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Dishing Up Pasta

It’s a mac-and-cheese kind of read — comfort food for the literary soul. From beyond the myths of Marco Polo, pasta has traveled the globe in many forms from different cultures. Which came first, the Chinese noodle or the Italian spaghetti? Who knows for certain, but we do know that Thomas Jefferson introduced the colonies to macaroni and cheese, solidifying a future for America’s top pasta.

Writers took to pasta like worker bees, buzzing around the idea of how to dish it up in a story. Like fine dining or a casual dish to pass, these stories will leave you wanting seconds.

The following is based on the September 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta.

PART I (10-minute read)

Tradition by Reena Saxena

We love Grandma, and yet are never on the same page where food is concerned. She cannot appreciate the subtle flavors in a pasta or pizza, or the convenience of having carbs, proteins and fats all in a single meal. She is so stuck up in her concept of a traditional Indian thali meal. Who has the time for that kind of luxury eating?

Yet, today, as I celebrate a festival away from home, I miss the unique, delicate flavors of different dishes. I try to put a meal together. I am more Indian at heart than I realized.

🥕🥕🥕

Pasta Bee by Floridaborne

She waited for her word, looking down from the stage of her elementary school auditorium.   She’d loved sitting at the kitchen table learning to spell while pasta cooked and tomato sauce simmered on her mother’s stove.  She didn’t like standing under lights, stared at by 200 people.

“Antonia Giordano, spell…”

Starched ruffles itched at her neck, compliments of the dress her mother sewed from remnants for this occasion.  But that didn’t stop her from spelling out a word she’d known since the age of two.

“S-p-a-g-h-e-t-t-i,” she replied.

Maybe next year they’d give her a harder word; like Vermicelli.

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Too Bad It’s True by Susan Sleggs

Dear Diary, They say pasta is a comfort food. I’m choosing to believe that and plan to make a serving every Saturday from here to forever because it seems I end up at one hospital or another on Sunday. A few months ago I sat with my sister while she and her husband decided whether kidney dialysis was worth the extra time on earth for him. Two weeks ago it was my daughter fighting sepsis (she won) and this Sunday it was my son with a smashed shoulder. The wine is gone tonight, the yummy red sauce pasta awaits.

🥕🥕🥕

Remember that Old Elvis Song, In the Ghetti? by Bill Engleson

“So many noodles in the world. Whatdaya think…? You gotta choose, eh!”

Right, buddy. It’s been a long day, All I want is a quiet bus ride home. But that ain’t happening, is it?

There I am, going all silently rhetorical on the fellow sitting next to me. And all he wants to do is chit-chat about pasta.

I try and remember what Emily Post had to say about Public Transportation Etiquette.

Nothing immediately jumps out.

So, I say, noncommittally, “Noodles?”

“Yeah man,” he says, “My mom’s Mac and Cheese. It was the best.”

Yeah, I think…mine was too.

🥕🥕🥕

Pasta – Preschool Style by Ritu Bhathal

“Okay, today we are making Mother’s Day gifts for your mummies, grandmas, or aunties.

What I want you to do is take the string in one hand, and pick up a piece of pasta.
Remember, the other day, we painted it?

It’s like a tube, and you can thread the string through it, and make a lovely necklace.

No, David, you can’t eat it.

Penny! Stop strangling Julia with the string!

Peter! Don’t tip the tray upside d-…

Don’t worry Mary, we can pick it all up, stop crying, please…”

The life of a pre-school teacher.

🥕🥕🥕

Elbow Macaroni by TN Kerr

Margarite grinned wildly, stepped off the bus and hurried toward me.

When she got close she dropped her backpack and leapt into my arms.

“Holy smokes, Kiddo,” I pushed her hair back and kissed her, “what are you so excited about today.”

“Art class, Daddy. I made a picture of you.”

“With paints?”

“No.”

“With crayons?”

“No, Daddy. Mixed media,”

“Mixed media? What’s that?”

I put her down. She pulled a paper plate from her backpack and showed me.

Macaroni was glued to the plate. There were pencil lines and hints of orange marker. It looked just like me.

🥕🥕🥕

Pasta Pray Tells: What Are We Eating, Exactly? by Peregrine Arc

The little girl grimaced in her seat, staring at her plate of pasta. The garlic bread basket sat in the middle of table, steamy and pleasant. Her parents urged her to try her meal.

The little girl sighed resignedly and tried to eat. The fork and spoon soon fell to her plate with a clatter.

“I can’t do it!” she exclaimed. “Please, don’t make me.”

“Why not, dear?”

“It’s angel’s hair!” the little girl sobbed. “Give it back to them, please!”

🥕🥕🥕

Traditions by Heather Gonzalez

Angela stood on her tiptoes to be able to see over the counter top. Her nonna was mixing the pasta dough with her hands, and she was finally tall enough to watch. Each movement seemed like nonna had choreographed an intricate dance. Fingers and dough intertwining to create the magic of pasta.

After each piece of pasta was perfectly shaped, nonna motioned for Angela to come closer. This was it. She was finally getting a chance to be apart of the magic. Gently she lowered the perfectly crafted dough into the water with pride.

“Al dente. Perfecto.” Nonna smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

A Fish Tale from Lake Country by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It couldn’t be un-seen. It was right there in front of me: the giant spaghetti bowl, the splash of Tante Lianna’s special sauce, meatballs rolling off the table and onto the floor, parmesan spread all over the dining room table, like sleet in a Minnesota mid-June storm.

And the noodles! Seemingly caught in mid-flight from the bowl, they lay heavy as nightcrawlers escaping a flooded sidewalk, the aftermath of the aforementioned storm, turned to punishing rain.

And Uncle Wilford, face down in the middle of it all.

He should have heeded the warning twinge in Tante Lianna’s trick knee.

🥕🥕🥕

Love’s Give and Take by Sascha Darlington

“Pasta Puttanesca? Do I have to perform an intervention?”

“I’m at a crossroads.”

“Something you’re not telling me?”

“It’s not about you. It’s Chloe and that jerk.”

“AKA her husband?”

“He got fired. Wants to be a stay-at-home dad. Do consulting work.”

“Don’t see the problem.”

“You wouldn’t. You’re nothing like him. He’s perpetually lazy, doesn’t know how to use a vacuum or a dustpan. Stove’s foreign as well.

“Why’s this your problem?”

“I promised Mom I’d look after Chloe. I’ve failed.”

“He’s failing. Your pasta smells good.”

“Have some.”

“You didn’t use anchovies?”

“Not when you hate them.”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by The Dark Netizen

“Is the order for table number ten ready?”

I turned the blaze of the cooking flame down and grasped the pan in my left hand. With my right hand, I expertly arranged the lines of spaghetti on the plate. Reuben walked up to me and winked.

“You know, she’s looking quite fine in her black dress today.”

I peeked outside through the kitchen door window. There she was again, sitting in perfect poise, making my heart beat harder. Reuben whispered.

“Tell her, man!”

I put the final touch on the dish with the red sauce.

“A red heart, sweet!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Visit To The ER by Patrick O’Connor

“Pasta! I want pasta!”

“It must be penne pasta, with meatballs, and marinara.”

The doctor stared at me with a quizzical look.

My wife shook her head and said “That sounds about right. He loves his pasta.”

After the x-rays, CT Scan, and EKG, they worked on getting the blood pressure back up.

“I’m sure your wife will take you to get some pasta once you are released.”

“I’ll make sure of it Doctor.”

Seemed like forever before we got out of the ER.

Got to the restaurant and ordered penne pasta with meatballs and marinara.

“I’m not hungry.”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle

“Would you like some spaghetti bolognaise, Nan?”

“Absolutely not. I don’t eat that foreign food. Nasty, gloopy stuff. You can’t even pick it up on your spoon properly; it slithers right off.”

“Why don’t you just give it a try, Nan? It really is very tasty with David’s sauce.”

“No, thank you. I would rather eat English mashed potatoes. Such a versatile food. Did I ever tell you how we used it to make pastry during the war when we couldn’t get flour?”

“Yes, Nan,” said Julie with a sigh. “You have told me about potato pastry many times.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lunch by oneletterup

“I think I know who she is.”
“What should we do?”

They whisper, but she hears.
Crouching in the hall shadows. Hidden.
Disappearing. Like before.

“Lunch time!” the nice man calls.
The little girl and little boy are at school.
She perches on the edge of her chair.
Her very own place at their table.

“Honey…” the nice lady begins.
“We’re so sorry…”
Looking down.
“You can’t stay here anymore.”

The girl freezes. Stares. Forkful of spaghetti suspended.
Fingers clench into a fist snapping the fork upright.
Steaming tomato sauce spatters.
Drips down her hand.
Red spreading. Staining.
Everywhere.

🥕🥕🥕

Pasta for Breakfast by Norah Colvin

Papa Bear pushed back his chair. “Not this muck again.”

Mama Bear stopped mid-ladle. “It’s Baby Bear’s favourite. I— I thought it was yours too.”

Baby Bear’s lip quivered.

“Pfft! Sometimes a bear needs real food.” He grabbed his hat. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Papa!” Baby Bear went after him.

Mama Bear dumped the porridge, pot and all, into the bin, grabbed her hat and followed.

“Where are we going?” asked Baby Bear.

“Somewhere nice for breakfast. It is spring after all.”

Papa Bear paused outside BreakFasta Pasta, then went in.

Mama Bear smiled; pasta was her favourite.

🥕🥕🥕

The Legendary Feud by Anurag Bakhshi

The boy’s great-great-great-grandfather was apparently the one to blame

For he called the pasta sauce of the girl’s great-great-great-Nonna tagliatelle, listless and tame

The echo of that insult had now been felt by these two star-crossed lovers

Who, let’s admit it, were just looking for some good old action between the covers

Their dead bodies were a testament to the folly of pride

A lesson that a family pasta recipe is not something to mock or deride

As the Bard put it so succinctly- For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo

🥕🥕🥕

No Pasta Was Harmed in Making This Story by Anne Goodwin

She snipped off the seal and upended the pack. Closed her eyes as fusilli clattered into the bowl. Paused, shook her head, reached for the rigatoni bag.

An hour later, there was barely room for his coffee cup among the bowls of dried pasta on the kitchen worktop. “Tell me, you’re cooking dinner at six in the morning or you’ve invited a kindergarten class for hands-on play?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I’m researching sound effects for my radio drama next month.”

“You’ve set it in a restaurant? In Italy?”

“A shack in Madagascar. I’m recreating rain on a corrugated-iron roof.”

🥕🥕🥕

My London Marathon by Kelvin M. Knight

I squinted through the rain. The other competitors looked comically savage – the way their dyed hair dripped down their faces. Nonetheless, these fun runners were out my league. Hugging my bin liner coat, I felt under dressed. I felt under trained. I should have done more. These words were my epitaph.

Still, I eat more than anyone else at the pasta party yesterday evening, so the complex carbohydrates would be on my side, along with this pantomime horse, this huge banana, and this Herculean woman with a refrigerator chained to her back.

Groaning, I waved at the BBC cameraman.

🥕🥕🥕

World’s Worst Poem, Plated by Chelsea Owens

Perdonnez, signora, will you taste my
veritable vermicelli which lost a

Tagliatelle or gnocchi -or was
it tortellini or gemelli?- that cost a

Few dozzina homemade noodles: measured,
mixed, rolled, chopped, shaped, and boiled -hasta

Domani, questa mattina -when nappy
And wriggly rigatoni-head rastas

Dangle candid cannelloni for
colazione (o pranzo o cena o altro) sauced, a

Banchetto of bavett, bucatini,
bigoli, e barbina; which fosta

Amore, our home country joy; precious
mem’ries of mamma o zia o ci, who bossed a

Flourishing, famishing family,
practically-plated with a plethora of pasta.

If that doesn’t bake your noodle, you’ve lost-a.

🥕🥕🥕

Pasta by Anita Dawes

What is it good for, not eating.
Throw it at the wall, see if it sticks.
Leave it until it falls off, give it to the kids to play with.
Oh, wait a minute they have already done that.
My granddaughters have used it for school projects
Picture frames you cannot dust…
The Italians love to tell us it has to be Al dente, the bite.
The thought of eating pasta makes me want to run for the hills…
And I know it’s well-loved across the globe
But seriously, why was it ever invented?
Does it grow on trees?

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (5-minute read)

Mangia, Sii Benedetto e Mangia! by JulesPaige

Mama thought a good way to teach us to listen was to keep our mouths full. Mama would serve us bountiful plates of Orecchiette. Sometimes the way Nonna Bella would make It, or she used recipes from Nonna Julia. Northern and Southern Italians cooked a bit differently. But there was always too much food!

Nonna Bella made rich red tangy sauces. While Nonna Julia employed creamy cheeses to dress her pasta.

Today you can get Gluten free pasta. Though Doc’s say a serving is one cup cooked of any shape you choose. And that Isn’t nearly enough, is it?

🥕🥕🥕

Boon or Bane? by Deepa

I was drenched in sweat that soaked the back of my clothes like a scattered map. My fitness tracker blinked up a new record today. It was the best result accomplished for my running record.

Well, don’t I deserve a small treat?

I swiped the pasta mania app in my mobile and selected the double cheese creamy chicken pasta, porcini mushroom, and an orange drink to balance my cheesy treat.

From a fitness tracker to palatable feelings, everything in a swipe at your door service.

Mobile apps, is it a boon or a bane?

🥕🥕🥕

So What’s for Dinner? by Di @ pensitivity101

Tomatoes red,
Tomatoes green,
Hundred of marbles
On vines to be seen.
Pasta is long,
Pasta is thick,
Cheesy or savoury,
It’s simple and quick.
Put them together
A meal in a flash,
Wholesome and nourishing,
Even better than mash.
Add meat and an onion
For spaghetti bolognese,
Or kidney beans and chilli
On somewhat colder days.
Pasta is versatile,
Be it boiled or baked,
One thing I’ve not tried yet
Is a pasta filled cake.
Macaroni is pasta,
Add sugar and UHT
To make a sweet pudding
As afters for tea.
Pasta’s a staple,
For Hubby and me.

🥕🥕🥕

Chester, the Reluctant Dinner Guest by Molly Stevens

“Myra invited us over for pasta tonight,” Ruth said.

“Pasta?” said Chester. “Don’t she mean spaghetti?”

“No, she was clear about it. She said pasta.”

“Well, la-de-da! That’s what she calls it, does she? Was there another fancy name stuck to her highfalutin pasta, like ‘prime-a-veers?’”

“She didn’t say. It’ll be a surprise.”

Harrumph. “I better grab a six-pack of Papst Blue Ribbon. I know she’ll be pourin’ some cheek wine, like chardonnee that will give me heartburn.

“You can always stay at home if you’d like.”

“Nah, I’ll go with along you. Besides, I’m clean out of SpaghettiOs”

🥕🥕🥕

Mother’s Italian Cooking by AbijitRay

“I am going out, shall be back by evening.”

“I am making a new dish Shailaja, don’t go before you try.”

“Mother has become adventurous;” wondered Shailaja, “she is experimenting with non Indian recipes!”

“What’s cooking mother? Am I your only guinea pig?”

“Today I am making Italian noodles.”

“Italian noodles, mother! Its called vermicelli; noodle is Chinese. Spoken in public, this may result in a diplomatic incidence!”

“Stop lecturing, try this out. This is vermicelli cooked Indian way.”

Shailaja found her mother in kitchen juggling a cook book in Hindi along with a host of vegetables and spices.

🥕🥕🥕

Remembering Terra by Saifun Hassam

Down at the SeaQuail Market, by the old Fishermen’s wharf, we feasted on a picnic lunch under blue summer skies.

Jumbo pasta shells overflowing with sautéed shrimp, sun-drenched tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, red and green bell peppers, olives, garlic and onions marinated in olive oil and just that delicate touch of rosemary, fennel and basil.

A generous sprinkling of shredded mozzarella, Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese.

Espresso coffee and cinnamon ginger fudge.

In a week, Adriana, an astronaut and biochemist, would report for training for her first assignment to Mars. She was my sister. Would we ever see each other again?

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

David shut the door, shaking his head. Heather smirked. “Who was that?”

“The Pastafarians,” he said with a flourish.

“Welcome to Austin, right?”

“You’d think they’d respect dinner time.”

“What did he say, about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

They watched the disciples slink down the driveway, the tallest holding a book with a noodle dangling from the binding. “Do you think they’re serious?”

David shrugged, halfway holding a smile. “No. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s the point. We take this stuff too seriously.”

“Careful. You could get struck down talking like that.”

“Wouldn’t that just prove their point?”

🥕🥕🥕

Fettuccini Afraid-O by Susan Shuman

“This menu is amazing…” Shelley feigned enthusiasm.

“Get whatever you want,” Eddie shrugged. “Looks like you could use a good meal.”

“Oh, I can’t decide…”

Eddie wished she’d leave her hair alone. It looked like she was trying to strangle her fingertips with it. “Why are you doing that?”

“Huh?” Shelley let go of her hair. “Oh, bad habit.” Her throat tightened.

The waitress brought a steaming loaf of bread to their table and began rattling off the pasta specials.

That’s what did it.

Shelley stifled a scream and scrambled for the door—

Phagophobia: a legacy from her mother.

🥕🥕🥕

Pasta by Deborah Lee

Jane ambles through the grocery store, pushing a cart and luxuriating in the experience of grocery shopping. Like people who have a food budget, cupboards to store recipe ingredients, a kitchen for melding them into a home-cooked meal, refrigerator for leftovers.

She hesitates in the pasta aisle, torn between the thought of a steak or her mother’s standby, macaroni with tomatoes and cheese melted through. She used to think of pasta as poor-people food – before she became a poor-people. But it will always be comfort food, Jane thinks, tossing three times as much as she needs into her basket.

🥕🥕🥕

Epic Workplace

Slide down the rabbit hole or step behind the curtain. Here you will find the wonders of an epic workplace. From young entrepreneurs going door-to-door to ranch pals riding the range, there’s a world of epic places to work.

Writers set about their own workplaces to draw upon imagination, stories, or memories to write about the place many of us will spend the majority of our adult lives. It best be epic!

The following are based on the September 6, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an epic workplace.

PART I (10-minute read)

Door-to-door by Bill Engleson

“He’s so young,” I can hear my mother say.

“He’s fourteen,” my father states the obvious.

“That’s what I mean. Delivering papers is one thing. People ask to have the paper delivered. They want kids delivering the news. But this?”

I’ve been delivering the Snuffle River Clarion six days a week for three years. Seventy customers. That’s been my bar. It goes down every so often. People move. A few have died.

But I ain’t a kid any longer.

The future is in door-to-door.

Watkins Products!

Spices!

Vegetable Oil Soap, ‘Pure Enough To Eat!’

Liniment!

I’ll make a fortune.

🥕🥕🥕

Epic by Reena Saxena

“Can I meet one of the seniors before I join?”

“Sure! They are happy to meet prospective employees.”

I find myself opposite the legendary whistle-blower of the topmost bank. I forgot to blink.

“I know, kid! Many people believed that no other firm will offer me employment after that courtroom battle. But this is a company that values integrity. Integrity doesn’t mean just not stealing. It means that your thoughts, words and actions always match.”

Now, this was a tough one. Most of us cannot lay claim to such a lofty value system.

“Actually, I have another offer, Sir…..”

🥕🥕🥕

Retreat by Sarah Whiley

I’d been away for work at a beautiful spot, facilitating a retreat for carers. The aim – respite and pampering, for three days.

I’d worked hard to ensure they’d had everything they needed, and could truly unwind from the demands of looking after the person they cared for.

I opened up a package that had arrived for me in the mail that day.

I held a flat rock with a detailed image of the mountain landscape where we’d been.

“Thank you” the card read, “I’ve found the inspiration to paint again”.

What an epic workplace, I thought, choking back tears.

🥕🥕🥕

Workplace by The Dark Netizen

A new day begins. Can’t wait to get to work!

I love working here. Our work areas are customizable. Today feels like a day for a sky blue theme. Also, I’m thinking a nice ten inch pepperoni pizza for lunch today. Oh! And a nice pitcher of wheat beer to wash it down with. All this on company expense. Sounds like a great day already. The best part about my workplace and job, is my boss. He’s such a fun guy. Speaking of which, need to take his call now.

“Good morning, sir! Righto! On my way, Mr. Santa!”

🥕🥕🥕

My Workplace My Heaven by Deepa

I thought
the kitchen was the best
but aroma disturbed me
then settled to my balcony
but eyes grazed the crowd
I thought
the park would be perfect
but the emotions stirred deep
and saddened me further
finally found a place of peace
uninterrupted and serene
because no one dares me here

when ideas trigger me
I make an excuse
and rush to the hole
I sit on top of it
with my legs dangling
in water cold
I love this place
because ideas don’t just
happen in certain places
they happen at
certain times
in the loo too

🥕🥕🥕

Opportunity by Abhijit Ray

“We are investing big money to set up new research center,” Human Resource manager pointed at the aerial photograph, identifying research center, administrative building, crèche, jogging track, “we are the best paymasters; we arrange relocation and accommodation, we take care of health and welfare of employees and their families. Other routine benefits you can find in your letter.”

The scope of this Epic opportunity impressed him. “This is the right time to move back and contribute,” he reasoned. Afterall, his initial education was the basis of his higher studies and current life. Question was how to convince his family.

🥕🥕🥕

Heaven by Floridaborne

Most people say they want a great view, presidential fringe benefits, or freedom to work anywhere outside an office when asked, “What’s your epic workplace?”

