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Often we visualize the imaginary settings and scenes from the pages of a story. This leads writers to focus on what they see when they write. Yet, we use all our senses to perceive that imaginary space. This week we played with sound.
Sonar creates an acoustical image. The challenge to writers was to explore creating a flash fiction by sound. Prepare to hear something different this week.
The following is based on the August 3, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to create a story.
Sounds Surround Us by Norah Colvin
The deadline looms and I wonder how to extract a 99-word story from my unwilling brain. Contemplation, false starts, abandoned ideas: the well is dry. But listen! Outside, the day fades. Birds serenade folk hurrying homewards and signal the changing shifts. Soon they’ll sleep and the night time chorus will begin. Inside, the computer hums patiently, waiting to tap out the words. In the kitchen, doors creak: pantry then fridge. Vegetables are scraped and rinsed. Water bubbles on the stove. What joy! Yes, I get to eat tonight; but my, how the gift of hearing enriches my world. Gratitude.
A Mother’s Journey by KittyVerses
The first cry of my daughter announcing her entry on earth, it was music to my ears.Often wondering, why is it a cry that we arrive with, why not a smile? Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it’s only with the cherished ones we drop our shield and cry.
At the foot of the waterfalls, by her side, this was another sound I wasn’t going to forget. As the water announced her entry to the world, heralding goodness, prosperity, luck, much like my daughter who despite her tantrums, disagreements, conflicts during her growing up years, stood by me and banked upon me during the good and tough times.
Sunrise Flash by Liz Husebye Hartmann
He stands on the bank where forest parts to sunrise on the rich strip of green, and lowers his muzzle to feed. Thick grass pops between his rotating jaws, snapping as he tears into clumps of equally satisfying roots.
He sneezes, shakes his antlers, and freezes at the whisper of small feet on the low cliff, opposite.
Alert, he steps back into shadow.
She sees him and laughs as water over shallows.
He nods, unconcerned, as she sheds her nightshirt and plashes into deeper water. Skin twinkles and turns, and flipping her tailfin, she’s gone.
He nuzzles the grass.
Forest Bathing by Jules Paige
Most suburbs have cookie cutter houses and some
neighborhoods are lined with concrete sidewalks, that for a
time were required by law. They reside in between areas
where the yards go right to the streets’ paved edge. Which
were at one time disconnected from other areas by remaining
Those houses with old growth trees nestled in hillsides where
fox, deer and pheasant still hide… that is where you can hear
the past meeting the future. Little pockets of Shinrin-yoku await.
Insects buzz, woodpeckers tap out Morse Code. and early
risers climb with dreamsand still stuck in their eyes…
Million-dollar Violin by Anne Goodwin
The sound was sublime, more mystical than any music. But Lea wasn’t satisfied. Replacing the instrument on its stand she tucked another under her chin. Serenity swept through her father’s body as she slid the bow across the strings. But still not good enough for Lea. He cringed when she picked up the one with the million-dollar price-tag. But the tone! The resonance! The joy that entered through his ears, echoed in his head to be transported by his arteries to his toes. He’d do anything to get it for her. Even give the devil his soul.
Sound by Michael at Afterwards
Each night it starts with a scratch scratch scratch on my window. I close my eyes and hope this it is just branches blowing against my window, but it never is.
From the forest into my room they creep, scuttling across the ceiling, shrouded in darkness. Skull less eyes glow red, foul hissing breath on my skin as they envelop me. I lie frozen and unable to scream as their claws caress me, hungry tongues snaking out to feast on my fear.
With a full belly they return to the night and I am free to scream, too late.
Failed Investigation by Mick E Talbot
Buzz, the buzzer buzzed!
Under the spell of the questionnaire or so we thought, but it jumped, grabbing her by the throat, blood spurted everywhere.
Zapped by a taser, no affect?
Zapped again, still standing, and now the questionnaire was decapitated.
Twice, with no effect. panic ensued
Once should of put it down
Beaten, security called for help, armed guards arrived within seconds.
Agonisingly the alien submitted, it was then manually restrained..
Next, in anticipation of further trouble it was restrained. with three sets of handcuffs.
Grinning, nodded its head ten times, looked up, then disappeared with a bang!
The Chimes by Allison Maruska
A familiar chord greets me as I step onto the curb. Amazing those old wind chimes carry this far. As the Uber drives away, I stare at my childhood home. Its color has faded in the past twenty years.
But that E-chord still sounds, not as cleanly but definitely as present. I follow it across the dead grass, through the rusty metal gate, and into the back yard.
She sits on the porch, the chimes ringing above her despite the still air.
Her focus centers on me, and a chill shoots through my body.
“I knew you’d come back.”
The New Bell by Michael
Bang, crash, push, heave, ugh!
“You got it yet?”
It grated as they pushed it further. The grinding rang in their ears.
“A little further?”
“Do we have to?”
“Stop whinging, now grow a pair and push.”
Breathing heavily, they huffed and puffed, then huffed some more.
One looked at the other, sighed deeply and then took purposefully hold.
Gradually they made progress. It moved begrudgingly, inching forward resisting their every breath consuming effort.
With a resounding squeal of metal on metal, they moved it into place.
The new shiny bell swung gracefully. It would ring out anew.
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
My dad’s eyes flashed silver when he got into a bottle. His lungs darkened, his voice bellowed, and Mom would whisk me off to bed amidst the building gusts.
In my bed I could still smell the sourness in his skin, his blood charged with ozone and bourbon. I counted the seconds between flickers of light beneath my door and thundering steps. I’d curl into a ball, flinching at every sudden bang.
Sometimes it passed. A heavy downpour would turn to snores. Other times it thrashed about, uprooted and blowing a gale, heaving against the house through the night.
The Protector by Pensitivity
Someone had broken in.
Drawers were ransacked, papers shuffled and ruffled, heavier objects thrown to the floor.
Footsteps were muted but still audible on the carpet.
Wardrobes were violated, the swish of clothes on hangers disturbed the silence.
They were searching.
She trembled in her bed. Not for her to make a sound and announce her presence.
She’d been kicked by intruders before.
Angry barking rocketed through the stillness.
Sticky fingers stopped mid poke, the unwelcome guest backed into a corner by a snarling beast.
The German Shepherd guarded his patch and waited. The poodle went back to sleep.
Sound by FloridaBorne
I awake on a moonless night, eyes open, trying to make sense of the darkness. I close them again and, for some inexplicable reason, this helps.
My dogs have their favorite places to sleep. White dog, tight against my body, whines when I move. Dingo, who likes to sleep against the bathroom door, snores peacefully. I take exactly 9 steps toward the sound, stopping just short of Dingo’s snout. His hot breath bathes my feet, as he continues to snore. Turning the door knob startles him. My bladder reacts when he yelps.
I hate cleaning pee off the floor.
Crinkling by Kerry E.B. Black
Crinkling, like anxious mice in an autumn woodland, woke Wendy from a sound sleep. She wrinkled her nose around a musty smell. The insidious crinkling crept deeper. She lit a bedside flashlight and shone it on the ground. She gasped. “No.” Water crept into her room, surrounding her as though she were Thumbellina asleep on a lilypad. Her feet splashed on sopping carpet as she rushed to gather the most valuable of her belongings. Tears splashed into the rising tide. The water rose above her ankles, collecting items to ruin, crinkling like a voracious wolf gnawing an ancient bone.
Buzz to Bang by Irene Waters
“Ugh! Tinnitus. Today it’s thrumming rather than clanging.
“I’ve got buzzing reverberating also.” Sheila cocked her head. ” It’s in the garage.”
The hum intensifed as Peter entered the garage. “Hell! There’s a swarm of bees in here.”
“Smoke subdues bees. Use the fireworks.”
“Great idea.” Choosing Mad Monster, Peter placed it under the honey comb. The scrape of the match igniting was quickly followed by a whizz then loud booming explosions. Bam! Boom!
Unexpected whizzing and banging as the other fireworks ignited. Crackling fire engulfed the garage. In the distance a welcome nee-naw, nee-naw.
“Preferred the hum” Sheila whispered.
Wildfire by Kate Spencer
An eerie silence descended upon the acrid night air. Lori’s eyes burned as she stood on the porch staring at the crest of the distant hill, her heart pounding. Waiting.
And then it was there. Two hundred foot flames shooting into the sky over the summit followed by a roar like a fast approaching freight train.
“Rob, it’s time,” she yelled.
Rob appeared with a half-eaten sandwich in his hands. “You okay?”
“Yeah. I’ll start hosing down the house. Go. The guys are expecting you.”
“Love ya,” he whispered before racing off to do battle with the advancing wildfire.
A Grating Sound (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Gears ground when the all-terrain vehicle powered up the slope. Danni heard Evelyn shout, “Giddy-up, Mule! Haw! Haw!” The revving engine faded, and a drone of voices washed over Danni like white noise. She studied the sonar graphs, puzzling over the dark features buried four feet below the Kansas clay. Trowels scraped, volunteers called to one another and the porta-potty door slammed intermittently. Danni focused. The active noises blurred.
“I’m a gardener!” A high-pitched voice like nails on a chalkboard.
