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Follow them, get hung up in them, or forget them — lines can guide or entangle. North, south, east, west. You can follow lines any direction. Writers grabbed lines and followed the stories.
You never know what to expect when writers gather from around the world and come from different genres. But you do know that the lines are set high at Carrot Ranch and what follows will evoke and entertain.
The following are based on the May 3, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story.
Part I (10-minute read)
Speed Dating Lines by Luccia Gray
“You’re a writer?”
She nodded, expecting him to make an excuse and move away; instead he asked, “Could you write me an original pick up line?”
“I’m not helping you lie.”
“Are you kidding?” He said waving his arm around the crowded venue. “Everyone’s expecting me to pretend.”
“You’re right. It’s so sad.” She stood, “I shouldn’t have come.”
“Wait, could I borrow your pen and notebook?”
She hesitated then pushed them towards him.
“I’m tired of pretending,” he wrote.
“Just be yourself,” she wrote back.
“Could we both be ourselves somewhere quieter?” he wrote.
She drew a smiley.
Line Prompt by Chelsea Owens
“Oh, Gustavo! I love you so. Tell me you love me in return.” She batted her long, dark eyelashes.
“Felicia,” he passionately answered, “How can I not? You are heaven to my Earth!”
Sighing, she succumbed to his embrace. He kissed her deeply, tasting a forbidden passion. They pulled apart, then… turn to the author.
Gustavo clears his throat. “Line?”
“What?” The author asks, startled. She looks down at her fingers, poised over the keyboard. “Oh. Sorry, guys. I got caught up in the moment.”
“How about:” Gustavo and Felicia became lost, for a moment, in each other’s eyes…
Thirty-Three Minutes by Debora Kiyono
In thirty-three minutes, she must be ready. It`s her only chance.
“C’mon! You can do this! It has to be a memorable combination of words, to align with his mind and allow him to decipher the code. A key for the map, within the story, that will take him out of the imprisonment and trigger his remembrance of everything.” – She thinks, pacing the floor.
Taking a deep breath, she sits and writes in hallucinated rhythm, smiling when she finds it.
When the window opens, she throws in the piece of paper with nine words written in one line.
On the Cards by Di @ pensitivity101
One of the designs I attempted when I first started making cards some years ago was curves with straight lines, using silvered thread in various fluorescent colours. It was quite straightforward and similar to the demonstration where we used threads on a serrated circle to get the desired effect. By adding a little diamante in the centre, the cards were simple but effective.
The only drawback I found on mine was that although they looked very nice on the front, the backs were always untidy, so I had to put a secondary card in place to cover my workings!
Lines by Kay Kingsley
Lines are for drawing, lines are for crossing, for waiting, towing or fishing.
We read lines, write lines, and use pick-up lines to meet others.
We drop a line of communication and build lines of defense.
We are in the line of sight or the line of fire.
Lines make boundaries, create hard lines between us, lines you don‘t want to cross.
We streamline, get our ducks in a line, hang clothes on the clothesline.
Lines show us where we have been and also where we dare to go beyond.
And that my friend, is no line at all.
Crossing the Line by Wallie and Friend
“You, young lady, have crossed a line.” Mrs. Perkins stood with her arms folded, her heart beating rapidly in her neck.
“Can’t we keep it, pleeease–”
“No. Go and put that thing back.”
Mabel stuck out her lip. “Pleeeeaaaase?”
With her husband in town, seeing the smile on Grandma Perkins’s face, Mrs. Perkins felt her resolve weaken.
“Oh come on,” said Grandma, standing next to Mabel. “Isn’t it the littlest thing you ever saw? What’s the harm?”
Mrs. Perkins pinched her nose. She looked through one eye at the ungainly creature in Mabel’s arms.
“Dragons,” she said, “get big.”
Lining Up Their Excuses by Geoff Le Pard
‘Did you ever get given lines, Logan?’
‘No, as a punishment.’
‘Odd idea. I liked writing.’
‘Not if it’s the same thing over and over.’
‘Sounds like a Pinter play we did. That was punishment.’
‘What did you get then? As punishment.’