After 40 years of office intrigue, being targeted by the cliques I wouldn’t join, and enduring lighting levels that left me with daily headaches, I’ve finally achieved my idea of heaven.

I’m a sub-contractor working with people I consider family. I have autonomy over a specific job in a corner office with window blinds to control the amount of light inside, a 32” computer screen, and the fluorescent lighting outside my office is off.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle

“Where did you say you worked?”

“I didn’t say but I can work any place and any time. My mobile office is comprehensive. I have two laptops, two cell phones and an ipad.”

“Really, that is interesting. Do you work from home then?”

“As I said, I work from anywhere. Sometimes I work from home, but I also work on planes, trains and when I am a passenger in a car. I work from hotel rooms and while I am at swimming lessons with my children. I even work while they attend music lessons and karate. It is epic.”

🥕🥕🥕

First Day at Work by Anurag Bakhshi

Maria could feel the hills come alive with music as the magnificent scenery unfolded before her. Mother Superior had been right, this WAS an epic workplace.

With renewed confidence, she gazed into the eyes of the handsome but stern-looking man who was standing next to to the seven unruly little ones…her future wards…if she could somehow impress the man, and that dazzling beauty standing next to him.

But before she could say anything, the man spoke up, “Miss Maria, let’s start at the very beginning. This is my wife Snow White, and these are the seven dwarfs.”

🥕🥕🥕

Epic by Ritu Bhathal

The door opened into a room where the atmosphere was teeming with enthusiasm.
Everywhere, industrious individuals attempted to solve their own problems in inventive manners.

There were specific areas for everything, from creative, to constructive, collaborative to computing.

A second door led to a huge outside area, filled with opportunities to stretch ideas.
Turning back into the room, I knew this was it. This was the place I wanted to be, the most epic workplace I’d encountered.

A classroom that put the children’s interests first, that stretched their thinking and allowed them to grow as individuals.

This was it.

🥕🥕🥕

Epic Work by D. Avery

One woman told about her daughter the pilot; she mentioned three children that were pilots and one that worked for NASA.

A man bragged about his son the writer; she enumerated her journalists, artists and published authors.

She shared her pride for her children that served in the military, fire, rescue, and police forces, beamed about those that had become nurses and doctors, spoke warmly of the children that stayed close to home and were good citizens.

Finally someone cried foul.

“You can’t possibly have so many children!”

“As a teacher I’ve made a difference for hundreds of children.”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by oneletterup

“I’m doing my works!”
The little girl demonstrates.
Carefully pouring water from cup to bowl.

The silent visitor watches in surprise.
She’s never seen such a grand school.

Small wooden tables and chairs. A low matching sink.
Sun pouring in on many bright, happy faces.
The little boy calls out “Me too. Look at my works!”
Red cubes stacked high.

A place for important work. For all.
Pouring. Sorting. Counting. Writing.
Girls and boys. Older helping younger.
Just like her.

The teacher, sitting on the big rug, smiles.
“Please join us for circle time.”

“Welcome to Greenwood Montessori school.”

🥕🥕🥕

It’s EPIC by Norah Colvin

Roll up! Roll up! Come one, come all. This new attraction will have you enthralled. Bring parents, bring partners, siblings and friends. No one’s excluded. It’s Earth’s latest trend. Your eyes won’t believe. Your ears won’t deceive. It’s a sensory explosion, for all to explore. It’s entertaining, electrifying, edifying too. It’s a universe first, and it happened on Earth. It’s empowering, engrossing. There’s so much to see. With no space left empty, it’s elaborate, exciting, extols energy. With exquisite exhibits and enlightening exposures, it’s the most, enticing, enriching, educational environment, established on Earth. It’s EPIC, the Exceptional Pinterest-Inspired Classroom.

🥕🥕🥕

Devil Boat by TN Kerr

I read that she was called “The Devil Boat” in reference to Revelations Chapter 13. We never called her that. The USS HAWKBILL SSN666 was a highly decorated Sturgeon Class Attack Submarine.

What was most grand about her was the crew.

Every crewman on a submarine stakes his survival on the skills and knowledge of the rest. This creates a bond. It builds pride in self and in others as, daily, you do more than you ever thought possible.

It’s a dangerous and cramped workplace. It’s not for everyone. It sometimes stinks. It frustrates. I’d undoubtedly do it again.

🥕🥕🥕

When You Always Get Your Murds Wuddled by Geoff Le Pard

‘God…’

‘What’s up mate? Looks like you’ve just been told you’re the love child of the Donald and Kim Un Kardashian?’

‘My mum. Given me a right bollocking. Apparently I just called my grandma and told her that I’d just “waxed her high and wide” as promised.’

‘Geez, mate, that’s a bit… saucy.’

‘I taxed her Hyundai. I was trying to help but she’s Mrs Malaprop made flesh.’

‘Poor old thing.’

‘I know. She told dad how pleased she was that my new workplace was epic.’

‘You told me it was manky.’

‘I said, quote, “it’s totally septic, grandma”.’

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

“Noah, Noah, Noah…”

I broke off my thoughts, elbow deep in the murk of dishwater and some epic plotting. Rhonda stared at me over a haphazard pile of pots and dishes, used napkins, trash and utensils. ‘I swear kid, sometimes I wonder where you go in that head of yours. Anyway, this is the last of the buffet.”

She stalked off to smoke. I turned to the load. A three-gallon pot of Clam chowder with a day’s worth of insulation around the lip. I picked up my scraper and smiled. I had all night to get this chapter right…

🥕🥕🥕

Games Omniverse – Epic Workplace by Kerry E.B. Black

They’re all so much younger than me, but I find their Millenial energy invigorating. I know they look on me as the Grandma of the bunch. They turn eye-rolls when I’ve fouled another computer task and hide their smiles when I say something about “me me’s” instead of saying “memes.”

Yet somehow, I bring something to the group. I’d never be so vain as call it wisdom, and my experiences aren’t always helpful. However, it works. When they need copy, I pound on the keyboard until some small magic occurs, and the Angel in charge nods.

“This’s good. Thanks.”

🥕🥕🥕

Dream Job by D. Avery

“I have had a lot of other jobs, but this is by far the best. I mean, it can be intense, but I enjoy the challenge. In my present work I am able to really use and incorporate all my previous experiences and prior knowledge to advantage. And I have a lot of latitude, a lot of freedom. I often work outside, I can dress how I want, set my own hours… it’s pretty awesome. Dream job. I am really enjoying myself.”

“Uh, Dude, you’re unemployed. You haven’t worked in months.”

“But I have been working at writing! Epic!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Amazing-Magician-From-India-With-Love by papershots

On-the-subway-for-spare-change, “with a white string I can make stand straight and hard, look!” leaps into the intermittent morning waltz of in…and-out, back…and-forth, you…getting-off?. When in the middle of his feat of magic the poor-Bosnian-I-live-in-a-shack with-this-little-girl please-help-me “20 cents to buy milk” gets on and sees the Amazing-Magician-from-India-etc…

The who-drowns-out-who challenge is on! Yeah! No.

“Please,” she starts, “ladies and gent…” then breaks off, gets off, the code of conduct of the beggars who can’t choose which train to ticketless-ly attack. “The white string stands straight and hard, look!” Not much change, though, in the worn-out Kullu cap.

🥕🥕🥕

The Call by Anne Goodwin

Bile stinging her throat, she pressed the green icon.

“Homer here.” His tone gave nothing away.

“Thanks for …” Her whole future in that pause.

“Congratulations!”

Joy of joys! She didn’t need to hear more. But was she up to it? Could she bear to uproot herself and begin again somewhere new? “Sorry, I’ll have to turn it down.”

“Excellent!”

Excellent? They didn’t want her after all? She reran his offer in her head: I’m calling to invite you on the adventure of working with us. Of course: to earn the elixir, an employee must first reject the call.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

My Log Cabin by Kelvin M. Knight

Briefcase in hand, I kiss my wife at the patio door. ‘See you tonight.’

‘Have a great day at work, darling.’

A short stride across our lawn and I am here, where everything’s clean and pine fresh. Varnish shines the floor. An uncluttered desk smiles. There are no pictures, no ornaments. This empty space. This creative space.

Free even from books, those to be read and those to be filled – my precious notebooks.

Relaxing in my chair, I open my briefcase, remove my laptop. Tranquility washes over me. Nodding, I let this blank screen write its story upon me.

🥕🥕🥕

Cloud Covers by Chelsea Owens

“How’s it goin’, Nim?” called a breathy voice. He looked up. And up. And to the side. There was Cirrus, waving and smiling.

“Er… it’s a breeze.” He paused. “How ’bout you?”

“Clear skies here.”

“Cool, cool.” Nimbostratus faced forward again, his harness jangling. With utmost care he applied another layer of white. Now just to add a touch of grey…

“I saw Cumulo yesterday,” Cirrus flurried. She never could stay still.

“Mm-hmm.” Dip. Paint.

Cirrus also disliked inattention. She dropped in altitude. “He said: BOOM!”

“AAAH!” Nimbostratus yelled.

“Looks a bit greyer than initially predicted,” the weatherman noted.

🥕🥕🥕

Epic Workplace by Ann Edall-Robson

The room is pristine to start, but soon takes on a look somewhat chaotic. Books spread out across open spaces where once there were thoughts of organization and streamlining the hours to make them as productive as possible. Sounds of thunking, banging, clinking as doors open and close revealing needed tools. There are small marred bits of paper, tattered edged recipes, speckled from age and use. No one interrupts in this epic workplace where the tantalizing smells and mouth watering finales meld as one. To do so would jeopardize the anticipation of savouring the memories coming from the kitchen.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Susan Sleggs

If someone asked where I would like to have an epic quilting space, I would answer, on a bluff overlooking the Oregon coast, or high in a sky scraper with lots of windows to admire the scenery day and night, or perhaps on Flathead Lake in Montana to view the mountains and water. But let’s be logical about this; if I’m sewing I’m not looking at a view. I think I’ll keep the 600 square feet in the basement of my current home. Peace resides there and my cats keep me company. Besides I’m usually working in my pajamas.

🥕🥕🥕

Space…the Final Frontier by Kayuk

Words, like hammers, pound into me …again. “Isn’t there ONE SINGLE SPACE in this house I can put my things?”

Tears beg release. Manly things are piled on sofas, beds, tables, and floors in every room. A year after moving in, I’m still an intruder in a man’s sanctuary.

The tirade continues but, through patio doors, a shady table and chair await me. Abutting the grass is a lovely pond, with a serene view of ducklings following mama.

He storms out and, laptop in hand, I sigh and step through the door to a warm breeze and epic workplace.

🥕🥕🥕

Epic Workplace by Frank Hubeny

Eric was a loner. That’s why he liked people. They were rare like deer or bear in the distance. He took a break from thinning paper company land with brush saw holstered on his back and his head lost in his helmet.

He saw the hikers coming. One of them asked him if they were still on the Appalachian Trail. “Yes! Keep going. It’s right over there.” The trail wasn’t easy to see.

Eric wondered why people walked that trail, but he was glad to see them. He was glad he could give someone good directions on their way.

🥕🥕🥕

Green Crater by Saifun Hassam

Jeff, Valerie and Carmen trekked from the rim of Green Crater to Green Crater Lake, formed millennia ago. Wind and water had weathered the extinct volcano’s steep ravines to valleys with gentle slopes. Every year, the rangers visited the Crater area, one of Special Ecological Habitats.

For Jeff, the Crater was his epic workplace, one he explored in the winter as well. By late spring the snows had melted. The lake and its marshy shores, attracted deer, egrets, migrant ducks and geese. Last summer, Jeff saw a bobcat. Today, a rattlesnake, basking in the sun on smooth rounded stones.

🥕🥕🥕

In the Cards by D. Avery

The guys had circled their beer coolers for poker night in Ernest’s garage, where it was less humid than the trailer.

“Marge, I can’t believe you quit being shop foreman to work in this two-bit two bay garage. Left the largest dealership around — state of the art equipment, only working on newer vehicles–”

“Yeah”, chimed Lloyd. “Epic.”

“The work here’s actually more interesting, our customers bring us all sorts of mechanical mysteries to be solved. It’s more personal. And I got tired of babysitting.”

“Oooh, personal! Marge and Ernest up in a tree…”

“Like I said…”

“Epic”, Lloyd repeated.

🥕🥕🥕

Upward Mobility (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Mist rose from the pond with the morning coolness of a mountain camp at 7,000 feet. Danni stretched in sun salutations on the sagging porch of her Forest Service cabin while coffee percolated. The aroma grew strong, and she padded back inside on bare feet to pour a cup. The rest she saved for her thermos. As she drove her quad toward the archeological dig, Danni spotted elk, a skittering coyote and a Cooper’s hawk. At the worksite, trenches waited for the volunteers who would follow. She contemplated her epic workplace. At last, Danni would be the lead archeologist.

🥕🥕🥕

A Sign of the Times by Di @ pensitivity101

Scott loved his job at the Living Museum. It was inspired, and different.
Admittance was free, but there were warnings about laser lights and flashing images.
Only fifty people were admitted at any one time, the doors closing behind them.
The room was dark, save for a single spot of light on the far wall.
The music started, loud and upbeat. Lights pulsed to the rhythm, and the magic began.
Holographic figures moved amongst them, through them, so real and yet only a projected image. Patrons felt themselves drawn into a time past, present and future all at once.

🥕🥕🥕

Working on The Unsinkable Ship by Peregrine Arc

“They’re wanting sheets in cabin four, Miss Elizabeth.”

“Yes, miss. I’ll get them right away,” the maid said politely with a curtsy to her matron.

“And be sure you’re minding your place. Just because we’re working in first class doesn’t mean—”

But Elizabeth was already down the hallway, gathering clean linens in the laundry room. Her friend Gayle was there, in the corner where they whispered their secrets and dreams.

“Just think of it, Liz! Us—on the Titanic!”

🥕🥕🥕

Epic Workplace by Anita Dawes

The cleaning job I had in my twenties holds one sad memory.

Springfield Hospital, a building held together by sadness. The people inside, old, forgotten.

A woman of about eighty, taken for her daily bath, left alone in this cold room. Her arms reaching over the bath edge, pleading to be taken out.

Matron caught me, told me to get on with my work, which I found hard to do.

Now a block of posh flats stands where the hospital used to be.

I wonder what kinds of sounds echo around those walls now.

Do they drip with sadness?

🥕🥕🥕

Average Day At Work by Heather Gonzalez

Marcus stepped heavy steel-toed boots into his coveralls. Zipping up with a firm grip, it shielded the majority of his body. Then putting on gloves and safety goggles, he was now ready to start his work day. The odor that permeated the scene had become commonplace for him. Even before he reached the body, he noticed that the decomposition process had already begun. Climbing under the caution tape, Marcus surveyed the environment to make sure that all of the evidence was tagged beforehand. Whoever did this, definitely didn’t think about who would have to clean it up this mess.

🥕🥕🥕

New Beginnings by Kelvin M. Knight

Blades of grass lifted the stones like they were grains of sand – stones bigger than me. Walking over this grass, I felt as though I were walking on springs – those metallic contraptions Father used to create timepieces – despite time measuring being forbidden.

‘Forbidden yet fantastical.’ These words flowed from a forest whose leaves rose into the sky, over and over, like rippling water.

Ignoring them, I sat crosslegged and thought, Hullo, I’m your new apprentice.

‘I know.’ A man appeared before me brandishing two crystal balls.

‘For me?’

‘For yours. For mine.’ Laying them at my feet, he disappeared.

🥕🥕🥕

Virtual Reality by D. Avery

“Jeez, Kid, that post was kinda trippy. Had ta wunder ‘bout Shorty fer a bit there…”

“Trippy? Have ta wunder ‘bout you, Pal.”

“It’s a wunder we git anythin’ done aroun’ here what with all the yackin’. Saddle up, Kid, it’s time ta ride.”

“Pal, do we ride or write? This kin be punny place, I git confused.”

“Reckon, you an’ me, we ride, jist do ranch-like chores.”

“Good, writin’s too much work. I’d ruther be herdin’ strays, tendin’ the stock, ridin’ the range… It’s beautiful here.”

“Yep. We really have an epic workplace, Kid.”

“I imagin’ we do.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bottlenecks

Whether you are slammed in a bottleneck of traffic or sitting on the front porch slamming back bottlenecks of beer, the time such moments lend a person is pause to contemplate. Bottlenecks might slow down processes or create unexpected releases.

Stories about bottlenecks vary in design as much as glasswork. You might feel the urge to wedge a lime into a bottleneck of your own as you read.

The following are based on the August 30, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a bottleneck.

Part I (10-minute read)

Commuting by kate @ aroused

My senses were being assaulted by the cacophony of others preferred listening choices. Our windows were wound down to catch any air. Driving home during peak hour was a drag, concentrating on traffic after intense work.

The main thought that was getting me through was of the sushi I’d picked up and the promise of a long hot shower. Then curling under my sheet with a good book … the kind you held and turned the pages. Electronic reading was not for me.

My wandering mind is brought back with a jolt as the traffic bottlenecked around an accident.

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck by FloridaBorne

We waited behind a semi, unable to see what blocked the road ahead. I sneezed at the diesel exhaust and asked my wife, “Found anything yet?”

The truck moved forward a few feet, and then stopped again, cars merged from the left lane as my wife stared at her tablet. “We’ll be out of this bottleneck in another 50 feet.”

“Was there an accident?”

“No,” she sighed. Traffic moved past an area where the left lane was devoid of anything but a lone boot.

That’s all it takes to stop traffic in LA — a shoe in the road.

🥕🥕🥕

Acrostic Bottleneck by TN Kerr

B eneath the dormant wheels
O f this sharp, sleek, motionless luxury automobile
T he motorway lies still, inert and unmoving despite my serious objections. Roll up the windows then,
T he heat is relentless and the malodourous exhaust fumes of a thousand cars
L ingers and mingles languidly with the
E ther that surrounds us.
N eedless to say, we should take the next available
E xit, we should find a relaxing spot to picnic; or a back road we might use as an alternative – a means to
C ircumnavigate this bottleneck, else we won’t be home before
K wanzaa, and it’s not yet Guy Fawkes Night.

🥕🥕🥕

Idiots on the Road (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Ike passed cars like a Hollywood speed-chase. Danni put her hand on his knee, “Slow down.”

“These idiots on the road are going to cause an accident.”

Danni kept her opinion that Ike was the one driving like an idiot. You’d think he was chasing down Al Qaeda in a Humvee the way he swerved around slower vehicles.

Stands of pines zipped past until traffic ahead came to a bottleneck at Culvers Point. Ike swore smooth as opera. Tourists stopped in the road to snap pictures of a mama moose. Danni reminded Ike, “Remember, we’re in Idaho, not Iraq.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lemons, Limes and Other Mysteries by Norah Colvin

She hit the brakes and thumped the steering wheel.

“Mummy swore.”

“Didn’t.”

“I heard.”

“Why we stopped, Mummy?”

“There’s a traffic jam.”

“Jam? I love stawbrey jam sammich.”

“Not that jam — must be a bottleneck up ahead.” Please be a merge, not an accident.

“We learned ‘bout bottlenecks today.”

“What?”

“Live in the ocean. Maminals, like us. Where’s bottleneck, Mummy?”

“Not bottleneck, Jamie, bottlenose.”

“You said bottleneck.”

“I meant — aargh!”

Finally, they were home.

“You look frazzled, hon.”

She rolled her eyes and took the beer.

“Why lemon is in your bottle neck?” asked Jamie.

“Because it’s not lime.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Lesson in Trust by Susan Sleggs

My grandson’s dentist appointment was after school which meant dealing with rush-hour traffic. While sitting on the overpass waiting for the light so I could turn onto the expressway ramp, I could look down to gauge the usual traffic bottleneck. Bad news. Traffic was completely stopped. I said, “We’re going for a little ride to avoid the expressway.”

“Ok.”

I wound my way around side streets going north and west.

I heard from the backseat, “I have no idea where we are!”

After two more turns he saw familiar buildings. “You weren’t lost after all Grandma? I was worried.”

🥕🥕🥕

Word Jam by Ritu Bhathal

Words.
Snippets.
Stories.
Poems.
Novels.

The ideas were just pouring out of my mind, my heart, my soul, and I didn’t know where to start.

No, that’s not right.

I knew where to start, I just couldn’t work out where to stop, how to organise the thoughts rushing through me.

My fingers danced across the keyboard, letters appearing, filling pages and pages.

Faster and faster they came, until-

They stopped.

I knew there was more to come out, but it was as if the impatience of my ideas had caused a bottleneck in my brain.

Time for the muse…

🥕🥕🥕

Backcountry Bottleneck by Ann Edall-Robson

A body and soul drive along gravel roads riddled with potholes is nothing short of bliss. The gray matter lodged between the ears has no expectations other than to watch for what Mother Nature has to offer. There is no rush in this journey. It is a plethora of whoa, stop, back up moments soaking in the sights on a trek to an unknown destination. Traffic lights do not exist, and the only bottleneck to endure may be a herd of cattle coming at you on the road. There is nothing like the backcountry to rejuvenate the writing mind.

🥕🥕🥕

Empty Bottles All in A Row by Billy Ray Chitwood

Those empty bottles tell a pitiful story of my life, Buckaroos!

Those empty bottles once carried many of those once-held dreams I carried around in my head, all rather noble and fitting for human consumption – for anyone willing to listen to my maudlin cries for do-overs written out on barroom napkins and motel room stationery.