Danni grit her teeth hard enough to hear enamel chip. A child. Who brought a child to her dig?
Offerings by D. Avery
The curtain snaps against the breeze in the open window. Triumphant flapping and clucking of Hope’s favorite hen heralds its daily escape.
She listens to comfortable thuds and thumps as he prepares breakfast. Brewing coffee rumbles a baseline to the robins’ chirping. The last stair-tread squeaks as Hope joins her father. Both quiet and reserved, in the mornings together they are quite talkative, sharing observations from the farm or surrounding woods, their voices rolling soft like the round-rocked brook.
Unconsciously they interpret morning sighs. They bring her coffee, their tentative daily offering, worry they might rouse her to flight.
Jack Pine Wings by Ann Edall-Robson
The wind in their faces, the full moon above. Always upwind of the unsuspecting herd feeding in the quiet, illuminated darkness at the meadow’s edge. Spooked to a dead run by the young men moving ever closer. The fleeing sound of pounding hooves, branches snapping, voices yelling. Escaping the open to the trusted sanctuary of the trees, only to face barriers built by those pushing from behind.
Jack Pine pole wings guide them into the funnel opening of the corral. Held in the stronghold, wild-eyed, snorting, blowing. Squeals of defiance fight the ropes settling around sweating, heaving necks.
Jubilee Night by Bill Engleson
Some might think it sounds like a drunken grizzly scratching a chalkboard.
In the cities night air, the grizzled old academic, twitching in his fuming sadness, hears the piercing refrain from Marie’s Wedding seeping through the raccoon infested briar that separates his Edwardian from the Collectives.
“Damn hippies,” he mutters, tips his flagon, and swallows his sour brew.
But the beauty of the pipes, a surprize this Saturday Eve, intrigues him.
He rises and is drawn to the window that overlooks the neighbours lawn, replete with a hundred celebrators.
“Damn fine tune for the bagpipes,” he allows. “Damn fine tune.”
My Spouse by Reena Saxena
He tiptoes to come close, and deliver a surprise. He grunts to express disinterest or disappointment. He slurps with a look of satisfaction, on the dining table.
He hammers and nails, to fix things around the house, even if it disturbs my writing. The whirr of the car engine reflects his mood for the day. He belts out a romantic number while driving, in his not-so-melodious voice. I prefer the radio instead.
His voice softens, almost breaking down, on hearing that his father is now terminal.
I know my spouse, more through the sounds he makes, than other expressions.
Dinner Date by C. Jai Ferry
He pressed the oversized lid onto the sizzling wok with a metallic burst of frustration. His phone vibrated in his pocket, producing another insistent ding-ding-ding. She was sick, wasn’t coming in. The power washer whooshed to life, a sink full of silverware rattling under the steaming water. The sound made his teeth ache. He stepped into the hallway, where gentle guitar strings embraced him from strategically placed speakers. He dialed her number. Straight to voicemail. Beep. He hung up. He contemplated calling back. Rhythmic chopping against a thick cutting board interrupted his thoughts. He’d fire her after dinner service.
Quiet Sunday Morning by Deborah Lee
It powers in with a rush and a roar, surrounding the building in seconds. Becca staggers to her feet, careens from room to room, arms wrapped around her head. The entire apartment throbs. War. It can only be war. China? North Korea? Plenty of choices these days.
Finally the thwapping fades.
Panic says it’s war; logic says just another damned tourist helicopter. Her single crystal wineglass, the one she hid from Richard’s sister to ruin the bar set, is the casualty this time. Vibrated itself right off the counter. Becca swigs from the bottle until her heart finally slows.
Lock the Bathroom Door by Susan Zutautas
Meg was having a nicotine fit and needed a smoke. Her parents were home so she went into the bathroom.
Sitting on the toilet taking that first drag, she felt instant relief.
She heard a tap, tap on the bathroom door and panic set in. “I’ll just be a minute”, she said.
Quickly she put her hand behind her and was about to drop it into the toilet when her mother walked in to comb her hair.
If I drop it she’ll hear the sizzle of the smoke hitting the water.
Seeming like forever her mother finally left. Reprieve.
Sound Track by D. Avery
“I love it here.”
“Yeah, Kid, what do love about it?”
“Well, until you showed up jest now, flappin’ yer pie-hole, I was jest lovin’ the sounds. Listen. Hear that? Far off ya can already hear the clopping footsteps of some rider bringin’ one in. Soon ya’ll be hearin’ the easy lowing of the new herd in the corral. And from up by the bunkhouse friendly laughin’ and talkin’. And, ya hear that? Best sound of all. Bangin’ pots and pans, ringin’ out with the promise of vittles. Shorty’s fixin’ to cook. Cookin’ up somethin’ special.”
“I hear that!”
New Sign by D. Avery
“What’sa matter Kid?”
“Look at Shorty’s new sign over the gate. Use’ta jest say Carrot Ranch. Now it also says ‘literary community’.”
“Well? Is it a ranch or a literary community?”
“Cain’t it be both Kid?”
“I jest wanna ride the range, wrangle some words now an’ agin.”
“But ya generally begin an’ end here at the ranch. Where they’s other wranglers; an’ readers… you know, a community.”
“I ain’t the communal type. I’m free range.”
“Ah, Kid, come on in outta the cold. There’s bacon cookin’.”
“This community has bacon?!”
“And raw carrots.”
Clear, sharp, beautiful. The crystalline structure of a rock glints in the slanting sun, revealing symmetry and mystery. The crystalline structure of a woman’s face frames her remarkable beauty. The word itself attracts admirers.
Crystalline is the word writers played with this week. Stories emerged from the word’s beauty and grace, leading readers down many paths.
The following are based on the July 27, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the word crystalline.
The Journey by Ann Edall-Robson
The freezing winter season turns my path into ice
Blankets of snow keep me safe in my place
Dislodged by the thaw and watery storms
Occasionally, I rest with the spring’s flooded debris
Waiting my turn to be unceremoniously flung adrift
Traversing the land between rain drenched banks
Travelling for miles only to stop unexpectedly
Laying for days on end or tiny minutes in time
I’ve rumbled and rolled, gathering speed in the flow
From the highest of peaks to the creek bed below
Cousin to crystalline, gold, sandstone and shale
We’re gathered together in bunches along sandy shores
Crystalline by Pensitivity
The advertisement said they could do this, though it wasn’t cheap.
Alighting from the taxi, her initial impression was uncertainty, but hugging her precious load to her chest, she entered the building.
The cost of five thousand pounds almost took her breath away, but it would be worth it as she would be able to carry her love about her person forever.
She selected her preference and was told to collect it in seven days.
The end result was fabulous.
Her father’s ashes were now in the crystalline form of a man-made diamond in the pendant around her neck.
Pyrite Sun by Robbie Cheadle
The elderly vendor, his small stall heaped with colourful rocks of all shapes and sizes, smiled. He was delighted by the boys interest in his wares and was happy to let them examine the rocks they showed interest in. Willy liked the crystalline formations. Craig, of course, was always fascinated by the unusual and he was entranced by the Pyrite Sun. He held it up and it glinted in the sunlight. Mom looked on with pleasure. She knew that this would result in her having to buy both boys the rock of their choice but their enthusiasm pleased her.
Darling Crystalline by Norah Colvin
Her mother wanted Chrystal; father, Clementine. Calm registrar decided: Baby Crystalline.
Parental spats continued as Crystalline grew up. Never in agreement, it made her so messed-up.
Crystalline retreated, spent days all on her own, searching by the water, for brightly coloured stones.
She gathered a collection that healed her aching heart, ignited self-compassion and made a brand-new start.
Believing stones worked magic, curing each and every woe, she took the heart stones with her, wherever she would go.
She shared their healing powers, with any she could find, she told them “Pay it forward. She became their darling Crystalline.
Crystalline by D. Avery
She laughed. “What do you mean you love me? We just met.”
“Yet I’m madly in love with you.”
“What do you love about me?”
“The way you talk. I love the clarity of your thought, that sparkle in your eyes. I love the lustre of your smile.”
“You talk like a geologist.”
“And I’ve found a jewel. I’m in love with you.”
“You don’t even know my name.”
“So tell me.”
“Ruby. No, it’s Gem, that’s what you are.”
“No, and no. Not Ruby, not Gem.”
“My name is Crys.”
Short for Crystalline.”
Silent Lucidity by C. Jai Ferry
When I was five years old, I unscrewed the metal-topped beer bottles for the neighborhood adults gathered on our porch. The crystalline liquid fueled their ingenuity, and they solved the world’s most pressing problems with a flair and finesse that would be the envy of any statesman. I listened in awe, unscrewing more metal tops while detailing the numerous points in my head that I was anxious to contribute to the discussion. But as the twilight emerged and darkness deepened, the neighbors wandered home to their dirty dishes and unpaid bills, leaving me alone to contemplate my unspoken statecraft.
My Crystalline Complexion by Jeanne Lombardo
The sales associate was all of 20.
“I just want some eye cream,” I said.
“I have the perfect product for you,” she enthused. “The Gone in 60 Seconds Instant Wrinkle Eraser.”
