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Festival of Lights

Light up a lamp, candles, hot air balloon and more because around the world people believe that light overcomes darkness. Even when our festivals are attacked or melded strangely when cultures collide, our humanity glows brightest with hope.

As we enter a season filled with holidays, writers lit up the page with stories about festivals of light.

The following are based on the November 1, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a festival of lights.

PART I (10-minute read)

Festival of Lights by Charli Mills

Glass shatter during dinner. Papa grabbed the boys and we sheltered beneath the table. Patterns of woodgrain forever etched my memory. Mama stood until Papa hastened her to hunker down with us in frightened silence.

We waited for boot thuds and forced entry. A truck engine revved. Guttural voices hurled invocations hard as the pick-ax that smashed our front window and toppled our Menorah – “Big-nosed Jews!” “Death to Hymies!”

My 10-year old mind probed why Papa’s features fated us to die. Friends at school said, the Holocaust wasn’t real, grow up, get over it, this is 2018 in America.

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It only takes One: by Di @ pensitivity101

There is no darkness
When a single light shines,
It brings hope and promise,
A gathering of minds.
Another light beckons,
Two soon becomes three,
Four, five and six,
Reaching out to set free
Festival torches,
All sizes and bright
Dazzling in glory,
Embracing the night.
Some call upon spirits
For Lost Souls to find peace,
Warmth, joy and kindness
Are within easy reach.
All join together,
No-one is ever alone,
Lend a hand, ear or shoulder,
Or just pick up the phone:
Celebrate living,
Let light show the way,
It only takes one
To keep darkness at bay.

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The Festival of Treats and Lights by Rhuchira Khanna

Raj lights lamps in all corners of his house with hymns playing in the background.

He is celebrating Diwali the festival of light that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance.

Just then the bell rings, he opens the door to a bunch of kids dressed in spooky costumes and shouting, “Trick or Treat.”

He smiles, grabs his bucket full of treats and shouts “Treat…Treat!” As if surrendering to their threat in a sweet way!

Shuts the door, and continues with his prayers of the Hindu festival that comes around the same time as Halloween.

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Glowing Lights by Patrick O’Connor

It was a dark evening. The clouds didn’t allow the stars to easily be seen. On top of that, the New Moon meant visibility would be low.

Then the announcement.

“Burn in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…”

Multiple flashes and suddenly the whole park lit up in multiple colors.

Seventy-five hot air balloons lit their fires all at once causing a kaleidoscope of color.

It could not have been more beautiful.

Once a year, in September, the balloon festival comes to town.

As the balloons slowly lifted to the night sky, the glowing lights offered an image of peace.

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Chester Learns About Hygge by Molly Stevens

Chester stomped into the house after getting his ice shack ready for winter. He said, “What in the blazes are you doing with all these candles everywhere?”

Ruth took a sip of hot cocoa. “Now that the weather’s turned cold and the days are darker, I’m practicing the Danish art of Hygge.”

“Hoo-gah? Where’d you get that cockamamie idea? From our loony neighbor, Myrah?”

“No, I read a book about it. You have to admit. The candles make the house look cozy and inviting.”

“Inviting? Yes, to a crew of firemen.”

Ruth smiled. “That might not be so bad.”

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Lustre by Reena Saxena

The festival was extra special this time around. Her husband had splurged on the best of everything for Diwali, and the children had an excited look pasted on their sweet faces. She couldn’t deny being happy …. but she sensed a dark secret somewhere, which the illumination could not cover.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau guys were at the doorstep, early morning. Their house was being raided.

The lamps looked morose in the light of dawn, and the floral designs lost lustre. She handed over the keys to the officer, and moved out, not wanting to see the can of worms.

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The Light of My Life by Susan Sleggs

I sit alone most evenings in my dark high rise apartment looking out at the colorful lights that make the city seem like a welcoming, safe place. Too bad I know most of it isn’t friendly at night even for a man. I have admitted to my co-workers that I do this but I haven’t shared why. It isn’t any of their business. They say it’s a strange habit. I know when my cell sounds a specific tone the whole place will be brightened with the chatter of my daughter while we Face Time. She is my true light.

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Brown Mountain by H.R.R. Gorman

Recent floods had stopped the trains from winding through the mountains, and Stewart took advantage of this darkness to investigate the Brown Mountain lights.

Lights glinted ahead. They didn’t flicker like a lantern or candle, but this region wasn’t lit by electricity. Stewart picked up his pace.

The massive, golden source became more apparent as he closed in on it. He noticed the light streamed from an open doorway, and a queue of skeletal figures entering. The ghosts ventured forth with smiles, and Stewart felt no inclination to stop them.

He reported on the haunting, “Lights caused by trains.”

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Festival of Lights by Frank Hubeny

“I saw one once,” Joel’s grandfather admitted.

“We knew Teresa didn’t understand things like we did because of some birth defect. At her mother’s funeral, dark thunderclouds approached. Her father wanted to speak but couldn’t at the podium. Teresa rushed to him, ‘Don’t cry, Papa! She’s right here.’”

“With a lightning crack the power shut down. Someone lit candles so we could see.

“When I told them what I saw, they thought I was as nutty as Teresa, but a ten-year-old doesn’t misunderstand the way adults do.”

Joel’s grandfather paused. “Teresa’s mother was there caressing her husband and daughter.”

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Come On Baby by Geoff Le Pard

‘Wassup, Morgan?’

‘Mum’s left Dad.’

‘Why?’

‘He came back from that Jazz festival, turned all the lights on, got all frisky…’

‘Eeew, gross.’

‘Right? She asks what’s up, he says he’s high…’

‘Your dad!? How’d that happen?’

‘One chap brought cake. Dad asks what is it. According to Dad the guy said they’re not brownies but Dad had a bite, insisted they were and had six. Larry, Dad’s mate checks. They guy actually said “They’re pot brownies” by which time Dad’s on his way to light Mum’s fire.’

‘Sounds like you’ll have a sibling come spring…’

‘Or they’ll divorce…’

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A Quality of Mercy by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Alas,” Lady Arabella sighed, holding a palm out from under her parasol. Days of full darkness had been followed by months of half light. “It seems the sun will never again shine, nor rain warm our moonless nights.”

“I fear you’re correct, sister, but what can we do?” Rob, hand tucked behind his back, reached down to adjust a spat. He noted the striped caterpillar crawling across their path, and raised his heel

“Hist! Show mercy, brother!” Arabella touched his arm.

With that, soft drops of rain began to fall, shimmering with all the colors of love and hope.

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Star of the Show (Part I) by D. Avery

Hope made her guess. When her mother had incorrectly guessed Mary, Joseph, wise man, sheep, donkey, cow, inn keeper, and even baby Jesus, Hope finally told her what part she had in the Christmas pageant.

“It was my idea, Mommy! I got them to let me do my idea!”

“What, Hope? What role is left?”

Hope’s eyes shone with her broad smile. “The star! I’m going to be up on a ladder behind the stable dressed up like the star!”

“Do you have lines to memorize?”

“Nope. I just have to shine.”

“Oh, Hope, you do. You’re a natural.”

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Star of the Show (Part II) by D. Avery

“Our Hope is a star, alright. Come on, we’re going snowshoeing.”

“Now? It’s so dark out.”

“I have a surprise.”

“Let’s go, Hope. I’d rather tramp in the snow than have to guess again.”

From the top of the meadow the frozen lake was an empty blackness in the moonless dark, framed by twinkling lights of houses on the surrounding rolling hills.

Below them their own kitchen window glowed warmly.
Suddenly beams of light reached out from the high roof of their barn.

“Daddy! A Christmas star in the cupola!”

“Not just Christmas. We’ll light up every dark night.”

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Brief Outage by Bill Engleson

In the night, there is the increasingly familiar hum. The neighbour’s high-end generator has kicked in again.

The house is silent, a symphony of darkness, save for the thump of the fatter cat’s feet in the room above.

And a near-spent nightlight.

The electric bedside clock is unforthcoming.

I stretch.

My toenail slashes her ankle.

I get a wallop. “That hurts,” she points out.

“Sorry.”

“Damn! You’re sorry, are you? You always do it.”

“Sorry.”

It’s the best I can do…

Then the house starts to buzz.

The clock flashes its resurgent time.

Power surges.

The night’s electric again.

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Where is Clarity? by Jules

Gnat. Sat. After annoying my nose, flying past my glasses.
Adding an extra period where it did not belong on my screen.

I could imagine the gnat elsewhere, like visiting simmering dew, outside.
While thinking about what to write I forgot about my coffee.
The rim of fluid enchanted by the glowing reflection of the chandelier.

swimming contently?
not quite caught in a raindrop;
gnat gained afterlife

could’ve drowned in a raindrop
did his soul add any light?

Saturday we will switch from later dawn to an earlier dusk.
Just who are we fooling by ending Daylight Savings Time?

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November the fifth … and the third and the fourth and the sixth too by Anne Goodwin

Rainbow sequins burst onto a velveteen sky. With every screech and bang of the lightshow’s soundtrack, she feels him flinch. People scowl: his barks and yelps foul their outdoor entertainment. She grips his collar, strokes his head.

In the before, they baked potatoes in the embers, her brother’s boxer snug in his basket beneath the stairs.

Only one more night before the park’s returned to her and him and others like them. Pitch and peace from sunset to sunrise. Until Christmas. Hopefully, they’ll be bedded down in a shelter then. When another batch of fireworks explodes in the sky.

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Tragedy by kate @ aroused

Some use their tragedy to educate the masses. Talk to politicians, schools, service clubs, whoever will listen. About the ongoing violence and abuse, the demeaning vitriol and sadistic mind games that was their life for far too long.

But some feed off the drama, others wonder why they never left, most can’t listen with their heart. We don’t want to believe this is our sons, fathers and husbands.

They hold mass candle light vigils to mark extremely violent deaths, or the just sheer vast numbers. But still the laws and attitudes don’t really change. The women are to blame.

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River by Anita Dawes

This river of lights, each one a wish
Hope to pin your dreams upon
A prayer to Lakshmi to chase away the darkness
To turn your demons into dust
A river of starlight echoing the world above
Each light a prayer to the ghosts of old Gods
In the heart of the people
India, a place of colour
Smiles light the faces of people passing by
Hope lives here
The old Gods love them for it
Each light above, connected to the ones below
To the dreamers who believe Lakshmi will come calling
To greet each wish made tonight…

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Return: by The Dark Netizen

Praises be sung, our lord has returned victorious!

The cheers and chanting continued throughout the capital as its ruler made his triumphant return. The citizens lit torches and kindled celebratory flames in order to welcome their light bringer. They sang praises of his exploits in battle, how he alone destroyed half the enemy army. They celebrated their victory over their greatest enemy, one who was threatening their very way of existence. The roads leading to the palace looked like rivers of gold, and the palace itself shone like the sun.

The Festival of lights marked the Demon king’s return.

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Haunted by Rosemary Carlson

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” That old quote popped into her head at 4 a.m. It wouldn’t be daylight soon this morning since the Earth was spinning toward the shortest day of the year. She was still awake at this ungodly hour, as she often was, yearning for the light.

She couldn’t sleep until it was daylight. The old dreams, the terrible dreams of her childhood, haunted her, and she knew she couldn’t sleep until dawn when they would subside. She remembered them when she awoke, screaming, but only for a few seconds. Only the light chased them away.

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Harvest (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

Spring’s unusually heavy rains flooded farms and orchards in the villages. Working together, the villagers replanted the fields and shared the harvest.

