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Stilettos attract attention, no doubt. This week writers took to the heels (an occasional points) like balanced pros to deliver a variety of stories that sparkle like glitter.
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.
New Age by Rebecca Glaessner
Several eons passed since they last visited Earth, they discovered humans viewed other-world strangers warily now, without the awe of old.
Their job – gathering insights into human minds – meant molding their DNA to conform while on-planet. They looked human, though in this new age, reed undergarments, intricate piercings and feathered crowns weren’t widely desired.
Human views on appearances had changed.
The aliens adapted, yet one didn’t account for their stilettos’ height.
Travelling the city, the aliens-as-humans towered over passers-by, attracting attention.
Glorious feathered crowns were no longer worshiped, but height had them feeling once more like gods amongst men.
Wing-Woman by Ritu Bhathal
“I have to wear those?”
“No, really. Me? Wearing those death traps?”
Eliza gingerly picked up one of the sparkly high heeled stilettos and dangled it in front of her eyes. A pointed toe that was sure to pinch at her feet. And the heel. Dear God, the heel. Six inches of danger.
She cleared her throat. “Mel, do you want to walk into the club with style, or be shoved into Dan’s arms unceremoniously, as your hapless wing-woman ends up tripping, and taking you with her?”
“Well, at least he’ll notice me, that way,” Melissa smirked.
First Dance by Marsha Ingrao
“West Coast Swing?” Roger asked, sweat popping from every pore.
He glanced at her gold stilettos. “Brush your soles.”
Roger reached out his dimpled hand, “Slippery.”
He announced each step as they danced in their tight corner. “You’re doing well.” He spun her onto the main floor.
With each back step and pull on her arm, Tanni felt laughter bubbling inside. Her ankle turned. Roger never missed a step as he flung her off the floor around him. When she landed, glistening as brightly as her stilettos, she picked up the beat with a back step.
Learning to Walk by Joanne Fisher
Briana selected the pair of red stilettos and began putting them on in store.
“Excuse me, um, miss, are you sure want to try those on?” the store assistant asked frowning at her.
“Yes I have to learn how to walk in heels at some point.” Briana replied.
She stood up and tried to take a step. She swayed, and eventually began to topple over, the store assistant managing to break her fall.
“Again, are you really sure you wouldn’t prefer some flats?”
“A girl’s gotta try.” Briana responded as she stood up again and took one more step.
Gender Glitter by Charli Mills
Jace carefully dressed to costume up with the other college drag queens. He, she…no, he…set out on cross-country skis to the campus theater, stilettos tied with cord and slung across her back. His back. No one paid much attention to the petite contender for Frostiest Northern Queen until none could deny her presence (at last!). In a silver beehive wig to match nine-inch glittering stilettos, she won crowd and crown. Jace had to keep the victory secret. She (born that way) headed for the girl’s dorm no longer getting to express the person of a man becoming a woman.
Sizing Up by D. Avery
Poised proud on the dashboard, they shone through the windshield.
“Shouldn’t you return those shoes to whoever left them in your truck?” Liza was chastising but also hopeful to get the sparkly gold stilettos as a consolation prize. Tom’s dad, still oblivious, also chastised the young man.
“It’s a might unseemly, keeping trophies out in plain view like that.”
“Yessir,” and he gathered the stilettos in one hand, pulled his scruffy duffle bag from the front seat with the other. “But they’re no trophy. They’re mine.”
Tom studied his own dusty work boots, as if for the first time.
A Mile in Her Shoes by D.L. Armistead
Mitch crammed his feet into the improbably spiky heels, six inches high with marabou pompoms, and hobbled to the starting line with all the other guys. His work buddies had laughed. But it was his idea to join and honor all the people, male and female and – what was that new word? Non-binary? – who had been subjects of sexualized violence. From the snide remarks at Susan’s office to the death of that poor kid Troy, beaten senseless for daring to say he was really a girl. Mitch’s sign read, “Good Man Crossing.” He picked it up and started walking.
(64) Damned Family (Doe Eyed Maeve) by JulesPaiges
doe eyed, full
of innocence, grandiose plans to
save the world
Mae remembered when she had embraced the full character of herself as Maeve, as she read the text from the Faithful Stag, and reminisced about the first time they had met. It was at a New Year’s Party in Washington, DC. My, those were the days. Women wore sparkling stilettos to gain some height, along with gold or silver sequined cocktail dresses or dramatic gowns with slits up to their armpits.
Now Mae thought, if only she could ‘save’ those closest to her. Like her nephew Norman.
The Writer Knows Her Limits by Anne Goodwin
“I can’t. Just like I can’t put a cigarette in someone’s hand.”
My muse rolls her eyes.
“It’s a step away from Chinese foot binding.”
“Doorstep or dance step? You don’t trip over those.”
“It’s a moral issue.”
“Who do you think you are, Mother Teresa? Nobody cares.”
“Some writer, only mentioning things you approve of!”
“Anyway, it’s impractical. She’s a murderer. She needs to run.”
“You nailed the weapon yet?”
“Nails can’t kill without a hammer. She won’t find either at a masked ball.”
“She could wear it.”
“The stiletto, idiot! On her feet.”
Stilettos by Reena Saxena
Spending a fortune on a pair of high heels did not help much. The discomfort remained as with the lesser pairs, and I had it to pad it with cushions and toe covers, and practise walking on preciousness.
I did think renting would have been a better option. But what if Prince Charming came looking for me with one shoe? He would land on Rent-O-Mojo.
Little did I think a fall would take me to the police. Diamonds concealed in the shoe spilt out, and now I don’t know whether to call it a bane or boon.
Miranda by R. V. Mitchell
Miranda’s profile on the escort site was constructed in every detail to get the attention of Big Hank McCloud the head of the local syndicate. Weeks of research, and a knowledge of his “tastes” assured that the call would come.
Miranda arrived at the hotel attired in a revealing black dress and some stilettos that were to die for. When she was frisked by the bodyguard, she let out a little moan just to play up the persona.
Once alone in the room with the boss, the assassin struck. Did I mention that the stilettos were to die for?
No Shoes by Kate Spencer
“So what’ya gonna give me for them?” Marco asked, leaning into the counter.
George knew better than to ask Marco how he got a hold of the goods he brought into the pawnshop.
“These are shoes. You know we don’t take shoes,” George said.
“They’re red stilettos George. You gotta lady don’t you? Imagine her wearing them Christmas morning.”
George examined the long dagger-like heels one more time. His fiery Roxy sure would be sexy in them. But those heels. They can kill.
Closing the lid slowly, George pushed the box away.
“Like I said, we don’t take shoes.”
A Matter of Self Defence or, Miss Fluart’s ‘Admirer’ by Gordon Le Pard
“So Miss, do you know who I am?”
Miss Fluart looked down at his twisted fingers.
“I think you are the man who liked assaulting women.”
“Harmless, until you took a hand. Now for some fun. No one will hear you scream.”
She looked round the empty Park, stepped back and took a grip on her parasol. He laughed and moved closer to her.
There was a click as she twisted the handle, and withdrew a twelve-inch blade.
He looked into her unblinking eyes, as she held the stiletto to his throat.
“Will anybody hear you scream?” She replied.
Turning the Tables by Saifun Hassam
Alice clambered down the rabbit hole. Her teenage sister’s stilettos swung from her sash around her waist. She’d worn those stilettos surreptitiously when sis was away at her job.
Alice stood eight inches taller in the stilettos. None of that awful “drink me” or “eat me” stuff.
The Red Queen coveted those shoes as soon as she saw Alice.
“Give me those shoes! Or off with your head!”
“Give me your crown!” Alice posed, tall, one leg forward, hand on her waist.
The Red Queen glared. She spat: “Here!”
Queen Alice smirked. Stilettos and crown. “Off with her head!”
Don’t Call Me Buffy by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“Shit!” Her ankle wobbled as she made her way across Old Towne Cobblestone Bridge. The rain had been brief, but drenching. Temperatures were dropping precipitously.
She’d made sure he was following.
Her stilettos clicked, thin against the moonless night. She crossed to rough pavement, surer in her steps as she led him into the graveyard, to the family crypt. She felt, rather than heard his respirations quicken.
She turned, mouth red and ready, as he caught up to her on the steps. He bent to her, his mouth cold.
Stiletto in hand, she plunged it deep into his heart.
In the Still of the Et Toe by Bill Engleson
A contortionist of some renown,
he dreamt of times departed.
The twists, the turns, the ups and downs,
His life, how it was charted.
He‘d not fully stayed the course,
his mind and body wandered.
Pleasure’d been his driving force:
his other duties squandered.
Late in life, an epiphany,
a desire to mend his ways,
and so, he travelled to Sicily
to pass his remaining days.
Then one dark Italian night,
in a mutilating blow,
he swung a blade with guillotine might
and severed every toe…
But one, and with much practiced torsion,
he chewed off the remaining portion.
Red-headed Jenny by kathy70
Jenny was tall for a woman, 5’6″, when we were friends she was always the tallest one around yet she loved the highest stilettos she could find. Days she worked as a clerk in a small shop and she danced her nights away at a club with live music.
How did she manage to head this billion dollar company. From the time she was 15, shortly after her mother died, she had one kind of business or another. Each business taught her some valuable lessons and one was to appear to be head and shoulders above everyone. Shoes gave her strength.
Winter Sun by Ian McNaughton
A child was kicking the back of my seat.
His mother loudly whispered for him to stop.
The plane was filling with winter sun-seekers.
A large woman got on carrying two screaming babies
My heart popped up into my mouth to have a look.
I whiplashed my head around. No empty seats
Squeezing in beside me, she smiled. I smiled back; I was dying inside.
After we took off, she asked me what time we would arrive in Minnesota. I laughed and told her It’s a flight to Orlando.
She showed me her ticket.
I kicked and screamed.
Snake Killers by Ann Edall-Robson
Sitting on the bed, she watched the four-year-old tapping the heel of the stiletto on the palm of his hand. Did the upturn of his lips mean happy or sadistic? Tap. Tap. His piercing eyes bore into her groggy mind. Why had she agreed to go to the party wearing those shoes?
“You know what these are good for?”
“Not dancing,” she muttered.
Tap. Thump. The shoe landed on the floor.
“Killing snakes!” He giggled.
She laughed as she slid her foot into her favourite heels.
This morning her feet thanked her for bringing her cowboy boots.
Faded Steps by AJ Prince
In the far back of the closet shelf, I pulled out that faded shoe box. Lifting one heel out, it felt heavy in my hand. The shininess long faded into a dull black as the years passed. A few stitching’s had come undone, but the leather was still buttery soft. I slipped the other out of the box and held them side by side, inhaling deeply as if to remember the clicking sounds of my steps. I removed my fuzzy slippers and squealed as my toes slid into those old stilettos, as if I had never taken them off.
Cupid by Gloria McBreen
My sister Ann insisted a night out would stop me lamenting over my recent break-up with my boyfriend Joe.
‘Wear your red suede stilettos.’
‘Are they not a bit fancy?’
‘Not for where we’re going,’ she smiled.
I followed Ann to our table in the restaurant—that was already occupied by someone else.
‘What are you doing here?’ I blurted.
‘Meeting my sister,’ he replied.
‘Eh…no you’re not,’ said Ann.
She scarpered. I sat opposite him.
‘You’re wearing my favourite shirt.’
‘And you’re wearing those shoes.’
He grinned and I blushed.
‘I’m sorry Joe.’
‘So am I.’
Stilettos by Anita Dawes
The office Christmas party
Something I didn’t look forward to
Mark would be there
In dreams, he does not see the scar on my cheek
a beautiful pair of stilettos caught my eye
I bought them, hoping he would
see only the sparkles on my feet
At school I could never hide
from the harsh words of others
These days I can wear my hair long,
it helps, like closing a curtain
I walked around the house
wearing these shoes
Feeling like a fairy princess
the office party would be fine
Because in dreams he loves me…
The Young Cook by Ruchira Khanna
“Daddy, your lunch is ready,” ten-year-old Mel shouted from the kitchen while trying to balance herself and the plate in her hand.
Dad was quick to rush into the kitchen, “Impressive, Mel.” he said with arched eyebrows as he was quick to get the plate from her hands and then help her stay still.
“Yummy! PB&J Sandwich, my favorite!”
“I can understand the apron, but what’s up with the stilettos, doll?”
“Mom used to wear her heels everywhere. I’m just trying to mimic her, so we don’t feel her absence,” she said while trying to wear a brave smile.
Mom’s Shoes by Colleen M. Chesebro
“Lizzie, are you ready for school? You better not be in my closet again, young lady. Besides, the bulb burned out, you can’t see anything.”
The eleven-year-old sighed. How did her mother always know what she was up to? All she wanted was to borrow her mom’s shoes to match her dress for picture day.
Lizzie stumbled in the darkness and stuffed the shoes in her book bag.
“See you tonight, Mom.”
At school, all eyes were on Lizzie wearing her mom’s black stilettos as she wobbled across the floor to take her place for the sixth-grade class picture.
The Princess Wore Stilettos by Norah Colvin
The princess clattered around in stilettos and beads, giving orders and making demands. Servants attempted to fulfill her requirements, but nothing was ever quite right.
“Don’t do that.”
Should they dare bring her juice in the wrong cup, she’d bat it away, “Not that cup. My special cup.”
They would quickly consult, but no one knew what was deemed special for this occasion.
As she grew more unbearable and uncompromising, the suggestion that she retire to her chambers triggered more hostility.
When she finally surrendered to sleep, crumpled on the floor, peace reigned.
Stilettos by FloridaBorne
“Mrs. Jones, you’ve worn stilettos for… 56 years?” Dr. Harris asked the 59 year old woman.
“You report pain in your knees and hip. The amount of force the front of your foot has endured over the years created metatarsal problems and made your bunions worse. Abnormal growth of nerve tissues in the toes, shortened calf muscles…”
“I can’t lower my heel to the ground, or walk in normal shoes” she said.
“I can help you, if you’ll agree to follow our physical therapist’s guidance for a year.”
Tears falling, Mrs. Jones replied, “I don’t have a choice.”
Military Pranksters by Sue Spitulnik
Michael and Tessa were watching TV when Michael started chuckling after seeing a shoe commercial. Tessa was puzzled. “What’s funny?”
“Nothing. It reminded me of a Thanksgiving eve discussion between the vets about gentlemen’s clubs around the globe.”
“Seems almost everyone there had been to or knew about one called Stilettos in Washington state.”
“The old-timers on the post made sure to encourage new guys to attend the extravagant midnight show.”
“It was performed by transvestites and some of the guys never caught on. It was a perpetual fun prank.”
Tessa harrumphed. “Soldiers and their pranks.”
Kid’s Christmas Present by D. Avery
“Yer up late Kid.”
“A flash ‘bout stilettos?”
“Hmmph. How kin ya write ‘bout somethin’ ya cain’t walk in? I’m writin’ a letter. Ta Santy Claus.”
“Ya know he ain’t fer real.”
“How kin ya miss Santy if ya know he ain’t real?”
“Reckon I miss believin, an’ all the other things I use ta know. Miss when Christmas weren’t so much ‘bout missin’ folks an’ what’s past an’ fears fer what’s future.”
“So what’re ya askin’ fer?”
“Nothin’ Pal! Jist listin’ ever’thin’ an’ ever’body I’m grateful fer. Right now.”
“Write on Kid.”
Party Like It’s Only 99 by D. Avery
“Kid! Thought you said thet piglet was potty trained.”
“She is. She’s right here with me Pal.”
“Then what’s thet smell?”
“Oui, it ees me.”
“Thet’s right, fergot yer bunkin’ with us. Seems someone cain’t keep all her stories straight.”
“Hey, Pepe! Look’t you. What’s all this! Bells? Bows?”
“Oui, Keed, an’ geefts for you and Pal and thees leetle evergreen tree. Eets got roots, we can plant it later.”
“Shut the front door! Why it’s Tip and Top Lemmon.”
“Dey want to perform for us.”
“The Lemmon Queens’re gonna dance?”
“No. Dey weel prance! In stilettos!”
World Toilet Day happens every November 19th to remind us of the vital role toilets play in our health and happiness. In this collection, we celebrate the toilet in its many forms and influences.
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.
Toi Let or not to Toi Let by Bill Engleson
Sometimes the prompt is rather iffy,
I rarely dwell on it;
I jot down thoughts…in a jiffy,
A flash, a song, a sonnet.
Yes, I have raw writer’s remorse,
A dose of white porcelain regret,
You write your bit, stay the course,
complete your work, your sweet vignette.
And then one day, a newer tone,
A wondrous prompt, a flash quite spiffy.
An account of the basement zone,
The tailback john, the backup biffy.
We had but one in my long ago,
It opened to the kitchenette,
We would watch the traffic flow,
From table et to loud toilet.
Ode de (bleep) by Dog Jacquier
In the fifties in the USA
on TV this was a word you couldn’t say.
‘Powder your nose’ if you were a ma’am
or ‘see a man about a dog’ if you were Sam.
‘Bathrooms’ were allowed but never an inkle
that this was where you went for a tinkle.
I suppose it was for our moral improvement;
that ‘To Let’ was born from creative vowel movement.
Here in Australia we were proud of our dunny*
where we deposited our stools, either firm or runny.
Amongst the redbacks* and the daily news,
be it Number Ones or Number Twos.
Dunny – Australian slang for (bleep)
Redback – Venomous Australian spider, inspiration for the song ‘Red Back On The (bleep) Seat
Oasis Stasis by D. Avery
It was not a mirage, it was marriage, marriage all-inclusive, with children, pets, dishes, laundry, and working from home. It was enough to blur her vision and make her misty at times but there was an oasis, a peaceful place to recover, to take respite from the whirlwinds that swept through the house.
Gathering up clothes and other debris, flotsam wake of the twins, she paused and smiled at the picture book, Everybody Poops. It had been a hit with her older children too.
She shuddered with a sudden realization. Potty-trained twins would mean increased competition for her oasis!
The End by Norah Colvin (with apologies to Alan Alexander Milne)
When I was one and had just begun
Nappies were where my business was done.
When I was two, not nearly so new
A training potty was home for my poo.
When I was three, I was learning to pee
In a toilet that flushed away to the sea.
When I was four or not much more
I learned to be private behind a closed door.