“C’mon, nothing is going to erase my wrinkles,” I said.
“This one will. With all-natural sodium silicate, it instantly erases fine lines and wrinkles. It’ll provide that little bit of a ‘lift’ you need.”
“Hmmm” I said, my skepticism deepening the frown between my eyebrows.
“Really, I use both the eye and the face cream in the line. I’ve been told I have a crystalline complexion.”
Crystalline Clear by FloridaBorne
“Is that Crystalline?” Josh asked. “I ordered you not to…”
“You’re clear as glass.”
He scratched a spot on a head full of luscious black hair and asked, “Huh?”
“You proposed to me twice. I said no.”
“If I ask you again and you say no, I’ll walk!” he said with a scowl. “And I expect a key to your place…”
“I have a job and own my home. You don’t. What I lack in my life is a man who respects me. Goodbye, Josh. Is that crystalline enough for you?”
I turned away from him, never looking back.
Tralucent Trauma? (Janice vs Richard #16) by JulesPaige
Unlike a bull in a china shop, anger and rage permeated
every nervous pore in Richard’s body. Vacant eyes stared
at the salvaged offal staining the shine of the celadon bowl
of the animal he had just dissected. His shoulders sagged
as just the hint of abashedness tried to surface. His trenchancy
returning as he carefully placed the clippers on the tarp covered
table. He thought he would ‘read’ the offering after setting fire
Richard wanted crystalline clear directions of what to do next.
Would he, could he destroy the only thing that had once loved
Clearly a Party Site (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Danni crouched and considered the crystalline structure of the rock in her hand. The lab had scoured Kansas clay from its coarse features. Pink. Granite. Not the Woodland sandstone hearth she had expected to find at this depth. What did it mean? She glanced at the identified bones – beaver, deer, elk.
“Dr. Gordon?” One of the Lawrence students approached, sweaty after a humid day of trowel-work. “Wanted to invite you to a pig roast this weekend.”
“Yeah, my uncle’s a pit-master”
“A pit…It’s a pit not a hearth! Ha! We’ve discovered a thousand year old BBQ site!”
Homecoming by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Deep winter, full moon, subtle rhythm of skis hissing through snow just-crystallized after a day of drifting flakes. No firm path, just skirting the deep wood where nobody with good sense enters after dark.
She liked to live on the edge.
Cutting across the meadow towards cliff’s edge, she changes her stride for deeper pack. Ahead, her hut will be warm, sweet with the scents of tea, and pie made from autumn’s bounty—once she reanimates the hearth. The moon sparkles crystalline off the fjord’s open water.
Shucking skis, she sets wards around the perimeter. No surprise visitors tonight.
Unnecessary by Jane Dougherty
She was reading through the works of Thomas Hardy, revising and updating. It was necessary if the next generation was to understand anything of the classics. Dark was normal, clinging smog, algae in watercourses, puddles of rainwater, mirror shiny with petrochemicals. The world of the classics had gone; even their words were slowly leaking away as they were no longer needed. She was just helping the process along. It was her job.
The cursor stopped. She frowned. Crystalline. A rapid search told her what it meant. Her frown deepened. She extracted the word. No adjective needed. Water was water.
Replay, Rewind, Repeat by JulesPaige
While change is the only real constant – I will have my words
in books that I can hold. I may be unschooled amid classical
writings – but I will wonder books stores with shelves of sheaf’s
that behold the hidden truths in poetic wrangling… And if I
am to be consumed by those waves of words I shan’t ask for
water… just specks… the kind one needs to make words
crystalline, even if only briefly imagined in my dementia.
Imogene’s specks were thick to magnify print. Reading the
classics with dementia was like reading them for the first time
Dark of Winter by D. Avery
People said that they walked on water that winter. Because everywhere was frozen water. It came down as freezing rain and remained frozen, encasing the countryside in a glassy sheen. Rain would be followed by a cold spell, with never any snow to soften the bleak monotonous gray. It was a winter of impossible travel, of long days stuck inside, of boredom and its attendant drinking and tempers. It was a winter when heinous occurrences, mute secrets, were blamed on the entrapments, the relentless icing.
She wished the crystalline memory that gripped her still, frozen, would shatter, would melt.
Blind Dreams by Bill Engleson
The sun is so bright.
Against sensible advice, I stare into its brilliant firestorm.
The shock is immediate, I am blinded yet see the careening crystalline future, colors rampaging off into fireballs, shimmering delights chewing away at any clarity.
I see all.
I see nothing.
My kaleidoscope eyes twinkle in the darkness.
My mind’s eye remembers all.
I have visions, you know.
Sightless from the laser sun scorching my eyeballs acinder, images as clear as irony feast on my memory.
I walk the night.
It is as if it is day.
And lo, it is the sun, so bright.
Bit by Bit by Reena Saxena
Life has been an uphill struggle for me. Reality does not match my ambitions, and the causes are not always external. I need to develop a success mindset.
I battled with my genetic makeup, acquired personality traits and my reactions to the world, based on cumulative experience. Altering the crystalline structure that shapes my personality appears to be a life-long task.
The new signals that I send out, draw a certain response from others. If it is not favorable, I revise my strategy and recreate myself again.
Bit by bit, I put
myself together to break,
then reassemble again.
Crystalline by Michael
It was her crystalline features that first attracted me. She commanded a room, she had beautifully defined facial characteristics that held you in awe as you took her in. Everything was not only in proportion but you moved from one to another spellbound, from the shape of her nose to her mouth that you just wanted to kiss, to her eyes that looked into your soul and you knew you could engage with into whatever eternity she took you.
But when she spoke the allure of her voice was captivating, she took your breath away, and you welcomed it.
The Diamond by Susan Zutautas
From reflections off the sun
Displays all colors
Are all manifestly
Stunning picking up spectrums
From the world over
On one knee he kneels
Placing it on my finger
Will you marry me
I look at the rock
Mesmerized by its beauty
Tears well in my eyes
He looks on nervous
As he awaits my answer
Praying I say yes
How could I say no
I love him with all my heart
Yes I’ll marry you
Forever on my left hand
Till the day I die
Proposal of a marriage
Like the diamond rock
Marriage Guidance by Anne Goodwin
Leaving the divorce court, Jack crossed the road to the pub. His sister was a good listener but, having helped him pick up the pieces after three failed marriages, her patience was wearing thin. “You keep ending up with women who are just like you,” said Jill. “But sometimes opposites rub along best.”
“I should look for the ying to my yang? But I’m Mr Average. Everyone shares my tastes.”
“I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.” She beckoned to a woman who’d been leaning on the bar. “Jack Spratt meet Crystal. Crystal Lean meet Jack.”
As Transparent as the Water by Joe Owens
Justine could not pry her eyes away from the crystalline beauty before her. She stood inches away from the lapping waves wishing she could see into Tim’s heart as easily as she watched the tiny seas creatures playing in the waters here. But his heart was guarded because of his past.
She knew she could help him, when he was ready to let her. But when that would be was what gave her pause. In her gut she felt like he was worth the wait, but every voice around her said different.
She alone had to decide.
Crystalline Confusion by Kerry E.B. Black
Doriya squinted into the crystaline globe, willing her gypsy blood to interpret the nothingness within. Her client chewed her lower lip, dark eyes wide in a too-pale face. Designer purse.
Manicured nails, but terrible skin and teeth. A gold heart locket about her neck. Doriya ignored the silent ball and relied on body language. “You’re nervous.”
The client blinked over-large eyes. “Do you see him?”
Doriya nodded. “He’s handsome.”
The client jiggled her foot. “Yes. Will he propose?”
Doriya frowned. “Sorry, no.”
The client’s cheeks colored, and she left. Doriya’d provided the wrong answer if she wanted a tip.
Mother Lode by D. Avery
“Shorty’s got rocks in her head.”
“Yep, it’s become purty obvious. Goin’ on an on ‘bout rocks all the time. Rocks in her head, alright, and in her pockets, in her saddlebags. She’s always gatherin’, seems like.”
“Our tumbleweed’s become a rock tumbler.”
“That phrase weren’t too smooth, Kid.”
“Well, I’m in a hurry, itchin’ to do some minin’ of my own. There’s 24 carrot gold in these here hills.”
“Jest remember, Kid, glitter ain’t always gold. Me, I’m jest gonna ride under the crystalline sky, enjoy a gem of a day.”
“That’s minin’ too.”
“Yep, Kid, it is.”
During my first attempt to make a pie crust, I slammed the ball of dough on the kitchen floor like a tennis player who lost the match. I grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and somewhere along the lines she wrote I became convinced that a happy home had pie. If I couldn’t master the crust, would I ever find happiness?
Throughout the years others have tried to teach me how easy it is — add ice water only to the dough; vinegar is the secret ingredient to great flakes; beat an egg yolk into the water; don’t over-knead; don’t under-knead; use a wooden rolling pin; stick your tongue out just a little to the left and it will all be okay. I’ve savored the crust of others, but never accomplished the task.
My fillings are divine, and I have a talent for spicing anything. Even when I omit the sugar, something Laura once wrote about doing, my balance of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger hold up. But that blasted crust; I just can’t get it right. I began cheating, buying refrigerator crusts, but even those substitutes can fall apart.