Diamante, a school teacher, was also responsible for the ancient temple until the Abbott could send a priest. For the fall harvest celebration, the children festooned the ancient temple with flowers and lit countless candles. From the open roof, sandalwood smoke drifted into the sky.

As evening deepened into night, Diamante recited the ancient prayers. The children excitedly traced the paths of shooting stars, imagined them falling into the sea, turning into myriads of tiny green lamps.

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Christmas Eve by Margaret G. Hanna

We begin our ritual.

We’ve been here before. We know what to do. We sit in silence and darkness. Quietly. Calmly. Anticipating. The organist plays one single note. We sing “Silent Night.” Softly.

The minister lights the first candle. We pass the flame from one person to the next until the sanctuary is bathed in the soft, warm, gentle glow of candlelight. The primal call of flickering flame draws our attention to why we are here. To remember and celebrate the miracle of birth, of rebirth.

We go out into the night, to the sound of snow falling silently.

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Festival of Lights by Kay Kingsley

Along life’s backyard fence hangs endless strands of twinkling lights.

Each strand is separate but when viewed from a distance, they all seem connected, end to end, as far as the eye can see.

We each have a strand of our own, each bulb shines bright for a wonderful life event but suspended between those bright events an invisible darkness remains, the home of hardships and monotony.

With a little luck, we try not to linger there as the dim glow of hope beckons in the distance.

Our chains are unique and together our festival of lights hang eternal.

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PART II: (5-minute reads)

Bandi Chorr Diwas by Ritu Bhathal

Emperor Jehangir found no reason to keep Guru Hargobind imprisoned anymore, for he had shown no danger towards the leader.
The Guru insisted upon the release of fifty-two innocent Hindu kings imprisoned alongside him.

Whoever was able to hold onto the cloth of his gown would be free.
He had a special cloak stitched with enough tassels so they could all hold on.
The day Guru Hargobind arrived back in Amritsar happened to be Diwali where the whole city was flooded with the light from candles, lit in joy at his return back to the holiest of Sikh cities.

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Gert by Kate @ aroused

Many gathered for the monumental celebration of Gert’s life. She inhabited our earth for nearly a century seeing so many changes we can barely comprehend.

Gert struggled with the night as sleep evaded, she would be restless so we chose a theme of light as she transitioned to better things. Her favourite opera was broadcast as we had a light parade … some with lanterns or candles, their wax safely caught. The entire village strung with vibrant coloured lights.

Then we gathered in the local for her favourite toddy while we shared stories of her many adventures and achievements.

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The Tradition by tracey robinson

Every December the family went to the huge light display in Winterhaven. Mom complained about the crowds, the kids complained about the cold and Dad complained about the cost. But it was a family tradition. This year Mom said she just couldn’t face it and Dad didn’t want to pay so they didn’t go.

On Christmas Eve, once it got dark, Mom said, “Everyone get your coats on, we have a hole in our holiday that needs to be filled”. They walked through their still, silent neighborhood, savoring all the small light displays, happy to continue their family tradition.

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Horticultural Thoughts by D. Avery

“Whatcha thinkin’ on, Kid?”

“Thinkin’ on plants Pal.”

“Shorty said ta be thinkin’ on light.”

“I am. Ever heard a phototropism?”

“I favor geotropism. Like ta keep rooted, grounded in my place.”

“Plants kin take root jist about anywhere. Patient and perseverant. I reckon plants gotta be rooted firmly an’ reach fer the light. Always pointin’ towards the light.”

“Yep, Kid, they’s a lot ta contemplate with plants. Mebbe it ain’t so far afield, you thinkin’ on plants. Reckon folks is like plants, Kid?”

“Some is Pal. Some need cultivatin’.”

“How?”

“Light. We gotta stay grounded and shine on.”

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Ranch Lite (Yarn I) by D. Avery

“You fixin’ ta build a fire, Pal?”

“Yep. Figger if ever’one’s as tuckered out from the rodeo as me, they might wanna jist set a spell by the light of a warming fire.”

“Pal, ‘member when we first showed up here?”

“We? ‘Member, I’ve always been here, jist no one knew it.”

“Oh yeah. Then how come we’re always together?”

“I wish I knew, Kid. Prob’ly ‘cause when people hear voices it’s always plural, not ‘voice’. Someone needs us.”

“Someone could do worse.”

“Yep.”

“You set, Pal, I’m gonna tell about showin up here.”

“Can I stop you?”

“Nope.”

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Ranch Lite (Yarn II) by D. Avery

It was a dark an’ stormy night.

“Kinda cliché, Kid.”

“Well it was, ‘an mebbe it’s metaphorical.”

“Meta for who?”

“Shush.

It was a tumultous time, deep winter. A young greenhorn, feelin’ her age-

“What? You describin’ cheese? How kin a young greenhorn be old?”

“That’s the way it is, Pal. Jeez, where was I?”

“On yer way here.”

“Okay.”

An old greenhorn was wanderin’ the desert. The wind was blowin’ an’
somewhere in that wind was the answer, my friend.

“The answer was blowin’ in the wind? Was this 1963? Jist cut to the chase already.”

“If’n you’d…

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Ranch Lite (Yarn III) by D. Avery

…let me.”

I was wanderin’ somewhat aimless, had gone off trail. I was stumblin’ in the dark. Then, crestin’ a rocky ledge-

“What’s that meta for?”

“Shush Pal!”

I saw a strange glowin’ light, color of carrots on the horizon…

“Were you near Roswell, New Mexico?”

“Pal!”

“Okay!”

I went closer, real cautious like. I wasn’t sure what it was, if’n it were safe. If’n it were meant fer me…

“Was it?”

“Sure was.”

I followed the light and come ta the fire here at the Ranch.

“That’s it?”

“Yeah.”

“Not much of a story, Kid.”

“Lighten up Pal.”

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Broken Fences

What do you do with a broken fence? You could mend it, tear it down, or let it be. It seems that broken fences have much to say about the human condition and relationships.

Writers wrote along the fence line this week, seeking repairs or reasons to fill their stories.

The following are based on the July 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence.

PART I (10-minute read)

Write On Buckaroo Nation by D. Avery

“Aussie!”

“Kid, why’re you sketchin’? That was last week.”

“Thought I’d sketch the Ranch. For perspective. Look, not a fence in sight.”

“I see it that way too Kid. Free range.”

“That’s right, free range! Where ever the prompts lead! No boundaries!”

“While I appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm Kid, there’re always boundaries.”

“What d’ya mean, Aussie?”

“You’re free to range about, explore and express yourself, but within the bounds of societal norms.”

“Oh. Maybe we oughtta fence out the new normal.”

“No Kid, let’s see what comes and goes as we all range freely.”

“Good ideas Aussie! Good ideas.”

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I Threw a Shoe by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She sits on the highway’s gravel shoulder, rubbing her sore, unshod feet. The sun presses hard on her head and shoulders.

She roots through her backpack, amazed at all the crap picked up on her journey, and pushes it away, disgusted; had she truly traveled so far without a sip of water on hand?

She waves to her children, galloping down the same road she’d traveled all her life. Colleagues also pass, clomping by in their own heavy shoes.

She rises, scenting sustenance in free-flowing water and her real tribe, just through that busted gate and across the meadow.

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The Wood’s Wet and Rough by Papershots

A wooden fence. The end of the path? The wood’s rough and wet. The fence’s small, no, hold on, it’s broken. There’s a plaque – cold, steel – then the hand drops. Go back. It says something. Not in your language, though. And friends have always been teasing for trying. For what? “It’s not like you can read “our” books!” Did they shake their heads? Skeptics do that.

E… n..t.. r…a.nce – s.. i.. gn… – f..or.. – e..qu.. i..n.e… – f.. a ..c..ili.ti. es..

There’s more. Will it explain why it’s broken?

S..t..a..bles – f…a..rms –

The mind gets there before the hand.

T..r..a.i..ning.

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Frayed by Sherri Matthews

Exhaustion seeps through me like melting lead. I feel older than my years, stretched too thin like frayed rope. Tie another knot. Maybe it will hold a little longer. Or maybe it will slip and come undone. There is no more space to fill with let-me-help-you. I wander, aimlessly, from one broken fence to another, and my helplessness mocks me in the scrape of splintered wood against my skin. Bleed, then. Stick me again, and again I will bleed. Then I will cuss and rage and come to life, and I will wield my hammer and nails and rebuild.

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Resilience by Anurag Bakhshi

Charli fell on her knees with her head held in her hands and let out a loud, piercing wail.

The fence was broken, and so were all her dreams, hopes, and aspirations. All the horses bolted….not a single one left.

All her hard work…all that waiting…it had all been for nothing. Her life was over…for good.

But then, she took a deep breath and shook her head violently.

No, she would not allow despair to overpower her spirit. She would find another ranch, and prove to everyone that there was no rustler better than her.

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Flash Fiction by David Wesley Woolverton

He should have been a writer or a con artist. He should never have been both. Being both meant spending too much time in fantasy, losing ground in reality. Now the consequences were beginning to show.

“I don’t have a sister. Wait, I do.”

The fence that should separate lies from the truth was breaking down.

“Or maybe she was a cousin. How many of those did I say I had?”

He mentally flipped through the reference book of his characters, then realized that was the wrong place and tried a family album, then realized the album was forged.

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Flash Fiction by M J Mallon @ Kyrosmagica

The stony-faced agents sat together in neat chairs, tables locked, faces fixed with false smiles.

As I approached, I imagined an insurmountable stone fence, groaning under the weight of their nervousness and my self-doubt.

My eyes locked on my chosen agent. She gestured to me to come over. I feared nothing could save me but as I spoke the stones tumbled down leaving me with an open gateway, an opportunity to shine.

I grabbed my pitch and went for it, galloping over my doubts. The fence of agents lay in tatters, but my idea was met with cheers.

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Good Neighbor by Sarah Whiley

What miscreant has been here? I wondered, inspecting the damage to the fence.

I was not at all, properly attired, and looked about, seeing if there was anyone who could assist.

Nope. It was just me.

I considered my freshly polished shoes, crisply starched white pants, and my lace detailed silk shirt, and huffed.

I did not need this today, not one bit, I cursed.

Part of me was tempted, to just walk by; pretend I had never seen it. But I couldn’t abandon my responsibilities.

As they say, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

So I got to work.

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Broken with Intent by Norah Colvin

The fence was too high to jump or even see over, no footholds to climb, and palings too close to squeeze or even peer through. It hugged the soil too compacted to dig. It seemed impenetrable, and so intrigued. He stacked boxes for makeshift steps—not high enough. Finally, he hatched a plan—balloons! He blew them big and tied them tight, attached some string, and waited. And waited. Then a gust of wind lifted him high, over the fence, where another, just like him, smiled and said, “Should’ve used the gate; latch is broken—always open to friends.”

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Reckon You’re My Neighbor by Chelsea Owens

Windstorms were frequent visitors to the valley; at least, they had been as long as Beck’s and Kirk’s families remembered. The only thing more frequent than wind, in fact, was their petty neighbor disputes:

Kirk called the police on Beck for some fireworks.

Beck’s wife blamed Kirk’s kids for broken gate slats.

And everyone said Kirk’s dog was just plain yappy.

But the day after the panel blew down between their yards, Beck showed up, right at Kirk’s door. “Reckon you could use a hand with that there rotten post,” was all he said.

And they got to work.

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We Survived by Patrick O’Connor

The wind howled.

Rain came down almost sideways.

Shutters rattled.

Lightning came closer by the minute.

Day became night.

We left to find shelter in our storm cellar. Tornado sirens had been going off for several minutes.

