he said, laughing with his mouth full.
Red Rover by Mercy.James.
She remembered endless school lunch hours – sandwiches and fruit washed quickly down with milk, the need to break free of the hall doors – hitting fresh school yard air.
Sides chosen – lines formed – “Red Rover” chained arms linked in clasping solidarity as the call for someone to come over – charging into battle – trying to break the lines – win some, lose some – knowing the weakest runners/pushers and the strongest links; strategies played over in small conflicts, ending with arms and legs twisting – wonder no one wrenched shoulders out of sockets.
Remembering – was I really that strong – or just a fearsome bully?
Red Rover – and Out by Jules Paige
Pretty much always being the new kid on the block I was more than
less, always picked last. Picked on, picked over. Left to watch when
the teams were even and I wasn’t chosen. Frozen to move, be hurt,
be blamed. As the others untamed in their innocence, taught by their
parents prejudice, snickered and laughed.
If chosen at all I was always the first one rammed. Be them damned,
those little mongrels for not learning how to accept differences.
Once a tool, labeled fool – I do believe I’m better. Some memories, rot.
Freeze Tag by Roger Shipp
“You ever noticed that even on the hottest of days, Evan never sweats?”
“His mother says that he takes after his father.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know. Ms. Felcher gets a faraway look in her eye. I just don’t go there.”
“Evan never talks about his dad. What happened?”
“Heard he just went away. Never proved it, but they say he killed a man.”
“Must be true. Why else would he have left ‘em?”
“Evan is weird. He’s never played Freeze Tag with us.”
“His mother won’t let him. Says it would be the death of us.”
Spaghetti Toast by Pat Cummings
The once-full platter of spaghetti, glistening strands coated and over-topped with Dad’s wonderful sauce, lay abandoned in the middle of the table as we said grace.
The bottle of juice passed, and each of us had a full plate and glass in front of us. The Parmesan cheese shaker went around the table, and we sprinkled our spaghetti with that pungent dust.
Mom and Dad began eating, but we youngsters waited to begin. First, we must toast. We raised our baby-wine together three times.
To the King!
To the Queen!
To the stinky-feet Cheese!
Only then would we eat.
Who’s Got the Button by Ann Edall-Robson
“Button, button, who’s got the button?”
He laughed as he tweaked her nose and showed his thumb peeking out between his two fingers.
Reaching for his hand, the little girl giggled.
“Daddy! Give it back!”
It was a their game. Filled with laughter, teasing and eventually the return of the imaginary nose.
“She’s as cute as you, Button.”
His voice ragged with gruff emotion when he said the pet name for his grown daughter holding her newborn.
Leaning over he gently tweaked the tiny nose.
“Dad! Give it back!”
Laughter erupted from them. Carefree memories trickled down their cheeks.
Ed Says by Larry LaForge
Ellen shakes her head. “Grandpa, that’s not the real name of the game. It’s Simon Says.”
“Not this version,” Ed replies to his granddaughter.
“Alright. OK. Let’s just do it,” the youngster reluctantly responds.
Ed smiles and begins. “Ed says scratch your head.” Ellen and Edna immediately scratch their head.
“Ed says blink twice.” Ellen and Edna do it.
“Ed says smile.” Ellen and Edna grin from ear to ear.
“Hug your grandmother.” Ellen gives Edna a big hug.
“I didn’t say Ed says. You lose, young lady.”
Ellen laughs. “No, Grandpa. I won. I got to hug Grandma.”
Role Play by Ruth Irwin
“Nan, you be the Darling and I be the Mum. Okay?”
“Darling, I have to go to work and you have to go to kindy.”
“But I don’t want to go to kindy Mummy. Wah.”
“Stop crying Darling. You have to go to kindy. You can play with your friends and I’ll come back and get you later.”
“Wah, wah. I don’t want to go to kindy. I want to stay home and make cookies with you.”
“Nan!! You’re not allowed to say that! You have to say…”
Remember Nan, you’re the Darling; do as you’re told!