Does a home truly need pie?
Odd thing is, I prefer cake, and I make a marvelous yellow cake with deep dark chocolate frosting. But there’s something about pies. America is baseball and apple pies; Norman Rockwell captured Americana by painting pies from the oven. And Laura, well my beloved heroine of the frontier pioneers, mentions pie in nearly every book she penned.
Every time we moved when our kids were little, the first thing I’d think is that the kitchen needs a pie. Think of the wafting aroma of baked apples and buttery crust. The heat it gives off as it cool on the windowsill. Home is where the pie is. But there is not going to be a new home. The Calumet house fell through the cracks of miscommunication. The chickens are safe from becoming my first Michigan pie.
It’s disappointing to report, especially after the shared excitement and celebration last week, but it was not to be. When we accepted the rental offer, I told the landlords we’d discuss the matter with our kids and give them a move-in date. I asked for the full cost and was quoted first month, last and a deposit.
It was going to be tight. In fact, I burst into tears at JC Penny after realizing I couldn’t even buy the bargains. I realized the rental would strap us in a way, I couldn’t see how we’d make it work. We could afford the place month to month; we couldn’t afford to get in and buy the things we needed — like a pie pan or pants.
All our stuff remains in Sandpoint in storage and we have no plan to retrieve it this far. We simply keep paying on the storage. Because I earn an income as a writer, we don’t qualify for homeless veteran programs. I mean seriously, who works while homeless? I’ll tell you it’s extraordinarily difficult even with a flexible job like writing. That was the whole point of stabilizing. So when the landlord expressed disappointment that we wouldn’t move in until August 1, and tried to pressure us into paying for July to keep the rental, we passed.
As much as I’m craving pie, I’m also relieved.
We don’t want to be a fixture in our daughter’s home, languishing in her space, but they have kindly offered us the time we need to find the right place, save up money and figure out how to retrieve our belongings. In saying no, I felt empowered. So did the Hub. We’ve had to make so many hasty decisions or be at the mercy of transmission shops and VA gatekeepers this past year, that it felt good to make a decision to not be pressured too soon.
Like a kitchen with pie, it feels right to take small steps to stabilize. Already, Todd has had multiple VA appointments and slowly that wheel is turning again. His CBT intake begins today, something we’ve pushed to do for years and finally are receiving. Lots of personal goals are back on the table after being shelved, and I might find office space locally. We are still establishing roots in this marvelous community.
I know it’s a good place because the cultural heritage here is a lunch pie in the hand — pasties. It’s a heated debate as to whether or not the meat pies are of Finnish or Cornish origin, but I know the best pies in town come from a Fin family. I can imagine how miner’s wives once swapped recipes in their kitchens long ago, passing down assimilated foods for their descendants. My latest obsession is to look forward to a pasty on the beach before combing for agates.
Laura Ingalls Wilder has something to say about pie that reminds me about how I feel when writers gather around the table here to partake in the weekly meal, share their talents and hopes, express their ideas and encourage each other in writing:
“Ma said nothing, but a little flush came up her cheeks and her eyes kept on smiling while they ate that delicious pie.”
My pie crusts in the kitchen aren’t much, but my challenges are like a crust by which to frame the filling you all bring. So on that note, let us dig into pies.
July 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a pie. You can make it any kind of pie, focus on filling or crust, or tell us about the pie-maker. How does pie set a tone in a story? Does it warm the hearth or bring disappointment?
Respond by July 25, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published July 26). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
A Ruined Pasty (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls
Danni settled into the sand of Sioux Beach, burying her heals in warmth. A crowd of locals splashed in the bay off to her left, leaving this bit of solitude near the sloshing waves. She unwrapped her Bayfield Pies pasty from thick paper. It warmed her fingertips, and her first bite of crust filled with thin slices of carrots, potatoes and beef made her toes wiggle.
“Mmm…” Danni’s eyes closed while she chewed.
A shadow crossed her face and Danni opened one eye. Michael Robineaux. Ike’s best friend. He hated her, and he made her pie taste like sand.
You can fall many ways, and how you land can make for interesting stories. Ever hold your breath as you watched a landing progress? Find your landing is misunderstood? See a cat fall without gravity?
Our writers have crafted the answers into stories of flash fiction. Some, you might say, are flash falls. Certainly what you read will surprise you. After all, flash fiction writers know how to spin a mid-air twist with a well-landed word or line.
The following are based on the July 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an unexpected landing.
Mission Impossible? by Jules Paige
It was the cat. Becky knew something wasn’t Kosher. Blinking
was she conscious? The cat had not landed the way a cat
should, well at least most of the time. Cats usually land on all
four of their padded feet from generally any height. But there
wasn’t any real gravity here …was there? Just where was here?
The spaceship battle had taken a nasty turn. Some of the crew
had been beamed out. Along with some other life forms. The
large feline tabby had not landed feet first when transported.
Just what ship was Becky on? Friend or foe?
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
“Malik, what is this?”
“What do you mean? It’s fifty-eight white sheets. Rush order.”
“And the hoods?”
“Why do you ask so many questions?”
“Malik. These are costumes. For the men who’ve landed in town to protest the removal of the statue at the park.”
“Why have statue for loser? Only here.”
“Malik. This is serious. They don’t like us. They call us terrorists.”
“Terrorists Cleaners, now that is a good one, no?”
“Haven’t you seen the news?”
“News. I don’t have time for news. I’m always here, washing.”
“They march. They spread fear.”
“Then they are terrorists, no?”
Landing by FloridaBorne
He lifted a slender finger, pointing toward a log cabin at the edge of their landing site. What strange beige creatures and only half his height. The indigenous population scattered into the woods, their screams amusing.
“What is this place called again, love?”
“This continent calls it Earth,” she replied.
He furrowed a grey brow. “No understanding of the universal balance. Class zero planet. Recommend eradication and repopulation.”
“Negative,” she frowned. “The universal mind says this is designated as a prison planet for incorrigible souls.”
“What happened to Mars?”
“They destroyed that in a war.”
“Next stop?’ he sighed.
The Bag Lady by Rugby843
Gripping the seat in front of her, she thought she was going to be sick. How many people actually use those bags they put in the seat pocket? She shut her eyes tight, willing nausea to go away.
The stewardess announced, “keep your seat belts fastened, and your head down!”
It was just a short jump from LA to San Francisco, looking down at land the entire trip! How could this be happening?
Panicked, she felt a huge bump, then another. She kept her eyes closed, not daring to see what happened.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to San Francisco”.
The Tree House by Susan Zutautas
Meg was determined to find out today what was in the treehouse. When she saw Johnny going up there she called to him. “Wait for me I’m coming up.”
“No, there’s not enough room, and it’s too high.”
We’ll see about that, Meg said to herself.
Once inside she thought, wow what a cool hideout, and took a seat on the floor towards the back.
“Meg you’re gonna have to leave, my friend’s coming up, and there’s not enough room.”
“I’ll just move back.” Pushing against a burlap curtain, out of the treehouse she fell, landing on the ground.
A Tune...by Ruchira Khanna
Victoria came running from her room towards the noise.
She was startled as she gave silent stares.
After a few gulps, she inquired, “Are you okay?” as she extended her hand towards the victim who was laying under a pile of musical instruments.
“Yes, I am.” Pete uttered as he grasped her hand to get out of the mess. Continued to justify, “I was trying to tune them for the big night when I lost control and had this unexpected landing.”
“That was a productive fall. You composed a tune there!” she tried to sound convincing.
Unexpected Relationship by Diana Nagai
Meghan adjusted her oversized sun hat as she descended into the Olympic stadium. She scanned the crowd for a familiar face as she recalled the previous year when she landed a client who irrevocably changed her. A man who stirred unexpected feelings within her, but also enriched her life beyond attorney-client privilege.
Hearing her name, Meghan located the source, an athlete bouncing from one foot to one carbon-spring foot and back. This veteran, who had brought the good (love when she wasn’t looking) and the bad (trauma from service), had overcome so much.
Meghan waved back, feeling hopeful.
Ready for Landing by Norah Colvin
“Are we there yet?”’
“Not yet, Honey. Look. This is us. This is where we’re going. Another couple of hours. Watch a movie. Then we’ll be almost there.”
Mum replaced her mask and earplugs. Soon there’d be others to entertain Flossie while she relaxed on the beach or caught up with old friends.
She hadn’t realised she’d drifted off until Flossie’s insistent, “How much longer?” awakened her.
“Must be soon,” she flicked on the flight tracker.
“Please fasten your seatbelts for landing.”
“Yep. Almost there.”
“DIVERTED” flashed on and off the screen.
“What! Where?” She squinted. “Home! Why?”
First Steps in the Air: 1840 by Gordon Le Pard
The men looked at the strange contraption and smiled, they didn’t laugh as that would upset Sir George.
“Climb in there Thomas.” He said, pointing at the small boat with wheels. Thomas grinned at his companions as he sat down and held the tiller.
The men took the ropes and pulled, the machine trundled across the grass, getting faster and faster, then –
The men stopped, open mouthed, the machine was flying.