‘The ruler. That gave me lines. Barbaric.’
‘Not boring though. Wouldn’t happen today. A line you can’t cross eh?’
‘What’s this fixation with lines?’
‘My sis was wittering on about some line or other, causing her all sorts of trouble apparently.’
‘A something party line. She used initials… VPL.’
‘Morris, you’re an utter tit.’
Guilty as Charged by Molly Stevens
The judge asked, “What do you have to say in your defense?”
“I didn’t mean for this to happen,” she replied.
“Well, you did, and now the damage is done. How did you sink to this level?”
“It started with a greeting in the hallway. Then we sat next to each other at lunch, which led to discussions over coffee.”
“That seems innocent enough.”
“It was. I’m as surprised as you that I was capable of seeing issues from her point of view.”
“You realize I have no choice but to punish you, right? You crossed the party line.”
Police Escort by Susan Sleggs
When my parents arrived for my son’s birthday party, my father was red-faced and sputtering. “We couldn’t turn off the side road because a cop blocked it for almost five minutes while a line of motorcycles flew by.”
“Did a lot of the bikes have American flags attached and were the riders wearing vests with lots of patches?”
“So what. They made us late.”
“I think you missed seeing the front of the line. That was the Patriot Guard escorting our neighbor’s cousin to her funeral. She was killed in Afghanistan.”
“Oh. I guess she deserved a cop escort.”
The Dropped Line by Roger Shipp
“Wish you the best.” Tears flowed from my eyes as I hugged my best friend since grammar school.
“Don’t worry,” whispered the beaming groom. “It’s only a week. I’ll even drop a line from Dubai. When I’m back, it’ll be like old times. Crystal understands us.
Giving one firm push to close the trunk I stepped alongside my wife. “See ya, son. Drive safe. Call us when you get there.”
David waved as he backed away.
“Don’t worry, Hon,” my wife said as she placed her head on my shoulder. “He said he’d drop us a line every week.’
Throwing a Line by Irene Waters
“Don’t you love being a pensioner?”
” Why? For the cheap public transport?”
“Absolutely. Where are we going today?”
“Let’s go on the Sunshine Coast Line.”
“That’s a long time in the train. What about something closer to home. We could get bored sitting for so long.”
“No problems for me. I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”
“What have you done that’s so sensational?”
“Nothing silly. It’s a line from The Importance of being Earnest.”
“Why is it important to be earnest?”
Unparalleled by JulesPaige
The thin lines of her orange bikini stood out amid the waves and surf of Hawaii. Some of the men, tourists on the beach had to clutch their chests as their heart rates escalated. They all wondered if the woman had any propinquity or sempiternal relationships with the younger men who sat on beaches’ driftwood.
When she exited the water, the woman had a swagger like the local Nene. But that was the only thing the woman had in common with the gray-brown goose.
Imagination was like a hot air balloon – it would rise, eventually returning to Terra Ferma.
Reading Between the Lines by Norah Colvin
Four lines of footprints stretched along the shore. A line, mostly unbroken, edged one side; the other, a sequence of dots. The smaller prints danced lightly. The larger dragged heavily with one foot sideways. Criss-crosses of triple-pronged seagulls’ prints failed to obscure, unlike the smudge of ocean’s wet kisses. Tiny crabs scuttled their own story tracks through weeds, shells and stones coughed up by the sea. Beyond a collapsed castle, the footprints continued. In the distance—rocks. So far? He accelerated. Didn’t they know the tide had turned? Caught in the moment, they’d missed the signs. Lucky he didn’t.
The Line by The Dark Netizen
Gupta was thoroughly bored now. He had been waiting in queue for a long time and the line had only increased rapidly.
Gupta looked around. Most of the people in the line were teens and young adults. Making conversation seemed difficult. The teenage girl standing behind Gupta sensed his uneasiness and broke the ice.
“The line is too slow. However, it is surprising to see you in this line.”
“Isn’t this the entry line for people who died while clicking photographs?”
“Not exactly! This line is for selfie deaths. The regular camera photo line is over there!”
Dividing Equally by Heather Gonzalez
“You two better figure out how to get along.” Mom said closing their bedroom door.