Those empty bottles lit me up like a neon billboard, allowing me to show off my amazing way with the women and with words.

One thing wrong with that pitiful story…

It left me a ‘wimp of a man’!

So, the tombstone says!

🥕🥕🥕

A Grain Of Sand by Patrick O’Connor

A single grain of sand at a time.

One by one, they slip through the bottleneck of the hourglass.

Our lives, measured in time is representative of those grains of sand.

One day at a time, our lives slip through our fingers.

Are we striving to leave a legacy or simply living for the moment?

Meanwhile, another life gasps as the last grain of sand drops.

A sad day for some; a joy for others.

How will people remember us; or will they remember us at all.

Only time will tell – one single grain of sand at a time.

🥕🥕🥕

The Slide by oneletterup

She sees it. Poking out from under the sofa. She reaches down, closing her hand around the smooth green glass.

Just like Gramma’s! When she played the big guitar. Special for her.

“Honey, this is a bottleneck slide. It goes on my finger. Look!”

Then Gramma would smile, wink and whisper…

“This song is just for you.”

Pressing on the strings, she’d slide the glass. And sing. And fill them both up…

”If not for you…I’d be sad and blue if not for you…”

 

The little girl finds her there.

Holding the green slide. Tight.

“You found it!”

🥕🥕🥕

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams by JulesPaige

Tammy wondered if it was always this hard to buy your first home. You had to prove you were, have been and would be employed – able to make mortgage payments.

What started out as a simple bottleneck situation turned into a log jam. The red tape became like a thick hungry boa constrictor wanting to squeeze the very life from her with having to fill out form after form after form.

There would be a celebration eventually. Hopefully soon. One where she’d invite her best friends to uncork a bottle of champagne. When she finally held her home’s key.

🥕🥕🥕

The Bottle Opener by Robert Kirkendall

A party goer grabbed a longneck bottle of ale from an ice chest and searched around. “Anyone know where the bottle opener is?”

“I got this,” another party goer said as he picked up another beer bottle. “Now give me yours.”

The first party goer handed him his bottle, then the second party goer held his bottle upside down and placed the edge of its bottlecap against the other bottlecap. “A little trick I learned in college, using one bottle to open another.”

A cap popped off and beer spilled all over his pants.

“Ooops, wrong cap came off.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck Life by Kayuk

“Ready for the big job interview this afternoon?”

I grin across the table at Sally, “You bet!  I’ve been preparing for weeks.”

“Well, you certainly look stunning. The old ivory of the suit sets the perfect tone.”

“Thanks”, I say, draping a napkin across my lap and picking up the fork.

Startled by a crash and yell behind me, I leap from my chair and turn in time to see the waiter’s foot descend on a plastic catsup bottle sliding across the floor. Pressurized contents spew from the bottleneck splashing the front of my perfect suit with garish red.

🥕🥕🥕

Trust Deficit by Abhijit Ray

“Bottleneck is always at the top,” thundered CEO in the townhall meeting, on productivity, he convened for his employees, after attending a conference.

“Tell me is what problems you face? Is it resource allocation, time management or decision making?” senior managers shifted uncomfortably in their seats, as chief goaded his employees for a response.

There was pin drop silence, till an eager beaver junior shuffled in his seat. “Idiot! Not yet confirmed, you are a sitting duck,” whispered his friend, “this is all sham. CEO knows very well, where the bottleneck is. He is trying to identify trouble makers.”

🥕🥕🥕

Quality Control by Liz Huseby Hartmann

“There’s your bottleneck,” Justin nodded at the bleach-blonde woman at the end of the production line. A stack of TMPuregold Widgets sat to her left. Picking one, she held it up, squinting along its length, and nodded.

“Lorna’s a bottleneck?” His uncle chewed the end of his mustache.

“She’s slow.”

Lorna picked up another widget, ran her hand across its end, and crooked her finger at a young brunette. They bent their heads together. The younger brought the piece back to her station, smiling.

“I have lots of streamlining ideas, Uncle.”

“Tell your mother we’re not hiring just now.”

🥕🥕🥕

You Made Your Bed by Sascha Darlington

First a bottleneck on the road and now a bottleneck at the charity event. I see who is causing it and suddenly wish I had a bottleneck in my hand, preferably high-proof.

I try to avoid her, but she’s holding court, her brittle laughter wince-worthy. When her eyes focus on me, her lips tighten.

“Surprised you came.”

I sigh. “I’m chair.”

She waggles her diamond before darting to my ex-. Robert glances up. Do I see regret? Perhaps the younger, improved model wasn’t as good as the original.

Jake squeezes my hand. “You look beautiful tonight.”

Mine is though.

🥕🥕🥕

Lil’ Ugly by D. Avery

When he drew a bull called Lil’ Ugly the other cowboys laughed.

Bow legged and barrel-chested with a bottle neck and a jug head, he endured a great deal of ribbing. He disappointed his tormentors by walking away. They could tell they angered him but could never get him to throw a punch. In addition to picking on his looks they questioned his manhood.

As he approached the chute the others joked, wondered who was going to be on top.

They didn’t wonder any longer than eight seconds.

They knew now what he did with his bottled up rage.

🥕🥕🥕

Saddleback Sanctuary (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

Where the valley narrowed, the flagstone path disappeared under boulders and jagged rocks. Landslide from early spring. Diamante surveyed the bottleneck. He weaved carefully around the larger rocks, clambering up and down smaller ones. He paused to rest. A lark flew up into the warm sunny skies. A lizard slithered across the boulder, briefly eyed Diamante, and disappeared. No bottlenecks for lizard or lark.

Another half mile and he was on the flagstone trail again. The ancient abandoned monastery came into view. Near an open broken gate, a giant tortoise slept, its neck well hidden within its saddleback shell.

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

Bottleneck by Anita Dawes

Something we experience when pushing our way into a new life. A tight space, hard to get out of.

Days when the tension holds on to the back of my neck like giant metal claws.

Other times I feel as if I have been snapped back in time, trapped inside the Trojan horse with a bunch of sweaty human beings, waiting to do battle.

The sun will come back and you can move on with your life. The way ahead is clear, or am I trapped inside someone else’s mind?

Is this the bottleneck that will finally break me?

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck by katimac

They say humans of many forms lived a long time ago. Then a natural disaster struck which wiped out nearly all of them. It was most likely the progenitor of the Great Flood stories found in nearly every culture. Geologists can point to physical signs of it all at about the same time, nearly seventy thousand years ago. Anthropologists can point to one at the same time, about seventy thousand years ago, when mankind was reduced to a small bottleneck group on the western coast of Africa. We ain’t none of us lily-white if we go back far enough.

🥕🥕🥕

This Time, This Place by Kelvin M. Knight

Standing in his pulpit, he regarded one bottleneck after another: his overworked PCC; the cavalier making of tea during the service; the choir grumbling behind him; the organ whimpering far far away.

He prayed silently, swiftly. Upon opening his eyes, he spied a congregation transformed. Now they all looked resplendent in starched white collars, whereas he was a shadow, bloated and distorted, and pinched in so many places: from his wallet to his timesharing; from his patience to his love.

Realising he was more guilty than them, he pondered the complexities of daring to share this truth with them.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Exactly an Hour-glass Figure by Di @ pensitivity101

‘You need to go on a diet.’

‘Don’t you start! How can I help it if there’s so much to choose from, I want to try it all?’

‘Somehow seeing you stuck like that is doing you no favours as regards your street cred.’

‘I’ll have you know this colour is very fetching! Brings out the natural blue of my eyes.’

‘At the moment they look a bit bloodshot. You’ve probably cut off your circulation, you’ve gotten so fat.’

‘No need to be nasty. I’ll just make a wish!’

‘But that’s cheating!’

‘Ha! I’m a Genie darling! I’m allowed!’

🥕🥕🥕

Bored Panda by Deepa

Honey, does this look good?

I nod quickly thinking my way to escape.

Is this one better? She asked me.

If I nod again, I fear she’ll say, ‘so what is wrong with the first one?’

Which one do you prefer? This was she again.

Oh, darling! You look equally amazing in both.

Oh, honey! Do you mean to say can I have both?

It is a terror for spouses when it comes to shopping.

A pleasure for sales guys and a reason for more congestion in the roads and malls.
Buy 1, get one free!

🥕🥕🥕

Jessie by Kay Kingsley

It had been 3 weeks and 4 days since Mike and Jessie had broken up and each second that passed was agony for him.

He sat in his usual chair at the bar hoping to be as invisible as he felt, a chameleon basked in neon.

The bar was a loud distraction as he mindlessly stroked the bottle neck, lost in the memory of her smile and the smell of her perfume. Full of regret, his heart ached.

When she touched his shoulder from behind, he looked up and thought it was a dream. They smiled at each other.

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck by Frank Hubeny

Some say your real brains are in your gut. Bill knew his wasn’t in his brain. Sharon doubted he had any in his gut either.

That’s when she got pregnant and started worrying.

That’s when they had to move to a smaller apartment.

That’s when it looked like he would lose his job.

That’s also when he didn’t lose his job, but got an indirect promotion.

That’s also when they realized they loved that new apartment.

That’s when he held her and told her he was glad she was pregnant.

That’s when she changed her mind about his brains.

🥕🥕🥕

One Night, Both Ends of Life by Paula Moyer

One Night, Both Ends of Life

6:30: the call. Finally, that night.

“Today’s the day.” Her nephew Max, about his father, Jean’s brother.

“Did he die?”

“Yes.” The wait/weight – done. Alcoholic organ failure – complete.

7:30 p.m.: the text. “My water broke.” A very pregnant woman’s message to Jean, her doula. “But nothing’s happening.” Jean gassed up anyway.

9:30: the call. The husband. “It’s time.”

Jean battled State Fair traffic, road work, bridge closures.

10:10: Raced into the birth center. “Waaa!” On the floor: Chux pads, blood everywhere. On the bed: parents and one angry baby.

11:30: the drive home, joy and grief wedged in together.

🥕🥕🥕

Hillsborough, April 1989 by Anne Goodwin

The match was a sell-out, but progress through the turnstiles deathly slow. To ease the tension outside, they opened the gates and funnelled the supporters directly into the already swollen stand. As the game kicked off, no-one heard the protests of those at the front, the screams forced from crushed lungs. While grown men cried for their mams, kids hadn’t the air to whimper. The first to scale the fence were met with truncheons. Belatedly, the ambulances pulled onto the pitch.

No goals were scored that day. But records were broken in the numbers killed at a sporting event.

🥕🥕🥕

The Happiest Traffic Jam on Earth by Chelsea Owens

“When will we get dere?”

Sigh.

“It’s …uh, your turn to answer him, Dear.”

“Whe-e-e-e-en will we get de-e-e-e-ere?”

“I told you, Honey. We’ll be there soon.”

“Yeah. ‘Soon.’”

“You said that a long time ago!”

“Alvy. Honey-”

“I wish you wouldn’t call him-”

“No! You said we go in duh car!”

“Yes, Sweetheart. Vroom! Vroom! Remember?”

“Not vrooming…”

“You said LITTLE ride in duh car!”

“Well, I meant-”

“You did tell him just a little ride-“

WAAAAAAAAAH!

“Dear, please. That’s not helping to side with him…”

“Are we picking sides?”

“WHEN WILL WE GET DERE?!”

“Your turn.”

Sigh.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s a Boy! by Sarah Whiley

I twisted.

I urged.

Yet still, the cap wouldn’t budge.

I felt so frustrated. This liquid was yearning for release for human consumption and to be enjoyed.

It was a perfect summer’s day for a beer.

Not ready to concede defeat, I kept on trying.

The effort began to hurt my hands.

Damn this thing, I thought.

Then suddenly, I felt it.

A helpful force; working with me from the other side.

Oh joy of joys, the cap began to move!

Finally it was released, and cool liquid amber gushed through the bottle neck.

“It’s a boy!” I smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Music pulsed, matching the thump of my heart in my ears as I leaned in and gave the wine bottle a carefully planned spin. Breath held. The circle tightened. Julie Jennings’ knee touched against mine, the bottleneck now a whir of fate.

Thump. Warmth hit my cheeks as the wand settled on Julia. A nervous laugh. What now? But with a giggle Julie nudged it two more places—miles it seemed!—to the metallic smile of Christina Cash. A small terror in my chest. A gust of strawberries. Julia shrugged, winked, then shoved me off towards her best friend.

🥕🥕🥕

Chester Makes Amends by Molly Stevens

Chester knew he had to dig himself out of a crater after he gave the wrong impression to his wife, Ruth.

He settled on his strategy and said, “I remember the exact moment I knew you was the one. And though it was magic, my decision to ask for your hand in marriage had nothin’ to do with a silly eight ball.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. I chose you in the fifth grade.”

“Really?”

“Remember the party at Rosie house? We gathered in a circle, and I spun first. When the bottleneck pointed in your direction, I knew you’d be mine.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bottlenecking by Bill Engleson

I peer into the darkness.

Stella’s driving.

The fog’s thicker than shower steam.

“There’s the turnoff,” I point, bumping my digit against the windshield.

“I see it,” she snaps. “I’m not blind.”

“Sorry…” I apologize, shaking my bent finger.

“Did you hurt your pinkie?” she asks.

“No. Just nerves.”

The offramp quickly turns into a one-lane cow path.

“I can barely see,” she offers.

“It’s a good thing you’re driving,” I confess. “I can’t see squat.”

Suddenly, a tiny wooden bridge appears.

“THAT,” she says, “looks flimsy. I’m turning back.”

“Can’t. Bosses party.”

“And we’re…?”

“Yup. The only guests.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Real Winner by Anurag Bakhshi

I looked down at the battlefield, and my heart filled with pride.

My fellow countryman Leonidas and his small band of 300 Spartans had been pitted against more than a million of the invading army of Xerxes.

But the wily Leonidas had taken a stand at a bottleneck in the pass at Thermopylae, and stopped the Persians dead in their tracks for three days.

And the mighty Persian Army would still be fighting a futile battle if I, Ephialtes, hadn’t told them about the hidden path that would allow them to flank Leonidas and his men, and slaughter them.

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck by Reena Saxena

“I will not give my land. The price you offer is not enough to sustain me, and I don’t have any other means to earn a livelihood.”

“Do you understand that this is for a mega-project, which will change the face of the countryside. History will not forgive you for being a bottleneck in progress.”

“History might forgive and glorify you, but goodness will not.” He signed the sale deed.

Three years later, the land purchased by the parliamentarian’s brother was sold at thirty times the price he bought it for. It helps to know about future developmental plans.

🥕🥕🥕

Slow and Steady Kid by D. Avery

“Hey, Pal. Have a beer with me. Ever wonder why bottles is shaped the way they are, with the long neck?”

“Mebbe it’s so it’s easier ta pour. But we got no glass nor class, drinkin’ right outta the bottle.”

“If ya hang onta the bottle neck yer beer doesn’t git all warm.”

“Jist drink it down fast. Gimme anuther Kid.”

“I like coozies, ‘specially handy with so many switchin’ ta cans.”

“Don’t need a coozie, jist drink ‘em right down. ‘Nuther, Kid.”

“You prefer bottles, or cans, Pal? Pal?”

“Uh…”

“That was fast. Pal’s downed from downin’ beer.”

🥕🥕🥕

Comet

With trails that stretch across the sky, some comets burn so brightly they appear during the light of day. They burn into our imaginations, sparking questions and prophecies. Some people dance (naked), some despair.

Writers flashed comets this week with tales from around the world and both hemispheres. Take a ride on a comet through the literary art of flash fiction.

The following is based on the August 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet.

PART I (10-minute read)

The Comet of 1858 by James McCanles (5th-great-grandfather of Charli Mills)

Hail! beautious stranger to our sky,
How bright thy robes appear,
Noiseless thou trends thy paths on high,
And converse with all our stars.

In radiant flame of glowing light
Thy silent orb rolls on,
Through vast eternities of night,
To mortal man unknown.

Thy magnitude thy fiery glow,
Thy towering wake of flames,
But mock our wisest skill to know,
We’ve barely learned thy name.

Through boundless depths of space unknown,
Beyond the realms of days,
In blazing language of thy own,
Thou speaks thy Maker’s praise.

Words beyond time stretch comet-like from 1858,
Oldest flash of 2018.

***

NOTE: last two lines added by C Mills to make poem 99 words.

🥕🥕🥕

Comet by Anita Dawes

When I look at a comet, having been lucky enough to see one, I see a giant snowman, throwing a ball of ice across our night sky, with its tail of dust.

We look upon it with wonder.

Could this giant hand be playing Rounder’s, or maybe Alleygobs with giant marbles? Is there someone on the other side of our dark sky ready to catch them, to hold onto them for too long before we see them again?

Could it be an invisible jockey riding a sky horse or maybe a knight from some forgotten age, looking for Merlin?

🥕🥕🥕

Sibling Games? by JulesPaige

There would be punishment for stealing his marbles. But only if the thief was caught. Which was why she hid them in the hem of her black velvet skirt…

Being the children of the Gods, they still behaved with human attributes. Or was it just that humans had to have excuses for their own failures?

If he wanted them back, he was going to have to look carefully. She took them into the night and with all her might tossed them into the universe. The marbles were pulled by gravity, while gaining speed and left a lingering light trail.

🥕🥕🥕

The Prophecy by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

The comet streaked across the sky dragging a fiery tail against the inky blackness. Dennitsa shivered in the gathering gloom. Her dreams of late had been infiltrated by the ancestors revealing the prophecy this celestial nomad heralded. Time was running out.

The old ways of healing-magic were in danger. Today, the Byzantine priests had instituted a plan to hunt down and kill the fairy witches, thus performing a cleansing upon the land.

Ripples of magic exploded from the woman’s form silhouetted against the night sky.

Her spirit calls out—

the continuum answers,

benevolence found.

The solution came from above.

🥕🥕🥕

Stardust and a Comet by Carol Keefer

According to the J.R.R. Tolkien’s cosmology of elves, the Eldar who lived with Valar in Aman “were also called Calaquendi (Elves of the Light).” The Eldar developed their faith in magic and became magical elements in the tail of a powerful comet. As long as the Eldar drove the comet, the comet would not die. Because they left Aman, these elves did not live in the world of Arda and were subsequently unknown to the inhabitants of Middle Earth. These comet-dwelling Eldar sailed through the universe, developing new weapons and magic until they attracted the attention of an enemy.

🥕🥕🥕

Ilesol (from “Quantanelle: Stranded in Space”) by Saifun Hassam

The King’s Astronomer Ilesol tracked the arc of the great Comet Cygnet across the starry skies. At midnight, he was alone in the Royal Observatory on the high plateau overlooking Port Estrella.

Comet Cygnet was known since ancient times to return to the Terran skies every seventy years.
This would be the first and only time Ilesol would see the Comet.

In that thought and moment, the Comet seemed to beckon him, to venture beyond Port Estrella, the Isle of Ilbaiyat, to travel the Great Terran Oceans, to explore unknown worlds. A brilliant light filled the observatory. Ilesol vanished!

🥕🥕🥕

Comet by The Dark Netizen

“Whoa! What is that?”

Ethan had taken his little sister for camping. He looked at his little sister pointing up at the astronomical expanse. He could see what she was referring to.

“That is a comet.”

“A comet? What are those?”

Ethan adored his little sister. However, the way she asked so many questions about everything annoyed him to no end. He decided to have some fun.

“A comet is an alien flying so fast, that its ass starts burning, and it leaves a trail.”

“So cool!! We spotted an alien.”

*Many miles above*

“How did the earthling know?”

🥕🥕🥕

Comet by Robbie Cheadle

From the small window of the rocket, it looked like an enormous snowball. Comprised of frozen gases, rock and dust, it was the size of a small town. The astronauts realized with horror that there was no escaping it. The rocket lay directly in its path.

As the frozen ball’s orbit brought it closer to the sun, it obliterated the rocket, ending its urgent mission immediately. The comet heated up, releasing dust and gas which formed a glowing head and long trailing tail. The people of Earth rejoiced in its beauty, not realising the loss they had  just suffered.

🥕🥕🥕

Origins of Comets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Sarah spread a quilt on the knoll above Rock Creek to watch the night sky.

“The year before I was born, stars landed.” Yellow Feather pulled a pitted gray stone from his medicine pouch. He passed it to Nancy Jane.

“Feels kinda like lumpy metal.”.

“It’s heavy, too. This is a star?” asked Sarah.

Yellow Feather said, “My grandfather found it where many small stars burned the prairie grass.”

“Look – there’s one,” said Nany Jane.

“I saw it! Did you see Comet Donati last year?”

Yellow Feather laughed. “Comet Donati? That was just First Shaman urinating across the sky.”

🥕🥕🥕

How The Stars Aligned by Geoff Le Pard

‘There’s a comet passing tonight, Morgan.’

‘Huh? So?’

‘No, come on. Even you must see how extraordinary these things are.’

‘They’re a bunch of rocks and ice, Logan. You may think watching space grit is fascinating but I’ll stick to the footie.’

‘These are nature’s warnings. They portend the great events of history. The Battle of Hastings, Genghis Khan’s attack on Europe.’

‘Rubbish. Your average Russian isn’t interested in Hastings.’

‘You know what significant event occurred when Halley’s last appeared? It changed the world as we know it.’

‘What’s that?’

‘We started school together and you stole my banana.’

