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It’s time to ponder things that slink in the night or thud in broad daylight, raising goosebumps.
Gather ’round the campfire for spooky tales in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Time to Leave by Gloria McBreen
Kate liked when her family gathered together like this.
Her dad stared into the fire. Was he thinking about Mother? He broke when she went without warning ten years ago.
Kate’s husband sat at the window. He’s younger and stronger; he won’t break.
Then she heard her mother’s soft voice. She came. It was time. Kate wanted to stay longer, she had things to say to everyone, but they couldn’t hear her. They could only see her pale empty body lying in the satin lined box.
Kate held her mother’s hand as they drifted into the pink hazy tunnel.
Witching Wood by Kerry E.B. Black
Don’t leave the campfire’s glow this evening. This is a Witching Wood,
I’m warning you, don’t follow breadcrumbs. You won’t like where they lead. In woods just like these, Wolves charm, Bears make porridge of invaders, and witches’ candied houses grow legs and scratch out secrets. With haunting melodies, PIed Pipers and Washer Women lead the unwary on eternal dances beneath earthen mounds. Even the stars themselves conspire to pixie-lead astray.
See, the full moon hides behind grey veils.
Best shiver in the shadow of ancient, bent boughs beside the campfire until sunlight chases the boogies from our paths.
Coming Full by D. Avery
“No! He didn’t go on the mountain!”
“Don’t think I didn’t try to stop him.” The old man squinted through the plume of pipe smoke enshrouding his face. Fog engulfed the mountaintop.
“The moon is coming full.”
He pulled hard on his pipe. “I warned him.” Coals glowed round and red in the bowl. “Just laughed… wanted to prove us wrong.”
“At least tell me he’s not planning on hunting it. Not today.”
“He wouldn’t listen.”
They heard one shot, then more in quick succession, far up the mountain, muffled by shrieking wind.
His pipe sputtered and went out.
Spooky Tale by Jaye Marie
It was my turn to tell a Halloween story
as we sat around the campfire
The stories before mine had been tame
And most were ready to call it a night
I picked up my knitting and smiled
Thinking of my story and how boredom
Would be the least of their worries
With each row of knitting, the tension grew
Made unbearable by the mysterious sounds
Of rustling coming from the trees behind us
When the screaming began, my story lost listeners
I cut the yarn, leaving the old branch it was tied to
To rot in the woods…
Hailsham’s Most Illustrious Alumnus by Anne Goodwin
A branch cracks, spitting fireflies into the air above the logs.
“How’s this a prom? No dancing, nor even walking. Just staring into flames.”
“Tradition. Hailsham’s hot on tradition.”
“Wish my back was. It’s freezing, while my front roasts.”
“Stop moaning, she’s here!”
“Who cares? I won’t get a graduation prize.”
The students shiver as Hailsham’s Most Illustrious Alumnus looms the fire’s glow. Armless, legless, minus half a face.
“Tell me it’s a trick!”
“Prepare to meet your destiny!” says Hailsham’s Most Illustrious Alumnus. “Tonight you’ll learn the point of your education. Tonight you’ll learn why you were cloned.”
Doppelganger by Joanne Fisher
The group of friends built a bonfire. Jenny and Cass spent the evening in each other’s arms. Then Cass stood up.
“I’m going home.” Cass declared.
“Can’t you stay? We can sleep under the stars.” Jenny offered.
“I’ve got work.”
Only an hour later, Cass unexpectedly returned.
“You’ve come back?”
“Changed my mind.” Cass replied. She led Jenny away. Then Jenny’s phone rang. Tori answered.
“It’s Cass here, tell Jenny I’ve got safely home.” said the voice.
“But you came back!” Tori replied.
“No, I’m home.”
The group ran off looking for Jenny, but she was never seen again.
The Lady of Silver Mountain Mine by Charli Mills
“Once, an Englishman bought Silver Mountain Mine.” Jeb’s bushy brows scowled at each buckaroo around the campfire.
Slim smirked. “I’m quivering in my boots.”
