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It’s a mac-and-cheese kind of read — comfort food for the literary soul. From beyond the myths of Marco Polo, pasta has traveled the globe in many forms from different cultures. Which came first, the Chinese noodle or the Italian spaghetti? Who knows for certain, but we do know that Thomas Jefferson introduced the colonies to macaroni and cheese, solidifying a future for America’s top pasta.
Writers took to pasta like worker bees, buzzing around the idea of how to dish it up in a story. Like fine dining or a casual dish to pass, these stories will leave you wanting seconds.
The following is based on the September 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta.
PART I (10-minute read)
Tradition by Reena Saxena
We love Grandma, and yet are never on the same page where food is concerned. She cannot appreciate the subtle flavors in a pasta or pizza, or the convenience of having carbs, proteins and fats all in a single meal. She is so stuck up in her concept of a traditional Indian thali meal. Who has the time for that kind of luxury eating?
Yet, today, as I celebrate a festival away from home, I miss the unique, delicate flavors of different dishes. I try to put a meal together. I am more Indian at heart than I realized.
Pasta Bee by Floridaborne
She waited for her word, looking down from the stage of her elementary school auditorium. She’d loved sitting at the kitchen table learning to spell while pasta cooked and tomato sauce simmered on her mother’s stove. She didn’t like standing under lights, stared at by 200 people.
“Antonia Giordano, spell…”
Starched ruffles itched at her neck, compliments of the dress her mother sewed from remnants for this occasion. But that didn’t stop her from spelling out a word she’d known since the age of two.
“S-p-a-g-h-e-t-t-i,” she replied.
Maybe next year they’d give her a harder word; like Vermicelli.
Too Bad It’s True by Susan Sleggs
Dear Diary, They say pasta is a comfort food. I’m choosing to believe that and plan to make a serving every Saturday from here to forever because it seems I end up at one hospital or another on Sunday. A few months ago I sat with my sister while she and her husband decided whether kidney dialysis was worth the extra time on earth for him. Two weeks ago it was my daughter fighting sepsis (she won) and this Sunday it was my son with a smashed shoulder. The wine is gone tonight, the yummy red sauce pasta awaits.
Remember that Old Elvis Song, In the Ghetti? by Bill Engleson
“So many noodles in the world. Whatdaya think…? You gotta choose, eh!”
Right, buddy. It’s been a long day, All I want is a quiet bus ride home. But that ain’t happening, is it?
There I am, going all silently rhetorical on the fellow sitting next to me. And all he wants to do is chit-chat about pasta.
I try and remember what Emily Post had to say about Public Transportation Etiquette.
Nothing immediately jumps out.
So, I say, noncommittally, “Noodles?”
“Yeah man,” he says, “My mom’s Mac and Cheese. It was the best.”
Yeah, I think…mine was too.
Pasta – Preschool Style by Ritu Bhathal
“Okay, today we are making Mother’s Day gifts for your mummies, grandmas, or aunties.
What I want you to do is take the string in one hand, and pick up a piece of pasta.
Remember, the other day, we painted it?
It’s like a tube, and you can thread the string through it, and make a lovely necklace.
No, David, you can’t eat it.
Penny! Stop strangling Julia with the string!
Peter! Don’t tip the tray upside d-…
Don’t worry Mary, we can pick it all up, stop crying, please…”
The life of a pre-school teacher.
Elbow Macaroni by TN Kerr
Margarite grinned wildly, stepped off the bus and hurried toward me.
When she got close she dropped her backpack and leapt into my arms.
“Holy smokes, Kiddo,” I pushed her hair back and kissed her, “what are you so excited about today.”
“Art class, Daddy. I made a picture of you.”
“No, Daddy. Mixed media,”
“Mixed media? What’s that?”
I put her down. She pulled a paper plate from her backpack and showed me.
Macaroni was glued to the plate. There were pencil lines and hints of orange marker. It looked just like me.
Pasta Pray Tells: What Are We Eating, Exactly? by Peregrine Arc
The little girl grimaced in her seat, staring at her plate of pasta. The garlic bread basket sat in the middle of table, steamy and pleasant. Her parents urged her to try her meal.
The little girl sighed resignedly and tried to eat. The fork and spoon soon fell to her plate with a clatter.
“I can’t do it!” she exclaimed. “Please, don’t make me.”
“Why not, dear?”
“It’s angel’s hair!” the little girl sobbed. “Give it back to them, please!”