“That is impossible!” yelled Molly crossing her arms in disgust.
“There is just no way to share this room. We should just draw a line to divide it equally and stay away from each other.” Polly said and pulled out a marker.
“Now stay on your side and don’t you dare cross the line,” Polly said feeling satisfied.
She wouldn’t realize how unequal the line was until a couple hours later when she needed to use the bathroom. Her side didn’t have a door.
Waiting in Line by Teresa Grabs
The worn-down woman’s bones creaked and ached as she woke her children before dawn.
“Quietly,” she whispers. “Don’t wake the others.”
Dutifully, the children rise and smooth the linen that served as last night’s blanket.
“Mama, I’m cold,” the youngest one says as the cool morning air punctures his skinny body.
“Why do we have to do this every morning?” her oldest daughter asks.
“Shush,” their mother tells them as they reach the end of the line.
“Maybe one day we’ll be able to have food again without waiting in line,” she tells her children.
“Yes, Mama,” they concede.
Lifetime Passion by Ann Edall-Robson
Speaking volumes of risqué thoughts and borderline worships with an avant-garde, flamboyant collection of pinks, greens and purple shades thrown into the mix. Who would have thought that one day of playing could turn into a lifetime passion? From afar, or near, it’s not easy to see what prompted the glorious, devil may care conglomeration of flowers surrounded by the oddest looking wavy lines of wood. The hooker red and devil black colours of the short picket fence melded with the ambiance of the flora. A subtle shock factor as one board flanked the next in dramatic contrast.
“Beltane’s Song” by Colleen Chesebro
I plunged my hands into the soil feeling the remains of winter’s damp. I smiled as the sun’s abundant rays covered me in a blanket of warmth and opulence. Today brings the first indication that a line has been crossed from winter into spring.
Consecrating life –
Goddess fertility thrives,
Birds cantillate, flowers bloom,
crops sprout neath the flower moon.
Spring has always been my favorite time of year. Beltane is halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Beltane honors new life. It represents that Spring is underway, and Summer is just around the corner.
Car Wash by Sarah Whiley
“This rain is really coming down hard!” she thought, “I can barely see the lines!”
She craned her neck, and gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to stay in her lane. Suddenly, bright red lights flared in front of her. She slammed her foot on the brake pedal, but it was too late.
The car slid on the wet black coming to rest, in the back of the car in front of her. She pulled over and got out of the car to talk to the other driver. Relief washed over her as she realised it was her husband!
Lined Up to Go (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Wagons lined up to cross Rock Creek. Early season argonauts set land sails toward Colorado Territory – Pikes Peak or Bust. Wagons hauling wares to mining-camps joined throngs of optimistic miners. Sarah counted several women, rare as mules among oxen. The trek suited the bull-headed. Seated next to Cobb on their Conestoga, they waited. He wanted to reckon crossings. The muddy slopes caused slippage and broken axels. Two wagons tipped, one man drowned, and two-hundred and fifty-four wagons crossed.
“That settles it,” Cobb said after Sarah lined up the numbers. “We’re buying Rock Creek Station and building a toll bridge.”
Part II (10-minute read)
Squall Line by D. Avery
She could weather this one out, batten the hatches; these storms never lasted more than three days.
Somehow they always managed to arrive within moments of each other.
Three cars’ worth of doors flung open at once, spilling grandchildren who swirled behind their parents, the mass of them a single squall line bearing down, gusting through the front door without so much as a knock, her daughters’ smiles flashing like lightning.
The men and children retreated to the beach while her daughters assaulted her home, dusting, scrubbing; organizing her cupboards.
The aftermath was always erosion. She was losing ground.
Wise Woman’s Warning by Paula Moyer
Her junior year, Jean’s marriage collapsed.
So her mother warned her about “the line”: “My wife doesn’t understand me.”
“They’ll say that,” Mom cautioned. “Watch out.”
Jean blew Mom off. It sounded like an old, not-so-good movie. Until.
She was studying at an all-night coffee shop. Stan was in the next booth. Her best friend’s husband. “What are you doing here?”