Jeb spoke quietly. “Laugh it up, but this is the story of the vaquero woman who butchered his bones.”
Jan shrugged. “She was probably justified.”
“She’s. Still. Here.”
A ghostly figure emerged from the pines carrying a knife. Buckaroos scattered, hollering.
Myrtle, the camp-cook, wondered what got into her crew. First, the flour sack dumped over her head, then she found a rusty butcher-knife on the trail, now everyone vanished.
“That’s mine,” a voice hissed.
Out of Time by Norah Colvin
Darkness fell as Martin hastened home. He hated passing the cemetery, especially at Halloween. Sometimes he crossed the road, but this night he was out of time. Hairs on his arms prickled and shudders crept up his spine as he passed the open gate. A light flickered inside. He tried to not look, to not be drawn by the group gathered around a campfire, beckoning, ‘Join us.’ Martin hunched further into his jacket. ‘Next year then?’ Their ghoulish laughter chased him down the street into the path of a speeding car.
‘Back so soon. Couldn’t wait? Mwahaha!’ they chorused.
Kurdaitcha Man by Doug Jacquier
This was the first cattle drive for the Arrente boy the whitefellas called Jimmy. The whitefellas couldn’t care less for blackfella names. They paid themselves with money but paid the blackfellas with tea, flour and tobacco and their campfires were separate. Jimmy sat silently with the older boys and men. A rogue willy-willy suddenly blew out and then re-lit their fire. Old Tarpot said ‘Kurdaitcha man point that bone. Bin come for him tonight.’ All eyes turned to Jackie, who had been sick for days. Jimmy watched Jackie’s eyes glass over and then returned his own to the fire.
Spooky Tale by Christine Bialczak
We sat close to the flames. With each pop a cinder would be released; we would hold our breath to see where it landed. My grandpa had told me that when a cinder pops and lands on the skin, it is landing on the skin of a vampire. No one believed me. With each pop we jumped a little, hoping the cinder didn’t land on our own leg.
The bright, burning cinder popped up into the air, made an arc and started coming straight back down, ready to land on….
All I could do was hold my breath…
The ‘eadless Ratt’ler’s Back by Chel Owens
Fire black and smoke all red, the sun shone ‘gainst the West.
Glint in eye an’ tale in head, Old Jack sized up his guests.
There warn’t much to impress ‘im ’bout the two who stared ‘im back:
City-boys, all barn and raised, with city-boy rucksacks.
“Ah’m tellin’ yuh, an’ ah don’ lie,” Jack told ’em, face a-stern,
“You’d best watch out when sunset’s red, when sand feels like to burn.
“The ‘eadless ratt’ler’s comin’ out -Look! Thar! Behind yuh now!”
An’ shore enough, those tenderfoots, yelped like they’d jus’ learned how.
An’ Jack, jus’ laughed.
“Ah gotcha now!”
Spooky Tale by Ruchira Khanna
“And then what happens?” inquired my three-year-old with wide eyes and a mouth wide open.
I quickly put a spoonful of rice in his mouth while thinking of what would happen next if a bear would come.
Just then, we heard a loud thud. An eerie silence followed that as even the crickets had gone silent. Only the bonfire was crackling and popping.
I held my son in my firm grip while the other hand had the Pepper spray; I let my instincts work as soon as something came near me. “Aaaaah!”
The yell sounded familiar, “‘Twas, my husband.”
Spooky Tale by FloridaBorne
“I am with you always,” a voice whispered, smooth as silk, soft as velvet.
Mary stopped knitting to look at her companion of 13 years.
As usual, Roger, the grey cat she’d found at her doorstep the day her husband had died, slept soundly on the chair that had once belonged to the bastard.
“I could swear you were talking to me, little one,” Mary said.
She returned to her knitting until papers in the corner rustled. With a murderous screech, Roger leapt at the invisible intruder.
He’d served his purpose once again. Her husband always did hate cats.
Mirror Mirror On the Wall! by Simon
He watched the mirror all day.
Looked at every reflection and saw his face.
Old man by the park showed him a mirror. He didn’t hesitate and watched his face and adjusted his hair.