Traditions by Heather Gonzalez
Angela stood on her tiptoes to be able to see over the counter top. Her nonna was mixing the pasta dough with her hands, and she was finally tall enough to watch. Each movement seemed like nonna had choreographed an intricate dance. Fingers and dough intertwining to create the magic of pasta.
After each piece of pasta was perfectly shaped, nonna motioned for Angela to come closer. This was it. She was finally getting a chance to be apart of the magic. Gently she lowered the perfectly crafted dough into the water with pride.
“Al dente. Perfecto.” Nonna smiled.
A Fish Tale from Lake Country by Liz Husebye Hartmann
It couldn’t be un-seen. It was right there in front of me: the giant spaghetti bowl, the splash of Tante Lianna’s special sauce, meatballs rolling off the table and onto the floor, parmesan spread all over the dining room table, like sleet in a Minnesota mid-June storm.
And the noodles! Seemingly caught in mid-flight from the bowl, they lay heavy as nightcrawlers escaping a flooded sidewalk, the aftermath of the aforementioned storm, turned to punishing rain.
And Uncle Wilford, face down in the middle of it all.
He should have heeded the warning twinge in Tante Lianna’s trick knee.
Love’s Give and Take by Sascha Darlington
“Pasta Puttanesca? Do I have to perform an intervention?”
“I’m at a crossroads.”
“Something you’re not telling me?”
“It’s not about you. It’s Chloe and that jerk.”
“AKA her husband?”
“He got fired. Wants to be a stay-at-home dad. Do consulting work.”
“Don’t see the problem.”
“You wouldn’t. You’re nothing like him. He’s perpetually lazy, doesn’t know how to use a vacuum or a dustpan. Stove’s foreign as well.
“Why’s this your problem?”
“I promised Mom I’d look after Chloe. I’ve failed.”
“He’s failing. Your pasta smells good.”
“You didn’t use anchovies?”
“Not when you hate them.”
Flash Fiction by The Dark Netizen
“Is the order for table number ten ready?”
I turned the blaze of the cooking flame down and grasped the pan in my left hand. With my right hand, I expertly arranged the lines of spaghetti on the plate. Reuben walked up to me and winked.
“You know, she’s looking quite fine in her black dress today.”
I peeked outside through the kitchen door window. There she was again, sitting in perfect poise, making my heart beat harder. Reuben whispered.
“Tell her, man!”
I put the final touch on the dish with the red sauce.
“A red heart, sweet!”
A Visit To The ER by Patrick O’Connor
“Pasta! I want pasta!”
“It must be penne pasta, with meatballs, and marinara.”
The doctor stared at me with a quizzical look.
My wife shook her head and said “That sounds about right. He loves his pasta.”
After the x-rays, CT Scan, and EKG, they worked on getting the blood pressure back up.
“I’m sure your wife will take you to get some pasta once you are released.”
“I’ll make sure of it Doctor.”
Seemed like forever before we got out of the ER.
Got to the restaurant and ordered penne pasta with meatballs and marinara.
“I’m not hungry.”
Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle
“Would you like some spaghetti bolognaise, Nan?”
“Absolutely not. I don’t eat that foreign food. Nasty, gloopy stuff. You can’t even pick it up on your spoon properly; it slithers right off.”
“Why don’t you just give it a try, Nan? It really is very tasty with David’s sauce.”
“No, thank you. I would rather eat English mashed potatoes. Such a versatile food. Did I ever tell you how we used it to make pastry during the war when we couldn’t get flour?”
“Yes, Nan,” said Julie with a sigh. “You have told me about potato pastry many times.”
Lunch by oneletterup
“I think I know who she is.”
“What should we do?”
They whisper, but she hears.
Crouching in the hall shadows. Hidden.
Disappearing. Like before.
“Lunch time!” the nice man calls.
The little girl and little boy are at school.
She perches on the edge of her chair.
Her very own place at their table.
“Honey…” the nice lady begins.
“We’re so sorry…”
“You can’t stay here anymore.”
The girl freezes. Stares. Forkful of spaghetti suspended.
Fingers clench into a fist snapping the fork upright.
Steaming tomato sauce spatters.
Drips down her hand.
Red spreading. Staining.
Pasta for Breakfast by Norah Colvin
Papa Bear pushed back his chair. “Not this muck again.”
Mama Bear stopped mid-ladle. “It’s Baby Bear’s favourite. I— I thought it was yours too.”
Baby Bear’s lip quivered.