When I was five, school days had arrived
And toilets were places to play and hide.
When I get old, or so I am told,
A clean handy toilet is precious as gold.
Time Out by Joanne Fisher
Tess sat on the toilet. She usually avoided loud parties, but had been dragged to this one by a close friend. It didn’t take long for her to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in the house, and so she ran off to the bathroom where she could be alone. She could leave, but that would involve trying to find her friend again. Tess sat there listening to the music thudding through the walls. All she wanted was to have just a few minutes of peace and quiet to gather her thoughts. Someone knocked on the door.
Last Room Standing by D. Avery
“Really? I’m going to the bathroom!”
(A euphemism. She’d already gone to the bathroom, was now in the bathroom and sitting on the toilet using it for its intended purpose.)
Though originally she’d gone just to be away from him. Victor was getting carried away again. (Another euphemism; he was out of control yelling and screaming.) Not at her. Something on TV. Still. And now he wanted her to unlock the door?
Victor yelled a lot but had difficulties communicating clearly. He never stated why she should let him in…
The tornado carried him away. (Not a euphemism.)
Hole In One by Ritu Bhathal
“But I need to go, right now!” Serena squirmed in the backseat of the car.
“Hold on. It’s not like England, here.” Her mother leaned forward. “Will we be able to stop soon?” She asked her husband, sitting in the passenger seat, as the driver weaved between the traffic.
They pulled up at a small roadside restaurant, with a few tables set, haphazardly, outside.
“There.” The driver pointed to a tatty door.
Serena ran in, and straight out.
“That was quick!”
“I can’t go in there. It’s just a hole!”
“Welcome to India Memsahib!” The driver grinned.
The Little House by R. V. Mitchell
Some called it “the little house on the prairie,” and others the latrine or head. But that little corrugated steel shack was the prime real estate in camp. Yes, the “head-shed” or battalion headquarters might’ve been more prestigious, and the CP tent that served as the chapel might have been more revered. Many would tell you that the chow hall was the most important structure in camp, or the dugouts and bunkers if there was a mortar attack going down. But, truth be told, when several days of backed up C-rations called, no place else was going to compare.
Sanitary Arrangements at the World’s End by Anne Goodwin
How dare he? My hand trembles as I slide the bolt across the bathroom door. We are not savages. Yet!
A weekly wash in a bucket of water. Cooking on a fire built from antique furniture. Feasting on food I would formerly have thrown away. But nothing will induce me to shit outdoors.
Grime coats the basin. The stench goes beyond my unwashed clothes. But I have three packs of quilted toilet roll with aloe vera. I refuse to straddle a trench.
Unzipping my fly, I raise the lid. Recoil in horror as a rat leaps from the pan.
Waiting by D. Avery
“Don’t make me laugh, Angela. I have to pee. Bad.”
“Me too. Let’s go.”
“I can’t go in there.”
“It’s the ladies’ room. Come on.”
Celia pulled back when Angela took her hand, leading her toward the entrance. “Angela, no!”
The old towel woman stood, picked up a broom. Head ducked, she watched the girls carefully. The other women paused in their gossiping to turn tight-lipped stares on the girls. Celia broke away and ran off to the further toilets.
One woman swept. The other women resumed their gossip. All paused again when Angela started running.
“Celia! Wait up!”
Love and Porcelain by Kerry E.B. Black
“You’re my best friend. That’s why I’m hugging you. I hug what I love..” Starr leaned against her smaller – and less drunk – friend, Autumn.
Autumn shifted her weight to support her friend. “Love you, too. Keep walking, though. You said you didn’t feel well.”
Starr froze, concern broadcasting across her features.
Terror gripped Autumn. “Hold on, honey! Just a few more steps.”
They plod-hurried like ungainly sack-race contestants into the bar’s women’s room. Autumn held Starr’s hair. “Better out than in,” she reassured.
Emptied, Starr clasped the cool porcelain. “I love this toilet bowl!”
“Well, you are hugging it.”
For the Love of a Toilet by Peniel Gifted
Jim! Mama shouted as the door flung open. Like a purging soul, Jim hurried to the toilet. “M….a…” he answered in a sickly voice. “Where are you, didn’t I ask you to take this clothe to my tailor?” His mother echoed furiously. “I’m running stool” he replied. “Oh sorry, I’ll take it there myself. Take good care of yourself.” Mama said and left for her tailor. Jim was so glad. He had pretended to be ill so he won’t go to the tailor and would have time, chatting with his girlfriend. Taking out his phone, he pressed and blushed.
Like a Toilet by FloridaBorne
In 1950, Alexander whined, “But, Mom…”
“Not until we find a toilet!” she said, marching toward her target location.
“No!” he yelled, running to the toy section.
An 8 year old was so predictable.
She rushed to a stall, cursing the day she was forced to marry at 44, relieved when Alexander couldn’t be found, happy to lose the husband who had a heart attack over his son’s loss.
She hadn’t expected the couple who’d bought him to die in a car accident, or to be reunited with her son, now 20.
Like a toilet, he could be useful.
(35) Damned Family (Jesse’s Uncomfortable on the Golden Throne) by JulesPaige
tormented visions she sees
her cheeks reflected in mirrors
Jesse tried to use the fancy Presidential suites commode. There were just too many mirrors. Looking at her reflection – her thoughts were far from down to earth flopping between “She just gets it” or “She lies”.
Norman’s journal wasn’t really revealing much. Even the pages with invisible words that she brought to life with ultraviolet light. It’s just smoke and mirrors – what was Norman up to. She found a name though that didn’t fit. She’d known him as Norman North… she’d found an invisible acrostic with ‘Mae Norwich’.
The Throne by Ruchira Khanna
“Sure, I can babysit my seven-year-old niece.”
“Thanks, Sis.” Pedro grinned, “I’ll pick her up by 9 p.m.”
The evening was going well until Sarah needed to use the potty.
I took her to the bathroom. She stood there with a dazed look. I beckoned her to sit on the potty; she squealed and placed her fingers on her parted lips, then moved back n forth.
Perplexed, I left her alone and stood outside. Time ticked away.
I peeped in to find that she was seated on the floor and playing peek-a-boo with her reflection on the gold-plated toilet.
Two Worlds by Saifun Hassam
The cottage toilet was ordinary enough, with a faux wood seat, and cover. For Caitlin, it was her own private place. The cottage, with its fragrant shrubs, was a refuge from her caregiving duties. When her stomach roiled from overwhelming worries and arguments, the toilet eased the tension.
Caitlin was a caregiver for her Aunt Shelby, whose three daughters had neither the willingness nor the patience to care for her. How could the family drift away from each other?
Caitlin was an orphan and a student at the community college. The cottage with its own toilet was sheer luxury.
Hideaway by Eliza Mimski
It was her safe place, her special place where she went to hide, the bathroom lock punched in, her husband given no other choice but to pick up the screaming baby because here she was on the toilet, the glorious toilet, her hideaway where she could make her escape and no one, not one person could expect anything from her – nothing! -for the next two minutes or even thirty seconds, giving her time to lay her head down on her lap and almost relax for a blessed amount of time that came in second only to her broken sleep.
Toilet Training Gone Awry by Marsha Ingrao
When her kids started toddling, Sarah Clay guarded minutes of alone time like a jeweled crown. With few places to hide, Sarah treasured the toilet time. She clicked the lock.
The two year old twins wailed.
“Lance!” she said, pulling him inside. The twins tumbled in waving books.
No more locks.
As her ducklings aged, they invited friends in too.
“Sorry,” George said.
George wasn’t sorry.
“We can’t reach the milk,” Lance followed George in.
Sarah peered over the paper on her lap.
How did toilet training go so wrong?
The Toilet to Hell by Joanne Fisher
“Ashley honey, you okay?’ Steffi asked as she knocked on the door. Ashley had been in the toilet for quite some time now. Cautiously Steffi opened the door to find she was gone. “Son of a bitch!” Steffi shouted as she closed the toilet lid.
Everyone had wondered how Steffi could afford her luxury apartment that was in an ideal location. She told everyone it was because the toilet was demonically possessed, but nobody believed her. Regardless of that, she loved her new apartment even if her toilet did occasionally eat people. She was going to miss Ashley though.
Alone with the Throne by Cara Stefano
Ever since she could remember, Mary, often considered an odd duck, had loved to clean – especially bathrooms. It gave her such pleasure to see the sparkling mirrors, the fresh waters of a newly cleaned toilet bowl, to know she was seeing a job well done. When she bought a little miner’s house in upper Michigan she was disappointed to realize it only had one bathroom! Her first day home she descended into the gloomy basement, only to stop, amazed – in a halo of light, standing alone in the corner, another toilet!
The Privy by Jaye Marie
I am old enough to remember sitting on an outdoor toilet, or privy as some people call them.
How dark it was in Winter, with spiders lurking, patiently waiting to drop on your head while you spent a penny.
If you go back far enough in time, hardly anyone had indoor plumbing. The age of an outdoor water pump and a tin bath in front of the fire. Just one bath full of warm water for everyone on the family to use.
I often used to wonder if the last person came out dirtier than when they went in!
Feeding the Soul by Sue Spitulnik
The night before Thanksgiving the No Thanks Needed welcomed military members only. The Band of Brothers served turkey and fixin’s, prepared by their families, to any service person who came through the door. After the meal, Mac announced, “Being thankful for family and friends goes without saying, but if you ever fought in a warzone, hot running water, and a flushable toilet are right up there on the list.” The crowd cheered with understanding and others shouted; food, clean clothes, life, the brotherhood. Service-related stories were shared openly until the wee hours of the morning in the comfortable safe-haven.
Aged Timbers by Ann Edall-Robson
His hat tipped back on his head, a visitor of years rests on a creaky wooden seat smoking his pipe. Wispy tendrils of smoke drift through the doorless entry. From behind relaxed eyelids, the memories sidle across the meadow.
He appreciates the slightly askew structure. The only building still standing in these parts. A welcome respite after hours in the saddle. More comfortable than the log his bare behind would have sat on had he trailed the heifers across the creek.
He wondered how long the aged timbers would stand. He’d miss this old friend and their quiet conversations.
Revenge Awaits by Donna Matthews
“Let me tell you something,” I whisper gently.
His body, interested, shifts toward me.
My lips brushing against his ear, and with as much volume as I can muster, I scream,
“YOU LEFT THE TOILET SEAT UP AGAIN LAST NIGHT, AND MY ASS FELL IN THE WATER! NOT ONLY DID I GET WET, I JERKED UP AND SLIPPED ON THE SPLASHED WATER!!! I SLIPPED AND HIT MY HEAD ON THE CORNER ON THE TRASH CAN!”
Startled, he rears back, trying not to laugh, apologizing all the while untangling himself from the bedsheets, wholly unaware of the revenge awaiting him.
Tanks Anyway by D Avery
“Pal, where ya headed? We need ta confer on the Saloon schedule.”
“Stand jist outside the door if’n it cain’t wait, Kid.”
“Ah, shift, yer headed ta the outhouse!”
“Nope. Shorty’s brought plumbin’ ta the bunkhouse, got us a flush toil-it. Now shut the door or it’ll be a blush toil-it.”
“Well don’t toil too long in there. What was wrong with the outhouse anyway?”
“Don’t be anti-septic Kid. My home’s my castle, I reckon I’ll set on the throne once in a while.”
“Won’t be rushed. An’ no job is finished till the paperwork is done.”
How an’ Zen by D. Avery
“Sorry, Kid, didn’t see ya in there.”
“Well I am. Kin shut the door anytime Pal.”
“Yep. Ya remin’ me a thet statue, The Thinker.”
“Settin’ an’ thinkin’, Pal.”
“Yep. ‘Cept might be more acc’rate ta call ya The Stinker.”
“Funny. The door?”
“What’re ya thinkin’ ‘bout?”
“Was readin’ here ‘bout a Zen master asked a monk, ‘Where will ya go after death?’ Monk says, ‘’Scuse me fer a minute, I gotta go to the toil-it.’”
“Deep shit, Kid.”
“Yep. After, might go set in the Poet-tree, write an ode ta the commode.”
“Pal. The door’s still ajar…”
Barb Koski researched and wrote over 300 biographies of maritime life savers of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Writers responded with fictional tales of life savers, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
We dedicate this collection to Barb’s memory and to the real stories she saved from oblivion.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Seamen’s Sacrifice by Chel Owens
Ship askew ‘gainst pounding waves
We crew all stand, aghast
Our hearts aren’t nearly in their place
A-beating in our boots.
What foul-steamed beast have we released
By testing ice-tipped lake
What curse by hist-ry’s seamen have we
Raised by braving boats?
A-tempted by the calmer shores
We think to stay a-moored
When cry comes over radio:
A hapless vessel sinks.
“Remember Barb!” reminds the crew
A-bolstered, we set out
Our matron of the sea now scares
Away our shallow fears.
“Remember her!” beat hearts, returned
Whilst sea spray hisses by;
Remember seamen’s sacrifice
To rescue all in need.
Surfaces by Bill Engleson
The eyes, if they’re eyes, stare along the cresting water.
The head, if it is a head, bobs.
“See?” she says. “There!”
“Kelp bulb,” I state. “That’s all.”
“Let’s get closer.”
The sea is enraged.
The wind is rising up.
Ones balance, hard to maintain.
“Are you coming?”
“Don’t be foolhardy,” I howl, whilst the furious wind works overtime to drown me out.
“Fine! Stay put. But I’m going closer.”
She moves out of my reach.
Towards the waters edge.
I am transfixed.
She strips to the essentials.
“NO!” I scream.
She dives in.
Life Saver by Doug Jacques
Around midnight, he would walk down to the bridge and wait, with one foot resting on the bottom rail, staring into the tidal shift below. He would wait for a stranger to appear at the other end of the bridge, mirroring his stance. ‘Time to go’ he would announce and hoist himself onto the second rail. The stranger would come running, yelling ’What are you doing?’ ‘Ending the pain’ he would say. And the stranger would pull him down and take him to the all-night coffee stand just off the bridge. He’d lost count of the lives he’d saved.
Slippery Rocks by Simon
As he laid down on the beach, he stared at the beauty of cloudy day. Stared at the sun that hides behind the clouds he witnessed the beauty of birds flying in group towards the north, he started walking, little did he noticed he was about to fall in a hole beside a rock, and the next moment he was drowning, he tried his best to keep the head out but the waves pushed him down, he witnessed a push and in seconds he was up beside the rock, an old man shivering said slippery rocks son, be careful!
The Blessings of Ziva by Colleen M. Chesebro
“Hurry or we’ll be late, Bisera. We have to be there before sunrise,” called Emika.
Bisera balanced the jug on her hip without spilling a drop. “I’m right behind you, Emika. Did you remember to bring the apple?”
“I found the last red apple in the bin. The apple and the water are our offerings to Ziva, the ancient goddess of water.”
Bisera reached the river and tumbled toward the icy depths. “Help me.”
Emika grabbed the girl’s scarf and saved her from harm.
“Thank you, Emika. The goddess put you in the right place at the right time.”
Grace Darling to the Rescue by Anne Goodwin
Father lowered the telescope. “Ship’s hit the rock a’reet. No survivors but.”
Grace pulled the shawl around her shoulders. “There’s movement!”
“We can’t risk it. Storm’ll make matchsticks of the boat.”
“We can’t let them die.”
Grace bailed while her father rowed. Gusts slapped hair across their faces and buffeted the boat. A symphony of huffing, splashing and a wailing, carried on the wind. Biceps straining, Grace took the oars as her father leapt onto the rock.
He chose the weakest and the strongest, returning later for the rest. He chose the mother, left the bodies of her bairns.
Coastal Tales: Diamante by Saifun Hassam
Stormy seas abated. Diamante knew storms could turn deadly for those at sea. Three fishermen were missing.
Diamante watched from atop cliffs near the ancient temple. This morning he saw a fishing boat desperately turn past the promontory. He struck the temple bell thrice. The villagers raced to the boathouses. Diamante and the rescuers rowed rapidly, fighting the restless seas.
A rogue wave lifted the fishing boat, smashing it on rocks close to the cove barely ten miles from their village! The rescuers did not hesitate.
Three figures struggled in the churning waters. Dominic and Yusef survived. Carlos disappeared.
Life Saver by Anita Dawes
Jack and I decided to hire a small speedboat
Try to find the mysterious island
Said to appear at odd hours
Best time would be before dawn
Begging Jack to keep his speed down
Too late, he hit a wave
Throwing us over the side
The cold water caught my breath
Struggling to reach the surface
I couldn’t see Jack, I was drowning
No boat above me, no sign of help
There came a great moment
A feeling of peace
I felt a hand drag me above the water
Breaking the surface
I was alone close to the shore…
Muddy Water Memories ( Part I) by Sue Spitulnik
The band was packing their instruments when a young man approached Mac. He stuck an old photo of two men, one supporting the other, in a muddy rice paddy apparently in Vietnam in front of him. “I’m wondering if that’s you on the left?”
Mac stared at the photo…”Billy Metott.”
“My grandfather. He says you saved his life that day. I wanted to tell you he’s doin’ well and say thank you.”
“How did you find me?”
“I’m attending college near here. He saw the bar’s name when he passed by and thought it must be you.”
Muddy Water Memories ( Part II) by Sue Spitulnik
Mac handed the picture back, wiped the tears from his eyes, and finally looked at the young man. “The truth about that day is nobody lived without the help of a buddy. Why didn’t Billy stop in?”
“Fear he was wrong. Memories.”
“That I understand. Your name?”
“Colm, after my father.”
When the band members heard the name, their curiosity peaked. They heard Mac say, “Sorry about the name. I’d like to get together with your grandfather. Maybe we can save each other from some future bad dreams.”
“He’ll agree to that. I’ll let him know.”
“Thank you, Colm.”
Life Saver by FloridaBorne
I don’t regret making the choice that fateful day.
Lester sat next to me on the dock when that horrid politician yelled out, “He doesn’t belong here!”
Yes, the same politician who raised our taxes so that she could afford a fancy yacht.
When she ran toward me, Lester lunged at her. Both fell into the water. Who know a politician that fat couldn’t swim?
I jumped into the water and helped Lester onto the dock, ignoring the woman’s screams for help. Thank God she’s dead. Police found evidence she was taking bribes.