🥕🥕🥕

What do YOU Wish For? by Chelsea Owens

“I wish to be a famous dancer!”

“I wanna be a millionaire!”

“I want to build the world’s first robotic house!”

They all turned to their silent friend.

“What do you wish for, Chelsea?”

“I can’t tell.”

Shrugging, they watched the comet pass, carrying their wishes. It would return in ten years’ time, granting them what they had asked.

Carly would be a dancer.

Tanner would be rich.

Edward would be building robots.

And Chelsea? She didn’t know. How could the comet possibly turn her into a cosmic fairy able to soar through the night sky as it did?

🥕🥕🥕

Comet Hale Bopp by Miriam Hurdle

“What a crispy night to look at the stars.”

“Yes, it is. A good crowd here. I’m Tim.”

“Hi, Tim. I’m Eric, this is my wife Jan. Jan Hale and Eric Bopp.”

“Hale-Bopp, like the comet?”

“You know it? My dad saw it in New Mexico.” Sparks jump out from Jan’s eyes.

“My dad saw it too in Arizona.”

“My dad saw it first.”

“Your dad emailed the astronomical discoveries. My dad sent a telegram. They got the email faster than the telegram.”

“Who sent a telegram in 1995?”

“Your dad was only a hyphen faster than my dad.”

🥕🥕🥕

Once in my Lifetime by TNKerr

I was twenty-four the last time it came, that periodic star that causes ships to ground. She was twenty-six. We drove to the desert’s edge and climbed Blue Mesa in the dark; leaving behind the city lights, the traffic sounds, and the sounds of club music that floated incessantly through the downtown streets. In the stillness we spread our blanket and made love waiting for and watching Edmund Halley’s dirty snowball with it’s retrograde orbit and curved tail. She speculated that lovers had done the same for thousands of years before and will continue to until the comet dies.

🥕🥕🥕

Scope by Floridaborne

“Mira,” Frank said, pointing up at the sky. “A comet!”

She looked through her telescope. “Nope.”

“Why do you always disagree with me?”

She chuckled at him, an act that served only to fuel his umbrage.   “Peer through the scope. What do you see?”

“I don’t need that thing to recognize a comet!”
“Are you afraid I might be right?” Mira asked, cocking her head to the side like a puzzled parrot.

“Women!” Frank cursed. Through the telescope, a 3-fingered, grey being waved at him.  “God almighty!”

“I told you so, Frank,” she said, waving up at the light.

🥕🥕🥕

Bequest by Liz Huseby Hartmann

It started as a tone, growing in volume and pitch as it resolved itself into a bright streak, slicing silver blue through an opaque night sky. The tone grew to harmonies as dark stars broke free and distributed themselves across the horizon.

“By all rights, we shouldn’t be able to see anything.”
“Magic tops meteorology!”
“Ha! You just made a pun.”

The first one rolled its eyes as the other two giggled. The dark star slowed, resolving to a single, sweet contralto. It landed in the clearing with a fragrant whump of meadow grasses, rolling, unfolding, and standing tall.

🥕🥕🥕

Believe Me by Reena Saxena

I don’t know why the Comet chose privacy, when it struck me. The media remained oblivious of change.

I am transformed. I am blessed with supernatural powers. I can see and hear things other mortals cannot. They do not believe that I am going to outlive them. The idiots have locked me up in a cell in the mental asylum.

I do not seek revenge. I seek enlightenment for all. I pray for another comet to strike them, so that they see and believe what I say. We are all made of stardust.

But, I am the chosen one.

🥕🥕🥕

Heaven’s Gate Away Team by Anne Goodwin

I stared and stared, praying for God to reward me. To grant me a glimpse of that celestial spaceship carried in the comet’s tail. But Marshall’s vision was sharper than mine. And his faith.

When the time came, we swallowed the elixir, pocketed the interplanetary toll. We lay on our bunks, veiled in purple cloths. We waited.

The pain was my soul struggling to escape the bonds of my body. The moans were angels serenading us to the sky. Paralysis signalled I was becoming transhuman. And yet.

What if Hale-Bopp were simply a comet? What if Marshall were wrong?

🥕🥕🥕

The Idiot by Anurag Bakhshi

They’re right, I AM an idiot.

Moreover, I had to demonstrate my stupidity to the entire world, with my doomsday predictions of comets, and meteors, and asteroids.

I’d even set a date for the collision, yesterdays.

But they laughed at me, while I hid with my family in the bunker that I’d constructed for us.

I should go out and admit to my failure now. Maybe I can just blame it on my tiny brain.

Their brains are much larger. That’s why the dinosaurs have ruled over us for ages, and we cockroaches will soon die out, I’m sure.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Perseid Meteor Shower 2018 by katimac

I lay in bed, drifting to sleep in a window filled with falling stars.

A cool breeze wafted across my nose, and stardust drifted in my eyes.

A cat shadow crept along the window sill. She sniffed the screen and sneezed stars.
“Gedsunheit,” I whispered. Her eyes glowed disdainfully down at me, starlight reflected in them.

Meteors competed with the moon as they exploded overhead, casting noon-bright shadows on the side of the barn outside my window. Horses stood in the paddock in silent awe, watching the spectacle with equine aplomb.

🥕🥕🥕

Hair! Up in the Sky by Bill Engleson

“There!” I point skyward.

She looks up sharply, asks, “Where?”

“It’s gone.”

I, of course, hang my head and repeat, “gone.”

“That fast?”

“You gotta be quick,” I tease. “Don’t call them comets for nothing.”

“So, smart guy…what else do you know?”

This poses a challenge. I’m never quick to put on my thinking cap.

She knows this. Oh, I’m good for a slick rib poke but actual knowledge…that’s a puzzler.

“You got me,” I confess, adding “Halley’s Comet.”

“What about it?”

“Well, I know I’ll be 114 when it rolls around again.”

“Good luck with that,” she laughs.

🥕🥕🥕

Pamela Comet by Ruchira Khanna

1990
High School Reunion

Pamela, the brunette at the age of 23, was huffing and puffing about her new husband to her friends.

“Then, what do you?” inquired one of them.

“I raise my voice. I argue. I fight until he bows thee!” she said with a wink and triumphant smile.

2015
Pamela meets her old friends who inquire about her life. She blushed at first then pushed the stray grey hair behind her ear, ” I was like a comet, bright at the head, but years changed my perception allowing me to tail away from the headstrong attitude.

🥕🥕🥕

Winning at Charades by Molly Stevens

Rosie was excited about an evening of charades with her women friends.

She glanced at her word and said, “This will be tough.” But having once yearned for a career in the theater she knew she was up to the task.

She pointed to the sky and mimicked staring through a telescope.

“Star! Constellation! Astronomy!”

Rosie shook her head no. Then she stretched her arms in a dramatic upward sweeping motion and assumed an awestruck expression.

With no answer forthcoming, she kneeled on her hands and knees. Pretending to sprinkle something onto the floor, she started scrubbing.

“Comet!”

“Yes!”

🥕🥕🥕

Comet by Jack Schuyler

Janet scrubbed with all her might, but the brown ring remained. As she did every day, leaning over the toilet bowl, she found herself hating her job. The same stains, the same sore arms, and the same cleaning solutions.

She had studied astronomy in school, but apparently there was no more need for people who looked up at the stars. Now she only found herself looking down.

She dumped more Comet into the toilet and scrubbed with irritated vigor. Comet, The irony of the name stung. There was one shooting start that would never make her dreams come true.

🥕🥕🥕

Impeding Doom by Susan Sleggs

“Who cares if I don’t know the difference between a meteor and a comet?”

“I care, as a science professor, you embarrass me.”

“Well la-dee-da Mr. Education. Is it true a comet warns of impending doom?”

“That’s all myth. Science has advanced enough that we know better.”

“Perhaps this one is warning of our doom.”

“It’s not going to hurt us.”

“You give me no credit. I was thinking of how doomed our marriage is.”

“You may have a point.”

“Maybe I could catch a ride on its tail to a happier galaxy.”

“They don’t leave our galaxy. Sorry.”

🥕🥕🥕

Comet’s Tail by Abhijit Ray

Rahul was alone on the terrace in this moonless night. A comet appeared on the night sky with its long tail following luminous body.

“Kind of like our life would you not agree” observed Heena softly, “a promising career, a high profile marriage, followed by a trail of scandals and a messy divorce.”

Internally, Rahul accepted his failed career compounded his drinking and philandering habits, culminating in divorce from Heena. He simply did not want to hear about his weakness from Heena.

He did not want to extend comet’s tail any farther by strangling her.

🥕🥕🥕

Close Call by Patrick O’Connor

“You never know what you’ll see ‘round these parts.”

Stanley spoke to Bert on the carpool drive to work. 4:30am rise time.

Hit the road by 5:15am in order to make it to the factory on time.

“Yup. Sure don’t.” said Bert.

Suddenly, in the sky in front of them, a huge ball of fire, complete with a sonic boom.

“Jiminy Cricket!” shouted Stanley, Startling Bert.

“Woah! That’s big.”

“Look there! It’s gonna hit!”

Across the sky, the ball of flame got closer.

Suddenly, there was a flash and the comet (meteor) burned out.

“Whew! That was close.”

🥕🥕🥕

You Should Have Listened to Me by Robert Kirkendall

“I see a dark omen ahead for you,” the sorceress warned.

“Well that’s a bummer,” the man said nonchalantly.

“Heed my words!” the sorceress reiterated. “When a comet appears that is aligned with one of the planets, it will spell your doom!”

“How does a comet align with a planet?” the man said dismissively. “That doesn’t even make sense.”

“Doubt me at your own peril!”

“Planets move in orbits, comets go in a straight line,” the man explained condescendingly. “Crazy old bat,” the man chuckled and left.

He crossed the street and was struck by an old Mercury Comet.

🥕🥕🥕

Comet by Deborah Lee

“They say our origins dictate our path in life, our fate,” Henry says. He looks at the homeless tent city around them. “The son of a teacher and a CPA, upright churchgoers, shouldn’t end up without an old-age pot to piss in, wouldn’t you think?”

Jane laughs ruefully. “I was conceived on a hot summer night, in the blaze of forbidden teenage passion, in the backseat of a ‘64 Mercury Comet,” she tells him. “Shouldn’t that make for a charmed life?”

Henry tops her wine cup, his grin brilliant. “Maybe, maybe not. I’d love to have that car, though.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Signifier by Margaret G. Hanna

A hot summer night.

Two friends, friends since high school, different in backgrounds but united by their uniqueness. Friends through husbands, children, divorces.

They sat together on a park bench by the river walkway, watched couples stroll by hand in hand, a canoe slide down the river. Heard a whippoorwill call. Felt a gentle breeze. Contemplated the white slash of the comet against the ink-black sky.

“Medieval people believed a comet signified the end of the world.”

A glance exchanged. A wry smile shared.

“They were wrong. It’s the beginning of a new world.”

They clasped hands. Embraced. Kissed.

🥕🥕🥕

Elgin: Our Cross-County Rival by Nancy Brady

In the early sixties, it became common for smaller schools to consolidate into larger schools. My county was no different with several schools opting to consolidate. Not my school, however; our district chose otherwise!

Elgin became one of those county schools; it was supposedly named by combining the three schools that made up the new school: LaRue, Green Camp, and New Bloomington. Elgin even named their mascot based upon America’s new obsession of space.

Elgin was our biggest football rival, and often, the conference championship hinged on the last game, us against them, with the Comets streaking to victory.

🥕🥕🥕

An Imperfect Proposal by Norah Colvin

“What the…?”

He scrambled through bushes, slipping and sliding on twigs and gravel in haste to his love. When he reached her, she was doubled over holding her belly.

“What happened?”

She shook her head.

“What’s wrong?”

“I thought…” Her body shook.

“What?” he soothed, wiping away tears.

“Snake… I thought…” She pointed.

On the bed lay the strap of his telescope bag coiled neatly.

“You’re laughing?”

She nodded.
——
Camping became their family tradition, but their children’s favourite story was of the “snake” that frightened Mum, not of the comet that graced the sky the night that he proposed.

🥕🥕🥕

Speed Demon by Ann Edall-Robson

Crouched by the fence she watched, reminiscing, smiling at her childhood partner in crime. They had been a formidable team. Each day they had forged rivers, hid in canyons and chased foe. Together, their teamwork had conquered imaginary obstacles. No chore was too tough for them. Sometimes reckless, but always sure-footed, and with mane and tail flying in the wind. She laughed, remembering their nickname, Speed Demon. Those days were gone now. Slowly he came toward her, head high, ears at attention, looking for a treat. Standing, she called her trusted friend, the one she had named Comet.

🥕🥕🥕

Comet by Frank Hubeny

There are stars out, but that doesn’t mean anyone notices. However, the comet was special. People pointed it out proving how smart they were being able to see what others told them about.

Charles didn’t care. He looked at Anne’s eyes.

Sure, they were told about the comet, the rare comet that comes once in a million years. “You better look while you have the chance!” “You may never see something like that again!” “Don’t miss it!”

They looked, but they were not sure they saw anything particularly remarkable out there. They were more interested in each other’s eyes.

🥕🥕🥕

Goodnight by Di @ pensitivity101

Emily was sitting up and looking out of the window, fascinated by the bright star in the night sky.

She turned to her Dad who had just finished reading her a bedtime story.

‘Do you think she can see us Daddy?’

He felt a lump in his throat and tears fill his eyes. It had been only two months since

Nancy had been taken so cruelly from them.

‘I think so Sweetie.’

Emily waved at the comet and snuggled under the sheets, then looked across at the empty bed where her twin used to sleep.

‘Night, sis.’ she said softly.

🥕🥕🥕

Make a Wish! by Deepa

as a child
I always thought
airplanes were stars
that carried
wishes and requests
from
one country
to another

my heart pains
because
every time
I try
catching
the fireflies
I thought
they were
shooting stars

‘Hey! shooting star
make a wish!’
I heard me say
even though
astronomy teaches
not to expect
anything out of
something that occurs
once in 75 years
today
I wish upon
Halley’s Comet
to show my son
who I lost
to terminated pregnancy
several years back
for unknown reasons

🥕🥕🥕

A Thousand Wishes by Kay Kingsley

The sunset fades into dusk. Bright pinks and reds slowly change to burnt shades of orange and purple. The horizon glow dims as the blanket of night covers all.

The rising hum of crickets and frogs fill the summer night and a warm breeze welcomes us to settle in like the flashing of lights before a performance begins.

Time to take your seat. The show is about to begin.

With excitement the event begins as the first comet streaks the sky.

Tonight is a night of a thousand wishes and with all of mine I wish you were here.

🥕🥕🥕

Comet by oneletterup

The screen door slams behind them.
She rushes past the little boy. Runs upstairs.
The little girl stays behind.

“What happened?” he asks.
“I think she’s scared,” the little girl answers, eyes wide.
“Someone was spying on us from the woods!”

They like this new silent mysterious guest.
She stays upstairs. They let her be.

Day becomes night.
She crawls from under the bed.
Peeks out the window, eyes scanning left and right.
Nobody out there.
Transfixed by the starry night, she sees it.
A blazing white streak across the sky.
Like from the book.
A comet!
She remembers.

🥕🥕🥕

Billy & The Comet by Grae:)

“The ‘Comet’ is coming!” hollered little Billy Ollerenshaw, at the top of his voice. “The ‘Comet!’ Billy passed by nos. 17 and 19 Combination Street heading towards the town centre.

“Do you think he’d be so happy if he knew that it was a rogue comet that is going to destroy the Earth, rather than that old steam train that he so loves? He has a picture of it on his wall.”

Mrs. Ekkerslike was a placid lady, the far side of sixty, and resigned to her fate.

“Best to let him think of a steam train.” said Mrs. Wensleydale, sighing.

🥕🥕🥕

Heavenly Calling by Ritu Bhathal

It was 1910. She was ten. She’d often sit on her windowsill, legs dangling, staring out at the stars. That night, she’d seen something different, a ball of light travelling through the sky.

Haley’s Comet.

She never expected to see that in her lifetime again, and yet here she was, in 1986, eyes trained on the stars, with her ten-year-old granddaughter for company.

A ball of light flashed through the sky. Doris smiled and sat back.

“I saw it! Did you see it? Gramma!! Did you see it?” Rosie turned to her grandma.

Gramma sat, eyes closed, at peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Peering From the Woods

Peering from the woods, we feel the watcher. Friendly? Curious? Dangerous? The woods around the world can be jungle, bush, forest, a backyard. It’s a tangle of shadows, a spot to hide.

Writers contemplate the watcher’s next move. They craft the place and people involved. Peering from the woods, stories emerge. (Photo Credit: J. Madland)

August 9, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes an act of “peering from the woods.”

PART I (10-minutes)

Ed in the Woods by Charli Mills

Ed was peering at me again. I could feel his gaze crawl across my shoulders. Let me finish the chapter, Ed. The Legendary Leaphorn is in the arroyo. The tickle continues. I persevere, finish the chapter and set down Tony Hillerman’s latest southwest detective book.

Snagging a sip from my gin, tonic, and blueberries, I grab a fresh-husked corn.

Ed still peers at me from the edge of the woods. His ears twist like radar. Slowly I raise my offering. He hesitates, leans in and nibbles from my hand. The deer dashes off, leaving me to read in peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Into the Forest by Jack Schuyler

I peered into the woods and the woods peered back.

“Enter into my respite.” Said the woods. It spoke in tongues of wind and beckoned me with all the rhythms of the earth. “Walk beneath my shade, swim in my streams, eat of my harvest.”

“But mother told me no.” I replied, “She says beasts of night roam your shadows and sweet poisons wait beneath your trees.”

“All true,” growled the forest, “and you would do well to heed her advice. But if you stay in the shelter of the village, do not expect to share in my treasures.”

🥕🥕🥕

Mountain Lion by Heather Gonzalez

“Aren’t there mountain lions in these woods?” Samantha shivered as she pulled her sleeping back closer to her body.

“Stop worrying so much and just enjoy it.” Jack turned off the lantern and settled in.

Noises kept coming from beyond the clearing. Jack had fallen asleep and no amount of whispering for help would wake him. Samantha slowly unzipped the tent to peer out upon her fate. She saw the eyes peering from the woods and froze in fear. There was nowhere to run.

A soft meow came from behind the bushes.

“Some mountain lion you are.” she laughed.

🥕🥕🥕

Luminesce (from “Lynx Valley Biohabitat”) by Saifun Hassam

Valerie and Carmen tracked Luminesce to a tumbled mass of boulders and ledges. The bobcat’s den was hidden by tangled vines and woody shrubs.

Lynx Valley Biohabitat was a mix of woodlands and open scrub land. Tall grass grew along the Lissoire River. From the Rover, Valerie caught the glint of eyes peering from the woods.

Luminesce stole into the tall grass. A panicked rabbit shot out. Near the river, the red deer froze. With powerful strides, the bobcat pounced ferociously on the deer. She dragged it through the tall grass, to her waiting cubs at the woods’ edge.

🥕🥕🥕

Sad Cat Diary: Wildlife Edition by Robert Kirkendall

The mountain lion came up to the forest’s edge drawn by the scent of food. She peered from the woods at a flock of livestock in a nearby pasture.

One of those sheep could feed me and my little ones for a week, the mountain lion thought as she longed for the forbidden sustenance, but if I take one, the humans will come after me and kill me! I only want one, the lion moped, and they have so many, it isn’t fair.

The dejected feline slouched in defeat. Why must the humans be so cruel? she wondered piteously.

🥕🥕🥕

Lone Ranger by Nancy Brady

Going crazy, our cat saw something in the dark that she felt shouldn’t be in her territory. At first, I couldn’t see anything, but her night vision is better. But then I noticed the glint of dark eyes staring at us from the wildflower garden. A tangle of weeds and flowers blossom on the edge of the property, allowing for fauna hiding within, and on this night, the masked bandit was hiding inside.

Why the raccoon was there wasn’t apparent until the next day when we discovered our sweet corn was decimated, a tasty snack for a midnight marauder.

🥕🥕🥕

Watching Out for the Birdwatcher by Anne Goodwin

Birdseed on the fence post again. My heart skips. Who would dare feed animals when people starve? An ornithologist, that’s who. Another forbidden word.
Scrambling over the layers of barbed wire, I pick my way through a soggy carpet of mashed leaves into the shelter of the trees. Birds flit from branch to branch, their sweet song sweeping all worries from my mind. Then I hear it, smell it: someone’s stopped at the fence.

Peering from the woods, I must be dreaming. Whacko has a gentle side? Something to use against him the next time he brandishes his cane.

🥕🥕🥕

Possum by kate @ aroused

Polly swung through the forest
of large macadamia trees
drawn by the scent of ripened fruit

She spied a woolly alpaca herd
grazing contentedly with a horse
Buster watched on from a distance

But Polly was blinded by the sun soaked
fields as she was accustomed to the dark
yet the orchard beckoned heavy with fruit

She would have to wait until dark
to scamper across those open fields
to gorge on a gluttonous banquet

Alpacas and horse would by asleep
but Buster might be on alert
so she would need a sprinting spurt!

Polly’s long peep was fruitful!

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Di @ pensitivity101

Here’s Looking at You.

Did you hear it? That gentle rustling in the leaves.
Did you see it? A quick flash of a white flagged rump.
Did you catch it? Yes, but only on film.
Did it see you? Most definitely, it was looking right at me.