“Pfft! Sometimes a bear needs real food.” He grabbed his hat. “I’m going for a walk.”
“Papa!” Baby Bear went after him.
Mama Bear dumped the porridge, pot and all, into the bin, grabbed her hat and followed.
“Where are we going?” asked Baby Bear.
“Somewhere nice for breakfast. It is spring after all.”
Papa Bear paused outside BreakFasta Pasta, then went in.
Mama Bear smiled; pasta was her favourite.
The Legendary Feud by Anurag Bakhshi
The boy’s great-great-great-grandfather was apparently the one to blame
For he called the pasta sauce of the girl’s great-great-great-Nonna tagliatelle, listless and tame
The echo of that insult had now been felt by these two star-crossed lovers
Who, let’s admit it, were just looking for some good old action between the covers
Their dead bodies were a testament to the folly of pride
A lesson that a family pasta recipe is not something to mock or deride
As the Bard put it so succinctly- For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo
No Pasta Was Harmed in Making This Story by Anne Goodwin
She snipped off the seal and upended the pack. Closed her eyes as fusilli clattered into the bowl. Paused, shook her head, reached for the rigatoni bag.
An hour later, there was barely room for his coffee cup among the bowls of dried pasta on the kitchen worktop. “Tell me, you’re cooking dinner at six in the morning or you’ve invited a kindergarten class for hands-on play?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m researching sound effects for my radio drama next month.”
“You’ve set it in a restaurant? In Italy?”
“A shack in Madagascar. I’m recreating rain on a corrugated-iron roof.”
My London Marathon by Kelvin M. Knight
I squinted through the rain. The other competitors looked comically savage – the way their dyed hair dripped down their faces. Nonetheless, these fun runners were out my league. Hugging my bin liner coat, I felt under dressed. I felt under trained. I should have done more. These words were my epitaph.
Still, I eat more than anyone else at the pasta party yesterday evening, so the complex carbohydrates would be on my side, along with this pantomime horse, this huge banana, and this Herculean woman with a refrigerator chained to her back.
Groaning, I waved at the BBC cameraman.
World’s Worst Poem, Plated by Chelsea Owens
Perdonnez, signora, will you taste my
veritable vermicelli which lost a
Tagliatelle or gnocchi -or was
it tortellini or gemelli?- that cost a
Few dozzina homemade noodles: measured,
mixed, rolled, chopped, shaped, and boiled -hasta
Domani, questa mattina -when nappy
And wriggly rigatoni-head rastas
Dangle candid cannelloni for
colazione (o pranzo o cena o altro) sauced, a
Banchetto of bavett, bucatini,
bigoli, e barbina; which fosta
Amore, our home country joy; precious
mem’ries of mamma o zia o ci, who bossed a
Flourishing, famishing family,
practically-plated with a plethora of pasta.
If that doesn’t bake your noodle, you’ve lost-a.
Pasta by Anita Dawes
What is it good for, not eating.
Throw it at the wall, see if it sticks.
Leave it until it falls off, give it to the kids to play with.
Oh, wait a minute they have already done that.
My granddaughters have used it for school projects
Picture frames you cannot dust…
The Italians love to tell us it has to be Al dente, the bite.
The thought of eating pasta makes me want to run for the hills…
And I know it’s well-loved across the globe
But seriously, why was it ever invented?
Does it grow on trees?
PART II (5-minute read)
Mangia, Sii Benedetto e Mangia! by JulesPaige
Mama thought a good way to teach us to listen was to keep our mouths full. Mama would serve us bountiful plates of Orecchiette. Sometimes the way Nonna Bella would make It, or she used recipes from Nonna Julia. Northern and Southern Italians cooked a bit differently. But there was always too much food!
Nonna Bella made rich red tangy sauces. While Nonna Julia employed creamy cheeses to dress her pasta.
Today you can get Gluten free pasta. Though Doc’s say a serving is one cup cooked of any shape you choose. And that Isn’t nearly enough, is it?
Boon or Bane? by Deepa
I was drenched in sweat that soaked the back of my clothes like a scattered map. My fitness tracker blinked up a new record today. It was the best result accomplished for my running record.
Well, don’t I deserve a small treat?
I swiped the pasta mania app in my mobile and selected the double cheese creamy chicken pasta, porcini mushroom, and an orange drink to balance my cheesy treat.
From a fitness tracker to palatable feelings, everything in a swipe at your door service.
Mobile apps, is it a boon or a bane?
So What’s for Dinner? by Di @ pensitivity101
Hundred of marbles
On vines to be seen.