“Charlie left.” Jean cried. Stan came over, gave her tissues. Put his arm around her shoulder.
“We should talk,” he said. “Sarah doesn’t understand me.”
Thanks to Mom, Jean was ready.
“Sarah understands you,” Jean answered. “Too well.”
Lines by Ritu Bhathal
“Here’s ten pence.”
“Sorry, do I know you?”
“Call your mum. Tell her you’re not coming home.”
“You must be so tired.”
“Because you’ve been running through my dreams all night.”
“I seem to have lost my phone number. Can I have yours?”
“Kiss me if I’m wrong, but dinosaurs still exist, right?”
“Can I follow you home? Cause my parents always told me to follow my dreams.”
“You know, if you’d just asked me out, I’d have probably said yes. But after those cheesy pick-up lines, I really don’t think so!”
Flash Fiction by kate@aroused
Just as trains travel on lines society also has lines of acceptable behaviour and anyone who crossed those lines were punished accordingly.
But over the years those boundaries have eroded, and too many elected or paid have stepped over the line. Society ignores these blatant breaches as they investigate their own … #metoo; officers murdering innocent people; corrupt pollies siphoning off all that they can!
The lines are blurred, the moral compass whirling uncontrollably. Finally, women are taking action now society needs to step up and make the lawmakers and enforcers responsible for their dire actions. Enough Deaths!
Lines in the Sand by Robbie Cheadle
It is not easy
to draw lines in the sand
Preventing the development
of unreasonable and unrealistic
expectations by others
those who are not motivated
to learn from you
expanding their own horizons
It is not easy
to draw lines in the sand
It is less challenging
to simply capitulate
and possibly to bask
in the knowledge
that others admire you
relying on your judgment
It is not easy
to draw lines in the sand
Until one day you discover
it is a usury relationship
that pushes you to your limits
while spectators watch on
witnessing your eventual
Cheesy Lines in Apocalyptic Times by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Air quality alerts had been on “Severe” for the past two months. The pub was filled with exhausted workers.
“Stock in Enviro-domes hit an unprecedented high today,” a googly-eyed hack chirped from the TV above the bar. “So much winning in our war against the Climate Accord!”
Molly drooped over her pint, breath labored and bubbling. “I’m sick of being sick.”
“I know a sure remedy for that!” a skeletal man waggled his eyebrows, his leer thick as the city smog.
“I’d say blow it out your ass, Jack, but it stinks worse than your cheesy lines,” Molly snapped.
Imaginary Lion by Anne Goodwin
She used to think it was a lion circling the earth. But, older now, she saw how dumb that was: not even an imaginary lion could walk on water. No, it was a line, as she wrote in her essay, anticipating a shiny gold star. And everyone standing on that line – Brazilians, Kenyans, Congolese – would be equal. That’s what equator meant. No billionaires guzzling caviar while others starved. When she grew up she’d join them. Or maybe not. Maybe she’d find a way to thicken the line to a band and stretch it from the Arctic to Cape Horn.
Lines by Papershots
“And all these coinciding factors caused a state of utter poverty…” He was struggling the get the girls’ attention. Their highlighters drew colorful lines through the paragraphs of the book. That was more interesting than his words. “There’s a striking resemblance with today. Think about the current crisis.” One girl looked up, but the professor’s gaze was on the clear-cut horizon of the fields outside, above the straight line of the window. He wished history could be like that. Surely he couldn’t cross that line? “Personally I like them blonde but brunettes are fine as well, when they’re young…”
Flash Fiction by floridaborne
A classroom, 1956, parent-teacher day. Helen struggles to understand why her mother hates the newly married Princess Grace. Where is the line between good and bad? Are movie stars always bad, too?
Better not interrupt their conversation… too dangerous. She sits quietly, hoping her mother’s time will run out so she can go home and hide in her room.
“Look at this!” Her teacher says, holding up a picture Helen had colored. “She made the sky black!”
“They’re rain clouds,” Helen explains.
“Hateful child,” her mother hisses at her.
No one cares to ask why Helen’s sky is black.