I often wonder what animals think of us humans when they see us intruding on their domain. I am certain there are more creatures looking at us than we realise.
The woods are alive with insects, snakes, animals and birds.
It is their world, and we abuse it. In fact, we’re killing it with our pollution.

🥕🥕🥕

The Heat of the Day by Carol Keefer

The clearing in the forest was so bright, filled to the rim with hot sunlight suddenly free of trees to beam down and touch the earth with its heat. I had had enough of the sun’s heat and wanted only to observe this quiet, serene oasis from a point in the shade of trees so I peered from the woods. Suddenly, a black grizzly and a doe sprang from the trees on the other side. What could be pursuing them? They were running together. It was only a few minutes later when I smelled the smoke wafting towards me.

🥕🥕🥕

Fox Cub by JulesPaige

Seeming to be always at as well as on edge;
creeping closer just to see if it was safe. Like
her namesake, senses on high alert – always.

They had left her to fend for herself. Was there
a lesson to be learned? Distant from community,
yet wanting to be a part – included, but always
to some extent excluded.

They made up excuses for her lack of cooperation. Dim-witted, ignorant, lame; would limping be her way of life.

The forest had felt safer when the sun was out.
But there were predators everywhere. Perhaps
that was the lesson They taught?

🥕🥕🥕

The Fawn by Rosemary Carlson

She watched him when he was a fawn. Come summer, he grew spikes. A young buck. He was unafraid of her. He grew accustomed to her apples. He came to the porch and snatched the food from her hand. She grew to love him that winter. She was alone.

The next summer, he was a four-point buck. He came to the porch. She tried to make him go away, fearful he was too accustomed to people.

It’s been ten years. An old buck comes to the porch. He takes the apples. She knows by his eyes that it’s him.

🥕🥕🥕

Peering Through by Peregrine Arc

Mary stood in her bedroom, staring closely into the antique mirror hung on the peeling wallpaper. Music crackled on the radio from across the hallway.

An oil painting hung behind Mary of a lake and cabin scene at dusk. A man was smoking a glowing pipe patiently, peering from the woods. She could smell the smoke.

But every night, after Mary finally turned away from the mirror, the man vanished. The painting returned to normal, barren of any figures.

But the light was left on in the cabin tonight. And its front door was left open, quiet and inviting.

🥕🥕🥕

The Connection by D. Avery

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“What? The research? The constant camping it requires? Or…us?”

“All of it. I’m just done.”

“Ok. I’m sorry if this crazy venture made our relationship impossible. I’ll hike out with you. I’ve given up on ever finding Sasquatch. I’m done too.”

It wasn’t just his obsession with his work. She’d never felt a strong connection with him. She knew now that she could have more.

While he packed up the equipment, she hid the tufts of hair she’d found under a stone, brushed over a footprint.

Sasquatch peered from the woods, relieved and sad.

🥕🥕🥕

Knowing by D. Avery

They trudged to the logging road together, loaded the equipment into his truck, rode in silence to the general store where her car was parked.

“I guess he doesn’t exist”, he said to her as goodbye.

“I guess not”, she replied, and went into the store as he drove away.

Resupplied, she returned to where she had seen the signs and had felt Sasquatch’s presence. She was learning that finding Sasquatch doesn’t require any electronic equipment, only being fearless and open-hearted.

She smiled to find wildflowers left for her on a log, smiled that he’d known she’d be back.

🥕🥕🥕

Surprise! by Norah Colvin

She parked her car beside his and grabbed her bag. As she locked the car, she looked around. Where was he? He said he’d be watching for her. Cicadas buzzed louder than her footsteps crunched the gravel. A bird startled as it squawked and flapped overhead. Where was he? He must know she’d arrived. Even with the fairy lights, it was darker than she liked.  Peering from the bushes, he willed her to be brave, to open the tent, to find what he’d made for her. Finally, tentatively, she pushed aside the flap. Her screams silenced the night chorus.

🥕🥕🥕

Feral Natives by Chelsea Owens

The small natives, unkempt and unruly, peer from a shadowed arch. They stop, keenly watching an inert female creature just ahead.

The first whispers, “What’s she doin’?”

His companion checks. “Nuffin’. Sleepin’, most like.”

Urrrrhaghaaah! She moans. They scamper back to shadow’s safety.

“Did she see ya?” The younger sucks a finger.

A quick peek. “Nah. I think she’s fakin’.”

One second later: “Now what’s she doin’?”

He looks again. “Rolled over.” He scowls. “-Wait! I saw a light. She’s got her phone!”

“She’s awake!” Excited, the younger boy grips his brother’s arm.

Drat, she says.

“Let’s get ‘er!”

🥕🥕🥕

Becoming Wild by Paula Moyer

February, 1966: Jean’s family did a suburbs-to-small-town move. Home was a two-bedroom rental at the edge of town. Behind the house, a woodsy spot. Jean was 13, Sam 11, Donny 9.

When summer came, that spot grew dark with leaves. Sam and Donny disappeared into it every morning after breakfast. They would grab lunch and vanish again. Jean ignored them, practiced the piano.

“Jean, go get the boys,” Mom called from the kitchen. “It’s supper time.”

Sounded easy. Jean stood at the trees’ edge. “Guys, supper!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Taste of Wisdom by Molly Stevens

Mary tapped a forbidden cylinder from the box. She couldn’t believe her good fortune, having found half a pack beside the road. She peered through the woods at her home, struck a match, and took her first drag.

I didn’t even cough. I knew I’d be good at this.

Later she shuffled home, wondering how to conceal her headache and nausea.

At the sound of the screen door, her mother said, “What have you been doing?”

“Does God give you what you want to teach you stuff?”

Her mother smelled cigarette smoke, observed her daughter’s pale countenance, and smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Peering by Floridaborne

“You say you’ve never been camping before?” He asked, with a twinkle in his eye that I didn’t like.

I looked down at two sleeping bags thrown on top of ferns and bristled.  “We don’t belong here.”

“Don’t worry about that rusty, no trespassing sign,” he scoffed.

“She told me we’ll die here tonight,” I replied, pointing at a deer peering out at me from the bush.  “We’ll be thrown into a mass grave.”

He threw his sleeping bags into the back seat and we drove to the paved road in silence.  Yet another relationship ruined by my gift.

🥕🥕🥕

Caught In The Act by Ritu Bhathal

“Well Annie, that was fun! We should make these meetings of ours interesting more often.”

Petey unzipped the front flap of his yellow tent, allowing for a slice of light to cut through the darkness of the forest.

He stepped out and stretched, post-coitally, opening his eyes to the beauty of nature.

And stopped.

What was that?

Peering from the woods, he swore he saw the face of his wife, Susan, eyes open wide in horror.

A rustling sound followed.

“Come back Petey honey, we’ve still got time.” Annie’s voice brought him back.

Petey feared his time was up.

🥕🥕🥕

Ready by The Dark Netizen

Cadet Billy peered from the woods.

Perseus’ bullet had missed. Medusa had spotted them. Things were not going well. This was his first field mission, and he already felt that he was out of place. These were not mere humans. What chance did he have of contributing at all? He could see Medusa approaching, almost gliding towards them. He began to feel numb. Was he turning into stone? No. This was fear. He watched as Perseus drew his heavy pistol drawn. Keynes caught Billy’s eye, and nodded at him. Billy could not let his mentor down.

Billy was ready.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minutes)

Devastation by Diana Nagai

Night fell over the property. A leather lead dangled useless in his hand. He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and he looked up. The firefighter shook her head. So, his horse had not been found.

“It’s time to evacuate.” She paused, then added, “Please.”

His heart constricted and he wiped a tear.

As he turned to the flames engulfing the barn and beyond, he could have sworn he saw eyes peering from the woods behind the fire line. God, he hoped so. He screamed a silent prayer. Run! The eyes disappeared. He never saw Diamond again.

🥕🥕🥕

Fawn Within Fawn by Late Night Girl

“Oh deer! No headlights this time; Just eye to eye”, I thought to myself when I encountered this beautiful beast unsuccessfully trying to camouflage as a tree. Its two-leaf ears gave it away! My green coat may have equally looked like food, too, but I actually was looking for some game, yet couldn’t bring myself to break it to the fawn, gun in hand!

What now?! We could both pretend neither is here or just hop on to the next best eatable opportunity down the food chain.

I leave it to the reader to decide what happened next.

🥕🥕🥕

Imagination – Another Strange Meeting by Gordon Le Pard

“Then they looked out of the wood – and saw dinosaurs!”

The novelist put the papers down. “A good way of ending the episode?”

The palaeontologist nodded, “Wonderful, what an imagination you have.”

“You too must have imagination, to create lost worlds out of fragments of bone.”

“But not like you.”

As he left he thought of the bones in his workshop. His imagination had created something very special, the Missing Link, but no one would realise it wasn’t real for many years, if ever.

His friend was just a great writer, however he was the greatest scientific hoaxer ever.

🥕🥕🥕

Dashing by Miriam Hurdle

Peering from the wood, something got its attention. It dashed across the road.

Thump, thump, thud!

“Oh, no. I didn’t see it coming.” Sid and Cindy jumped out of the car.

“The impact was forceful. It crushed the front of the car.”

“Is the deer okay?” Cindy looked at its head.

“Let’s wait. It’s trying to get up…”

“It’s limping across the road.”

“It went across okay… No, it flopped and lied still.”

“Do we want to go camping?”

“The engine suffered the impact. Let’s go home.”

* * *

“Our car took the last breath getting us home.”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard

‘You can’t see the woods for the trees, eh?’

‘That’s another stupid expression. All I was saying was I saw something in there.’

‘Ghost? Phantasm?’

‘Seriously, it was alive.’

‘Ent? Tree-sprite?’

‘It could be that weirdo.’

‘Any specific weirdo?’

‘I’m going home.’

‘Don’t be a wuss, Morgan. Probably a deer.’

‘Or a lion.’

‘In Surrey?’

‘You know they say a tree makes no sound if there’s no one to hear it when it falls. Do you think you can see a lion if you’re not there when it appears?’

‘You’re a moron as well as a coward, Morgan.’

🥕🥕🥕

The Deadly Hunt by Anurag Bakhshi

Travis looked at the cute, round-as-buttons eyes peering at him through the woods, and smiled.

He had spent half his life searching for the Ringa-Tinga-Ling, the mythical oldest animal species in the world. Today, he and his cameraman had finally found him.

Still smiling, Travis raised his rifle, and took careful aim. His cameraman saw what he was doing, and shouted, “What the…” But before he could finish, Travis had fired.

And even before the cameraman had hit the ground, Travis took out his handgun, and shot himself.

The Ringa-Tinga-Ling looked on with his cute, round-as-button eyes, and smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle

Going on a picnic was a treat for the family. Dad carefully cleared a circular patch in the undergrowth while the children collected rocks. Dad packed the rocks around the cleared patch to ensure that the fire he was building was well contained. Everyone was busy preparing for the fun of cooking their lunch sausages on sticks over the open fire.

“Where’s Hayley,” Mom asked.

She was nowhere to be seen. She must have slipped away while they were all working.

Sheila smiled with relief when she saw her peering from the small copse of trees nearby. Thank goodness.

🥕🥕🥕

Who’s Watching Julie by Oneta Hayes

Four-year-old Julie, intent on filling her basket with flowers, wandered from camp, unaware that eyes were peering from the woods. She walked deeper and deeper into the brush and trees. Julie – as sweet and innocent as Little Red Riding Hood going to her grandmother’s house.

Fortunately Julie’s Grandmother was not sick in bed; she was in the camp. Where’s Julie? She sounded the alarm and campers began the search. Aha! It wasn’t long before Grandmother herself found Julie. Neither was aware of the Wolf who slunk away without a sound except for the hungry growling of his stomach.

🥕🥕🥕

Pee(r)ing Through the Woods by Deborah Lee

Jane hunkers down in the foliage. Her knees already ache from the awkward stance. She checks her pants and shoes; both should be out of the splash zone.

Just as she relaxes her muscles, feels the stream start beneath her, of course that’s when she hears voices.

She’s been here for hours, hoping for someone who might buy a paper. Naturally, it’s not until she can’t hold it anymore, with the nearest public restroom an hour away, that anybody comes along.

Jane narrows her eyes, peering through the bushes. If she can’t see them, they can’t see her…right?

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by a story forms my mind

Startled. Her eyes snap open. The right side of her face and mouth pressed into wet pine needles. Above her the sky, barely visible through the dark canopy of spruce.
Her arm aches and somehow her dress has been torn. She unfurls herself from the forest floor, searches for her phone, her bag, anything that will explain why she is here.

Nothing.

The only sound, the creaking of trees as they move in a wind she cannot feel. She sees eyes peering brightly from the trees and hears the roar of traffic from the highway.

Then nothing but cold.

🥕🥕🥕

Those Two by Reena Saxena

All the persuasion by his friends failed to make him participate in a jungle picnic. He looked petrified, and his wife insisted that he be left alone. The friends decided to take him to a counsellor later.

Nobody realized that he was consumed by guilt. It was a crime committed in the first flush of youth. He finished college, found a job and married a beautiful girl.

But, those two eyes never stopped peering at him from the woods. Those two eyes spewed fire, and swore revenge. He did not know if those two eyes were dead or alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Silhouettes by Bill Engleson

At that time, the lake was more a swamp.

Stumps rose like rogue cannons, wooden effigies of flooded farmland.

We hiked the deer path that edged the water.

Eventually, we found a grassy knoll that afforded a cushion of comfort and privacy.

Our adolescent fumblings did not betray us.

Soft sun bathed my lover’s skin.

Still, something, real, imagined, concerned her.

“Are you sure we’re alone?” she whispered.

I was sure of very little then.

“Why?” I asked, looking into the nearby bush.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It just feels creepy.”

That did it.

We hightailed outta there.

🥕🥕🥕

Cache Only Memory Access by Deepa

I could feel Thomas hands intertwined in mine. I could hear him. He was telling me about the memories of our adventures. I am not sure how long I had been lying in the coma.

Thomas gently caressed my hands and peered into my eyes, “the auburn color of your hair reminded me of the woods, and now it shines like the snow. You ask me why I didn’t seek adventure over the years.”

How could I do it without you? We are partners in crime.

Thomas was an adventure freak. Tears trickled from my eyes.

🥕🥕🥕

Sanctuary by abhiray59

Deer calf was peering through the bush. It was looking curiously at the movement of humans down the trail. Other members of its family and friends were nearby having their daily feed of green grass. This calf was curious.

Sam raised his rifle to aim at the deer. “Don’t shoot. This is a sanctuary. Wild animals are expected to be safe here”, said Sid, a fellow hiker.

A leopard pounced on the calf. Curious calf was enamored with humans. It forgot about other lurking dangers in the sanctuary. After all, it was a sanctuary for the leopard too.

🥕🥕🥕

The Hollow by Kati MacArthur

It was a dim, dark forest. I stood on the edge, looking in at a large green fern, solitary in the darkened clearing, spotlighted by a single dusty beam of filtered verdant light. No crickets here, no birds. Just sunlight and darkness: cool, green, quiet.

I see these things when my serenity is threatened. They are images from the hollow where my friend goes to mourn her horse.

In times of strife, I remember this: melancholy sunshine with cool, green quiet a few steps away. Two separate worlds, one before me, one behind me. Which way do I turn?

🥕🥕🥕

From the Woods by Allison Maruska

I crawl through Darkness, the ever-present being, one I can’t touch but knows me completely.

Darkness wants to keep me here, in these woods, surrounded, lost. If I have no hope of escape, Darkness gets her wish. But if I find the way out, Darkness is powerless to stop me.

So I crawl, unsure of direction. I could be heading farther into her depths. But then, I see it: a light. It’s a pinpoint at first, but it gives me direction. And so I crawl.

Finally, I find Darkness’s edge, and peering out from the woods, I see hope.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Anita Dawes

About an hour into the woods, I thought I heard a sound. Just ahead of me, peering through the trees I could see 12 standing stones with a large stone table in the middle. I had never seen these before so I took dozens of photographs.
The air seemed to whisper with strange sounds, almost words I could not hear.
I reached home and downloaded them. My breath was taken by the sight of King Arthur and his knights. There had been no one there. Had my imagination imprinted these images, or was it my desire to be there?

🥕🥕🥕

Silence by oneletterup

She likes it here. How the breeze blows her hair as she swings. Back and forth.
The soft sweat pants protect the scabs on her legs.

“What’s your name?” the little boy keeps asking.
But she keeps shaking her head. Silent.

The little girl asks “Ya wanna swing with me?”
She smiles and nods.

In mid swing she sees it.
A flash of red. Movement.
In woods across the street.
Foot down scraping grass.
Swing slows. Jumps off. Stares hard.
Fists clench.

Someone is peering at her from under a tree.

Turning around, she runs.
The little girl follows.

🥕🥕🥕

Unwelcome Guests by Susan Sleggs

“My Dad told me the new people in the fenced mansion belong to the Mob,” Rock said.

“I heard it was some rich old guy with a sexy young wife,” Dude answered.

Crazy, always needing excitement, suggested, “Let’s sneak through the woods to see what we can see by their pool.”

Shortly the rowdies peered around dense manicured bushes at scantily clad young beauties.

A body guard turned their direction saying loudly, “I can feel eyes on us.” He reached behind his back bringing a gun forward and fired a shot above their heads. “Next time I won’t miss!”

🥕🥕🥕

Fred’s Confession by Sherri Matthews

Fred peered out from behind the garden shed into the steely-eyed glare of Ethel through the kitchen window. He froze.

‘Hello my sweet, you look lovely today,’ Fred squirmed.

‘Get yer hairy arse back inside, now!’

Fred padded gingerly into the kitchen and gulped. ‘Ethel, me and Mavis…’ He caught his reflection in the mirror, distracting him from his confession. Funny, the dentist hadn’t mentioned how long and sharp his teeth had grown. And his hair, so grey…

‘Shut up yer gormless twit,’ Ethel fumed, ‘Mavis is a slut, but you…you’re a bleedin’ werewolf and it’s full moon tonight.’

🥕🥕🥕

The Lewis and Rebman Expedition by TN Kerr

Lewis increased his pace to catch up and have a word with Rebman, “I expect our way will be blocked when we round the next bend. Have you seen them?”

“Seen whom?” Rebman asked. He glanced about, now noticing flashes of bright crimson and deep indigo between the dense trees. He asked, “Who are they?”

“The locals here are autochthonous,” Lewis advised. “They claim to be descended from Lellages, the purported elder son of Belabub. Who, in turn was a Philistine god. The Hebrews called him Beelzebub, the Christians, called him Satan.”

“Dangerous?”

“I believe so, Rebman? I believe so.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Target by Patrick O’Connor

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Better focus.

Small adjustment.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

The wind is negligible.

No one would be able to see me from this perch as I peer from the forest.

I am a good mile away anyway.

Looking through the scope again.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Don’t move at all.

Last check. I’m ready.

Big inhale. Slow exhale.

Squeezing the trigger until…

BAM!

Three, Two, One.

Looking through the scope again.

Right on target.

That guy won’t be a problem anymore.

Lone Wolf to command.

Mission accomplished.

On to the next target.

🥕🥕🥕

Outlast by Kerry E.B. Black

We’ve always lived in the woods. Of course, back in the day, woods stretched for acres. Now they’re confined to a small patch surrounded by manicured lawns and asphalt.

Few venture here. They linger along the outskirts and peer into the cool depths beneath the leafy canopy, as though they fear once they enter, they’ll never return to their civilization.

They’re right.

We wait here, sneering at their brash attempts to confine us. We bide our time.

Soon, they’ll become negligent groundskeepers, and with quiet tenacity, we’ll reclaim land, break through turf, swallow structures.

We will outlast, as always.

🥕🥕🥕

So They Say So by D. Avery

“Hey, Aussie!”

“G’day Pal. Where’s Kid?”

“Hmmph. I ain’t too sure. Still tentin’ I reckon. Complained last week about yeller tents and then takes off fer the woods totin’ one.”

“Look here, Pal, a note. It says, ‘See ya later Pal. Shorty says I am to appear in the woods.’ Seems Kid has misread the prompt again.”

“’Appears so Aussie. Dang!”

“What’s wrong, Pal? Kid does just fine in the woods.”

“Normally, yeah, but who knows what these ranch hands is gonna put inta the woods with this prompt. Why, they even say there’s a Bigfoot out and about.”

**********

“Oh, I hope Kid doesn’t come across Bigfoot!”

“Me too, Aussie, poor Bigfoot doesn’t deserve that. Hey, do you feel like we’re bein’ watched or somethin’?”

“Yes, I do, Pal. Why, who is that peering from the woods there? Kid!”

“Aussie! Pal! I’m back.”

“We kin see that. Where ya bin?”

“I been appearin’ in woods all over. Went west. It was wild. Saw fossils an’ artsy facts an’ muse-icians.”

“You call that campin’?”

“Call it vacationin’. Guess who I spied peerin’ from the woods when I was tentin’?”

“Bigfoot?!”

“Frannie Hooe. Least they say it was her.”

“Phooey!”

🥕🥕🥕

August 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

Ed peers at me from behind the ferns. He’s caught between the darkness of the deep woods and the sunlight pouring through the opening in the trees. I’d like to think Ed is “Ed McMahon” with a Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstake check the size of a refrigerator door and enough zeros to last a lifetime of book-buying. Or Ed, as in the name of a yet-unknown publisher who knocks to say, “Golly-gosh, we love your writing – here’s a contract.”