I petted Lester and asked, “Would the best doggie in the world like a treat?”
Damned Family #5 by JulesPaige
I decided to stay an extra day at the motel. I hadn’t gotten much sleep, and in my quest to do something, anything I unpacked and repacked my luggage. Odd that I never used the outside pockets – but there was a journal in one of my suitcases. Ships at Sea! The writing was in my ex husband’s hand. My eyes blurred, filled with tears. How was I going to read this – especially now? After I claimed I didn’t know who the dead body was that I found yesterday.
coasting on cold waves
an anchor of memories
a hidden journal
Mr Dunk Saves The Day by Geoff Le Pard
‘Logan, there’s a pool. Let’s go swim.’
‘No thanks. I’ll catch forty winks.’
‘I’ll go for a walk later.’
‘This is America. No one walks.’
‘I’m not swimming.’
‘I’ve a spare cozzie.’
‘I’m not wearing your clothes.’
‘Come on. It….’
‘What’s got into you?’
‘I can’t swim.’
‘What? The superheroic Logan is scared of water?’
‘I nearly drowned. Mr Dunk saved me.’
‘I’d given up. I was going down for the third time.’
‘Mate, I didn’t know. Anyway, time you got back on the horse.’
‘I’m not doing that either…’
Into the Storm (Part I) by D. Avery
Through rain pelted windows Marlie’s tree fort hove into view. Marlie read, curled up with Daisy on the couch.
“Remember when she used to sail in weather like this, captaining a mighty ship?”
“Remember when she made Tommy walk the plank?”
“Do you miss Tommy, Liz?”
“For better or worse, I do. I miss our opportunity to give Tommy a respite from his family. The great unmasked… What’s Marlie researching now, Bill?”
“The candy? Or health care workers?”
“Life savers— nascent Coast Guard.”
Putting her book aside Marlie donned her foul weather gear. She had to go out.
Into the Storm (Part II) by D. Avery
“Who will rescue us, Bill?”
“What? Are we a wreck?” He crowded into the window seat. Beyond the steamy window, Marlie braved the high seas to pluck Destiny from the surf.
“Not us. Us. /U/ /S/. Of A?”
“Oh. Ship of fools. Headed for the rocks.”
“We’ve been commandeered by pirates, with a fool spinning the helm. I’m scared Bill.”
“Oh! Marlie! You’ve returned.”
“We’re huddled in our lifeboat, Marlie. Get in.”
Marli climbed in with her parents and assessed their circumstances. “It’s going to be rough. But we’ll make it. All storms peter out.”
Outstretched Arm by Goldie
Veronica’s been struggling with the large waves for too long. They have smacked her around mercilessly, making her crash against rocks a few times.
She tried to grab onto some of them, but the waves pulled her right back into the ocean. The cuts on her hands burned in the salty waters.
So close to solid ground, yet so far. Veronica had to fight. If not for herself, then definitely for her toddler.
But she couldn’t. Not anymore… She was too spent. Closing her eyes, she gave up the fight.
“Veronica!” the monster pulled her out of the tub.
Water and Rescue by Frank Hubeny
When Lydia was playing in a shallow pool about four inches deep she stumbled and fell face down into the water. The problem is she did not stand up. She kept her face submerged in the water. She was very young.
Her father was watching her and saw what happened. He got up out of his chair, stepped into the water and lifted her. He and his wife wiped off the water. Lydia smiled. That was enough water play for today.
It wasn’t a dangerous rescue. Some rescues are routine, but imagine the consequences if they had not happened.
Lifesavers by Hugh W. Roberts
Is it only humans that save lives?
Cindy-Rose already knew that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father and save lives at sea.
“I’ve just saved Teddy and Giraffe from going underwater, Daddy.”
“I know, I saw you save them from falling into that big, strange puddle left by last night’s, weird storm,” responded her father.
“Thank you for saving our lives,” whispered Teddy into the ear of its owner. “Giraffe and I will always save you.”
Smiling, Cindy hugged her toys and counted down from her age of four before jumping into the puddle.
Only her yellow wellington boots and rainhat resurfaced.
Oreos and Milk Save the Day! by Liz Husebye Hartmann
The boat tosses and turns, water crashing over its bow, threatening to tip the tiny crew into the roiling waters.
“I can’t hold our course, Captain!”
“Look alive, Fishlegs! The deadly virus cure’s gotta get to Littleton before sunrise.”
“Aye, but the Great Kraken of the deep haunts these waters. I have a bad feeling about this!”
“Courage, Fishlegs. We’ll save the day, or my name isn’t Cap Moira Janesway!”
Suddenly the deep rumbles: heels hammering from beneath. The boat capsizes as two brown knees break the froth.
“Bath time’s over, Moira. Time for jammies, snack and something calmer.”
Rescue 116 by Gloria McBreen
Irish Coast Guard helicopter
Called into the night
Black ocean swells
Rocky terrain in sight
Find Blacksod Bay
Refuel at the lighthouse
Where the keeper awaits
No mayday distress
Black box tells
Of that early misty morn
Winchman yelled ‘come right’
Duffy said ‘we’re gone’
Didn’t make it to the lighthouse
Hit Blackrock instead
Two were lost at sea
Two were found…now dead
Father of three
Lived for family
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick
Mother sister friend
Captain Mark Duffy
All heroes till the end
The nation mourned
We’ll never forget
Saviours we never met
In Remembrance by Charli Mills
Beatrice Hayes served Coast Guard Station Portage for three years, respecting the deadly furies of Lake Superior. Cruising the canal on a clear day, she could spot old shipwrecks below the water’s surface. To the west, she assisted in setting up the buoy system. When she heard kayakers were gathering to honor a local historian who researched her historical predecessors, Beatrice mustered the fleet from cruisers to icebreaker to Kodiaks and posted an honor guard. Women in kayaks tossed daisies, reciting the names of life savers who had served these waters, ending with the woman who wrote their biographies.
Whiskey in a Storm by D. Avery
“Ah, Ernie, you’re a lifesaver!”
“It’s jist whiskey, Pal.”
“Yer a port in the storm, Ernie, a safe haven as I go a-sailin’ back ta the Ranch.”
“Thinkin’ ya might already be three sheets, there, Pal. An’, ya look like ya seen a ghost.”
“I did, last week. It was spooky. Afore thet I worked my fingers ta the bone doin’ chores at my cuzzins’ turnip farm, an thet dispite wearin’ kid gloves.”
“Speakin’ a which, where’s Kid at?”
“Dunno. Took separate trails fer our vacation. Mighta saved Kid’s life, thet break.”
“Missin’ Kid, ain’tcha?”
“Been a long month.”
Bacon in a Storm by D. Avery
Though spooked, Kid made it back to Carrot Ranch. Kid had never been so long and far away from the barns and bunkhouse without Pal; the whole month had seemed like one long dark and stormy night. Now the sun rising over Shorty’s cookhouse was like a lightbulb overhead. Idea!
By the time Shorty came on the scene, Kid had stacked large rocks in a circle.
“Buildin’ a fire ring?”
“Foundation fer a lighthouse. Thinkin’ we need a beacon.”
“The Ranch is a beacon, an’ a safe harbor. Come on, Kid, I’ll fix ya some bacon.”
Kid lightened up.
Dusty trails lead in and out of the arid lands of the American West. Iconic to cattle drives, pioneers, and the Pony Express, there’s more to the west than frontier, dry land, rugged mountains, and big sky. It was a wild place — still is — but it was known long before settlers and ranchers, loggers and miners hit the trails. Where did they come from? What dusty trails lead people to wander and settle? Are we ever really settled, or is our large human family restless to kick up dust?
Writers had a challenge before them, and like the argonauts before them, they set out with just 99 words in their knapsacks to catch a story on the trail. Read where the prompt led them.
The following is based on the October 1, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that happens on the dusty trail.
My Life’s Dusty Roads by Sue Spitulnik
Growing up dusty dirt roads connected friends farms. We drove them to hunt and parked on them to explore life.
In my thirties I drove dusty roads alone into the mountains, looking for me.
Now in retirement, Charli Mills introduced me to Stegnar and Abbey, lovers of open and natural places.
Then Sean Prentiss took me along to Find Abbey and I rode on some of the same roads while driving Rt66.
Now I’m riding the same roads again with the Ghost Rider, who is sharing his knowledge of ghosts, wishing life didn’t have them.
Coincidence. I think not.
Dusty Trail by kathy70
Sally walked along the trail covered with dust, no rain in almost two months along her beloved ridge of mountain. This was where she came to clear her head from all the noise of her family of 11 siblings, all talking at the same time. She knew that she could only have a few minutes before someone was looking for her. What would she find here today? Would he still be here, was he feeling well enough to leave?
As she searched the trees and bushes there was no sign of him. The eagle free from his trap was gone.
Star Dust by D. Avery
“It’s my magical palace, Mommy!”
Taking her mother’s hand Hope twirled and danced in the hayloft until they both fell back into a pile of loose hay, laughing. Dusty trails of chaff sparkled in the shafts of sunlight.
“Stars!” her mother exclaimed.
“Make a wish, Mommy.”
“Does wishing work with this kind of star?”
“Yup. Mine came true.”
“What did you wish for?”
But Hope only grew quiet and snuggled closer to her mother, who stared up into the glittering dust. “I’m so sorry, kid,” she whispered. “But I’m here now, I promise.” Then she wished upon a star.
Grand Canyon Cowboys by Deborah Dasante
Confusion. That’s their game. Starched jeans. Stetsons. So you to think that’s who they are. It’s a disguise. I paid good money to ride a mule in a line with a group of others too lazy or too afraid to hike the South Rim. Paid a store-bought cowboy to ‘Howdy’ and to not look like a fool going in circles unable to move forward. Not a dimes worth of difference between a forty dollar mule and a store-bought cowboy. Cost money to find that out. I should of known better when I read the flyer –
“Grand Canyon, My Ass”.
The Mares of Mars by Anonymole: Apocryphal Abecedarian
Haus spurred his robotic steed. By ‘spurred’ we mean he spoke code into his suit’s helmet that translated to ‘giddy-up’. Within seconds his six legged rover, a cross between a horse, a spider and a stainless-steel nightmare from a 20th Century film, began a sinuous saunter, one that allowed Haus to barely feel the trail.
The pair arrived at a crevasse, one that plunged deep into the dusty crust of Mars.
“The span exceeds safe leaping distance,” said Bray-burry, the mount’s name.
“Bah! This oughta be easy. Back up a bit.” The robot complied. “Now git!”
And over they…
Gold Dust by Hugh W. Roberts
Heading up the dusty trail of the desert city, nine-gallon, cowboy hat adorned and wobbling around on the spurred boots that were one size too big, Barry remembered the words of his now-deceased, bachelor uncle.
“The trail leads to gold.”
But where was the gold? There was no gold here, just dust, some of which was dirtying his new boots and making him sneeze.
Opening the doors of the venue at the end of the trail, Dusty’s, his heart leapt while butterflies flew around his stomach. A brightly-lit room full of cowboys, all line dancing together.
He’d struck gold.
A Barf Story by Simon
He entered the bar, covered with brown sand as he came from a dusty trail. Young boy stared at a guy in whites. He bravely went close to him and asked if you are not eating this, can I take this? he was hungry.
The man nodded. He quickly grabbed the spoon and ate it fast as soon he reached the bottom of the Cup he found a dead rat, he barfs up back in the bowl and stared at the man
The man replied calmly, Gross, I did the same when I reached that bottom.
He barfs again.
Slave by FloridaBorne
Martha Smythe refused her father’s choice, eloping with the man she loved instead.
She remembered little about the siege; her new husband dying from a pirate’s bullet… their ship sinking… being thrown into a hold with other women, faces blank from shock… sails blowing as strong winds propelled them toward the Barbary Coast… huddling in a Morocco slave market.
Her hands bound, she walked a dusty trail to the home of a man with dark face. Instead of a new life in Connecticut, a stranger beat her, used her body, and threw her into a room with barred windows.
Looking for the Comfort of Autumn… (a dream scene?)
(two verses of a Vers Beaucoup) by JulesPaige
There’s a strain on the prairie plane – no hill or dale, putting a strain
On this traveler’s brain – dry ground, no trained hound
On a lead bound to find any water for this daughter
Who oughter have stayed close to home, but did roam
Running from the season, with no rhyme or reason, spirit to be pleasin’
Yet the nose is just sneezin’ – no thirst quenched, arid dry air first
In spiral clouds burst from the not so shy, dust filled sky
The trail far from the shade of the leaves of willow for my pillow…
Scorcher by R. V. Mitchell
It was a scorcher for sure, easily ninety degrees in the shade. Too bad there weren’t no shade. George Mason, took off his hat and wiped his forehead with a sleeve. The dust clogged his throat despite the scarf he wrapped around his face.
He had been doing scouting ahead of the train for about two hours or so, and the water holes were still an hour or so ahead of him. The terrain looked tolerable enough, but he was concerned that the dust raised by the wagons behind him might call some unwanted attention to Captain Little’s train.
The Darnedest Cowboy by M J Mallon
The darnedest cowboy walked towards me. His cowboy boots churned up the dusty road. My heartbeat so loudly I swore it was going to giddy up, catch a ride on a wild horse and land on his Western shirt. His eyes twinkled as he dawdled a few feet away. He kicked a stone, spat some cheeky grits into the ground and walked right past, lassoing my heart with his.
I stayed still until I heard the deafening gunshot. Damn. Wild West gals sure don’t remember no dead cowboy long.
Love ain’t for dead buckaroos!
Histories Hidden Below Layers of Dust by Anne Goodwin
They trod lightly on the earth, but their footprints were visible for those who cared to see. The White Man did not care: fearing their prowess, he stripped them of their language, their culture, their land. Made them a commodity. Robbed them of their worth.
Centuries later, their descendants plough through the dusty trail to dig up the bones of their accomplishments: the hidden histories of science, literature, music and architecture. Scour museums for stolen artefacts, ornaments appropriated when the White Man rewrote their stories, swapped heroes for victim or villain. Let’s be brave now and face the truth.
Carrot Ranch by Anita Dawes
We cannot see the wind
Only the lifting of leaves
The swaying or grass
As it passes
We cannot hear the wind
Only the echo
It leaves behind
The dark curtain of dust
It sweeps from the ground
All but swallows
The four horsemen
Riding from the Starbuck Ranch
Out to recover a few stray cattle
Before the savannah winds
Cover the small town of Starbuck
With a dark blanket from hell
Ask my mother
When she tries clearing it up
The air around her turns dusty blue
The four riders return
Spitting blue dust…
Cattle safe and sound.
Divergin’ Trails (Part 1) by D. Avery
“Jeez, Pal, I’m ready fer a vacation. Where we gonna go, anyway?”
“We? This is vacation, Kid. My vacation is gonna be time away from you.”
“What? Yer leavin’ me?”
“Fer a bit Kid. I’m jist gonna have some quiet time. Mebbe do some fishin’. Catch up with ma cuzzins. Ash and Dusty. Trales.”
“Ya never told me ya had cuzzins.”
“Ya never asked. They run a little farm jist west a the ranch. Raise turnip. At one time they figgered ta give Shorty a run fer her money.”
“Nah. Turnips is too bitter.”
“Kin relate, Pal.”
Divergin’ Trails (Part 2) by D. Avery
“Don’t be bitter, Kid. Whyn’t ya use this time ta go back east? Check out thet fall foliage they talk about.”
“How kin thet be? Ya got here from there didn’tcha?”
“Mean I’ve come too far. I ain’t goin’ back ta where you know who lives. Asides it’s cold there. Think I’d git homesick if I lef’ the Ranch. Reckon I’ll jist spen’ my time up in the Poet Tree. Have ma own quiet time.
Crackling conflagrant hues
Ignite morning frost
Burning campfire memories
Smoke’s dusty trails dream west
Yep, I’ll stay here, tanka anyways.”
Outlaws on the Dusty Trail by Charli Mills
Frankie wiped her glass eye with the scarf she used to cover her face.
“Gotta mask up, Bert,” she told her horse (who wasn’t listening). “Dang dust.”
The dry storm blew like a devil whirling across the flats. Ahead, Frankie made out the outline of riders that looked to her one eye like two outlaws. They were wearin’ masks, too! She tightened the rains and thought about lunging old Bert to keep the mail safe (Bert had no run left in him).
“Hey, it’s Frankie.”
Blowing dust and relief, she realized it were jist her friends, Kid and Pal.
Too Far From Home by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She’d worn new Oboz hikers and thin wool socks, afraid of snakes on the trail since there’d been none on the plane. She’d strapped on a hip belt with double water holsters, and a chin-strapped billed cap with cape to for sun protection.
She gleamed like a beached whale, from all the sunscreen applied, and wore layers, like multiple skins, to transform from wallowing walrus to near naked nymphette, as the weather deemed. She’d traveled far, with no plans to stay out after dark.
But then she lost the trail, and found two Carrot cowpokes singing by a fire.
Jess and Cindy Stumble Across the Ranch by Joanne Fisher
“If only our car hadn’t broken down. I hope this trail will lead somewhere.” Jess said. Cindy coughed.
“It’s rather dusty!”
The two women came to a ridge. Below them they saw a ranch.
“We’ve been here before! This is Carrot Ranch where Kid and Pal work. I wonder if they’re around.” Jess wondered. They walked to the fence.
“Look at all those carrots they have to wrangle.”
“Maybe we should take some so we can compare them to our ones.” Jess suggested.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Cindy responded. “It may be regarded as carrot rustling.”
On the Trail Down Under by Norah Colvin
The hooves thundered along the trail kicking up a storm of dust. Mary watched the cloud clear the trees and turn towards her across the home paddock.
How often had the boys been told to not push their horses so hard?
“Might as well talk to a dead cow,” her dad always said.
Before they’d reined in their mounts, Mary was outside, ready to give them a serve.
“Mum! Mum! It’s Kid and Pal. They’re here,” they shouted.
Mary sighed. Hadn’t they outgrown imaginary friends?
Her jaw dropped when, out of the dust, two figures materialised. “G’day,” they said.
Saguaro ‘N Seek by Chel Owens
Pal spat into the wind, instantly regretting he’d done so. “Ware be Kid?” he growled as he wiped his face.
