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A Sweet Jam

Spread across crumpets, or drizzled over ice cream, a sweet jam tastes like sunshine. Yet, deep in the city down a dark alley in the basement of a speakeasy, musicians gather as friends and jam old songs and new sounds. No matter the jam, it carries satisfaction.

Writers investigated where a sweet jam leads, and you can expect some tasty stories. Grab a cup of tea, slather your favorite preserve on a piece of toast, and cozy up for a 99-word story jam.

The following is based on the August 15, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sweet jam.

PART I (10-minute reads)

Wine and Dine by Di @ pensitivity101

Steve and Sally let themselves into their flat after an enjoyable evening with friends.
They heard singing and when then looked in the lounge saw their babysitter cross legged on the floor munching toast between bars. Their two children were curled up on the sofa fast asleep surrounded by crumbs, their faces smeared with jam.

Jenna grinned at them.

‘Great scherry jam!’ she hiccoughed with a giggle. ‘Tho’ ya chouldn’t liv it in’t garage……… it migh go orf!’

Sally burst out laughing as Steve looked in dismay at the slops and what was left of his fermenting blackcurrant wine.

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Sweet Jam by Susan Zutautas

Come one, come all to Bellevue’s Last Call Bar and Grill to listen to the sounds of Head First. They’re sure to satisfy your thirst.

Dance the night away with songs from the 1980s unless nine o’clock is past your bedtime. Come on out and rock till you drop.

On horns and flute, we have Mike who can start one sweet jam with the band.

On drums, there’s Chris who will beat to your heart.

Paul takes care of the vocals and he’s a local.

Sing along they don’t mind in fact they think it’s always a good time.

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Sweet Strawberry Jam by Norah Colvin

Overhearing a conversation about the jam session at Lorna’s that night, Ailsa assumed the email was buried in spam which had jammed her inbox recently. She collected her Vacola jars and headed for the motorway. Discovering the traffic jam too late, she had no choice but to wait. The jam drops prepared for supper eased the monotony. At Lorna’s, she jammed her car into a tight spot and rushed inside. The living room was jam-packed, and music indicated a different kind of jamming. Setting down her Vacola jars, she leaned against the door jamb. “Sweet strawberry jam!” she breathed.

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As Sweet As Jam by Oneiridescent

With the accomplice of peeping moonlight, Sam was scanning the perimeter. He was in a hunt and his jungle was the kitchen. The clanging cutlery called out and Mother came running.

“What are you doing, at this midnight ?” She switched on the lamp.

“I wanna candy, caramel – anything sweet,” cried seven year old Sam.

“You had your share. No more now with your tooth condition,” warned Mother.

Disappointed Sam, sat down on the floor. It was a week, he was deprived of chocolate.

“Ding Dong !” Father returned from work and brought Sam a sweet smile – a healthy raspberry jam!

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Well Preserved by FloridaBorne

“Happy Birthday, Grandma,” Joy said.

Edna reached into yet another gift bag. A jar of strawberry preserves.

“I asked my family to pool their money,” Edna said. “I’m going to take a writing class!”

“But Grandma, you’re old!”

Edna held the unwanted gift toward Joy. “Get your money back, tell my family I expect a check for $200 made out to Hoover Community College, and bring it to me.”

“But…the party…”

“Go!” Edna ordered.

Never willing to settle for less than the best, Edna opened a cabinet full of her homemade strawberry jam, slathering some on fresh baked bread.

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Sweet Jam by Colleen M Chesebro

One of the fondest memories I have of my mother in law was the day we made strawberry jam. The kids washed the flats of strawberries in the sink, careful to pinch off only the green leaves. I dumped the ripe fruit into the pot.

Arlene never measured ingredients. She didn’t have to. Like a conductor at a symphony, she coaxed the natural sweetness out of the berries cooking on the stove before she added any additional sugar.

The older girls filled the jars with the delectable strawberry compote. Billy the toddler, dipped his fingers into the sweet jam.

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The Fallen Apples…by Ruchira Khanna

“Hey, don’t hit those fallen apples with your bat?” Grandma rebuked her grandson, Pedro.

“What should we do with it, grandma?” he asked innocently, “Mom doesn’t allow us to eat them, once fallen.”

Granny paused for a bit; it helped her cool down.

“Let’s collect all of them, I’ll make use of these fallen apples!” she said with a gentle smile.

The excited eight-year old collected all the juicy red apples in his red pail.

Grandma got to the task to make an end product that was sweet and fruity.

“Yum! the grandson licked the jelly off the spoon!”

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Jellied Jitters by Donna Matthews

I feel it in my seeds. A juicy, delicious purpose awaits me. My skin is radiant…the perfect hue. I am ready.

A small boy comes skipping down my row. I quiver in anticipation as he spots me. He leans over, grabs me with his chubby hands, and in his basket I go. Arriving at his house, I see the water boiling, glass bottles standing ready, pectin on the counter.

Soon, I am transformed. No longer an individual berry but a sweet jelly jam. But why…why am I in the basement? Jellied and abandoned? Will I be forgotten down here?

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Strawberry Jam by Sally Cronin

Margaret sat in the sitting room of the nursing home, in a chintz covered chair by the window. She couldn’t remember why she was there, but perhaps the family had brought her out for tea. She tried to think of her daughter’s name; a pretty girl in a blue overall who spoke gently with a lovely smile. Margaret looked at the plate on her lap, lifting the contents to her lips, it tasted delicious with something red and sweet that stirred distant and happy memories. Jam, strawberry jam, on scones, with butter and cream. How could she have forgotten?

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Jammed Up in Time by Bill Engleson

“Well, body’s gone!”

“Yup. Morrison’s Mortuary…they don’t dawdle. Let’s get to ‘er.”

“The old guy…he had no family?”

“None we knew of. No visitors. Nada.”

“Sad.”

“Yeah, maybe. But he had his memories.”

“You talked to him?”

“That’s kinda what we’re here for. Yeah. Not often. Cranky old cuss.”

“So, where do we start?”

“Let’s start slow. Personal stuff. The bedroom, I guess. Box it up neat.”

“Hey, lookee here. A jar of jam on the bedside table. Odd, eh!”

“Not so much. Blackberry Jam. Last one his wife ever preserved.”

“Really!”

“Like I said, he had his memories.”

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Home Remedy by Tom Stewart

“I’m making mango jam,” announced Gertrude. “Your favorite.”

“You know how, Gert?” asked Wendell, her husband of 27 years.

“I’ll figure it out, and please, it’s Gertrude.”

“Can’t we just buy some? said Wendell. “Why all the bother?”

“Really?” said Gertrude. “It’s news to you that I like doing things myself?”

“All I’m saying, we could be watching television instead of you spending so much time.”

“You can’t buy the kind of jam I’m making,” said Gertrude.

“Don’t go overboard,” said Wendell. “I like things uncomplicated.”

‘Amen to that,’ thought Gertrude, removing a vial of strychnine from her apron pocket.

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Faire de la Confiture Cucrée… (or a sweet reunion) by JulesPaige

she kept snakes in the
garden, allowed them free reign;
they rid her of pests

he was a lout for leaving
or a hero in disguise
*
at the edge, he stood
unrecognizable man?
she stood quietly

he spoke her name like music
as the late autumn wind danced
*
rooted in the ground
she stood, tears of joy forming
then flowing freely

(of course we used to tell them
that time stood quite still, waiting…)
*
yet time did march on
to the beat of our drumming
hearts; running to grasp

See next page
to touch, to reassure and
taste again sweet jam kisses

🥕🥕🥕

Sweet Jam by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Clara’s thumbs tick-tocked the steering wheel’s curve, her eyes intent on any break in the blocked-up freeway traffic. She’d said what needed to be said. She was done.

Harald, hands tucked under his thighs in the passenger seat, hummed his seven-note tune, over and over again. He nodded as her annoyance grew. It’d only take a moment—the right moment–to change her mind.

Clara took a chance, swerved onto the shoulder. “Get out!” she roared.

Harald smiled victory as her car spit gravel and grew small as it sped away.

Sweet! He knew she’d talk to him again!

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Sweetest Jam by Sherri Matthews

On Saturday morning, Matt Kline woke up, groaned and rolled over in bed, finding an indent and a crumpled sheet where his wife should’ve been. The angry clatter of dishes from the kitchen reminded him why.

That, and his wife screeching for him to get his lazy ass in there. Right now.

‘Honey…I’m sorry… I drank too much…’

‘You sonofabitch; I’m outta here.’

‘But honey…she’s nothing to me… ‘

The jar landed square on his head. The last Matt Kline knew was the taste of his wife’s strawberry jam bleeding slowly into his mouth. The sweetest batch she’d ever made.

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Soured Sugar by Anne Goodwin

Bending to strip the bush of berries, her shoulders strain and fingers stain inky black, like hunching over essays at her desk. Except for the insect buzz and her sun-warmed neck. A holiday from study, from her drive to showcase her brain in a world that stops its gaze at her skin. A different virtue in the steaming pot, gleaming jars, foraged fruit others would leave to rot.

Yet her mood dips, her hand shakes as she adds the white crystals. Sugar. Ghosted by her ancestors’ lament, backs striped with whip marks as they stooped to cut the cane.

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Everything Tastes Better With Jam by Barb Taub

She hesitated, then entered the alley, her stilettos clicking, hands cradling the large jar. Under a streetlight, dark windows on all sides and dead end ahead, she stopped. Her follower straightened, light glancing off the blade in his hand.

She turned, smiling.

Silent figures gathered behind her attacker, surrounding him. One held out an arm for her sweet jam. “Glad you could make it. How’s your mama?”

She waited politely until the screaming stopped abruptly. “She’s good. Sends love.” Over the slurping sounds, she raised her voice. “Sorry I’m late. I had to pick up takeout on the way over.”

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Hijacking Euphoria by H.R.R. Gorman

Johnny hopped in. “Gun it, Euphoria!”

The hot, 375-horsepower Cadillac roared, but she pressed the brakes at a screeching metal sound.

“Door’s jammed! It got caught on the sidewalk!”

Euphoria screamed. “What the hell you doin’ to my car!?”

“It don’t matter! Gun it, or the cops will catch us!”

She put her long, pink fingernails up to her face. Tears streamed down. “Oh no, my baby!”

The cops caught up, guns at the ready. They saw Euphoria’s tears and manhandled Johnny out. “Hijacking a car and robbing a bank!? You’re going to jail for a long time, bub!”

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PART II (10-minute reads)

Train Jam by Ritu Bhathal

Arjun peeled back the cover of the tray and peered at the contents.

Two cooling pieces of toast lay there, with a pat of white butter and a container containing something that was jelly-like with a luminous pink glow.

“What’s that?” he grimaced.

“I think you’ll find it’s jam.” Aashi couldn’t help but smirk at his expression.

“That’s not like any jam I’ve ever seen before.”

“Well, you’re not in England anymore, either. It’s Indian jam, made to cater to the Western travellers. Probably filled with sugar, colouring, sugar, flavouring and a bit more sugar. Just don’t expect strawberries!”

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A Special Breakfast (Lynn Valley) by Saiffun Hassam

In the center of the dining table, sunflowers and hollyhock rose from the base of the boat shaped cornucopia. An ornamental iridescent hummingbird hovered over blue delphiniums. One end of the boat was loaded with almonds and pistachios. The rest of the boat was packed with jars of home-made sweet jam: blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, plum, fig and peach.

The tantalizing aroma of freshly baked bread wafted into the dining room from the restaurant kitchen. Omelets filled with salmon, scrambled eggs and pancake potatoes were ready. It was Hannah’s birthday today and her staff had a surprise breakfast for her.

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A Brief Respite by Joanne Fisher

Aalen and Ashalla stayed in a cheap inn. They both sat on the bed together while Voja curled up on the floor. Ashalla had brought back some bread after scoping out The Baron’s keep a further time.

“If only I had got some cheese.” Ashalla said as she chewed on the bread.

“Wait a moment.” Aalen said as she produced a vial from her belongings. “When the fruit in the forest ripens my people make this.” Ashalla spread its contents on her bread.

“It’s wonderfully sweet jam.” Ashalla said.

“Jam?”

“That’s what we call it.” Ashalla told her.

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It’s a Trust Issue by Susan Sleggs

A month before my wedding, Gran advised, “You will discover marrying into a large family can have its pitfalls.”

“I already feel like I belong.”

“Let’s hope that lasts.”

Years later I remembered those words when a member of my husband’s family stated, “No in-law would know the family history we are discussing.”

I replied aloud, “I take umbrage with that,” and was ignored, so I left the room.

A few days later I received an e-mail from the speaker. “I was out of line. Sorry.”

The words felt like swallowing sweet jam, with a hint of invisible mold.

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Tart Wars by Mused Blog

No one could remember how the war had started.

What transgression, what folly had launched that first missile? They could not have been blind to the terrible carnage that would follow. Mutually Assured Destruction indeed. And when all ammunition was spent, they stared at each other across the table, accusations flying.

“For the last time! Who started it?” mom yelled iridescent with rage.
“She did”, they both said in unison, fingers pointed.

Emma plucked a fragment of raspberry jam tart from her sticky hair and hastily devoured it. She smiled at the sweetness and winked at her bedraggled sister.

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In a Sweet Jam by Anita Dawes

I was fourteen when I borrowed a bike
The judge sent me away for three weeks
for assessment to determine whether
I would be put away or given probation
This came as a shock.
You can’t wear your own clothes
Cleaning duties before breakfast
Two hours of school each day
The older girls had other duties
Sewing lessons where I made a felt penguin
Which I could take home when I leave
I never saw it again, I guess someone borrowed it
This is where I fell in love with marmalade
The kind with no bits, smooth and sweet…

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In a Jam by Anurag Bakhshi

As I opened the refrigerator door, my wife’s words of warning reverberated in my ears, “No more sweets, or you’ll be in a right royal jam!”

But her words soon faded away, and all I could see was a treasure trove of cakes, pastries, muffins…and standing tall amidst them, a bottle of fresh home-made rhubarb jam.

I took out the bottle, gazing at it lovingly, when suddenly, the lights came on, and a voice, possibly belonging to the owner of the house, spoke sharply, “Gotcha! Robert, keep the gun trained on this thief while I call the police.”

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Sweet, Sweet Song by priorhouse

“Really? You did it? Officially took the new job and put in notice?”

Yeah, baby.  We can move for the new job as early as next month.

Exhaling, hands across face, Lisa sat down, pulled her hair back saying, “I cannot believe how sweet this feels.”

I know…. and hey… what song is that? Turn it up a little.

song lyrics poured out: “You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song. And I, will sing again….”

That’s the perfect song for this transition.

“It’ll be our song, honey.”

It sure is a sweet jam.

“Also….

WE WILL

sing again.”

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Sweet Jam by Allison Maruska

I settle into my seat in front of the stage. In a moment, the performer will take his place, having promised an evening of musical magic. His exact words were, “I’ve been working on a sweet jam.”

How could I pass that up?

He steps onto the stage to uproarious applause. Propping himself onto the stool, he holds up his instrument, and after a moment of contemplation, the notes of Hot Cross Buns fill the room.

Though I’ve heard the recorder tune enough during the week that it pierces my dreams, I pretend it is the sweetest of jams.

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Not a Typical Sweet Jam (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Boiling quinces filled Danni’s kitchen with a lively scent, something between citrus and pears. Something remembered. In the canner, she prepped a hot bath to disinfect her jars and lids. She opened the sack of white sugar, ready to make sweet jam. Michael raised an eyebrow, continuing to look as skeptical as he did when he helped her pick the lumpy fruit.

“How’d you hear about these quince things?”

“The joy of being a historical archeologist. I read old books and journals.”

“Huh. Nothing from my Anishinaabe roots.”

Later, spread thickly across slabs of sourdough, Michael updated his history.

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Harvest (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pull in this driveway here, Marge, this is the place.”
Marge and Ilene climbed stiffly from the truck and stretched, taking in the weather worn clapboard house. Two gangly apple trees stood guard in the unmown lawn. Ilene investigated the blackberry bushes that grew where the unkempt meadow met the woods.

“Marge! They’re ripe!” She made her way back to Marge and faced her mother’s house.

“Well, Marge, I’m supposed to get what I want from the place before leaving matters to the lawyers and realtors. And what I want is to make blackberry jam like my mother did.”

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Harvest (Part II) by D. Avery

Marge and Ilene, scratched from the blackberry brambles, fingers stained purple, now stood over large pots of steaming, bubbling blackberry ooze.

“I don’t know, Ilene, I haven’t done this since my father died. He and I always made jam together.”

“We’ve got this, Marge.” She stirred, carefully eyed the drip from the wooden spoon. “I always enjoyed helping my mom with jamming but knew it meant the beginning of school. Used to feel like we were putting summer in a jar, to be savored later.”

“She’d be proud you’re back in school Ilene.”

Ilene blinked. “It’s ready Marge. Pour.”

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First Homemade Low Sugar Plum Jam by Miriam Hurdle

“What are we doing with all the plums?”

“We eat them.”

“How many can we eat?”

“As many as we can for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

“You picked 475 in two weeks but only ate less than 75. They are getting mushy.”

“I know. I’ll take them to some meetings to give them away.”

“Can we sell them?”

“Are you kidding? How do I do that and who would buy them?”

“What if we can’t give them away fast enough?”

“I’ll find some low sugar plum jam recipes and do the first homemade jam.”

“It sounds like a plan.”

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Red Light Rescue by Jo Hawk

I volunteered, although it was the last thing I wanted to do.

She waited outside her brownstone, with her carryon balanced atop her suitcase. I double-parked while the cabbie honked, cursing me, as he squeezed his way past.

“You’re late,” she said, and I stuffed the luggage in the trunk.

“You said six, it’s a quarter to.”

She ignored me and got in the car.

Rush hour in New York, made worse by some hidden force, gave me an opportunity. My one last chance.

The traffic jam was sweet, providing the salve we needed to mend our strained relationship.

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Wild Sweet Jam by Faith A. Colburn

Today it’s wild plums. You step in the back door and the smell of sweet jam overwhelms your senses. On the stove, pulp boils with sugar. You hear thick, red bubbles spatter like hot lava.

Another bucket of fresh fruit rests on the floor. You pick up a few. You rub them between your fingers. The frosty coating rubs off, leaving shiny, bright skins—deep red, pink, and gold. A colander holds dry husks of bitter skins for the compost.

Sparkling jars line the counter tops, waiting to seal the taste of summer for mid-winter.

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Hello Spring by tracey

Sophia walked into the kitchen and wondered where spring was. Fat snowflakes swirled outside the window, carpeting the grass and mounding on empty flowerpots.

“This would be pretty if it was December,” Sophia told Mother Nature, “but here in May you are just being cruel.”

She put the kettle on and popped an English muffin into the toaster. “Guess I’ll just have to make my own spring,” she said, moving a vase of tulips to the table. She opened her last jar of homemade strawberry jam and breathed in the sweet berry scent. “Take that Mother Nature,” she crowed.

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Summer Memory in Winter by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Unexpected, not unprecedented. Lucy opened the cabin door to a wall of snow. Stores, as well as spirits, were running low. Something had to liven the hard tack and rabbit stew, hairy root vegetables and pale wrinkled peas. Evan sat by the glowing fire, his fiddle forgotten on his knee, the bow lying on the floor.

She snapped her fingers, grabbed a candle, and lifted the trap door to the cellar underneath their home. The animals, fed and watered, called greeting as she passed to the cooler corner where she kept summer memories. There! One remaining jar of Lingonberries!

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Poisoned Apples

We know how the story goes for Snow White. The Evil Queen sends a poisoned apple that only true love’s kiss can overcome. Well, there are different versions of the familiar tale. We wish fairy tails were true, and maybe, in a way, they are. Through one act of kindness, choosing love over hate, writing through the mess no matter how toxic — we can deliver an anecdote.

Writers explored the apple tree, daring to touch the poisoned variety. Some followed myth, some used realism, and others mashed it all up like cider.

The following are based on the August 8, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a poisoned apple.

PART I (10-minute read)

Miss Scarlet – In the Kitchen – With an Apple by TN Kerr

She who’d smiled and cooed when she gave him the fruit,
now laughed out loud
and watched him chew.
The fruit glowed red, juicy, crisp, and tart.
When he bit in, droplets ran to his shirt and
down his chin.
They burned through the soft cotton and scarred his skin.

He reached for her, in pain, confused;
his finger was cut
on the hem of her red pleated skirt.
I watched the rent spread wide, filling with crimson before
overflowing the wound and splashing onto her open-toed mules.
Shoes that were once white, were now scarlet,
like her name.

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Inconclusive by Jomz Ojeda

The victim lay on the ground, sprawled, while clutching his throat.

“Choked on an apple? Classic.” Detective Monroe commented as he surveyed the scene, a half-eaten apple by his feet.

The victim, a young man in his twenties, had a twisted, horrified look on his face. His eyes bulged, and his mouth open and moist with bubbling saliva.

“Was it an accident, inspector?” A rookie cop asked.

“It could be. You never know.” The detective took slow, calculated steps all over the room. His eyes fell back on the apple.

“Take this to forensics… it might tell us more.”

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The Don’s Move by The Dark Netizen

Don Pazta stared at me triumphantly.

“You’ve done it. Don Peeza is dead. Now his territory belongs to us. Well done.”

I smiled at the old man while gingerly sipping on my glass of wine. Don Peeza’s half eaten apple lay on the plate, next to his resting head. Don Pazta giddily got up from his seat and did a small jig.

“Tell me though. How did you know he would pick that apple from the basket?”

I grinned at the old don.

“I didn’t.”

Don Pazta glanced towards the half-eaten apple on his own plate, before keeling over…

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Poisoned Apple by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Fear had eaten into his mind’s core like a malevolent caterpillar. Fear of the future. Fear of the soldiers. Fear of losing his farm. It had been there, rotting his brain matter, ever since the declaration of war in October the prior year. The injury he had sustained early this year had exacerbated its effect until it felt as if his mind was like a worm-infested apple, brown and soft inside. He took some deep breaths, determined to prevent the poison from spreading and affecting his reactions. Poor reactions could result in the deaths of him and his family.

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How Far from the Tree? by Di @ pensitivity101

She was different, though didn’t understand why.

They came from the same gene pool, the same background, the same upbringing.

They had grown up together, been taught the same values, attended the same school.

But she was different, and she knew it.

She stood out. It wasn’t intentional, and the others tried to put her down, swamp her with their opinions and demanding attention.

Their offspring were the same as them.

Calculating, scheming, self-centred and selfish. No good deed done or thought of unless it benefited them.

Where had the poison originated?

And thank god she not been affected.

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Staying Close to Mother by Anne Goodwin

There wasn’t much my mother loved, but she sure did love that tree. Sharp shade at summer’s peak; soft pink blossom at its dawn. Come summer’s end she loved to feed its sweet-sour fruit to me.

When time was ripe she’d pick a golden orb and shine its skin with hers. Warmed and polished by her breast, I’d accept her offering solemnly. As if cradling the whole world in my palms.

“Eat!” she said.

Obediently, I crunched, as juices dribbled from my mouth. Although it gave me bellyache, I never once declined an apple from my mother’s poisoned tree.

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The Bad Apple by Ritu Bhathal

April bit her blackened lips in frustration. Just how long was mum going to go on and on about her clothes. All she wanted to do, was get out of the house.