No, Ed is a deer. A soft-eared doe with big dark, curious eyes peers at me from a glen in Minnesota that I’ve never seen. The photo is a gift, one of several that Keto Man gave me after an interview.

First, Keto Man is the very last member-owner of a co-op I will ever interview. He marks the conclusion of an era for me, the final one after seventeen years of interviews. During that time, I caught the stories of hundreds of co-op members, organic farmers, artisan cheese producers, and entrepreneurs.

Peering back at that time in my life, I see all who I interviewed as part of a colorful tapestry of a vibrant community food system. Food cooperatives in the US rose out of the need for people to have whole food. The movement countered processed meals, added sugar, and expense. In Berkley and Minneapolis, co-ops adopted the symbol of a fisted carrot: Food for people, not for profit!

Sound familiar? Carrot Ranch…Words for people! Sure, I lopped off the “not for profit part” because I emphatically believe literary artists, like all artists, should be valued and paid for their work. The name Carrot Ranch acknowledges community activism centered on fairness, and as a literary arts community, I believe in the power of writers to rise and say something powerful in the world tussle between chaos and order.

Literary art belongs to the people, not the ivory towers or pocketbooks of profit-first publishing. People first. Nothing against publishing dynasties or ivory towers. I love New York and vow to go back as a published author one day. But the industry strangles voices with a profit-driven model. And I’m not against higher education — I’m headed back to the ivory towers of liberal arts next month.

Of course, my position at Finlandia University suits my inner maverick. As an adjunct, I’ll be teaching a CTE Marketing course to high school juniors and seniors who get to enroll in college. Already I get to circumvent some of the pomp of being a full-fledged prof. I’m invited to the week-long orientation for new professors, but I can pick and chose which events to attend. I like that.

But I did have to get fingerprinted and entered into the FBI database. That’s a requirement of the Copper Country School District. I understand and made the most of my jail visit to the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department. I even got to sit in the sheriff’s office and talk to him about teaching (he used to be an adjunct at Finlandia, too). He agreed to talk to my class about how professionalism is part of his department’s brand.

In fact, I’ve been reaching out to many local business owners, companies and entrepreneurs to speak as guests. I hope to have one a week. I want to expose my students to many varied ideas about what they could do with a marketing career. And I want to drive home the only rule my classroom will have: always be professional. If any disciplinary issues arise, as administrators fear given that this is the first time they’ve opened their campus to high school students, I can begin with, “What would a professional do?” One required reading for the course will be “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.

Keto Man didn’t think our interview would last 20 minutes. My former client wanted one more member-owner profile after I completed my last project for them. As is the case with such last-minute stories, they turned over a willing candidate to interview. Keto Man didn’t think he was interesting. He wasn’t. He was fascinating and inspiring.

For starters, he led me to a dark place, as dark as the woods behind a deer. Like me, he has no cable television thus eliminating the 24-hour news media nonsense. While I support journalism and believe in a nation’s free-press, the US saw the information age give way to the misinformation age. Keto Man directed me to Jordan Peterson and The Intellectual Dark Web. I’ve only watched a few clips and not anything I’m compelled to share yet, but I fully understand the allure of intellectualism, of long conversations, of discourse.

As a literary writer, I support what Jordan Peterson says: When you are in college and have those years carved out for you, read every book you can in the library. Yes! Read deep and read broadly. It reminds me of how I often struggled as a writer in my twenties because I felt I didn’t have anything to say. And I was right. The twenties are for reading, for digesting. Sure, writing is a huge part of processing what you think about what you read, but you must input information and experiences, first.

Also, I’d add – go live! Go be a parent and understand that dirty diapers are daily, and you’ll get over yourself in a hurry. Go to college and cram all night, write every day and read every book until your eyes cross. Go work a job, any job, especially a job that doesn’t fulfill you, so you can understand what does bring you satisfaction. Go to the mountains, to the sea, to the desert, to the city, to someplace new. Go travel and talk to people who are different until you understand they are just like you.

And never stop. Never stop learning, experiencing, and using your voice to say something. Observe. Create. Express. Write. Repeat.

I connected with Keto Man. I understood his interest in long conversations and civil debates. I like the idea of the Dark Web for taking hot social topics and debating them on a long forum and following up with audience questions. Yes, I long for more intelligent discourse. However, I also long for more compassion. As with everything, balance.

Further in the interview, Keto Man explained a health crisis he experienced to which he responded by eliminating all sugar and grains. I felt inspired by his action. He’s on a ketogenic diet which has eliminated the culprit of inflammation. He is able to process his health so differently from many veterans like the Hub. Next time a VA doctor says the Hub is normal for his age, I have a comparison.

My adjustment with the Hub correlates to a phrase Anne Godwin gifted me with last week: my veteran’s a reluctant patient with a hard-to-diagnose condition. He’s not normal for his age. Even the 86-year old man who conversed with me at the beach/office today could hold focus better than the Hub.

I’m writing, and occasionally peering at others, as I’m officing from a picnic table at Hancock City Beach. A man with two teeth approaches and tells me a joke in such rapid Finnish-English I laugh, not because I understand but because I don’t. Then I tell him a joke. Evidently, this is a Finnish custom for opening a conversation. He lingers and asks why I’m at a picnic table with a computer on such a beautiful day. Exactly! It’s such a beautiful day, I wanted to go down to Portage Canal and write.

Tomorrow we have the first of several evaluations for the Hub. They will be peering into his service records, his medical records and at his old bones. I’d rather be peering at rocks or at a deer that might be named Ed. That will come later.

August 9, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes  an act of “peering from the woods.” Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 14, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

Ed in the Woods by Charli Mills

Ed was peering at me again. I could feel his gaze crawl across my shoulders. Let me finish the chapter, Ed. The Legendary Leaphorn is in the arroyo. The tickle continues. I persevere, finish the chapter and set down Tony Hillerman’s latest southwest detective book.

Snagging a sip from my gin, tonic, and blueberries, I grab a fresh-husked corn.

Ed still peers at me from the edge of the woods. His ears twist like radar. Slowly I raise my offering. He hesitates, leans in and nibbles from my hand. The deer dashes off, leaving me to read in peace.

August 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

Monty sits on what remains of Cynthia’s deck in Ripley. Much of the rubble from the landslide remains, and yet life boldly rises. The apple tree uprooted and hanging over the fury of water that flooded Ripley Creek after the mountain slid, grows like a tree from a fantasy novel out of the gray and green rocks. Apples hang heavy in its branches.

A clump of roses takes root in a barren patch of dirt and kale spreads like weeds. Milkweed, nectar to butterflies, protrudes in clusters, tall green and promising to flower. A daylily nods its orange head by the deck. Purselane spreads across the rocky ground like nature’s band-aid.

I watch the Hub pet Monty, Cynthia’s charming rescue dog, a Daschund. He’s sitting down, which is good. Typically, the Hub would be gnashing his teeth at the pain in his knee, but he tells me the gel shot he got on Mondy is working. He’s tired, and no shot will take away the instability of both his knees.

The Hub gave us a big scare on Tuesday, ending up in an emergency room. His VA doctor offered to drive him after determining his blood pressure was through the roof. The day before, when he got the shot, the nurse raised the alarm over his dangerously high blood pressure, but he told her she measured it wrong. He can be surly to deal with in such circumstances.

On Tuesday we went to the local clinic for a weekly visit. Afterward, he wanted to see the Marine nurse he likes. I like her, too. She fights for him to get the care I’m fighting for him to get. She and his primary care doctor are the best. But often the referrals they make get denied by the VA. Slogging through the system is never easy.

I returned home to conduct a phone interview for a profile I’m writing, so the Hub drove back. He asked the Marine nurse to take his blood pressure because she does it right. She said it was THAT high. The doc came in, and both told him he needed to go to the emergency room immediately.

When his calls came through to me, I was on another call — the DVIBC had called me back, and it wasn’t a call I could miss, so I ignored his. He only told me he wanted to “talk” to the Marine nurse. I didn’t know he was checking up on his blood pressure. Or that he was in crisis.

I was managing the ongoing crisis — the Hub’s head. We’ve been down a scary path of weakening executive function over the past eight years. When it got bad, I pestered him to get seen for PTSD. I didn’t know what else it could be. His family and friends always talked about how changed he was after service, and I knew his quirks and moments when I’d call him out as “Sgt. Mills” because of his intensity.

But these past few years have been crisis hell. I couldn’t understand why, when we lost our rental two months before we could get into our next one, that he’d insist on going into the wilderness. I’m still traumatized by the experience. That’s when I started fighting hard as I ever have to get him into the VA. Before it was his knees. This time it was his shifts in thinking and behavior.

The VA had no trouble diagnosing him with combat anxiety even 33 years after the event. But he wouldn’t stay put. Next, we were off like a rocket to Mars (southern Utah) because it was a chance for him to get back into his aviation career which he loved. But he couldn’t do it. He was fired for PTSD symptoms.

That’s when I got scared. My husband was not acting like my husband and yet he couldn’t see it. I grieved terribly. I felt like I lost him, and in many ways, I have. A few widows have put it in perspective for me though — I still have him. It’s a bitter pill. But I charged on, getting him up to Michigan with him resisting the entire way.

Even now, it’s a weekly battle for two therapists and one ready-to-give-up wife to keep him here. I love my new community. I love being close to my eldest and youngest. I love Lake Superior and her tempestuous moods and generous rocks. I love new friends like Cynthia and Cranky. I love what the Red Cross discovered when they came to the Keweenaw — we are an intact community.

The Hub wants to leave. He hates mosquitos. He hates snow. He hates feeling bored, and he hates not being able to connect thoughts. He hates that his knees hurt so bad after years of needing a replacement.

You might notice a difference in attitude, and that’s part of the rub. But still, I fight to get him care. His therapists were the ones to catch on that something more was going on with him. That led to suspicion of traumatic brain injury (TBI). It would take sleuthing the pieces to puzzle out what happened.

We all knew about his hard landing into to combat.

The Hub’s mom got a phone call early in the morning of October 25, 1983, that her son was on his way to Grenada. A determined US president confirmed on television that he deployed US special forces – Navy Seals and Army Rangers – to rescue US medical students on an island that Cubans had fortified to build a runway for Soviet planes. So much for a dairy farmer’s wife to comprehend.

How could she know her son was jumping with a concussion? He didn’t even know.

Less than a week earlier, a fellow Ranger spearheaded the Hub in the face during a soccer game and knocked him out cold. He was ticked off to get pulled from the game. Knocked out cold and that’s all that happened. That’s the culture of “Ranger Tough.” Within days, he was flying in a C-130 to combat.

The Hub jumped with a T-10 parachute which Airborne uses for mass combat jumps. His rate of descent increased with his heavy load — a mortar round and all the communications gear for his unit. He hit so hard he bounced. He hit right knee, hip and head…bounced…hit his head again. He wore an M1 helmet which the Army acknowledges was not designed for impact. He essentially wore no head protection for 174 career jumps.

It would take almost five years for the Hub to realize that the pain in his knee after that jump was from bone fragments and a complete internal derangement of his knee. He had continued to jump, play soccer and rugby, all on a broken knee. That’s the culture of “Ranger Tough.” As much as I’d like to smash that tough attitude, I also recognize that it conforms to his identity.

When we go to the VA, I fight him as much as I fight them. I must be “Ranger Wife Tough.” He’ll ignore pain or report it’s low, then go home and rail about the pain. I won’t go into what it’s like to be married to a veteran, really only other veteran spouses get it, and many of them are exes. It’s not a glorious role.

But I know the Hub is a good man. He’s been a good dad, and I always felt safe with him (up until wilderness homelessness and Mars wanderings). Just as I did when I was raising three children, I ask, “Why this behavior?” Each new puzzle piece comes with a “why.” I keep arranging, searching the scientific studies, reading articles from the National Football League, reaching out to experts, asking for more tests.

We now understand that the Hub’s symptoms at the end of his military service and after he came home were likely due to TBI. PTSD certainly factored in — simply surviving Ranger Battalion required the maximum effort and PTSD is proof that one is a survivor. Another piece of the puzzle was linking his combat dive specialty after Grenada, after a TBI. It compounded the lack of healing.

But the brain can and does heal. The problem is what they call second impact syndrome. After a concussion, the brain releases tau, a protein which destroys more of the brain’s neurons. It leaves the brain vulnerable until it heals. If the brain suffers another impact (even a jolt), more tau is released. This is why repetitive concussions are dangerous. They lead to degenerative brain disease.

Chronic Traumatic Encephaly (CTE) can only be diagnosed after death through autopsy. Researchers are studying the brains of retired and living NFL players to look for clues. One marker is the presence of white matter brain lesions which also manifest in dementia. The Hub’s brain MRI reveals white matter brain lesions.

Symptoms include loss of executive functioning which explains why at age 55 the Hub was diagnosed by a VA psychiatrist with ADD. He never had ADD as a child or teen, or even hinted at it with learning or behavioral problems. But loss of executive functioning in adults is often confused as ADD. So it makes sense.

It’s why, when a doctor tells the Hub he needs to take the pills to lower his blood pressure, the Hub argues with him that he doesn’t have high blood pressure.

But today was a victory. In therapy with his Vet Center PTSD counselor, he recognized himself in a younger veteran he recently met. The signature wound of Iraq and Afghanistan is TBI. And most soldiers with TBI have PTSD. The VA, once it began to understand the immensity of the problem through recent TBI research, began screening all post-9/11 veterans.

The Hub is pre-9/11. When he came home, his parents wanted help, but no resources existed.

The fact that the Hub could see his own symptoms in another person was a huge moment of clarity. He understood why we were focusing on the two in-patient treatment options we have. He’s agreed to either one that comes through for him. I’m beyond relieved. He’ll have a team of medical and mental health professionals to work with all his issues.

Like Cynthia, though, we wait. We wait to find out if and when. She will rebuild a new home. We will rebuild a different life.

As I watch the Hub pet Monty while talking roofs and walls and how to live in a house with no running water or floors, I feel we are all going to be okay. I feel like it’s a yellow tent moment. We’ve pitched our tents and wait for the stars to come out. My tent is yellow. The color of sunshine and hope.

August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent. Where is it and who does it belong to? Think of how the color adds to the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 7, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

Wanting to Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni unzipped her tent. Vapors rose from the creek where it meandered smooth and flat across a meadow dotted with daisies. The sun cast colors across the eastern horizon of sharp mountains. She checked each boot, a habit from growing up in Nevada where scorpions liked to take refuge in a cozy shoe. The feel of laced boots gave her confidence to face the day. The volunteers would soon be arriving to camp. Ike had always teased her about how bright yellow her tent was – “Astronauts in space can spot it.” Today, she wished she had his camo tent.

Not All Is Lost

When disaster slams into neighborhoods and crisis encroaches in the middle of the night, when the waters sweep away all the photo albums and fire burns the family home to ashes when nothing seems to fit including us — not all is lost.

Writers turned to what remains when all seems lost. Differeing perspectives will surprise you.

The following is based on the June 21, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “not all is lost.”

PART I (10-minute read)

Not All Is Lost… by JulesPaige

Less light after the solstice here
Only marginally though as
Summer starts with the passing of the
Solstice – here in the northern hemisphere

Loosened land added by torrential rains
Over churned mud and debris land-
Sliding, slipping and seeping while
Some were sleeping…

Love is given selflessly
Over and over – helping those
Survivors of the unexpected – to them
Salutations – living saints or angels?

Lend a hand if you can –
Over and over, anywhere, then
Somewhere far or nearer to your heart
Stop a moment – and say a prayer…

tears flood, as eyes see;
welcoming community
and all strangers too

🥕🥕🥕

Look for the Helpers by Kerry E.B. Black

Rain drenched everything, as it will during a hurricane. It flooded the storm drains and backed sewage into basements. It bubbled through foundations and drowned landscapes. People two towns over clambered onto roofs and prayed for rescue. I lent my entreaties.

In our home, sewage swept through plumbing until the basement stank of rising refuse. First the bottom stair, then the next, the landing, and still, it climbed. I didn’t know what to do. Busy emergency lines. Sirens. Panic.

Yet after the waters receded, it wasn’t FEMA that helped. It was family and friends who hauled, cleaned and sanitized.

🥕🥕🥕

Starting Over by Sascha Darlington

At 11, her daddy died, taking away the sunshine.

At 15, she destroyed her knee and her chances for a sports scholarship.

At 37, she watched her husband, who didn’t want children, leave for his pregnant, much younger assistant.

Eight years later, as muddy waters careen around the sides of her house and her bedraggled pup is tethered to her, she yells at the sky: “What the fuck do you want from me?”

“To save you to start with,” the Coastie says.

The sun peeks out. Harbinger of hope. Maybe all’s not lost.

She’s very good at starting over.

🥕🥕🥕

Lost And Found: An Argument For Caring by Geoff Le Pard

‘You’ve lost me, Morgan.’

‘I’m just saying it’s easy to be liberal if you don’t have to deal with all the crap.’

‘So helping people, caring for others you don’t know, that only counts if, what, you suffer equally?’

‘I’m saying you can’t really understand if you don’t experience something. Otherwise it’s make believe.’

‘When you broke your leg, my sympathy didn’t count?’

‘I…’

‘Helping your sister after her husband left didn’t count because I’ve never been abandoned…’

‘The schmuck… no, that’s different. I think. Give me a minute… I might have got this wrong…’

‘Not all is lost.’

🥕🥕🥕

Lost and Found by Chelsea Owens

Becky always heard housefires described poetically. Tendrils of curling smoke, for example; or, flakes of softly drifting ash. Looking around; she could only think: burned, smoky, ruined.

Clearly, most poets didn’t stand in the charred remains of their own homes.

“That’s about it, ma’am,” the fire marshal said. Becky turned to him. His eyes were red beneath a sweaty, sooty hairline. Becky managed to nod, to dismiss him and his crew. Sighing, she shuffled behind them through the detritus.

“Ouch!”

A box. Squatting amongst flakes of softly drifting ash, she uncovered her fire safe. She smiled, through her tears.

🥕🥕🥕

Down Under by Carol Keefer

The earth quaked for several minutes of hard shaking. Immediately, the floor fell from under my feet, and then something hard hit my head followed by instant unconsciousness. When I awoke, I was pinned under a file cabinet under concrete. I was hurt and gasping for air. I prayed and expected to die, but how long would death take? Then, I heard an animal sniffing nearby. The rescue dog barked, and I cried out, “Help me. Please help me.” I heard voices outside. They began to move away debris. Someone said, “Hold on. We’re going to get you out.”

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by kate @ aroused

The company hadn’t ensured that safety was paramount. So sixteen men were trapped underground. Poisonous gas was leaking so nobody could go in or out as the fresh air might trigger an explosion.

Distraught families and first response teams were anxiously waiting above ground. Children were confused not really comprehending the threat. CWA ladies were handing out cups of tea. People were trying to stay positive but the underlying tension caused tears to fall and fears to surface.

They heard a resounding crack followed by a loud heartfelt cheer … the engineers had found a way through, miners saved!

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Charli Mills

Annabel retreated from the mourners. Thirty miners, four boys, and her beloved mine captain dead. Fire erupted at level 27 and none evacuated. Men continued to drill, eager to chase the new copper load, believing the updraft would smoother the flames. Greed overcomes common sense, Annabel thought. Ripley was ambitious, a hard-worker and a smart man. He cared about the land and community, but even good men succumb to copper fever. They dug their own deaths. She left the mass funeral and wandered to the falls. Ripley was gone, but his babe grew in the swell of her belly.

🥕🥕🥕

Rock Bottom by Sherri Matthews

He hit rock bottom and I thought it was the end.

“If you keep drinking, you’ll be dead in six months,” warned the doctor.

I was wrong; he stopped, for a few months at least. Then he started again and I feared his next fall could be his last.

I wondered if spending nights hunched up in a doorway might change things, or late night rants down the telephone cursing his dear, beloved father, who he hoped would rot in hell.

It was the years in prison writing letters to his daughter that told me all was not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Anita Dawes

A burning rose lay on the hot desert sand, if not found, I would be next.

I lay there beneath the hot sun, waiting to burst into flame, the voices of the Bedouin tribe close by.

Hope still beat in my chest that someone would come looking for their daily water. Would they walk this way?

Buzzards circle overhead, waiting for a feast.

As I reach for the rose, my eyes beheld a child’s feet. All was not yet lost, she would go back to her people for help.

Much later, I would discover the child’s name was Rose…

🥕🥕🥕

A Fresh Start by Anurag Bhakhshi

As his beautiful wife opens the door, I stare longingly at the ornate interiors of his palatial mansion.

All this could have been mine, if the boy whom I’d raised as my own son had not betrayed me.

Unable to bear the loss of everything I’d held dear, I was on the verge of ending my life, when I recalled his words “Not all is lost, till you lose hope.”

And so, here I am, looking for a fresh start.

Hoping against hope that Aladdin’s wife will exchange that ‘useless old piece of junk’ for a brand new lamp.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tribute to Military Pilots (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs

An Air Force pilot friend shared: My crew and I were walking to our plane for a training run and stopped in our tracks when the base fire siren went off. We looked around and then up. Our hearts jumped into our throats when we saw a plane rushing the runway on fire. It hit with a huge explosion. We didn’t believe anyone could survive, but not all was lost, within minutes six airmen walked from the smoke. We learned the meaning of “any landing you walk away from is a good landing; some are just better than others.”