“Ware be you?” the wind answered.
Pal whipped around. He slid off the rocky outcropping he’d carefully climbed and scooted across just a few minutes before. His gun flew after him, landing stock first into a Saguaro and shooting its contents sky-high.
“Hey!” yelped the cactus, falling over.
Pal squinted. “Kid?”
“Nah, yer gramma.”
Pal laughed. “Welp,” he said, standing and walking over to his dusty, cactus-clad friend. “I guess you won this here round o’ hide ‘n seek.”
On the Trail: Crater Lakes by Saifun Hassam
Lorena trekked along a dusty trail to Coyote Ridge in the Crater Lakes Habitat. Green Lake shimmered blue in the fall sunshine. To the south were the mudflats of Lizard Lake.
Lorena was a writer and artist. Crater Lakes, with its rich American West history and extraordinary natural beauty, captivated her.
Lorena hiked past cottonwoods, aspens, and majestic lodgepole pines. On the trail, Ranger Carmen greeted her warmly. Lorena grinned at the other two familiar faces.
“Hey, Kid! Hi Pal! You’re a long dusty ways from home!”
Pal was exploring rancher history.
Kid? He was in Poet Tree heaven!
The Morning After by Geoff Le Pard
‘Where did you get to, Morgan?’
‘Those two reprobates, Kid and Pal…’
‘You went drinking with them? Give me you wallet.’
‘I didn’t spend much.’
‘It’s not the money; I’m tearing up your donor card. You can’t expect anyone to want your organs now.’
‘I think I must have dropped my brain and bruised it. Did I disturb you?’
‘How kind of you to worry. As it happens, no, though you did leave a sad trail of shed clothes, keys, burger wrappers…’
‘Sorry, I was feeling a little dusty…’
‘Yeah, I get it. They’re hard to refuse, aren’t they?’
Taking Control by Sue Spitulnik
Katie’s eyes went wide when she saw Kid and Pal standing at the No Thanks bar. “Howdy guys. What brings you here, and, how’d you get so dusty?”
“We’re on hiatus from our Saloon and gettin’ pulled every which way. One writer’s got us drinkin’, one ridin’ the range and another sittin’ at a campfire, so we rode over for a busman’s holiday. Sorry ’bout the dust.”
“Don’t care ’bout the dirt. Couldn’t be better timing! If you’ll tend bar, I’ll go see my students dance at the Irish Festival.”
“We’d love to.”
“Can’t thank you enough.”
“Jeez, Pal, I’m ready fer a vacation. Where we gonna go, anyway?”
“We? This is vacation, Kid. My vacation is gonna be time away from you.”
“What? Yer leavin’ me?”
“Fer a bit Kid. I’m jist gonna have some quiet time. Mebbe do some fishin’. Catch up with ma cuzzins. Ash and Dusty. Trales.”
“Ya never told me ya had cuzzins.”
“Ya never asked. They run a little farm jist west a the ranch. Raise turnip. At one time they figgered ta give Shorty a run fer her money.”
“Nah. Turnips is too bitter.”
“Kin relate, Pal.”
“Don’t be bitter, Kid. Whyn’t ya use this time ta go back east? Check out thet fall foliage they talk about.”
“How kin thet be? Ya got here from there didn’tcha?”
“Mean I’ve come too far. I ain’t goin’ back ta where you know who lives. Reckon I’ll jist spen’ my time up in the Poet Tree. Have ma own quiet time. I’d git homesick if I lef’ the Ranch. Asides it’s cold there.
Conflagrant hues crackling
Ignites morning frost
Campfire memories burning
Dusty trails of smoke drift west
Yep, I’ll stay here, tanka anyways.”
Grab the popcorn or carrot sticks, and cozy up a collection of stories you can munch to. Snacking can happen on horseback, in the car, or hunkered in the old bomb bunker. What is deemed a snack is as important as when to snack. And you know there is going to be wide variances.
Writers took to snacks with snack (perhaps). Some went dark and some aimed for humor. Many snacked on the seemingly unsnackable. No matter the snacking, it became a story.
The following are based on September 24, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking.
Road Snacks Are Special by kathy70
Snacks are serious. No idea when they developed this attitude but they wear the crown well. Road trip snacks are in special categories while still having the requirement of being bad junk food. Healthy snacks don’t live in this world. Trip snacks require a salty brand of chips, chocolate that does not melt, caffeine drink and something with peanut butter.
In my vehicle this is a well proven larder that can sustain me for days. In the past, my excuse was mid-west winters that could be brutal. Now this is just one of those grandfathered laws of my car.
Cheese and Crackers by Allison Maruska
Taking my plate to my desk, I grab the last bit of cheese and pop it into my mouth, lamenting the end of my snack but ready to get busy. My plot points and character maps have been purposeless long enough. Time to start the first paragraph.
I open the document and place my fingers over the keys.
I stare at the blinking cursor, the only disruption on the blank page.
I tap my nails on the letters. The cursor blinks three more times.
Standing, I pick up the plate. That cheese really needed crackers to go with it.
Mushroom Monday by Tyler M Deal
Archibald Portobello, acting CEO of DeCOM Enterprises, popped another cashew into his mouth as the turtle taxi lumbered slowly beneath him. He reached into his coat pocket to retrieve a buzzing cell and shouted to the cabbie before answering it.
“Can you pick up the pace! I have a board meeting at the Log in twenty minutes.”
He flipped open the phone.
“Talk. What? No! Sell! Now!” He slapped the phone shut. “Pfft, analysts.” Then to the turtle, “Can’t this thing go any faster?”
Archibald Portobello, acting CEO of DeCOM Enterprises, sighed and popped another cashew into his mouth.
The Jabberwocky Revisited by Doug Jacquier
’Twas rump-numbing, and the metal seats
Did gyre and gimble in the McClains:
All mimsy were ranch-style kettle chips,
And curds and pears from out the plains.
Beware-ing the unwash-ed ones!
The jaws that blight, the masks dispatched!
She forsook the jujube bird, and shunned
The frumious butterscotch!”
And, as in meringue-ish thought she stood,
The Bar-of-choc, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the nougat wood,
And coated as it came!
But she did slay that Bar-of-Choc
And shouldered arms, her foe now so brittle.
O frabjous day! Get off my block!
She said and scoffed her Skittles.
Crunch Time by Norah Colvin
“I really need this today,” she said.
“Bad day?” asked the waiter, placing the coffee on the table.
“Yeah,” she sighed.
“Coffee’ll fix it,” he said. “I made it myself.”
She smiled, thinking of all the I-made-it-myself gifts received over the years.
With eyes closed, she scooped the delicious chocolatey froth into her mouth.
Then her eyes popped. There shouldn’t be anything crunchy in a cappuccino. She pushed the crunchy bit out on her tongue.
A fly! She spurted the remaining contents of her mouth over the table as a student and parent passed.
“Are you okay?” they asked.
Haunt by Dan Julian
Back at the abandoned lighthouse, using the grudging, jerky, taxing telekinesis which had taken him so many years to learn, the specter of Miles Phillips banged open the heavy, creaky door to let himself in, and with a final herculean effort, whooshed up the decrepit spiral of stairs to the top platform where the beacon used to be. The real and actual sheet and bulging bag he’d been concentrating so hard on ‘holding’ dropped to the dusty plank floor, myriad cheerfully-colored candies and snacks spilling out. Time to feast! Oh, how the specter of Miles Phillips did love Halloween.
Digesting the Situation by JulesPaige
I needed to divorce myself from my fears. The dark dismal city street appeared to be a place where zombies might jump out of doorways to snack on the likes of me. I had to convince myself that all I had to do was use Fifth Avenue as an entrance and Sixth as an exit. Just because I was no longer married and didn’t have a man to hang onto didn’t mean that I couldn’t do this on my own. I’d done it hundreds of times during the daylight hours.
working late, again
paying for independence
fears dominate sense
Cheat-ohs by D. Avery
“One after the other, I couldn’t help myself, even when I knew they weren’t good for me.”
“I know what you mean, Ilene,” Kristof said.
“In the end none satisfied. Too sweet. Too salty. Too full of air!”
“But we’ve made healthy choices now, both of us.”
“Hi girls.” Though late in joining Ilene and Kristof, Marge jumped right into the conversation. “What’s wrong with some greasy finger-licking cheese that goes crunch? With enough beer it’s all good.”
Ilene’s brows went up, but she agreed with Marge. “Yes, beer helps. But Marge, we were talking about men, not snacks.”
Snack Food by Eliza Mimski
From the time she entered middle school, Patty Lay, the heiress of Lay’s potato chips, was teased about her name – classmates, boys of course – saying she was a good lay. Jeannie M&Ms, the heiress of the M&M fortune, had received the same kind of treatment. How many times did she have to hear that she would melt in your mouth, and not in your hands? The same had rung true for Bobby Cheetos. Did he really have to hear one more time that he would be a player, a cheat? And Donna Krispy Kreme. Don’t even ask.
Snacking by Reena Saxena
“#MeToo movement is not over yet, and here comes the drug-peddling scandal…”
“Why does it bother you?”
“Some of us are being victimised…..”
“Are you sure you’ve never done it to others?”
The big time film director looked flustered. He is not used to this kind of a response.
“Well, it affects the manner in which I earn my bread and butter.” He softened his belligerent stance.
“It is high time you think about it. Stop snacking on drugs and girls, and plan a wholesome meal plan, where you need to work for the final taste and output.”
Snacking Curbside by Yvette Prior
“Um, you didn’t tell me club members would be here.”
“There’s so many of them. And look! Look who is at our table.”
They paused as they reached their assigned table.
“Honey, I can’t sit with them for two hours – especially when I’m famished.”
“I just can’t….”
HEY, I HAVE AN IDEA – COME WITH ME.
Jim grabbed snacks from his truck and sat with Maria, talking on the curb, which provided succor.
The ground was hard beneath them
The sky had soft clouds above
READY TO GO IN?
“Yes, Yes I am.”
Nuclear Snacking by Bill Engleson
Jimbo was my neighbour back in the city. Had a bomb shelter. Didn’t build it. It was there when he bought the house. Early 50’s vintage.
“Only one in the neighbourhood,” he’d whispered to me.
“That you know of,” I said. “Read where the first rule of good Bomb Shelter management is…Mum’s the word.”
“I trust you, Buddy. Let me show ya.”
It was cozy.
“Besides water, bandages, stuff like that” he noted, “We’ve got a year’s supply of chocolate bars and potato chips. And Pru’s dried apricots, of course. Trick, Marty, is to rotate. Takes commitment.”
A Culinary Faux Pas by M J Mallon
Vanessa cut the homemade apple pie into dainty, perfect slices.
Rich smiled as he popped one in his mouth. “Did you make the pastry yourself?”
“It’s crumbly. And different. What’s in it?”
“Cinnamon and lemon rind.”
“Oh, from unwaxed lemons?”
Vanessa swallowed. “I… Oh dear!”
Rich picked up the melted candle on the table. “So, we’re eating cordon bleu Apple Pie snacks flavoured with cinnamon and hot wax?”
“It seems so… Aren’t they delicious!”
Autumnal Trip by Liz Husebye Hartmann
They’d packed coffee and sandwiches, heading out, bike trails edging around lakes green with duckweed, geese and duck leaving their own paths as they nibbled, non-stop snacking to prepare them for the winter. The two biked on, through leaf-changing suburbs, under sharp-echoing freeways, until they finally arrived at Jack’s place.
The orchard spread before them, multiple rows of red and green globes of goodness, a cool welcome after their long ride.
“Took you long enough to get here!” called out Uncle Jack from the picnic table. “I was just about to grab a snack from one of these trees!”
Apples by E.A. Colquitt
When he saw them, he knew he had to take them home. One, two, three, four, five: they were small and round, skin gleaming with golden polka dots. The largest even had a leaf pinned, flag-like, to the stalk, just like in fairy tales. He’d never seen that in real life before.
Part of him didn’t want to eat them. It was the smell that won him over in the end: fresh, healthy, reviving. He cut up all five fruits into a bowl.
Afterwards, he fell asleep there, on the sofa, and didn’t wake up for a hundred days.
Food Thrown in by Anne Goodwin
“You’re working for peanuts!”
“They don’t farm peanuts. Besides, peanuts aren’t nuts.”
“But you are, breaking your back for the price of a few rounds of drinks.”
“How much would you pay for an all-you-can-eat buffet?”
“You’re changing the subject.”
“How much? Cos that’s what you’d save, snacking all day in the fields.”
“Do they grow pizza? Do they grow chicken vindaloo?”
“They don’t. But there’s always a premium for the healthy option. Think what it costs to starve at a spa.”
“Are there strawberries?”
“Whopping great strawberries. Blueberries. Apples. Tomatoes. Cucumber. Peas, beans, big juicy pears.”
Lynn Valley 2020 by Saifun Hassam
Jenny and Marie ended their online discussion of upcoming news stories about Lynn Valley and the pandemic. Jenny was a photojournalist. Marie’s knowledge of farming and rural communities was extensive. Their online stories for Lynn Valley News gave people a strong sense of connection.
Their coverage of Hannah’s website “Spuds Restaurant” and her podcast of the Farmers Four musicians struck a deep chord. The Farmers Market was closed but Lynn Valley was a vibrant community and would rebuild.
Jenny relaxed. She dug into her favorite snack: spicy black beans, fresh farm tomatoes, blue corn tortilla chips. Cinnamon rolls. Coffee.
Snacking by Anita Dawes
When I caught my mother snacking
She told me in her sweet mum voice
The one she uses
when she wants to be believed
“It’s rude not to eat the beautiful snacks
When so many people have gone
To so much trouble to get them made.
They must earn their living
It’s our duty to try them out
I love the Homestead Ranch chips best
They’re always fresh
They have the best crunch
With every bite.”
How could I argue with that?
I didn’t want to be the one
Putting folk out of work
So I joined mum snacking…
Busted at Midnight by Charli mills
The crumple of a candy-bar wrapper woke the house. The cat stretched and hopped over to the couch. The dog laid her head on the armrest, silently begging. Martha heard Steve plod down the hall. She quickly shoved the wrapper with the rest down the side of the couch cushions, picking up her geology textbook and hot pink highlighter.
“Still up?” he asked, stifling a yawn.
“Mmm,” she replied, reading tectonics.
The twins and their older sister ran past Steve. Clara, hands on her hips, asked, “Mama, did you get into our Halloween buckets again?”
Martha sighed and swallowed.
Woe to the house with a plague of mice! Black pellets line the pantry shelves as if the rodent version of Hansel and Gretel left crumbs to mark their trail. Insulation, an old romance novel, or your latest homework become shredded nests, all cozy and comfy until the shriek of discovery echoes throughout the region. These are stories of mice.
Some writers imagined the furry pest’s point of view, and others wove tales of invasion. To the credit of characters involved, most showed courage or humor. Some even found compassion.
The following stories are based on the September 17, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story of mice.
Musophobia by Hugh W. Roberts
They weren’t alive, but how had they got here?
Suffering from musophobia, Barbara made a quick exit from the beach that was full of mice.
Turning on the radio when she got home, she waited patiently for the early morning news.
“Reports are coming in of a ship having hit rocks off the coast of North Cornwall during last nights storms. Hundreds of freight boxes containing computer mice have broken up and ended up on the beaches along the coastline…”
Just the sight, thought, or the mere mention of the word ‘mice’ was as much as Barbara could take.
She Likes Critters by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa asked, “Why did Gaylan’s Mom tell us to wear pants to the party?”
Michael hid a grin. “You’ll see.”
“Didn’t she raise mice in high school?”
“Yup. And she still likes critters.”
The huge patio at Gaylan’s was decorated like it belonged outside a bar-b-q joint. Oddly at one corner on the ground sat a pie-pan filled with peanuts, elsewhere there were pans of seeds and nearest the barn, there was an in-ground fake shallow “stream.” Tessa discovered when the humans partied, the chipmunks did too and weren’t beyond climbing a pant leg looking for a handout.
My Mouse by Eliza Mimski
Since the pandemic, I’ve been sleeping with stuffed animals. Some are leftovers from my grandchildren, and one is a toy mouse that my now passed-away cat used to play with. They comfort me when I sleep and I am like a small child holding onto them because… well, just because.
I don’t like mice generally, but this one looks so cute and friendly. It’s missing its tail and its right leg is chewed on. One ear flops forward, the other straight up. I even kiss it and tell it goodbye before I leave my house.
Please don’t tell anyone.
Three Fine Mice by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Hickory, Dickory, and Doc have lived with Auntie Dora for near-100 years. A special breed of mouse, they’d been tasked by the besotted wizard Harold to turn back the hands of time. They had done so faithfully since he’d abandoned Dora at age eighteen, astride his interstellar dragon, to restitch the ends of the universe, which goes frazzled every couple millennia.
Dora had understood the need.
And, as the nursery rhyme goes, with a gentle forward nudge of its hands, the clock struck one, and down they ran.
They’d not miss this reunion for a million pounds of Stilton.
I Mouse the Old Days by Bill Engleson
“Go on, ask him.”
“You ask him. You’re the curious one. ‘Sides, he’s always so grouchy.”
“Okay. I’ll do it. You got that crumb of cheese?”
“I ate it.”
“WHAT? That was for him.”
“It was so good.”
” Okay, no cheese. There he is, next to that old cobweb. Hey, grandfather.”
“Welllll, if it isn’t my favorite grand-pests.”
“Grandfather, tell us about…the old days?”
“Doing what grandfather?”
“Please tell us.”
“Fine. We had them by the TV knobs back then, Mighty Mouse. Our own club. The great Mickey.”
“It’s a micetery to me .”
Caught Out by D. Avery
“I’ve always been handy at catching them, but I end up feeling bad for them. They can be so cute.”
“Hi girls.” Though late in joining Ilene and Kristof, Marge jumped right into the conversation. “You can’t feel bad for them Ilene. They’re dirty, they get all through your stuff… there’s no living with them.”
Ilene’s brows went up, but she agreed with Marge. “Yes, I have definitely found that it is easier to live without them than learning to live with them.”
“Don’t be soft, Ilene. You have to kill them.”
“Marge, we’re talking about men, not mice.”
Mouse Rescue by Kerry E.B. Black
Nadia peered into the cage at the panting white mouse. “When did you get her?”