She absentmindedly rolled a corner of the rug back and forth with her clumpy boots.

“April! Stop doing that to my rug! Honestly. I don’t know what’s got into you. It’s like those friends of yours have just brainwashed you.”

She rolled a heavily khol-lined eye. The doorbell rang.

“I’m going, mum.” She turned. “And just remember, they say the apple never falls far from the tree.”

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If the Mirror Said More by Susan Sleggs

The Queen questioned her reliable magic mirror but this time the answer was different. Snow White was deemed more fair.

“Why?” screamed the angry queen.

“Your beauty is still supreme but not your heart. Snow White cares for others more than herself. She is loyal without being jealous. She works hard, without complaining, nor expecting return. She follows the laws while still helping the less fortunate and she sees her near empty glass as replenishable with good fortune.”

“I shall kill her with a poison apple!”

“No, my Queen. Learn from her or the poison will surely kill you.”

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Poisoned Apple by Floridaborne

“…Snow White lived happily ever after,” my daughter said.

“Where’d you hear that?”

“Jane’s mom said we live happily ever after without haters.”

“She doesn’t understand the story,” I said.  “Do you want to be imprisoned in a palace?”

“Ewwww.  No!”

“When the story was written, Princesses were baby factories ensuring one kingdom had ties to another. Jane’s mom is a socialist.  We live in a Constitutional Republic.  Our founders knew we had to be diligent.”

“What’s diligent?”

“Socialism, the evil step mother, is delusional. It wants to change what the mirror tells her.  Never allow delusion to live.”

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Skeletons by Reena Saxena

“Splash some green paint on the apple. It is needed for Halloween décor.”

“Do a Google search for ‘poisoned apple’ images. You might get better ideas.”

“ I don’t like fairy tale themes. Those are repeated everywhere.”

The skeleton surprised me on the party evening.

“Where did you get this from?”

“Somebody’s cupboard.” Am I hallucinating? The hollow voice seemed to emanate from the skeleton.

“Don’t worry. The cupboard is not yours, Honey, but someone is in for a shock today.”

“Herbert, get out of that costume. I don’t like being targeted for pranks.”

“Oops, Honey gave me away….”

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Poisoned Apple by Jim “Quincy” Borden

I was working in the lab late one night, tasked with trying to find a safer, cheaper, and more environmentally-friendly formula for our top-selling weed killer.

While typing notes on my Macbook, I absentmindedly reached for the beaker containing the latest compound.

Unfortunately, some of the liquid fell onto the keyboard, and I watched in horror as smoke began to come out of my computer.

The screen went blank a few seconds later, and nothing I could do would bring it back to life.

It was then that I realized what the problem was, I had a poisoned Apple.

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The Apple by Chelsea Owens

Doug stared at the cursor which marked the end of a lengthy piece. A smashing piece, really; one for which he might garner literary praise.

-If not for a little thing called conscience. Doug’s finger poised over the ‘Submit’ option, pulled back.

It’s not a factual article. Don’t publish it.

His conscience sounded deeper than Jiminy Cricket but was no less annoying. He was a grown man, working for The Apple, for the love of -! Well! He, Doug, was not to be bullied by a fantastical creature.

He clicked the button, releasing his minor poison to the unsuspecting masses.

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How to Un-poison the Apple by tracey

The morning sun wakes me and I know I should be grateful for the possibilities of this new day. It stretches out before me, empty and endless.

I drink my tea. Do I dare turn on the radio? What are the chances of hearing good news? No, I will not poison my brain first thing in the morning.

Instead I bake chocolate chip cookies. I make sandwiches. I count out ten bottles of water. Then I fill ten sack lunches.

I spend my morning seeking out the homeless and giving them lunch – sandwiches, cookies and one crisp, sweet apple.

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Like a Poisoned Apple (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni wrinkled her nose at Ramona’s offering. A tomato, freshly plucked. A Kellogg, an heirloom bright as carnelian and hard to grow in North Idaho. But Ike’s grandmother had forgotten that Danni gagged at the taste of any tomato.

“Thank you, Grandma. I’ll take it home.”

Ramona glared.

Danni sighed. “How about we share it?” Maybe Ramona would forget by the time they hauled veggies into the house.

The old woman continued to scowl. “I’m not your grandmother.” Dementia worsened when Ramona tired. It was like a poisoned apple.

Maybe Ramona would remember her if Danni took a bite.

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Thief by Joanne Fisher

Red Riding Hood walked down the forest path carrying a basket of food for her Grandma. Suddenly a big black wolf leapt out from among the trees.

“I’m so hungry!” The wolf declared.

Alarmed, Red threw the basket at the wolf and hid behind a tree. The wolf went through all the baked goods and devoured them. Lastly, it munched down an apple and then started convulsing and foaming at the mouth until it collapsed on the ground.

Red looked at the now dead wolf. Good thing she didn’t give Grandma the apple she had stolen from Snow White.

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Fairest In the Land by Kelley Farrell

Purple veined trees dangled darkened fruits above her head.

“I’ve never been to this part of the woods before.” Words she was barely brave enough to speak disappeared into a pulsing air of mystery. She would swear her feet were no longer her own.

“I’m so very hungry and tired.” The stiffness of the air crushed her voice but the woods protects its own. One of the purple veined trees dropped a fruit into her hands.

Her teeth tore the skin, unleashing a dark gush to dribble over her chin.

And that’s how she became fairest in the land.

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Poisoned Apple by Susan Zutautas

Okay, I think we finally have a winner here, would you like to test it? As soon as this hits the shelves people will be running each other over trying to purchase this. Here, hold out your arm Elizabeth.

Hold on a few seconds, I need to wash off my wrist first.

Pierre gently applied a touch of the new fragrance to Miss Arden’s wrist and waited intently.

Well, tell me, what do you think?

The scent is fruity yet slightly spicy. I love it! What shall we call it? Oh, wait I know, Pomme Empoisonnée or Poisoned Apple.

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An Annulment Achievement by JulesPaige

Part 1

The queen of the fae was in a big huff. This poison apple thing was getting out of hand. The forest was littered with sleeping beauties, princes and even peasants. The dwarves were trying to keep up with building enough glass shelters for all the bodies. Pretty soon the whole countryside was going to be in a deep sleep and it was going to be up to strangers to kiss all these dreamers.

What was the cause? Was it a ruthless royalty? Turned out to be a clan of worms that had been contaminated by that first poisonous fruit.

Part 2

Fruit laced with sleeping draught – Poisoned from a jealous Queen. And worms just doing what they do naturally, multiplying and crawling through apples. The wicked queen who had wanted Little Snow-White dead had been forced to dance to death in a pair of red hot iron shoes… who would be able to save the worms? For even worms have a valued place in the forest.

Time to enlist someone with some mad science skills. How could they save the genetically modified worms. How could they capture all the affected worms? Maybe with one giant apple with the right antidote?

Part 3

The queen of the fae offered a generous reward for and antidote that would save the worms and get all the sleeping people out of her domain. The fae kisses weren’t strong enough to wake deep sleep of all the humans. She would have to see if extracting saliva and making a potion for wakefulness would work. Maybe she could employ the Tooth Fairy Guild?

Within a fortnight everyone and everything was ready. The giant apple sat in the middle of a special glade that had been sprayed with a special ode du decay to attract all the worms.

Part 4

The dwarves and fae teamed up. As soon as the dwarves removed the glass coverings several fae flew to the lips of the sleeping bodies to paint on the wakeful kissing potion. And then as quick as a wink they ran and hid to see what would happen.

Slowly the people began to stir from their dreams. They could only wonder why they had been resting on odd platforms. And without hesitation made their way back to their homes.

Dwarves dismantled the platforms with joy. In time, all that was left of the great big Apple was the core.

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PART II (10-minute read)

It’s an Institution by Norah Colvin

They arrived with bright eyes, open hearts and curious minds. As they entered, each was handed a shiny apple full of promises. They took their places and followed instructions. In unison, they bit off small portions of their apple and chewed to the beat of the enormous metronome suspended above. On cue, they swallowed but, with insufficient time before the required regurgitation, were unable to digest any components. Before they had finished, the taste was bland, swallowing difficult and regurgitation almost impossible. On exiting, their eyes were dull, their hearts closed, and their minds shrivelled, poisoned by false promises.

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The Poisoned Apple by Faith A. Colburn

We used to have a row of mulberry trees on one side of our driveway. In midsummer, when the skies shone cerulean and ships of clouds sailed the prairie, the trees turned green and shiny as holly and began producing the first sweet purple fruit.

My sister and I climbed those trees, but like Snow White’s sweet apple, they exacted a price. We’d climb out of the trees with scratches and rips on our bare legs and arms, even our faces, twigs in our tousled hair. Our purple mouths, fingers, and purple-stained playsuits testified to our willingness to pay.

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Telling by D. Avery

“I’m Snow White. I’m dead.”

“Oh dear.”

“Don’t worry, only for a while.”

“Until a prince happens along?”

“That’s how Tommy’s mom tells it.”

“Hmm. Is there another way to tell it?”

Marlie unclasped her hands and sat up. “Well, Sofie’s mom says the apple was yellow, not red. And it wasn’t poison, it was the apple of wisdom that the mother shared with her daughters.”

“What else?”

“No princes, just farmers and craftsmen. Useful and polite. Oh, and Snow White is really called Eartha Brown.”

“Marlie, now that you’ve come back to life you could invite Sofie over.”

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Yandeau Sea (from Yandeau) by Saiffun Hassam

In the bright sunshine Yandeau Sea glittered like myriads of tiny silvery pearls. But the great beauty of the Sea was marred along the shores by red, orange and yellow algal blooms.

Pierre remembered apple picking on Grandpere’s farm. Grandpere tossed moldy apples into the mulch pile. Poisoned apples he said. Pierre, then a young biologist, was struck by the intertwining of shiny golden apples and black fungal rot.

Now he was a marine scientist. From a distance the algal blooms appeared to be beautiful carpets. Underneath that carpet the waters were toxic to fish, starfish, crabs and crustaceans.

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Immunity by Adil EL Bourichi

“I didn’t poison that apple!” was my orchard’s previous owner’s explanation .

My apple tree had born a pumpkin instead of an apple.

My chemist neighbor said that it was a poisoned apple and that it was his duty as a scientist to tell the world about it.

Soon, it became a worldwide phenomenon and more poisoned apples appeared pretty much everywhere. No country seemed immune.

All those who ate the pumpkins died… All, except the inhabitants of a tiny Pacific island.

When interviewed, an inhabitant said: “You see, poison is medicine and medicine is poison… It’s about balance.”

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Poisoned Apple by Tien Skye

He could scarcely believe it. Months of effort – of planning, of sleepless nights – wiped out in matters of seconds.

Oh, how can the apple be poisoned so?

Known for its immunity, most viruses are unable to affect it. Yet, he could deny the truth no longer.

His MacBook Pro is not responding to any of the commands.

Well, every cloud has its silver lining. Or at least he hopes the iCloud has, that the documents have been backed up to the online server.

Then he realises, he has forgotten to switch on the Wi-Fi.

Poisoned Apple indeed.

🥕🥕🥕

Poisoned Apple by Sally Cronin

It is common in this modern world, to be offered promises that seem as wholesome as a bowl of shiny apples. However the red skinned fruit may hide toxic untruths and evil intent. Once it is swallowed, the poisoned apple will stick in your throat, causing you to spout the heinous words hidden within; spreading the evil like a virus. The only antidote to its venom; is to establish the truth, and wash the words down with random acts of kindness. We must all think carefully before embarking on a dangerously addictive diet of fake news and ill intentions.

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The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil by H.R.R. Gorman

“And this is the core of the poisonous apple which Adam and Eve ate.” The tour guide pointed to a core, browned from oxidation but otherwise in good shape. “This was unearthed 10 years ago in Mesopotamia, and no scientific explanation regarding its preservation has come forth.”

Someone raised a hand. “Why do we want to keep it?”

“Many reasons! The NIH wants to research its antibiotic properties. The DOE wants to examine its timelessness to find clean fuels. And, of course, the DOD wants to weaponize it. One of these efforts has already succeeded – I’ll let you guess which…”

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Dark Places by Anita Dawes

Our universe has an evil twin
That’s where I live,
walking through black molasses
With the past present and future
Stuck in the same place
My life has been overlaid
by the juice of a poisonous apple
There are times when I believe
I am living on the dark side of the moon
Where the unknown waits
Taking time before devouring my soul
Sleeping dreaming, it is all the same
Nothing changes in the dark spaces of my mind
There are black holes
where my other six souls try to live
I pray for just one to be reborn…

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Think of the Devil by Anurag Bakhshi

“Eat it, you know that you want to,” the Devil whispered in Eve’s ears.

Eve looked apprehensively at the apple and replied, “It…does look delicious…but Adam told me not to accept anything from strangers.”

The Devil plucked the apple from the tree, and said, “Let ME have a bite first, so that you know it’s safe.”

He smiled as he bit into the apple, he knew it was unsafe only for humans.

Eve smiled as the Devil clutched at his throat, it was a good thing she’d had the foresight to poison the apple the night before!

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Dressed to Kill by Sarah Brentyn

The fall of 1978 would be remembered for generations.

I loved the story of the princess woken by a handsome prince. Each year, on Halloween, I became that princess.

I walked alone, trick-or-treating, while groups of guys mocked my dress and made lewd comments. Girls threw rotten apples poisoned with hatred and intolerance.

Mrs. Halloran, who was always kind to me, held a bowl of candy but pulled me aside. She gave me a bright, red apple and a smile.

Our neighborhood lost 27 kids that year. Poisoned. All but the boy in the Snow White costume.

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A New Story by Donna Matthews

How did the story go, she wondered? A girl bit into a poisoned apple and fell asleep? The evil step-mother, jealous of her beautiful step-daughter?

Yes!

And the seven drawfs? Or was that detail from another story? She couldn’t recall clearly. Except that maybe the story was titled, “Sleeping Beauty.” The character had to be awakened by a kiss from a prince.

Hmmm. Now exasperated. Stories about girls waiting around for the prince to save the day. Sleeping beauty waiting for someone to wake her up.

Yeah, no. She never did care for fairytales — she’d write a new story.

🥕🥕🥕

Changing the Story by Jo Hawk

I lift my eyes to behold the fairy tale wrapped in a make-believe land. I am defenseless, cold, and empty inside. Laying on my deathbed, the heroes turn away, and the wise men tremble. They are lost on the path leading nowhere.

But my story is not over. I refuse to bow. Rocks cannot break my glasshouse. Searching deep inside, I find the spark, light the fire, prove I am still alive. Flames reveal the true ending.

I reject the poison apple you fed me, and it becomes the instrument of your death. My revenge is my life, well-lived.

🥕🥕🥕

Dust by Allison Maruska

I sit on the porch, watching your dust settle.

It was all a lie. A performance. Years of attention and validation that you required of me blow away, meaningless as the dust your truck tires kicked up.

A little pushback, and I’m dead to you.

You taught me a lesson. I’ve now eaten from the poisoned apple of narcissism, one I accepted too gladly. God damn your charm. And God help the next who tries to make me his supply.

The dust has already returned to the earth, your impact forgotten.

Now it’s my turn to do the same.

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Bitterness by Mark A Morris

I dug my thumbs into the divot at the top and pulled it apart. The apple split unevenly, breaking into two but with one part twice the size of the other. It was this piece I took first, nibbling away at one side. It was juicy but sharp in its flavour, a bitterness I’d not expected causing me to gag a little as I chewed.

“They’re perfectly ripe,” she said, a half smile flickering across her face. “But the one that I ate hadn’t been doctored with cyanide.”

I already knew it was too late. I should have known.

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A Rotten Apple by Neel Anil Panicker

All who knew her made a very conscious effort to steer clear of her by a mile.

Asha had that thing about her, emanating vibes that could only be described as venomous.

Pretty insular to the negativity she spread all around, Asha hurled her barbs at one and all.

And woe betide all those who came under her crosshairs; or worse, happened to come under her bad books.

Then, she would turn a virago, and wreck vengeance of a scale and intensity that can only be termed diabolical.

A poisoned, rotten apple is what the world knew her as.

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A Desperate Balance by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She stands in the shallows of the hidden cove, salt water lapping at her toes.

“What does she want?” the ocean wonders. “Here as supplicant…or queen?”

She draws an apple from her heavy cloak. It drops, its power releasing into the shadows.

The apple glints wickedly.

Naked in the scarlet sunrise, she lifts the apple to her lips, bites, and mumbles a spell, so quiet, weary of a world gone sour. The ocean hears these words and more, and accepts.
She swallows, drops with the poisoned apple, into the shallows.

The waves surge, accepting both poison and cure.

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Word Up by D. Avery

“Kid, is thet Le’Gume character still around?”

“Reckon Carrot Ranch’s a hard place to leave,. Pal, are you still worried Pepe is a bad apple?”

“Naw, s’pose not, though he does have some noxious qualities, if ya know what I mean.”

“Yep, I smell what yer steppin’ in, if ya know what I mean. Hey Pal? Ya ever worry that folks don’t know what ya mean?”

“Well, Kid, word is, speakin’ is a big responsibility. Was much simpler when we jist used sticks an’ stones. If ya know what I mean.”

“Mean words could git us back ta that.”

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Rock Star

Maybe it’s in the swagger, or how fans react. It’s a chemical reaction between one who holds the fascination of many. Without a doubt, we recognize rocks stars, even dream of being one if only in our kitchen or as a parent.

Writers pursued rock and roll this week, chasing down stories to capture what makes a rock star. Familiar names cross the threshold and surprising takes join their ranks. Get ready for the show!

The following is based on the August 1, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock star.

PART I (10-minute read)

A Real Rock Star by Jo Hawk

Stars floated above Kye’s head. He couldn’t sleep when the ancients whispered. His gaze shifted from the sky to his sleeping brother. Their sheep rested quietly in the canyon’s safety.

Kye hefted a rock tossing it in his hand before using it to scrape images into the desert varnish coating the granite wall. The scene completed; his fingers rested on the depiction of his world.

The stars spun, eons passed, and the ancient voices grew silent. Kevin hiked into the park, hunting for answers. Placing his hand on the petroglyph he reached through time to touch the creator’s soul.

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Rock Star by Miriam Hurdle

John Livingston stood in the center stage. It was their first concert on the road.

Ringo started the percussion. John, Paul and George plucked the guitars for three beats. They sang on the fourth beat.

“Hey Jude…, don’t make it bad…”

The fan screamed. The girls reached out their hands.

“Take a sad song and make it bet…ter…”

The screaming got louder.

“…Na-na-na na… hey Jude.”

The four bowed to reach to their fan. One girl pulled John so hard, he fell off the stage and hit his head.

“Ouch!”

“John, wake up. You’re late to your camping trip.”

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Rock Star by Pete Fanning

Dave exited the meeting room to high fives and back slaps.

“Well done, my man. Can you fly out tomorrow?”

Dave smiled at his manager. Of course. His spreadsheets were impeccable, his PowerPoints sharp. He’d been killing it at work.

A glance to the windows, the Rockfish mountains in the distance. Shoot, the camping trip with Seth. Maybe Phil could step in. Seth’s loser stepdad worked at a bookstore, made ten bucks and hour. And Seth talked like he was a rock star.

“Dave, you in?”

Dave turned from the mountains. “Yeah, I just need to make a call.”

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Back to the Garden by D. Avery

Without their devices, his children complained they had nothing to look at. “Look up,” he said.

They did. On a cloudless night his children looked up and saw a summer sky.

“Look at all the stars! What’s that big one there?”

“That’s a planet, one of the wanderers. Mars, fourth rock from the sun.”

“That one’s moving right across.”

“Satellite.”

Lying on their sleeping bags they identified what constellations they could. They had more fun inventing their own.

“Dad, look! A shooting star! Make a wish.”

“I already have,” he said. “You are stardust,” he whispered. “You are golden.”

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Rock Star by Sally Cronin

The performance came to a climax, the singer whipping sweat laden hair around in a frenzy. Voice gravelly with fatigue, he growled out the final lyrics, gyrating across the stage. The last notes faded to the roar of the crowd. Thrusting his guitar above his head, he backed into the wings. Grabbing a towel he headed to his dressing room, eager for what waited for him. He sat back in the chair satisfied. Nothing like a fish paste sandwich and glass of cold milk to end the night. He smiled at the woman. ‘Thanks Mum just what I needed.’

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Rock Star Famous by Nancy Brady

My son Mark and his friends formed a band called Spike Strip. They rehearsed daily after school their two songs in the run up to the concert planned for Halloween.

During trick-or-treat, they sang and played those songs over and over again as kids came to the door for candy.

The concert was over before I returned from work, but that night Mark and his buddies were rock stars.

So much so that when there wasn’t a concert the following year, many kids asked where the band was, disappointed that they weren’t playing. Apparently, it was a memorable event.

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Rock Star by Jim “Quincy” Borden

Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.
Just because you’re not a rock star, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t paying attention to you.
Just because some psychologist came up with the idea of the spotlight effect, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t watching everything you do.

Because you are a dad.
In their eyes, you are a rock star.
And they are watching everything you do,
And hanging on every word you say.
And you will always be in the spotlight.
Because you are a dad.

And that’s better than being a rock star.

🥕🥕🥕

Mama Was a Rock Star by Faith A. Colburn

She starred with big band orchestras in cities along the Eastern Seaboard and around the Great Lakes. Then she married a Nebraska farmer. He moved her to a stark little square house with a hip roof in the middle of a howling wilderness. In less than three years, she ran back to city lights—nightclubs—singing all night. .

But she came back. She adapted to the prairie’s silences and its screaming winds, the outhouse, the washboard, and the tyranny of crops and livestock. She became a better farm wife than many women who grew up on farms—she rocked.

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Caffeinated Rock Star by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Click, click, and click. She scrolled down, drumming her non-mousing hand, as pictures froze and popped at slower than a snail’s pace. Definitely not rocket science, but she had places to go, things to do, people to be. Really, she had to dust her shelves, vacuum her carpet, wash summer dust from her picture window…

And she’d had the coffee—too much—so she HAD to do the things. Her neck clenched.

Before all, she had to change that doofy Facebook profile pic. And the damn thing wouldn’t load.

Finally done! She’d feel like a rock star, except duh!

🥕🥕🥕

Cookie Rock Star by Ann Edall-Robson

The aroma of a busy kitchen lingered. Cookies in all shapes and flavours waited for the taste testers. Each cookie made to fit into a grandchild’s hand. There would be chatter and updates before sampling every morsel on display. Eventually, she would settle into the old rocker. They’d stand beside her, touching the worn wooden arms, rocking her and singing made-up lyrics to favourite tunes. Ending in giggles, and dancing with arms in the air. Today, they added one last line they had somehow practised together.

“Our G…R…A…M…M…Aaaaa is a cooookie roooock starrrrr!”

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Meeting Idols by Matthew Shepherd

‘Hey sweetie. What’s your name?’

‘Nancy.’

Meeting the star whose posters plaster the child’s bedroom prompts a broad grin at odds with her doleful voice.

‘How old are ya, Nancy?’

‘Eight.’

Zeta fills with an urge to hug her beaming fan and is leaning forward when the girl’s mother steps up.