Old man commented that he was possessed by a mirror, so stop looking until he see a full moon. He ignored the old man and continued watching it. Next day when he woke up at midnight to drink water he looked in the mirror and he kept watching it. When he realised he should get back to bed, he was stuck, inside the mirror, Forever!
True Story: Honest! Well, Maybe by Bill Engleson
“I was much younger, then.”
“Had my teeth.”
“I’m sure you did, sir.”
“Well I did.”
“It was an evil place.”
“Devils Lake. Evil.”
“Where was it?”
“Where was what.”
“The one you mentioned. Devil’s Lake.”
“Oh, don’t go there. A Terrible place.”
“We’d pitched out tent by the shore.”
“My three friends. Every year we went camping.”
“Always at Devil’s Lake?”
“First time. And last. A fierce storm came up. The lake became a demon. Swallowed my friends.”
“No! The lake ate them.”
Spooky Swamp by Frank Hubeny
This woods is gorgeous, but it has a peculiar swamp.
Those who’ve found it became wealthy from unethical dealings. Envious of their wealth others found it. They became wealthy, too, but at similar costs. If the swamp knew you might pay, it would appear to you.
Decades later their bodies putrefied. Neighbors heard the screams. They prayed for a miracle that the curse of putrefaction be removed.
A traveling preacher advised them, “Accept Jesus, repent and turn from your immorality.” They hissed back, “We’ll repent to any stupid God you like, but that money, our money, belongs to us.”
Lawson’s Tales by Saifun Hassam
Rita was a popular wilderness guide. Her grandfather Lawson had been a mountaineer, and his tales sparked her own journey.
Lawson was camped near Elk Pass, planning to climb Elk Spirit Peak in LeGrand Range. He woke up at dawn to find himself at rifle point. The outlaws took his rifle and jacket and tied him up.
Someone on the trail. Whistling. The outlaws shot at the rider. The cowboy kept whistling. The outlaws fled.
Untying Lawson, the cowboy vanished!
Rita paused. A horse. Spurs jangling. A shadowy silhouette sang a haunting cowboy lament into the clear starlit night.
Stalking by Ann Edall-Robson
The soft sound of breathing and muffled footsteps on moss penetrated through the canvas.
Beyond the tent flap, remnants of moisture wisps hung nearby in the darkness. It would be hours before daybreak showed itself.
The feeling of tingling needles started to transcend down his body. It wasn’t the first time his sleep had been interrupted on this backcountry trip. Thoughts of what might be stalking him careened around the canyons of his brain cavity.
Tossing pitch knots onto last night’s dying embers, he watched them hiss themselves to life. He was convinced keeping a fire going meant survival.
Tales Untold, and Best Forgotten? by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“Come on Alice, tell the tale.”
“We won’t be shocked, dearest.”
“There’s nothing to tell. He was a shy man, bit of a stutterer, and very good at storytelling and maths.”
Effie, the eldest, drew her shawl tighter, poking the bonfire with a glowing stick.
Sophia, years younger, as yet unmarried, leaned forward, eyes gleaming. “Yes, do tell, before the husbands come!”
“I don’t want to. Leave off, Sophia, please.”
The fire popped, a gunshot.
“I’ll tell you this, though!” Alice leapt to her feet, laughing.
“’Twas brilliag, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe*…’”
*Lewis Carroll (you know the poem, you know the book, 1871)
Damned Family? by JulesPaige
One campfire group at the shore was setting off fireworks. Jesse watched halfheartedly from the balcony of the condo she was sharing with a cousin Jen and her young family.
Jesse made her own reservations. However, Jesse found a dead body in the bathtub of her room. This wasn’t the family reunion that she signed up for!
Jen offered Jesse the pullout couch of her place. Jesse swore to herself, she was leaving in the morning – unless she listened to her intuition and left after dinner, frayed nerves be damned. Jesse really wasn’t a fan of little monsters either…
You Asked by Donna Matthews
Alice, turning off the television and in a hushed voice asked her Pops, “Do you believe in ghosts?”