“Not quite a month ago. The other mice were picking on her. I had to get her out of that pet store.” Jenny frowned. “I don’t think they were letting the poor thing eat, either.”
Jenny baby-talked, “Because now she’s plump as a teensy-weensy golf ball.”
Nadia licked her lips. “Hon, I don’t think the other mice were picking on her.”
“You didn’t see them, jumping on her.” She leaned close.“Wait! What’s that? Is Luna hurt?”
Nadia laughed. “Nope. Those are babies.”
Milo by Anita Dawes
Milo, a little grey mouse
With the heart of a giant
He could stare down the largest cat
And get away unscathed
He would be sent out
For the most timid of his clan
His days were long and slow
He wanted more.
Dressed in his best suit
Knapsack on his back
He was off to the cries of “Don’t go
Who will hunt for us, we’ll starve!”
“I will teach Jacko before I go
I must seek my fortune.
If Mickey can make it big
In Hollywood, Then so can I
I will take Hollywood by storm someday…”
Rodent by FloridaBorne
“Isn’t he cute?” my friend Rena asked.
She petted the docile rat inside a large cage, as if it were a cute puppy!
“I hate rats.”
“Why?” Rena asked as if I were insulting her and not that pest in a cage.
Rats got into my dresser, peed on my expensive scarves, used my lingerie for bedding, and destroyed $2000 worth of clothing. They left pellets on the floor everywhere.
“But my Buddy isn’t like that.”
“Let him out of his cage, go on vacation for a week, and find out.”
Sometimes, people have to learn the hard way.
The Mice Ate My Homework by Norah Colvin
“What happened to your homework this time?”
“It was mice, Miss.”
“I thought you got rid of the mice.”
“We did. In the house. But I left my bag in the car last night.”
“The car was in the shed.”
“Should’ve been safe there.”
“It would, except —”
“Tommy forgot to let Rusty out.”
“Rusty usually chases the mice away.”
“Dad accidentally left the window down. The mice got in and —”
“They ate your homework?”
“They thought it was tasty, Miss.”
Bombay Mix and Chai by Anne Goodwin
I felt honoured, in the rural areas, to be invited into people’s homes, conversing through smiles and gesture. But I needed to keep my wits about me: the poorer people were, the more generous their hospitality, and I didn’t want them going hungry because a white woman had come to visit. A simple shack, the bathroom a field, the kitchen a pot on an outdoor fire, yet their few possessions gleamed. I didn’t worry about hygiene until, hearing a xylophone tinkling, I saw mice scurrying along the shelf stacked with aluminium plates and tumblers, and my hosts just laughed.
Two Mothers, Two Mice, a Similar Story (BOTS) by Nancy Brady
In a newly constructed house, a mother sat up late feeding her newborn daughter. Into the quiet crept a mouse. With eyes bright, the mouse watched the mother and daughter. The pattern repeated itself night after night until the mouse disappeared.
Thirty years later, in a newly constructed condominium, a mother sat up late breastfeeding her newborn son. It was quiet, and a mouse ran across the floor. The motion caught the mother’s eye, but she dismissed it as tiredness. The following night she saw the mouse running away. Eventually, the mouse ventured out, was caught, and released outside.
Of Mice, No Men by Charli Mills
In the end, the packrat was her only companion. Clara rode into Vaquero Camp after her diagnosis. What do big city bone-setters know of a woman’s breasts, anyhow? She was born with ‘em and would die with ‘em. Jake said she was foolish. After all, girl babies aren’t actually born with breasts. He’d heard that Flatfoot Bob’s wife had hers reconstructed into perky 20-year-old versions. Clara wanted no men with her. Not the son who left for Portland. Not the dead-beat cowboy who fathered him. Not even Jake, her best friend. Solitude with a packrat set her soul free.
Matteo the Mouse by Tyler M Deal
On a little island in a big ocean, there lived a family of brown mice. There was a papa mouse, a mama mouse, six little mice, and… Matteo. Matteo always felt a little out of place. For one thing, he didn’t look like other mice. He had dark spots around his eyes, his hair was blondish brown, his toes were too grabby, his tail was too wrappy, his snout was too big, and his nose was too pink. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Matteo wasn’t a mouse. He was a mouse opossum. But he didn’t know that.
Mice Artists, Inc. by Saifun Hassam
Mice discovered the fun of jumping in and out of small wells of paint in Jenny’s forgotten palette of watercolors on the patio. Weirdly artistic patterns on the whiteboards wandered down the steps into the grass.
Jenny did not have the heart to root out the mice living near the giant oak. Ultrasonic repellers in the cottage seemed to have kept them out.
Curious, she left a palette of red and orange paints on the posters.
Cerise and Tangerine created another glorious work of art: Scattered among colored footprints were mouse droppings! A budding artists’ colony around the oak.
Suddubsome by JulesPaige
Suddubsome was one of the batch to hatch in the roof thatch.
The seasons were changing but the little grey mouse was careful of following her nest mates.
She stayed clear of cats, hawks, and never entered a human home.
The out building of the farm and the hollow walls where the pipes ran was good enough.
When the barn was struck by lightning, she feared she lost her grain supply.
Suddubsome was clever to not match, (her pace) her patch with (the trap) the catch
and quick wits is all that is
one needs to survive
Some Cat by Joanne Fisher
Cindy took a few slices of bread out of the bag and noticed something had been gnawing on it. She showed the bag to Jess who was sitting down at the table drinking some coffee.
“I think we’ve got mice.” Cindy told her. She then looked in the pantry, and sure enough there were mouse droppings everywhere.
“So why isn’t Rainbow catching them? Isn’t that her job?” Jess asked.
“I’m not sure she’s much of a mouser.” Cindy admitted, as she looked out the window and watched Rainbow lying in the sun seemingly oblivious to everything.
“Some cat huh?”
Two Friends by Ruchira Khanna
“Where’s your other slipper?” Mom inquired as Naina came out from her bedroom, wearing just one.
“Maggie is nibbling on it,” she said with a yawn as she placed herself next to her and brushed her labrador fondly.
Just then, a mouse bolted by, and Maggie woofed along with joy instead of running after her.
The duo was quick to pull up their feet and gave out a shriek.
“I adopted her so that she could keep our house free of critters, but instead, she rejoices on their company and is busy with human objects.” said the enraged mom.
Mouse over Mice by Prior
Are you talking to Romano?
Tell him his agent called. His photo sold for $10,000!
He wants to know if it is was the Golf Swing photo?
Was it the Boxing Ring Power Punch shot?
He wants to know if it was the blurry Runner Catching the Baton or the smooth Wind Glider?
He said he’s stumped. Those are the only photos he had for sale.
Tell him his agent added more to his store. He sold Mouse over Mice.
Silence over the phone.
Then Romano laughingly said, “People today are loco. They bought that one?? Loco!”
Mouse in the House by Hajar / Douryeh
It has always amazed me: Critters around the house
A childhood fav, was this little mammal: The mouse
Every Spring and Fall, we heard just one shuffle
On the attic, where it cleanly slept, without scuffle
There were no others than this one tidy mouse
Later, I encountered more than one mice filled house
It didn’t make me loose sympathy for the mouse
It’s a gentle spirit; at home, it’s relatively harmless
In a domestic environment, it may cause minor stress
Mice Musing by Simon Prathap D
I’m small I’m cute
Yet I’m hated by the most
I can run, I can bite
they call me mischievous
I am hairy, am I scary?
Is that why you hate me?
I am hated by the cat’s
I am chased by the cat’s
But scientists wants me to test
I am brilliant I am smart
You are an evolution of me
Before you give me test medicine
Before you give me food poison
Remember I have a family too
All I wanted is, evolve like you
Remember we all are family
because you were once a mice!
Mice, or Rather the Mouse by Frank Hubeny
“There isn’t much we mice can do.”
“Let alone one mouse”.
“What has a lion ever done for us? He’s probably trapped for a good reason.”
And so they tried to discourage Tamar from helping the lion escape from the ropes binding him.
“If you’re going to help him, don’t lecture him about his diet.”
“He might eat you.”
“Or smash you.”
Tamar recognized him. He’s the one who let her go. A quiet voice told her to gnaw the rope and then get out of the way.
So she did and when she did the other mice helped.
What A Time To Be Alive by Donna Matthews
“Dude, time’s up.”
“No! You had it ALL DAY yesterday!”
“So? I’m working on a project, and you’re just playing solitaire.”
“It’s practice. Mike said it helps with coordination.”
Darren slams his hand on the desk and pushes up slow, glaring. Me? Not bothered. This project is a ticket to promotion. I sit down at our communal Windows machine and marvel once again at the nascent technology. The little gadget, called a mouse of all things, fits snug in my hand. No more c:/ prompt. Just a small arrow, leading the way. What a time to be alive.
Of Mice an’ Shorty, a Contradictin’ Pair (count the previous pompts!) by D. Avery
“Pal, that a high wind a’screechin’?”
“Reckon thet’s Shorty. She ain’t so inclusive, seems like, when it comes ta mice. Screams inside her heart an’ outside too. Dealin’ with them little critters ain’t her crownin’ glory.”
“Huh. What happened ta protectin’ nature, ta justice fer all? This is crazy.”
“Well, she don’t like mice sharin’ quarters thet’s fer sure. I’s wunnerin’ whyn’t she jist go back ta the library cat fer hep? Rainbow’d show ‘em the open road all right.”
“Reckon she’s took charge a her mouse situation. Still… them resourceful little critter’s is jist sayin’, I got life.”
Cruising down the road, and an old song plays over the airways, taking us back to another place and time. Whatever we’ve heard on the radio has an uncanny staying power you can’t forget. Music, or even stories, forge our memories.
With nostalgia — or not — writers took to the radio as a signal for crafting stories. Flipping through the stories in this collection is like dialing in different stations. Hope you tune into some favorites or surprises!
The following is based on the September 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio.
PART I (10-minute Read)
Journeys of a Kind by Saifun Hassam
It was maybe in 1967.
Sitting on the steps outside the kitchen.
Farm fields, wheat rustling in the slight breeze.
Great music pouring out of the transistor radio
Something about a guitar man, wandering the lands.
She cried and she laughed – just like the song said.
She’s now 70?
Those faraway crazy days listening to
Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Joan Baez.
Now it’s the Intenet.
Vivaldi; and Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”.
Great mix of classical guitar and jazz piano by Claude Bolling;
Jazz of Michael Silverman;
And the haunting notes of Eric Tingstad’s “Badlands”.
Tuning In by Norah Colvin
On sheep and cattle stations in outback Queensland in the pre-television and digital era, when mail and groceries were delivered fortnightly, the party line telephone and radio linked families with the outside world.
Mealtimes were scheduled to conclude with news broadcasts. The chatter and clatter ceased the moment chimes announced the start. Graziers inclined towards the radio, concentrating to extract words from the crackle, hopeful of positive stock reports, promising weather forecasts and news of world events.
Unable to affect, but affected by, the situations reported, the graziers returned to the day’s tasks, hopeful of better news next report.
“We Interrupt This Programme” by R. V. Mitchell
Six-year-old, Alice was dancing with her doll to the music on the radio. Suddenly, the music stopped and a man’s voice said, “We interrupt this programme, with an important bulletin. The United States’ fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii has been attacked by air and naval forces of the Empire of Japan. I repeat, the American fleet has been attacked in Hawaii.”
Alice ran to tell her mother.
“Mother, the Umpire of Japan attacked Hawee.”
Her mother instantly went pale, and stared out into their Nebraska pasture.
“Mother, where is Hawee?” the little girl asked.
“Too close, Darling. Too close.”
On the Radio by Colleen M. Chesebro
“Welcome to the Mercury Theatre on Air…” the voice echoed from the radio in the next room.
Rosemary stayed at the sink. She scrubbed hard at a burned spot in the pan. It was her turn to wash the dishes. Meanwhile, her brother and parents relaxed at the table, sipping coffee after dinner.
“…An unusual object has fallen on a farm in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey…” The radio sputtered with static.
Grover’s Mill? That’s where I live! Rosemary felt fear.
The announcer’s voice declared, “…It’s the War of the Worlds. Is there anybody out there?”
The radio went silent.
Radio Ga-Ga by Tyler M Deal
Narrator: Nearly paralyzed with fear, she inches closer to the open window. The cold, night air chills her skin. Closer… closer… hands trembling, she reaches for the window seal. She swallows hard and looks out. A shadow in the darkness; a gruesome disfigured hand reaches up and… and…
Announcer: We will pause here briefly with this ad for Radium Water. Radium Water, it’ll cure what ails ya and leave you with a healthy, vibrant glow. Radium Water! Available wherever NukEx products are sold.
Narrator: And now… for the thrilling conclusion of… The Withered Hand of Rrrrrrrrasputin!
On Being a Believer by Judy Marshall
If you found inspiration today from God’s word, please support our broadcast with a donation…
Grandma rose early Wednesday mornings to hear Dr. Samuel preach. Her battered old radio sat on the kitchen table.
KRST-AM crackled from 8:00 to 8:30 with Dr. Samuel’s soothing voice. Wednesday’s were almost better than Sunday services she attended. She felt renewed from the singing and fellowship of her fellow worshipers.
From these inspirations, she wrote checks. She tithed with a monthly check as God directed She donated to Dr. Samuel and bought his books.
Grandma truly was a believer. RIP with God, Grandma.
October Road by Liz Husebye Hartmann
The sun was a memory, the road a straight line swallowed by an empty horizon. This relic of a rental was so old, the radio was one speaker, with five buttons and a dial to select AM stations. Too late even for radio ministry, too early for the farm report; he cranked open the window for the wind’s whistle.
Rubbing his eyes with one hand, he cupped the wheel with the other.
“Joe? Are you there?”
He started, cranked the window shut to hear the radio
Her voice was clear and strong, as if she was still alive.
It Had to Be a Sign by Anne Goodwin
“Living Doll” crescendoed as Steve pushed through the swing door into Theatre Six. Three figures in scrubs, and no instruments in sight except the whiteboard marker pens held, like microphones, to their mouths. It had to mean something, Jerry dancing in the middle, the father he never had.
He used to jive with his mother when his big sisters were at Guides. “Did he really do that, Mummy? Did Cliff Richard lock a lady in a trunk so no-one else could have her?”
Now he has a house, a cellar, bolts across the door. A girlfriend, threatening to leave.
In And Out On The Radio by Hugh W. Robeerts
“Hello,” said Juliet, knocking the side of the ostentatious object, “Who’s in there?”
“Come away,” demanded her mother.
“How can all those people be in there? Why don’t they come out?”
“Don’t be silly! They can’t come out. They’re not inside the radio. They’re broadcasting from the BBC.”
“I want to broadcast from the BBC and come out on the radio,” demanded Julia.
Forty-one years later.
“Today on BBC Radio 4, we’re interviewing actress, Juliet Greenwood,” announced the radio presenter. “Good morning, Ms Greenwood. Are the rumours true?”
“Yes, they are,” declared the radio soap opera star. “I’m gay.”
True Radio Memory by Sue Spitulnik
A phone call on a weeknight from my UPS driver son wasn’t a common thing. I asked, “What’s up?”
“Every place I made a delivery today the ladies were crying about some DJ dying. Who was he and were you crying too?”
“On my God, yes. Bill Coffey from WBEE dropped dead yesterday after the show. Terry and Billy told us this morning. We all cried together.”
“Did you ever meet this guy?”
“No, but I knew him well. Those DJ’s are my friends.”
“They don’t know you.”
“But I feel like I know them.”
“I don’t get it.”
Lost Daughter by Charli Mills
Clementine heard her mother over the Stockton radio. She’d entered the small house at the edge of farm fields, picking up fallen produce in the road. Harvest trucks left a trail, speeding to city markets. Her landlady called the rental the Road Garden. Clem thought she meant “rose” and was disappointed to find weeds and a weeping willow. Her mother played Rambler on the banjo and Clem recognized the Tennessee picking popular among California cowboys. She recognized her mother’s name but not her voice. One day, maybe she’d meet the woman who abandoned her for a life of music.
On the Radio by Eliza Mimski
I’m sorry, so sorry
That I was such a fool
I didn’t know
Love could be so cruel…
Brenda Lee’s voice bled through the radio. The walls sagged, the lights dim with memory.
Marla could not turn back the hands of time. She was sorry. She had been a fool. And from her end, cruelty had entered into their break-up.
There was only one thing to do. She would buy new makeup. She would get a new haircut. She’d go to her aesthetician. She’d practice her coy smile in front of the mirror.
She would get her man back.
Songs One Can’t Forget by Frank Hubeny
“I hope the kids don’t remember that song you used to sing to them about the bird and the word.”
“I didn’t sing it for long. When they got older, I pretended to be the voice of their doll, Sweetie Baby.”
“You know, we still have that doll in case they ever want it.”
“It’s good to keep stuff like that. Actually some of those old songs aren’t any goofier than the ones they sing today. No wonder we’re all messed up.”
“At least the grand kids don’t know the song.”
“Unfortunately I sang it to them as well.”
Triggering the Howling Stage by Anne Goodwin
I considered myself happy, that final summer of my childhood, playing housewife, home alone. My mother away, securing my future, my dad at work, my brother at play. My chores complete, I’d doze off with the radio in the afternoon heat. Until a sentimental song kicked me into consciousness, ambushing me with feelings I didn’t recognise as mine. A howling thrusting from my bowels and discharging from my throat. An animal sound, alien, drowning the jingle, almost choking me. Arrhythmic breathing, such wild and weird wailing, it made me laugh. A dramatic overture before the symphony of weeping commenced.
OMG by Simon
A man was walking down the road thinking. He was listening to radio station, a hot news on the radio station, it said “Ghost writer exposed, he is none other than Sam from a small village in India, and we will be hearing his success story from him very soon, until then stay tuned.” Everyone celebrated and jumped and lifted him. He did not understood why they are behaving strange, his Mom came outside and gave him a spoon of sugar and said, “You idiot, you never told us you are writer.” Sam gasped and said, “OMG! I’m revealed!”