‘Don’t even think about it,’ she snaps. ‘Get your own kid if you want to do that. C’mon Nance, we’re going.’

The crestfallen child turns towards her idol, but Zeta looks away, unable to bear a world with one less smile.

The door slams as Zeta’s face crumples.

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Movin’ It by Norah Colvin

Miss Prim turned from the board just in time to see Max land a punch on Michael.

“Ma-ax!”

“He bumped me.”

Miss Prim sighed. “What were you doing, Michael?”

“Noth—”

“He was rocking the desk again.”

“How many times—”

Without direction, Michael removed himself to sit in the corner. Before long, his feet were twitching, his elbows were pumping and his whole body was squirming.

“Michael!”

Everyone looked.

“Sorry, Miss,” Michael muttered.

But he couldn’t keep still.

Years later, when he was a rock star, Miss Prim said, “I knew he’d make something of himself one day.”

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Ready to Rock by Jomz Ojeda

The noise was deafening, yet he could hear nothing but the loud thumping of his own heart.
Jeffrey was ready.

The stage they were on was small, but the venue was packed. Jeffrey cradled his electric guitar and placed his fingers on the first chord he needed to hit.

He looked up at George, their singer. He was beaming, a smile on his face stretched from ear to ear. George pointed a finger at Mark, their drummer.

Mark pointed back at George with his drumstick, and banged on the drums.

Today they will win the battle of the bands.

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Living Like a Rock Star by Susan Sleggs

OMG being involved with someone famous is hell. I’ve been followed by paparazzi, and can’t go shopping or out to eat with my own mother without security. I can’t buy anything, at any price, without people saying she paid. She wouldn’t date me if I didn’t have my own money. Why didn’t I listen when my friends told me living like a rock star wasn’t going to be all that easy? I’m just realizing, if I can get out of this relationship, I will always be HER ex and it will be years before I’m known as anything else.

🥕🥕🥕

Never Alone by Kelley Farrell

The observatory was dark, giving way to a stunning array of constellations above. These quiet moments with Danny were Maeve’s favorite. Too often she found herself pushed to the side for women giggling like school girls.

She always tried to be nice but sometimes, like during their long awaited reunion dates, she found it hard to be accommodating.

“I love you.” Danny pulled her closer. “Hey, I wanna ask you something.”
“Of course.” Butterflies settled in her stomach. Was this it?
“I wanted to ask …”

A shrill scream cut through the dark.. “Oh my gaawwddd! It is you!”

🥕🥕🥕

Let’s Rock by Joanne Fisher

I’ve always secretly wanted to be a rock star. Strutting my stuff on a stage in front of screaming fans as I do an incandescent guitar solo that drives them all crazy.

In reality I’m rather shy and awkward, and virtually a recluse. I can play a guitar, but not in front of others. Instead I sing along to all my favourite tracks in my bedroom pretending there is an adoring crowd in front of me. That’s probably the closest I’ll ever get.

I’ve always wanted to be a rock star, but I guess quite a few people do…

🥕🥕🥕

Song, for One by Chelsea Owens

I changed my name
You changed your mind…

Linzee squinted at the spotlights. Rows of apathetic audience saw only themselves in her mirrored lenses.

I should’ve listened
When you weren’t kind…

They were philistines, all of them. Uncultured. Uncaring. Still, better than him.

You think I’m all alone;
You think I’m yours to own!

Someone perked up. Another. Linzee strummed the crescendo to the chorus, sunglasses sparking in the rudimentary stage lights.

I shouldn’t’ve told you anything
Except where to shove that ring!

It didn’t matter. Tonight was hers; hers and those few who knew exactly what she sung.

🥕🥕🥕

Rock Star by Floridaborne

We sing to the energy inside a stadium, a concert hall, an empty field where thousands pay a day’s salary to watch us do what we love.

The very rich are revealed through eyes reflecting their abundance and expectations.  Their stance screams out, “I deserve the best.”

Those who scrimped, who saved to pay for this one night stand, drink in the energy of an event that might be the pinnacle of their desperate lives.

We sing for the joy of it, for outside these walls there’s no place we can travel, nowhere we can find anonymity, or peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Always a Rocker by Kerry E.B. Black

A silvery line of droll punctuated the vacant expression that landed David in the locked down unit with nineteen other impared individuals. Once he commanded a tour bus and bested the world’s stages. Now his wheelchair and a disease kept him captive. He stared into private abysses until the activities girl arrived.

From her music player, drums drove a beat. Keyboards provided the backbone. Guitar wailed.

David perked up. He recognized the song. His song.

She sang.

With an anemic voice, a mere ghost of his past, he performed.

The girl patted his shoulder and nodded. “Once a rocker.”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Rock Star by Robert Kirkendall

Young Timmy held a broom horizontally and pantomimed strumming it like a guitar. He moved to the tune inside his head of the latest pop song and pretended he was playing as he wailed out the lyrics best as he could remember them. His mother came across his imaginary guitar virtuosity and beamed maternally.

“Well this is more useful than sweeping,” mother kidded.

Timmy stopped playing. “Someday I’m going to be a rock star!” he proclaimed with unrestrained, youthful enthusiasm.

“Why that’s just splendid, dear!” mother said approvingly. “So what are you going to do for a day job?”

🥕🥕🥕

A Star is Born by Anurag Bakhshi

As I reached the edge of the stage, and saw the crowd, I almost ran back.

I knew how merciless this seemingly innocent crowd could be.

But then, I thought of the adulation that would follow my performance, and my spine stiffened.

I turned around, and marched towards the center of the stage with a swagger.

The crowd immediately fell silent.

But I could sense them getting restless as I fumbled with the mic.

And then, I cleared my throat and started singing, “Baa Baa Black Sheep….”.

And students of Class Nursery-A finally had their very own rock star!

🥕🥕🥕

Rock It! by Anita Dawes

Rock and roll is in my soul
Born kicking and screaming my lungs out
Taking the fast track, music burning with every step
I wanted to find the songs to change the world
One day I would be famous, see my name in lights
I am dirt poor now, but not for long
Odd jobs along the way, I now had my first guitar
My style stood out, too far for some
Sam Phillips gave me my first break
It’s All Right Mama, playing on the radio
There was no stopping me now
I brought Graceland,
Who am I?

🥕🥕🥕

Sister Rosetta by H.R.R. Gorman

Rosetta’s fingers blazed over the fingerboard, twanged the strings with a fire never before seen. She infused a plain instrument with dripping sexual tension and lightning power. Fans clamored at her feet, and her soprano voice carried through the speakers.

The lights went down at the end of the show, and Rosetta made her way backstage. On her way there, a young boy attempted to accost her in the hall. “How do you play like that?”

“Why sugar,” she said, “I practiced and did it ’cause I loved it.” She pinched his cheek. “What’s your name, honey-child?”

“Elvis Presley.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fishin’ by Bill Engleson

‘Course, no one believed Swampdeck.

“Ton ‘a bullcrap,” bellowed Calgary Pete. “Don’t even measure up to bullcrap, I’m thinkin’.”

“Most things don’t,’ I chimed in, lookin’ to contribute.

Swampdeck was insistent. “Saw ‘em. Saw ‘em fly in this mornin’. Stayin’ up at the Lodge. Big as life.”

Fact was, the odd moderately famous person did show up at Cuddles Cove to get away from the agony of glory.

But not him. Too big.

“Knew ya doubting tommyknockers wouldn’t believe me. So, I took a selfie.”

And sure enough, it was faint, but it sure looked like THE BOSS.

🥕🥕🥕

Could’ve Been a Rockstar by Ritu Bhathal

“ROCKSTAR IN MAKING SHOT ON STAGE!”

Minnie wiped a tear from her cheek as she scanned the article on the front page of the local paper.

He had indeed been someone destined for more than a few shifts in the Walmart down the road.

Jamie Smith.

Simple boy, with a talent for playing his guitar and singing.

It was the end of term, and school had its annual talent show.

The audience was held captive, in more than one way.

During his performance, gunmen stormed in, opening fire around the hall.

Jamie was one of the first to fall.

🥕🥕🥕

The Tragic Tale of the Woman Who Shot Andy Warhol by Anne Goodwin

Your mother’s rock, her shining star; you could’ve been a professor, president, you. But you were the seer who saw too much, the dreamer who dreamt her utopia alone. You preached that men grew stiff at the thought of women as stiffs, and peddled your thesis to addicts and whores. Childhood, drugs, poverty and patriarchy drove you crazy, yet you were the only sane one in the room. You could’ve been someone. You could’ve been a rock star. But a black hole swallowed your prospects and talent when you put a hole in the body of a famous man.

🥕🥕🥕

Worship by Reena Saxena

He appeared on pages that mattered, donated to the right charities, got invited to all prominent do’s. The PR was perfect, more than his business was.

But all was not well in La-La land. Debts had been mounting. Financial institutions were not willing to lend any more.

Then… newspapers flashed news of his suicide. The suicide note blamed banks and tax authorities of harassment. The sympathy wave did not stop to think that tax evasion and default is not honest. The image he had so carefully built could over-ride logic.

A painstakingly carved out rock star, even in death…

🥕🥕🥕

A Flash of Fiction by JulesPaige

“Is not!”

“Is so!”

“Out, the bus is coming…Love, you,” I say.

I hear the children arguing. “It’s mine!” They bicker. Then, they get on the school bus. For a few hours I’m free. I can turn the radio on and while vacuuming I can feel like a rock star. I can sing at the top of my lungs while dancing. Take that Mrs. Nosey McGillicutty.

I’ll drink my carbonated soda pretending I’m drinking champagne at some local gala that is honoring my accomplishments. Too soon the end of the school day will come to burst my bubble.

🥕🥕🥕

My Rockstar! by Ruchira Khanna

One unforgettable torrid evening, I get unexpected news from my brother, “She is no more!”

I grew numb at first then shouted and cried relentlessly.

‘How can this be? She had promised to visit me in a few months.’ I murmured while I tried to make sense of the news.

‘Who shall give me priceless advise when I’m low and down?’

After a lot of sobbing and contemplation, I came to peace with the news that my rockstar, aka my mom, has left me for heavenly abode.

🥕🥕🥕

Stars of the Future (Lynn Valley) by Saifun Hassam

At the Farmers Market, Hannah and the other local chefs were serving a special luncheon today. Live music from the Lynn Valley High Rock and Jazz Band echoed around the Market. Hannah knew the stars of the day had arrived.

Jessica and Hannah grinned at each other. Jessica was the teacher in charge of the Rock and Jazz Band. Time for the celebration! The twenty students were totally surprised as Jessica and Hannah unfurled a huge banner:

“Welcome future stars! Thank you for your help!”

The students’ benefit concerts for the Children’s Learning Center had been very successful indeed.

🥕🥕🥕

A Star in the Rock – 1720 by Gordon Le Pard – The Curious Archaeologist

“Professor, this rock has a star on it.”
“Wonderful, another of these marvellous stones.”
“But don’t you think it looks as if it has been carved by hand?”
“Indeed it does, the hand of God. My theories about the nature of fossils are proved, I must write the book immediately.”

The conspirators were delighted.
“If he publishes he will be laughed at across Europe. We will be revenged.”
“But what if we are discovered? Already the stonecutter wants more money.”
“Don’t worry, he will lose his place in the University and we will be safe.”
They were very wrong.

🥕🥕🥕

Geology 101 by Nancy Brady

Dr. Wright taught geology. It was his passion; it was his life. He loved his subject, teaching college students the rudimentary elements of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. He taught them how mountains formed, about the shifting of fault lines, and about volcanic lava forming scoria and obsidian as it spewed forth from inside the earth.

At the end of the quarter, he took his students on a field trip to one of the local quarries. He handed them all tiny bottles of hydrochloric acid which reacted with the sedimentary rock, limestone.

This geologist truly was a rock star.

🥕🥕🥕

Rock Star in a Barn (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Jukebox Hero” blasted from Danni’s speakers. She structured her barn to be her lab – a place to clean, catalog, and store artifacts. It was no University sanctum. Even the small budget she once had as a grad student in Pullman, Washington dwarfed her western set-up. But she used the space efficiently. She trained Ike’s family to save meat trays for her, and she scoured yard sales and free piles for anything useful. Like the bathroom cupboards some homeowner was throwing away. It formed a washing station. The freedom her own space produced made Danni feel like a rock star.

🥕🥕🥕

Shining Bright by JulesPaige

The rock stars are the volunteers who help those who are recovering. Children and women are the most abused. And there is a project bringing awareness to this plight. “One Million Stars to End Violence” a project of PERAK WOMEN FOR WOMEN SOCIETY”

I watched the video and made some ribbon stars of various colors and sizes. And I mailed them off to Malaysia. It took about two weeks in a flat rate envelope for them to arrive. My friend posted photos of them on her blog site. …I hope for more than one day the cause remains highlighted.

🥕🥕🥕

Karaoke Is Not Your Friend by tracey

Lisa’s friends nudged her and told her it was her turn. She gulped down the rest of her drink and as she stood up the floor tilted underneath her. She gently touched people’s shoulders for balance as she made her way to the stage.

She belted out “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”. “I sound just like Pat Benatar,” she thought. She finished to a thunderous ovation, people laughing and clapping. “I am a rock star!” she yelled as she left the stage. She continued to feel that way, at least until she saw the video the next day.

🥕🥕🥕

CenterStage by D. Avery

“Why not, Marge? You guys always pick, always either the same old pub or Nathan’s. Kristof wants to go to that karaoke place. Besides, it could be fun, we can pick on the wannabe singers.”

“Ok, Nard. I’ll let Ilene and Lloyd know.”

“No way, you two. You’re not going if you intend to pick on the participants.”

“Come on, Kristof, they’re always funny. Up there butchering good songs, strutting their rock and roll fantasies for all to see.

Fair game. Price of rock’n’roll. Besides, what do you care?”

“I care because I’ll be taking the stage. *Rocket Man*.”

🥕🥕🥕

Straight Shootin’ Stars; or Fortune and Fame is Fer the Byrds by D. Avery

“Pal, ya ever wanna be a rock’n’roll star? Git yerself an electric guitar, take some time an’ learn how to play?”

“No, Kid I ain’t. Always bin content right here, jist doin’ my ranch chores.”

“I know it’s last week’s prompt, but really, not even for one day?”

“Nope. Never wanted ta be a jukebox hero. The only stars in my eyes is these ones sparklin’ at night.”

“I s’pose yer right. I mean, what ya’d pay for yer riches and fame; sech a strange game, a little insane.”

“Yep. Them’s shootin’ stars. Here there’s rising stars, burnin’ bright.”

🥕🥕🥕

 

For One Day

We never know what magnificent moment might be around the corner, what unexpected development, or devastating turn of events. Like an ephemeral sun-dog or a once-in-a-lifetime hatch, what happens in a day can last a lifetime with memories and ramifications.

Writers chased the tail of such singular days. From the deep well of human kindness to the reaches of alien portals, this collection brims with a parcel of memorable days.

The following stories are based on the July 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase “for one day.”

PART I (10-minute read)

Pandemic by Norah Colvin
It started slowly. First an outbreak in a school in central Australia, barely newsworthy. Then another in South America. A post on social media drew a few views but was largely ignored. When a third occurred in Western Europe, reports flooded news services. Soon, small isolated pockets erupted on every continent, and they multiplied and spread. The touch of a hand, a pat on a shoulder, the nod of a head, a brush of lips, the trace of a smile; all were infectious. The contagion was rampant. Random acts of kindness proliferated, and unbridled bursts of joy exploded everywhere.

🥕🥕🥕

My Darling by JulesPaige

My Darling,

When will it end? Can the world be still? Must it fluctuate. Is it my task to prove that even for one day, I am not crazy? Must I always fight going up the falls? Am I to be known as the Corpse Flower, and not a red rose? Must I always defend my territory as the loon, and lose my chick in the process?

spirit and soul; one
together within the skin
shakes, seeks acceptance

I am not a conformer. I am a creator. And I was lonely until I met you.

Love, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

🥕🥕🥕

Wishful Thinking by Goldie

That night Bill laid in bed and prayed: “If she would only stop nagging. Even for one day. God, just one day. It’s all I need. One day without her nagging.”

When morning came, the sound of silence penetrated his ears. Usually, he would hear clinking dishes and what he always thought was purposeful – Angela slamming pots and pans against one another.

Bill turned to his right.

Her lips blue. Her body cold.

“Noooooo” – he screamed into the heavens with deep sorrow.

An eternity without her nagging.

An eternity without her love.

He got more than he bargained for.

🥕🥕🥕

Driving Home D. Avery

The billboards were his wife’s idea. So many truckers and tourists saw those signs. How many knew anything about the pictured boy?

He knew. He was one of the commuters that drove by them everyday. But if after work he took the back roads to the tavern he could miss one of the signs completely. And if he stayed late he’d not notice the others.

But always was that smaller sign. “Let’s remember Adam.” Right there at the end of the driveway. Right there.

How he wished that even for one day he could forget. He ordered another drink.

🥕🥕🥕

I Wish………….. by Di @ pensitivity101

Let me turn back time,
Reset the clock for One Day,
That day when I lost you.
I never said the words I should,
Never held you,
Kissed you goodbye,
Or told you I loved you.
And now it is too late.
Too late for you,
But not for others.
I am not afraid
To say what I feel,
Hold someone close,
Breathe in their essence,
Feel their heartbeat parallel to mine.
But for you,
I would not do these things.
In passing,
I realised what was important.
I would dearly love
To have you back.
For one day.

🥕🥕🥕

For a Day by Kerry E.B. Black

A toddler plied her mother with questions at a check-out line as the mother stacked goods onto the conveyor. Another toddler sat in the next cart in line, limp-legged and watchful. “You have such a sweet baby,” the harried mother said to her line-neighbor. “Mine won’t shut up. I wish I could have silence for just one day.” She chuckled darkly and turned when the cashier asked, “Paper or plastic?” without noticing the grimace on the mother-behind-her’s face.

That mother’s child was born mute, and how she longed to hear even one word from her child. Even just one.

🥕🥕🥕

For One Day by Susan Zutautas

Daydreaming about my mother is something I do quite often. What was she like, how did she smell, what would it have been like to have her with me other than for just a few short years?

My mind started wandering and for one day I had her all to myself. My emotions got the best of me and through tears of joy I embraced every moment. The love I felt was like no other.

We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we never wanted the day to end.

Although this is only daydreaming, I often return to this day.

🥕🥕🥕

Superior D. Avery

On this day Lady Lake is calm, her waves a soothing song, a gentle caress. On this day raging storms and surging ice are as distant as the hazy horizon. On the sun warmed rocks that pave the beach, I pick seven from among the millions and millions of smooth stones to build a small cairn. The stones, the seven and the millions, indulge me, and with them I laugh at myself, at this ridiculously human endeavor. I listen for the ancient stories of these water-worn stones. My labors won’t last but this cairn might stand for a day.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tail of Two Cats by Nancy Brady

Bearcat, my black cat with just a touch of white on her chest, was a few months shy of twenty-two years when she died in my arms.

Flash, our calico with an attitude, was eighteen years when finally she lapsed into a coma and passed away.

Neither of them was particularly happy to have other cats around; they both preferred to be the only cat in the house.

Bear died on April 5, 2001, and Flash was born on that same date. For one day, their lives briefly overlapped; while they never met each other, they certainly owned us.

🥕🥕🥕

30 by H .R. Hardman

I was twenty-nine for one day more. Tomorrow, I’d hit the big three-O. My family had planned a surprise party. I had half a mind not to turn up. I’d get on a plane, the next flight to anywhere and have a holiday alone.

But that would upset so many people and all the money and effort everyone had put in. Perhaps, I would enjoy it more then I thought? I don’t know, there is something unwanted about birthdays when you are an adult but it’s an inescapable part of life, so it might as well be enjoyed.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunday by TN Kerr

Rita tucked her hair behind her ears, sipped her coffee and turned ‘The Times’ to read below the fold.

“Mark,” she asked her husband, “if you could do, or be anything for one day; what would you do or be?”

“I don’t know, dear but it would probably involve sex or food. Why?”

“I’d want to be queen.”

“Queen for a day? Like that old television show?” Mark looked up at her.

“Uh huh,” she said, “and, I freed a genie from an old lava lamp at Goodson’s Antique’s yesterday. My day is Sunday.”

🥕🥕🥕

Consumption Function by Jo Hawk

9098195663 gaped at his screen.

“See this?” he asked.

But 2207344907 contemplated a different image.

“This is interesting,” 2207344907 murmured, ignoring 9098195663.

Her finger touched the ‘Buy Now’ button. Was it a good selection? Her days were exhausting, constant pressure, endless images, never-ending decisions.

“No, 2207344907. Look. Now,” 9098195663’s voice rose as he spoke.

“It says ‘for one day only’. I haven’t seen that.”

2207344907 peeked at his screen and navigated hers to the same image. It was true. She could not believe their luck. She and 9098195663 slammed the ‘Buy Now’ button until they bought the last one.

🥕🥕🥕

Invasion by Joanne Fisher

Luckily I was there in the middle of the city at the precise moment when a portal from another dimension opened up. Out came these tall creatures with tentacles and rubbery skin. They looked at me with eyes that were coldly arrogant and inhuman. As I was a sorceress I used what powers I had to push them back through the portal and then closed it shut. The entire city celebrated the victory, but our revelry only lasted for one day.

The next day more portals began opening up everywhere and these alien creatures marched out in overwhelming numbers.

🥕🥕🥕

Monochrome by The Dark Netizen

Monochromes. That was the name given to us.

It was more of a label than a name, because names were reserved for humans. We were just animals in a cage. The regular humans casted us out from the society and gave us our separate quarters. We were not allowed to interact with the regulars lest we steal their colours. If only they understood that we never chose to be this way. We never wished for a colourless life. It is my dream to become a regular human, even if for one day.

Just once, to live a normal day…

🥕🥕🥕

For One Day by Ann Edall-Robson

For one day the sun rises
Oranges, reds, greys, and black
Filtering through the trees
Peeking over the ridge

For one day the wind blows
Caressing rosy porcelain cheeks
Tousling fringes to au naturel
Rambling carelessly among leaves

For one day the creek talks
Quiet, soothing, tender words
A journey of abandoned vigour
Chattering with rocks and eddies

For one day the moon hovers
Draping light shards across water
While stars dance through indigo
Twinkling to a kindred song

For one day there will be tenderness
Propelled by devoted moments
Perhaps rapture awaits
For one day when love evolves

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

One Spring Day (Crater Lakes Habitat) by Saifun Hassam

In spring the salt marshes and woodlands around Green and Lizard Lakes were alive with nesting birds. Jeff was excited when a flock of Canada geese arrived at Green Lake. They were rare visitors. He set up one vidcam at Green Lake and texted Carmen to set up another one at Lizard Lake.

The geese stayed for one day and with great fanfare flew away in the late afternoon. The videos showed songbirds whizzing across Green Lake. Hawks circled muddy Lizard Lake. A heron waded along the shores. Jeff saw the lakes from a new perspective, a bird sanctuary.