Suddenly, the sirens stopped; but we could hear the wind whipping all around. The pressure change made our ears pop.

Finally, the winds subsided. We waited a few more minutes and then cautiously came out of our hideaway.

Looking around at the devastation, we were happy to be alive.

But – all that was left of our house was a sad, broken fence.

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After the Storm by Saifun Hassam

Diamante and the villagers were stunned at the destruction along the beach. Logs from miles of broken fence were strewn along the sandy cliffs and dunes. The wood piers and fences, strong and sturdy in years past, were no match for the stormy winds of last night.

Inland, the terraced fields of barley and wheat had been flattened. Somehow, the living fences of hedgerows and cedar and pine groves had weathered the storm and sheltered the olive and peach trees.

Diamante prayed at the ancient temple, amid the broken pillars and urns and uprooted plants, for courage to rebuild.

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“Perfection” by katimac

She sits cross-legged on the tumbledown wall in the overgrown lot waiting for the sunrise. The lot is surrounded by a picket fence, grown gray with age. She’s watched the sun beam through the one missing picket to the east as it’s crept across the lot, closer and closer to where she’s currently perched, like an elf on a shelf.

Today’s the day sunlight reaches it. No time until it shows in her missing slat. She adjusts her butt on the wall and raises her camera to her eye. The blaze ignites in her lens and her eye. Perfection.

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Hidden Garden by Kerry E.B. Black

Erin swung the two loose boards of the fencing and scampered beneath, heedless of the dirt grinding into her knees and palms. She shouldn’t enter this yard any more than an errant Peter Rabbit should raid Mr. MacGregor’s garden, but something about the forbidden draws the adventurous spirit. Once she discovered the accessibility of the fence and that it was just her size, she couldn’t resist.

She hunkered beneath a hydrangea to take in the scene. The old lady’s yard outdid any park Erin had ever seen, with fragrant swaths of flowers surrounding bizarre statues. Why did she hide it away?

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Broken Fence by Frank Hubney

The Fredericks bought Adkins Estate with farmhouse, barn, and sheds. The farm maintained itself from land rentals to local farmers. There was also a notorious fence separating it from ancient Indian burial grounds.

That’s why they bought it. They planned to rent rooms to people wanting to spend the night in a haunted house.

They repaired the buildings but broke the fence to make it look spookier. They called their website “Visit Fredericks’ Freaky Ghost House.”

Many rented rooms and left five-star reviews until it became known that after changes to the fence, the ghosts no longer felt welcome.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fence: by The Dark Netizen

The fence to her house lay broken. The petulant old woman looked out from the window.

The townsfolk always thought that the house was haunted. They absolutely believed that the old woman was a witch who knew all kinds of sorcery. She welcomed their superstition. She loved her peace and knew that fear kept all the annoying people away from her property. At least, it had managed to until today. Today, some teenagers had broken her fence, trying to show-off.

She removed her pen and wrote their names in her black book. Stupid teenagers.
Her fearful legend would expand, tonight…

🥕🥕🥕

In-Between by Wallie and Friend

The fence had stood between them since they were children. When she was little, Emmy peeked between the slats. She made up stories about the secretive boy-next-door. She decided he was magic.

In her teens, Emmy was still making up stories. Joey wasn’t a fairy or an elf anymore. He was an idiot. The nights they spent fighting over the telephone only to make up the next day, leaning over the fence.

When she came home from college, the fence was broken. Mom told her it was the storm. Seeing Joey waiting for her, Emmy couldn’t have agreed more.

🥕🥕🥕

The Yellow Flower by Susan Sleggs

I was a reservist in Iraq, where everything inside and out of our barbed wire compound was sand colored, including the hazy air. One morning there was an unfamiliar excited buzz in the conversations. The words flower and yellow were prevalent. I listened for details. During the day I made it to the south side of the compound, where outside the fence, sprouting out of a pile of leftover razor sharp wire was a sorry excuse for vegetation. The weed wasn’t even green, but it had the most beautiful yellow flower on top. Hope growing out of the dust.

🥕🥕🥕

The Short Way by Eric Pone

Suzie and Sue made their way along the fence perimeter owned by the Jamison Cartel in Columbia. Suzie was intent in her search.

“What are you looking for?” Sue in a whispered voice.

“There is always a broken section in a fence. And its always out of the way. Be patient love.”

Around the bend, they found the break. A broken section of fence with paint long since withered. Suzie thumb her comm.

“Found a break target acquisition in one hour.” She said.

“Roger That! Standing By” came the reply from Ginger playing sniper and their cover 2200 meters away.

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

Broken Fence by Anita Dawes

Late one night after having a skin full, dad drove through Mrs Mack’s front garden.

Breaking the fence was bad enough, but he took out her favourite roses too.

Dad said he was sorry, that he would fix the fence first thing.

Mum brought roses, but there was no answer when she knocked on the door. She left the roses on the step but watched to see if her friend would take them in.

They died where mum left them.

After a week, mum told us that some fences cannot be mended. That she had lost her best friend…

🥕🥕🥕

Matter of Time by oneletterup

Damn her.

His hand hurt like hell. She’d broken the skin.

Blood smeared onto the bed as he pulled himself up.

Damn her.

He stumbled out the open back door into the yard.

He lit a cigarette and growled…”I know you’re out here. It’s just a matter of time.”

Moonlight reflected off the chicken wire on the old split rail fence. The entire yard surrounded. And overgrown.

He smiled and spoke…”You Know There’s No Way Out.”

Then he noticed it. Mangled wire. Rotted wood in pieces. An opening.

A broken fence had ruined everything.

She was gone.

🥕🥕🥕

The Broken Fence by Rosemary Carlson

Every morning when she took her walk, she passed beside an old, weathered board fence. It didn’t seem to hold anything. No horses, no other livestock, not even a house. Every third or fourth board was missing.

She didn’t know why she came this way. She thought of her family each time she saw that old fence. The family that didn’t want her anymore. The family that was gone that had left her alone. The family that didn’t care now.

Her feelings for them were gone. They’d slipped away like the wind slipped through the gaps in the fence.

🥕🥕🥕

Horses Have Greater Value (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Blast it you duck-billed buffalo!” Cobb lunged at the stock handler.

Despite his injuries, Hickok dodged the charging man better than the bear that tore him up. “It weren’t me,” he said, confronting his angry boss.

“That busted fence didn’t happen on its own accord,” Cobb growled, pointing to the corral empty of horses.

“No Sir, pert sure it didn’t. Found it that way before you showed up. Recon’ Dock rode out after ‘em.”

“Then quit idling and get after that herd!”

Hickok sighed and set out on foot, his left arm hanging as useless at the fence post.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fences: Realised Dreams by Ritu Bhathal

Many an afternoon, I’d sit there, peering through the gap in our broken fence.

It was like a portal to another world.

I’d see them all laughing, playing together, running around freely.

Oh, to be able to laugh openly with friends.

Laughter was in short supply here since my Daddy died, and that new Father had arrived.

He didn’t want no brats running around the place. It was bad enough I existed.

To escape the prison that our home had become, I’d come and sit here.

For the first time in years, my Mummy seemed happy.

I didn’t complain.

🥕🥕🥕

Old Hickson by Bill Engleson

I would’ve come home anyways that summer. There was the job at the mill. This was in the days when a few months work could pay for a full year of edumacation.

So, when mom called and said old Hickson had up and died, I knew there’d be a new layer of remembering.

He was always the old guy next door. On the other side of our fence.

His fence, really.

As a kid, I avoided looking over.

But one year, I was fourteen, I saw the way he looked at me.

The lonely old bugger.

And I knew.

🥕🥕🥕

The Fence by Nandini Jain (Dexterous Writer)

Mocked by the people of the village, those stereotypes scoffed her determination by saying,”what can a girl do?”

To express their rage, they break the fence of their house.

Years later, Sitting beside the banyan tree the proud mother used to stare at the broken fence surrounding the house. When asked, “why don’t you mend it?” She replies,” It reminds me of the force and energy my daughter applied to fly above high, accomplish the goals, chase her dreams and these broken wooden planks remind these stereotypical evil minds that a mighty heart and liberal mind can do wonders!

🥕🥕🥕

The Seagulls’ Fence by magnoliajem

The falling slat startled the roosting seagulls.

“Whadaya doin’, Tommy? Supposed to be mendin’ fence, not breakin’.”

“Damn gulls don’t belong this far inland.”

“They’s travellers. Sea in the morning. Eat. Home here at night.”

“Yeah? They need-a keep goin’ ‘stead-a shittin’ all over granpaw’s fence.”

“Breakin’ the fence ain’t gonna stop ’em from comin’ here, long as that compost sits there.”

“Why? Y’jus’ said they eat at sea.”

“Oh, they’s always lookin’ for food. Don’t always have a taste for fish.”

“We’ll see ’bout that. They need-a leave.”

With compost moved and covered, gulls left. Fence got mended.

🥕🥕🥕

A Gift by Susan Sleggs

“Grandpa, there’s a round green thing growing out back by the broken fence.”

“There is? We better take a look.”

After a slow painful walk, Grandpa said, “I’d say that’s going to be a pumpkin.”

“Can we keep it?”

“Rightly it belongs to the neighbors. It’s their vine coming through the hole.”

“Let’s not tell them.”

“Would that be right?”

“No, but can we wait till it gets big so I can watch it grow?”

“No harm in that.”

A few weeks later they found a note near the big, almost orange pumpkin, “It’s yours. Carve it for Halloween.”

🥕🥕🥕

[trade] by Deb Whittam

The call came in at 2am, waking him from a dream featuring babes dousing their bodies with sunscreen.

For five minutes he had listened to the caller, to their heartbreak and woe … then once he had appeased them, he had booked it in.

It was going to cost him more in time and money than it was worth but there wasn’t any alternative.

When you’re a fencing contractor, and a loose paling comes off at Grandma’s house, you answer the call.

He sighed, then rolled over, perhaps he would catch the babes as they jumped into the pool.

🥕🥕🥕

Emotional Barricades by JulesPaige

Clark could only imagine how his daughter felt. Mainly because he never asked. Then her thick letter arrived. He’d never had the opportunity to answer her questions before. It was about time he mended those fences with truth, even if it was just from his vantage point. Then he died.

While cleaning out Clark’s paperwork, his third wife found the letters relating memories that she selfishly couldn’t cope with. So, she trashed them.

Years later the wife, in a conversation filled with anger, told the daughter what she did. Thus, creating a new unmendable fence cementing their shaky relationship.

🥕🥕🥕

Mend that Fence! by floridaborne

A finger pointed at my middle-aged sister, I yelled out, “I hate you!”

“Why?”  She asked.

“All I ever heard from mom was, ‘Jane is so smart.  Jane is in the honors society.’  She never loved me!”

“All I ever heard was, ‘Susan is so creative!  Why can’t you be creative, too?’  I was never good enough for her!”

We stared at mirrored eyes reflecting the same story.  Mom didn’t believe in praise, only correction.  I was the first to say, “Let’s mend this fence!”

We became sisters that day, choosing our mother’s nursing home a few months later.

🥕🥕🥕

Grandpa’s Fence by Teresa Grabs

It was just an old wooden fence out back on my Grandpa’s property. Nothing to look at, nothing special. Every summer we took a bucket of whitewash out there and painted the fence. Time passed, and when I was thirteen, I refused to go visit. Hadn’t spoken to him in fifteen years. Not until the day Grandma died. I wasn’t invited to the funeral. It hurt, but I knew why. I left the family. I drove all night to get there on time. When he came home, I had the bucket of whitewash ready to mend our broken fence.