Live Author Talk by M J Mallon
Those bloody motorbikes can’t they stop! 1 A.M. no chance I’ll get any sleep. Tomorrow’s the live show. Never done this before. What will it be like? I’ll soon know. Introverted writers, tonight at 9 p.m. I’ll talk live. Bound to be a problem with the connection. We’ll get there… I did it! I listen, damn, I can’t see my weird mannerisms, but I can hear them. Perhaps I should have had some water instead of that glass of wine, stupid faux pas, one or two!
PART II (10-minute Read)
Radio Stories by Susan Zutautas
Dan Hill a Canadian pop singer/songwriter was on the radio telling the story of how “Sometimes When We Touch” came about.
A girl he liked was dating a football player and he wrote and sang her his song. She felt he was too intense for his age. Off he went hurt by her reply. He tucked away the song until he was older.
Working with Barry Mann one day he asked him to come up with music for his poem, not mentioning any of the history behind it. It came out in 1977 hitting #3 on the U.S. billboard.
Heard on the Radio by Anita Dawes
I remember falling in love with a song
After hearing it coming from
my mum’s little Dansette radio
Years later I bought it on vinyl
Played it until it became paper-thin
The neighbours banging on the wall
Begging me to play something different
It’s strange how one song
Heard on a tiny radio
Can colour your life
To me the world suddenly
became wonky, off-kilter.
Why do people think they can take
what doesn’t belong to them
Changing Nations with their greed
remains one of my favourite songs
to this day
Driving Me by Joanne Fisher
As she drove me home, she sang along to some song on the radio. I wasn’t even sure what it was. She glanced sideways at me and smiled.
“Hey this could be our song babe!’ she said, and then she abruptly began to sing again loud and off-key, as always. Our song? We had only been going out for two days now, and I wasn’t that sure if we were going to last, yet.
“Sure sweetie.” I replied with a half-smile. She laughed loudly and patted my leg.
“That’s my girl!” she exclaimed. And then she started singing again.
Radio Reboot by Bill Engleson
“He finally bought it?”
“Bloody miracle. Melania kept pounding away at ’em. Know what finally brought him around?”
“The initials. DJT. She kept repeating FDR JFK DJT FDR JFK DJT.”
“Yup. Had him running around the bedroom chanting it. FDR JFK DJT. It was a hoot.”
“And he’s willing to go to the next level?”
“Bet your booties. Anything to get the geriatric vote back. And the younger demographic will be amused.”
“Not quite a fireside chat.”
“No, but ‘Tweet nothings from the Prez’ has a ring. Every radio station we can get. 7:00 am…sharp.”
Mixed Media by JulesPaige
Even those stations that attempt to bring us enjoyment often spouting that they are the best – this is the icing on the cake – we’ll take care of you, we’ve surgically removed all of the calories. A line we fall for too easily because we sometimes just really want to be fooled. We want what was, that simpler time forgetting the long list of woes each preceding decade has had to deal with. And yet we still seek that sugar rush. Looking for a sweet life wanting music that soothes.
frosted, sugar, chilled?
media complicates things
with their bias views
Good News on the Radio by H.R.R. Gorman
David wrote nervously at his desk. He scribbled numbers and added them to prepare other people’s taxes. The radio played in the background, droning out music and ads from a tinny speaker while David waited.
When the news came on he fiddled with a key on his ring. Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, U2 spy planes: one day they’d go too far, and the red trigger would be pushed.
David was prepared. Years of food, fluorescent lighting to grow plants underground, a generator, barrels and barrels of diesel. Just give the word, radio, and he’d leave accounting forever.
1938 CBS Mercury by Kerry E.B. Black
The rich-voiced announcer interrupted our background music with a report. A Professor from Jenning Observatory detected explosions on Mars.
I shared a nervous laugh. “Nothing to worry about, children. Let’s carve our pumpkins.”
The reporter interrupted again. A hideous monsters that had fallen from the skies. I bundled the kids close, jack-o-lanterns forgotten. We crept outside, but nothing disturbed the starry expanse overhead. No Martians. No attacks.
A neighbor asked if we were alright.
We whispered, “Martians are attacking New York.”
“You don’t say?”
“Way I see it, you shouldn’t listen to Orson Wells’ show. Charley McCarthy’s funnier.”
Station To Station by Geof Le pard
‘Let’s have some music, Logan.’
‘There’s nothing worthwhile.’
‘That’s ridiculous. American has more stations than All India railways.’
‘But they’re vacuous. Not like Radio Three on the Beeb.’
‘You mean pretentious presenters widdling on about Bach’s innovative use of the semi-breve?’
‘Exactly. Better than some tight-trousered troubadour bemoaning his herpes.’
‘That’s your summation of a whole genre, is it? Go on…’
And now a word from our sponsors, Artic Deodorant…
‘See, just bloody adverts…’
‘Shush, you may learn something…’
It may be winter outside, but it’s always August under your armpits. Freshen up…
‘You’re right. Turn it off, Logan.’
Beyond by D. Avery
They pulled the door shut against the snow squall. “We made it.”
He fumbled for a switch. “There’s still electricity.” Then the lights flickered out.
“Not surprising in this storm, but look, there’s wood, and there’s coals glowing in the fireplace. The owner must have preheated the cabin for us.” He soon had a fire blazing. She spotted a battery-powered radio.
Roads becoming impassable…
“Radio works… now for this lantern.”
Police have suspended their search for an escaped serial killer.
The lantern beam encircled them like a snare. Stepping from the shadowed edge of light, a silhouette took form.
Time in a Radio by Chel Owens
“The shadow knows…” cassette-crackles our road trip-bound car, forced upon us by ancient parents. I can’t wait for
“That was Mars, The Bringer of War…” intones the always-calm classical voice, soothing from my bedside speaker. I’ll never change to
“Help! I need somebody…” Another sort of Classic, crooning comfort. “Here comes your ghost again,” cannot be replaced by
“Video killed the radio star…” my teenage mouth moves along. Why kill art; why listen to anything but
“The shadow” bzzt “Mars” bzzt “diamonds and rust” bzzt “all that glitters is goooold” bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Dial broken, static cleared; I play them all.
Music by FloridaBorne
The first time I heard the continental divide of music, I was at a stoplight that stayed red for so long it tried my patience.
“Bye Bye Miss American Pie…”
The light turned green just as the song began, and I shifted into first gear. I drove a Nash Metropolitan, not a Chevy, and there was no levee in sight.
Age 21, with an entire lifetime ahead of me, the song was screaming out a message I was much too young to understand.
It’s been almost 50 years. Will our republic lose control of the plane in this battle?
On The Radio by Donna Matthews
I drive across the lot and find a spot. I turn off the engine, head in, and scan quickly for an open seat and friendly face. New writing class jitters.
The instructor opens with the 19th 9/11 anniversary. 19 years! I still remember all that time ago sitting in traffic, hearing the news on the radio, and thinking how surely it was a terrible accident.
Our assignment is to imagine a moment from the perspective of someone there. This is horrifyingly simple. I picture the spouse picking up their car from the ferry dock among the hundreds still there.
Now Why? by Reena Saxena
The road trip was taken against her wish.
A sense of foreboding descended on her, as they drove on the same zig-zag roads climbing up the mountains, but she controlled herself. Teenage children don’t listen anyway.
The familiar refrain of a song brought her out of her reverie.
“OMG! This is not possible. It’s the same song.”
“You enjoy old songs, Mom…”
“This radio channel closed down long back.”
The same figure in black stood on the roadside with an infant in her arms. She had stopped them a decade ago.
She’d died fifteen years ago. Now why?
iAiai by D. Avery
“Pal, do you have a ipod?”
“Should git one.”
“Pal, we’re out here all the live long day, we should have a playlist fer when we work.”
“Yer hardly workin’, Kid. Jist leave the singin’ ta the birds.”
“Y’ever yodel, Pal?”
“Ah, jeez. Who’s there?”
“Little Old Lady.”
“Little Old Lady who?”
“Gotcha ta yodel, Pal!”
Brain KROT by D. Avery
“S’pose all we need’s thet old radio in the bunkhouse, tuned to KROT. Weatherman says them high winds is slacked off. Says the skies are not cloudy all day.”
“Sportscaster says the Rodeo’s comin’!”
And the Ads Played On
“Yep, KROT’s a good station, plays jist what ya wanna hear when ya wanna hear it.”
“How da they manage that, Pal?”
“Reckon ‘cause they’s fictional, like us. Shush listen.”
Come shift or shine ya don’t need no fancy wine but fer a real good time try Ernie’s Corn Juice! Ernie’s Corn Juice— dis still the one fer fallin’ down fun.
“Ernie’s advertisin’ on KROT!”
‘Ello. Dees ees Pepe LeGume of LeGume’s Cleaning Services. Leave a shine behind! For a clean that lingers, hire LeGume’s.”
Frankie delivers da letters with an eye to quality.
“Kid, iquit radio!”
Weather shifts and high winds blow sails and change. Fierce, it topples sunflowers, fences, and rooftops. If harnessed, high winds energize travel and electricity. It’s a phenomenon that can be destructive or helpful.
Such a dichotomy brings opportunity to writers to play between the lines. High winds blow across the stories in this collection, drifting between different ideas and storylines.
The following is based on the September 3, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about high winds.
Breakwater by D. Avery
Stories distracted and comforted her younger sister. “One night a mighty wind banged and tore at the trailer until the trailer lifted right into the air and carried the two girls far away, where they lived just them.”
“No. A big tree killed him. The mom cried and didn’t even notice her girls were gone. But they lived happily ever after in the candy meadow.”
Sudden pounding and roaring stole the younger girl’s smile.
“It’s just that wind, Sis. You stay down.” Biting her trembling lip, the older girl stepped into the hall to meet the storm.
High Winds by Frank Hubeny
The only high winds were Windy, the wolf, so Straw, the pig, built a house of straw. Brick overbuilt with bricks. Stick used what was lying around, sticks. Both annoyed Straw. “It’s not fair!” Straw complained to Windy. He wanted all three houses.
Windy went to Stick’s home and blew it down. Chomp! He ate Stick. Then he went to Brick’s home. Brick gave Straw a key. Straw lent it to Windy. Chomp!
When Windy returned Straw squealed, “Perfect!” Windy, mind-blown as ever, thought: yummy. Chomp! He (gasp!) ate Straw.
Moral: Some high winds can take your breath away.
The Tree of Life by M J Mallon
I encouraged my mother-in-law to venture out for a walk. She hadn’t been out since a fall laid her low before lockdown. We sat by the wise old tree. I had no idea that just a few days ago this area had been the site of a funeral gathering. The family decorated the branches with colourful ribbons, dream catchers, pretty baubles and teddy bears. As we talked, a tremendous gust of wind blew the ribbons, twirling them in a whirl of colour as the baubles and teddies danced.
I heard leaves rustling; it was his last goodbye.
Where The Wind Carries Us by Hajar / ‘Douryeh’
Native American wisdom says, wind is God’s voice — maybe
Wind easily always reminds me of this: The sky
Looking at the sky, is looking at unending history
At daytime, you see the Sun; maybe the Moon
At nighttime, you may see stars, dead since millennia
Also wind, reminds me of history — but, my own
Its sound in the foliage brings me back decades
I heard the same whisper, when walking to school
Wind brings us back to history and to nature
Maybe indeed wind reminds us of our very core
Smoke and Rain (Diamante) by Saifun Hassam
Fierce unseasonal northerly winds drove forest fire smoke over southern coastal villages. Diamante and villagers trekked into the upper valley farms inland for shelter. Like generations before them.
An eerie ochre murky red sun sank into a churning turbulent sea. At midnight calm descended. A silver moon rose over the mountains. The harvest was lost. Shorelines were buried under endless hillocks of sand dunes.
Grit and fortitude was part of survival on the coast. The villagers would rebuild. Like their families before them. Diamante’s spirits lifted. The sea was tranquil. In a few months, southeasterly winds would bring rain.
The Sudden Storm by Joanne Fisher
Eliza, Captain of the The Crimson Night, was asleep when the squall hit. She quickly arose and staggered to the deck. The scene was complete chaos. The high winds shredded the mainsail to shreds, while the mizzen looked in danger of collapsing.
The crew desperately tried to bring the sails down as high waves crashed over them, washing some overboard. Eliza took the wheel trying to keep the ship on course, holding on to prevent being swept into the brine herself.
When morning came, the squall had blown itself out. The ship was heavily damaged, but they had survived.
Eros Wind by Kerry E.B. Black
Mary rested her chin on her hands, framed like a Madonna by the window frame. The day brought challenges, and she wished for someone to love.
The wind stole sighs from her lips and swirled them into intricate hearts until it found its quarry.
Ed rubbed the small of his back, soothing work-weary muscles, and blinked into the setting sun. A breeze brought sweet, perfumed sighs as he drove his Harley toward home.
The winds picked up and whirled.
“Better stop.” Ed parked at a diner.
Mary strolled by – that familiar perfume! Their eyes met.
The wind whistled self-congratulations.
You Are Late! by Simon Prathap D
It’s been three years, I have to propose her’ he said and took a step forward.
A strange noise, a high wind approached them, he looked around no one was there, he quickly removed his long coat and covered then both and took her into his car and Parked his car under a building.
Breathing heavily he turned didn’t waste his moment, her face was crimson red already, our nervous hero finally opened up and said ‘I love you’ with a rose in hand without petals. She shows a new ring in her hand, she replied ‘you are late.’
The High Winds of Temptation by Donna Matthews
My dad was a boisterous one in the morning. He would be whistling a tune with his coffee and pouring over the newspaper. He scoured the want ads, marking those that sounded promising. He had a job, but he believed one needed to be open to opportunities. He’d finish off his research and bounce out the door, signing off with “another day, another dollar, a million days, a million dollars. He never did earn that million dollars. Taken out by the high winds of temptation, he tried his luck in an embezzlement scheme and ended up broke, drunk, alone.
Flare-up by Bill Engleson
The pressure builds. Each second of squall is a minute of gale, is an hour of fury, is a lifetime of rage.
Hoble is the town weatherglass. When he is at peace, found comfort in food, in conversation, in those placid moments most of us can kick into gear with planning, common sense, whatever you call it, then we breathe one of those sighs of relief found when wars end.
When Hoble explodes, when the world twists him pretzel-like, when he steps into an errant cheerless shadow, we cower.
And we wonder, how did we allow this to happen.
Gale Force Winds by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa struggled against the wind to open the front door and once inside, the gale slammed it behind her. She heard no greeting. “Michael?”
The wind squealed through the house’s old window frames with such ferocity she feared they would break. She went from room to room calling, “Michael? Jester?” She saw Michael’s empty chair in the bedroom and discovered him in the closet cuddling the dog under a sleeping bag.
Tessa crouched down. “You two all right?”
“Yeah. Jester buried himself in here when the wind got bad so I joined him. I think we need new windows.”
Last Pass by Charli Mills
In the Sierras, high winds herald snow. A wagon train of weary souls had hoisted beasts and conveyances to the top of Kit Carson’s pass to reach California’s goldfields below. They looped their way around bulging batholiths and high-altitude lakes glimmering like cut emeralds. The air thinned and the wind rose. The wagon master bellowed, and oxen trundled faster, sensing danger. They didn’t stop at night to rest. By the light of lanterns, they battled banshee winds, tarps snapping like sails. Sunrise opened with peaceful silence followed by splats of rain. Behind them, snow closed the pass until spring.
Beyond Bluster by R. V. Mitchell
“How did this happen? You saw the alert, and should have known better,” the superintendent scolded.
“I did my best, and as far as your message, I never got a chance to read it,” the manager retorted.
“And why, might I ask didn’t you read it?” the superintendent snapped.
“The wind! You sent a message warning all camp managers to evacuate the campers to the solid structures based on the weather report back in Capital City. You didn’t take into consideration that those of us on the ground, out here in the west, got the storm five hours earlier.”
Worst Storm of My Life by Susan Zutautas
Can’t we just pull off somewhere, I said as I was clutching the grab handle strenuously thinking I was going to die tonight. How the hell can you see anything?
The rain was pounding down with a furry. Turbulent winds were slamming us as we tried to make it further down the highway.
All that could be heard on the radio was take cover and stay off the roads if possible.
We were losing ground trying to keep ahead of the hurricane.
Cars were pulling off to the shoulder, but we kept going until we made it home safely.
Winding Up by Geoff Le Pard
‘You’re not going out, Logan!’
‘Why not? Just a light breeze.’
‘It’s a hurricane. Did you see that trash can fly by?’
‘A tr… oh the rubbish bin. Rather flimsy.’
‘You think British bins are better?’
‘No, it’s just they make such a fuss…’
‘The US gets stronger winds than we do.’
‘Of course. They supersize everything. They call that a lake, but it’s the size of Wales.’
‘It destroyed those sunflowers.’
‘My point exactly. When Sevenoaks was devastated by the 1987 hurricanes, the citizens just changed the town name to Oneoak.’
‘They were lovely sunflowers, though.’
Bettering Michael Fish by Anne Goodwin
His family spent summers camping. Idyllic, except the canvas never dried out. Back home, he kept his sleeping bag beside his wellingtons. Rain equalled holidays to him.
He was five in 1987, when the famous hurricane struck England. Old enough to ask why the weatherman said don’t worry. Young enough to fear he’d be yanked from his bed when the wind took the roof from the house. Now, as climate change makes high winds more common, he’s determined he won’t get caught out. A degree in meteorology got him in front of the weather chart on the evening news.
High Winds by Eliza Mimski
California is burning. Lightning. Sparks. Heatwaves. Rescue missions. High winds. Wildfires, ambivalent, rage up hills.
The house had belonged to them for years – decades. It was their first and only home. They’d collected memories. The photographs on the mantel. The ones hanging on the walls. The bed they had slept in, the table where they’d eaten. Their pets. Their garden.
Before they fled, they watched the house burn, a wall of orange reducing it, their life together extinguished. They lost their memories, their photographs. They can’t find their precious cat.
Winds blow. Fires spread. Trees, land, houses burn.
Blown Away by JulesPaige
The high winds left from the last hurricane pelted Gina and James as they tried to get to the pier. Even without getting into the water sand managed to find its way into every crevice of their bodies. The ocean water had risen to make rivers across the beach and over the sidewalks and onto the road. The ocean had risen so for the safety of the public, the pier closed. The couple made their way back to the ice cream parlor for refuge. What a vacation!
deafening air moved
across their ears; no gulls flew
was nature angry?