🥕🥕🥕

Just for a Day by Anita Dawes

We feed the swans at our local park.
You can walk around the pond.
In the past, we watched their eggs hatch,
today, I picked up a duck feather.
I sat twirling it between my fingers,
closed my eyes. Just for a moment,
I could see sun shining through my shell.
Does that mean I am ready to meet the world?
I pecked, broke my way out. Let me tell you,
lying inside, growing feathers
must be like humans growing teeth. Sharp, itchy.
Just for a day I felt like a duck,
as my webbed feet hit the water…

🥕🥕🥕

The Ugly Duckling Bites Back by Ritu Bhathal

I’ve spent my life in her shadow; the beautiful sister, tall, willowy, popular.

And me, well, I’m just me. Plain, average in every way, and described as ‘nice’.

But not today.

Today is my day.

I was the one who managed to find a lovely lad.

I was the one proposed to at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

I am the one looking at my reflection in the mirror today, unable to recognise the princess that stands here in my place.

I am the bride walking down the aisle.

For one day, all eyes will be on me.

🥕🥕🥕

Loony Tunes – Or the Dangers of Processed Food by Anurag Bakhshi

“You might be a loon,” I shouted at my daughter, “but could you please avoid acting loony for one day?”

“But Mommy…” my daughter started off, but I stopped her mid-sentence.

“How many times have I told you to keep away from processed foods?” I asked rhetorically.

“19,418 times,” she replied irritatingly, but accurately.

I continued my tirade, “I know they’re tasty, but they’re equally deadly.”

“But Mommy, don’t you think you could have explained this to him a bit more calmly?” she replied, pointing towards the mangled body of the human who’d just tried to feed her a bagel.

🥕🥕🥕

Retail Therapy by Sally Cronin

The slinky red dress in the window of the boutique caught her eye as she trudged home from work, laden with groceries and the burden of the day. There was a sign beneath the ravishingly daring and crimson outfit.

For one day only, half price. Dress as the woman you’ve always wanted to be.

In her case that would be the woman she used to be. She looked at her reflection in the window. Greying hair, dowdy clothes and weariness etched on her face. She pushed open the door to the shop taking the first step to her rejuvenation.

🥕🥕🥕

For One Day by tracey

Kate lies in bed listening to the quiet. The boys are off on a fishing trip. Laundry and groceries flit across her mind. And then, what if for one day she did only what she wanted to do? She breathes deep, does she dare?

In the shower she contemplates and discards options. Then the answer arrives.

She throws her journal, sketchbook and pencils in her backpack. She stops at the cute corner café she always wanted to try and requests a box lunch: “Surprise me,” she says. She heads toward the river, hiking until she finds solitude. Tranquility. Herself.

🥕🥕🥕

One More Day by Chelsea Owens

Smoky, slatted sunlight lay in lines across the staring face. Soon, only a muted glowing shone there as the associated hand pulled the blinds closed again. *Snap*

He’d said he’d be different; for one more day. That had been a gigantic step, vocalizing. Into the dark of night and mind he’d stood and whispered, “Tomorrow, I go out.”

A laugh escaped the lips. Whose, he did not know; but then, he did. A distant memory of non-lined sunlight views and happier company than his own filtered to recollection.

Then; he was sure he’d laughed. Then; she had, too.

🥕🥕🥕

I Promise by H.R.R. Gorman

The spoon is hot, sterile, bent to give me the best angle. The needle is sharp – it’s new, straight from the packaging, not something I get every day.

“You don’t have to do this.”

I shake off that inner critic, that Jiminy Cricket that always chokes me with guilt. It wasn’t my fault I had back pain in 2005 and was overprescribed. It couldn’t help my kids left as soon as they turned 18. I didn’t mean for this to happen.

I promised this was my last hit. I’d take this dose and, just for one day, everything would feel better.

🥕🥕🥕

Independence Day by Anne Goodwin

For one day, Britons will feel great again, commemorating deliverance from fronceys and krauts. For one day, Nelson’s peers will admire him, as he steers the procession through flag-waving crowds. For one day, security will slacken at the borders, and Rommel’s determined to defect.

“Come with me, Nelson. You’ll die at Bootcamp if you don’t.”

Rommel’s dad can’t influence the Ministry. Rommel’s dad can’t trust him to infiltrate a traitors’ ring. When Nelson learns his dad’s limitations, he’s already jeopardised his friends.

For one day, Nelson must rise above his terrors. One day, one chance to save his skin.

🥕🥕🥕

The Crumb’s Obituary by M J Mallon

For one day I crave silence.

Your words crush my soul making me weep. Your tongue is bitter, cruel and relentless, it pokes fun at my crawling. I must do as you please, surrendering to your every whim.

‘Look at this,’ you say, scowling.

I move towards it, this lonely crumb which sits on the kitchen surface begging for forgiveness.

‘Oops,’ I respond, trembling.

‘Dear God. You’re multiplying ant – look at the state of this place.’

I step back waiting for him to strike.

Instead, his thumb bears down on the tiny crumb and crushes it to death.

🥕🥕🥕

For One Day by Janice Golay

I will exist for one day. That’s it, my destiny and my biology. I awake with shy petals folded inward, hugging my center. Gradually light and warmth encourage me to unfurl, peering at what the world offers on this unique day: watercolor blue up above, soft breezes inviting me to sway in slow waltz time; a quick touch from a bumblebee, a tentative glance from a monarch.

I avoid human grasp and am saved from premature death. Just let me end my day’s life naturally, peacefully, with petals dry, stem a-droop, content to have lived fully for one day.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire and False Hope (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

For one day, the crew held back the advancing fire. Danni dropped onto her sleeping bag, boots still on her feet, proud that she had shoveled in a way archeologists seldom do. They worked hard and deterred the fire with their break. Sometime during the night, the wind kicked up, and a chill woke Danni. Stretching, she groggily left the tent to refill her water bottle. The skyline glowed with orange flames, trees exploded, shooting embers the wind carried across the break. For one day, they saved their community from burning in hell. Now it was time to evacuate.

🥕🥕🥕

Lost and Found by Tien Skye

For one day, he wished he could hear that familiar voice again.

The voice he knew so well, the deep baritone which aged into higher pitch over the years. By the time he married, his father’s voice had thinned out.

Death robbed him of his father’s voice; fire robbed him a second time as it swallowed everything.

He stood in front of what was left behind, himself and his wife included.

“Oh boy, what happened?” that laughing voice sounded out.

He thought he was seven again; his wife had saved the audio recording of his father’s voice.

He cried.

🥕🥕🥕

For One Day by Dave M. Madden

Stan had consumed every self-help book the store he frequented often could offer.

The problem didn’t have anything to do with his actions; in fact, he sought assistance from outside resources because of the lacking action.

As an aspiring writer, he locked all the suggestions offered by others into memory: unplug from all your devices, read more, write down your goals, go for a walk, go observe some people in public, and talk with someone about what’s on your mind were some of his favorites.

He just kept waiting for one day when the advice began working.

🥕🥕🥕

What’s in a Name by D. Avery

“Pal, I been thinkin’.”

“Uh-oh.”

“Thinkin’ we gotta hep Shorty rethink this ‘flash fiction’ term. Seems the only rule she keeps is the 99 words no more no less part. But there’s BOTS an’ poetry an’ creative non-fiction. Heck, if all Shorty cares about’s them 99 words, flash (italics) fiction’s (end) a might misleadin’.”

“So what would you call it?”

“Well, if it’s a short form of literary art she’s after, (italics) shlit (end) covers it. Pepe suggests (italics) l’shart. (end)”

“Jeez, Kid! Git some class. Who’s Pepe?”

“Pepe LeGume. A real character.”

“Dang. Thought LeGume was jist for one day.”

“Nope. Legume’s a repeater.”

🥕🥕🥕

Call for a Totem Pole by D. Avery

“Dunno, Kid. Got a not so fresh feelin’ ‘bout this Le’Gume character. Where’s he from?”

“Be a close reader, Pal. Shorty an’ D. Avery picked him up along the way.”

“Read betwixt the lines, Kid. Pepe Le’Gume’s somethin’ they passed along the way.”

“Don’t matter. Le’Gume is fulla beans, poppin’ with ideas. Could be a handy ranch hand.”

“Don’t want him lingerin’.”

“Lighten up Pal. Jest deal with the hand ya’ve smelt.”

“So what’s one a his ideas?”

“Buckaroo Nation totem pole! Koalas, unicorns, ravens, longhorns…”

“Thet idea don’t stink. Kin he carve?”

“Reckon he kin cut a log.”

🥕🥕🥕

Koala in the Kingdom

A koala arrived at Carrot Ranch World Headquarters by post from Australia in time to take a trip out to the first Carrot Ranch Nature Writing Refuge in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. This critter made the rounds and connected the international writing community that hangs out at the Ranch.

Writers had two weeks to ponder a koala and a kingdom. Where would it lead? As always, each writer followed the prompt.

The following are based on the July 11, 2019, prompt: “My kingdom for a koala!” In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom.

Koala in the Kingdom by Charli Mills

Koala jangled plastic hips when the morning sun hit her solar panels. She danced with a big grin while three loons circled in a pattern like a watery Celtic knot. She guarded the birding binoculars from her book perch beneath wildflowers. Koala stood in a mound of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, watching the Lead Buckaroo sneak bites when she was supposed to be fixing dinner. Koala smiled when the card from her Australian writer connected the gathered Ranchers from the Kingdom to Down Under. In 99-words, no more, no less, Koala bore witness to literary art and writerly friendships.

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The Koala’s Picnic by Susan Zutautas

“The wombats are coming, Mama,” said joey koala all excited after waking up from his nap.

“Yes, they are dear now would you help me set up the picnic table for the feast.”

“When are they going to get here mama?”

“They should be here shortly. They move much faster than we’re able, so I’d say sooner than later.”

“Here put this plate of tussock beside the eucalyptus leaves and then we’re going to tidy up before everyone gets here.”

When the wombats arrived they all mulled around the picnic table enjoying the food before starting to play games.

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Surprise Party for a Koala by Norah Colvin

BANG! BANG! BANG!

Little Koala’s eyes pinged open.

There it was again. BANG! BANG!

She stretched, clambered down the tree and headed towards the noise.

She stopped under possum’s tree and peered into the branches.

“What’s going on here?”

Possum peeked out, glancing left and right. “Nothing.”

“Tell me!”

“Nothing. Go away.”

Koala scrambled up the tree. “What’re you doing?”

Possum grimaced, pointing to a sign.

“You know I can’t read yet.”

Possum placed a crown on Koala’s head. “It was supposed to be a surprise. Happy birthday.”

Koala felt special as a princess when all her friends arrived.

🥕🥕🥕

My Spirit Animal by Goldie

Visiting Australia and NOT seeing koalas? A travesty.

“The koala’s been sleeping all day” – the caretaker said as soon as we entered the exhibit.

A sleeping marsupial meant no good pictures.

We approached not knowing what to expect.

“Oh, he’s up! You guys are lucky” – said the caretaker enthusiastically.

The koala’s black, beady eyes met mine.

Time froze.

Jonah whistled and Dot – the kangaroo hopped on over.

“Get in!” – Jonah motioned for me to get inside Dot’s pouch with him and I swiftly obeyed.

We went around the zoo, meeting every animal in there.

Ah, the eucalyptus haze…

🥕🥕🥕

Up to here with Koalas by Bill Engleson

Aussie stuff’s ringing out loud and clear today.

An Australia bound Air Canada hits a vortex and plummets’ down.

Or up.

It returns to the nearest land.

Honolulu.

Two day earlier, I wheeled a wheelbarrow of scrap, crap wood and punctured skin. I go to the Doctor for an infected hand.

He gives me some Australian Papaw Gel.

Charli posts “My Kingdom for a Koala.”

My Kingdom, such as it is, a little ratty by regal standards, is overflowing with Australian minutae.

Then I remember that my cousin once got deported.

Weed, eh!

Koalas!

Cute, maybe, but unbearably pushy.

🥕🥕🥕

Princess Koala at the Kingdom Diner by Sascha Darlington

Small town America. Ya gotta love it. I try to, although they don’t understand me or my humor.

But he gets me.

From the moment he strode into the Kingdom Diner, his motorcycle boots heavy on the wood floor, and settled on a stool, his crystalline blue eyes searing through me, I knew.

“What can I get you?” I asked.

He grinned the grin of a kid with an ice cream cone.

“Australian?”

I nodded.

“Koala cutie.”

I bristled.

“I love koalas,” he added as if that would solve everything.

Arms across chest, I glared.

“Can I start over?”

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Koala’s Kingdom by Ritu Bhathal

A parcel had arrived, covered with Australian postmarks.

‘Oh, how thoughtful,’ Ritu smiled at the generosity of her cousins.

The baby was only a few weeks old, and a package rammed full of gifts for her and her son had been sent to her.

Books, clothes, little fur boots, and a tiny koala for baby to snuggle with.

Soon his cot became crowded with soft toys, so Ritu had to move them.

A small hammock was constructed where the myriad toys sat, with Koala right at the front.

He was totally happy, high up, able to survey his kingdom.

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Koala Kingdom by Kerry E.B. Black

Beth retreated into her imaginings where her stuffed koala reigned and she served as his loyal subject.

There, nobody ridiculed her childish ways or belittled her stuttered speech. There, she read beautifully, and the court gathered from miles away to hear her recitations. They applauded and admired instead of laughed and tormented.

Beth labored over tongue placement to produce the correct sounds, to please her liege. She calmed her voicebox and sing-songed to get by difficult passages and emulate her dream self.

Beth’s mother listened from the doorway as Beth’s articulation improved with each session in the Koala Kingdom.

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Koalas by Floridaborne

Do koala’s have migraines?  If they do, I don’t want a koala.  But why would I want to transport a creature made for Australia to Florida?  What a cruel thing to do.

My daughter used to have a toy koala she hugged at night.  Perhaps she’d give her kingdom to have her koali back?

I’d give my kingdom just to go back in time for a day, when she was five years old, to give innocence and her koali one last hug.

I wonder when the pain is going to go away, and if a migraine is Satan’s plaything.

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Kingdom in a Twist by Geoff Le Pard

‘They’re updating Shakespeare’s Richard III. He’s no longer the baddy.’

‘A modern setting?’

‘I suppose.’

‘Somewhere with unspeakably awful politicians?’

‘Australia?’

‘They’re just called silly names like flymo. No, the US. You’ve warring houses, a King who’s
pretty bloody awful…’

‘He’s not got a twisted spine.’

‘His mind is pretty bent.’

‘You’d need to rewrite some of the language.’

‘The battle scene could be in front of the Lincoln Memorial, old Rughead on his knees pleading with Fox News for their help. “My kingdom for a cola.’

‘Unless it was in Oz. Then it’d be “my kingdom for a …’

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A Kingdom for a Koala by Norah Colvin

“Bring me a koala!” The king bellowed, sending servants scuttling.

His zoo was complete with all, except a koala. The omission stoked his anger daily. He wouldn’t accept that his destruction of eucalypt forests had decimated their population.

From the shadows came a tiny voice. “What will you give for a koala?”

“Anything!”

“Your kingdom?’

“Yes, my kingdom! Anything! Just get me a koala.”

“I have a koala. First, your sceptre and your kingdom.”

Blinded by rage and desire, the king complied.

The koala removed her mask. The king gloated pre-emptively.

“Throw him into the dungeon. Free the animals!”

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Crisis in Ucalypta by Abhijit Ray

Staring at the distant horizon, His Majesty Ucalypton X, the king of Ucalypta, appeared helpless. His only son was unwell.

“Your majesty!” pronounced the royal physician, “procure me eucalyptus leaves.”

The King had despatched the royal mule train under leadership of his trusted general.

“You returned alone?” an anxious king met his emissary at the palace gate, “where are the eucalyptus leaves?”

“Forgive me, your majesty, I have failed,” pleaded the general, “koala bears have feasted on eucalyptus leaves during mating season.”

“No Koala to be seen in the kingdom of Ucalypta,” pronounced the royal edict, “koala for a prince.”

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The Koala Kingdom by Miriam Hurdle

“Welcome to the Round Table. The top agenda today is on Koala.”

“We had that six months ago.”

“I’ve met with Koala King. His concerns are about the millions of acres of their kingdom being destroyed.”

“By the developers for housing?”

“And the wildfires too. There’re no consistent legislation or adequate resources from the government to protect them.”

“What do we do?”

“The researchers suggested upgrading the Koala status from Vulnerable to Endangered. We’ll recommend that the government declaring the Koala habitat a sanctuary.”

“Yes, the Koala Foundations will jointly go to the government for securing the Koala Kingdom.”

🥕🥕🥕

In the Greenwood Kingdom by JulesPaige

Sheila Koala took a walkabout in a different outback. She needed a solar recharge… she wondered if even the coming full moon would be enough to allow her to dance with all the words she was planning to pen to paper. Just imagining how to listen to the wild strawberries and decode the lightning bugs, and luxuriate in the loons compelling call… this is a strange new world.

At the waterfall the sun not quite out, the trail slick from the previous days rain. Moss was growing brown veined white quartz. These are things that would also help renewal.

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Koala by Anita Dawes

Mr Tom had walked for miles today
Looking for somewhere to call his own
Not easy, on short koala legs
His journey made longer by
The amount of time needed for sleep
A good eight hours is not good enough for Mr Tom
More like twenty is needed
This kingdom of eucalyptus trees
Had better be the best in the land,
He told himself.
He settled down for a spot of lunch
Then dreamily drifted off into sleep
He dreamt of his friends at the wildlife park
Upon waking, he realised his kingdom
was waiting back there all along…

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The Two Koalas by Paula Puolakka

She was born in the year of the Koala (so did the new wave Japanese astrology hippies say,) and so was her son. Together they went everywhere, the tender mom and son, and teasingly she called him “Bubba,” but he replied, every time, “I am not your Bubba, but you are my momma,” and together they laughed.

Their kingdom was the God-given world. They loved the flowers, ancient trees, and the lakes, but unfortunately, many of their favorite places were violated by the aggressive building projects.

Yet, wherever the two went, people said: “Their Koala kingdom is the best.”

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A Gift Fit for Royalty by Anurag Bakhshi

The raucous court of the Emperor went deathly quiet as I walked in.

The Princess, sitting next to her father, squealed with delight and ran up to me.

“I thought they’d gone extinct…” she cried out, looking at the cute and cuddly bundle of joy that I was holding.

“Apparently not, Your Highness, I found this wandering in the forest,” I replied.

“What should I call it?” the Princess wondered excitedly.

“I believe the humans used to call it a baby, Your Highness,” I answered with a smile, as the Koala Princess almost snatched her gift from my arms.

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Peace of Mind by Susan Sleggs

When young I could stare at lake water long spans of time noticing the passing boats, the size of or lack of white caps, or a splash made by a fish jumping to catch its supper. Often there would be just the surface to watch; the ripples changing direction with the breezes. This past week I got to do the same in an unfamiliar, beautiful location. I again experienced a peace of mind, free of all other thought. I wonder if it’s the same peace a koala might experience in its kingdom in the tops of a eucalyptus tree.

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Jill the Pirate and the Koala King by Joanne Fisher

Jill the fearsome pirate girl landed on the island. All she could see was sand and palm trees.

“Who are you?” Asked a voice.

Jill looked up to see a koala in the palm tree.

“My name is Jill the Pirate and I’m searching for treasure!” Jill declared holding up a piece of paper. “And who are you?”

“I’m Jack. The king of this island.” Jack replied.

“I didn’t know this island had a king.” Jill replied.

“Jill where are you? Lunch is ready!” Jill’s mother called out.

Jill quickly grabbed her stuffed toy koala and ran for home.

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A Midsummer Night’s Teddy Bear’s Picnic by Anne Goodwin

Reaching the clearing, we unpacked the hamper, while the girls danced their teddies around the fairy ring. In the balmy twilight, it couldn’t have been more magical if we’d staged it. If we’d already popped the champagne.

“The forest looks different.” Bean-pole trees, peeling blue-grey alligator bark.

“It smells different.” Like an antiseptic spray.

“It sounds different.” Like a gargling bull.

“That teddy’s climbing the tree!”

“That one’s eating it!”

“So cute! Can we take one home?”

The girls didn’t know about the diagnosis. We’d come to make memories; finding Koala Kingdom ensured she’d live on in their minds.

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The Encyclopedia Kingdom by Nancy Brady

Julie loved picking up random volumes of the encyclopedia, discovering new animals. It was there that she found entries for wombats and koalas. Both were from Australia, but she’d probably only see them in pictures.

One Christmas, however, she saw a Moore’s ad with a stuffed koala bear on sale, ninety-nine cents. She circled it and hoped the hint would be taken.

On Christmas morning, Julie was excited to open a package containing the little koala. It looked less like the pictures, but she was happy.

Years later, she saw koalas at the Cleveland Zoo. Wombats? Fingers still crossed.

🥕🥕🥕

So Hot by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Sweat slid down between her breasts, over her taut belly, dipping into her round navel and dampening the fabric of her summer shorts. Her sports bra was soaked, unable to absorb more sweet summer effusions.

After having mowed the lawn in 80% humidity, there were plenty.

She tipped her head back and downed the last of her water bottle, shaking it for the final shivering drops. Leaning back on the cement stoop, she peered at her boyfriend, Ted, sipping an icy Koala Cooler.

“I’m parched, Ted. My Kingdom for a Koala!”

Waggling his brows, he tossed her a bottle.

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Koala Range by Ann Edall-Robson

Mac stood leaning on the fence, one foot resting on the bottom rail. He came here when he needed to think without interruption from humans. This was the pasture the retired horses were turned out in to enjoy the rest of their days, the old-timer’s kingdom. A tradition his grandfather had started, and one Mac was happy to carry on.

“Remember son, you never turn your back on the ones that made you the man you are.”

A soft nose pushed at his hand looking for a treat. Mac’s favourite gelding waited for attention.

“Here you go, Koala.”

🥕🥕🥕

Grin and Bear It by Roger Shipp

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through my house … all seven grandchildren were racing up and down my back stairs like little rats.

The tree was up (I keep it up year round. Yes, I’m one of those…) and the lights were blinking.

This year, each family member was to bring a small bear.

We sipped warn cider with toffee cookies as we each told our story and placed our treasure upon the tree. Collectibles… Grizzlies… Polar…and Teddies.

Emma Sue, the youngest, always wanted to go last.

“Two-for-one, Grandma,” as she hung a beautiful koala and child.

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Dreamtime (Crater Lakes) by Saifun Hassam

From the eucalyptus pole at the Ranger’s old cabin, Koala can see Green Lake. Her fluffy ears are perked up, enjoying the calls of spring songbirds in the salt marshes. Her sharp claws grasp the pole, ready to climb to the upper curving branches on hot summer days.

Fall approaches. In Dreamtime she sleeps in eucalyptus woodlands in rain and wind. Green Lake woodlands turn bright with red, orange and yellow leaves. Koala hears the gentle whinny of a horse, senses the friendly park ranger checking the cabin. She dreams of crossing a vast sea, to a vast island.

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Fascinating Stories From Science – I by TN Kerr

Scientists from the Kingdom of Australia are reporting that the marsupial species known as Thylarctos plummetus, commonly called ‘dropbears,’ and previously believed extinct, are thriving in the forested regions of eastern and southern Australia. The Australian Museum describes these creatures as “predatory marsupials related to koalas.”

Little is known about dropbears, to date, as they have only recently been rediscovered. Preliminary research indicates that they seldom prey on Australians. This may be caused by the marsupial’s uncanny ability to recognize Australian accents, or they may be repelled by the scent and taste of Vegemite, common in the Australian diet.