Flash Fiction by Lisa A. Listwa
Echoes of laughter-laced music from last night’s party crept out from behind the tree line and moved across the field. The piney air carried the suggestion of alcohol-doused firewood and nearly frozen vomit, followed by something not quite appropriate to the occasion – the unmistakable scent of fresh blood.
“What do you think it is, Pa,” Robby asked, “a wolf kill?”
“More’n likely a human kill, son. Folks get mighty worked up when booze is involved, find it easy to let themselves go. But there’s lines you just don’t cross, and once you’ve gone over, there’s no getting yourself back.”
Lines Cut by D. Avery
I said I’d drop her a line and left; for adventure, for independence, for life.
I traveled, knew the hypnotic spell of the white line binding the highway’s edge, don’t cross it. I pulsed to the marcato beat of white lines cut on a sad square of mirror, don’t look. Learned to cook with a crucible spoon, quick and easy recipe scratched in welted purple lines on my skin, don’t ask.
My life is a tangled, broken web, doesn’t hold fast. She tossed a lifeline, but I cut it into pieces to knot around my arm, no going back.
White Line by Lisa Rey
He sat looking at the line of drugs in front of him. It had been a difficult time since his Mum died last year. He had fallen into depths he never thought he would.
But today he heard the news of his buddy Lukas’ death from drugs. It shook him to his core. He looked at the white line once more before pushing it to the floor with an angry swipe. Then he cried bitter tears partly because he was free and partly because for the first time he had to face grief and the horrible reality of it.
Because You’re Mine…I Walk the Line by Peregrine Arc
I jumbled another quarter into the jukebox, willing the old machine to pick up a record and come back to life.
“Cash for Cash,” I mumbled, my nose pressed eagerly against the dusty glass casing.
“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine…” meandered out, scratchy but strong. I sighed and finally sat down to my breakfast.
“Johnny, it’s not going too good here,” I mumbled
between my yolks. “How did you get through life without losing hope and faith?”
“...I walk the line…”
Fish Tale by Jack Schuyler
The line went taut.
“I got somethin’ on.” My pole bent, and the spool hissed. “somethin’ big.”
“Let it run, or you’ll lose it.”
I braced myself against the boat and put the handle between my legs. Pink brine rolled across the deck, and my boots squeaked as I planted my feet. The line went out faster and faster.
“Don’t fall in.”
The spool was screaming now, and I leaned precariously over deep green water.
The pole jumped. Fifty yards out something cleared the surface and arched over the grey horizon.
“Is that a girl?”
On the Other Side of the Line by Reena Saxena
A crowd gathered near the shore in the old port town.
“Women have always been punished for crossing the line. Eve took a bite of the apple. Sita crossed the line drawn by one man, to be kidnapped by another. The crimes against women have increased since, and the victim blamed.
I tried to escape on a boat, and had my legs cut off. But I have learnt how to swim. There is no helplessness on the other side of the line.”
So saying, the mermaid spat on the perpetrator…. it was the venom she had carried for ages.
Served by D. Avery
“Dang, look it thet long line at Shorty’s chuck wagon.”
“Yep, she’s in a bloomin’ good mood Kid. Spring’s got ‘er cookin’ outdoors again an’ she’s fried up a mess a bacon fer ever’one.”
“Yeehaw! ‘Bout time! Let’s go. Oh, yeah, Pal, ya kin smell the bacon even back here at the end a the line. I cain’t wait.”
“Ya’ll have ta wait Kid, wait yer turn.”
“I know Pal.”
“Otherwise ya’d be outta line.”
“I ain’t gittin’ outta this line… almost there, Pal… Shorty! Shorty? Why’d ya serve me a carrot?”
“Sorry, Kid, outta bacon, but carrots aplenty.”
May 3: Flash Fiction Challenge
Between ice and crocus, spring lunges across the Keweenaw Peninsula. No sooner did we hack down the snow bank did the warming sun reveal bursts of snowdrops, scilla, and grape hyacinth. Purples of all hues, creamy whites, and buttery yellows paint the greening grass as tree limbs stretch skyward with fat buds.
Never have I witnessed a spring so eager as not to wait for the passing of snow. I recall the slow gray days and brown transitions elsewhere. Here, I feel transported to a Thomas Kincade scene gone wild throughout my neighborhood.