🥕🥕🥕

Family Rift by Di @ pensitivity101

The Gap was like a hole in a fence, patched but forever failing.

‘The strength is in the surrounding support,’ the experts said.

Support indeed, carrying, lifting, holding, protecting, but still, The Gap remained.

In desperation, the family closed ranks, thinking erroneously they were helping by providing shelter and respite.

Their unity failed too as the recipient felt trapped, claustrophobic, judged, restricted and stifled, rebelling in anger, spite and bitterness.

So it was agreed to leave The Gap alone, maintain the remainder and leave the open wound to heal or fester. Time would tell and they would be waiting.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Fence by Lady Lee Manila

This used to be our garden
We ran, spun and had fun
The old oak tree by the fence
Now the fence is broken and shun

We were brash and made lots of pretense
Quite rambunctious, please no offense
Running till we were all breathless
Between all of us, we had sixpence

The gate used to creak, no fuss
Playing hide and seek with us
Outside until we were tanned
The world was vast, was bonus

This used to be our dreamland
Played everywhere and the sand
We grew up fast, world expand
This was our fence, always grand

🥕🥕🥕

Crossover by Reena Saxena

Jamie Patel had just recovered from a stroke, but was asking for all forbidden foods since morning.

“Let’s celebrate, kids! I guess I survived to only see this day.”

His daughter-in-law faced redundancy in the office, and did not take kindly to his remark. He continued at a high pitch, sensing her mood,

“Check your portfolio. You can bid goodbye to that job of yours. Nifty has crossed the psychological barrier of 10000 today. The only way goes up.”

Jamie was the oldest broker of Dalal Street, and had seen humble beginnings. He had reached the summer of 2017.

🥕🥕🥕

Balancing the Butts by Geoff Le Pard

‘What are you doing, Morgan?’

‘Mending a fence.’

‘Who have you annoyed now?’

‘That’s a stupid expression, Logan. How does ‘mending a fence’ resolve a dispute? If you mend a fence, aren’t you just re-erecting some barrier?’

‘What if the fence is keeping something important in or dangerous out? Mending it would restore the balance.’

‘You know, the only reason you’d ever mend the bloody fence is to sit on it.’

‘There are times when you’re like a fence, Morgan.’

‘How so?’

‘If I spend much time with either of you, you both become a pain in the butt.’

🥕🥕🥕

Strong and Stable by Anne Goodwin

Some party! Guests hurled abuse across a bifurcating fence. But Theresa would get them dancing and use the wooden panels to erect a different fence. Strong and stable to keep the rabble out.

Sipping champagne, she waited for the guest of honour at the porticoed door. Behind her, the factions hollered, whacking each other with bits of broken fence. Theresa’s smile was equally wooden. Just high spirits, she’d tell the POTUS, when he finally arrived. Where was he?

She turned, flinching at the wreckage as Boris shook Donald’s hand. He’d certainly made an entrance, bulldozed through her precious fence.

🥕🥕🥕

A Fence by kate @ aroused

Many build fences to keep others out … boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.
Others build fences to keep loved ones and livestock in, wandering off considered a sin

Fences are constructed of various materials, some attractive others more practical but their purpose is clear to all. Demarcation their vocational call.

Gates can be kept tightly locked, under guard or opened to those of like mind.
But don’t be fooled by those gates coz some are real unkind!

Some mend fences while others are keen to tear them down.
What are your fences for … solicit smiles or a frown?

🥕🥕🥕

Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall by D. Avery

“En guarde, Pal!”

“Put that dang thing away Kid.”

“Foiled again. But Shorty says we’re to fence.”

“We’re ta mend fences Kid.”

“Oh. Didn’t know we had a problem Pal.”

“We’re fixin’ fences ‘round the Ranch.”

“What’s that fence there do, keep the garden from strayin’?”

“Keeps critters out.”

“What about that fence? That keep critters out?”

“No, that one keeps the cattle in, keeps ‘em from strayin’.”

“Oh. Like if they reckon they’s greener pastures on the other side a the fence.”

“Yep.”

“Seems like they’s two sides, in and out.”

“Yep.”

“Seems like that could give offense.”

🥕🥕🥕

Not All Is Lost

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Not All Is Lost… by JulesPaige

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Look for the Helpers by Kerry E.B. Black

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

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

Yet after the waters receded, it wasn’t FEMA that helped. It was family and friends who hauled, cleaned and sanitized.

🥕🥕🥕

Starting Over by Sascha Darlington

At 11, her daddy died, taking away the sunshine.

At 15, she destroyed her knee and her chances for a sports scholarship.

At 37, she watched her husband, who didn’t want children, leave for his pregnant, much younger assistant.

Eight years later, as muddy waters careen around the sides of her house and her bedraggled pup is tethered to her, she yells at the sky: “What the fuck do you want from me?”

“To save you to start with,” the Coastie says.

The sun peeks out. Harbinger of hope. Maybe all’s not lost.

She’s very good at starting over.

🥕🥕🥕

Lost And Found: An Argument For Caring by Geoff Le Pard

‘You’ve lost me, Morgan.’

‘I’m just saying it’s easy to be liberal if you don’t have to deal with all the crap.’

‘So helping people, caring for others you don’t know, that only counts if, what, you suffer equally?’

‘I’m saying you can’t really understand if you don’t experience something. Otherwise it’s make believe.’

‘When you broke your leg, my sympathy didn’t count?’

‘I…’

‘Helping your sister after her husband left didn’t count because I’ve never been abandoned…’

‘The schmuck… no, that’s different. I think. Give me a minute… I might have got this wrong…’

‘Not all is lost.’

🥕🥕🥕

Lost and Found by Chelsea Owens

Becky always heard housefires described poetically. Tendrils of curling smoke, for example; or, flakes of softly drifting ash. Looking around; she could only think: burned, smoky, ruined.

Clearly, most poets didn’t stand in the charred remains of their own homes.

“That’s about it, ma’am,” the fire marshal said. Becky turned to him. His eyes were red beneath a sweaty, sooty hairline. Becky managed to nod, to dismiss him and his crew. Sighing, she shuffled behind them through the detritus.

“Ouch!”

A box. Squatting amongst flakes of softly drifting ash, she uncovered her fire safe. She smiled, through her tears.

🥕🥕🥕

Down Under by Carol Keefer

The earth quaked for several minutes of hard shaking. Immediately, the floor fell from under my feet, and then something hard hit my head followed by instant unconsciousness. When I awoke, I was pinned under a file cabinet under concrete. I was hurt and gasping for air. I prayed and expected to die, but how long would death take? Then, I heard an animal sniffing nearby. The rescue dog barked, and I cried out, “Help me. Please help me.” I heard voices outside. They began to move away debris. Someone said, “Hold on. We’re going to get you out.”

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by kate @ aroused

The company hadn’t ensured that safety was paramount. So sixteen men were trapped underground. Poisonous gas was leaking so nobody could go in or out as the fresh air might trigger an explosion.

Distraught families and first response teams were anxiously waiting above ground. Children were confused not really comprehending the threat. CWA ladies were handing out cups of tea. People were trying to stay positive but the underlying tension caused tears to fall and fears to surface.

They heard a resounding crack followed by a loud heartfelt cheer … the engineers had found a way through, miners saved!

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Charli Mills

Annabel retreated from the mourners. Thirty miners, four boys, and her beloved mine captain dead. Fire erupted at level 27 and none evacuated. Men continued to drill, eager to chase the new copper load, believing the updraft would smoother the flames. Greed overcomes common sense, Annabel thought. Ripley was ambitious, a hard-worker and a smart man. He cared about the land and community, but even good men succumb to copper fever. They dug their own deaths. She left the mass funeral and wandered to the falls. Ripley was gone, but his babe grew in the swell of her belly.

🥕🥕🥕

Rock Bottom by Sherri Matthews

He hit rock bottom and I thought it was the end.

“If you keep drinking, you’ll be dead in six months,” warned the doctor.

I was wrong; he stopped, for a few months at least. Then he started again and I feared his next fall could be his last.

I wondered if spending nights hunched up in a doorway might change things, or late night rants down the telephone cursing his dear, beloved father, who he hoped would rot in hell.

It was the years in prison writing letters to his daughter that told me all was not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Anita Dawes

A burning rose lay on the hot desert sand, if not found, I would be next.

I lay there beneath the hot sun, waiting to burst into flame, the voices of the Bedouin tribe close by.

Hope still beat in my chest that someone would come looking for their daily water. Would they walk this way?

Buzzards circle overhead, waiting for a feast.

As I reach for the rose, my eyes beheld a child’s feet. All was not yet lost, she would go back to her people for help.

Much later, I would discover the child’s name was Rose…

🥕🥕🥕

A Fresh Start by Anurag Bhakhshi

As his beautiful wife opens the door, I stare longingly at the ornate interiors of his palatial mansion.

All this could have been mine, if the boy whom I’d raised as my own son had not betrayed me.

Unable to bear the loss of everything I’d held dear, I was on the verge of ending my life, when I recalled his words “Not all is lost, till you lose hope.”

And so, here I am, looking for a fresh start.

Hoping against hope that Aladdin’s wife will exchange that ‘useless old piece of junk’ for a brand new lamp.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tribute to Military Pilots (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs

An Air Force pilot friend shared: My crew and I were walking to our plane for a training run and stopped in our tracks when the base fire siren went off. We looked around and then up. Our hearts jumped into our throats when we saw a plane rushing the runway on fire. It hit with a huge explosion. We didn’t believe anyone could survive, but not all was lost, within minutes six airmen walked from the smoke. We learned the meaning of “any landing you walk away from is a good landing; some are just better than others.”

🥕🥕🥕

I’ve Got You Now by Jan Malique

I’ve got you now, hold on tight. The fall hurt, you’re bleeding. I’m so sorry you decided to take this course of action. I didn’t realise you heard, damn me for being so selfish! I didn’t need help, just acting out like a spoilt child.

I can’t hear what you’re saying. Does your throat hurt? What you must think of me. Your eyes are so sad, I can’t bear to look at them. Hold still, I’ll wipe the blood off you. Sorry, so sorry! Your beautiful wings, torn and charred. Can you ever forgive me, my dear guardian angel?

🥕🥕🥕

The Remedy by Wallie and Friend

He hadn’t wanted her to see. It was inevitable that she should. In his mind he had pictured her reaction, imagining a thousand teasing quips—“I always said you were the handsome one”—but when she came in his humor failed. He saw her shock and it brought the walls down around him.

She went straight to the bed. His heart monitor was racing, but she wrapped him in her arms, her hand soothing his broken face. He felt her kiss as he cried. Her touch was gentle, as steady as her voice.

“My angel,” she said. “My angel.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Crows Secret by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

She was losing control of her powers. Zaria woke up, hovering above the bed staring down at the rumpled sheets twisted below. She fell, landing hard on the floor. Without her magic, she was nothing. She would be banned from the witch’s council.

Zaria arose from the floor. From his perch on the windowsill, crow flapped his wings and landed on her shoulder. He whispered in her ear, “Not all is lost. I’m here to give you the gift of clairvoyance.”

The young witch grinned. She felt the veil lift. Thank you crow, I see what you are saying.”

🥕🥕🥕

That Kind Of Day by Heather Gonzalez

Today has been the worst. It started off like an ordinary Monday, but it definitely didn’t end that way.

My car wouldn’t start right away. I got to work late, but just in time for my boss to notice. If that wasn’t bad enough, they announced that we would be working this weekend.