As the world’s first glider landed Thomas staggered out white faced, he wasn’t laughing now.
“Please sir, I want to give notice, I don’t want to fly again.”
First Steps in the Air: 1910 by Gordon Le Pard
“I saw light under the wheels, it left the ground.”
Geoffrey grinned, “Then let’s see if it will fly properly.”
He turned back to the aeroplane, a complicated construction of wood wire and fabric. Buttoning up his tweed jacket he climbed up and nodded at his assistant.
The propeller swung and the engine started. He opened the throttle and the aeroplane bounced across the field, suddenly the bouncing stopped, he looked down, he was flying.
He rose to about fifty feet, then turned slightly.
Suddenly he had a thought – I got up here, but how do I get down?
Ground Crisis by Kalpana Solsi
The geography of Leh had many an experienced pilots short of anxiety bouts. But for
Captain Sharma this was a cake-walk.
A co-pilot greeted him,”Juleh”.
Inhaling the fresh mountain air, he checked his messages.
He sat down with a thud.
The landing and maneuvering of the giant metallic bird in a tough terrain proved to be
easier than handling his domestic crisis. His larynx ran out of fuel. The air pressure in his
eardrums had dropped low. His better half was leaving him with a bitter taste. Alimony
compounded with fear stared bleakly at him. She had enough proofs.
Flying Lessons by Michael
Chook looked at his hopeful young. They were perched on the top rung of the old henhouse attending what Chook hoped was their first and last flying lesson. He clucked, standing tall, breast puffed out giving each of them the look of his superior experience.
Two clucks and each chicken, in turn, took flight. Gladys landed on her head, Mavis on her beak, Phyllis on her bottom. Chook looking dejected decided it was going to be a long day.
He paced about as they dusted themselves off.
Their clumsiness astounded him. He was glad he didn’t lay their eggs.
Nice to Meet You (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
The bus stops suddenly; Jane barely catches her book midair. She throws an annoyed glance the driver’s way as she rebraces her feet against the floor, gripping the strap harder.
The bus lurches again, sending her flying along with her book. Strong hands grab her, keep her from slamming headlong into the pole. Her head clears to the realization she is sitting in some man’s lap.
Her face burns. The man’s hand moves from her hip to the middle of her back, pats reassuringly. “No worries. This might be a sign I should buy you a cup of coffee.”
Torment by C. Jai Ferry
We were together six months, so tight from day one. I knew we’d be together forever.
Then a million knives struck my heart—both our hearts. We mourned our daughter.
When his fist landed in my chest, he was still hurting. I couldn’t breathe. He’d kill me, he said, then himself.
The cops asked how it started, what I did. I wanted to explain, make them understand. He was in pain. But they just wanted facts.
I needed him gone. But now his life’s ruined. What have I done?
I love him. I just wish I’d never met him.
The Coming Storm (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Wind gusted and cottonwoods along the creek groaned. A nightfall storm closed in. Sarah hadn’t meant to stay so late in the company of Nancy Jane, but venison stew and friendship offered made Sarah linger. How long since she’d had a friend?
A branch cracked and Sarah screamed, escaping the limb’s descent. A man hollered at her to get out of the trees. Topping the gully, Sarah recognized the young stock-tender who rarely spoke. Hickok led the way as trees began to snap.
Hickok’s dugout provided an unexpected landing from the raging storm. And an unanticipated reaction from Cobb.
Landing by D. Avery
He did not want to take the old man fishing. He had few enough days to relax, dreaded the criticisms that would roll around the boat like rattling cans.
In the cove they drift cast.
Here we go, he thought. “Fine.”
“You deserve a day off. You work hard.”
Then quiet except for one-word utterances, “Nibble.” “Hit.”
Nothing stayed on the line. The old man told about their first time fishing this cove. “We got ‘em that day.”
He had only been four, but he remembered.
Today no fish were landed. “Can I buy you dinner, Dad?”
Flash Flood Warning by Anthony Amore
A rising wall of black water hits hard, enveloping and sweeping fast away all the carried things they lugged from the parking area three quarters of a mile up canyon.
The roaring rush scoured laughter and relaxation with silenced desperation and raging fear.
A father holds fast to his baby and a bending tree.
A mother is found but not a teen boy who reached deep for his cousin and two others.
Nine lay dead.
The experienced steady themselves and prepare to accept the worst.
A rescue worker vomits seeing feet protrude from a deep bank of muddy debris.
Words on the Stairs by Geoff Le Pard
‘I don’t know, Paul. I really don’t.’
Penny listened to her parents from the shadows on the landing, her face pressed to the balustrade.
‘It can’t do any harm to ask him to find out if your niece is alive, can it? I mean if it’s another dead end, that’s it and if not…’
Penny noted her father’s tone; almost pleading. He wanted Mary mum to continue. Her mother’s voice, in contrast, sounded flat. Emotionless. Penny stood and walked downstairs. She held her baby sister in her arms. ‘We want to know mum. And you do too. Don’t you?’
The Diver by Bill Engleson
The high board is a steep climb. Always. But I can do it. I’ve done it a zillion time.
That first time was a killer. I was six. My mother, who wouldn’t even stand on a kitchen chair to brush the cobwebs and spiders off the dining room fan, was like a crazed cheerleader, yelling, climb! Climb! CLIMB!
So, I climbed.
I’d already mastered the low board.
Cannonballs. Loved cannonballs.
But not as much as diving.
The jump. The spring. The flight. The spin.
And then, the landing. A bullet… and, surprize, surprize, an Olympic rocket into the pool.
Down at the Beach by Pensitivity
I was terrified.
One minute she was sailing happily through the air over her private obstacle course, the next she’d somersaulted over the groyne and landed on her back.
I couldn’t get to her fast enough, visions of My Baby lying screaming in agony, totally paralyzed.
Heart beating painfully in my chest, I reached the barrier and could see the other side.
Maggie was happily swimming in a little corral none the worse for her adventure and double tuck diving technique.
Me? I was a nervous wreck needing oxygen.
Hubby was in hysterics, saying she did this every day!
Pay No Attention to the Woman in the Parachute by Joe Owens
Sally never expected to be here. She even took steps to correct her errant ways, joining a group formed to assist those with impulse problems.
Yet, here she was with her hands on the opening of a small aircraft tasked with delivering her to the ‘jump off’ point of her first skydiving attempt. While staring at the checkerboard of specks below she thought about the disapproving visage of Mr. Elliot, the group leader.
Her face screwed into a look of terror when she remembered the ‘drop in’ picnic for her group in the park below. There was no escape!
Soul-Bird by D. Avery
Raven, protector, prominent on the totem pole, reminds all to live correctly. Raven who found the first People in a clamshell. Raven who keeps the tide, who balances night and day.
Do not fear this soul-bird even when Raven comes for you unexpectedly. Yes, you will appear as dead to those who might see Raven bear you away; you might feel that you have drowned in the bottomless pools of Raven’s eyes, feel the winging ascent as soft whispers of spirits. Raven will land you on the moon, where you will be warmly received, where you will be rebirthed.
His Sister’s Keeper by Kerry E.B. Black
Mud squelched as Ward knelt beside his unconscious sister. “Please don’t be dead,” he repeated like a prayer. She’d tried to keep up with him, but his agility and speed had outstripped her crippled gait. He’d relished the freedom of flight, enjoyed the thrill of exerting muscles habitually held in check to match her pace, tired of being his sister’s keeper.
Her scream halted his progress and his heart. She’d slipped down the hill. He had rushed to gather her to his chest. Frail, thin, with tendons protruding oddly, Nina groaned. Ward wiped a tear of regret and relief.
Post-seizure by Anne Goodwin
Like stepping back from a pointillist painting: distance gives sensation shape. On a scale of one to ten not the worst I’ve suffered: I might have wet myself but I’m uninjured, and I’ve come round in my own bed. The room whirls, but only slightly, as I get to my feet.
On the landing, my vision blurs again, the carpet a kaleidoscope of colour. Brushing the wall for balance, I stagger towards the bathroom and a reviving shower. Ouch! My shoulder dislodges a framed photo. That’s not my family staring out of the picture. This isn’t my house.
Black Hole by Reena Saxena
Have I landed in Ayn Rand’s Atlantis, like Dagny Taggart? I did not aspire to meet the love of my life, not with my age and appearance.
The mirror in the hallway belied my assumptions. I looked young and ahem … pretty, just like that painting on the wall.
Whhaaaat? My picture in this place ………..?
Instinct drew me to a picture perfect bedroom with lace curtains, and I saw myself knitting. But I prefer reading anytime, anywhere.
Looks like I have landed into a past life, through a black hole. And my folks out there are placing ’Missing’ ads.
Almost Ready to Fly by Liz Husebye Hartmann
After a crackling-hard winter, she was relieved to drag the Adirondack chair out of the shed. Morning sun dappled through the leafy canopy overhead, warm enough to make morning coffee outdoors feasible, but not enough to waken mosquitoes.
This vision had carried her through those brutal months before retirement. Leaning back, she stretched her bare toes into the dewy grass and smiled. Too early for ticks, too!