“I do,” he replied in a whisper.
“You do?” Alice couldn’t believe it. Her Pops seemed so…what was the word? Practical? Pragmatic? Adult!
“I do. I talk to your Gran every day.”
“Yeah, but isn’t that kind of like praying. I mean…do you ever see her? Is her ghost like here…with us?”
“You see that mirror there? That’s where we meet every morning and share a cup of coffee.”
“Stop it, Pops!” Alice exclaims.
“You asked,” Pops replied with a wink.
Nellis’ Vengeance by R. V. Mitchell
Did you know that in these very woods is the remains of a cemetery from the French and Indian War? There was a fort here, and a strange disease swept through the garrison, killing over a third of them. Only Captain Nellis was given a headstone, all the others had simple wooden markers. The exact location has been lost to memory, but occasionally some hunter or hiker will come upon the stone. But it’s never there when they return. But not only does move, but whoever discovers it seems to get a fever and an odd rash shortly afterwards.
Emma Won’t Tell by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa and Lexi were sitting on the far side of the bonfire so could see Michael cuddling Emma Blossom through the bay window. He laid his forehead against hers and his lips were moving. Had they been able to hear him…”My sweet baby girl who wants to hear a spooky story, I live one. I can feel feet I don’t have. My driver’s ghost keeps me company way too often and the tea kettle whistling or light flashes can cause me to drench my clothes with sweat in seconds. Your Grandma knows, and I don’t think you’ll tell anyone.”
The Ruined Refuge by Michelle Vongkaysone
Few discuss that world.
Fewer have left its grasp.
Its truth transformed them.
But they’re forced to speak.
They wish to warn others.
Their truth can protect them.
Their admissions are chilling.
They decry that tainted world.
People were lured into it.
They enjoyed the solitude.
That world was possibility.
They lived by its resources.
It offered endless scenarios.
They drank that world’s poison.
Such freedom would mock them.
It locked them within that world.
They gave themselves to it.
Corpses remained afterwards.
Their lives sustained that world.
Those who escaped were ruined.
The truth only punished their betrayal.
Swingin’ Along, Singin’ a Song (to the tune of Ghost Riders in the Sky) by D. Avery
I’ve hid the kids in a car that I found parked
They’re with Logan an’ Morgan, but this Kid’s lonesome in the dark
Thinkin’ I done got lost, tryin’ ta git back ta the Ranch all on my own
Pal an’ me’re on vacation- Pal’s left me all alone
Dang ya Pal, where ever ya are
Dang them goat riders- in that rental car
The trail I found but ev’ry sound strikes my ear as eerie
Dang that spooky prompt, fer the first time Carrot Ranch is skeery
Wish I was with them goats—
Ridin’ in that rental car.
Unimaginably Eerie (Part I) by D. Avery
With many dark miles yet between Turnip Farm and Carrot Ranch, Pal set up camp. A chill gust of wind made the flames of the campfire spark and leap. Suddenly there was a cowboy sitting just in the shadows across from Pal.
“Ya must be cold, pal, yer shiverin’.”
Pal couldn’t be sure if the stranger was laughing or if it was the wind in the cottonwoods. Pal squinted, for the smoke from the fire made it hard to make out the cowboy’s features.
“What’d ya say yer name was?” Pal quivered.
The cowboy’s eyes gleamed. “I didn’t say.”
Unimaginably Eerie (Part II) by D. Avery
The cowboy was wispy as smoke. Pal’s voice wavered. “This is phantasmic! Are ya… a ghost? A apparition thet haunts Carrot Ranch?”
“Nope, ain’t a ghost, but I do haunt the Ranch.”
“Did ya die some unimaginably horrible grisly death, mebbe in a flash, an’ thet’s why ya come back ta haunt the Ranch, a revenant thet spooks the Ranchers?”
“Not ‘xactly. A revenant returns from the dead. I ain’t never lived.”
“Ya mean— ?”
“Yep. I’m a character thet ain’t never been brought ta life. Jist flit beyond the veil a someone’s imagination, but keep goin’ unwrit.”