Pasta is long,
Pasta is thick,
Cheesy or savoury,
It’s simple and quick.
Put them together
A meal in a flash,
Wholesome and nourishing,
Even better than mash.
Add meat and an onion
For spaghetti bolognese,
Or kidney beans and chilli
On somewhat colder days.
Pasta is versatile,
Be it boiled or baked,
One thing I’ve not tried yet
Is a pasta filled cake.
Macaroni is pasta,
Add sugar and UHT
To make a sweet pudding
As afters for tea.
Pasta’s a staple,
For Hubby and me.
Chester, the Reluctant Dinner Guest by Molly Stevens
“Myra invited us over for pasta tonight,” Ruth said.
“Pasta?” said Chester. “Don’t she mean spaghetti?”
“No, she was clear about it. She said pasta.”
“Well, la-de-da! That’s what she calls it, does she? Was there another fancy name stuck to her highfalutin pasta, like ‘prime-a-veers?’”
“She didn’t say. It’ll be a surprise.”
Harrumph. “I better grab a six-pack of Papst Blue Ribbon. I know she’ll be pourin’ some cheek wine, like chardonnee that will give me heartburn.
“You can always stay at home if you’d like.”
“Nah, I’ll go with along you. Besides, I’m clean out of SpaghettiOs”
Mother’s Italian Cooking by AbijitRay
“I am going out, shall be back by evening.”
“I am making a new dish Shailaja, don’t go before you try.”
“Mother has become adventurous;” wondered Shailaja, “she is experimenting with non Indian recipes!”
“What’s cooking mother? Am I your only guinea pig?”
“Today I am making Italian noodles.”
“Italian noodles, mother! Its called vermicelli; noodle is Chinese. Spoken in public, this may result in a diplomatic incidence!”
“Stop lecturing, try this out. This is vermicelli cooked Indian way.”
Shailaja found her mother in kitchen juggling a cook book in Hindi along with a host of vegetables and spices.
Remembering Terra by Saifun Hassam
Down at the SeaQuail Market, by the old Fishermen’s wharf, we feasted on a picnic lunch under blue summer skies.
Jumbo pasta shells overflowing with sautéed shrimp, sun-drenched tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, red and green bell peppers, olives, garlic and onions marinated in olive oil and just that delicate touch of rosemary, fennel and basil.
A generous sprinkling of shredded mozzarella, Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese.
Espresso coffee and cinnamon ginger fudge.
In a week, Adriana, an astronaut and biochemist, would report for training for her first assignment to Mars. She was my sister. Would we ever see each other again?
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
David shut the door, shaking his head. Heather smirked. “Who was that?”
“The Pastafarians,” he said with a flourish.
“Welcome to Austin, right?”
“You’d think they’d respect dinner time.”
“What did he say, about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”
They watched the disciples slink down the driveway, the tallest holding a book with a noodle dangling from the binding. “Do you think they’re serious?”
David shrugged, halfway holding a smile. “No. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s the point. We take this stuff too seriously.”
“Careful. You could get struck down talking like that.”
“Wouldn’t that just prove their point?”
Fettuccini Afraid-O by Susan Shuman
“This menu is amazing…” Shelley feigned enthusiasm.
“Get whatever you want,” Eddie shrugged. “Looks like you could use a good meal.”
“Oh, I can’t decide…”
Eddie wished she’d leave her hair alone. It looked like she was trying to strangle her fingertips with it. “Why are you doing that?”
“Huh?” Shelley let go of her hair. “Oh, bad habit.” Her throat tightened.
The waitress brought a steaming loaf of bread to their table and began rattling off the pasta specials.
That’s what did it.
Shelley stifled a scream and scrambled for the door—
Phagophobia: a legacy from her mother.
Pasta by Deborah Lee
Jane ambles through the grocery store, pushing a cart and luxuriating in the experience of grocery shopping. Like people who have a food budget, cupboards to store recipe ingredients, a kitchen for melding them into a home-cooked meal, refrigerator for leftovers.
She hesitates in the pasta aisle, torn between the thought of a steak or her mother’s standby, macaroni with tomatoes and cheese melted through. She used to think of pasta as poor-people food – before she became a poor-people. But it will always be comfort food, Jane thinks, tossing three times as much as she needs into her basket.
Whether you are slammed in a bottleneck of traffic or sitting on the front porch slamming back bottlenecks of beer, the time such moments lend a person is pause to contemplate. Bottlenecks might slow down processes or create unexpected releases.