Bring on the Rain by Chel Owens
“I am in control!” She screams, gripping fists of invisibility so hard she feels what’s left of fingernails digging against her palms. Forget the past; forget what Steve or Phil or Jack or even James -if that was his name- said. “I am in control!”
Forces more powerful than any touched by man answer, without words. Pushing, tearing, whipping the lake’s edge against her -her, a small, insignificant figure to challenge God’s great breath.
“I am -” she gasps, “in control!” Spray and tears stream down her face;
Till, beckoned by her challenge, the sky-fall comes.
The Void by Tyler Deal
Arture dashed across the windswept plain. His heart pounded in his head; his feet pounded the ground. Sand bit at his face as it was dragged away into the void behind him.
A rocky outcropping jutted up ahead. Perhaps it would shield… Arture faltered and dodged as the mighty wind peeled giant jagged stones away from the earth.
Every fiber of his body strained forward. Then… Arture left the ground. The void pulled him in like a great whirlpool.
Arture set his jaw, tucked his legs, and sped at the void like a cannonball. This wasn’t over.
When the Wind Blows High by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Cora stretched her long neck, beak pecking the fast moving clouds in the pale sky. Twisting, she at last freed herself from her heavy, confining carapace. It’d been necessary protection against wicked solar radiation, brought on by the forebears of those singing blessings to the thin creek twisting through desert, below.
Wind off the melting icecaps ruffled her damp feathers, coaxing the final stage of her transformation to fierce dragon, like breeze to butterfly. When the wind blew high, she would fly to find the rest of her kind.
She eyed the scant group of humans below, stomach rumbling.
Landscapes by Reena Saxena
My heart aches at the thought of what could have been.
I woke up with a dream on the morning of 1st January, like many others, and prayed for a more sane and sensible world. I am a doer, not a vanilla dreamer. There was an action plan in place, in process of implementation.
And then, tragedy struck. Nobody had any control on the high winds which swept the landscape altering the structure and foundation of dreams.
call for new designs
I wait with a pen
but Ink that dried
Is yet to flow again
Erie Kai by Nancy Brady
The cat was roaring…
roaring all night long
I could hear it
in night visions—
a feral cat
In the morning still angry
lashing out its claws,
leaving marks as it paced
and scratched, attacking its prey
with waves and water flying
all up and down the coast.
the wind subsides, turning 180 degrees.
The cat begins to purr,
paws now velvetted,
lapping and grooming the shores once again,
Except in Canada where
winds are high,
blowing from the south, and
the cat begins to roar.
Strong Westerlies by D. Avery
“Seen mighty high winds in my day Kid. ‘Member one time winds was so strong they took the barn apart, all the boards and beams swirlin’ in the air. When it settled down thet wind had put the boards back t’gether its own way, had us a silo. ‘Nuther time it blew fer days an’ days. Carrot greens flew like feathers.”
“Still had the roots?”
“Yep. But the animals was upset, felt thet wind deep inside themsefs. All the hens give after thet was scrambled eggs. Milk cow was so churned up all we got was butter.”
As one writer said, “Pucker up!” The Lemon Queens have stories to share that will have you smacking your lips for lemonade. The right amount of sunshine, the balance of color, and a bit of sweet to balance the tart. Whether sunflowers or bold girls with a lemonade stand, there is something delightful in the name.
Writers pushed their imaginations and found stories full of pucker, pride, and playfulness. Find out who the Lemon Queens are from biscuits to monsters with magic and realism in between.
The following are based on the August 27, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features Lemon Queens.
Canyon Lands by Saifun Hassam
Lightning flickered across golden sandy tracts of the Five Canyons Land. Deep beneath sandy soils, paleontologists discovered extinct microbes and algae with yellow chromophores. Over eons, pigments stained layers of soil with vibrant lemon and orange hues.
Spirals of pinnacles, the Lemon Queens, towered over yellow sandstone cliffs. In the sunlight, the Lemon Queens glowed crimson, fiery red and sparkling citrine.
From dark long shadows, dust rose like mystical spirits in flowing robes of the yellow and red landscape. A rider emerged flying on her steed across the open plains. Topaz jewels and silver threads flashed in the sunlight.
The Lemon Queens by kathy70
In this year like no other in memory, I am spending more time in the garden. The flowers are mostly putting on their last show for this season. All the veggies know their time is almost at an end, how do I stretch the days. Is there any way to keep the sun higher and brighter in the sky. I, the oldest of the Lemon Queens will need help doing this task. I gather all the queens and instruct them on the chant. As we gather an eclipse happens now the sun is really gone for four more years.
Last Words by Simon Prathap D
Mr.Sam would like to share few last words about Madam Bea.
You know, Good people have got very less time on this planet. She is a tall woman, and I’ll call this is a fall of lemon Queen sunflower. Why? you’ll not like her, but, she is a good person, she is a queen in heart, cares for everyone around, she will go any extent to save people she care, like a sunflower, stands tall like a beacon of light and attracts beautiful people like a flower attracts butterflies, we are going to miss her. Rest in peace Bea.
Maybe Even Prettier by Donna Matthews
“What’s this flower called mom?”
“A lemon queen.”
“And this one, mom?”
“This one, mom?”
“Oh, she’s a primrose.”
“Primrose?! I have a friend at school named Primrose. Well, I did. I haven’t seen her in my zoom class this week. Do you think she still goes to my school, mom?”
“I don’t know, honey.”
“Will we ever get back to normal, mom?”
“Certainly. Do you see all these flowers? Each spring, they grow back from hibernation. They look dead, but then they come back. Things look bad now, sweetheart, but they’ll grow back. Maybe even prettier.
A Place for Everyone by Norah Colvin
Rose prickled and turned away from the newcomer. “You can’t blow in here on a breeze expecting to be welcomed,” she whispered to a neighbour.
Sweet Pea belied her name, ignoring the stranger and trailing away to mix with others of her own kind.
Even cousin Marigold wasn’t hospitable, fearing he might spoil their whole bunch.
He didn’t tempt rejection by the glamourous golden Queen outstanding in the field.
Instead, he sailed right by and alighted far from cultivation where his lowly origins wouldn’t raise a brow.
“Look! A dandelion! Do you like butter or cheese? Let’s play!”
The Lemon Queens by Eliza Mimski
The blonde fields. Stalks of lemon queens. Blue skies and clouds that drift.
Marla lay back in the field, worried about her upcoming wedding day. She didn’t love Xavier, but at 45 you had to marry someone. Who wanted to grow old alone? She posed her question to one of the lemon queens, its chocolate face studying her.
“You mustn’t settle,” it firmly said. “Hold out for true love.”
She asked another.
“You can grow to love him,” it said.
“Which thing would you rather be unhappy about?” asked the third.
She smiled. She had her answer.
My Lemon Queen by Ruchira Khanna
“The house looks so clean. Where’s my cyclone?” Dad inquired as soon as he entered his home.
“She’s mostly been in her room since then. Let me get her.” said five-year-old Trisha’s Mom.
“Aha! There’s my Lemon Queen,” he said with glee and was quick to extend his hands towards her. His daughter came towards him with exuberance and landed on his lap.
She placed her tender fingers on his cheek as the dad started to tickle Trisha. Her giggles filled up the room, and the parents’ face radiated like the sun from the happiness that she spread year-round.
Magic Lemon Queens by Ann Edall-Robson
“Nana, what are they?”
“They are known as Lemon Queens. Only those who believe will experience their magic.”
The sound of a gruff voice broke the mystical moment.
“Are you spinning that yarn to her, too? They’re dragonflies, nothing more!”
“Think whatever you like son. I’ve watched you talking to them like you did when you were her age.”
Picking up his daughter, he whispered into her tiny ear.
“Do you think they are magic?”
“Me too! Don’t tell Nana, okay?”
Giggling, she blew a magical kiss to her Nana as they watched Lemon Queens take flight.
The Stand by Pete Fanning
At the courthouse steps, Sergeant Nelson was watching the men with rifles trade insults with the masked skateboarders when his deputy rushed over.
The deputy removed his gas mask. “Sarge, we have a situation on the South Lawn.”
The deputy pointed across the courtyard, where two schoolgirls, one black, one white, both wearing tiara’s, sat hands crossed and smiling at a makeshift cardboard stand. The sign read, Lemon Queens.
“No permit, boss.”
The Sergeant laughed. He sat a hand on his deputy’s back. “You know what, Deputy? I think we could all use what they’re selling right now.”
Appeal by Annette Rochelle Aben
When they were little, people referred for them as the Lemon Tarts as the only treat they ever brought to the church bake sale were lemon tarts. Of course, they had no competition, for no one dared to challenge them they way an ordinary chocolate chip cookie might demand. One must be rather dedicated to perfect a lemon tart!
Over time, the tarts advanced in age and like their bite-sized lemon goodies, they remained favorites of the congregation and fans of the bake sale. To honor their steadfast contributions, and their age, they became, the bake sale Lemon Queens!
The Lemon Queen Festival by Colleen Chesebro
“So, what does it say?” Francine asked.
Rachael stared at the positive pregnancy test results in her hand. “It says I’m pregnant. Now, I’ll never fit into my dress for the Lemon Queen Festival.”
“Mom’s going to blow a gasket when she finds out. What are you going to do?”
Rachael pondered her sister’s question before answering. “I’m not sure. I might have to live with Dad.”
“Mom will never let that happen. Just tell her the truth!”
“Tell me what?” Mom asked from the doorway.
“I’m going to miss the Lemon Queen Festival this year,” said Rachel sheepishly.
Lemon Queens by Frank Hubeny
They call themselves the Lemon Queens, bitter as a lemon and twice as nasty. Don’t get me wrong. I love lemons. I even eat the rind. But those two with their cursing, spitting and hostility give lemons a bad name.
I have no intention of kneeling to these queens to pacify them. That’s just what they want. That’s just what they’re not going to get.
We arrested them last night. They hurled a trash can through a store window. Their lawyer insisted they were peaceful protesters. Then someone bailed them out. Now someone will have to arrest them again.
Lemon Queens by FloridaBorne
It’s hard enough being recently widowed, harder yet to move from your large home of 40 years into a senior community.
The neighbor who owns the backyard facing mine is a “chatty Karl,” a person who asks ridiculous questions like, “Are you growing Lemon Queens this year?”
“No. I don’t like lemons.”
“They’re sunflowers,” he chuckled.
“Gardening is not one of my talents,” I frowned. “If you want to see something die, ask me to tend it.”
Thank God he hasn’t spoken to me since. Perhaps the shotgun next to my rocking chair had something to do with it.
Lemon Queens of Nevada by Charli Mills
Lara, Eugenie, and Jess scrambled up the wooden slats of the corral to watch Big Bones Janey sort the dinks from the keepers. Roundup always smelled of warm sage and fresh horse apples. Wispy sun-bleached hair escaped the matching braids on the young cousins and in the afternoon breeze, their fringe formed halos. Janey trotted past the wide-eyed girls, winking. She called them Lemon Queens and taught them how to settle a stallion without breaking his spirit. Fifteen years later, riding stunt horses for Hollywood westerns, the Lemon Queens owed their skills to the maverick horse trainer of Winnemucca.
Royalties by JulesPaige
Bob and Cora let their seven year old granddaughter run loose in the heliocentric field of Lemon Queens. It would be the last year for that crop. Well, any crop since they’d decided to retire. No one in the family wanted the farm. The developer gave them a very good price. They could move to a warm climate and never worry about shoveling snow again. They could buy or build just the right place to welcome their children and grands any time they wanted to visit.
little princess found
all her subjects heads bowing
as she skip danced passed
Lemon Queens by Sue Spitulnik
When Michael rolled out of the church back door he saw Tessa standing at the far side of the parking lot dabbing her eyes. He went to her. “What’s upset you?”
“Look at Mrs. Staples’ house. It’s run down and her gardens have gone to weeds. Remember those tall yellow flowers called Lemon Queens? It wasn’t summer until they bloomed.”
“I’m afraid she’s gone into a home and her kids won’t sell the house while she’s alive, so it sits.”
“That’s awful. I’m going to visit her and share my memories. I wonder where I can buy lemon Queens.”
End of a Dream by Reena Saxena
A vision in pale yellow floated through the park. This is my new neighbour, Miss Daisy. I would’ve named her Sunflower though.
As if on cue, she turned towards me and smiled. I guess I missed the acerbic expression in her eyes.
“I heard some noise yesterday, and your house help sneaked in on the pretext of asking if I needed something. Let me make it clear, Mr. Whoever-You-Are, I value my privacy.”
I added more sugar to my already sweet lemonade, as she stomped away. Well, now there is a reason I’ll label her Lemon Queen.
The Lemon Queens by Joanne Fisher
In Lana’s dream she was warned the Lemon Queens were coming. Abruptly she awoke and began shivering. You would think Lemon Queens would be something pleasant, but in reality it was a euphemism for humanoid figures with blotchy sallow skin unpleasantly stretched over their thin frames. Their hands had long fingers that ended in sharp claws used for disemboweling their victims. They also had sharp pointed teeth for ripping throats open.
Lana sat up in her bed in the dark her arms cradling her shaking body. On the edge of hearing the door handle to her bedroom slowly opened.
The Rush of The Morn by Bill Engleson
Eyes glued shut,
middle of the morn,
Wobble to the window,
Screen ripped and torn.
Flies buzzing in,
Making for my toast,
Lava butter rolling,
Time for a riposte.
Sun streaming in,
burning up my eyes,
trip on the rug,
crush a dozen flies.
Pick myself up,
grab a cuppa joe,
out on the deck,
watch the morning glow.
Birds peck at seeds,
cats about to pounce
savvy birds fly away,
Watch old kitty flounce,
Morning is so bright,
Best Its ever been,
Hydrangea, blue and rich
Snuggles to the lemon queen.
The day’s fair majestic,
a satisfying scene.
Naming the Biscuit by Anne Goodwin
“We can’t call them that!”
“Why not? They’re lemony. They’re puffy. They’re not lemon crisps.”
“Why not? Because it’s a term of abuse.”
“Nonsense! No-one thinks that anymore. Homophobia’s consigned to history. Along with racism and blaming women for being raped.”
“Remind me of our demographic.”
“Middle Englanders. Conservatives with a C both big and small. People who’d never dip a biscuit in their tea.”
“Unless it’s a ginger snap?”
“They don’t buy ginger snaps. They’re for the hoi polloi.”
“To the core. Loyal to Prince Andrew. Think Harry should be shot.”
“Then let’s call them Lemon Queens.”
Lemon the Queen of Fruits by Ellen Best
When I teach my daughter about Lemons she’ll say, ‘they are sour, and need loads of sugar before you use them.’ I will pour her a homemade lemonade, sweetened with Agave. I’ll tell her how lemon juice can cure heartburn, it’s the only citrus fruit that turns alkaline once joined with saliva. While passing her a slice of my lemon drizzle poppyseed cake, I clean my glass to a sparkle with a used lemon skin as we speak. We will chat about life and love as I slice lemon and freeze them, for days when there are no more.
Lemon Queens by Priorhouse
Lydia and June carried in numerous bags and crates with workshop supplies.
Catching their breathe, they placed the heavy items down and began setting up:
June Spread out a yellow table cloth across the round table in the corner.
Lydia spread out six dozen sliced lemons.
The workshop would have their speciality “lemon-themed” group activity.
There would be a taste test to experiment with sour.
Lemons would be added to water to alkalize the body and provide Vitamin C.
Standing back, they dimmed the lights and smiled.
The Lemon Queens would strike again.
The Queens by R. V. Mitchell
Vincent sat at his easel and squinted at the majesty of the queens in his vase. The Paris series had been a success. Now a year later, Arles beckoned. The pot – simple, two-toned, was a perfect tool, as was the plain wall of the studio.
“How many sunflowers?” he questioned to himself. “Ten. A dozen more or less.” He grinned to himself. “The public needn’t know how many are actually in the vase, only the number in my mind.”
With that Vincent picked up his palette and began to mix his yellows, as the lemon queens awaited their day.
When Ranch Chores Is a Drag by D. Avery
“Kid, where’d them two towheaded twins git off to?”
“Went inta the bunkhouse, said they’d be right out. They say they wanna work fer Carrot Ranch? Or the Saddle Up Saloon?”
“I reckon the Ranch. Tip an’ Top Lemmon are hardy hard workin’ cowboys. They’ll be a fine hep aroun’ here, ‘specially since yer always doin’ ever’thin’ but yer chores these days, what with thet saloon an’ all.”
“All this mention a the saloon, Pal. Reckon this is a crossover piece, huh?”
“S’pose… Whut?! Kid, who’re them fancy dancehall girls struttin’ along the bunkhouse veranda?”
“Introducin’ the Lemmon Queens!”
From the nest to new ventures, first flights are often fraught with hazzards and delights. Birds test their wings and people test their abilities. No matter what happens next, it is the first time that remains memorable.
Writers imagined those moments. The first leap, jump, departure. Some landed and some flew beyond our gaze.
The following stories are based on the August 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a first flight.
PART I (10-minute read)
First Flight by Charli Mills
The phoenix spent a lifetime reinventing herself. Each experience stabilized the bits, girding future wings. Her thoughts solidified. From dusty ashes, elegance rose. Sometimes her development caused an imbalance—she’d gain strength in one wing, leaving a talon incorporeal, a sooty ghost foot. Failure created more ashes, but ashes packed form like down in a pillow. Soft, at first, the padding transformed to muscle and bone. Fully engineered, the phoenix’s original vision improved with age and wisdom gained. A fire of kindness flamed her fully actualized self and she burned, a sacrifice to the ashes of her next life.
First Flight by Joanne Fisher
She was the strongest and first of her brood, and had eaten her brothers and sisters as soon as they hatched. Now she was perched on the cliff edge and something instinctive began to take over. Without even thinking, she launched herself into the air. As she plummeted, for the first time her wings began to stretch out. She swooped up into the blue sky, the red sun glistening on her scales. She knew she would grow larger and master this element. Nothing could defeat her now. She roared into the wind and the first trace of flame appeared.
First Flight by Colleen Chesebro
The wings were brand new. The two small buds on her back had blossomed into full-fledged wings covered with white feathers. She stretched these new extensions as far as she could, flexing the newly formed muscles taut.