Every ranch has chores from simmering beans to growing carrots to soaping saddles. Chores are universal.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
PART I (10-minute read)
Tales Out of School by D. Avery
She loved the pedagogy, the art and science of teaching children, of engaging all learners. When she taught she learned, delving deeply into the topic when developing units of study. She led her students by following their lead. She relished helping her students make connections and demonstrate their learning creatively.
Then came the canned curriculum, the boxed units.
“This will be easier for all teachers.”
Easier isn’t better. Let me do it my way, she said.
“Curriculum delivery should all be the same. You can do your thing as long as you follow the program.”
Teaching became a chore.
Tales Out of School by R. V. Mitchell
“Okay Marines, liberty is scheduled to commence at 1100. Unless this field day is finished, not a single one of you wastes of space is setting foot out of this barracks,” the sergeant snapped, before turning on his heel and heading back to his office.
“You heard him,” Corporal Chin said to his squad. “Meissner and Reece empty those shit cans. White and Cortez get this deck swabbed. Doc, you and Smitty get the head swabbed.”
The head was a daunting proposition, but Hospitalman Davis used Navy ingenuity, finishing on time by overflowing the toilets to speed the mopping.
The Power of Dusting by Eliza Mimski
Since the quarantine, Darla had assigned herself one chore per day to keep from losing her mind. Normally, when working, she never had time to do anything but make her bed and maybe do the dishes. Now, months into the Covid, she’d become a dust aficionado. She hunted down dust on the tops of doors, in the corners of rooms, behind the couch, and other secretive places where it tried, unsuccessfully, to hide. Try as it might, it couldn’t escape her suction vacuum cleaner, her dustag and Pledge, her paper towels and water. “I’m coming for you,” she screamed.
Slipping by Deborah Dansante-White
Before Anita’s perceived organic emancipation from reality, she had, as a child, been required to balance a book on her head; to diligently RSVP, no matter how much she disliked the inviter and to make her bed each morning. Anita remembers this as she places the shiny box behind the bin row, carefully unfastening then squaring each corner precisely upon her once inconceivable pillow. Anita is pleased with her find and decides easily that cobblestones are almost buttery when laminated. Anita’s housekeeping chores completed for the day, she slips into restless sleep and into dreams of discarded shopping carts.
Blueberries by Charli Mills
Blueberries spilled to the ground. “Like this, Kev.” Fran righted the bucket, setting it between the toddler’s bare feet. She knelt behind him, gently covering his hands with hers to pull fat, round berries from bushy strands. It was a bit like milking a cow, she mused. Kev pulled berries on his own, squishing a few into crimson juice. She smiled at her nephew and knelt to pick enough blueberries to make a pie. She didn’t mind babysitting his parents could vacation. Maybe country life would stall the creep of urban shadows. Her sister never did like the farm.
Another Planet Maybe by Donna Matthews
“I don’t want to set the table,” Nicole wailed.
“Why not love?” I asked while trying to grab her up in a hug.
“Well…if we don’t set the table, how will we eat the food?”
Nicole scoffs and stomps off.
But I get it. The table setting IS tedious, AND the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and all the other chores on the list. I wonder what it would be like living a chore-less existence? But please – a ridiculous proposal. Maybe on another planet or in another lifetime, but this one right here, dinner isn’t gonna cook itself.
The Bored Teen by Ruchira Khanna
“Pick up your plates, Nate. That’s the least you can do around the house,” I shouted at my teen in a high decibel.
“Mom! I get tired doing the same chore three times a day.” he retorted.
I stopped stirring the pot and gave him a confused look as if he had just declared that he has graduated from college; without going to one.
He saw that look and muttered, “A teen’s life is all about being with friends, and in these times, I’ve been eating home-cooked food. That is such a chore,” and he let out a sigh!
Listening by Doug Jacquier
Listening to our adult kids when they whine about how the world never gives them a break is a chore. Listening to politicians whose tin ears and stone hearts belong to the funders who put them there is a chore. Listening to teenagers who sheet home all the world’s ills to our generation and opt for despair is a chore. But listening to the magpies caroling to each other as they feed their new screeching chicks and listening to the whispering of the veg patch growing and listening to the desultory traffic of our village is not a chore.