“I left the nest! God-willing, may all my mornings be blessed like this.”
A nestling sparrow plummeted through the trees and onto her lap. He glared up at her through sparse fluff.
Roosting Time by D. Avery
“Aw, fricassee! I ain’t never seen chickens ‘round the ranch before. We gonna have to herd them too?”
“If Shorty says.”
“Chicken’d go nice with carrots.”
“I doubt the chickens end up in the pot. She already thinks they’s ladies in petticoats for gosh sakes.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me none if Shorty got ‘em to scratch out 99 words in the dirt for her. They’d scratch out some egg-citing tales, alright.”
“Bah, what stories do chickens have?”
“Some speak of the coop, some the road.”
“Shorty says she’s done crisscrossin’ roads for awhile.”
“Yep. That chicken has landed.”
Essay by Irene Waters, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.
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This writing is raw. Most of my writing that you may have seen to date is raw. By that I mean it is uncooked, the first draft without changes and alterations. The grammar may be imperfect, it may have spelling mistakes, it may be lacking in description and there may be the odd inconsistency. It is done quickly, allowing creativity to flow unimpeded. Blogging raw I find helpful in the creative process. I don’t spend a lot of time on the posts but it kickstarts the flow of ideas, allowing work that I plan on editing and re-editing – cooking it and processing it – to be written to the page.
For a memoir writer there are a couple of other types of raw writing. The first is a type I rarely do and for some, including one of my thesis examiners, my writing is not raw enough. Some think that memoir should be an open cut, exposing bleeding wounds and laying open the scars for all to pick at. Certainly some types of memoir call for this. The misery memoir is a good example. A few memoirs in this group are Mary Karr’s and Frank McCourt’s three books. Although I am now tackling a memoir that will have this type of raw writing, my previous two memoirs have been written purely for the story where true life adventures are related.
In memoir there should also be a distinction between what is private and what is public knowledge. Whilst maintaining honesty the memoir writer should sift through the raw material and decide what belongs purely in a diary and what can be shared with the world. Elizabeth Gilbert said of her memoir Eat Pray Love that it was so finely tuned (no longer raw) that the reader doesn’t get a sense of her. She is unrecognisable. She said that if you wanted to know her, read her fiction work as there, believing that she was anonymous, she did not censor her writing and to her surprise found that more of her showed through in it than in her memoir.
Another type of raw that the memoir writer needs to be aware of and avoid is writing when the emotions are still raw. The passage of time is essential to enable the episode to be viewed dispassionately. The others in the memoir must be treated ethically – for when you write a memoir you also write someone else’s biography. If you write with raw emotion (useful as a therapeutic tool but not for publication) the purpose for writing is often slanted, and may be judgemental, a desire to hurt someone, to pay them back and this may not reflect well on the writer. Rather than sit in judgement, time allows the memoirist to write in a sensitive manner that will show the reader, through the actions of the characters, what manner of person they are.
For me, memoir is the making of identity. Without memoir, such as when a person is suffering from dementia, the person’s identity fades with the worsening of the condition and eventually is lost to them and kept alive only by others who can tell their stories. Depending on what you tell will depend on the identity you give yourself. But I digress from raw literature.
To conclude I will give an example of raw literature from the first draft of my manuscript Nightmare in Paradise.
My fear as to what I might find on arrival at the volcano overrode the abject terror I normally experienced every time I travelled the road over the mountain to the other side. It is also the only time I had been over that stretch of road at speeds far exceeding that which would guarantee a safe arrival at the other end. My head was spinning. Had I brought sufficient equipment with me to deal with anything I might find? What might I find? It just couldn’t be true.
After editing this passage is no longer raw although I feel as though it has more rawness. It gives, I hope, the reader an idea of what travelling to the volcano was like the night one of our tourists, along with a local guide, was killed by a lump of lava from the volcano.
The troop carrier sliced through the dark heat of the night as it sped, at speeds none would attempt in daylight, towards the volcano. I knew I was with other people but apart from Jim, the owner of Tanna Beach Resort I had no idea who was riding in the back with me. No-one spoke, everybody lost in their own thoughts. Mine were a nightmare. A nightmare that allowed the terror I normally felt when negotiating the sharp hairpin bends over the steep mountainside to remain hidden. The visions in my mind were vivid, in full red colour, whilst the reality of where I sat was grey, as though a mist had descended obscuring the others who sat with me.
Irene Waters blogs at Reflections and Nightmares where she focuses on photography and writing challenges. She has written a memoir Nightmare in Paradise which she hopes to publish in 2017. As a memoirist she found that there was little scholarly scrutiny on the sequel memoir. She carried out research on this subject gaining her Master of Arts in 2017. This also saw the completion of her second manuscript. She is now working on a novel way of writing raw memoir.
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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at email@example.com.
Sails gain minimal height over rolling waves, riders like astronauts flip their bodies to the universe until gravity beats wind. They land, carving a crest of water. Not to be defeated, these wind-&-wave riders reach again and again for stars we can’t see in an overcast sky. Wake boards point to unseen constellations, but fall light years short of any terminus. Like writers, these Argonauts shoot for the moon. We never truly arrive, pointing our sails or words into the wind and leap perpetually.
We live for unexpected landings. Adventure or insights gained from a brutal crash, success and failure meld into multiple attempts that don’t end until we end the ride, pull the sails, clear the screen. Who wants to end when there’s so much wind yet to catch? So many words yet to write? The stars are near. The stories within reach. Type so fast your fingers lay a rooster-tail across the keyboard.
Blonde girls sell red strawberries along the foggy highway.
It’s a riddle to me. The wind-&-wave riders commune with my own seeking, but these girls make me question my location. My time. My space. Where am I? The fog tricks my senses, cloaking the season until my wandering mind marvels at strawberries in winter. No, it’s summer in the western hemisphere. Fog, berries and blondes. If I left Mars, I think I made an unexpected landing on Neptune.
In the southwest, where sand is its own artisan, attempting to blow its own glass with temperatures reaching furnace levels, red Mars is easy to see. Mesas and sandstone, heat and dry arroyos are the closest I’ve come to writing from another planet. Yet, now I find myself in this cool, watery and shrouded world. The blondes tell me its fine berry growing weather. And quarts of luscious sweet summer bites are only $4.95 while they last. Evidently Neptune must grow its own taste of summer because I see nothing else here that acknowledges the heat of Mars or the jungles of Kansas.
After a year and 27 days of wandering in search of home, I’ve found chickens. Look, chickens!
Like ladies in petticoats they run with wings as if to hike up their feathered skirts of buff, brown and red. The cock among them runs like a lady, too and they are charging me as if to respond to my distracted delight with a distraction of their own: Look, people! I cringe upon seeing the spurs, knowing the feel of such talons. I have little memory of the actual rooster attack except for falling to my young knees and covering my head with hands, screaming until my aunt beat the rooster to death with a broom. I don’t remember that it died, but feel bad, as if I caused his early entry to the stew pot, or so the ancient family story goes.
This fella is cheerful, the ladies excitable, and I throw back my head to laugh.
It’s foggy, but through the fine mist I can see twin spires of a Catholic Church bricked in Jacobsville Sandstone. I pause to wonder which group of miners dedicated this towering feature. All around me are chickens and miner’s houses in varying forms of decay. An Elvis poster hangs in a window across the street. Next door the house is neat as a pin, old, but standing tall. The next house is only a remnant of a cobbled rock foundation. Across from the rubble is a house about to go on sale at county auction. It will cost the buyer about $5,000, but no one gets to see inside until after the sale. It can be guts of joists and junk, or a gem in the rough. The house next to it has a malamute fixating on the chickens.
Here’s a look at the green and gray, the twin spires and the miner’s houses. Cue the choir:
The Hub and I fully intended to come to Michigan. It was the half-baked plan after reeling from the loss of home, of Elmira Pond and writing space. But the trailer we had leaked and didn’t pull well. The Hub went into a tactical response and we’ve been our own band of Argonauts ever since, picking cherries in Wallace, Idaho, discovering RV parks and migrant fruit-pickers in central Washington, landing on Mars for winter, taking detours through Pueblo nations, digging into the history of Kansas and Nebraska, passing the Midwest metropolises to arrive at one of the weirdest borders in America.
The Keweenaw was never for the feint of heart. Hard-rock miners from Cornwall and Slovenia, Sweden and Spain, Italy and Ireland, jack-hammered over 9,000 feet below after blue veins of copper for an industrializing nation. The Quincy Mine had 92 levels of darkness, as if to prove Dante wrong. Cemeteries are full of tributes to miners who died in the mines. The land itself is a peninsula poking its finger into the belly of Lake Superior, a fresh water lake capable of snapping an ocean-going steel freighter in two. It’s not connected to the state of Michigan, but is considered its upper peninsula (the U.P., thus naming its residents “yoopers”).
Mostly the Finns remain. Sisu, and all. It’s a Finnish construct for grit. To live on the Keweenaw takes grit. The summers are cool and the winters accumulate over 300 inches of snowfall called Lake Effect. That explains the fog, too. Lake Superior creates its own climate. The locals will tell ya, hey, that it’s da freshest air in the world. If fresh means cool, I’d agree. It does feel fresh as spearmint gum in my mouth. I wonder what the chickens make of winter? The townsfolk of Calumet, the village housing said chickens, has no ordinances and welcomes eccentricities.