I made it home later than usual due to the rain. I poured myself a glass of wine, put my feet up, and turned on Netflix. A large cracking sound came from outside. Everything went dark. Not all was lost. At least I still had wine.

🥕🥕🥕

Let It Go by Susan Sleggs

The cocky author had gone to the writing conference feeling he would come away with an agent; the pamphlet said he could pitch them. He listened, open minded, to the various panel discussions and realized he would have to rewrite his whole manuscript so it started and ended with a bang. He decided it wasn’t worth his time, and appreciated the writing he had done had gotten him through a rough patch in his life. All was not lost: the next time he read a book, he read for pleasure instead of learning the craft. He felt oddly free.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Creative Cul-de-sac? by Anne Goodwin

Some days I led the way and, obediently, they followed. On better days, they raced ahead and I trailed after. On bad days, I bribed and begged for their company.
Sometimes, the path unwound for miles ahead. Sometimes, each step seemed virgin territory. Sometimes, we backtracked to try from a different angle. But always moving, discovering, until they abandoned me in darkness, sour and dank, patting the walls but no sign of an exit. Stuck. Despairing. All that effort wasted.
A chink of light that, as I watch, grows. Bigger. Brighter. Braver than before, we leave the cave together.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Robbie Cheadle

She gazed at the results of the board examinations in shock. This was her final academic hurdle to qualify as a lawyer and she had failed one of the three papers. She didn’t know how she would face her family, especially her Mother who had such high hopes for her. Her Mother would say that she would never pass. She knew her Mother’s negative cast of mind.

The conversation didn’t go as she expected at all. “You can re-write the examination next year,” her Mother said with surprising positiveness. “You will definitely pass next time, all is not lost.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Different Way of Being Faithful by Paula Moyer

Jean and Bill had been divorced for 12 years when she got the call. “Your father died this morning.” Her mother’s voice, baffled.

Later that morning, she and her husband Steve flew to Oklahoma. Later that night, Bill arrived, along with the girls, Lydia and Nola. The next day, as Jean and her mother put together the funeral, they needed one more pallbearer. A quick call to Bill’s hotel room settled it: “I would be honored.”

At the cemetery, Jean watched the coffin trundling past, Steve and Bill shouldering opposite sides. After everything, she could still count on Bill.

🥕🥕🥕

Losses and Gains by D. Avery

Ilene was first to the lawn chairs, Marge huffing behind.

“I gotta sit down. Phew. Do your feet hurt?”

“Not even one of them. Marge, stop walking in your work boots. I happen to have extra left footed sneakers if you want to start there.”

“Ilene, you’re something, always joking about your leg.”

“I lost a leg, Marge, not my humor. I’m lucky I didn’t lose my life.”

“Well, let’s have a beer to celebrate. I think I lost another five pounds on that walk.”
Ilene watched her friend bend to open the cooler. “All is not lost, Marge.”

🥕🥕🥕

Believing by Allison Maruska

Infernal wailing resonates. I gulp my drink, wishing it would drown the torture.

A regular beat permeates the mood. One by one, my compatriots take their place. Some surprise me with their poise. Others…well, I need another drink.

But not all is lost. When I think my nerves and head can’t take any more, my name is called. I trudge to the center. Now, others are swigging their drinks, wondering what I’ll bring.

The beat starts, followed by a that famous piano riff. My onlookers groan as I grab the mic.

Screw those guys. I haven’t stopped believing.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tumble in Time by Bill Engleson

“Barefoot?”

“Yes, sockless. Shoeless too.”

“On a damp grassy incline?”

“That too.”

“So, quite slippery, I assume?”

“As slick as a grifter’s tongue.”

“Thanks for that. So?”

“So, why did I do it?”

“Yeah, good guess. Don’t you keep sandals by the back door?”

“Yup.”

“For stepping outside?”

“Exactly.”

“Too much trouble?”

“To slip them on? No. But they’ve seen better days.”

“So have you, it appears.”

“Never fallen like that before. Scared the bejesus out of me.”

“Nothing broke, though.”

“Dumb luck. Still, it took me two hours to crawl up.”

“Learn anything?”

“Yup. Never ever go outside.”

🥕🥕🥕

You Can’t Get There From Here by Robert Kirkendall

A city person pulled into a rural service station. “Excuse me, sir, do you know the way to Davenport?”

“Davenport?” the rustic attendant answered. “Don’t reckon I do.”

“How about Greenfield?”

The attendant pondered. “Nope, don’t know the way there either.”

“Well can you tell me the way to the nearest Interstate?”

“I suppose if you keep driving down this highway you’ll run into one, but I don’t rightly know exactly where.”

The driver became frustrated. “I must say, you don’t seem to know your way around here.”

The attendant chuckled. “Yeah, but I’m not the one who’s lost.”

🥕🥕🥕

And All Shall Be Equal Before the Law by PaperShots

So we walked on, our hands on our friends’ shoulders. We could barely see ahead. From the crowd, some shouted at us, “Where are you going?” – the kids cried. The echo below the vaults was terrifying. It rippled the filthy water! (raises his voice) “Where are you going?” The stench in the sewers was unbelievable. (a thought strikes him) And at the same time on the other side of town the defense lines had been broken through. Those neighborhoods were free. We didn’t know. Communication was so bad. We ended up in a field miles to the north. (laughter)

🥕🥕🥕

It’s a Matter of Getting Up by Miriam Hurdle

It was early December 2017, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California devoured 307,900 acres and 1,300 structures. 230,000 residents described the wildfires in the neighborhood as a war zone. Smoke stretched 1,000 miles across the Pacific.

By Christmas, residents came back to their burned home, found pieces of displaced family photos. They pinned them on a bulletin to find owners. Some put up Christmas trees, decorations to bring cheer to the neighborhood. Strangers hugged each other and shed some tears. Homes and belongings were gone. Yet not all is lost. They wanted to rebuild and be neighbors again.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Jack Schuyler

Heat wafts over the night breeze and the somber smell of wood smoke settles in the neighborhood. Two stories are no more and the once sturdy foundation is now a bed of coals. Amid the destruction, I am struck by an overwhelming wave of gratitude. Not all is lost.

With our arms around each other, we watch firemen scurry like ants over the burning wreckage. The fire dwindles and the light goes out. Sirens cease and the stars return. At the edge of the smoldering ruins, we embrace in the bittersweet spirit of, “at least I didn’t lose you.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Flower Called Hope by Di @ penitivity101

The land lies barren and dry,
Drought is a killer.
Crop fields harvest dust,
Bairns cry in hunger.
The heat shows no mercy,
Hands blistered and sore
Toil endlessly
Until the blood flows.
Animals have deserted
This once bountiful place,
The bones of the unfortunate
Bleach in the relentless sun.
Bowls and vats lie hollow,
Their meagre contents
Rationed rather than shared.
Their days are numbered,
Maybe only single figures.
A tear falls from the sky,
One becomes many
And a lone flower dares
To raise its head.
All is not lost:
Clouds are gathering,
And with them,
Rain.

🥕🥕🥕

Hope by Kay Kingsley

“Not all is lost” he says in a protective, loving voice.

She shakes her head, trapped in an internal conversation between good and bad, like refereeing a match between reality and remaining positive. She chuckles at the absurdity.

What he means to say is ‘All hope is not lost’. You can lose everything but it’s only hope that rescues the lost, only hope brings you back, only hope paves the way through the darkness ahead.

The irony of her name is not lost on her. You have to lose it to find it but she’s been Hope all along.

🥕🥕🥕

Not the End of the World by Norah Colvin

Ever have one of those days? You know—it seems the world is against you, and everything you do goes wrong. Maybe you oversleep and in your rush, you fumble, make mistakes and get even later. You hurry to the stop as your bus pulls away. You flop down reviewing life’s punishments, and some jackass walks by telling you to “Smile, it’s not the end of the world.” What would he know? You open your phone and scroll: trivial drivel. Then this one story blows your insignificancies away. You phone your appointment, apologise and reschedule. All is not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

Stand and Deliver! by Juliet Nubel

‘Gimme your bag!’

She almost laughed at her friend’s attempt at the local thick accent until she felt the hard pull on her shoulder.

He wore a strange trilby hat pulled low onto his forehead and had tied a bandana scarf around his face. All she could see was the shining whites of his eyes and the gun pointing in her direction. Real or a toy? She didn’t want to know.

She handed over the bag. Keys, credit cards, telephone would now belong to this stranger.

But she held onto the gold locket around her neck. And her life.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All is Lost by Sarah Whiley

The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison.

Too scared to move, she realised she was holding her breath.

A single shot echoed off the bricks, shattering clay at her feet.

The shooter had found them.

She couldn’t believe this was happening. This was her high school, not the six o’clock news!

She felt something wet and realised she had peed her pants. She watched the yellow trickle out until two black boots stopped it short.

She squeezed her eyes shut and waited.

The click of an empty chamber told her, not all was lost after all.

🥕🥕🥕

Comic Relief by FloridaBorne

My mind in fog, the car wandered through a mall parking lot the day after New Year’s. A few empty spaces waited near an expensive store and I walked past a perfume counter with one goal.

I needed a black dress.

Passing the cosmetics counter, I hear wailing. No one scrambling to call 911, no sirens, just 2 high school girls consoling their friend over a broken nail.

I laughed at the irony. Should I tell the 3 Stooges, “Not all is lost?”

No. It was the first time I’d felt like smiling since my husband had passed away.

🥕🥕🥕

Signposts by Saifun Hassam

In the garden, Lisa grieved for Aunt Veronica, an artist and illustrator of all things botanical. Lisa’s own interest in archaeology was sparked on a family vacation with Veronica, to see prehistoric rock and cave paintings in Brazil. Not all is lost.

Veronica swiftly sketched the cave artwork, and the prehistoric villages. Lisa caught her aunt’s excitement. She learned how to glean the stories of people, to look for ancient and prehistoric signposts, when there are no written records.

Lisa inherited Veronica’s Library. Not all is lost. Veronica’s generous gift filled her with a deep abiding sense of gratitude.

🥕🥕🥕

Disaster Strikes by Teresa Grabs

Even when times looked their darkest, everyone could count of the sun to rise, and drive away the night and its memories. No one would ever believe that the sun would not rise, but that is exactly what happened on June 28, 3258. Reports indicated a massive black hole developed behind the sun and devoured it, just like one had to Jupiter three years earlier. We had less than twenty-four hours to get off this planet before we all perished. Thankfully though, our global distress signal was intercepted by the Third Intergalactic Fleet. I wonder if they eat humans.

🥕🥕🥕

Grant Gain by JulesPaige

Gather together, permit others
As they offer their aide
In your heart of hearts, fear not – forbid
Nightmares their tight grasp upon reality

Golden opportunities await
Angels in plain clothes to host
Individuals, families – some will
Need less others more…

Grant those who come as a visitor
An opportunity to become family
Include them as repairs begin –
Not all is lost…

healing can take years –
fears ebb and flow like water
mud can cloud good hope

let those in who filter out
dark diteris and debris

focus on mending
both that which is solid as
well as what’s unseen

🥕🥕🥕

Reality Check by D. Avery

“Pal, buy me a beer.”

“Cain’t Kid, spent ma beer money on the Go Fund Me fer Cynthia Riley.”

“Same here, Pal.”

“That’s good, Kid, ‘cause them folks up there really need ta dry out.”

“Whyn’t they jist come shelter here at the Ranch?”

“Ah, Kid, the Ranch is a wonnerful shelterin’ place, but yer always fergittin’ ‘bout the virtual elements of it.”