Chores by kathy70
Never called chores in my house as a child, just the price you paid for the joy of living here. We were a house full of people, 10 plus the birds. Saturday chores/baths/laundry day. Descriptions on a paper slip went into the chore jar. Oldest picked first. We all watched and secretly cheered when our least-liked was gone. Today I have the dining room, dust 1st, then sweep next wash the floor. Now my favorite, polish the wood, I still like the smell of the polish on wood. Funny how a smell brings a happy memory to a tough time.
Domesticity drove her crazy. Or was it merely my muck made her mad? A ten-pound food-processing system: in went puréed parsnip, out came puke and shit. Now she’s the one in nappies, I flutter around her in kid gloves.
I left her once; guilt made me boomerang back. Or perhaps the hope she’d finally love me, now she had time to spare.
People say I’m saintly. I say I’ve no choice. They don’t see how easy it is, behind the cooking and cleaning and laundry. How easy to mess with the mind of someone you’ve known your entire life.
Chores by Simon
Why aren’t you taking her?
She was a care taker, we can’t trust these people?
These people? frowned, She tied an apron herself, pay me then!
You shouldn’t do any chores, undo this apron!
She raised her voice, She had the world’s toughest job, taking care of old people. She lost beautiful soul’s front of her eyes, Knowing they will leave, she loved them, served them from heart. she is jobless now, I want to help her & I will.
Sigh, whatever, undo your apron, and stop hurting yourself, she is appointed!
She hugged her mom, said “Thank you!”
Made To Tend by Michelle Vongkaysone
I tend to my home.
Only I occupy it now.
My family has left me.
They seek better things.
I’m left with their housework.
I clean, wash clothes and cook.
It dulls the pain within my heart.
Even living is another chore.
I can’t thrive without my kin.
I’m not enough for myself.
I want to live for them.
Without them, I toil vainly.
My life is a series of chores.
However, I adhere to them.
One day, they’ll return home.
Then, we can live like before.
I tend to my fleeting hopes.
Only they share my home now.
Tea and Biscuits with the Carer by M J Mallon
“That’s the blueberries washed!” she said with a smile.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Put the kettle on,” she said.
“Don’t you want to leave anything for the carer to do?”
She didn’t answer, instead she said, ““Get the pavlova and cream. Mini ones in the cupboard over there.”
I opened the biscuit tin and arranged them on a plate.
“What time’s she coming?”
“Now! Better wipe the table,” she said.
The carer bustled in.
Ten Again by Gloria McBreen
Norah’s room gleamed. Mamma will be pleased with her. She’s quicker at doing her chores now. Not like last year, when her mother cancelled her birthday party because she didn’t get them all done in time. Silly girl Norah. That won’t happen today. Her friends will soon be here and it’ll be the best party ever.
‘How’s Norah today?’ Nurse Annie asked her assistant.
‘She’s happy. She’s ten today…again!’
‘Bless her,’ Annie smiled.
‘I’ll nip out for a cream sponge.’
Norah blew out all ten candles on her cake as her companions in the nursing home sang happy birthday.
Vacuuming by Hugh W. Roberts
Having murdered his chore-loving wife, Herbert did the unthinkable and scattered her ashes throughout the house.
“That’ll teach you,’ Herbert chuckled. “Lived-in. Not a showhouse.”
On getting home from work the following day, the house was spotless. Unbeknown to Herbert, his wife had employed a domestic help to come in once a week.
That night, the sound of hoovering woke Herbert. Yet downstairs, the hoover was unplugged and stored under the stairs.
Questions: Had Herbert’s wife come back to haunt him? Was it time to buy a new vacuum cleaner? Or should he empty the cylinder of his wife?