This video shows a sunnier side of the village and the coffee shop where you’ll find me writing on occasion:
The chickens and I have an announcement: we are going to be neighbors for a year. The Hub and I are renting a home after homeless wandering, to experience the Sisu it takes to live on the Keweenaw through winter, to meet up with the artist community, and to continue the fine services we’ve encountered in the U.P. for the Hub. Yes, we are going to be yoopers. We don’t know if we’ll stay longer, go back out west or venture to yet another planet. For now, we’re going to take this unexpected landing and yet, keep aiming for the stars like the wind-&-wave riders.
Tonight my future landlord welcomed me to the town that once boasted of 30,000 citizens. I will join the 700 who remain. A new home, a new adventure, new stories to catch.
July 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an unexpected landing. It can be acrobatic, an unplanned move or created into a metaphor. Go where the prompt, or chickens, lead.
Respond by July 18, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published July 19). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
The Coming Storm (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Wind gusted and cottonwoods along the creek groaned. A nightfall storm closed in. Sarah hadn’t meant to stay so late in the company of Nancy Jane, but venison stew and friendship offered made Sarah linger. How long since she’d had a friend?
A branch cracked and Sarah screamed, escaping the limb’s descent. A man hollered at her to get out of the trees. Topping the gully, Sarah recognized the young stock-tender who rarely spoke. Hickok led the way as trees began to snap.
Hickok’s dugout provided an unexpected landing from the raging storm. And an unanticipated reaction from Cobb.
When it’s dark, foggy or dangerous we look for beacons of light to guide our way. Beacons can be what we expect and fill us with relief or hope. Yet beacons can be unexpected, even deceptive.
Writers considered how to tell a story about beacons and shed light on shadowy places, feelings and situations.
The following stories are based on the July 6, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a beacon.
Beacon (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane edges up the tiny spiral staircase, bending to look through the mullioned windows. Gulls wheel, screeching; the sea murmurs. The top level is nothing like she’d imagined a lighthouse would be: Hardwood floors, foghorn mechanism, and arc lamp all gleam in angled sunlight. On tiptoe, she can see the noses of seals playing below.
It’s not Paris; it’s not a beach weekend; it’s not even a bus ticket home to her mother’s kitchen. But escape was a beacon; the sandwich in her bag, her student bus pass, the Internet list of area lighthouses, all gave it to her.
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
Most have been lost from the roadside and replaced under the guise of progress.
The modern ones have little charm, despite being made from similar components.
The striped pole denoted a rigid sentinel either side of the childhood chasm, dignified in its support of an amber globe which flashed intermittently and continuously on the crossing, topped by its familiar dark cap.
What is this mediocre dotted halo over a dull orb that pathetically illuminates the way to safety?
The Red Man may warn before the Green Man takes over this vigil, but I will always remember the Belisha Beacon.
Woman Overboard by Joe Owens
Wayne gripped the rail of the light house beacon house as tightly as he had anything short of his beloved Claire. She knew this storm would be bad, but she was determined to make her run. Just one more job.
The water churned away while the wind roared. Wayne futilely wiped the rain from his face trying to catch a glimpse, any sign really, that she might be out there. But there was only more darkness, more despair to find.
“Why you stubborn woman, why?”
It took three days for her boat to be found. Her body never was.
Lighthouse by Robert Kirkendall
Wendy and Jack approached the old lighthouse with other tourists.
“I just love these old buildings!” Wendy gushed. “Don’t you, dear?”
“They’re okay, I guess,” Jack replied.
“But it’s so grand looking! They knew how to build things then.”
“It’s just an archaic brick building with no more use. Modern ships rely on more advanced technology.”
“But it’s historical!” Wendy reminded.
“It’s useless,” Jack insisted. “There is no more need for it.”
Just then the long, ugly sound of a ship crashing upon rocks and resulting screams filled the air.
“Okay,” Jack admitted, “maybe this lighthouse is still useful.”
In Extremis by Anne Goodwin
The white light drew me, summoned me, invited me, called me to dissolve where pain was unknown. The blue light flashed, on off, on off. Although much colder, it wanted me too. If my body could divide into a white side and a blue side, I could rest in peace. If I could float in the white till I was mended, I could give myself to the blue. But there was no going back from the white light. I had to decide.
Another light, sharp, beams into my eye. “Got a response here!” I’d been chosen for the blue.
The Arc of Descent by Elliott Lyngreen
set to angles
(There’s nothing to lean on)
hovering us above
then below the lake
from an emerging ship,
The world lost your stories
when you had your stroke
In the channel
At West Sister
You’re the ghost in the Lighthouse now
(grinning from ear to ear)
over distances I miss
Casts. The drifts.
trolling as we were
Thee Great Fishing King
and a chosen boy
so to not have a moment
Like, reeling in two-ton shitheads
how We slammed them against
pure, disgusted, whips
A Sign by Ruchira Khanna
“Step outside, Thea.” asserted mom as she entwined her fingers.
The daughter was adamant, ” The world will judge me. I want to spend the remaining days of my life inside.”
She silently wiped her tears and stroked her daughter’s crown that was hairless and bisque in color. Her eyes that were lively and naughty were pale and dejected. She was pronouncing herself dead even before the last breath.
Just then there was a knock.
Thea’s friend entered with a warm smile.
The Mom envisioned it as a signal of hope and sunshine in her daughter’s life.
Self-Doubt by Reena Saxena
For how long has the lighthouse been there, in the middle of the sea?
The ships have moved, using information relayed by it, and escaped hazardous shoals and reefs. Have they, or have they not? Maybe, they own better technology – the electronic beacons and navigational systems.
I am forever on the move – mentally and emotionally, and sometimes physically – collecting, curating, processing and disseminating information, along with my interpretations of reality. I wonder if I have been useful to others, or only to myself, at a high cost of maintenance.
I think of the lighthouse again. Should it start moving?
The Storm by Susan Zutautas
Squinting, trying to see a few feet in front of the car was impossible. I only wish there was a car in front of me to follow.
OH NO ICE! Don’t panic, I said to myself, and for God’s sake don’t hit the brakes.
Slipping and sliding losing control of the car ….. SHIT, I was in a ditch! Oh great now what.
Unprepared for this dressed in heels and a short skirt, walking would be suicide in this snowstorm. Better stay put.
Freezing to the bone, hours later, I could see a most welcomed beacon of light. Safety.
Meeting Destiny by Kerry E.B. Black
Like overgrown fireflies, they bounce before me, silent beacons to the unknown. Be they corpse lights or Will-o-the-wisps, their pale glow fascinates me.
Grandmama whispers prayers when they appear. She says they’re the spirits of passed ancestors, but Aunt Emilia warns not to heed their invitation. “They work with monsters to lure the unwary to their doom.” However, my uncle scoffs. Swamp gas, says he, and nothing more.
Wordless invitations pull at my curiosity. I imagine they’re a gateway to mysteries, lighting a path to my destiny. I’m bold. I’ll face them, follow their lead, and discover for myself.
Night Search by Bill Engleson
It’s not that anyone thought that Mickey and Sal were bad parents. And if they did, most wouldn’t say anything. Why beat up on folks that were as full of sorrow as they were.
“We’ll keep looking beyond sunset,” Sam Travers, local fire chief and search party head honcho, told us. “Are you with me?”
One hundred heads nodded in the fading light.
“We’ve got a good supply of torches. Lucas is only three and there’s a storm due by morning.”
Lucas had gone missing the night before.
One hundred flashlights might be just enough to bring him home.
Let there be Light by Norah Colvin
Eyes squinted in the dim light under low ceilings. Immobilised by never-ending paperwork, the menials dared not look up. Flickering numbers on data scoreboards mesmerised supervisors. Inconsistencies meant remonstrations, even punishment, from above. Heads down, keep working, don’t ask questions. The system worked fine, until … Maxwell nodded off. His pencil fell, tapped first, then rolled away. Startled, Maxwell went after it. The room stilled. Sliding too fast, he slammed into the wall, activating a button that illuminated a set of stairs leading up. Everyone gasped. Maxwell hesitated, took one step, then another. Nothing happened. He continued. Everyone followed.
The Light by Allison Maruska
My brother sits next to the window, shaking. “I’m scared!”
I roll my eyes and join him. “It’s just the dark.”
“I don’t know the dark!”
“It’s never dark forever. Okay?”
“How do you know?”
“Still counts.” I try to be patient. It wasn’t that long ago that I was stretching my wings and looking for a beacon of familiarity.
A light behind us comes on and he takes off.
He smacks into the bulb and falls back.
The human bats at my brother. “Stupid moth.”
Sighing, I park on the ceiling. He’s still learning.
Beacon by Jeanne Lombardo
I search the night sky. As if the answer were there. As if science fiction were true and benevolent aliens could save us. Why bother? I see nothing. The stars are snuffed out.