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Goin’ All Out by D. Avery

“What d’ya think a this Pal?

Meanwhile, back at World Headquarters, the head honcho, Shorty, returned to find her many minions toiling away in their cubicles. The Ranch was fine.

Eh?”

“Kid, whut’re you doin’? You ain’t left the Ranch. Yer jist makin’ shift up about World Headquarters.”

“So what? Ain’t that what writers is s’pposed ta do?”

“Ah, Kid, still tryin’ ta write? We ride fer Shorty, but we’s fictional characters thet git written. Leave it alone.”

“Cain’t Pal. Tired a bein’ left behind.

The guards were overcome by noxious gas. World Headquarters had an intruder- Pepe LeGume!”

***

“Kid, you ain’t even addressin’ the prompt! This ain’t about Carrot Ranch World Headquarters, s’posed ta be about koala bears and kingdoms or some sech.”

“Ok…

Pepe LeGume approached the imposing building that housed World Headquarters, in the Keweena Kingdom. “Shorty, you ol’ has beans, I come all a way here ta take yer Kingdom,” yelled Le Gume. “Gonna take over the Ranch.”

“You kin go all a way back where ya come from, LeGume,” Shorty retorted.

“Wait a minute, Kid. Are you really gonna try an’ git away with using ‘go all a’ fer the prompt response?”

“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

History Meets Literary Art

When writers come from many locations, it can be interesting to ask for their perspective on the history of a single place — an unfamiliar place. History can be a way to combine different experiences and share what it means to understand a place through the events and people who came before.

Writers at Carrot Ranch were asked to use the micro-histories collected by the Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) to write 99-word stories. This is where history meets literary art.

The following are based on the July 4, 2019, prompt that uses real historical events or people from the KNHP.

The Old Ramona (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Big Annie wrapped the American flag around her shoulders like a shawl to march with striking copper miners,” Danni explained.

Ramona frowned at the old photo. It was part of Danni’s Keweenaw collection where she had earned her master’s in industrial archeology. Before she met Ike in Idaho. Ramona used to relish stories about Big Annie who rallied the miners and spent time in jail in 1913. Now, Ike’s grandmother glared.

“Shouldn’t disgrace the flag that way,” she said.

Ramona left the room and Danni sagged. She missed Ike in Iraq more than ever. She missed the old Ramona.

🥕🥕🥕

Is she? by Bill Engleson

So, I’m scrolling through the microhistory, eh. Its chock full of a ton of ordinary folk, living, loving, divorcing, and dying.

Anyways, a couple of them strike my fancy.

The first is John Petermann. I give his profile a boo thinking there might be a link to Seinfeld’s Mr. Peterman. Straight arrow guy, eh. Different spelling but what the hey. TV Character; historical character.

Topping my list though is Big Annie.

Now I see right away that Charli has glommed onto her.

Her tales got punch.

All I got is the Amy/Annie Klobuchar notion.

That ain’t going anywhere fast!

🥕🥕🥕

Bears and Bikes by Annette Rochelle Aben

Michigan Bicycle Touring was escorting us through the Keweenaw that year. Filled with breath taking scenery and the peace one longs for.

Oh, and bears!

I was in the “sag wagon” being hauled to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in style, my husband was on his bike climbing Brockway Mountain.

That’s when we saw the cubs.

Cubs to the right of us, mamma to the left and Danny behind, unknowingly heading for disaster.

Quickly, we placed ourselves between the bears, opened the sliding door of the van, slowed down and pulled Dan in, bike and all. Bearly averting a crisis.

🥕🥕🥕

The Judge by Ann Edall-Robson

The box of old pictures and newspaper clippings lay sprawled across Hanna’s bed. Everything made sense until the name Judge William Pettit Raley surfaced. What was the significance of this man who kept appearing in the oddest places among the family archives she had been gifted? Her grandmother had been adamant she not falter when it came to finding the truth about their families history. Staring at the Judge’s obituary, the light came on. He wasn’t the important one! Hanna jotted down her fleeting thoughts. She would have to pursue them later. Now it was time to do chores.

🥕🥕🥕

John Kohtala and the Barsotti Kids by TN Kerr

John Kohtala would wake every day before sunrise, do his chores on the farm near Chassell at the south end of Portage Lake. He’d then walk twenty-one miles (uphill, both ways) to attend Calumet Middle School on Fifth Street in what is now the Ace Hardware Store. It was there, he became fast friends with the Barsotti children; Peter, Arthur, and Gemma and became interested in theatre.

One day, after school, the kids were hanging out at the Barsotti’s Candy store when Gemma suggested that they put on a play.

“Hey,” piped in John, “My dad has a barn…”

🥕🥕🥕

Dusala Banettini by JulesPaige

Dusala Banettini was not like her beautiful cousin the dancer and poet Teressa. Dusala, though was a smart business woman and at twenty five left Italy to start fresh in America. It would be good to be independent from her family. While she loved them they were always loud and boisterous. And everyone was in your face wanting to give you advice.

In 1903, it was good to have the confectionery close to the Calumet Theatre. Now in her early forties, Dusala could take part in the community theatre productions. To her that was a good connection to Teressa.

🥕🥕🥕

Location, Location by Susan Sleggs

William Butterfield sat across from his wife Phebe. “This is the best chicken and biscuits I’ve ever eaten.”

Phebe laughed, “You didn’t know you married the best cook on the peninsula, did you.”

“I didn’t. In my travels here I ate bad meals and stayed in flea ridden rooms. What say you to the notion of us building a new hotel and you cookin’ for the guests?”

“We won’t be able to surpass the Douglass House.”

“No, but with our location we’ll have a better veranda view.”

“I’ll do it if we have our own private sitting and bedroom.”

🥕🥕🥕

Anselm Studer by D. Avery

When I was in New York I felt like I was still aboard ship on the churning sea. The buildings there towered tall but they were hollow rustling hives.

I came to the Keweenaw. Here there are no towering buildings. There are no great mountains like the Alps of my homeland, but this place, these people, possess their indomitable strength. The miners call it sisu. I think of this Finnish word that defines my America as I build foundations for the new buildings.

This is something I know: the tallest mountains, the strongest communities, are built on solid foundations.

🥕🥕🥕

Escaping the Famine by Sally Cronin

Michael placed a clod of barren earth in a pouch before joining Maggie, waiting with their meagre possessions by the side of the road. Carrying their bundles and what food was left, they walked eighty miles through desolate lands to Cork. With their last few pounds, they bought passage on a ‘Coffin’ ship. Surviving storms and disease aboard the crowded vessel, they made their way to Michigan. Michael toiled in a copper mine, until the growing family settled on a farm near Hurontown, where they mixed the earth from the old country with the rich soil of the new.

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Captain Jack by Susan Zutautas

In 1813, many years ago Captain Jack Angus was born
He sailed the lakes and seas
Never passed up a good breeze
Schooners he did sail
I’m sure he must have seen a few whales
The captain felt safer on the salty sea
Then in the lakes you see
Married a Metis woman from Sault Ste. Marie
At LaPoint he was a lighthouse keeper
This was probably cheaper
Then living in a house
Having to watch out for a mouse
In 1894 he passed away one day
A sailor at heart from the start is all I can say

🥕🥕🥕

In Search of History by Norah Colvin

Sorting through her father’s papers, Nette discovered secrets never revealed in life. “Mum” wasn’t mum. Her birth mother died when she was two. Although obviously named Antonette Mary after her maternal grandparents, their stories had never been told. Now, she needed to know. In the old schoolhouse, she traced her mother’s name—Agnes—so long ago carved into the wooden desktop. She’d felt no connection at the cemetery, nor reading the family’s Census record. But when the school bell rang, she shivered as the spirits of children past, her mother, aunts and uncles, joined her for Keweenaw history lessons.

🥕🥕🥕

Jessie and James by Kay Kingsley

Loving in secret, a porter and a waitress, he fashioned her a copper ring as a placeholder and reminder of their future together in Red Jacket once the ban was lifted.

And finally, in 1883 it was, and they sealed their vows as the first interracial married couple with a kiss in the middle of 5th Street.

But discrimination would eventually wear their future into dust, and with a broken heart, James watched from a distance as Jessie disappeared on a train headed for Chicago where her new life awaited.

He retreated into darkness and was never seen again.

🥕🥕🥕

Cora Reynolds Anderson by Joanne Fisher

“You’ve done everything you can. It’s in the hands of the voters now.” Charles told her.

Cora knew this. Many people had said they were voting, but you were never sure how it was going to go. She had fought for a public health service for Baraga County as she had seen the effects that alcoholism and tuberculosis had had on her own people, and it was this and fighting for education that made her well-known in the area. If she won she would be the first woman elected to the Michigan House of Representatives.

Tomorrow she would know.

🥕🥕🥕

The Tale of Michael Finnegan by Ritu Bhathal

“There was an old man named Michael Finnegan
He grew whiskers on his chinnegan
Along came the wind and blew them inegan
Poor old Michael Finnegan, beginegan!”

The strains of the rhyme reached Michael’s ears, and he smiled, rubbing his hairless chin.
It had been no secret that he’d never been able to grow a beard.
At first, it frustrated him. No one took him seriously.
This fresh-faced whippersnapper, arriving from Ireland, wanting to do business.
And the kids made up this silly rhyme that used to annoy him.
Not now.
Beard or no beard, he’d made his fortune!

🥕🥕🥕

Jay Hubbell by Geoff Le Pard

Jay Hubbell was famous: congressman, judge, mining advocate. He was well-liked, a considerate family man and generous benefactor. But Jay carried a terrible secret. His beard was possessed by a malignant spirt, Orifice the Odiferous who would release odours so unutterably foul that Jay often despaired. If Jay ever attempted so much as a trim the gases realised rendered him unconscious.

Finally the mines did for them both. While on a visit to watch the testing of a new safety lamp, Odiferous released a maleficent miasma. The ensuing explosion set back the development of safety lamps by years.

🥕🥕🥕

Horace Caulkins by H.R.R. Gorman

Horace Caulkins, owner of the local kiln, harrumphed when he saw her paint. “That’s a pretty pattern, but what an ugly color.”

Mary Chase Perry dipped the brush in the delicate glaze and swept the liquid over the plate. She formed a delicate circle, close enough to perfect that few would notice any off-center bits. “You own the kilns. You should know this olive-green will become the loveliest blue when it’s fired.”

“I make teeth, ma’am. I use only white glaze, not this frilly stuff.”

Mary dipped her brush back in the pot. “Would you like to change that?”

🥕🥕🥕

Mary Chase Perry Stratton by Miriam Hurdle

“Welcome to Pewabic Pottery. How can I help you?”

“I want to take a pottery class.”

“That’s wonderful. Let me show you around.”

“Great. Who is in the picture on the wall?”

“She is Mary Chase Perry Stratton, our co-founder who started Pewabic Pottery in 1903.”

“Wow, a woman who did it 116 years ago.”

“Yes, when she was 36 years old. She studied art with the sculptor Louis Rebisso when she was 20.”

“Do you have anything she made?”

“We do, and pictures too. She lived to 91 years old and did many projects.”

“She is my inspiration.”

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Cora Mae, Renowned Ojibwe Anthropologist by Saifun Hassam

Cora Mae was a popular art teacher at the L’Anse Academy. She was a Chippewa, and her paintings of the Upper Peninsula Ojibwe soon led to an art scholarship at the Huron Art Institute.

To her great surprise, she was invited by the Midewiwin Society to participate in an artistic recreation of the Ojibwe sacred pictorial scrolls, their stories, beliefs, history, astronomical and mathematical information.

Cora made a life-changing decision. She enrolled at the Suomi University and majored in anthropology. Her landmark field studies of the Ojibwe, her artwork and interpretation of the scrolls have left a lasting influence.

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Where Once Were Mines by Anne Goodwin

“Does anyone recognise these flowers?”

Buzzing bees, chirping crickets and a strange tapping fill the pause. Cogs in young brains turning? A meadow pipit or a stonechat? No point asking these kids. The only bird they know is the robin on a Christmas card. The only flower a hot-house Valentine’s rose.

“They’re not flowers, they’re weeds!”

When he was their age this was slag. Industrial waste.

“Sir, sir, can we see the mineshafts?”

Soon, he’ll have them making daisy chains. Holding buttercups beneath each other’s chins. Will they hear the tapping sound? The ghosts of his forebears toiling underground.

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Entombed by Kerry E.B. Black

They hibernate in the winter, nestled deep within abandoned Keweenah mine shafts, a contented cauldron of Brown Bats until spring’s hunger provides an irresistible awakening. They’ve lost much of their body weight during their slumber and the need to devour insects growls urgency. As one, the colony flies along rocky tunnels stripped of copper. The mass of leathery wings and furry bodies eager for fresh air find cement blocks their escape. With frantic urgency, they search for escape. Hearts pound. Nails scratch. Some throw themselves at their captor, the man-made seal to their man-made tomb. None escape or survive.

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Ellen Dickens by D. Avery

Mama was Lewis’ wet nurse. We called him Lil’ Dickens, me and Mama, and his granddad did too, ‘cause he was always gettin’ into mischief.

His granddad, Old Mr. Dickens, he trusted me, put me in charge of keepin’ Lil’ Dickens out of trouble. Showed us both where to fish. It wasn’t so bad then.

Lil’ Dicken’s own daddy, couldn’t no one stay out of trouble with him. No one.

After Old Mr. Dickens passed I ran. Caught up with Lil’ Dickens, who’d run first. Lewis took me in like his sister. His own children call me Auntie Ellen.

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The New Doctor by Allison Maruska

“Isn’t it wonderful?” My wife leans against me on the sofa. “Starting over in a new town, surrounded by new people.”

“Indeed it is.” I brush a few of her stray hairs that tickle my cheek.

“When will you open your shop?”

I pull at my sleeve, pondering my boring, old life as a tailor. “I decided to do something different.”

“Oh?” She sits up, looking into my eyes. “Like what?”

I smile. “How would you like to be married to a doctor?”

“But you’ve no training.”

“Well, it’s like you said. We’re surrounded by new people.” I wink.

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Unattended Baggage (Part I) by D. Avery

“Hmmph.”

“Whut Kid?”

“Our writer gittin’ dragged west. Hmmph.”

“Don’t think she’s gittin’ dragged. Heard she offered ta drive.”

“Cattle?”

“Jimmy.”

“Jimmy who?”

“GMC. Truck.”

“Hmmph.”

“Jist gonna keep hmmphin’?”

“What’s the word count? I’ll hmmph 60 more times.”

“It’s no skin off yer teeth Kid. An’ it’s good fer the Ranch.”

“Hmmph. I don’t trust our writer. She don’t git out much ya know. We’d best pack our saddle bags, Pal.”

“Heard she’s plannin’ on packin’ her sourdough starter.”

“Hmmph.”

“Why hmmph with /ph/, Kid?”

“’Cause I’m sofisticated. We’ll tuck down in the back a the truck.”

“Hmmf.”

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Unattended Baggage (Part II) by D. Avery

“Kid, we should stay put right here.”

“Really, Pal? An’ where’s ‘here’, exactly? Anyway, that’s a ways off. Look it her squirm now with this prompt. Whinin’ ‘bout not knowin’ Copper Country so she cain’t be writin’ ‘bout its folks. But she’ll have ta come up with somethin’. Shorty’s got her committed, seems.”

“Prob’ly should have her committed. Ya know, Kid, we will go out there. We’s kinda like thet sourdough she totes ever’where. She feeds us an’ we feed her.”

“Yep. She needs and kneads.”

“Reckon the whole Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s comin’ along fer the ride.”

“Shotgun.”

Paint

Color me something new, something bold. Color over the mistakes and past regrets. Pick up a brush and paint bold strokes, flashy colors. This is a time to refresh.

Writers met the challenge with colorful stories full of emotion, surprise, horror and humor. All the paint cans opened to reveal a rainbow collection.

The following are based on the June 27, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint.

PART I (10-minute read)

Charli’s Starlings by Chelsea Owens

No one knew where the starlings came from. One day, the sidewalks and light posts and old brick buildings were bare; the next, they were scattered with flight.

Up and down Shelden Avenue elderly friends stopped their morning walk and children pointed and pulled at parents’ pants.

Winged, irridescent forms swooped up a wall. Yellow-beaked stills observed from flower pots. A proud male perched atop an awning.

Passersby soon realized that, lifelike as the birds were, they existed solely as pictures. For one woman, that mattered little.

She kissed her paint-stained fingertips in fond farewell, turned, and headed home.

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Three Mistakes by Tony Amore

“The first mistake,” he says, “is not loading your brush with enough paint.” Nodding, I steady the ladder as my father works deep blue where wall meets vaulted ceiling.

“The second is pulling and dragging,” he looks down gauging how much attention is being paid Glasses perched at the edge of his nose; a bead of sweat hanging there. “Push into the space where the wall meets the ceiling,” he insists. “Push don’t pull.”

He teeters and jerks slapping a blue smudge across pure whiteness. Dabbing it with a damp rag, he notes the third is not being tall.

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Paint on a Smile by Richard Dee

Mom used to say, “whatever life throws at you, paint on a smile and get on with it.”

Easy to say. Not so easy to do. Stood in front of the mirror, eyes blackened from too many tears, the memories still fresh, the smell of him not yet gone.

“C’mon,” the voice of Mom had been replaced by the voice I knew so well. “I’m not here and staying in won’t bring me back.”

I opened the drawer, the paint was all there, in bottles and tubes.

I had his blessing; it was time to face the world again.

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Perfect Paint Product by Tien Skye

I looked at the botched paint job. I could have hired professionals but I insisted on doing it myself. I started scrapping away at the paint and started sobbing.

“What are you doing, son?”

“That was a lousy paint job and I just want to repaint it!”

He frowned as he processed my blubbering. “You want to repaint the entire wall because of that small mistake? Besides, the table goes there and it will cover up that section.”

“I want a perfect job! I just can’t let it go!”

He stared at me for a moment. “Can’t? Or won’t?”

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Paint by Pete Fanning

Painting with my son is messy. Mom makes him put on too-small clothes. I change too. Once we’re sufficiently hideous, it’s to the backyard—to whatever we’ve thrown together from pallets I’ve brought home. Birdhouses, treasure boxes, last time I built a planter.

We slap it on thick, until paint is slathered on our knees and we’re picking it from our fingers. I try to teach him to go with the grain of the wood, but my son is an against-the-grain type of guy.

I like that about him. He’s not afraid to make mistakes.

He’s taught me so much.

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Challenge Accepted by Ruchira Khanna

“I dare you!” he said with a snort and arms on his hips.

“I accept the challenge!”

Now ‘have to wait for the right moment!

Soon sleep encroached my athletic brother who had come home after playing a game of soccer in the scorching sun.

I was quick to collect my mom’s cosmetics and tiptoe in his room, and the process of painting started.

I painted the foundation gently on his tanned face with a brush; created a mole on his left upper lip with a liquid eyeliner; the Cindy Crawford style! Then concluded with painting, his lips red.

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Natural Beauty by Susan Sleggs

The bride stared at herself in the hotel room mirror, horrified. Her soon-to-be mother-in-law had insisted they go for a makeover. They had their hair painted with highlights and their faces painted to clown level, or so the bride felt as she never wore make-up. She and her fiancé were naturalists, working and playing in the wilderness.

The door flew open, her benefactress strode in and handed her make-up removal towelettes. “My insistence you look like me was wrong. I apologize; we have enough time to get you back to natural, how my son loves you.”

“Thank you. Mom.”

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White Washing by Sally Cronin

One angry brush stroke at a time, the old man painted across the words on his neighbour’s garden gate,

They were a lovely family, who had been kind to him since they been granted asylum three years ago, and moved in next door. Having recently lost his wife he had been lonely, but they invited him in each Sunday for dinner, did his shopping when he was ill and the father often popped around for a chat after work.

The least he could do in return was to white wash over this mean spirited graffiti before they discovered it.

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A Green Field by JulesPaige

In the room she never wanted, in the house too far from friends, Essie was allowed to paint one wall. It didn’t make up for not being included in what should have been a family decision. At least that’s how she saw it. So she took her time with her artistic eye spreading green.

To add insult to injury, Essie’s father was impatient that his youngest was taking so long. “It’s not rocket science,” he shouted!

Knowing that Essie would never win, all she could do was plot her escape. In the room that would now be her sanctuary.

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Art Class 101—Portrait Painting by Norah Colvin

The task completed, he took a fresh sheet of paper and sketched the teacher with an enormous warty chin and hair sprouting like an unravelling steel wool pad. He added her name and then, with a flourish, his. He nudged his neighbour whose stifled guffaws drew attention. When the teacher investigated, only the task was visible.

Behind the papers, the portrait remained forgotten at class end. Until discovered by the teacher.

Later, having no satisfactory explanation, he was sentenced to weeks of lunchtimes painting bricks.

Years later, when he was a famous cartoonist, they delighted in telling his story.

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The Girl on the Bridge by TN Kerr

Stavo picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder
the cans rattled together, they shifted in the sack
Tonight he carried mostly blues, greens, yellows, and greys
He took the path through the park, from his van to the bridge

His canvas was already chosen so he promptly set to work
Shaking each can before use
Ducking down as cars passed
He painted a portrait of Caledonia

The young girl with colourful corkscrew hair and full, lush lips

He never sold his work
Just put it out- to be loved or hated
By whoever happened across it

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The Muse by Pratibha

It did not surprise me anymore, this struggle between holding on and letting go. It has started recently, but I had felt myself giving it more thought with every stroke. It was his doing; I wanted to scream but did not want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he could provoke me.

I stepped back to look at the painting.

Earlier, I was bolder in colors and the grandness of the scenes, while he taught me to add the details. The muse had become the teacher I was not ready to please. He still demanded it all.

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Paint by Anita Dawes

I’m ten years old; it’s the middle of Summer.
My father gives me a bucket of whitewash,
a large paintbrush, telling me to paint the front fence.
The only thing on my mind is the cool blue lake, my friends waiting.
That’s where I should be. Not being used like a work horse
I’m a kid; I need fun before I’m old.
I stood in front of our fence, trying to make my arm work,
then it came to me.
Give everyone something to talk about.
Paint a lake scene.
Dad wondered why folk were looking at our fence…

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Painting Clouds by Colleen Chesebro

I measured the pigments into the old jelly jar using an ancient long handled spoon used only for my spell casting rituals. Slowly, I dribbled rain water from the last storm into the vessel and stirred with a clockwise motion. My eyes snapped shut as the colors swirled behind my lids pulsing with a life energy that desired recognition.

The contents of the jar spewed forth in a magnificent arc of light gracefully materializing into the shape of a rainbow – a manifestation of the divine. I smiled, content to paint the clouds with the stuff dreams are made of.

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Painting the Butterflies by Anne Goodwin

On the fifth day, God created the birds and beasts. But, as midnight loomed, he still hadn’t started on the invertebrates, so he delegated them to the angels. The angels, however, were too ham-fisted to paint the delicate wings of the moths and butterflies, so they handed over the brushes and paint pots to the elves. All the colours of the spectrum, apart from dark green, which ran out painting the rainforest on the third day. It was a minute to midnight when they checked God’s list, which is why the dark green fritillary is primarily orange and black.