To exemplify how close spring grazes winter, on Monday we drove the familiar path to Iron Mountain for a VA appointment. As we curved around the Keweenaw Bay in a ying-yang of ice and open water, I watched an ice fisherman walk out to his hole while another man prepared to launch a boat. No changing of the guard, just a strange co-existence as one season fades and the other blazes to life.
Tulip leaves with seductive curves reach out of the grass. How soon before they add to the canvas? I’ve never been as excited to spot flowers as I do birds, but it’s hard to resist the call of the colors. Somehow, it excites me more about the birds. In a mood to drive, to soak in the warmth of days, to spot flowers and winged fowl, the Hub and I meander home the long way from Iron Mountain and end up in the port city of Marquette.
We drive down to the pier where the iron ore dock stands like an abandoned skyscraper above a crackle of broken harbor ice. Lake Superior stretches out winter white and we drive by with windows rolled down. I feel like I’ve run down a rabbit hole where winter is warm, and spring bulbs dot the snow. We lose count of hawk sightings on the drive back to Hancock.
About ten miles from home, the Sturgeon River fills its banks with snowmelt. The week before we couldn’t access the marsh bird tower at this site because snow closed the road. This week, the road is clear, the river full, and the marsh is half ice, half winter grass. Eagerly, I take the wooden steps up to the three-story-tall observation deck of the Sturgeon River bird tower.
Between me and the far reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula, I can see flat marsh, the river, the Portage Canal, and the ridge that hides Lake Superior. White seagulls circle over the canal when I scope the far horizon in my binoculars. A double-breasted cormorant flies low past the bird tower with slow flaps, dipping its head downward to scan the river.
Mallard drakes leap out of a patch of grass. Two veer left, and I keep binoculars on the one flying toward a frozen ditch in the shadow of a bank. It hovers over the bank, and beneath its webbed feet, I see something black begin to move. It glides out onto the ice, and I recognize the form of a river otter.
Slink, slink, glide…slink, slink, glide…
I squeal and watch Otter on Ice close-up in my binoculars. The Hub can see the movement and lets me look, knowing how excited I am. When the otter disappears into an open hole of water, I finally hand him the binoculars. A river otter sighting is like seeing Elvis at the mall. Everybody knows Elvis lives, but no one ever really sees him.
Later, when walking with Cranky (my neighbor who sells crank sewing machines), we talk about the otter and remark at all the crocuses and spring bulbs quilting the neighborhood. A robin twitters overhead as if to point out the buds. I say I want to be an otter — to glide on my belly across ice seems such a delight.
That’s when the bumblebee buzzes past, and we follow his trail to the cup of a purple crocus. Like a dog rolling in the grass, the bee tumbles about the flower, and I decide I want to be a bee, too. I feel childlike with all senses open — the smells of the earth, the tweets of birds, the feel of the setting sun, the blaze of colors. I want to glide and roll in it all.
It reminds me of coloring and the reproof to color within the lines.
But what if the lines are a part of the coloring? Edges define one place to the next. I’m fascinated by edges and where we go past them. Lines separate and organize. Lines are to be crossed. All lined up feels formal and arranged. Perhaps winter and all its lines have me yearning for the scattering of color outside them. It’s not the end of the line. It’s only the beginning.
May 3, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story. You can think of the variation of the word meaning, or you can think of visual references. Go where the prompt leads.
Respond by May 15, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.
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Lined Up to Go (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Wagons lined up to cross Rock Creek. Early season argonauts set land sails toward Colorado Territory – Pikes Peak or bust. Wagons hauling wares to mining-camps joined throngs of optimistic miners. Sarah counted several women, rare as mules among oxen. The trek suited the bull-headed. Seated next to Cobb on their Conestoga, they waited. He wanted to reckon crossings. The muddy slopes caused slippage and broken axels. Two wagons tipped, one man drowned, and two-hundred and fifty-four wagons crossed.
“That settles it,” Cobb said after Sarah lined up the numbers. “We’re buying Rock Creek Station and building a toll bridge.”