Stories about bottlenecks vary in design as much as glasswork. You might feel the urge to wedge a lime into a bottleneck of your own as you read.
The following are based on the August 30, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a bottleneck.
Part I (10-minute read)
Commuting by kate @ aroused
My senses were being assaulted by the cacophony of others preferred listening choices. Our windows were wound down to catch any air. Driving home during peak hour was a drag, concentrating on traffic after intense work.
The main thought that was getting me through was of the sushi I’d picked up and the promise of a long hot shower. Then curling under my sheet with a good book … the kind you held and turned the pages. Electronic reading was not for me.
My wandering mind is brought back with a jolt as the traffic bottlenecked around an accident.
Bottleneck by FloridaBorne
We waited behind a semi, unable to see what blocked the road ahead. I sneezed at the diesel exhaust and asked my wife, “Found anything yet?”
The truck moved forward a few feet, and then stopped again, cars merged from the left lane as my wife stared at her tablet. “We’ll be out of this bottleneck in another 50 feet.”
“Was there an accident?”
“No,” she sighed. Traffic moved past an area where the left lane was devoid of anything but a lone boot.
That’s all it takes to stop traffic in LA — a shoe in the road.
Acrostic Bottleneck by TN Kerr
B eneath the dormant wheels
O f this sharp, sleek, motionless luxury automobile
T he motorway lies still, inert and unmoving despite my serious objections. Roll up the windows then,
T he heat is relentless and the malodourous exhaust fumes of a thousand cars
L ingers and mingles languidly with the
E ther that surrounds us.
N eedless to say, we should take the next available
E xit, we should find a relaxing spot to picnic; or a back road we might use as an alternative – a means to
C ircumnavigate this bottleneck, else we won’t be home before
K wanzaa, and it’s not yet Guy Fawkes Night.
Idiots on the Road (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls
Ike passed cars like a Hollywood speed-chase. Danni put her hand on his knee, “Slow down.”
“These idiots on the road are going to cause an accident.”
Danni kept her opinion that Ike was the one driving like an idiot. You’d think he was chasing down Al Qaeda in a Humvee the way he swerved around slower vehicles.
Stands of pines zipped past until traffic ahead came to a bottleneck at Culvers Point. Ike swore smooth as opera. Tourists stopped in the road to snap pictures of a mama moose. Danni reminded Ike, “Remember, we’re in Idaho, not Iraq.”
Lemons, Limes and Other Mysteries by Norah Colvin
She hit the brakes and thumped the steering wheel.
“Why we stopped, Mummy?”
“There’s a traffic jam.”
“Jam? I love stawbrey jam sammich.”
“Not that jam — must be a bottleneck up ahead.” Please be a merge, not an accident.
“We learned ‘bout bottlenecks today.”
“Live in the ocean. Maminals, like us. Where’s bottleneck, Mummy?”
“Not bottleneck, Jamie, bottlenose.”
“You said bottleneck.”
“I meant — aargh!”
Finally, they were home.
“You look frazzled, hon.”
She rolled her eyes and took the beer.
“Why lemon is in your bottle neck?” asked Jamie.
“Because it’s not lime.”
A Lesson in Trust by Susan Sleggs
My grandson’s dentist appointment was after school which meant dealing with rush-hour traffic. While sitting on the overpass waiting for the light so I could turn onto the expressway ramp, I could look down to gauge the usual traffic bottleneck. Bad news. Traffic was completely stopped. I said, “We’re going for a little ride to avoid the expressway.”
I wound my way around side streets going north and west.
I heard from the backseat, “I have no idea where we are!”
After two more turns he saw familiar buildings. “You weren’t lost after all Grandma? I was worried.”
Word Jam by Ritu Bhathal
The ideas were just pouring out of my mind, my heart, my soul, and I didn’t know where to start.
No, that’s not right.
I knew where to start, I just couldn’t work out where to stop, how to organise the thoughts rushing through me.
My fingers danced across the keyboard, letters appearing, filling pages and pages.
Faster and faster they came, until-
I knew there was more to come out, but it was as if the impatience of my ideas had caused a bottleneck in my brain.
Time for the muse…
Backcountry Bottleneck by Ann Edall-Robson
A body and soul drive along gravel roads riddled with potholes is nothing short of bliss. The gray matter lodged between the ears has no expectations other than to watch for what Mother Nature has to offer. There is no rush in this journey. It is a plethora of whoa, stop, back up moments soaking in the sights on a trek to an unknown destination. Traffic lights do not exist, and the only bottleneck to endure may be a herd of cattle coming at you on the road. There is nothing like the backcountry to rejuvenate the writing mind.