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It’s Not About The Paint by Geoff Le Pard

‘You decorating, Logan?’

‘I was fed up with the colour.’

‘I always thought it was one of those pretentious ‘white with a hint of snot’ thingies.’

‘It was Forest Dapple.’

‘You’re kidding? Which bit of that “yesterday’s cappuccino” effect was forest and which dapple?’

‘You’re right, it was just brown. Now it’s Sunshine Glory.’

‘Yellow?’

‘But a really deep and inspiring yellow that speaks to love and harmony.’

‘Sort of lemony, then?’

‘Why don’t you decorate your flat rather than scoff.’

‘I plan to, tonight but I’m going much bigger than my flat.’

‘Yeah?’

‘I’m painting the town red.’

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Evening by Joanne Fisher

“Let’s go out tonight and paint the town red!” exclaimed Zana.

Krystal smiled. When Zana mentioned painting the town red, she sometimes meant it literally, given her proclivities.

“You planning to go out and have fun, or go on a killing spree again?” Krystal asked.

“The two aren’t mutually exclusive.” Zana pointed out.

“Yes, but killing loads of people ends up being rather messy doesn’t it? Maybe we should just stay in and order some room service.” Krystal suggested.

“Now that’s a great idea! The staff here look very tasty!” said Zana enthusiastically.

Krystal rolled her eyes and sighed.

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Paint Chips by Bill Engleson

“They look–so colourful.”

“Thank’s. That’s precisely the reaction we’ve been seeking. Try a few.”

“There’s quite a selection, isn’t there? Its hard to choose.”

“They look appealing, don’t they? That’s all a result of our community consultation. Our WORLD consultation, really.”

“The world, huh?”

“Our oyster, so to speak. From the get-go, we were out to corner the market.”

“Wow! Ambitious! And all of it based on a person’s colour personality?”

“You betcha. Very scientific. The four key elements, earth, air, fire, water, the primary colours, our magnificent colour wheel…”

“Yet, they’re just potato chips?”

“Crunchy, colourful and delicious.”

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Independence Paint by Frank Hubeny

The hot afternoon brought a sinister cloud extending across the western horizon that painted the sky behind it dark. From the distance of our heroes on Earth they could not estimate its speed, but they knew it would be upon them at any moment.

“That is the largest alien vessel I have ever seen! It covers the sky.”

“It’s a storm cloud. We need to reach shelter before the downpour.”

“It’s part of the rebellion to liberate the universe from the evil empire. They want our planet as a base of operations.”

“I hope not.”

Then the aliens landed.

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Paints of Peace by H.R.R. Gorman

“Dance well.” I stroke my fingers across my son’s cheeks, drawing symbols to praise the creator. “Please the gods and praise their creation.” The white paint of peace applied, I clean my fingers then swirl them in a blue paint made of crushed berries and buffalo fat. This will remain smooth through the day while the white clay cracks and falls. I hope my paints strengthen him throughout the ceremony.

“It is excellent, mother.” My son in his ceremonial clothing exits the tent.

A white soldier frowns and, through the translator, growls, “Why are you painted up for war?”

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Home to Say Goodbye by Kay Kingsley

I sat and let out the exhale I’d been holding in for years. Coming back home didn’t mean I had a home to come back to. It’s not like it was, anyhow. My parent’s death shattered our family scattering us kids, we abandoned the only home we’d known.

Quietly she called at first, then stronger, she beckoned.
In two weeks, eminent domain would swallow her whole and I think she needs to grieve, we both do. So, we visit in the sun as I scratch at her paint flakes and thank her for calling me home to say goodbye.

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PART II (10-minute  read)

The Interview by The Dark Netizen

Thank you sir, for agreeing to do this interview.

“That’s okay. Let’s get on with it.”

Sure, sir. Before beginning, any message for your fans?

“It’s just a medium I’m adding. I’ve always spoken to my fans through my paintings.”

Of course. They are definitely most expressive. What is the secret behind your unusually emotive paintings?

“It’s the water I use.”

Wow! Is it imported from a secret place?

“Imported? No. My tears give my paint their magic. Earlier, when I was a poor nobody, they were tears of sadness. Today, they are tears of joy and satisfaction…”

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Born This Way by Tina Stewart Brakebill

What would he say when he saw them? Sparkly and pink, they matched her t-shirt and her lip gloss. Or would have, if she’d been brave enough to wear lip gloss. Baby steps. That’s her plan. Painted nails today. Maybe painted lips next week.

What was she so afraid of? She needed to live her true life. She needed to tell him! And she would. Soon.

Still, she remembered his menacing tone before last year’s talent show. “No son of mine is going to strut around like a painted whore!”

So, less Britney. And more … what?

Baby steps.

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Pretty in Pink by Annette Rochelle Aben

I had never had my nails done professionally. But since I was now a female business executive, who did a lot of public speaking, it was suggested that I spruce up the ends of my fingers.

The nail tech was chatty and did a great job! We chose a bright shade of deep pink polish and everything was perfect.
She admonished me to use the side of my finger to open my car door, lest I break the new nails.

Sheepishly, I walked back into the salon a few minutes later. Smiling, she said, “I’ve been waiting for you.”

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House Painting 101 by Nancy Brady

Julia always liked bold, bright colors, and she was tired of having walls of cream, beige, or off-white year after year. Just this once, she and her husband picked jewel tone colors for their new home.

The living room was now midnight blue; the kitchen, burgundy, and the bedrooms, cypress green; even the den was turquoise. Still, the baseboards were painted white to match the ceilings.

Their friends and family were shocked by the boldness. “How will you ever be able cover over the paint? If you decide to sell the house?”

“We won’t,” they said. “Our heirs will.”

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Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time by Liz HusebyeHartmann

We’d started with a couple buckets of ice blocks, and another couple with dried ice. These’d cool down the backyard while creating thick fog in our North Minneapolis back yard. Full sun, tropical temps; we’d lost a bar bet around nude sunbathing in a semi-public place.

Friends showed up to gloat, but brought their own buckets of ice…and craft beer. We decided to paint our side of Mrs. McCready’s ugly adjoining fence, Tom Sawyer style. Fog to cover from neighbors’ prying eyes, ice to keep things cool. Brilliant!

Seemed like a good idea …

Wish we’d remembered sunblock.

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Paint and Bells (Part I) by D. Avery

Marge leaned down to speak with Ilene through the rolled down window of the El Camino.

“I’m heading out to get some paint.”

“Hop in Marge, I’ll drive.”

Marge’s maneuver was more of a plop than a hop but she did fit herself into the El Camino.

“I was headed to the hardware store myself, Marge. Wedding supplies.”

“Won’t be any wedding until I’ve finished painting the boys’ handiwork.”

“Painting. Just a letter switch away from waiting.”

“That’d be wainting, wordsmith.”

“Wainting– when one wants and waits and wants to wait at the same time; wainting. A dreadful condition.”

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Paint and Bells (Part II) by D. Avery

“What’s going on Marge? You taking your Paxil?”

“This is a big change, Ilene.”

“Marrying the man you’ve been living with? Marge, nothing’s going to change except that you’ll make Ernest so happy.”

“Will Mr. Biggs be happy if I don’t take his last name? That’s a change. Ilene, I’ve been Small my whole life.”

Ilene looked sidelong at her friend. Marge was contorted on the bench seat that was pulled forward so that Ilene could reach the controls.

“Hyphenate, both of you. Small-Biggs, Biggs-Small…Marge, it’s all good. And if you want, I’ll help paint.”

“Waint that be nice.”

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Paint and Bells (Part III) by D. Avery

“Jeez, Ilene, put the seat back so I can get out.”

Ilene was already out and taking measurements the El Camino bed. “Oops, sorry Ms. Small, I forgot you’re too Biggs for this vehicle.”

“Only when you have the seat crammed into the dashboard, Ms. Higginbottom. Let me drive on the way back. What’s with the measuring?”

“You put me in charge of decorating. You’ll have to wait and see.”

While Marge got her paint Ilene picked up a rectangular blow-up kiddie pool. She would transform the El Camino into the largest beer cooler the gang had ever seen.

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Repainted Landscape by Ann Edall-Robson

It had been two years, but Tal remembered the day vividly. A wall of smoke and flames coming towards the ranch. Neighbours banding together to do what they could before everyone was told to leave. And then the wind changed in their favour.

Tal stood beside his horse looking out over the valley at the still visible aftermath of that raging firestorm. The healing shades of green across the land accentuated the shards of brown-black. Haunting sentinels of burned trees left behind with the scorched fencing. The blatant reminder of Mother Nature’s power to repaint her landscape, anytime.

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Dream House by tracey

She felt like Myrna Loy in “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House” as she recited paint colors to the contractor.

“I am still figuring out my office”, she confessed. It felt terribly important to get the color exactly right in the room she would spend the most time in.

Since she couldn’t even narrow down a color family she was going by name now. She wanted something literary like ‘Writer’s Retreat’ or ‘Chapter and Verse’.

She flipped through the paint chips and read ‘All Your Dreams’. The palest of pinks, more of a rosy cream. Her future in paint.

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A Coat of Paint by Abhijit

There was agreement that the room needed a fresh coat of paint. Disagreement was on the choice of color. Daughter wanted a pink color. Mother wanted a yellow or a white, a color that was bright. Father preferred green, the color of almighty, but also a wanted consensus. As controller of purse string, father had hoped that his wish would prevail.

Time passed. Consensus eluded. Father passed away. Daughter got a job and moved to a different city. Property changed hand.

Today, standing before the brightly painted two storey building, their old home, the memory of earlier times flashed.

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Protest in Paint by Floridaborne

I loved my home on a half acre in the rolling hills of North Carolina with a fenced-in yard. It was 1979, and hubby did his job so well, they didn’t need him any longer.

It was easy for an engineer to find another job, and our home sold in a month, but the cost of housing in Wisconsin gave us few choices. At that time, homeowner’s associations were not common. We didn’t know until the day of the signing that we couldn’t have a fence.

In protest, I painted my home psychedelic green. It glowed in the dark.

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New Paint by Joanne Fisher

“Has he gone colour blind?” My aunt asked.

We had just pulled up at my dad’s house and seen the new paint job. His entire house was now a rather shocking turquoise colour. A colour I had never liked. Still it had always been his favourite, and I wondered why.

I was now living in Christchurch so it had been a few months since I had seen the house, and now the entire family was coming here for Christmas. They ended up being as mortified as we were.

Dad was his usual self and dismissed our opinions with kindness.

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Golden Snowdrops by Valerie Fish

It said on the tin ‘Golden Snowdrops’; he said it looks like vomit.

Painting a room two weeks away from your due date is no bundle of fun, making me feel nauseous, and last night hadn’t helped.

I’d been nagging him for weeks to decorate the nursery, when I dared to mention it again yesterday, I should have known what was coming…

‘Why can’t you do it?’ he bellowed. ‘You’ve nothing better to do now you’re home all day.’

Then the punch came.

I fear for myself and my unborn baby.

Tomorrow I’ll go and get some more paint.

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War Paint by Deborah Lee

Caroline peers over Jane’s shoulder at Jane’s reflection in the mirror, her breath hot. “Why doll yourself up?” she says. “You’re not going to find a boyfriend here.”

Janes snaps the compact shut. “I’m not here for a boyfriend. I’m here because it’s my job.”

The restroom door slams shut as Caroline huffs out. One step closer to fired, Jane thinks.

It’s not a job, it’s a war zone. War zones require war paint. Magical protection: It’s not blush, it’s a shield. Transformation: Look like who you want them to think you are.

Maybe she should buy some woad.

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Something Different (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Want some paint for that brush?” Danni smiled, remembering. Her brushing a mammoth tusk, Ike standing at the edge of the mud with his fishing pole. The first time they met.

A wet nose nudged her hand while she cleaned shards and the paint brush flew from her grip. It dropped to the concrete of the barn floor. “Det, you are a pesky hound.” She patted the dog and picked up the brush. Maybe she should paint.

If Ike wanted to do something different, then she would too. Danni left for the hardware store to pick out cheerful yellows.

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Meditations by Sascha Darlington

There’s meditation in painting. The up-and-down strokes whether with a brush or a roller. Up and down.

I didn’t tell my family Scott left me.

Cornflower blue, up and down.

They never liked him, although they pretended, because that’s what you do for family.

Apply masking tape around baseboard. Paint the baseboard: white.

“You’re family’s overwhelming. You’re overwhelming.”

I use a smaller brush, which takes longer without the mess.

I still hear the slam of the screen door, the Metallica song wailing over his car speakers when he started the engine: “Nothing Else Matters.”

Stroke.

He won’t be back.

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War Paint by Kelley Farrell

Lilli plopped two tubes of lipstick down in front of her mother.

“Red for strength and energy.” Her mom admired the purple tube and cherry red lipstick.

“Black to signal you’ve been here before.” At this her mother frowned.

“You know I don’t like you wearing black lipstick.” Lilli rolled her eyes and huffed.

“Mom, I really think black lipstick is the least of the problems here. Besides, you need war paint to show the cancer who’s boss.”

Lilli’s mom tucked the black tube into her pocket.

“I’ll just keep this with me … to show the cancer who’s boss.”

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Gardeners by Saifun Hassam

The garden shed was Tanya’s canvas. In summer she painted twining tea roses on one wall. In fall giant bronze chrysanthemums sprawled across another wall. In winter she painted pine needles and acorns on the back. In spring her neighbor Vinnie helped her scrub and wash the walls. She painted pink and purple hyacinths near the door and planned another season of flowers.

Vinnie brought fresh veggies from his garden and Tanya made his favorite casseroles. Their children said they should marry. Vinnie and Tanya grinned. They were seventy, great garden buddies and loved those casseroles. Leave it that.

🥕🥕🥕

Smile! by Di @ pensitivity

In our first house, we were fed up with grey walls in our lounge, so decided to buy a large tin of white emulsion and a colour syringe to tone it down a bit when we decorated.

As it turned out, one syringe didn’t do very much to the white so we added another, stirred it all together and set to.

We couldn’t have matched the original colour better if we’d tried. The only difference was the large smiley miley we’d put on the wall behind the stairs before starting which still showed through when the lights were on.

🥕🥕🥕

Anhalonium by Kenneth Cahall

At night, Devin painted abstracts. Once, I sat sipping coffee watching him paint. I asked about the unusual smell of his paint. He told me he’d added peyote for that nuclear test site green color and laughed.

His laughter continued but his mouth wasn’t moving. Then Devin, his painting, everything in the living room floor slammed into me. Now Devin and I were in his painting. We could see it in the mirror across the room: Devin holding his paint brush, me holding my coffee mug.

“I like this one better than your others,” I admitted.

“Thanks,” said Devin.

🥕🥕🥕

A Painted Poem by Susan Zutautas

I had a picture painted in my mind

But where was I going to find

Someone who completed me

To give them my hearts key

Then one night

My heart took flight

Meeting you, such a delight

I want to paint you a picture in a poem

How long it was, how long I roamed

To find a person that would love me

One who wanted to spend an eternity

The night I met you I started a new life

One year later we became husband and wife

Thirty-two years have now passed

Baby it has been a blast

🥕🥕🥕

Painting Passion by Ritu Bhathal

“Mrs Smith, you can come and sit over here.”

I put my book into my bag and sat at the chair indicated by the technician.

“What are we doing today, Mrs Smith?” She smiled at me, awaiting my answer.

“I’d like my nails painted please, Jemima.”

I chose my colour, a deep red, always my favourite.

Red, the colour of passion

Apt for our date night.

It had been a long time since we’d been out together, as a couple.

Usually, it was all about the children, but tonight was for us.

Time needed, to keep the romance alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Standing in It by D. Avery

“What’s goin’ on Kid? Why’s all the furniture out here on the porch?”

“Stop right there, Pal. Don’t come in. I decided ta pitch in an’ hep Shorty spruce up the ranch. Decided ta paint the floor of the bunkhouse.”

“Oh, yeah, thet looks real good, Kid. Looks like yer almost finished, too. Jist thet there corner left.”

“It’s gonna be awhile, gittin’ this bit finished.”

“Thet’s ‘cause yer standin’ in it, Kid. Ya done painted yersef inta a corner. Reckon you’ll be waitin’ on the paint ta dry.”

“Yep. Reckon they’s worse things ta have ta wait on.”

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting

We wait in line. We wait for life. Waiting is not something most people like to do but everyone has to do it. What we wait on might be universal, some as different as our reactions.

Writers wrote about the wait and what it could mean. They wrote surprising stories you won’t want to wait to read.

The following are based on the June 20, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about having to wait.

PART I (10-minute read)

Adult Swim by  Chelsea Owens

“I can’t stand no longer,” I tell Mama, but she gives me That Look; so I wobble and watch the grown-ups flop around slowly like old, fat whales-

“Maahm,” I start. Now Janie shoots me The Look an’ it’s just like Mama’s -but I can tell that Janie wants ’em to hurry jus’ as much as me, ’cause up she goes on her toes then back down.

The whole line of us kids is bobbing and dancin’ -I think maybe the lifeguard sees; for, jus’ when I know we’re gonna jump, we fin’lly hear the whistle.

An’ we run.

🥕🥕🥕

The Waiting by Pete Fanning

It began with a tearful goodbye. With a sleepless night, then two, then a week until it just was. It clutched her heart with every knock at the door. It stung when she watched the boys play baseball in the street with another kid’s dad. It ruined Christmas.

The waiting grew heavy. It promised tomorrow. It made her feel selfish. It consumed her.

Then it did the unthinkable. It broke its promise.

It came with too many casseroles and a folded flag. It left her with the boys in the street, waiting for a pitch that would never come.

🥕🥕🥕

The Beginning of a Long Wait (from Miracle  of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Waiting for the phone to ring, Danni started a batch of cookies. She stalked over to the phone. “Ring, damn it!” She picked it up to check the dial tone and returned to the kitchen. She started a pot of macaroni and cheese. The phone range and she jumped, answering.

“Hello?”

“Hello. This is the National Coalition for—”

Danni slammed down the receiver. She needed tea. Instead of boiling macaroni, she poured the water over a Lipton tea bag, watching the stain spread. Danni waited to hear if Ike lived after the attack on his convoy in Baghdad.

🥕🥕🥕

Torment by Ann Edall-Robson

Watching the truck and trailer leave the yard, Liz played Mac’s call over in her mind. He insisted Tal be the one to bring the rig. The anguish in his voice when he told her he needed a medivac NOW, continued to send chills through her. He’d fill her in when he got home. Cell service was minimal at its best near the falls.

Liz tried to remember who Mac had sent to check on the cows out there. Stay busy she told herself. Then she remembered.

Ranch life could be a torment to those who had to wait.

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting by Joanne Fisher

“We’re going to have to wait, The Baron is away for a few days.” Ashalla informed her.

“I can wait.” Aalen replied looking around the crowded streets. She hadn’t realised there were so many people in this city. Where did they all come from?

They were standing in the city’s square. Above them all rose the Baron’s Keep like a giant solitary black tooth. Aalen spied the walls of the fortifications. She reckoned she could scale them with no problems, and she thought Ashalla could do the same.

Revenge would come. She could wait. What was a few days?

🥕🥕🥕

He Waits by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He waits on the bridge by the lagoon, staring down at the moon, a pale and wavering contrast in dark water. Further down the shore, a splash and pop, followed by crunching, draws his attention. A moose shakes its ears in greeting and turns back to its evening snack.

She’s late. He worries about her, and for the moose.

He worries too much. She’s the best: intelligence and empathy, seasoned with practicality. She’ll arrive, having hunted and fed, and easily change with the sunrise.

Tonight they run together under the full moon. Tomorrow they hold hands in the sun.

🥕🥕🥕

Some Wait by Susan Sleggs

The couple watches the birds. The cardinal pair arrives together but she eats first while he waits on a near-by branch. The Flicker waits for no other, he lands at the suet and others skedaddle. The chickadee waits; darts to the unoccupied feeder then takes his prize elsewhere. The squirrels try to invade the feeder but fail, falling to the ground and making a thumping sound that satisfies. The husband waits also; for his wife to stop complaining about something that happened days ago. If only he knew a way to help her let go of what angers her.

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting for the Bus by Sally Cronin

The young girl waited anxiously for the bus. She huddled into the long queue of people standing impatiently in the rain, hiding her bulging rucksack between her feet. She was cold and wet but determined to get away from this place. The planning had been carried out meticulously, and she was happy that she had everything needed for a new life. Her stomach began rumbling. It was Friday and her mum made fish and chips for tea. People muttered as the five year old pushed through them, dragging her rucksack and heading down the street. She smiled in anticipation.

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting by Floridaborne

He chuckled when he asked, “Where did you say you’re calling from?”

“Flor’da,” I replied. “I’m looking for my brother. His friend said he was in this hospital.”

“I’m not able to provide any information.”

“Look!”  I yelled out at the insufferable jerk.  “He has Down Syndrome. He’ll be frightened!”

“I can say he wasn’t in an accident, but HIPAA rules… I can’t tell you anything else.”

“What do hippos have to do with it?”  I asked.  “He’s not an ape in a zoo.”

So… until I can hop a plane to Oregon, he’ll wonder why he’s all alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Running For the Border by TN Kerr

“Moooom,” I wailed from the backseat, “It hurts.” She looked over her shoulder before pushing her cigarette out the wind wing and turning down the radio.

“You just have to hold it, Billy,” she said; turning her attention back to the road that stretched out in front of us. “I can’t simply call a time out.”

We were going fast when she hit the spike strips and the tires all burst. My bladder let go when the wheels began tossing sparks like lightning bugs past the windows.

We skidded sideways to a stop and the troopers boxed us in.

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen Man by Reena Saxena

The most peculiar thing happened on the eleventh of November, just as the snow had begun to drift down.

The snow assumed a peculiar shape, like a man frozen in snow. Passers-by ventured ahead to rescue him, but the shadow was elusive for their almost frozen hands.

An old lady stepped out of the crowd and waved. Surprisingly, the shadow waved back.

Her husband was a martyr in the war, and had died on 11th November. She came here on the day, every year, hoping that he would take her with him. In a moment, she had dropped dead.

🥕🥕🥕

Lucy Locket: Opposing Summer? by JulesPaige

no wolves in my sight
waiting for the strawberry
moon in a stale sky

Lucy Locket, fills the docket
By reading quotes, in a book that she totes
Hartly says; “The past is a foreign country…”, brings to mind a cold memory
“…they do things differently there.” That old summer home, lost, somewhere.

Now she just waits, …on her table to clear used paper plates…
From the crowd that has dispersed, in sporadic spurts
From the picnic reunion that many waited for; a delightful chore
What will be different in the next year? Will she be even be here?

🥕🥕🥕

Earthquake by Saifun Hassam

Sally was jerked awake by the roar of a train hitting the house. She tensed, waiting for the earthquake to ease. Scrambling from the bed and swaying with the floor she sidled along the hallway into the living room.

Steve was working on his blog “Vineyards, Wineries and Gardens” when the quack hit. He crawled under the dining room table as the strong tremors continued. Experience had taught them to wait it out. A herd of elephants pounded across the lawn. After long minutes the earth subsided. Utter stillness, silence. A twittering of birds announced the coming of dawn.

🥕🥕🥕

Your Call Is Important by Anne Goodwin

“All our operators are busy at the moment. Your call will be answered as soon as one becomes available.”