“Here ya go agin, Pal, havin’ ta remind me we’s fictional characters. But I really wanna help.”

“I’m sure the Rileys ‘preciate you givin’ up yer beer money, Kid.”

“I’m thirsty.”

“Could be worse.”

“Dang right.”

🥕🥕🥕

Ripley House of Healing (For Cynthia) by Charli MIlls

After the river subsided and rubble settled, Cynthia found a photo of her daughter at age nine lying face-down in red mud. Memories flood like the main floor of her 112-year-old home. She came to Copper Country to help the elderly. As a young intern, she worked out of a house below now buried in a debris field. She stayed, married, raised a family, and raised her voice to protect the vulnerable. She looks up at the house still standing, gutted of walls and floors. She stands up for her Ripley House of Healing. Her story is not lost.

🥕🥕🥕

You can help Cynthia Drake who had a Copper Country mountain slide into her house and force a river to reroute through her Ripley Home of Healing where Carrot Ranch was to host writing retreats. GoFundMe: Help the Drakes.

Ravens

The Raven came to us through the gripping poetry of Edgar Allen Poe, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…” That raven might have cawed “Nevermore,” but that indeed was not the last word from ravens, or about them.

Writers chased black wings for stories this week. Ravens feature in the tales they inspired.

The following are based on the March 1, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a raven.

***

Everlore by Chelsea Owens

Once within a forest clearing, whilst I sought my heart some cheering,
With num’rous sorts of very unhealthy choc’late treats I most adore –
While I wandered, knapsack-snacking, dropping errant candy-wrapping,
I thought I heard a quiet flapping, flapping from the forest floor.
“‘Tis no predator,” I whispered, “wrapping from the forest floor –
Only garbage; an eyesore.”

Then came hum’rous Fate permitting; sending to me, most unwitting,
The view of who had made the flapping, from the littered forest floor:
Eager girl scout sitting, beaming, as I jumped up, scared and screaming –
I’m out of words; there is no more.

###

Raven by Colleen Chesebro

stealer of souls
when seen in groups of three
Goddess Morrigan’s familiar
trickster
Augurs interpret messages
by which way the bird flies
divine omens
rebirth

The crone found it hard to dispute the wisdom of the Runes. Her predictions usually rang true. If so, the harbinger of death was on his way.

The corvid flew in from the east landing in an oak tree, chanting, “I’m not here to claim your soul, I’m here to set you free.”

The trappings of age fell away. She rose from the Chrysalis shedding her sheltered state. Then, she began to write…

###

The Beast from the East by Anne Goodwin

Twirling snowflakes clot the air, a ballet best appreciated from behind a double glazed window. Those who can, remain indoors, muting traffic to a whisper, but some must brave the blizzard. “It’s suicidal,” I said. “I’ve no choice,” he countered.

A raven perches on a bare branch, harbinger of doom. He was due back hours ago. His phone goes to voicemail. No juice, no signal or worse?

Tyres crunch on frozen snow. Did I see a raven, or a smaller cousin? He’s home. He knows: a raven here’s as improbable as this Siberian weather.

###

Raven by Robbie Cheadle

The raven visited her in a dream again last night. She felt sure it was some sort of prophecy. First came the raven, silently slipping into her mind. Then she found herself in the water maze. She was in a flat bottomed boat, rowing frantically through the dark water. The overgrown foliage was so dense it completely blocked out the light. She tried to follow the shouts. The shouts were her Father’s. She had to find him quickly, she knew time was short. Every night she searched for him. She could never find her way through the sinister maze.

###

Mine Eyes by Bill Engleson

From my window, I can see the web of wires, stepping stone rooftops of innumerable lives, a distant mountain, a sky, dancing with darkness.

When I say, ‘my window,’ I mean Room 602 of County General.

I’m here temporarily.

Not by choice.

Strapped in.

Unvisited.

Tube fed.

My eyes, worn, tearless, face the window.

I notice them.

They arrive in twos and threes.

They land deftly on the wires.

They land in rows on the rooftops.

They occupy the darkening sky.

Crows. Ravens. Seagulls. Birds of many feathers.

A collusion of ravenous fowl.

A Hitchcockian horror come full circle.

###

Raven by Nicole

A shadow crosses the windshield.  I look up – a raven looks back over its shoulder. “Follow me” it says. I think I want to go back to my tent, forget the world for a few more days. But something makes me follow the raven.

Out of the dark woods men emerge, blood on their hands. Swastikas on their rifles, a Klu they are not shooting for food.

Down the mountain the raven leads, through New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, around the Beltway. It lands atop a white dome.

Below, the streets are full of righteous children chanting “never more.”

###

Raven by joem18b

A raven adopted me at my cabin in the north woods. I named him Edgar. We had a casual relationship, based on food and togetherness.

Edgar roamed the woods at will. One day, he brought home a crow, whom I named Allan.

Allan generally gave me a wide berth, unlike Edgar, who would perch on my shoulder. Allan and I competed for Edgar’s affections. I sensed that Allan was gradually winning.

When the two birds built a nest together and Allan laid eggs in it, I changed her name to Ellen.

The hybrid babies took me for their godfather.

###

Raven the Midwife by Paula Moyer

When Jean was pregnant with Lydia, she binge-read the previous decade’s literature on the childbirth reform pioneers Those women raised their fists for things the things that were standard for the next generation.

Jean loved reading about the rebel midwives, daring to help women have their babies at home. Her favorite was Raven, a lay midwife in California. Her hair was as black as the feathers of her bird namesake. At one chapter’s end, Raven, surrounded by sister-midwives, gave birth to her youngest child.

Jean was planning a hospital birth. But when Lydia came, Jean hoped to channel Raven.

###

Raven by Pensitivity

The pain was excruciating, and she was alone and afraid.
Breathe. Short pants.
With a final push, she delivered her child into the world.
Spent, she looked into her newborn’s face, then wrapped it to her.
The bird was the last thing she saw.

The poacher believed both to be dead until the babe started to cry.
The girl couldn’t have been more than fifteen. Undernourished, she didn’t stand a chance.
A bird circled overhead, dark against the blue sky.
The child had jet black hair and blue eyes.
‘I’ll call you Raven,’ he whispered and took her home.

###

A Raven’s View by calmkkate

Got a circuit I do most days
farmhouse near the river
pensioner’s balcony in town
park at lunch time is a sure bet!
Basically I cruise where I can get
the juiciest morsels, easier than
hunting for myself if these daft
humans want to provide but
road kill is still my favourite
fresh eyes you can never regret
they beat the packaged meat
These kind folk who feed me
have no real idea of the tasty
joy a fresh kill provides us
No idea why they need such
big nests and it must be awful
not to fly free!

###

Seeker by Michael Fishman

The fortune-teller extended a bony hand toward me. Thin translucent fingers pressed against my chest sending a chill into me.

She pulled back and raised her hand and was holding an amorphous black glob in her palm. “This,” she said. “Is what lives inside you.”

I frowned.

“This means you need to clean your spirit; your soul.” She explained. The fortune-teller closed her hand and the bubbling image evaporated.

“How?”

A thin smile spread across her wizened face. “Find your guide.”

Outside, squinting against the sun, I saw the raven, perched on the light pole, looking down at me.

###

Bran’s Blessings by Jan Malique

He sits on the branch, looking at me with one eye and then the other, looks between two worlds, that of the living and the dead.

A Messenger with preternatural sight and deep wisdom. What news do you bring from the Otherworld Blessed Raven?

The Cauldron of Rebirth appears, invites exploration. Again I ask, what news do you bring from the Otherworld Blessed Raven?

“Their Rebirth” he mutters.

I look in your eyes and only see the unknown and secrets buried within secrets. You give me sight of things only dreamed of and utter legends half forgotten.

###

A Raven Speaks by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“What did you see at the North Falls, Silas?” Sylvi looked into his dark eye.

He searched for words. His head teemed with questions and sensations. Few people gave him his due, mistaking him for his smaller-brained, raucous cousins. No mind. He and Sylvi understood each other, having traveled many miles together. He shook his feathery black beard.

“Who kidnapped Maeve?” she stroked a finger down his hooked beak, to calm and center him.

Ruffling his wings, he stretched his neck and croaked, “Wyatt!”

Sylvi straightened, laughing in relief. No harm done, then. Wyatt and Maeve were already betrothed.

###

Raven by EluminoraCreations

Enveloped in disguise, Nathaniel listened. Though he could transform well for an apprentice his age, he was less skilled at ravenspeak. Besides that, the ravens were talking over each other as usual. He had to concentrate hard in order to understand anything. His heart, deep under a thick layer of black feathers, pounded so hard he feared they would notice. But his master had ordered him to get the facts of their conspiracy and to come back alive.

Assasination. War. Three days. He launched himself into the air. He had heard the words that no one wanted to hear.

###

All’s Well that Ends Well by Anurag Bakhshi

The raven-haired beauty has stolen my heart
And made a hopeless romantic out of a crusty old fart

Too late have I realized this, I squarely blame my ego

If I had even an iota of sense, I wouldn’t have let her go

She came by last night, and fondly bid me adieu
I poured my heart out to her then, hoping she’d say I Do
But just like the inhabitants of Spanish mountains would find a downpour surprising
I was thunderstruck when I found out that my Eliza was now the Fair Lady of my friend Colonel Pickering

###

Messanger of Doom by Deborah A. Bowman

Tell Me, What Lies You Bring, Raven?

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night

A golden sun was shining

But the color wasn’t right

Too bright, too orange, too blinding

The coarseness of the beast

Not fit to be a craven fowl

His beak open, demanding a feast

Nothing to quench his howl

Not a bird of prey

A large animal, depraved

He does not fly or soar

His voice, a primal roar

He stalks my garden walk

On torn barren legs

No feathers, just tangled dregs

Like a monstrous wild cat

Screaming too loud!

I fall as my heart shivered

My breath stops … message delivered

###

The Ravens by Michael Grogan

The Raven family lived two doors up from me. They were an unhappy lot dealing with not only history but mythology as well. Raven’s were a known symbol of bad luck, foretellers of death and had been written about in Shakespeare’s plays in the most disparaging way.

They once took a holiday to the Tower of London where they attempted to release the captive ravens much to the horror of the guards.

Life was a never-ending series of trials for the Ravens, no one liked to rub shoulders with them and you never stood near them at a funeral.

###

The Raven by Stephen Lodge

We lived in London, close to the Tower. They told us all about it at school. Our parents told us.

If the ravens fly off,
The Tower Of London will crumble and fall,
There will be nothing left,
The Crown Jewels will be gone and all.

We peered over the wall and saw the ravens in the Tower grounds still there. To this day, remain they do, though no carrion keeps them there. Not since the Last Executioner was himself beheaded by Madaxe the Saxon around 1115, although some say it was as late as two in the afternoon.

###

Raven by Ritu Bhathal

“It is a worry indeed, Your Majesty, yes. We’ve had to sack three of them this year, and getting decent replacements, well that is an increasingly tough task.”

Beefeater Chambers looked out of the window, whilst speaking to the Queen on the Royal telephone.

The requirement was six ravens to be guarding the Tower of London at any one time, or the Tower and Kingdom would fall, and this new generation, well they were useless.

They didn’t have the spunk of their ancestors, calling in sick all the time, too busy posing for the tourists and Instagram selfies.

Really!

###

Giving Him the Bird by Geoff Le Pard

‘Bloody parakeets, Logan. Pushing out our native birds.’

‘They’re pretty, Morgan.’