🥕🥕🥕

I’ve Got You Now by Jan Malique

I’ve got you now, hold on tight. The fall hurt, you’re bleeding. I’m so sorry you decided to take this course of action. I didn’t realise you heard, damn me for being so selfish! I didn’t need help, just acting out like a spoilt child.

I can’t hear what you’re saying. Does your throat hurt? What you must think of me. Your eyes are so sad, I can’t bear to look at them. Hold still, I’ll wipe the blood off you. Sorry, so sorry! Your beautiful wings, torn and charred. Can you ever forgive me, my dear guardian angel?

🥕🥕🥕

The Remedy by Wallie and Friend

He hadn’t wanted her to see. It was inevitable that she should. In his mind he had pictured her reaction, imagining a thousand teasing quips—“I always said you were the handsome one”—but when she came in his humor failed. He saw her shock and it brought the walls down around him.

She went straight to the bed. His heart monitor was racing, but she wrapped him in her arms, her hand soothing his broken face. He felt her kiss as he cried. Her touch was gentle, as steady as her voice.

“My angel,” she said. “My angel.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Crows Secret by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

She was losing control of her powers. Zaria woke up, hovering above the bed staring down at the rumpled sheets twisted below. She fell, landing hard on the floor. Without her magic, she was nothing. She would be banned from the witch’s council.

Zaria arose from the floor. From his perch on the windowsill, crow flapped his wings and landed on her shoulder. He whispered in her ear, “Not all is lost. I’m here to give you the gift of clairvoyance.”

The young witch grinned. She felt the veil lift. Thank you crow, I see what you are saying.”

🥕🥕🥕

That Kind Of Day by Heather Gonzalez

Today has been the worst. It started off like an ordinary Monday, but it definitely didn’t end that way.

My car wouldn’t start right away. I got to work late, but just in time for my boss to notice. If that wasn’t bad enough, they announced that we would be working this weekend.

I made it home later than usual due to the rain. I poured myself a glass of wine, put my feet up, and turned on Netflix. A large cracking sound came from outside. Everything went dark. Not all was lost. At least I still had wine.

🥕🥕🥕

Let It Go by Susan Sleggs

The cocky author had gone to the writing conference feeling he would come away with an agent; the pamphlet said he could pitch them. He listened, open minded, to the various panel discussions and realized he would have to rewrite his whole manuscript so it started and ended with a bang. He decided it wasn’t worth his time, and appreciated the writing he had done had gotten him through a rough patch in his life. All was not lost: the next time he read a book, he read for pleasure instead of learning the craft. He felt oddly free.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Creative Cul-de-sac? by Anne Goodwin

Some days I led the way and, obediently, they followed. On better days, they raced ahead and I trailed after. On bad days, I bribed and begged for their company.
Sometimes, the path unwound for miles ahead. Sometimes, each step seemed virgin territory. Sometimes, we backtracked to try from a different angle. But always moving, discovering, until they abandoned me in darkness, sour and dank, patting the walls but no sign of an exit. Stuck. Despairing. All that effort wasted.
A chink of light that, as I watch, grows. Bigger. Brighter. Braver than before, we leave the cave together.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Robbie Cheadle

She gazed at the results of the board examinations in shock. This was her final academic hurdle to qualify as a lawyer and she had failed one of the three papers. She didn’t know how she would face her family, especially her Mother who had such high hopes for her. Her Mother would say that she would never pass. She knew her Mother’s negative cast of mind.

The conversation didn’t go as she expected at all. “You can re-write the examination next year,” her Mother said with surprising positiveness. “You will definitely pass next time, all is not lost.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Different Way of Being Faithful by Paula Moyer

Jean and Bill had been divorced for 12 years when she got the call. “Your father died this morning.” Her mother’s voice, baffled.

Later that morning, she and her husband Steve flew to Oklahoma. Later that night, Bill arrived, along with the girls, Lydia and Nola. The next day, as Jean and her mother put together the funeral, they needed one more pallbearer. A quick call to Bill’s hotel room settled it: “I would be honored.”

At the cemetery, Jean watched the coffin trundling past, Steve and Bill shouldering opposite sides. After everything, she could still count on Bill.

🥕🥕🥕

Losses and Gains by D. Avery

Ilene was first to the lawn chairs, Marge huffing behind.

“I gotta sit down. Phew. Do your feet hurt?”

“Not even one of them. Marge, stop walking in your work boots. I happen to have extra left footed sneakers if you want to start there.”

“Ilene, you’re something, always joking about your leg.”

“I lost a leg, Marge, not my humor. I’m lucky I didn’t lose my life.”

“Well, let’s have a beer to celebrate. I think I lost another five pounds on that walk.”
Ilene watched her friend bend to open the cooler. “All is not lost, Marge.”

🥕🥕🥕

Believing by Allison Maruska

Infernal wailing resonates. I gulp my drink, wishing it would drown the torture.

A regular beat permeates the mood. One by one, my compatriots take their place. Some surprise me with their poise. Others…well, I need another drink.

But not all is lost. When I think my nerves and head can’t take any more, my name is called. I trudge to the center. Now, others are swigging their drinks, wondering what I’ll bring.

The beat starts, followed by a that famous piano riff. My onlookers groan as I grab the mic.

Screw those guys. I haven’t stopped believing.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tumble in Time by Bill Engleson

“Barefoot?”

“Yes, sockless. Shoeless too.”

“On a damp grassy incline?”

“That too.”

“So, quite slippery, I assume?”

“As slick as a grifter’s tongue.”

“Thanks for that. So?”

“So, why did I do it?”

“Yeah, good guess. Don’t you keep sandals by the back door?”

“Yup.”

“For stepping outside?”

“Exactly.”

“Too much trouble?”

“To slip them on? No. But they’ve seen better days.”

“So have you, it appears.”

“Never fallen like that before. Scared the bejesus out of me.”

“Nothing broke, though.”

“Dumb luck. Still, it took me two hours to crawl up.”

“Learn anything?”

“Yup. Never ever go outside.”

🥕🥕🥕

You Can’t Get There From Here by Robert Kirkendall

A city person pulled into a rural service station. “Excuse me, sir, do you know the way to Davenport?”

“Davenport?” the rustic attendant answered. “Don’t reckon I do.”

“How about Greenfield?”

The attendant pondered. “Nope, don’t know the way there either.”

“Well can you tell me the way to the nearest Interstate?”

“I suppose if you keep driving down this highway you’ll run into one, but I don’t rightly know exactly where.”

The driver became frustrated. “I must say, you don’t seem to know your way around here.”

The attendant chuckled. “Yeah, but I’m not the one who’s lost.”

🥕🥕🥕

And All Shall Be Equal Before the Law by PaperShots

So we walked on, our hands on our friends’ shoulders. We could barely see ahead. From the crowd, some shouted at us, “Where are you going?” – the kids cried. The echo below the vaults was terrifying. It rippled the filthy water! (raises his voice) “Where are you going?” The stench in the sewers was unbelievable. (a thought strikes him) And at the same time on the other side of town the defense lines had been broken through. Those neighborhoods were free. We didn’t know. Communication was so bad. We ended up in a field miles to the north. (laughter)

🥕🥕🥕

It’s a Matter of Getting Up by Miriam Hurdle

It was early December 2017, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California devoured 307,900 acres and 1,300 structures. 230,000 residents described the wildfires in the neighborhood as a war zone. Smoke stretched 1,000 miles across the Pacific.

By Christmas, residents came back to their burned home, found pieces of displaced family photos. They pinned them on a bulletin to find owners. Some put up Christmas trees, decorations to bring cheer to the neighborhood. Strangers hugged each other and shed some tears. Homes and belongings were gone. Yet not all is lost. They wanted to rebuild and be neighbors again.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Jack Schuyler

Heat wafts over the night breeze and the somber smell of wood smoke settles in the neighborhood. Two stories are no more and the once sturdy foundation is now a bed of coals. Amid the destruction, I am struck by an overwhelming wave of gratitude. Not all is lost.

With our arms around each other, we watch firemen scurry like ants over the burning wreckage. The fire dwindles and the light goes out. Sirens cease and the stars return. At the edge of the smoldering ruins, we embrace in the bittersweet spirit of, “at least I didn’t lose you.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Flower Called Hope by Di @ penitivity101

The land lies barren and dry,
Drought is a killer.
Crop fields harvest dust,
Bairns cry in hunger.
The heat shows no mercy,
Hands blistered and sore
Toil endlessly
Until the blood flows.
Animals have deserted
This once bountiful place,
The bones of the unfortunate
Bleach in the relentless sun.
Bowls and vats lie hollow,
Their meagre contents
Rationed rather than shared.
Their days are numbered,
Maybe only single figures.
A tear falls from the sky,
One becomes many
And a lone flower dares
To raise its head.
All is not lost:
Clouds are gathering,
And with them,
Rain.

🥕🥕🥕

Hope by Kay Kingsley

“Not all is lost” he says in a protective, loving voice.

She shakes her head, trapped in an internal conversation between good and bad, like refereeing a match between reality and remaining positive. She chuckles at the absurdity.

What he means to say is ‘All hope is not lost’. You can lose everything but it’s only hope that rescues the lost, only hope brings you back, only hope paves the way through the darkness ahead.

The irony of her name is not lost on her. You have to lose it to find it but she’s been Hope all along.

🥕🥕🥕

Not the End of the World by Norah Colvin

Ever have one of those days? You know—it seems the world is against you, and everything you do goes wrong. Maybe you oversleep and in your rush, you fumble, make mistakes and get even later. You hurry to the stop as your bus pulls away. You flop down reviewing life’s punishments, and some jackass walks by telling you to “Smile, it’s not the end of the world.” What would he know? You open your phone and scroll: trivial drivel. Then this one story blows your insignificancies away. You phone your appointment, apologise and reschedule. All is not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

Stand and Deliver! by Juliet Nubel

‘Gimme your bag!’

She almost laughed at her friend’s attempt at the local thick accent until she felt the hard pull on her shoulder.

He wore a strange trilby hat pulled low onto his forehead and had tied a bandana scarf around his face. All she could see was the shining whites of his eyes and the gun pointing in her direction. Real or a toy? She didn’t want to know.

She handed over the bag. Keys, credit cards, telephone would now belong to this stranger.

But she held onto the gold locket around her neck. And her life.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Sarah Whiley

The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison.

Too scared to move, she realised she was holding her breath.

A single shot echoed off the bricks, shattering clay at her feet.

The shooter had found them.

She couldn’t believe this was happening. This was her high school, not the six o’clock news!

She felt something wet and realised she had peed her pants. She watched the yellow trickle out until two black boots stopped it short.

She squeezed her eyes shut and waited.

The click of an empty chamber told her, not all was lost after all.

🥕🥕🥕

Comic Relief by FloridaBorne

My mind in fog, the car wandered through a mall parking lot the day after New Year’s. A few empty spaces waited near an expensive store and I walked past a perfume counter with one goal.

I needed a black dress.

Passing the cosmetics counter, I hear wailing. No one scrambling to call 911, no sirens, just 2 high school girls consoling their friend over a broken nail.

I laughed at the irony. Should I tell the 3 Stooges, “Not all is lost?”

No. It was the first time I’d felt like smiling since my husband had passed away.

🥕🥕🥕

Signposts by Saifun Hassam

In the garden, Lisa grieved for Aunt Veronica, an artist and illustrator of all things botanical. Lisa’s own interest in archaeology was sparked on a family vacation with Veronica, to see prehistoric rock and cave paintings in Brazil. Not all is lost.

Veronica swiftly sketched the cave artwork, and the prehistoric villages. Lisa caught her aunt’s excitement. She learned how to glean the stories of people, to look for ancient and prehistoric signposts, when there are no written records.

Lisa inherited Veronica’s Library. Not all is lost. Veronica’s generous gift filled her with a deep abiding sense of gratitude.

🥕🥕🥕

Disaster Strikes by Teresa Grabs

Even when times looked their darkest, everyone could count of the sun to rise, and drive away the night and its memories. No one would ever believe that the sun would not rise, but that is exactly what happened on June 28, 3258. Reports indicated a massive black hole developed behind the sun and devoured it, just like one had to Jupiter three years earlier. We had less than twenty-four hours to get off this planet before we all perished. Thankfully though, our global distress signal was intercepted by the Third Intergalactic Fleet. I wonder if they eat humans.

🥕🥕🥕

Grant Gain by JulesPaige

Gather together, permit others
As they offer their aide
In your heart of hearts, fear not – forbid
Nightmares their tight grasp upon reality

Golden opportunities await
Angels in plain clothes to host
Individuals, families – some will
Need less others more…

Grant those who come as a visitor
An opportunity to become family
Include them as repairs begin –
Not all is lost…

healing can take years –
fears ebb and flow like water
mud can cloud good hope

let those in who filter out
dark diteris and debris

focus on mending
both that which is solid as
well as what’s unseen

🥕🥕🥕

Reality Check by D. Avery

“Pal, buy me a beer.”

“Cain’t Kid, spent ma beer money on the Go Fund Me fer Cynthia Riley.”

“Same here, Pal.”

“That’s good, Kid, ‘cause them folks up there really need ta dry out.”

“Whyn’t they jist come shelter here at the Ranch?”

“Ah, Kid, the Ranch is a wonnerful shelterin’ place, but yer always fergittin’ ‘bout the virtual elements of it.”

“Here ya go agin, Pal, havin’ ta remind me we’s fictional characters. But I really wanna help.”

“I’m sure the Rileys ‘preciate you givin’ up yer beer money, Kid.”

“I’m thirsty.”

“Could be worse.”

“Dang right.”

🥕🥕🥕

Ripley House of Healing (For Cynthia) by Charli MIlls

After the river subsided and rubble settled, Cynthia found a photo of her daughter at age nine lying face-down in red mud. Memories flood like the main floor of her 112-year-old home. She came to Copper Country to help the elderly. As a young intern, she worked out of a house below now buried in a debris field. She stayed, married, raised a family, and raised her voice to protect the vulnerable. She looks up at the house still standing, gutted of walls and floors. She stands up for her Ripley House of Healing. Her story is not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

You can help Cynthia Drake who had a Copper Country mountain slide into her house and force a river to reroute through her Ripley Home of Healing where Carrot Ranch was to host writing retreats. GoFundMe: Help the Drakes.

June 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

It’s winter, and we’re hiking across snow to the falls. Boots tramp over a trail hardpacked by daily visits. Bare limbs reveal the hillside, bereft of the cover leaves afford the trail in summer. There’s something about the barrenness of winter that strips our souls. In a way, it’s a time to use this vulnerability to heal. We are open.

I shuffle my snowboots in single file with a group of chatting and giggling women. I smile because we were supposed to walk mindfully. But that does not mean silently, right? We’re here to heal at the Ripley Falls. In this glorious mindful moment, my world is white, the snow muffling my steps and sharpening my sense of connection.

Clear waters gurgle over billion-year old bedrock. At the falls I let go. Down, down, down, I drop, falling over backward, this moment captured in a snowglobe somebody has bought and shelved on a mantle in a universe far away — look, you shake up the globe, and the women at the falls fall over. 

We fuss over falling. We don’t even want to trip. It smudges our knees, tarnishes our shoes. Falling means we failed. Falling means we didn’t do it right. Falling carries such societal shame that many people spend a lifetime making certain they don’t ever fall. Lose weight, take a pill, regrow lost hair, make more money, and whatever you do don’t fall from grace.

Falling is not as hard as we think it will be.

I let go, fall backward and the snow catches me. I’ve fallen, so what do I do? I laugh, feel the cold against the back of my wool coat, ignoring the sting of snow that creeps into my mittens, and I fling both arms wide. I make a snow angel. And all around me, I hear the water churn gently over rocks and the sound of other women falling.

No, falling isn’t as hard as they tell us it will be. It’s the getting back up that’s a bear. The struggling, slipping, falling again. A hand followed by another reach down and with help, I regain my feet. Alone, I might have floundered. Falling, if it has a core lesson, teaches us that it’s easy to do, and hard to recover from unless we have help.

That winter hike to Ripley Falls will etch itself in my memory box. It was the conclusion of a retreat at the Ripley House of Healing owned by my friend Cynthia May Drake. She helps veterans, their families, women in transition, and anyone coping with grief and loss. The women who gathered that day I now also count as friends. We’ve seen each other many time since and I always recognize their hands.

I’ve attended several workshops and many Magnificent Mondays with Cynthia. She honors my literary art and welcomes me to share it during these gatherings. That day, after the winter retreat, I asked if I could use her beautiful home to host a writing workshop. She agreed, and we’ve been dancing around a date. Last Tuesday, I met with her on her porch, surrounded by all her rocks and books and peace, we shared coffee and dreams.

As I always do when I leave the Ripley House of Healing, I make a vow to go tent camping. Cynthia sleeps in her tent outside in her backyard near her sauna. Most people up here in Copper Country follow the Finnish tradition and have a sauna. Ours is downstairs in the basement. But Cynthia is the only person I know who sleeps with heated corn sacks to stay warm in her tent. Because she and her dog Monty even sleep outside in the snow.

But, hey, it’s summer (or that moment-savoring time of winter’s coming).

On Saturday, June 16, I comforted Jasper, our thunder-stressed dog because the city of Houghton celebrated Bridge Fest with full artillery. As the final fireworks blasted, I promised Jasper it was over. He might not understand why a community celebrates a bridge, but to us it’s connection.

The Houghton Bridge is the only one that connects the Keweenaw Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula. It crosses Portage Canal which is a waterway that bisects land, connecting one side of Lake Superior to the other. People have mined copper on the Keweenaw for over 10,000 years. Industrial mining came to the area in the late 1830s. Later, the mines created chutes from the top of the mountain to the Portage Canal below to stamp and deliver copper by way of boats.

Ghost towns and abandoned mines scattered across the Copper Country. Cynthia’s Ripley Falls was once an engineered chute, part of the mining. Her house was built 112 years ago, and since that time, Ripley Falls has followed the course laid out for it. A ski resort now spans across Mont Ripley, to the west of her place. Humans have tinkered with the environment heavily in this region, but nature quickly reclaims what was let go.

Nature also follows her own course.

After Jasper calmed down on Saturday night, I heard thunder off in the distance. I groaned as I walked up the stairs, knowing it would be a long night for the dog. I had no idea it would be a night of terror for my community. Several times thunder woke me up, and several times I fell back asleep. Morning dawned, and nothing seemed amiss. Until I saw the social media posts from Cynthia.

All that rubble you see was part of the ski slope above the falls. In a few hours, the thunderstorm stalled over the lower Keweenaw and dumped 7 inches of rain. Cynthia, who usually sleeps where a mountain slammed into her house, slept inside that night. She and her daughter woke up when her refrigerator tumbled over. Water filled her stairwell to the bedrooms on the second floor and pushed against their doors in a torrent, preventing escape.

Cynthia writes:

“Drive to be alive: I am alive because I was saved by my 15 year old from certain death in my beloved tent on a night that produced 7” of rain in two hours and a mudslide from an unstable ski hill which slammed against my home burying my yard in 5-6 feet of rubble and muck.

I am alive because a first responder and my dear neighbors called for help to rescue my Samantha, my wee pup and I from a home where the flood waters were coming up the stairs from the first floor and keeping the doors shut from the inside.

I am alive because a community of neighbors, friends and strangers have poured by the 100’s to my homeplace, to dig through rubble and muck, to lift out treasured photos and sweet memories, to hose down, to kneel and pull out wet insulation from walls, to rip up 112 year old mint condition but wet hard wood floors, to hand pick and haul out sharp rocks from a ski hill burying cars and saunas and garages.

I am alive because blessed members if our Ojibwe people came to honor the waters who flow and give us life when we respect the earth and her ways and death and destruction when we forget and are greedy.

I am alive with the love of all whom I have witnessed the past days of endless work and give themselves selflesssly to it. And I mean all of you, with thoughts, prayers, financial help, phone calls, ideas, hard labor, food, well wishes. All if this is what we live for. Our purpose in life is to serve one another and create a community of bonds so tight that nothing can divide us because we are bonded in love.

One scene I will remember forever was last night on the cusp of Solstice as our days here have daylight until well past 10, I was standing by my beloved and broken sauna, waiting for my girlfriend SD to find the correct drill bit for a bit of sweet salvage, I looked over the scene around me. This is what I saw: beloved neighbors talking with selfless helpers and eating something finally as they gazed over tge work of some long days, people still digging and puzzling in the waterway, laughter ringing, dogs barking, a moon rising… and I was so pleased, so happy, so fulfilled. This is life, this is who we are capable of being. This is who we are. It was such a beautiful scene. It is our new reality. Blessed be.”

Not all is lost when we fall.

Those hands reach down to shovel muck with us, to pull us into a hug, push us to rip out our own walls because it’s necessary for survival. Hands join our hands, and together we move all the rubble bucket by bucket from our fallen environment. Hands do their part — some pack, some organize, some bless, and some write. Not all is lost when a community joins hands to lift the fallen.

I’ve witnessed amazing acts of perseverance in this community. The Red Cross and government officials lagged behind our local efforts to help friends and neighbors. Our efforts are slowing down because we’ve ripped out all the water-logged walls, salvaged 112-year-old trim, firehosed a basement after cleaning it out by hand, and treated interior framework with sprays to prevent mold.

If you are moved to help Cynthia, we do not yet know if her house can be saved, but we’ve set up a fund for her: GoFundMe.

We. Because falling takes others to rise. Just as we are a community of writers, we are the ones to extend the hands up.