Here below flames rip at cars and barricades and shop fronts—bonfires of fury and pain. The undercurrent of violence deafens me, pulls me down on streets wet from water cannons. My hands bleed from the bricks I have thrown.
You pull my arm. You scream. The maelstrom snatches your words and eats them.
But I follow at last—you—a brighter beacon than the flames.
Mother Hope by Kalpana Solsi
Flashing the red beacon light and a shrill siren announcing urgency, the white metal body moves.
A budding life, inhumanly left to wither is picked up with love. The ‘unwanted’ tag is abandoned and a new name and home is given.
The wrinkled destitute breathe their last with dignity.
Bodies afflicted with diseases get palliative care.
Women and children counselling programmes uplift the society.
Refugees, prostitutes, street-kids are accommodated.
The selfless Sisters at Missionaries of Charity in the City of Joy spread sunshine under the darkest conditions.
The Mother in white and blue sari is a beacon of hope.
Hope Is A Four Letter Word by Geoff Le Pard
‘Mrs. North? Greg O’Connell. I tracked down your sister to the Sisters of Mercy.’
Mary felt a familiar cloud cast a chill shadow. ‘I remember.’
‘They’ve found the records. At last, eh?’
Mary couldn’t speak.
‘Bit of light at… sorry, I’m rambling. A beacon of hope, maybe. Katherine Potts. Your sister, right?’
‘She had a daughter, who was adopted. The family was from Dublin. Mrs. North? You there.’
‘Is she… alive?’
‘That’s why I rang. Do you want me to keep looking?’
Mary shut her eyes. Could she stand more disappointment? Was this beacon really bringing good news?
First Cut Pt. 1 by D. Avery
“Did I hurt you when I left?”
They were sprawled on the grass in the pasture that overlooked the house, the barn that held the first cut of hay. She stroked the baby’s dark hair as she nursed.
“Yup. Hurt a lot.”
“I’ve always been a bolter. It’s like I can’t help it after a while.”
“Uh.” The baby sighed and fell asleep against her.
“I never was scared before though.”
“You were scared?”
“Afraid I’d gone too far. That I wouldn’t be able to come back. To you.”
His arm around her was strong, gentle. “I’m always here.”
First Cut Pt. 2 by D. Avery
He stood on the porch, watching the storm rolling over the mountain, trees bowing before it, excited leaves anxiously twisting and turning on their stems, murmuring at the rumbles of thunder. Soon it would rain.
The Highlands would be fine. The calves were healthy, feeding well, the new mothers patient and fiercely protective.
Quietly, he went back inside where she had fallen asleep on the couch. He sat before the sleeping baby in the bassinet, still awestruck. Would that feeling ever go away?
Would she ever leave again?
“Hey”, she whispered. “How’s Hope?”
“She’s a light in the storm.”
Beacon by Rachel A Hanson
“I know your name,”
She was standing at the kitchen sink, feeling low as she sipped her coffee. She looked up to see Moana.
As the tears flowed out she realized how invisible and alone she felt.
“What’s wrong, Mama?” Her little one ran over.
“I just love you so much,” she said.
Her little face lit up with a smile a mile wide that shone like a beacon, cutting through the darkness in her soul.
“I love you too, Mama.”
As they embraced the smile of the baby became another beacon of love that shone through the dark.
Beacon of Goodness by KittyVerses
As the day of my friend’s wedding grew near,excitement in all of us rose to the next level. Exuberant, like the rest of us about her attire and the celebrations that would follow, she was eagerly looking forward to her D-day.
A typical Indian arranged wedding, they hardly knew one another for six months. A new person , new family, new lifestyle, these thoughts kept haunting her. An element of fear lay hidden beneath her otherwise joyous face.
As we parted, I wished fervently, Let the beacon of goodness shine and may she be that beacon in this new journey.
Philandered Pharos (Janice vs Richard #13) by Jules Paige
Carla Scott wanted nothing more in life than to own a little
bookshop in the coastal town she’d grown up in. Instead
she’d become a policewoman. Helping people like Janice
from cabal men who held tightly onto the concept of
‘disregard’ of humanity in their absolute quest to make
women feel Fremdschämen. Men like Richard rarely
worked alone, belonging to some kind of opaque group,
whose asomatous leader didn’t leave paper trails.
What turn of events or item preceded a criminal’s mind to
hum above decent coherency? Blip off and then stand tall
withdrawing from the beacon of justice?
Beacon by Michael
He was a beacon of hope to so many. He spoke the language they craved to hear.
To others, he was a beacon of disaster. Everything he said was a lie a falsehood designed to deceive and confusion.
Where he promised prosperity for all to others, he spelt poverty a modern-day Judas selling out those whom he should have supported for the lure of the mighty dollar.
He used people for his own ends, he cared little for their well-being concentrating totally on what was best for him.
In the end, he was justifiably condemned to rot in hell.
A Beacon of Her Light by FloridaBorne
“Are you telling me you are what you write?” Lee asked.
“You’ll never be a Hemingway,” he sneered.
“It’s the journey, not the destination that’s important.”
“I’ve heard the cliché,” he snickered.
“I hear the universal heart and my write-house shines out a beacon of her light.”
“That’s a stupid pun! If you’re the lighthouse, I’m the caretaker that straightens the beam.”
“No,” I chuckled. “You’re a ship’s captain refusing to allow a light to tell you there’s danger ahead.”
“You’re about to crash on the rocks. My lawyers have pictures of you with your mistress.”
Night Riders (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
“Nancy Jane, it’s dark. I can’t see!” Sarah reached for her friend.
“Beyond the ravine we’ll have light. Come on!”
When they emerged from the creek oaks and cottonwoods, the plains remained cloaked. Stars cast no light on this moonless night, but lone campfires topped the hills. Sarah asked, “Why are people in small camps? I thought they were afraid to sleep outside groups.”
“Nah, those are the fires warning where the ridges are.” Nancy Jane whistled and her horse nickered in return. “Ready, Sarah? Let’s ride the plains and let the Otoe night signals light our way.”
The Royal Navy by Gordon Le Pard
Here it is again, and a sequel
He looked out at the horizon and saw nothing, “Nonsense” he thought as he walked over to his excited colleague bending over the strange device, he looked through the little lens. There was a tiny ship – with the cross of Spain on its sails. Moving it he saw more, the Armada had arrived!
Moments later the beacon was lit, within hours the English fleet was at sea.
The Spanish thought they had the English trapped in Plymouth harbour – but at dawn the Royal Navy launched their first attack. The defeat of the Spanish Armada had begun.
The first telescope was probably invented in the 1570’s by Leonard and Thomas Digges, but kept secret because of its military importance. I have placed one in the hands of one of the men keeping watch for the invading Spaniards in 1588.
The Spanish Armada by Gordon Le Pard
Admiral Recalde was worried, the Royal Navy was supposed to be in Plymouth, and no knew they were coming. Last night they had glimpsed the coast and seen twinkling lights on the hill tops.
“Fires, to burn the heretics.” The priests had said encouragingly.
But he feared they were beacons.
As dawn broke he found he was right. The grey western horizon, which should have been empty, was full of ships, English ships, the fastest warships, the best guns and the finest seamen in the world.
He no longer thought of victory, instead he prayed that they would survive.
Admiral Recalde, one of the most experienced officers in the Spanish Armada, was always doubtful about its chances of success. He managed to bring several ships home after the disastrous defeat, but collapsed and died a few days after reaching Spain.
A Hero’s Welcome by Pete Fanning
The whistle hit as the train rounded the bend. At Jem’s, couples abandoned dancing and ran for the door. Drowsy children lifted warm cheeks from the padding of their mother’s arms. Old timers rocked forth to have a gander.
The boys wanted to shoot his Springfield. The girls wanted to hear all about Paris. Lawrence had seen the world. He’d taken on the Nazi’s and defended freedom.
Six hours late, a beacon shined on the withered streamers and curled signs of patriotism. They stood as brakes screaked, they watched patiently as the “White Only” cars passed.
Lawrence was home.
Between by Sarah Brentyn
He flies halfway between day and night.
His wings reach out, touch the rooftop of my home.
The silence outside me, the noise inside me…
I hear him.
Tomorrow, he tells me, will be softer. More forgiving. Wait.
I believe him.
His message quiets my raging mind.
Delivered tenderly, I feel the force behind his words not to go gentle into this good night.
Feathered fingertips brush blue sky down into the pinks and purples of evening.
I will live to see him, this paintbrush of the Gods, bring the periwinkle light of sunrise up into sapphire skies.
Whatt the Blazes? by D. Avery
“Hey Shorty. That’s a fine fire you got there. Cookin’ somethin’ up? Bacon sure would be nice.”
“No, ain’t cookin’.”
“No, I ain’t cold.”
“Oh. Scarin’ away coyotes?”
“No, ain’t seen any sign of coyotes.”
“Shorty, why’n heck you got this here fire blazin’ away if you ain’t cookin’, ain’t cold, and ain’t worried about coyotes?”
“Let’s just say this fire is for anyone who is hungry, or cold, or worried about coyotes. A welcome to set a spell. Share stories.”
“A beckoning beacon.”
“Still, some bacon would be nice.”
“Here, have a carrot.”