‘They’re foreign. They’re frightening the sparrows and robins. It ain’t natural.’

‘So what’s the solution?’

‘Stop these foreigners coming in, taking our seeds and nests. Keep the proper British birds. They’ll not fly away once we get rid of the immigrants.’

‘Like the ravens?’

‘What?’

‘The ravens. At the Tower of London. They clip their wings to make sure they stay.’

‘That’s barbaric. Why?’

‘If the ravens leave the Tower, England falls.’

‘Whose idea was that?’

‘The Normans, I think.’

‘Bloody French, coming over here, taking our crown…’

###

Marry Me, Jane! by Luccia Gray

‘Soon I shall be a bridegroom,’ said Mr. Rochester.

Jane looked down at her plain, governess dress and remembered Blanche Ingram’s extravagant clothes, noble features and glossy, raven hair.

‘I’ll leave at once. Miss Ingram will have plans for Adele.’

Jane refused to witness the man she loved marry a beautiful, yet unworthy gold-digger.

‘You would have me marry that frivolous woman?’ Rochester shook his head. ‘You think so little of me, Jane? I ask you to pass through life at my side as my best earthly companion.’

Rochester kissed her hand. ‘Jane, say Edward I will marry you.’

###

A Thousand Times…by Anita Dawes & Jay Marie

Blue eyes look back at me from the puddle I drink from, my feathers shimmer as the water moves. I know myself and remember that I have died a thousand times.

If I could speak, I would tell you the tale of my many lives. I come back from the Summerlands, I am the white feather of legend and my coming was foretold. I shall bring back the old magic.

Scavenger they call me. My wings clipped, I guard the Tower lest it should fall.

I am the white RAVEN.

###

The Dream by Pete Fanning

Dinner was lively with song and laughter. In the spirit, I allowed myself to smile.

“Oney?” Mrs. Wilks’ voice like a lash.

“Ma’am?”

“What has gotten into you?”

I set my eyes down. “A dream, Ma’am.”

Mrs. Wilks’ eyes flared, her mouth tightened. “Of what did you dream, Oney?”

It wasn’t enough for her to own me. She wanted my dreams, too.

“Oney?”

I told her I’d dreamed of ravens. Or crows. Anything but the Queen Mother and son—the future ruler of the kingdom.

Mrs. Wilks waved me off, talking birds and primitive culture.

###

American Royalty by Charli Mills

Cory grabbed bags of Doritos, kissing his wife before she retreated to the mall with their daughter “Drive safe with the princess.”

He grinned, now king of his castle with a tv remote scepter. A few buddies arrived with prerequisite beer to gain entry. Cory illuminated the big-screen. Unfettered cheers rose — no work, no church, no wives. At least for four quarters.

Breaking News.

Another shooting. Cory dropped his beer. Obvious as a black raven against white snow, he recognized his wife’s purse and sprawled hair. Pools of ruby and brass surrounded her head like an American crown.

###

Why? by D. Avery

Cronk! Raven’s call. “Diet is varied and opportunistic”. Cronk!, announcing carrion. Big black bird of varied reputations, mythical, dark. Cronk! Associated with death.

Why? Raven, not hawk nor dove, just a witness, an opportunistic feeder. Raven hears the gunshots, raven flies in, watches, waits.

With each bullet fired

Obliterated childhood

His own soul fading

To himself brings brutal death

Innocence is carrion.

Cronk! Raven calls in her family, teaches them to thrive. They, opportunistic feeders, learn to listen for the gunshots. Carrion eaters do not wonder at the source, do not wonder why there are so many fallen children.

###

Act of Congress by Molly Stevens

Dorothy abandoned her dishwashing to view the spectacle outside her kitchen window. A bald eagle circled overhead, closing in on a raven’s nest in the crotch of the big pine tree.

There must be babies in that nest.

She shuddered at the vulnerability of the chicks, on the menu for an overwhelming predator. Returning to a stack of pots and pans, she sighed and looked away from the brutal drama.

The clamor of angry birds reclaimed her attention. They waged a riotous protest, and the ravenous eagle retreated.

No mass murder today. Babies saved by an act of congress.

###

Mr Craven by Juliet Nubel

The whole school knew him as Raven. It was the way his black cloak flew behind him as he stormed along the corridors, screeching as he passed.

“Be quiet!” Don’t run!” Stop laughing!”

Never a smile or a nod. Just those piercing eyes staring down his crooked beak of a nose.

In class he hit us with his ruler, slapping hard on the backs of hands or legs. He brought it down so hard on my head one day that it drew blood. He looked pleased, not ashamed.

His real name was Craven. The extra C stood for Cruel.

###

Freedom by Kay Kingsley

Paralyzed, I laid in bed, unable to move even to scratch my nose. If I tried hard not to think about it I kept that imminent feeling of insanity at bay. I didn’t look at the calendar to know the date. I didn’t care anymore. Every day was the same. The godawful same. Gazing out the window tugged at my heart. I couldn’t see trees, houses, or even people. Only gray and freedom flying. Black ravens. Carrying the invisible strings to my heart, like dark dreams, my weighted freedom. I was jealous of birds… so I set them free.

###

Sign From God by Heather Gonzalez

“God, please show me a sign.”

Sam prayed as Katherine attempted to make a fire. They had been lost in the woods for days and hunger was really beginning to set in. Being a former girl scout meant that Katherine felt much more confident of their survival than he did.

“It is summer. Why do we need a fire?” Sam gripped.

Out of nowhere, a raven hit the ground hard in front of Sam. He knew it was a sign from God but was it good or bad? Before we could decide, Katherine picked it up.

“Oh good. Dinner.”

###

Black-Winged Messenger by Sarah Whiley

“They are the black-winged messengers from beyond,” my friend Bridget decreed, mystically.

I rolled my eyes. “You know they’re a real problem on farms?” I countered.

I remembered my farming mate telling me how the ravens particularly liked his grapes and soft fruits; and even how some of the larger ravens attacked the lambs! I’d seen them frequent Australian roadsides, feasting on the carcasses of the dead. Personally, I thought them altogether, quite opportunistic and horrid.

But I kept my mouth shut, as she continued, “When magic is near, the Raven will appear”.

Each to their own, I thought.

###

Raven by FloridaBorne

Why had I allowed her behind the wheel of my beloved Isuzu Trooper?

Teeth gritted…I knew it was coming.

“Bird!” My sister yelled out, slamming on the brakes. “Would you look at that raven!”

“Do I have to?” I grumbled.

Driven, she travelled another hundred feet along the lonely dirt road.

“Bird!”

While she stared through binoculars at another flock of feathered vermin, I opened the passenger’s door and jumped out.

“What’s wrong?”

“As if you didn’t know!” I replied, glaring at her.

“Normal people love birds!”

“I’m tired of flying into the windshield.  I’m not a passenger pigeon.”

###

Feeding the Ravens by Susan Sleggs

When visiting Grandma, I asked, “May I feed your friendly ravens?”

“Boy, you stay away from those evil birds. They’ll peck your eyes out!” my father snapped.

My mother disagreed. “I’ve fed those birds all my life. Only mythology and superstition say they are evil.”

Grandma settled the argument when she handed Dad her I-pad open to a fact page about ravens; they mate for life, use tools, can learn human speech, play in the snow, fly upside down, recognize human faces, voices and kindness.

Dad stomped up the stairs.

Grandma, Mom and I went out the back door.

###

Quoth the Raven (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane bends to scatter crumbs from her morning muffin. Will Edgar come today?

Ravens. Birds of Apollo and Odin, messengers from these gods of prophecy. Harbingers of death and loss. She can’t lose much more. She’ll feed her raven instead; give him a name.

Flapping heralds Edgar’s arrival. He pecks his breakfast, fixes his unnerving gaze on her. He hops aside and she sees it.

She edges forward but Edgar has already retreated, perching on the fence. She stoops closer, in awe. A ring, gold in color only, plated finish well-scraped.

“Yes, Edgar,” she laughs. “I love you, too.”

###

Raven Mum by Lisa Rey

The raven knew how she was perceived. As a bird full of venom and darkness, ready to peck your eyes out. She blamed these horror novels that were distributed around. In reality she was just like the other bird Mums out on her travels looking for food for her young: three sons and two daughters. Their father had being a loser but she diplomatically called him a ‘free spirit’. He had left when the babies were young and could literally be anywhere right now. She swooped down in battle with a crow Mum to get the piece of bread.

###

Winged Memory by PTSD Gal

They sang on the porch, but only for my father. He found them after a summer night’s thunderstorm. One of the few memories I have of him was when he was more of a father to them than me. Or so I thought.

As the Ravens grew stronger they would take their wings out for a test drive. ‘You see my love when they are strong they will leave and not return. It’s easy to let a creature go. You, I truly love and I’m afraid one day your wings will take you away and I can’t let go.’

###

An Uncommon Raven by JulesPaige

Raven watched her brother sweep the Nintendo villains in the
futuristic shimmering grove. Her father, on the balcony
drinking his Kingfisher beer and kicking off debris with his foot
into the void of the space below, not seeing his wife sighing
into her glass of Burgundy. When had the virtue of her family
turned into a single tonal resonance, lacking real life?

Raven hurried, she’d reach the bridge that spanned the
connection of this bored little town into the city. There the
library awaited. Her sanctuary. There she could read and
perhaps create a plan to save them all.

###

Naming a Superhero by Joe Owens

The discarded suggestions still hung in the air as the room fell silent. After all, it wasn’t every day you had the opportunity to hang a name on a super hero. This could be the stuff of legends.

“We must dig deeper folks,” Chairman Jim said pounding the table with his fist.

Well, Hawkman is taken!” Louie announced.

“That’s a stupid, bird-brain name anyway,” Linus replied. Linus never needed encouragement to continue, so he laughed as his own joke.

“I know,” Fred began as his face slowly bore a solid grin before he nodded his head in confirmation. “Raven!”

###

Arrival by John See

We watched from the kitchen window. The creature had wings, arms, and dark, iridescent feathers. Tufts of feathers grew in unlikely places. Ugly and beautiful, awkward and graceful–a misbegotten, overgrown raven.

Standing a few feet from the sycamore tree that dwarfs our backyard, it opened its mouth. Its thunderous caw was so loud it chased sparrows from the sycamore and sent two small boys scurrying away. A shoelace hung from its beak, as though it had just devoured a teenage boy.

All that was when there were just three of us and we still enjoyed each other’s company.

###

Served by TinTins

Her hair was as opaque as a raven’s jacket. Perched at the bar, her eyes searched, pursuing prey.  Her slinky red dress left nothing to the imagination; intentional.

She’d taken payment earlier that morning. Flaxen haired with emerald eyes; not your typical ladies’ man.   Still, there was something captivating about him; easy to place.

“What are you drinking?” the smooth operator probed.

“Your wedding band?” she countered.

Bemused, he removed the ring from his finger.

Seemingly satisfied she proffered her cheek and whispered, “I’ve a message for you.”

Intrigued he advanced.

“Your wife will see you in court sir.”

###

The Conspiracy by Reena Saxena

Her mother believes that ravens bring bad news, and gets rid of them quickly, if they land on the balcony.

Rowena is born with a special ability – to see beyond words. It has been more of a curse than a gift, as she fails to gain acceptance in social and professional circles. Her presence terrifies people, and they find reasons to get rid of her. She may not speak a word, but her overall demeanor gives those scary, all-knowing signals.

The raven has been shot down, and her mother looks relieved. She sees the dark conspiracy finally getting her.