Occupational Hazards? by JulesPaige
daydreams are cut short
my cat visitors seek out
attention from me
I pet, they sometimes purr but
mostly demand attention
one more week before
they make a return trip to
their adoptive folks
At the top of my chore list this past week and for next is to take care of my interlopers, two cats about a year old. They belong here, briefly. I am their chef cook and bottle washer, litter box cleaner, comforter and entertainer. Occasionally I get rewarded with a delicate cat purr. I’m behind on other chores, inanimate things can wait. Living things first!
PART II (10-minute read)
Chores by Joanne Fisher
It had been a busy day for farm chores, Cindy thought. Aside from doing the housework, she had been planting new rows of carrots, checking how the corn was doing, getting rid of weeds, and clearing land for a new project.
Now it was mid-afternoon and she decided to sit in the sun for a few minutes. Just as soon as she had, Jess appeared.
“It’s alright for some!” Jess said with a disapproving look. “If you’re not doing anything, you can always help with the fencing.” Cindy rolled her eyes, but slowly got up and followed her wife.
Getting Things Done by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa looked disgusted. “Would you please help me with the laundry and dishes. I have a meeting tonight.”
With a twinkle in his eye, Michael responded, “I’ve got my own chore of getting fast enough at the fingering on my new tin whistle to be able to keep up with the band.”
She swatted his arm. “How about I take the whistle with me and when I get home you’ll have the other things done.”
“Dear woman, please, don’t start sounding like your mother making threats.”
Tessa laughed, “That’s on unfair analogy. We’ll share the chores.”
“Yes’m,” he grinned.
Preptober Chore by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She stared at the first run, several scenes of a promising short story. She sighs at the hand-written rollercoaster of initiating events, triggers, resolutions, a final dramatic crisis, and a resolution that leaves the reader both satisfied, and wanting more. There’s also the novel…
This story is for Nano. Her usual mode of running after the muse, pants afire, has been foresworn. The project begs more consideration. She scribbles more notes, crumples paper, and digs through a messy drawer for colored pens. Prep and planning is a chore.
The cat strolls by, looking for dinner.
Hungry herself, she bails.
Lynn Valley by Saifun Hassam
Shirley was dog-tired from her job as sous-chef at Hannah’s restaurant. She returned home to find her sister Carole fast asleep on the living room couch. Terry, 12, and Pauline, 13, were curled up in sleeping bags.
Shirley soaked dirty dishes in the sink and wiped the counter clean. Kitchen greens went into a bag for the mulch patch. She hugged and fed her tabby Cricket.
Carole and her daughter Terry moved in with Shirley and Pauline after Carole lost her librarian job in the pandemic chaos.
When all was said and done, it was good to be together.
Chores by Anita Dawes
Picking blueberries would not have been a chore
Ironing my stepfather’s underwear definitely was
As a ten-year-old, I thought it ridiculous
But mother insisted
Another, was polishing his shoes plus my brothers
At least they were smaller
Sitting beside my baby brother’s cot
Stroking his head, trying to get him to sleep
With the sun shining
through my mother’s bedroom window
Reminding me I should be playing outside
That day, something broke in my heart
I felt a strange kind of dislike towards my mother
That grew over the years
Today I decided to bury that memory…
The Sweeper by Allison Maruska
I open the closet and lug out the vacuum for the third time today. Creeping around my heels, Rylie grabs the dustpan and 3-year-old sized broom. “I seep!”
“Yes, you sweep and I’ll vacuum.”
She toddles to the kitchen, where spilled Cheerios wait for us. Humming to herself, she pushes them around, yelling in victory when a piece makes it into the dustpan.
I plug in the vacuum.
Rylie claps at getting three Cheerios into the pan at once.
Laughing, I abandon the vacuum and sit at the table.
Best to let my daughter enjoy chores while she can.
Lost in Translation by D. Avery
“I learned a new word at school today.”
Hope’s dad continued scooping beans with his bread. “In the classroom or on the playground?”
He held his bread and looked up. “What word?”
“It started with a /c/ I think. Melinda made it seem like a bad word.” Hope continued while her parents exchanged glances. “It has to do with doing things you don’t want to do, and not getting to do fun things. Chores! That’s the word.”