Jingle jangle music.

“Your call is important to us. Please hold the line.”

Jangle jingle music.

“Thank you for your patience. We will answer your call as soon as an operator becomes available.”

Jingle jangle music.

“Thank you for calling Westminster Talent Limited. Apologies for keeping you waiting. How may I help you?”

“I need speak Boris.”

“I’m afraid Boris isn’t available right now. Can I be of service?”

“Can you tell please, his lunch left kitchen table. And phone.”

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting by M J Mallon

Only two more hours, she joked as she left. I smiled. I knew I would say the same to her after two days’ time. The weekend is teasing me, waiting with a glass of wine. At two minutes past five I open her drawer to eat the snack she left me. It kills me to admit it but it tastes good. She’d said it was foul but lied. One more bite.

Shame that death arrived before the weekend. She didn’t need to poison me—we were both on the same prolonged career path.

🥕🥕🥕

Voodoo by Carol J Forrester

‘Take a ticket,’ said the man behind the scratched perspex glass.

‘It’s empty,’ said James, glancing at the busted plastic dispenser.

‘Huh?’ The man looked up. ‘Oh, so it is. Well, take a seat to wait and we’ll be right with you.’

‘We?’ asked James. The man didn’t answer.

Turning, James shuddered and stumbled as the room stretched like elastic.

‘Careful there.’

A set of hands steadied him.

‘The voodoo throws you at first. It’s how they fit us all in.’

‘Us all?’ James asked.

‘Yeah, all the demons,’ said the voice. ‘Sorry mate, looks like you got busted.’

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting by Di @pensitivity101

Hurry up and wait.
Waiting, watching life pass us by.
Hours wasted, waiting for someone else.
Time is money,
But not to those waiting.
God’s waiting room, that’s what they call this place.
Take a seat.
Someone will be with you shortly.
But how long is shortly?
The clock ticks on.
Time waits for no-one.
Yet we are expected to wait.
It’s only polite to do as one is asked.
Joints seize, breathing shallows,
Eyes close,
Dreams waiting.
The mind drifts, the spirit leaves,
Looking down at those souls waiting,
Shells of humanity,
Waiting for something to hurry up.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Treat by Brendan Thomas

Toby smiled. Jane held the treat agonizingly close.

“Wait.” Toby waited. He waited for dinner, a belly rub, a walk. Wait, wait, wait. Yesterday he waited for Jane to finish in the bathroom making it to his favorite bush just on time. When he wormed through the fence to play with Jasper last week he was waiting in the shade of the apple tree for his dinner. Finally he ate two apples and got sick, poor Jasper.

“Wait.”

Toby looked at the treat, then walked away.

“You have it,” he thought digging out his bone from behind the sofa.

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting by Anita Dawes

Tomorrow is today in waiting
It seems to me, that even when it arrives
It is still waiting
Where is yesterday in all of this
We all constantly wait for tomorrow
You can stand on the shore
Look to the horizon, watch the sun set
You cannot see tomorrow
Yet you know it’s coming
We spend a lot of our time waiting
For one thing or another
As for myself I cannot bear waiting
If I say I’ll be there at eight
I expect my friends to be on time
The future is the greatest opportunity we wait for…

🥕🥕🥕

Faith by Kerry E.B. Black

We waited together for the results. Kinda gross, really, staring at a plastic stick I’d peed on, but in the end, a plus told us. A baby! My tears drenched his shoulder as we embraced.

Anxious, we held hands at the obstetrician’s to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Quick as a bunny, it raced away with our hearts.

At the ultrasound, we watched her suck her thumb and chose her name. Faith. We painted the nursery, anxious to meet this precious child.

But one day, I bled. I rushed for help, but no amount of waiting brought back our Faith.

🥕🥕🥕

A Thousand Years by Nicole Horlings

She had been patient for a thousand years. Those years had been tiring, and she eagerly looked forward towards her well-earned retirement. Life, especially blossoming life, was a fragile thing that had to be treated with the utmost care.

From the days of keeping the egg warm to hunting for food, from guarding the nest to leaving it behind, from first fire to first flight, she had watched her son grow from a drake to a dragon.

Today was his coming of age ceremony, where he would be given his adult name.

She wished for a thousand more years.

🥕🥕🥕

Never Never Land by Sherri Matthews

Months we’d waited. We took our seats towards the back of the stadium with a clear view of the stage. Men and women, some in their twenties most middle-aged and wearing black, like me, filled the stands. Others strode towards the standing area armed in sleeveless leathers, long hair and tattoos, fired up for the mosh pit. We waved to three of them before they disappeared into the mosh pit. My boys. The crowd cheered for the first band, but roared when the headliner came on. Metallica. This was it. Off to never never land with my adult kids.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wee Wait by Ritu Bhathal

“I know you’re desperate dear, but I’m afraid, you’ll have to wait. They’re all desperate.” Mrs Brown turned around, indicating the long line of children stretching to the end of the corridor.

“But Miss, I can’t wait!” Millie hopped from foot to foot, performing a toilet dance typical for a child, crotch clutched as if that was all holding a possible flood from occurring.

The queue moved down one.

“Just get to the back of the line, Millie.”

“I can’t.”

“Why on earth not?”

Millie looked down at the puddle slowly forming.

“Oh dear. so you really couldn’t wait!”

🥕🥕🥕

Take Turns to Wait by Miriam Hurdle

“My dear Heather, would you marry me?”

“Oh, yes, dear Jason.”

“We must have our engagement party soon and the wedding in six months.”

“Well, we’ve been dating for seven years and I didn’t know when you’d asked me to marry you.”

“I needed to save up money.”

“You know that I applied for several grad schools. The one accepted me with big scholarship is in New York.”

“It’s only five and a half hours flight from Los Angles.”

“Now, your turn to wait for two years.”

“I know. Let’s have our engagement party ASAP.”

“We can do that.”

🥕🥕🥕

Ernest Biggs and Marge Small by D. Avery

“Marge, your she-shed is finished. The waiting is over. Go to your prince.”

Nard smirked. “Ernest’s just waiting for Marge to get back in charge.”

“Ilene, the wedding’ll be in the garage, get started on decorating. Lloyd, you get ordained, get some words together. Nick, invitations. Remember, I can barely stand you most days, so take care who you invite from the dealership. Kristof, since you still claim this peckerhead as your boyfriend, you’ll be involved too. You and Nard’ll take care of food. Ernest, we’ll need a lot of beer.”

“Ernest, you poor thing. The waiting is over.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Waiting Game by Norah Colvin

Her entire life, she’d waited:

To be old enough, big enough—

To have left school, completed her degree—

To have enough money—

Until after the wedding—

For the birth of her children

For her children to have started school, left school, left home—

When would be the time, when she could choose what she wanted, for her, no conditions imposed?

In the waiting room, she contemplated these things and delivered her own answer—never! Death was knocking, refusing to wait. She’d hoped to live before she died but life got in the way.  Ah well, the waiting was over.

🥕🥕🥕

Eager by Abijit

His life did not depend on it, but a news would have been welcome. It was nearly a month earlier, he had shared his resume. He was certain about his selection. Afterall, his resume was rich in qualification and relevant experience.

He was certain that his pay package will see a significant jump. He had started planning his new life in a different city and dreaming of family vacations he would lie to take.

It is four weeks now. He has not heard from the head hunters. Well it is their loss! He still has his life, doesn’t he?

🥕🥕🥕

Test Results by Susan Zutautas

“How soon will be able to get me the results?”

“I should have them in by say nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”, the doctor said.

“Alright, well I’ll be waiting to hear from you then, and thanks so much for doing this for me, I know this isn’t something you regularly do.”

“That’s true but in this case, I’m happy to.”

I couldn’t sleep that night, waiting wasn’t something I liked to do.

Sitting patiently by the phone the next morning anticipating what the doctor would say, the phone rang.

“I have your test results and you are indeed pregnant.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Foetal Wish by H.R.R. Gorman

Will the outside be beautiful or scary? I find it cozy here, even if it is dark, and I’m not sure I want to go. At the same time, I know I will leave soon, so why must I wait another whole month? Why not just get it over with now?

Who will I be when I spew forth from this cozy cavern? I hope the doctors find me healthy. I hope people will like me, and I hope everyone will be my friend. Most of all, I hope my parents are nice and will take care of me.

🥕🥕🥕

No News by Sascha Darlington

Some wise sayings, like no news is good news, are easily refuted. Take the fact Mom called Dad three hours ago to say she’d been hurt then nothing.

Aunt Cici calls everywhere. Urgent care. Hospitals. Police. The morgue. She doesn’t mention this last one, I just happened to see it among her outgoing calls.

We wait. Not a single one of the seven people in this room believes no news is good news.

Dad hopes for a miracle text.

Aunt Cici searches for another number.

I gnaw over the last ugly exchange Mom and I shared: I despise you.

🥕🥕🥕

Mental Health Day by tracey

At the beginning of the year Jennifer impulsively penciled in a mental health day on her calendar. Now the day was here and she wanted a spontaneous adventure.

She drove two hours west and found a small town on the coast. She sat outdoors at a quaint café, opened the menu, closed her eyes and lightly ran her finger over the plastic sheet. Strawberry and cream cheese crepe appeared under her finger. Perfect!

She sat back, the sun warming her face, noticing an Artist Co-op across the road. Stop two she thought as she waited patiently for her crepe.

🥕🥕🥕

The Time Between by Nancy Brady

She was waiting in the airport, sitting in those uncomfortable chairs. She was waiting to board the plane that would take her away from the life she’d known.

No one had ever told her that most of her life would be spent waiting. Waiting for appointments, waiting for the mail, waiting for her children to be born, her grandchildren to be born…just waiting, waiting, waiting.

And in that waiting, she began to see her life unfold, a little at a time. She saw her mistakes, her triumphs, and all her losses. Her days waning, she finally lived without regret.

🥕🥕🥕

Nuthin’ by D. Avery

“Shift, Kid, we might not make it ta the corral, might miss the round-up. Ya got anythin’?”

“Nah, I ain’t got nuthin’. Thing is, I cain’t be thinkin’ ‘bout waitin’ on thangs when I’m jist so content right here right now.”

“Yep. Ya got a good fire goin’. An’ thet storm had a good light show but blew right on through quick enough.”

“Storm didn’t hardly damp the fire. An’ lookit the light show now. Lightnin’ bugs flittin’ about. They was worth stayin’ up fer.”

“Yep. We’ve got it good Kid.”

“Yep. Cain’t wait ta share it with Shorty.”

🥕🥕🥕

Many Hands

Life often requires more than one set of hands. Mothers need extra hands, situations call for many hands, and communities thrive when more hands pitch in. Hands carry, lift up, reach out, touch.

Writers followed where the prompt led even into the dark of night where zombies roam. Many hands led to many stories.

The following are based on the June 13, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the work of many hands.

PART I (10-minute read)

Is the Universe Listening? by JulesPaige

I ask for strength to carry another.
I ask for the patience to listen to the repeated stories
Of whatever they wish to share –
Mostly though they will not speak old haunts –
While they accept the gracious offerings of many hands

For mine alone are not the only pair needed
To promote the success of the healthy and honorable
Existence they should be able to comfortably abide.

I ask for nothing in return –
I ask for the weather to be calm and clear
When errands include any number of appointments
For pleasure or health…
This is my universal prayer.

🥕🥕🥕

Fingers Aplenty by Bill Engleson

I suppose I could write about ‘many hands’ if I was in the mood. The ones that make ‘light work’, eh!

They surely exist. Seen a few in my day. Been in a couple.

My scout troop for example.

Okay, cub scout troop.

All that dib dib dib dob dob dob doowah stuff.

Once, our Akela decided we needed to climb a mountain.

We were young, game.

Except Box-head Bobby. Polio had whipped him badly.

“Can’t go,” he whimpered. “Just can’t.”

“Sure, you can. We’ll help ya,” we said, not quite believing our bravado.

Not quite believing…until we did.

🥕🥕🥕

Many Hands by Pete Fanning

The news anchor said “defaced”, but the city defaced the wall. We’d merely fixed it, working through the night, ducking delivery trucks or the occasional police car. Then, dawn spreading over our historic downtown, shining on bronzed shoulders of generals facing south, we’d gathered our paint cans and hit up Waffle House.

Defaced? Not by us. Not by the hands we painted—brown ones, white ones, black ones—clasped in unity over a giant battle flag, a confederate threat slapped onto brick when my grandfather was in school, when schools were forced to integrate.

We’d simply integrated the flag.

🥕🥕🥕

Handing Down by D. Avery

Kevlar vested cops have guns in their hands. We come out, single file, hands over our heads, newscasters already there, microphones in hand, reporting this latest shooting. Videos capture relieved parents’ hands stroking their children’s cheeks. Some parents’ hands flutter to their own cheeks. Some of us sit on the ground, heads in our hands, disbelief displaced by our knowing. Some put their hands together in prayer. Some of us stand together clasping hands, our grief becoming anger.

You let assault weapons end up in the hands of our classmates then tell us the world is in our hands.

🥕🥕🥕

For Love of Books by Saifun Hassam

The storm hurled tree branches through shop windows. A giant pine tree smashed the roof over the library’s Children’s Learning Center. Upended shelves, torn and wet books covered the floors.

Students from Lynn Valley pitched in to sort the books. Around noon lunch was announced. Surprised, the students stepped out into the sunny open space outside. The “Busy Cafeteria” food mobile had arrived. The picnic tables were loaded with food, from hamburgers to tacos to pizzas to salads to donuts to chocolate fudge. A huge banner on the food mobile said it all: “With love from the librarians!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Stitch in Time by Nancy Brady

Julia, Mary, Elizabeth, Susannah, and a few others from the group were discussing the books they were reading. There was also a bit of gossip going on across the table. The air was filled with their chatter, and laughter broke out here and there.

Still, that did not deter Julia and her friends from their mission. With so many hands to stitch the pieces of fabric together, they were making another quilt for the veteran’s home. What once was their monthly quilting bee for themselves had become a way to give back to those who had served their country.

🥕🥕🥕

Talented by Abhijit

“That’s a beautiful piece of work, dear!” commented an impressed examiner looking at the model on display, “did you work alone or it is a team work where many others joined hands?”

Praise never surprised Mrs. Madhumita Majumdar. In her lifetime, she has seen accolades fly in her direction from her father’s home to her husband’s home. She had turned out to be an excellent hostess, a good entertainer and even a good sports person in her social circle. Why should her daughter be any different!

“Which one?” asked Mrs. Majumdar with a mischevous grin, “model or model maker?”

🥕🥕🥕

Many Hands by Susan Sleggs

Many hands
thank God they don’t all have a brain
A small group of people
all with the same interest form a club
They have officers and by-laws
they don’t follow them
They bicker and take stands on what’s good for the group
common sense stays at home
They gather in their cliques
with misplaced loyalties
Change is the enemy
when someone new is asked to lead
Maintain the status quo
whether it’s a good idea or not
because their hands can’t see
So many hands
showing a microcosm of government
bogged down by half the number of opinions

🥕🥕🥕

The Price of Perfection by Anne Goodwin

It began with a single dreamer, but many hands were needed to make it real. Our backs didn’t ache so much when we toiled together. Our stomachs didn’t grumble. The sun didn’t scorch. Blisters didn’t sting. And if ever our drive should desert us, Father would grant us his counsel; a late-night pep-talk to renew our commitment to the Cause.

When Father dreamt my husband was a Judas, many hands were needed to implement the punishment he deserved. It saddened me, but the road to Righteousness is strewn with thorns. Mindful of my duty, I threw the first rock.

🥕🥕🥕

Many Hands Make Light Work by Ritu Bhathal

Too many cooks spoil the broth, they say
But I would like to differ, that is, if I may
For another common saying does lurk
Many hands, indeed, do make light work
Surely, it is better
To work together
To achieve our goal
As one big whole
Rather than trying to be the one
Who is named for always getting things done
Do not always try to stake your claim
Yet shy away from taking blame
Working as a team is best
You can always rely on the rest
And what can take an hour,
In minutes, you’ll devour

🥕🥕🥕

Dance of the Several Pots by Di @ pensitivity101

My kitchen is small, but not as small as the one in our first house, and definitely gigantic compared to the one on the boat!
However, Many Hands may make light work, but Too Many Cooks spoil the broth.

I appreciate help in the kitchen, preparing, cutting, cooking (ish) and clearing up.

In a small space, this can be chaotic, but we got round that by always remembering to move to the left. It was like a ‘cuisinal’ ballet, graceful and effective, nobody getting stabbed or burnt, and dinners prepared on time with dishes being washed as we went.

🥕🥕🥕

Too Many Hands by Floridaborne

Mom used to say, “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the salad.”

I never understood what that meant until our family reunion.  I was 12, and found it amusing to have my 60 year old grandmother, 80 year old great grandmother, and 40 year old mother haunting the same kitchen.

“Where is the lard?” Grandmother asked.

“I am not putting cream into the gravy, lard in the biscuits, or frying anything!”  My mom yelled out.  “Everyone, get out of my kitchen!”

So…everyone but mom descended upon the Fried Chicken Palace, while mom ate her avocado toast in peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Idle Hands by Kerry E.B. Black

Momma believed idle hands were the devil’s playground, so she kept us busy. Chores charted and marked with smiley stickers marched across the refrigerator. At the end of the month, we’d earn rewards for our efforts.

When Momma grew sick, we kids neglected household chores in favor of nursing duties. We hovered by her bedside, anchorless. We read to calm her, fetched drinks, medicines, and bandages. On her last Sunday, we sang hymns and said rosaries until she took our hands and whispered, “good bye.”

Now we ignore chores, ditch school, and fend for ourselves in the devil’s playground.

🥕🥕🥕

Game of Thrones by Kelley Farrell

“So, what do you think?”

Martin surveyed the grotesque display in front of him. He didn’t want to risk angering his captor, “It’s an interesting chair.”

“Chair? Marty, my boy, look again. This is a throne.”

The man in full tuxedo and a plastic raincoat strutted around with a slight giggle on the tip of his tongue. “Do you know how many hands this took?”

“I …” Martin’s voice trembled.

His captor caressed Martin’s long fingers. “I’ve always admired yours. They’re the perfect centerpiece. The essential finishing touch, if you will.” His hacksaw rested on Martin’s wrist. “Shall we begin?”

🥕🥕🥕

No Way Out by Joanne Fisher

Somehow Sally had lost all the others and now there were zombies everywhere. They had come out of nowhere. So far she had done well to survive, but she knew she was trapped. She quietly moved to a door she thought would be a way out, but it was locked. She turned around to see innumerable zombies suddenly pile out of another doorway. As they approached she tried to force the door open, but it wouldn’t budge. The last thing she felt was their many clawed hands as they crowded around her and began to rip her to pieces.

🥕🥕🥕

Many Hands Make Enlightened Work by Chelsea Owens

We walked across the summer courtyard, two t-shirt youth among many, to stand before the spacious building. Stairs upon stairs climbed to the fountain’s zenith and proposed rooftop garden.

Commands came and we moved to assemble ourselves, each teenager on a stair, an arms-width apart. You: a little more. You: a little less.

Then, hand to hand to hand we passed a bucket’s brigade of grass. Smiling volunteers moved sod and flower from truck to tippy top.

Now, years later, our children look up. They marvel at roof-ledge bush and sky-reach trees, and the story that grew them there.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Helping Hands by Nicole Horlings

The air was filled with the hum of many wings. Like a dandelion being blown in reverse, the fairies converged above the human’s body. Their hushed whispers sounded like a refreshing summer breeze sweeping through the grass, though in reality the air was sweltering hot and still. The human had merely fainted, but would face further harm if he remained there.

Once the whole colony had gathered, they each found a place around the human’s body, and together lifted the human up. Flying in unison, every hand holding the human up above their heads, they brought him to safety.

🥕🥕🥕

Working Together by Susan Zutautas

Did you know that when I was a boy, my dad, your grandfather had a hand in the landscaping of Botanical Gardens? He loved working with his hands not only in construction but gardening too.

In the East end of Montreal, there was a plot of land just sitting there empty that belonged to the city. My dad got permission to start a community garden to grow vegetables.

Every weekend that is where I’d find him and many of our neighbors working together growing all kinds of vegetables.

We didn’t have much money and that garden helped feed us.

🥕🥕🥕

Storm Coming by Ann Edall-Robson

The radio announcer was telling Mac old news. He had been watching the horses and saw the insects scurrying. The storm was expected by mid-afternoon.

The hay crew had finished baling the night before. This morning the fencing crew and the cow barn crew had been sent to the hayfield. They needed to get every bale under cover before the storm hit.

Behind him, dust tails from trucks pulling trailers were the result of a call to a neighbour. Mac knew if they could, they’d come. He would do the same for them. Moccasin telegraph handled the rest.

🥕🥕🥕

Hands by Anita Dawes

Hands can be gentle, kind, violent, creative
I remember my grandfather’s large hands
Callused from wood cutting
Strong, they made me feel safe
Nothing in this world, or the next
I often thought, could ever get past them
Whereas my grandmothers were small and gentle
Featherlight, often times I could hardly feel her touch
There have been a few hands in my life
I would rather not touch again
The wet, spongy kind.
Then we have the great ones,
Mozart at his piano, surgeons saving lives
Some insured for millions like Liberace
Tiny new-born ones are best of all…

🥕🥕🥕

Gates of the City by Joanne Fisher

“What are your names?” The sentry asked.

“My name is Ashalla of Woodhall.”

“My name is Aalen Liadon.”

As soon as she spoke the sentry looked her.

“Please remove your hood miss.” He ordered.

Aalen complied revealing her long golden hair and bright green eyes.

“You’re one of the forest folk.” The sentry stated. “And presumably the wolf is yours?” Vilja stood there with his tongue hanging out.

“He’s my companion. He’s good-natured and won’t harm anyone unless provoked.”

“Okay.” The sentry said. He waved them through.

As Vilja bounded through the narrow streets many small hands patted him.

🥕🥕🥕

Cave Flushing, Okinawa by Laura Smyth

Shiziko knew American soldiers were monsters from her nightmares. In the cave her mother barely breathed…neighbors who had escaped the bombing huddled nearby. A Japanese soldier held a grenade. The dark, damp and stench were terrible. But the quiet was the worst. Was she sleeping? Dreaming? A voice like her father’s called from the cave entrance “Come out. It’s safe.” She ran out of her mother’s arms and toward the cave mouth. Hands reached to hold her back, then an explosion. Shiziko fell forward out of the cave into the Nisei’s hands. At 7 years old, she was ageless.

🥕🥕🥕

Many Hands by Sally Cronin

Many hands reached out to rock the cradle that held the infant. The first baby to be born to the tribe since the long drought and famine years, when the earth and its people had become barren. Finally the rain came and washed the toxic dust away, bringing life to the land and hope to them all. With bellies filled, young and old toiled in the fields to lay in stores for the coming winter and to gather seeds for next year’s crop. By then other babies will have been born, ensuring the future of the village and mankind.

🥕🥕🥕

Holding You with Many Hands by Reena Saxena

My one-year-old slips out again. I hold serious reservations about returning to work, as I run out of the door. Nobody else could manage him.

He is merrily playing with puppies in the backyard, as their dog mother keeps an eye firmly on her brood. I see my baby getting excited about a shiny car outside and rushing towards the gate. Before I can catch him, the dog mother stands firmly in his way with a growl. Her own pups back away on seeing her stare.