She was sure that they made these new appendages for flying. How long had she wished to fly free like the eagle and the hawk?
She sniffed the air and pawed the ground. From a canter to a dead run, she was ready to spread her wings. At the cliff, the ground fell away, and she flew. It was unicorn’s first flight.
Flying Pizza by Geoff Le Pard
‘I tried to talk to that rock woman again, but she just got in the lake and swam away.’
‘She swam in that?’
‘She could be a mermaid.’
‘More like a nice maiden. Or it could be a version of our hard-wired response to danger.’
‘Haven’t you heard of the fight or flight response, Morgan?’
‘My hard-wired response is different.’
‘Of course it is. What do you do if danger threatens?’
‘I eat pizza.’
‘How on earth did those palaeontologists miss that third hard-wired response? It explains those Stone Age ovens.’
First Flight by kathy70
I’m taking the early first flight out this morning. Handy trick learned years ago that allow options if I miss it. DC is ugly hot this summer. Today’s assignment is to meet an old friend for lunch. Twenty years is a long time, I wonder how he’s changed. Will he know me? My job today is simply gathering information on what’s next years hot clothing color. How does a nice girl from Kansas get in the spy business? Should I have married that farmer? On my flight there is a familiar face in the next seat. “Hi I’m Dorothy.”
Betsy 1965 by Deborah Dansante
Callow listened as the weatherman told her she would wash away in the storm unless she got out now. The siren sounds the radio made when the warm winds blew down to Grand Isle from New Orleans helped Callow to believe this was true. Callow took up her lamp. Kneeling in prayer, Callow repeatedly raised her arms up and down, finally letting them fall gently to her sides. This was to remind Callow of what to do if she was to suddenly to take off flying with the hurricane. Callow fell asleep listening to the buzzing sounds of WWL.
First Flight by H.R.R. Gorman
It was our land which had the wind, the sand, the beach. It was here they assembled the pieces, here they first revved the engine, here they first left land. Here mankind first leapt to the heavens during 26 seconds that shrank the earth. Only five witnesses saw the first moments of mankind’s destiny, a destiny riding upon muslin, and aluminum engine.
Arise, children of Earth! Fly upon wings of intelligence and daring, upon the backs of bloody lessons learned! From a colony lost to the sky found, the Carolina coast is there.
Oh, and Ohio can suck it.
The One by Paula Puolakka
No 9/11. No pandemic. The airplanes could have not worked as weapons of mass destruction and a swift way to spread the virus if the citizens of the USA would have agreed with the One who tried to stop the madness from happening a long time ago. Instead, he was called crazy, locked inside a vault, and quietened.
The first flight can be observed after the first attempt to fly and after the first fall. Just listen to “Learn How to Fall” by Paul Simon, and you will realize that (ad nauseam) the truth will make you try again.
Metamorphosis, Revisited by Jeff Gard
Jerome’s thumbs peck the screen. His eyes burrow through layers of lamestream media to find the Truth. Hunched over his phone, bones strain at skin, T-shirt molting against expanding shoulder blades until leathery wings sprout.
Truth flees sentences, buzzing through air, swarming like gnats. Everything the establishment hides, deep state crimes of pedophilic cannibalism obfuscated by so-called experts – these morsels can only be consumed by minds adapted to bite-sized, carefully coded minutia.
Jerome chases the latest conspiracy out a window in dusk where other believers gather. They speak in stuttering chirps, guiding each other with the sounds of night.
A Flightening Experience from Back in the Day by Bill Engleson
“It was up there,” Ham Slater, the friendly, eager, local realtor said, pointing to the high bluff running along the skyline for a few miles.
“Yup. 1968. Hot summer evening, they say.”
“They?” I asked.
“Yup. Locals. Ones playing golf on the meadow below.”
“The island has a golf course?” I interrupted.
“Wellll…not officially. Mostly farmland. Sheep keep ‘er nicely chomped.”
“Ah,“ I said, not fully enlightened. “So, the bluff?”
“Zeke Buttworm, old time farmer…inventor. Built a glider…also tried…mescaline…young hippie girl Zeke was…courtin’…Lass was devastated.”
“Yup. Killed Zeke dead…and three sheep.”
“Oh! And one golfer.”
The First Flight by The Curious Archaeologist
He stood on the edge of the tower, checked his linen covered wings, took a deep breath and jumped.
They worked! He glided for nearly two hundred yards before the gust hit him, he struggled as he dropped, his wings broke his fall. He awoke in the infirmary with a broken leg. The Abbot beside the bed.
“Brother Elimer, my old friend, there must be no more flying. I don’t wish to bury you next time.”
“But if I had a bigger tail I could fly”
“Not now.” The Abbot was firm, “One day perhaps.”
The year was 1005.
First Flight by Frank Hubeny
The interviewer wanted to know whether Bird was scared when he jumped out of the nest for the first time.
Bird said, “Technically I didn’t ‘jump’. I flew. My wings moved. Soon the nest was far below me. I don’t know how it happened. It’s not like jumping. There’s a difference.”
The interviewer wondered, “Really? What’s the difference?”
He clarified, “You see, any monkey can jump out of a nest. You know as well as I do what will happen. I’m not going to go there. But birds, well – how do I put this? We don’t jump. We fly.”
Earth is Curvy by Simon Prathap D
It was his first time, he was nervous. He looked at the place around, the man at the opposite was busy securing belt all over his body. He took a deep breath and counted one and before he said two he was pushed away from the mountain, his first skydiving. His partner laughed at his screaming. In few seconds he started to feel the wind, the air, the landscape, the beautiful mountains and the animals that was running in the wild, it all said him one truth about the universe. ‘Earth is not flat, it is curvy’ he said.
First Flight by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She shifted her hips, attempting to get comfortable. Elbows on the counter, chin on fist, she gazed at the display, attempting to suss out meaning from the frothy spill of words. All gibberish. She sighed.
And she’d wanted to make a good impression.
He perched, mirror image to this beautiful woman, heels hooked on the stool’s rungs. He’d suggested this venue for its relaxed atmosphere, located between river and train. He also wanted to make a good impression.
“I don’t know beans about beer!”
“Trust me?” he leaned back. “Let’s share a flight. This brewery has a nice selection.”
Viewing the Nazca Lines by Anne Goodwin
“After breakfast is best. The first flight.”
Gulping coffee and empanadas de queso at sunrise before cycling to the airstrip, I wondered if I’d heard him right. My stomach lurched as the plane vaulted the perimeter fence. Just us, our guide and the pilot: no other tourists to block the view. Pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched in the desert: how did they make them? Why?
There’s the dog! The spider! The plane tilts, wings verging on horizontal. Hummingbird. Monkey. Tree. I cup my mouth, breakfast tastes sour the second time around. How did I misunderstand it? Definitely breakfast after: desayuno después.
Take Off, Eh? by Annette Rochelle Aben
The honeymoon flight from Detroit to Los Angeles was her very first. Not knowing what to expect, the young bride allowed her more well-traveled husband to guide her along the way.
He graciously gave her the ilse seat and held her hand gently while the flight attendant covered the emergency instructions.
As the plane pulled back, he reminded her that she should put the chewing gum in her mouth.
“Honey, look we’re climbing into the clouds!”
She leaned forward to take a look, and vomited on the back of the head of the person seated in front of her.
Her First Flight by Ann Edall-Robson
Desk, check. Window, check. Binoculars, check. Camera, check. Water, check.
She sat on a log, enjoying the vista. The sound of the creek chortling over the rocks made her smile. A shadow of a cloud floated within sight. Lifting the binoculars to her eyes she almost missed the hawk lifting of its perch. Its flight taking the predator out of camera range.
Her contented sigh caused a misty cloud in the cool, morning air. Picking up her pencil, she started to write. Her first flight to work from home was a success. Outdoor office days were here to stay.
Arriving by D. Avery
Signs and arrows made navigating the mazelike interior of the airport easier than she’d imagined. Still she was passed left and right by more experienced travelers towing wheeled suitcases, rushing down the wide corridor labeled “Departures”. She clutched her satchel and continued until she was in a glassed in peninsula thrust into a sea of tarmac, roiling with activity. She found her gate, a closed door really, but one that would open for her, take her away. Away at last. Seated close to this doorway she again examined her ticket. One way. She would be transported and then— “Arrivals”.
Just Another Baby Bird by Lottie M. Hancock
Women have mid-life crisis, too. Mine came with a thirty-six-foot wingspan.
Preflight checklist: Ready.
Doors latched. Check.
Fuel valve on. Check.
Butterflies in stomach. Check.
Trim set for takeoff. Check.
Heart raced. Check.
Wing flaps at 0. Check.
I kept the horizon level. The ground fell away.
My instructor stared straight ahead.
Power at 2200 RPM. Check.
The city I grew up in shrank. The sky grew.
I watched the gauges steady and trimmed the elevator.
A flock of geese formed around us. Just another baby bird.
Prepare for final approach. Check.
Regret having to land. Check.
Dear Butterfly, Love Caterpillar by Norah Colvin
You make the impossible seem possible. You inspire our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams. How can I be like you?
Dreams create possibilities but now you are exactly who you were meant to be.
Life is monotonous. Everyone does the same thing, day after day. Shouldn’t life be more than this?
Nothing happens overnight. Patience, determination and persistence will reward you in the end.
I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore. I think I will sleep forever. Goodbye.
Wake up, butterfly. It’s time to spread your wings and fly!
PART II (10-minute read)
Joshua by Saifun Hassam
Joshua was excited as the pilot flew the Aerial Research seaplane over the offshore waters. This was his very first aerial survey flight.
Digital cameras revealed incredible details of shapes and colors of underwater rocks, once fiery molten lava. It was a feast for him as an artist and a geologist. Sea crustaceans, sea urchins and sea stars, jellyfish, and sea horses seemed like delicate otherworldly creatures.
Working with other researchers, he would use aerial photography to probe for undersea archeological sites, search for fine differences in the waters and along the seabed where buried structures might lie hidden.
Discomfort by Reena Saxena
She cringed on seeing the large number of people who had come to see him off. Well, it was nice that his employers were sending him abroad at a raw age of 23, and he was the first in the family to fly abroad, but the crowd was kind of too large for comfort.
It was the first glimpse of a culture gap. They shared too much, they had no concept of discretion or privacy.
Years later, she evaluates her discomfort with his family and finds the same reasons. She needs space, but they are unaware of the concept.
Fallen by Joanne Fisher
in the end I was always
a child of the dark, even though
once I was a shining light
there I was, in Paradise
but my heart was uneasy
never a team player, all I wanted
was a change in the management,
I was cast out, and fell a long way…
Hell was already there, all I did
was make it my own, a reflection
of my own torment
my wings broken, through
the long millennia they began
to heal, until one day
I launched into the air
and for the first time flew
above my own dark kingdom
This Life by Marjorie Mallon
Three years ago, we said our goodbyes at the departure gate before that first flight. How I cried. I wept for a day, and the next day I wept without weeping. My darling daughter gone so faraway. She braved how scared she was. Now, she is adventuring again – not so far this time! And yet her friends miss her already. I miss her already. This is life, young adults are always moving, taking those steps to independence. They never leave your thoughts. They’re always a part of you, wherever they are.
Daughters always remain in your heart.
First Flight by Anita Dawes
As we grow older
We tend care a little more
About the young ones
Children, animals, it doesn’t matter
If they’re young
We acquire a mothering apron
Fussy over their first steps
Eager that they don’t fall
A fall may put them off trying
God helps us when it comes to their
First steps to foraging for themselves
Mother mode goes into overdrive
Unfortunately, we cannot keep the door
Closed to the grown-up world
Wanting to, can’t make it so
You can only hope and pray
That you did a good job
Trust that you have
And let go…
First Flight by Christine Bialczak
When granny died mommy said that she went to heaven I don’t know if I know where heaven is or if it’s really even a place because when mommy told me the tooth fairy came and took my first tooth I think she was lying because I saw my tooth in the bottom of the trash can in the bathroom mommy said maybe the tooth fairy went in the bathroom for a drink and dropped it by accident and that I should just be happy with my dollar bill but I would be happier to know where granny went.
First Solo by Donna Matthews
Charlie was out of bed before his mom came in to wake him up. He’d laid out his clothes the night before, and he couldn’t wait to wear his new tennis shoes. Running down the hall toward the kitchen, his mom intercepted him, leaned over, kissed his head, and asked him if he was ready. “Yes!” he nearly screamed. Barely tasting his cereal, he grabbed his new spiderman backpack full of all the new pencils, erasers, and folders and hopped at the front door. “Let’s go mom!”
She sighed, her baby on his first solo flight known as kindergarten.
What Grandmothers Do by Eliza Mimski
She’d been there with him the first day of kindergarten, waiting anxiously at the classroom door when school was over.
She’d been there with him when he’d needed surgery on his toe, him later laying on the couch with his pain medication and Ritz Crackers on the coffee table.
She’d been there with him at every baseball game, basketball game, and she’d picked him up from his martial arts class.
She’d picked him up from middle school and taken him to get pizza, then to Burger King when he was in high school.
Now he was eighteen. Entering college.
First Flight by Susan Zutautas
It was all set, soon we would become empty nesters. It was sad to see them leave, and I knew we would miss them, but they had to go and start new lives and families of their own. I am sure we would see them from time to time and for visits on birthdays and holidays.
One bright sunny July morning we all woke up and I knew it was the day to teach the little ones how to fly.
Okay kids it’s flying day and we’re all going to go together. Watch what I do and follow me.
Fledgling Dancers by Sue Spitulnik
Before she moved home, Tessa’s sister had kept her informed about Michael’s growing involvement in community activities since his return. Ally had never mentioned a bar called the “No Thanks Needed,” nor the Irish dancing classes being held there.
Soon after she arrived in town, Michael invited Tessa to go watch. She had never seen Irish dancing up close and was surprised the youngest of the dancers were only eight years old. Compared to their teachers, Thad and Katie, the children looked like fledgling birds trying their wings for the first time. They were tittering like young birds too.
First Flight by Michael Fishman
I can’t say he took it all in, but today was a beautiful day for a first flight. The sun shined down from a bold blue sky and lit the runway.
“Ground control to Captain Griffin.”
“We’re a ‘go’, Captain.”
And just like that things started to speed up.
“You got it?” I huffed as I started to run faster.
“I think so.” His voice was a little shaky, but not from fear.
“I’m letting go now, Griff. Hold the handles and keep pedaling.”
“I— I got it, dad!”
And just like that my son was flying.
First Flight by R. V.Mitchell
He was nervous, but the amount he had been offered was more than a mere street urchin could hope to acquire in a month. Now, standing on the rooftop, and the distance to the piazza seemed impossible.
Angelo felt the harnesses being tightened around his emaciated frame, and the canvas and weight of the wooden frame made him wonder if the experiment could ever work.
“Now,” the Leonardo called from the ground, and Angelo felt a shove from behind. He immediately crashed onto the cobbles.
“Not bad for a first flight,” Da Vinci said, looking down on the boy.
Fight or Flight by Doug Jacquier
Every schoolyard has it’s Bomber, so-called for his propensity to drop tucked-legged from the high board at the local pool and make tidal waves that left smaller children spluttering. Big for his age, monobrow hovering over piggy eyes, permanent Band-Aids on his knuckles from the dragging and never short of choices for lunch. I knew my turn at victimhood would eventually come and it did the day I asked him to desist from inserting my friend’s head into a toilet bowl. Leering excitedly at the opportunity for fresh blood, he ambled towards me and my first flight began.
First Flight by Irene Waters
Unaware of the steps his momentum sent him flying through the air, arms and legs akimbo. The letter he’d been reading floating gently in the breeze behind him. His thoughts were those of a drowning man. This is what it feels like to fly? First his childhood, then the small amount of adulthood he’d experienced. Should have told Alison I love her. Should have written a will. A bellyflop onto concrete that’ll hurt.
He landed hard. He momentarily felt like Humpty Dumpty before all thought left him.
Alison screamed. “Don’t die. Not when you’ve just inherited and can live.”
First Love by Kerry E.B. Black
He stared, a heat-seeking missile intent upon its target. She swayed to the music, spellbound, her motion a metronome, unaware of his interest until her friends elbowed her and whispered their giggling observations. She startled at his intensity but didn’t shy away. No, his open desire found in her an equal audacity. Without regard for decorum, she fantasized a relationship. It happened in a flash, an atmospheric conflagration that propelled her heart from its protection into the realm of pre-teen romance. The lead singer proclaimed nonsense and thinly veiled entendres while her heart took its inaugural flight of fancy.
Learning to Fly by JulesPaige
was judgement clouded
when the elementary
student left at lunch
first time run-a-way; gone south
trying to find those who cared
since it was so clear
that one little voice would not
be heard by adults
Over the years; still no one would listen. More attempts were fathomed, planned, engineered and carried out. No real truths were ever revealed leaving the past misted in disillusionment. No real resolutions, except to forgive those striving to do their best for themselves with only second thoughts to those around them. The pain lessens. Clouds parted for true love, laughter and compassionate hope.
A Graduate by Ruchira Khanna
Traditional hat toss. Some motion blur.
He throws his graduation cap in the air while I have tears flowing down my eyes.
He’s no doubt very excited about the ‘freedom’ that he’ll get. That involves no reminders or nagging from my end to do things.
As a parent, I ought to step back and give him wings to make his first flight away from home. Only then, I guess, he’ll realize the importance of all that care, love, attention, and the need to manage time well, that he used to knit brows upon.
As the wise said, “Give them wings to appreciate what they had.”
Basket Case by D. Avery
“Whoa, Kid. Stop. Back up. What’re ya plannin’?”
“Pal, this is gonna be great! We’re gonna fly!”
“Prompt says anythin’ or anyone thet flies, but I’m tellin’ ya, Kid, I ain’t goin’ in any flyin’ contraption. ‘Specially if Pepe LeGume’s runnin’ it. What in heck’s he know ‘bout aeroplanes anyway?”
“Ain’t gonna fly in a aeroplane, Pal. Pepe’s got a more economical idea.”
“Oh, jeez, Kid, what’re you two up too?”
“We’ll be up, up and away in a hot air balloon! An’ guess how Pepe plans on fuelin’ it?”
“Oh, the humanity!”
“Pepe’s an amazin’ human bean alright.”