“But Hope, you tend the chickens, and the garden; help us both out around the farm.”
“That’s fun! Mommy, what’s allowance?”
Autumn Afternoons Are for Fun by Kerry E.B. Black
Sunlight filtered through golden leaves as Byron’s footsteps crunched to Oma’s. Momma sent baked goods for Old Oma and told him to do Oma’s chores, but who could work on a day like this?
Once there, though, Byron’s heart sunk. The old lady held a rake in her crippled fingers. Begrudgingly, he handed her the cake and took the rake. Grumbling internally, he scraped the leaves into a pile nearly his width and height.
Oma smiled as she sliced the cake and poured tea into autumn rose decorated cups. “Now hurry and jump in. This cake’s cooling!”
A Lick and A Promise by Norah Colvin
Lisa dropped her bag, discarded her shoes, and darted down the hall.
“Where are you off to, miss?” called her mother.
“You’ve got chores first.”
“Did them this morning.”
“Did them? Ha! Was no more than a lick and a promise.”
“But, Mum. I’m up to the last chapter.”
“No buts. You’ll do your chores before anything else.”
Lisa muttered as she stomped to the broom closet.
“And don’t give me any more of that lip or you’ll be reading on the other side of your face for a week.”
When I’m an adult … Lisa promised herself.
A New Day by Chel Owens
Back and forth. In and out. Sun to down. Winter to winter, for thirty years.
The children changed. The house aged. The horses and cows and chickens and that mean old goat -all ended up at slaughter; to be replaced by horses, cows, chickens -but no more goats. For thirty years.
She stood while the priest spoke about the dark shadow she’d known for so very long. This and that. Bless his soul. Rest in peace.
Veiled and black. Grey and old. No more back or forth in or out sun to down. Clouds clearing, she smelled the spring.
Chores by Frank Hubeny
While raking leaves Bill thought back to the farm his parents had with asparagus, pickles, pumpkins, corn, hay and soybeans. The chores back then were not so bad. He hoed corn from the beans and stacked baled hay. There was the busy time of harvesting, but harvesting had to be done.
The worst were those chickens. He’d reach his hand under a sitting hen to gather eggs only to have it pecked. Sometimes he’d shoo them off the nest. Sometimes they wouldn’t go.
He wouldn’t want some hen doing that to him, but he had to get those eggs.
Chore Bores by Geoff Le Pard
‘Morgan, can you pick up your clothes? This place is a sty.’
‘Yes, mom, I’ll get right onto my chores.’
‘I know we’re in the States and I said we should embrace their culture, but in what world does ‘culture’ encompass their bastardised version of English?’
‘Hey, who yanked your tail?’
‘Everyone wishing me a good day and not meaning it.’
‘Like you always say you’re sorry and you don’t mean it.’
‘That’s different. Anyway we don’t do ‘chores’, any more than we do yard work.’
‘You liked it when that blonde said you had a cute accent…’
Thick As Thieves of Time by D. Avery
The call to chores went unheard and unheeded by Pal, for Pal was on vacation, an unprecedented October Rest. But visiting Cuzzins Ash and Dusty Trales at Turnip Farm was not restful for Pal. Ash and Dust’s idea of catching up meant using Pal’s help to harvest their crop, working from sunup to sundown. Speeding along in the overloaded turnip truck, Pal felt lucky to have not fallen off.
“I’m headin’ back to Carrot Ranch, cuzzins.”
“Stay. Blood’s thicker ‘an water Pal.”
“Yep. An’ water is life.”
And Pal rode back to where the wells ran deep and fresh.
En Garde, Le Pard by D. Avery
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, Kid worried about the kids. The billy goats had sampled Shorty’s manuscript and even ate write out of the story collection bin. Kid knew they didn’t have a chance against a champion goat wrestler like Shorty, who also had a thing for kid gloves.
Worried and desperate, Kid almost didn’t notice the rental car parked along the trail. Almost. Before Logan and Morgan returned from vista viewing or whatever chore had taken them away from their vehicle, Kid had those kids stowed in the back seat, knowing these two would care for the goats.