Playing Safe by Irene Waters
“Mummy. Can I play billycarts at John’s?”
“No Joanie, it’s too dangerous.”
“How about bike riding at Heather’s?”
“No too dangerous.”
“Swimming at Robbo’s?”
“No. His parents are away. Can’t you think of something to play here?”
“How about Hula hoops? “
“Hula hoops are fine.”
Standing at the kitchen window, her arms covered in suds, she watched with joy the two little girls gyrating their hips and arms as the hula hoop spun round. As a red film made the window opaque she lost sight of the girls. She screamed. She hadn’t thought of the staple that could sever a carotid.
A Book of Memories by Geoff Le Pard
‘Seen this?’ Mary held up a battered book.
Paul took it, reading the title. ‘Nursery rhymes and children’s games. This yours?’
‘I remember dad reading from it, even after I was too old. He just loved making silly voices.’
‘You’ll be able to do the same for our baby.’
‘I wonder what he was thinking, when he read to me? About my twin?’
Paul opened the front cover, squinting at the faded writing. ‘To Mary and Sharon. Much love Gloria.’
Mary grabbed it from him. ‘I don’t remember this.’ She met Paul’s gaze.
‘Your imaginary friend?’
‘Or my twin?’
You Are It by A. R. Amore
Sitting on the porch I can hear them, out there, silently creeping. I squint trying to catch a glimpse of their forms, but it’s impossible. Hushed whispers, a rustling by the stand of pines and then nothing.
I try to assess. Five, maybe six of them but I cannot be sure. There must be others; they move in larger groups this time of year. Our dog stiffens up and growls through the screen door.
“What’s out there,” my wife asks. They are close. Suddenly, a flurry of flashlights burst following a chorus of, “You’re it! You’re it! You’re it!”
Mary by Sarah Brentyn
She crouched, hands over her ears, playground voices taunting.
“Mary, Mary, quite contrary! How does your garden grow!”
The group of giggling girls skipped away.
Mary stayed near the brick wall, shaking, imagining the torture of silver bells, the beheadings, the garden of gravestones her grandfather told her about one night when she had asked for a bedtime story.
She thought back to Kindergarten, when the teasing made her cry just because the singing of her name had sounded unkind. Now, only one year later, she cried because the images of death played in her mind like a slideshow.
Plum Pudding by Norah Colvin
We sat in the circle chanting,
“I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it.”
“It” skipped around the outside, waving a handkerchief.
“One of you has picked it up and put it in your pocket.
Not you. Not you. Not y-o-u!”
Suddenly “It” was running and children were scrabbling behind them.
“Run,” they called.
Then “It” was beside me.
“Plum pudding!” they all screamed hysterically.
The adult pointed to the centre of the circle. “We’ll have you for dessert,” he grinned.
I cried, wondering what it would be like to be eaten alive!
Mairzy Doats by Jeanne Lombardo
The box was just long and wide enough for Maddy to crawl in.
“Stand up,” the children yelled.
Maddy felt herself righted. Her bare feet stumbled. The voices
sang as from afar.
“Over here Maddy!” called one.
“Over here!” called another.
She spiraled, tripped, thudded on the ground.
Panic set her breathing again, but the voices had taken flight. Her pleas shrill sirens in the empty yard.
At last, a yank, a release into light and air and the sing-song of her mother’s voice.
“Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, Wooden shoe!”
Cowboys and Indians by Christina Rose
I sat crouched in the grass, honey stalks swaying around me as grasshoppers bounced across my shimmering skin. Pioneer outfit clung to clammy skin, sticky in the late July sun. She was out there, waiting for me to stand, to shoot with her faux bow and arrow.
In her black wig and leather dress, she was the Indian and I, the cowboy. We would call a truce soon, join forces for our mid-day picnic. Then, resume the game of cat and mouse.
The field near our house, days of warm summer games, memories of laughter-filled childhood summers past.