A mother brings up her child with many hands, not just two.

🥕🥕🥕

Difficult Decision (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Hands reached out to Danni as she slumped in her chair. “I can’t do it alone,” she said. The women in her group, surrounded her.

Roxie patted Danni’s shoulder. “What do we need to do? I’ll bring my vacuum cleaner.”

Everyone offered to help Danni tackle Ramona’s empty house. She wanted to be angry with Ike for his absence, leaving her to make the decision no one in his family wanted to make. Ramona’s dementia progressed beyond Danni’s ability to keep Ike’s grandmother safe.

“Will she hate me?” Danni asked.

“Nah, she won’t remember you,” said Roxie. “We’ll help.”

🥕🥕🥕

More Than Meets the Vein by H.R.R. Gorman

One technician injected a mouse with the target and collected the antibodies. A few others tested the results and transferred the loops to a human antibody. An army of scientists and several dozen mice tested the biotherapeutic. Engineers transfected the gene and planned the manufacturing process at the clinical scale.

FDA agents, scientists, engineers, clinicians, and volunteers ran tests on the new drug. Once declared safe and effective, teams of engineers, construction workers, and GMP trained workers made the first batch for sale.

A doctor injected the first patient with the life-saving drug. “Thank you, Doctor,” said the patient.

🥕🥕🥕

First Time Surgery (Part I) by tracey

First I couldn’t find the right entrance:
Emergency? No.
Staff Only? No.

A kindly passerby asked if I needed help.
Yes.

The admission’s clerk hands over a stack of paperwork.
“Take the elevators on your left to the 4th floor and follow the blue signs.”

I turn around and take the elevators to the right (that are now on my left.)
Fourth floor, I see only orange and yellow signs.

I stand in the middle of the hallway bewildered.
Lost again. No help in sight. I shiver.

How many people does it take to help me find outpatient surgery?

🥕🥕🥕

First Time Surgery (Part II) by tracey

A young woman touches my arm. Do you need help?
Yes.

Go down this hall to the end, take a right and go across the walkway and follow the blue signs.
I see blue and green signs. What color was I supposed to follow?

I am panicking, flustered, aware of the ticking clock.

A man in scrubs stops. All my fears come bubbling out.

I cry and babble. He takes my arm and leads me to the check-in desk.

A nurse looks up and nods to the man in scrubs and hands me a tissue, “You’ll be fine ma’am”.

🥕🥕🥕

The Work of Many Hands by Kay Kingsley

Many working hands tend the garden of life.

A gently cupped seed planted and nourished with time, care, attention and love, will eventually grow into its destiny.

Not every seed is a Redwood but not every seed has to be.

The duty of the many hands is to encourage growth through recognition that each seed is beautiful just how it is.

Even the sometimes unwanted weed transforms from flower into wish when allowed, carrying delicate childhood hopes on easy summertime winds.

Rumination, germination, exploration, devastation, explanation, contemplation, motivation, illumination, education…

Every hand on earth shapes the garden of life.

🥕🥕🥕

Flying Leaps by D. Avery

“Shorty! Pal! What’s going on? Why are all the Ranch hands under the poet tree with that big cowhide rug? Did Kid get stuck up there again?”

“Howdy Ranger. Kid’s up the tree agin, but doesn’t claim ta be stuck. Jist wants ta take a leap.”

“That’s right. And when someone takes a leap aroun’ here, the Ranch hands are gathered ‘round ta catch ‘em.”

“Hmm. Takes trust. ”

“Yep. Ranger, ya think we’re crazy?”

“Yes. And I want to go after the Kid.”

*Pen falls to paper
Words tossed wildly in the air
Story catchers break the fall*

🥕🥕🥕

Make a Big Splash

Like a kid plotting to cannonball of the diving board at a public swimming pool, sometimes we want to make a big splash. We prepare prepare to leave a memorable immpression. Other times, we trip into the circumstances. We drop the paint or the mic.

Writers didn’t tread in the shallow end of writing this week. They dove in and created waves with stories and words.

The following is based on the June 6, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that makes a big splash.

PART I (10-minute read)

Soundless by Saifun Hassam

The fountain’s cascading waters glittered in the sunlight. Mallards splashed in the lake. Children chased each other past the benches.

He drank in the sight of a graceful swan and its two cygnets gliding in the lake. A gentle breeze carried with it an elusive scent of jasmine and honeysuckle. Kite birds glided lazily in warm summery currents of air.

He sat in his wheelchair, an unforgettable first day at the park this summer. Not a sound came to him. He had always been deaf, and he would use those lessons of life to learn to live with paralysis.

🥕🥕🥕

Feeding Frenzy? by JulesPaige

My brain cannot comprehend where this intermittent Manna comes from.

The serenity of the opaque surface is broken in what some would call dreamscape.

Sometimes in little bits, other times too big.

I care not that I share space with would be siblings.

Those too afraid to part from schools.

I will wave my appendages, push through from underneath.

With all my energy focused on receiving this heavenly gift.

Though, I am wary of baited hooks, lines, and sinkers.

I will feed myself, and grow to spawn.

I will make a splash, not knowing or caring who gets wet.

🥕🥕🥕

Exercise by Reena Saxena

“Breathe in, breathe out, you’ll be okay.”

“I’ve been doing that all my life, so, don’t give me that crap.”
She sounds offended, so I decide to change the topic.

“Did you see Mrs. Kapoor in hospital on the way?”

“Yeah, I did meet her son, but she is in a coma.”

“There is a difference between living and being alive – We need to exercise goodwill to be humane, willpower to make a big splash, the brain to be counted as intelligent, limbs to remain mobile and the lungs to clear debris from your system and thoughts.

🥕🥕🥕

Splash by D. Avery

Dad looked surprised when I said I’d be bringing a friend home after school, but didn’t ask any questions, just grunted and nodded. Permission granted. Same as when I’d tell him I was going to Jimmy’s, or Jimmy’d be sleeping over. Or me and Jimmy’d be up at the quarries.

Dad looked even more surprised when he met Jamie, this sparkling green-eyed girl in bright mismatched clothes. Jimmy had always been a light in our gray lives, a flash of lightning, a comet, but Jamie was a splash of color rich and deep, color new to both of us.

🥕🥕🥕

Splash by Floridaborne

Common names change over the years; in the 1980’s Jennifer and Nicole were number one and two on the list.

I met John in 1998. I don’t know which I was more in love with, a huge wedding or the man who would take a mistress two years later with my same name.

“Nicole,” my father said. “Do you want a big splash or a trickle? I’ll put $100 a month into a retirement fund under your name for 30 years.”

I took the wedding. Two children and living with my parents taught me that trickles are under rated.

🥕🥕🥕

Lucinda Arrives (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

The rumble of a Harley echoed across the valley, crushing the crackle of a nighttime bonfire. Ramona leaned forward on her lawn-chair and asked Michael, “Is that her?”

“Yes, that’d be Lucinda.”

Danni hoped Michael’s tension was excitement. Ever since he visited his aunts last fall, he spoke about the Navajo biologist he met at powwow. Lucinda rode her bike from Red Cliff, Wisconsin to Elmira, Idaho.

Rumbling up Danni’s driveway, the woman dressed in fringed black leather stopped and dismounted. Ramona gaped when Lucinda shook thick black hair from her helmet. “Oh, Michael. She’ll make a big splash.”

🥕🥕🥕

Burning Rubber by Sherri Matthews

I heard him before I met him. The throaty rumble of a V8 engine streets away came into view in a blue Dodge Charger with Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ thudding from his eight track. He gunned past me where I waited with my boyfriend for this, his old high school buddy. Smoke screeched from his tyres as he skidded to a turn and brought the Dodge to a stop one inch from my feet on the sidewalk. A guy built like a truck with long, black hair got out. ‘Hi,’ he grinned, ‘thought you’d like Black Sabbath, being a Limey.’

🥕🥕🥕

With a Splash by H.R.R. Gorman

It would help if they didn’t wiggle so much. But boss says it’s cleaner, quieter this way. I do as boss says.

I tie the cinder block to the potato sack full of human refuse, then toss the concrete over the bridge. It hangs in midair.

“No! Don’t do this!” the sack shouts. Damn, he’s undone his gag somehow. I hate it when they do that. Now I have to pick him up and toss him by the legs so he won’t bite me.

He splashes into the canal. I wait ten minutes to confirm the job is done.

🥕🥕🥕

News Splash by Norah Colvin

It was splashed all over the front page. There was no hiding it now. Mum and Dad wouldn’t be pleased. They’d cautioned her to be careful. Time. After. Time. And she was. She thought she could handle it. She didn’t need them watching over her every move. She had to be independent sometime. But this front-page catastrophe would be a setback. How could she minimise the damage?

When they came in, Jess faced them bravely.

They looked from her to the paper and back. Jess’s lip quivered. “Sorry.”

“Those headlines look somewhat juicy,” smirked Dad. “More juice?”

Jess nodded.

🥕🥕🥕

The Dirty Apron by Susan Sleggs

My adult son came up beside me and dipped a spoon into the spaghetti sauce I was stirring. “Be careful, the boiling bubbles can pop and splash.”

“I know Mom. I learned that when I was about seven.” He looked at the front of my apron. “Don’t you think you should wash that thing?”

“No.” I pointed to different splashes. “This is gravy from Thanksgiving. This is fudge from Christmas and this is the last time I made sauce.”

“It needs a bath.”

My grandson hugged my legs. “No Daddy, it won’t smell like Grandma if she washes it.”

🥕🥕🥕

From a Certain Height by Bill Engleson

From a certain height,
the water below,
as supple as night,
a light winter snow,
from a certain height.

In full cannonball flight,
There’s a crueller tinge,
Blue water, black night,
As you clasp your fringe
In full cannonball flight.

As you plunge the air,
as dawn turns from night,
your essence, aware,
warmed by breaking light
as you plunge the air.

There’s no turning back,
the river awaits,
blue water cracks;
your plummeting fate;
there’s no turning back.

From a certain depth,
Day’s night, nights day,
A curable path
If you’ve lost your way,
From a certain depth.

🥕🥕🥕

Treasured Moments by Jo Hawk

My daughter stood at the lake’s edge, trying to skim stones across its surface. As they plunged into the water, I remembered standing on this shore, throwing pebbles to master the skill. My father showed me the proper wrist flick to send a stone bouncing over the glassy expanse. Those rocks inspired my love of geology and my assemblage of semi-precious gems.

As I reached the shoreline, she stooped, selecting another rock from the bowl holding my collection. I gasped. Then I cradled her hand, positioned her wrist to the proper angle, and together we let the beauty fly.

🥕🥕🥕

Big Splash by Joanne Fisher

Esther took pride in her swimming. She could move through the water like a torpedo. She reckoned no one was faster than her as she swam through the warm waters building up speed.

Her long dark hair trailed behind her as she sped upwards. She broke through the surface leaping into the air and then diving back under with a big splash. As she plummeted downwards she turned around again and built up speed once more.

Breaking through the surface a second time her silver fish tail gleamed in the sunlight before she disappeared under the water again.

🥕🥕🥕

Freedom’s Price by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The Gull cries warning, but Gwyneth is late to work in the Manse’s scullery. She’s agreed to pay off Auntie Shallah’s debts from drink and gambling. Shallah had bet her tailfin; she’s now imprisoned by Pastor Johnson.

Gwyneth steps from the water and sheds her own skin, trading it for the thin blue shift she hides in the cave downstream.

The minister’s boy watches—he’s watched all month. He wants a girl, a magical mermaid for himself.

Gwyneth hastens to the scullery.

He slips in the cave, takes up and sniffs the pelt, still damp and salty, like her.

🥕🥕🥕

Selkie Self by Kerry E.B. Black

Seline pines for the sea, fingers pressed to her throat as though strangled without its brine. She spends every moment she can with toes tickled by frothy surf, never misses a sunset when the waters engulf the great orb in their murky depths. Her tears splash its turbulent surface before she returns to her husband, the man who hides her true self and thereby enslaves her.

One day, she’ll find the skin he stole. Then she’ll slide into it like destiny. She won’t look back when she rejoins her selkie sisters, and she’ll never again misplace her true self.

🥕🥕🥕

Interstellar Underdrive by Keith Burdon

“Did you ever see the two golden records the humans sent?”

“Yeah, Sounds of Earth, it was my job to listen to them when they landed here.”

“Were they any good?”

“Not particularly, but then they were better than that ‘Do wah diddy diddy’ nonsense. ‘Snapping her fingers and shuffling her feet’ sounds like your first girlfriend Gliese 145.”

“Shut your snarf Camelopardalis! No worse than that Splish Splash rubbish you always used to play.”

“What’s playing next?”

“That one about your mum, you know, the ‘…one eyed, one horned purple people eater.’

“Hey, she only did that once…!”

🥕🥕🥕

Mythical Creatures Swimming Pool by Nicole Horlings

It was a hot summer day at Mythical Creatures Swimming Pool, and everyone wanted to cool off. The Loch ness monster was slowly swimming in circles, completely submerged at the bottom of the pool. The phoenix was sunbathing on the patio. The mermaids were flirting with the lifeguard. Leprechauns were selling rainbow ice cream cones for a gold coin each. A couple satyrs were arguing over which radio station should be playing. Bigfoot shyly came out from the bushes, and stepped out onto the driving board. He let out a warning growl, then cannon-balled into the water, splashing everyone.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (ten-minute read)

Gone in a Splash by Ann Edall-Robson

Above the falls, she found what she had heard over the thunderous sound of water hitting water at the bottom of the rocks. A calf straddled over a rock, its Momma bawling on the other side.

Leaving her horse at the water’s edge, Hanna figured if the cow had crossed, she would be all right on foot.

Hanna reached out to the calf at the same time a rope settled over its head. The surprise of help made her turn to look. Losing her balance she went under in a splash, the current carrying her towards the deadly falls.

🥕🥕🥕

Maggie and Water by Di @pensitivity101

They say there is nothing more affectionate than a wet dog.

Maggie loves the water, and when she was a pup, we’d drive down to the park every day where she could have a swim in the sea.

She took the groynes as her personal obstacle course, which of course Hubby encouraged.

She went flying over them with ease, until the last when she did a complete somersault and ended up on her back. I was panic stricken, only to find her splashing around in total bliss as the water was quite deep on the side I couldn’t see.

🥕🥕🥕

Homey by Gloria McBreen

The box is nice and cold today. The last time Annie put me in here the temperature was not to my liking, and I nearly passed out.

Today, I’m feeling claustrophobic. “Annie, let me out now please.”

But she never listens to me. All she does is look at me with her big blue eyes, and beam her big toothy grin.

I’ll play dead; that usually works. Yes! Here she comes. I love this part. This is where she turns the box upside down, then I make a big splash into my lovely clean fish bowl. Home sweet home.

🥕🥕🥕

A Big Splashy Dance by Miriam Hurdle

“Karen, this is unbelievable. We did it. I’m so glad you accepted our invitation.”

“I didn’t know your team, but I know you. We worked well before.”

“Our dance group had been working with the choreographer for six months. Delia got hit with the flu in the last minute. I couldn’t think of calling anyone else.”

“It was delighted to dance with you again.”

“You’re natural, Karen. Just two rehearsals, you were like with us for ages. We made a big splash tonight. Our choreographer would love to have you come on board.”

“I’d like to think about that.”

🥕🥕🥕

One Way To Create a Splash! by Ritu Bhathal

“Can I see it? Please!” Julie ran over to Jack, straining to grab the phone.

Jack stretched his arm high up, out of her reach.

Grabbing his sleeve, she tried to bring his arm down. “I need to see the photo!”

“Why?”

“Because I’m not having you sharing awful pictures of me!” She pulled at his arm, her grasp nearing the phone.

Both hands on the handset – it was like a tug-of-war.

“There! Got it!”

One final wrench and it was hers… except it flew out of her hand and landed in the pool with a big splash.

“Oops.”

🥕🥕🥕

Candidate by Abhijit Ray

“Make noise, a lot of it,” Nikhil’s political advisor said excitedly, “let people know your arrival.”

Nikhil and his advisor were chatting on the way to his party office. There was a buzz that party will announce Nikhil as party candidate for assembly election.

“How?” Nikhil asked his advisor, “help me improve visibility?”

“Give interviews, address public meetings,” said advisor, as he stepped on a banana peel “create a splashhhhh!”

“Created enough splash for a day!” commented Nikhil as he pulled his advisor up from the mud puddle, “hope I do not land on my behind like you!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Splashing Good Time by Sally Cronin

Her husband insisted she was incapable of learning to drive, refusing to pay for lessons as a waste of time and money. After seven years she found her own voice, and grateful there were no children to witness her failure, she left. With a new job, cottage and money to make her own way, she passed her driving test first time, and purchased a small car. One day torrential rain filled the drains, creating deep puddles each side of the road. She saw him walking along the pavement. Smiling, she swished passed him, creating a wonderfully drenching big splash.

🥕🥕🥕

Big Splash by Robbie Cheadle

How do you see

your life unfolding?

What gives you purpose?

What inspires you

to get up in the morning

and face the day?

Do you care if your actions

leave the surface

of your own life

and that of others

smooth and unmarred?

Or is your ambition to cause

small ripples across

its glassy face?

Do you think it’s important

to make an impact?

To do or say something

that will be noteworthy

and possibly inspire change

to the course of many lives

What is your purpose

To leave an unmarred surface

Or to make a big splash?

🥕🥕🥕

Couple Counselling by Anne Goodwin

Laying the printed sheet on the table, she smooths out the creases. “Sorry about your questionnaire.”

“Butterfingers splashed red wine on it,” he says.

Quite a splash. The pink colour-wash obscures half the words.

“He jogged my arm.”

“She hogged the remote.”

“My programme hadn’t finished.”

“She knew kick-off was at eight.”

“Who’d watch football on his wedding anniversary?”

“May I interrupt you a moment?”

They look up like naughty children. “Give us another,” he says. “I won’t let her mess it up again.”

“No need.” I toss the questionnaire in the bin. “We’ve plenty to work on already.”

🥕🥕🥕

Front page Splash by Hugh W. Roberts

London, May 1965

All his fears had come true. Had it been worth it? Yes. But here it was splashed all over the front pages of every newspaper.

As a single, 33-year-old, man who had just been elected as a minister of parliament, the woman he had slept with had done all the hard work in persuading him to have a sexual relationship with her. He wondered how long it would be before the police came to arrest him.

As he lay back on the bed, he questioned if there was a parallel universe where heterosexuality was not illegal.

🥕🥕🥕

Envy by Violet Lentz

Half-way through Mr. A’s lecture, Evie grabbed the bathroom pass and dashed into the hall.

Without even securing the stall door, she flung herself to the floor in front of the commode. Her empty stomach writhing and heaving against itself. She retched violently, producing only a thick strand of greenish spittle that clung precariously to her lip for what seemed like forever, before splashing silently into the placid waters below.

Just then, the bathroom door swung open.

“Did you see Evie last night? She heard Jocelyn Medgar exclaim. “She was hammered!”

“God I wish I could drink like that!”

🥕🥕🥕

Ocean Waves by Susan Zutautas

The waves were splashing against the shore and it was the perfect time for bodysurfing. Sandy just needed to get out a little farther to ride them in. What she wasn’t expecting though was that there was a strong undercurrent and on her second ride in, down she went, under the water, the undertow dragging her across the sand. She felt as if she was about to drown and knew she had to fight her way back to shore. Disorientation caused Sandy to stay underwater not knowing that she was close to shore until she bumped into another person.

🥕🥕🥕

Bowing Out by Valerie Fish

Lucy knew exactly the date she was going to depart this mortal world, and she was going out with a bang, she just hadn’t yet decided how.

Slitting her wrists was out; Lucy couldn’t stand the sight of blood; or stick her head in the gas oven as she was all-electric.

The job had to be done properly, nearly but not quite dead wouldn’t do.

The decision was taken out of Lucy’s hands when, so engrossed was she in her dilemma, that she stepped off the pavement into the road straight into the path of the 223 to Uxbridge.

🥕🥕🥕

The Dream by tracey

Jan worked on her novel off and on for years, decades. Long off periods: moves, jobs, babies, cancer. But she never totally gave up. She wrote and edited, wrote and edited some more. On her 65th birthday she decided it was finished.

Jan left the book sitting on her desk, printed and bound by the local UPS store. Her granddaughter found it, read it and self-published it on Kindle. Turns out it made a big splash in the mystery genre. Meryl Streep played her heroine in the movie adaptation.

If only Jan had lived to see her wonderful success.

🥕🥕🥕

Splash by Anita dawes

I am looking through my rain painted windows
Waterlogged drowned gutters run
with rainbow coloured bubbles
Rain, when pouring, dancing to its own tune
Children finding the best puddles to make a big splash
Returning home to drip rain indoors
Red cheeks, happy faces
Safe in front of warm fires
Snug under cosy blankets
The deluge continues as you gaze
through your kitchen window
The heavens open, turning your garden pond
Into a tidal wave
Gold carp dancing in water lifted
Spinning lights flashing
Golden doubloons dropping
A big splash, smooth water once more
Cup of hot chocolate calling…

🥕🥕🥕

Unmannerly Speaking by D. Avery

“Pal, yer goin ta hell in a tote bag.”

“That’s ‘in a hand basket’ Kid.”

“Mebbe yer goin ta hell in a box a rocks.”

“No, Kid, that’s ‘dumber ‘an a box a rocks. Figger ya’d know that idiom.”

“Yer callin’ me a idiom?”

“If ‘n the boot fits.”

“Well, you kin take a long walk off a short pier, Pal. Make a splash.”

“Speakin’ a short peers, how ‘bout thet Shorty? Didn’t useta have a ghost of a chance, now she’s chancin’ upon ghosts an’ rubbin elbows with writin’ idols.”

“An idyllic life!”

“Yer still an idiom, Kid.”

***

Splash Down by D. Avery

“Hey Shorty. Kid’s up in the Poet-tree agin. Says it flows up there, kin git words down easily.”

“Jist hope Kid also gits down easily. Really pursuin’ that buckaroo-ku, huh?”

“Yep, seems like. Kid’s real het up on doin’ some writin’ lately. Wants ta make a splash.”

“Hey you two, I kin hear ya. Hang on, I’m climbin’ down with what I writ. Whoa, oh, ohhh! Oooh. Ow.”

“Kid, ya made more of a splat. But don’t give up.”

ripples on the pond
lead away from the tossed stone’s
unwavering path
lilies nod at the passing splash
silently echoing
***

Limrickin’ by D. Avery

Headquartered in a state appendicular
Way up on the Keweenaw Peninsular
There’s no need to fret
Because of the net
Worldwide, the Ranch is not at all insular.

“Knock it off, Kid, limrickin’ gits my Irish up.”

“Yer Irish, Pal?”

“No, thet’s an idiom.”

“Ah, stop with the name callin’ already. Oof, speakin a limb wreckin’, I’m some sore from fallin’ outta the Poet-tree. Was up there spinnin’ tales, then was in a tailspin.”

“Mebbe ya shoulda hit the ground runnin’, Kid. Or flapped yer arms ‘stead a yer gums; soared ‘stead a sored.”

“Someday you’ll pay, Pal.”

“Hmm.”