###

The Grave Watcher by Gloria

Nancy sobbed as her father’s coffin was lowered into the six-foot hole. Her mother wasn’t crying or watching her husband being laid to rest; instead, her eyes were firmly fixed on the raven that perched on a nearby gravestone. Her mother left the cemetery but she never returned home.

Thirty years later, Nancy watched from a distance as a small crowd gathered in the cemetery for the burial of her estranged mother. She didn’t cry, nor did she watch as the coffin was being lowered into the ground. She was distracted by a raven landing on her father’s gravestone.

###

A Summer Reckoning by JulesPaige

Amber thought the butterfly was born under the sign of Cancer.
Once fairy like, the sun bleached, layogenic colors had turned
into a sideways transparency. Would that be enough to suppress
the hovering raven’s appetite? Warning colors gone.

Amber, while drinking her chamomile tea, watched the insect
rest in the empty granite birdbath. Farfetched to think that by
not filling it, she had given the bug sanctuary. There were no
assurances in regards to her own nature. One moment
gregarious and the next autophobic.

Amber went into the back garden. She’d save the butterfly
from being eaten, at least.

###

Dear Virginia Clay, by Denise Aileen DeVries

You were hard, unwelcoming,
allowing only the familiar
or the most intrusive to flourish,
then clinging, hanging onto everything.

In the right light, your forest
full of hanging vines, brambles
and poison ivy resembled the banyan
where I played one magical year.

But you were nothing like the rich, red
island soil that nurtured sweet fruit.
And while the sunlit vaults of your pines
recalled my fine old Colorado school,

benevolent ravens roosting above,
attic trusses serving as branches,
your woods offered no haven,
tripping me, ripping flesh at every turn.

Now, Virginia Clay, in a new landscape,
I remember you as a Lothario, full
of broken promises, my inability to mold
or conform to you shaping who I am today.

###

Mrs. Bird’s Children by JulesPaige

Brân was one of those boys at birth that you wonder how they
fit within the confines of their mother… He was born with a
full head of black hair. Like his father, yet he grew to be a
gentle giant. Very much unlike his father. Who once the lad
grew tall enough to keep the husband from dissing his wife –
left.

Mother and son, lived well enough without him. And grew
their family by a foundling on their doorstep. A girl with
raven hair, loving them both without ever questioning her
origins. No need for any DNA testing.

###

Ravenous by Kalpana Solsi

It slithered around the rough bark climbing up. Twenty pair of black claws impeded its
progress. However, the scaly creature defied the cacophony of cawing and clawing to
reach the eggs cocooned in the nest on the highest branch. It was a war, a war of one
species versus the other. Nikhil held the pink slip between his fingers and un-spooled in
his mind, the war fought in the boardroom with his own species. The Law of the Jungle
was very much evident in the urban concrete. He had to fight his own battles. The ravens
were still cawing.

###

Ravens in Reflection by Wallie & Friend

“But it’s just a bird!”

The man shook his finger at the children around him. “You’ll hurt her feelings if you talk like that. Ravens are the soul of wisdom. They are harbingers.”

The girl who had spoken wrinkled her nose and folded her arms. “Don’t look wise to me!”

“And that tells you how useful looks are.” The man took the raven on his wrist. “This bird is very wise. A century or so in Heaven, and this is what we say to critics. When do we let them trouble us, friend?”

The raven stretched her wings. “Nevermore!”

###

The Raven by Rugby843

I see you there, eyeing me, wondering how long it would take to raise your bow and pierce me with that arrow. I see you, contemplating, but think of this: For my species, I have an unusual memory and you will rue this day for eternity.

My eyes are keen, my feathers swift, and a twitch of your finger and I’ll be off, out of sight.

Then in the night when you think you are safe in your bed, I’ll come calling. Keep your windows locked, for I am a very strong and clever bird. This my final warning.

###

Raven by Kim Blades

Mark’s gnarled hands tried desperately to dig deeper. But as fast as his crooked fingers dragged the dry grains up and over the rim, so the sides collapsed and the sand slid back downwards.
He stopped digging for water and sat back, exhausted.

The sun was too close in these lonely desert lands
Lands that shimmered like an endless sea in the heat haze.

He knew he was not alone.

It watched him from the sandstone cliffs.
Watched and waited.

It would not be long now.

Mark knew that soon his open, staring eyes would be the raven’s prize.

###

Raven’s Eyes by Miriam Hurdle

“Do you have any water left, Dave?”

“I still have some. Take a sip. Your lips are badly chapped, Ben.”

“We have been lost in unpaved hiking trail for five days.”

“We only have water enough for two more days! I hope we could locate water soon!”

“Look, Dave! A raven is circling in the air and ready to dive down.”

“It spotted a dead deer and wanted its share. I think.”

“And the deer was drinking water!?”

“That may be our hope for water, Ben.”

“We could reach down by nightfall.”

“I hope this raven saves our lives.”

###

Raven Haired Women by Eric Pone

Maryann’s raven sat on her windowsill cawing happily. Maryann was so excited as it was the first time in weeks that the girls were going out. The chirp of her phone stopped that excitement. “Go for Maryann.” Ducky cheerfully answered back. “Hey, girl Ginger around?” Maryann nudged Ginger awake. “What Duck?” Ducky sent them the pics of the kings’ mother and his former girlfriend. “Holy shit.” Ginger breathed. “Your guess was right. Eowyn is redirecting the operation you two are to meet me in Lagos.” Maryann and Ginger looked at each other. “Ono?” Ducky replied with a laugh. “Busy.”

###

Raven Down by Frank Hubeny

There are plenty of explanations for the same data but what Randy wanted was to understand it at all.

He watched a bunch of crows tussling in the air and got out his phone. When he realized that one of the crows was being picked on lethally he switched the app to record video.

Aren’t birds supposed to be peaceful at least toward members of their own kind?

A select handful pecked the target repeatedly making sure its body could no longer move. Others flew about apparently guarding and watching.

Then it was over. Those who remained living departed.

###

Nothing to Crow About by Norah Colvin

Brucie had to get there first to stake his place at the very top. He didn’t slow on the still-wet grass, and only momentarily to laugh at Jasmine who slipped as he brushed past. From his perch, he smirked at the disappointed faces below.

“Caw!” said a crow, alighting alongside.

“Shoo!”

It didn’t shoo–more came.

Brucie shouted, waving his arms.

The crows shuffled closer.

Brucie thrashed wildly.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Jasmine banged a cricket bat against the frame.

The crows flew away.

“Are you okay?” asked Jasmine.

Brucie nodded, then let the others play.

The crows never returned.

###

Wearing by D. Avery

Sighing, Miranda looked through her closet, as if something new might have appeared. She finally took down the tired slacks, blouse and sweater that she usually wore on Wednesday. It would serve, though it’d serve better if she hadn’t packed so many pounds around her middle.
So much besides her weight had changed since she began teaching; changes that were demoralizing and depressing.

Sighing again she adjusted the accessory that now completed her outfit. Her Raven brand concealment holster used to tuck more easily into her waistband. Now the gun she carried, like her dispiritedness, was harder to conceal.

###

Never So Simple by Roger Shipp

“Mamma… Mamma… The raven is back!” Mika ran breathlessly onto the back porch of the small trailer where her mother was removing the last fleshy remnants from the hides hanging from the rafters.

“Don’t worry child. It’s grown hungry and is raiding the fields just like the other birds.”

“But Grandmamma said…”

“I know what she said.” Mama clutched me close to her bosom. “Unci believes in great meanings from all the forest animals.”

“Does that mean it’s not true?”

“Grandmamma would never lie to you, Mika.”

“So, it is true.”

“The truth is never so simple, my child.”

###

Dumpster Duck! by odysseyofhappiness

They flew cawing, laughing.

Dumpster Duck!

He followed, behind, avoiding attention.

Move dumpster duck!

Bodies slammed him

He struggled to remain in flight, wings trembling with sadness.

The cloud of feathers moved onward through the azure expanse.

He looked downward at the land of the legged, and flew as a falcon.

Downward.

The boy jumped in his seat by the window.

“Haha what a pussy!” Another boy jeered

“Scared of a birdie, FAGGOT!?” Yelled another, throwing an eraser, hitting the boy.

He turned, tears in his eyes, and looked down upon the lifeless bird.

Downward.

Another Raven.

###

The Craven Raven by Graeme Sandford

That’s what they called him.

It wasn’t his fault, he’d been frightened by a loud bang and a scary scarecrow when just a fledgling. Since then he’d been a nervous type.

But, it was an unkindness that the other ravens kept on about it; and it didn’t help his confidence that there was a constant conspiracy to keep him from leading a normal raven’s life.

The other ravens mimicked ‘bangs’ and dropped straw on him whilst he slept. He woke to the confusion that his dreams, where he was haunted by marauding scarecrows, had become reality.

###

Strange Bedfellows by Lisa Listwa

“Everyone thinks you’re ridiculous,” taunted Raven, circling around his companion.

Unicorn drank from the cool, sparkling stream.

“No one laughs about rainbows when I’m around,” Raven prodded.

Silent, Unicorn continued walking along the shore.

“I strike fear in the hearts of men,” he boasted, puffing out his chest feathers.

Finally, Unicorn stopped.

“And what of you?” she asked. “Many believe you bring light and gracious provision, that you usher in transformation. You do not know yourself.”

Uncomfortable, Raven flapped his wings.

“It is you who needs to transform,” he muttered.

Moonlight cast Raven’s shadow over Unicorn’s pure white form.

###

Raven, Brother Raven…by Raymond Roy

Raven, Brother Raven, Is there a message that you bring? Mysteriously different from other birds, who choose to chirp and sing.

Raven, Brother Raven,

Blue-steeled feathers, ebony-onyx colored eyes,

Curiosity and character,I’m bewildered at your size

Raven, Brother Raven,

Poe did quoeth you “Nevermore”, with his somewhat twisted mind,

Natives legends infer, you created all mankind.

Raven, Brother Raven,

Your caw has my attention, omen of certain revolution, a cleansing kindred spirit,…leading to ascension.

Raven, Brother Raven,

Heed your sacred clan,

Put aside your trickster ways, for the benefit of man.

Raven, Brother Raven…

###

Raven by Rebecca Glaessner

Starship Raven

Departing Earth orbit

Onboard systems reduced

Power rerouted to propulsion system

Maximum acceleration

Destination arrival time: 42,327 Earth years

> 44,564-07-23

Destination reached

Asteroid mining drones dispatched

Planetary entry sequence complete

Metamorphosis protocol activated

Generational fleet arrival: 27,424 EY.

> 57,309-04-14

Sea levels 62%

Atmospheric composition: 12% oxygen, 81% carbon dioxide

Surface vegetation 77%

Habitation modules 4%

Fleet arrival: 14,679 EY

> 71,988-10-17

Ecosystem 100%

Habitation modules 100%

Human fleet population 72%

Starship Raven shutdown

> 73,651-03-07

“Raven, help, activate.”

Systems rebooting

Ecosystem: critical

Human population 2%

Repair protocols activated

###

 

Pal Says by D. Avery

Think his name was Ernie, they called him Ornery. Once had a woman, a whiskey maker. He loves her still. Her name was Wanda and that’s what she did. She wandered away when she found her Will. She and Will got a goat ‘cause she wanted a kid, left ol’ Ornery, but he loves her still.

Wanda and Will, hear they’re livin’ clean. Ol’ Ornery’s up in the hills, livin’ by the rushing still stream. Under the pines he parses corn, he thinks of Wanda, but doesn’t mourn, ‘cause he loves her still. Talks to the ravens, ravin’ drunk.

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