June 21, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “not all is lost.” It can include recovery from disaster, an unexpected insight after a fall, or however the phrase moves you. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by June 26, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

 

Not All is Lost by Charli Mills

Annabel retreated from the mourners. Thirty miners, four boys, and her beloved mine captain dead. Fire erupted at level 27 and none evacuated. Men continued to drill, eager to chase the new copper load, believing the updraft would smoother the flames. Greed overcomes common sense, Annabel thought. Ripley was ambitious, a hard-worker and a smart man. He cared about the land and community, but even good men succumb to copper fever. They dug their own deaths. She left the mass funeral and wandered to the falls. Ripley was gone, but his babe grew in the swell of her belly.

Bouquets

Bouquets capture a moment of bloom — flowers, emotions, smells — and become the focal point. A spring bouquet celebrates renewal, and flowers gathered at a grave mourn a passing.

Writers explored the moments and sensory relationships we have with bouquets. Gather here, we offer a bouquet of stories.

Based on the June 14, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet.

This collection is dedicated to the loving memory of Mark, a brother to Sherri Matthews.

PART I (10-minute read)

A Bouquet of Tears by Sherri Matthews

If forget-me-nots would bring you back, I would grow nothing else.

If an English Country Garden cooled your fire, I would gather every living plant and flower and bulb growing there, tie them together with a bright, red ribbon and send them by whatever means possible across the Shining Sea.

If lilies, white and pure, touched your brow and returned your smile, I would place them carefully in your hand and cry with joy.

But it cannot be.

So I bring my love in a single rose and lay it on your grave and I weep for wasted years.

***

For Mark, dear brother. ❤

🥕🥕🥕

Hope Beneath the Loss by Ruchira Khanna

“Hi, Pink Carnations!”

“Hi, Chrysanthemums!”

“Oh wait there come the Lilies,” said the chrysanthemum.

“I also see Yellow Roses in that lady’s hand.”

The Daffodils, Tulips, and the Gladioli with the yellow and the white carnations come along.

****

All these flowers are placed on the coffin while humans stand in a circle with folded hands.

At first, these flowers greet each other. Excited to form a concoction.

These blossoms together emit a fragrance that makes the Homosapien realize as they cry softly upon the loss that there is hope and promise even when pain and heartbreak surround them.

🥕🥕🥕

A Precious Spring by Saifun Hassam

Eagle Point Ridge was devastated first by a firestorm, then deep winter snows and spring thaw mud slides. Carmen drove up a steep valley road towards the timberline. She gazed at the scorched forlorn firs, spruce and pines among jagged rocks and boulders in the muddy valleys.

Near the road’s edge, a clump of bright green ferns caught her eye. Among the ferns was a bouquet of bear grass, tall green stalks crowned with tightly packed white flowers. The faint fragrance of the vibrant precious bouquet drifted in the slight breeze, a sign of hope for the days ahead.

🥕🥕🥕

Bundled Batch by JulesPaige

It was a cardboard bouquet – with sweet aroma of warm food. The people in the back of truck though they were in the middle of a fairy tale.

They were aliens… unknowns. Some were whisked away by princes who worked in the medical fields. But most were left with just some cool air and water. The stranger on the white horse galloped, after work and hearing their plight on the news – to the local pizzeria and just bought them a meal. Just because he didn’t know when they had eaten last. Could this temporary happy ending continue to last?

🥕🥕🥕

Wild Blooms by D. Avery

A bouquet is more than a bunch of flowers stuffed in a jar. The bouquet pictured is comprised largely of what many see as weeds, plucked from neglected margins. Others see wildflowers, beautiful with varied colors and textures.                 A bouquet is a purposeful arrangement of individual and diverse flowers picked and placed mindfully and with intent. A bouquet is vibrant and beautiful because of the structures and elements combined in the whole. It is a composition, not a single utterance.                                                                                                                A bouquet is a Gift to be given.

 

wild blooms, household jarred

bear witness at the table

everyone belongs

🥕🥕🥕

Tale for a Winter’s Night by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She leaned over the big black cauldron, face partially occluded in the shifting steam. Chopping and shredding, she added a pinch of this, a breath of that. Winter winds buffeted her door, seeking shelter. She cackled, stirring with a long wooden spoon.

Bringing the spoon’s edge to her lips, she took a tiny sip. “Something’s missing…”

Grabbing the glass jar from the furthest reaches of the shelf, she passed her hand over the pot, once…twice. She stirred and sniffed the rising bouquet, and smiled.

She switched the burner to simmer, and took up her Jane Austen.

She loved chili.

🥕🥕🥕

New Bouquets at Cheever’s by Paula Moyer

Sitting in the upscale-but-casual restaurant, Jean could not tell it had been a florist – Cheever’s. Now the restaurant was part of a different bouquet, the renaissance of downtown Oklahoma City.

One by one, flower by flower, new businesses sprouted in old buildings – an art gallery where Fred Jones Ford had been. A restaurant inside Cheever’s. As a salute to the history, each new business took on the name of the old one. Thanks to a city-wide sales tax, new life pulsed through the old part of town.

Jean and Lynn took their seats. Their salads were fresh as carnations.

🥕🥕🥕

Sundown Stroll by Chelsea Owens

Humidity cushioned their sunset movements. Emiline sensed it, always, in the dense Jamaican air.

“I feel like something’s pressing on my arms and legs,” Mark said, though with a smile.

Emiline answered with her own, with a light hand pulling wisps of beach-blown blonde from her eyes. Their aimless ambling soon led them within the resort gardens.

Each breathed deeply in. Clusters of pinkish blossoms blushed boldly against darker green. Snow-white Oleander winked from wall bushes. Their gaze drew skyward to admire a riot of orange.

“Nature’s bouquet,” she whispered. Speechless, he followed her through a tropic twilight.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by the darknetizen

The bouquet of fresh flowers lying in my trashcan looked so pretty, a many-hued mélange.

The red rose from the ice cream vendor, daffodil from the police officer, pink daisy from the little kid who lived down the street. Males have always loved me with such fervor. I cannot even recall most of them. In all candour, I would rather not. My beauty has always been a curse. Immortality even more so.

Centuries ago, my face launched a thousand ships and claimed even more lives. I am glad that nowadays men offer only flowers. I cannot claim more lives.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Robbie Cheadle

In the deep shadows under the stairs you may catch a glimpse of him. The form of Rex Bacon, dangling from the end of the rope he used to hang himself. An upended stool and a bouquet of wild flowers lie at his feet.

The flowers were for this beloved wife. On his last day of life, he had left work early and gathered the flowers for her during his walk home. When he got home, he found them together. In his rage he had killed her lover and escaped to the local pub where he had hung himself.

🥕🥕🥕

Complexity by Reena Saxena

Harvey is a best-selling author who never reads his own books. The interviewer looks perplexed in this episode of his show “Straight Talk with Genius Minds”.

“Sir, do you never feel the need to review what you wrote?”

“No, I simplify things as much as possible for the new age readers. But that is not my cup of tea.”

“And what would interest you?”

“A good, mature wine has a complex bouquet. But nobody has the time or patience to wait till it develops. So, I write micro-pieces for easy assimilation,” smiled the octogenarian legend, having busted popularity charts.

🥕🥕🥕

Finally Blooming by Frank Hubeny

That was the spring Alice turned the lawn into a big bouquet of flowers. It surprised Joe but looking at her face looking at the former lawn with a gentle smile she rarely showed him anymore made him grateful.

The neighborhood wives thought her odd for years. Her newfound gardening energy did not impress them. Alice’s view of them wasn’t pretty either.

That winter Alice died.

Joe kept her bouquet of former lawn going for the next decade as long as his life allowed. He received help especially towards the end and gifts of plants from the neighborhood wives.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer Posies by Colleen Chesebro, The Fairy Whisperer

The Litha preparations had been underway for days. Yesterday, the children had gathered bouquets of yellow daisies for us to carry on our journey to the bonfire which would honor the magnificence of Father Sun. The people were assembled, ready to pay homage to the One.

Excitement coursed through my veins, and I quivered. Tonight, my secret would be revealed. The mother had blessed me with the greatest gift of all. Inside, I felt the first fluttering of my tiny son.

My summer posies—

awash with an early dew

standing sentinel.

A gift of fertility,

honoring the summer sun.

🥕🥕🥕

Flower Power by kate @ aroused

Vibrant colours, sweet fragrance, singular flowers or bunched bouquets thrill with heartfelt joy! Those purchased or plucked make delightful offerings to one we wish to thank or cheer.

Brightening another’s day, claiming they are loved and dear. Garden blooms emit radiance to those passing through our neighbourhoods.

But best of all are those innocently picked by children … to thread a daisy chain; puff at the dandelion; discard petals to the chant ‘he love me, he loves me not’; or gigglingly gifted to a much adored mother. Our inner child beams playful smiles as flowers flourish irresistible profound power.

🥕🥕🥕

Simple, Humble Things by Kerry E.B. Black

The little girl ran to her mother, smile brighter than the dandelions wilting in her grip. She stood on tiptoe to present her gift, and her mother thanked her with a kiss.

Years later, she approached her mother with another fistful of yellow blooms. She sat, heedless of her business suit, and presented her gift. “When I was little, you taught me to appreciate the beauty and importance of simple, humble things.”

Her tears splashed the granite upon which her mother’s name was carved. The dandelions shone like miniature suns in contrast.

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A Mother’s Bouquet (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Mama, flowers!” Lizzie stumbled through the cabin door, dropping her bouquet of Black-eyed Susans.

Sarah cringed as Lizzie wailed, wanting to escape the chores Mary gave her.  Lizzie’s brothers rushed in to help gather their sister’s spilled flowers.

Monroe calmed Lizzie while Jules and Cling gathered her bouquet, handing it back. Lizzie sniffled. Mary knelt with Baby Charles on her hip, and Lizzie thrust the flowers to her mother. “They are beautiful, Lizzie.”

Sarah’s heart ached for a little girl to gather a bouquet for her.  But she left her daughter in the grave in back in North Carolina.

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A Posey Mosey by Bill Engleson

He thinks, “I could do better.”

She thinks, “I don’t require much. Just a sense that I am thought of, some gesture.”

And he thinks, “I’ve missed so many opportunities. I really am a slouch.”

And she muses, “Yes, you are, but that comes as no surprize.”

And he wonders, “Do I offer no surprises, anymore? Was it always so?”

She doesn’t hold back. “You’ve always been fairly predictable. Like I said, I don’t require much, and I expect less.”

And he finally realizes, “I’ve had a free ride, haven’t I? Should’ve gotten her a posey. At least one.”

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Red Roses by Wallie and Friend

Clair had never liked red roses. They seemed to her too garish. Anyway there wasn’t much to be lost our gained in philosophizing over flowers, so Clair never really thought twice about whether she liked red roses or not until that roadside walk.

There he had stood with that rose between his fingers, breathing it in. The look in his eyes was so soft and charmed that for the first time, Clair loved roses. And for the first time she was trimming a bouquet, hoping it would be the first thing he saw when he came through the door.

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Farewell Flowers by Anne Goodwin

Tulips blooming in buckets outside the florist’s. Should I? Or would it look cheap? The entire stock can’t repay what he’s given me; besides, women don’t buy men flowers.
I walk on. Walk back. Something exotic, like an orchid? Something simple, like a single white rose?

He’d like a bouquet, he’s a sharp-suited metrosexual. He’d be embarrassed, faffing about for a vase. Or worse, he’d interpret it, force it to mean something more.
Squirming like a kid, I hold out the foxgloves, scabious and daisies scavenged from the waste ground. Rather like myself. “Thank you,” he says. And smiles.

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Bouquet Business by Miriam Hurdle

“My husband buys me bouquet every week,” Sandy blushed. She forgot who bought up the subject.

“It will get old in no time. Guys buy a bouquet every now and then,” Mr. Cole’s deep voice came from the other side of the room.

“They are still on honeymoon,” Mrs. Cole was embarrassed by her husband.

“Kyle is a devoted customer. He came to my floral shop for a special bouquet five months ago. I praised his affection for Sandy. He has been coming every week.”

“Sorry, I’m not trying to ruin your business,” Mr. Cole whispered to Ms. Laura.

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Smart Home by H.R.R. Gorman

Master Ellen left me in my own devices every morning, heading off to work while I – her Smart Home – tended to her domestic needs. She returned every evening with a smile and a ‘thank you.’

A man, I’ll call him ‘Asshole,’ showed up at me with a bouquet. She let him in with his dirty shoes every time he arrived with flowers.

My gardening protocols kicked into overdrive. I grew flowers and made arrangements, leaving them at my door. She cared for my creations.

Eventually, Asshole returned. “Thank you for all the bouquets!”

He stepped back. “It wasn’t me.”

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Bouquets by Susan Sleggs

When I got home from work the aroma of dinner, a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine waited. I exclaimed to my teenagers, “Wow. What’s the occasion?”

“Your birthday.”

“That’s next week.”

“We know. Surprise!”

“I’m going to cry.”

“Not allowed. Open the wine instead.”

“How did you get wine?”

“Dad took us. He said this Merlot has a great bouquet.”

“So Dad was involved in this?” I hesitated, took a deep breath and added, “You might as well call him to join us.”

“Really?”

“We told you, we’re just taking a break, not getting a divorce.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Wedding Bouquet by Hugh W. Roberts

She’d told all her friends where to stand so that when she threw her wedding bouquet, Tracey would catch it and be the next to marry. She’d told them to get the men to stand in line as well.

As the bouquet flew through the air, the atmosphere in the barracks hall of R.A.F Stanmore was one of happiness, laughter and joy. Not for the bride, though, as flashes of the war-torn country she’d come from went through her mind.

Pressing a small button concealed under her wedding dress, the flowers scatted and mixed with blood, flames and bone.

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

With Love by Di @ Pensitivity101

Her hands were bloody and dirty, nails broken and uneven.

But the smile was a full one thousand watts as she handed the bouquet to me.

‘From the garden’ she announced proudly.

‘I picked them myself, just for you. Sorry they’re a bit untidy and not tied with a fancy ribbon, but I wanted you to have them.’

Mr Robbins looked over at me and smiled sadly.

They were actually his roses, from his garden, but Gran didn’t realise that.

Gone were the days when she tended her own flower beds, but no doubt the memories were still there.

🥕🥕🥕

Love’s Bouquet by Kay Kingsley

She sat on the hot green grass watching him run circles around her with the boundless energy only a two year old possessed.

As an adult we age by the decade but children grow by the day, each blink like the slide from life’s projector, a snapshot of growth. From coo’ing to smiling, from standing and walking to talking, it’s endless discovery ignited.

Her warm daydream is interrupted by a loud “Here momma!” and his small fingers extend a bunch of tiny, squished, grass flowers. Her heart nearly explodes with pure happiness. Love never picked a more beautiful bouquet.

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A Special Bouquet by Norah Colvin

As expected, they found her in her garden with a bouquet of fresh-picked flowers: daisies, forget-me-nots, peonies, zinnias, sprays of bleeding hearts and honeysuckle, a bottlebrush or two, a bunch of gumnuts and some greenery—to make each colour shine.

Her garden was her sanctuary, her confidante, her joy. She said families were like gardens, with beauty in variety. Every special day—birth, birthday, wedding, or funeral—she arranged a meaningful bouquet. In ninety-five years, she’d seen lives come and go. The last of nine, no doubt now who’d be next. How could she know this was her day?

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Death By Roses by Sarah Whiley

“Death by Roses. What kind of a perfume name was that?!”

She selected it from the rows of delicate bottles standing behind glass doors; hoping her sister would like the present.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Ooooooh! Death by Roses!!! How did you know?”

“Just a hunch! Glad you like it.”

Her sister squirted and sprayed herself liberally, before spraying the bouquet over everyone.

Feeling pleased, she didn’t notice at first.

Then her mother screamed, “I thought you’d grown out of your anaphylaxis!”

She faded to black, thinking, “Death by Roses”…

🥕🥕🥕

Love & Betrayal by Anurag Bakhshi

I stared at him incredulously, my eyes and my heart filled with tears of hurt and betrayal.

“You leave me hanging at the airport on the day that we are supposed to elope, then disappear for weeks, don’t answer my calls or texts, and now you suddenly pop up and offer me these pathetic flowers?” I hollered like a madwoman as I stomped on the bouquet of dead poppies lying on my doorstep.

He looked at me with vacant eyes, and then replied in a disjointed voice, “Sorry, but these were the only flowers kept on my unmarked grave.”

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Bitter Bouquet by Mardra Sikora

Dried petals and stems standing in clouded water greeted him.

Never before had these rewards of his affection appeared less than perfectly tended.

She provided tending. Provided status, security. She cultivated his reputation and ambition.

In the beginning, he signified his passion with red roses. Then the bouquets arrived bigger, more elaborate, and overflowed with color, camouflaging the guilt. Each blossom signified devotion, but not fidelity. Well-tended consolation prizes.

Until she realized that a living rose bush, even with all its thorns, better reciprocated the life and beauty she craved, more than any short-lived bouquet he presented without redemption.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Bouquet by Jack Schuyler

Dry stems and wilted petals blow gently in the wind. Jammed into sidewalk cracks and kicked into the street by passersby, the broken bouquet lies strewn beneath the hot sun. I cannot take the brown from the mashed petals and I cannot restore the green to the stems which lay bent like rotting asparagus in the gutter. The decorative plastic has long since blown down the highway, so I gather the carcass into a dirt stained grocery bag. And what was the occasion? A wedding? A peace offering? I gather the last petal into the bag. It’s over now.

🥕🥕🥕

Bouquet by Deborah Lee

“You got a job offer! But this is thrilling!”

Jane laughs. She pulls a bottle from her backpack with a flourish. “It’s not much, but we can celebrate.”

“I’m honored to help you celebrate, dear girl,” the old man says. “I wish I had proper glasses, to appropriately savor the bouquet of this lovely drop.” His eyes dance.

“Bouquet,” Jane snorts, uncapping the wine. “Two-Buck Chuck doesn’t have a bouquet. More like a…twang.”

“A pungency.”

“A stench!” Jane squeals, giddy.

Henry drinks, wipes the the bottle, passes it. “I could not be happier for you,” he says quietly.

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There’s Nothing More Annoying Than A Smart-Arse by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know, those guys are so annoying, hee-hawing about the wine.’

‘Morgan, they’re young, they…’

‘What is it about wine that brings out pretensions? “Lovely bouquet” and “it has notes of peach and cobblers”. Why don’t they just drink it?’

‘You’re the same, with your car. All horse-power and litres and torque and…’

‘That’s different. They’re technical terms.’

‘You use them to contrafabulate the listener.’

‘You made that up.’

‘You don’t know though. You’re just trying to confuse people.’

‘A bouquet is a bunch of flowers, not a wine scent.’

‘Actually it’s the tertiary aroma, caused…’

‘Shut up, Logan.’

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Catch Me If You Can by Juliet Nubel

Julia had hovered behind her sister all day, following her like a faithful young puppy. A puppy in teetering heels and an atrociously tight scarlet dress.

She was the older one, surely she should have had a say in what she wore today?

As she lingered she kept a careful eye on the bouquet. The scent from its red and white roses had tickled her nostrils all day.

When was her sister ever going to throw the damned thing?

Julia prayed that her months of training as the goalie of the local female football team would finally pay off.

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[misled] by Deb Whittam

The exchange always happened at the end of the day, that was when most looked the other way.

Her old gnarled hands would clasp the product close, until he arrived and then no words were spoke.

He would take the offering and turn away quick, she would smile not batting an eyelid.

Most thought it a tradition, one of those old family ways.

No one seemed to realise that the weeds he received, were more than they perceived.

Weeds and such is what they said, he just nodded … they chose not to see, let them be misled.

🥕🥕🥕

Offering To The Land by Jan Malique

She stood looking at the expanse of wild meadow with wonder. It was a rolling carpet of vibrant colour and scent, touched with the kiss of golden sunlight. Truly heaven!

The elders of the tribe had chosen her to carry the offering of garden flowers. A gift to the land as thanks for retreat of the great ice sheets, and continual good harvests.

She waited for a sign from the land that the gift had been accepted. Silence fell, then a sweet wind moved over the meadow. The Guardian came slowly forward and kissed her gently on the forehead.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by FloridaBorne

She stared at the bouquet of long-stemmed yellow roses, tears streaming.

The best florist in town, the baby breath arranged perfectly in a cut crystal vase, his intentions unmistakable, she opened the embossed envelope and read the gold lettering on an elegant card, “You were right.”

Yesterday, they’d argued about his late nights at work, and excessive spending. She’d accused him of having an affair.

She’d once quipped, “If you want a divorce, just send me a dozen yellow roses.”

He knew she hated that color. He didn’t know she was pregnant.

He’d learn to hate child support more.

🥕🥕🥕

Hi Noon at the Bouquet Corral by D. Avery

“Pal! Where’s Shorty at?”

“Whoa, Kid, what’s wrong?”

“The ranch hands! They’s all off in the upper meadows an’ in the woods sniffin’ flowers an’ makin’ daisy chains.”

“So?”

“So?! They should be makin’ hay, not pickin’ flowers! We gotta be makin’ hay; sowin’ an’ reapin’. Git ready fer winter. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, whyn’t you relax, go sniff some flowers yerself?”

“Cain’t, no time, gotta replenish the carrot bin, git hay inta the barn. Winter’s comin’. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, go back ta the meadow. Shorty’s there gatherin’ flowers.”

“What?”

“Fuel fer the soul, Kid. Important work, time well spent.”