Empty Bottles All in A Row by Billy Ray Chitwood
Those empty bottles tell a pitiful story of my life, Buckaroos!
Those empty bottles once carried many of those once-held dreams I carried around in my head, all rather noble and fitting for human consumption – for anyone willing to listen to my maudlin cries for do-overs written out on barroom napkins and motel room stationery.
Those empty bottles lit me up like a neon billboard, allowing me to show off my amazing way with the women and with words.
One thing wrong with that pitiful story…
It left me a ‘wimp of a man’!
So, the tombstone says!
A Grain Of Sand by Patrick O’Connor
A single grain of sand at a time.
One by one, they slip through the bottleneck of the hourglass.
Our lives, measured in time is representative of those grains of sand.
One day at a time, our lives slip through our fingers.
Are we striving to leave a legacy or simply living for the moment?
Meanwhile, another life gasps as the last grain of sand drops.
A sad day for some; a joy for others.
How will people remember us; or will they remember us at all.
Only time will tell – one single grain of sand at a time.
The Slide by oneletterup
She sees it. Poking out from under the sofa. She reaches down, closing her hand around the smooth green glass.
Just like Gramma’s! When she played the big guitar. Special for her.
“Honey, this is a bottleneck slide. It goes on my finger. Look!”
Then Gramma would smile, wink and whisper…
“This song is just for you.”
Pressing on the strings, she’d slide the glass. And sing. And fill them both up…
”If not for you…I’d be sad and blue if not for you…”
The little girl finds her there.
Holding the green slide. Tight.
“You found it!”
Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams by JulesPaige
Tammy wondered if it was always this hard to buy your first home. You had to prove you were, have been and would be employed – able to make mortgage payments.
What started out as a simple bottleneck situation turned into a log jam. The red tape became like a thick hungry boa constrictor wanting to squeeze the very life from her with having to fill out form after form after form.
There would be a celebration eventually. Hopefully soon. One where she’d invite her best friends to uncork a bottle of champagne. When she finally held her home’s key.
The Bottle Opener by Robert Kirkendall
A party goer grabbed a longneck bottle of ale from an ice chest and searched around. “Anyone know where the bottle opener is?”
“I got this,” another party goer said as he picked up another beer bottle. “Now give me yours.”
The first party goer handed him his bottle, then the second party goer held his bottle upside down and placed the edge of its bottlecap against the other bottlecap. “A little trick I learned in college, using one bottle to open another.”
A cap popped off and beer spilled all over his pants.
“Ooops, wrong cap came off.”
Bottleneck Life by Kayuk
“Ready for the big job interview this afternoon?”
I grin across the table at Sally, “You bet! I’ve been preparing for weeks.”
“Well, you certainly look stunning. The old ivory of the suit sets the perfect tone.”
“Thanks”, I say, draping a napkin across my lap and picking up the fork.
Startled by a crash and yell behind me, I leap from my chair and turn in time to see the waiter’s foot descend on a plastic catsup bottle sliding across the floor. Pressurized contents spew from the bottleneck splashing the front of my perfect suit with garish red.
Trust Deficit by Abhijit Ray
“Bottleneck is always at the top,” thundered CEO in the townhall meeting, on productivity, he convened for his employees, after attending a conference.
“Tell me is what problems you face? Is it resource allocation, time management or decision making?” senior managers shifted uncomfortably in their seats, as chief goaded his employees for a response.
There was pin drop silence, till an eager beaver junior shuffled in his seat. “Idiot! Not yet confirmed, you are a sitting duck,” whispered his friend, “this is all sham. CEO knows very well, where the bottleneck is. He is trying to identify trouble makers.”
Quality Control by Liz Huseby Hartmann
“There’s your bottleneck,” Justin nodded at the bleach-blonde woman at the end of the production line. A stack of TMPuregold Widgets sat to her left. Picking one, she held it up, squinting along its length, and nodded.
“Lorna’s a bottleneck?” His uncle chewed the end of his mustache.
Lorna picked up another widget, ran her hand across its end, and crooked her finger at a young brunette. They bent their heads together. The younger brought the piece back to her station, smiling.
“I have lots of streamlining ideas, Uncle.”
“Tell your mother we’re not hiring just now.”
You Made Your Bed by Sascha Darlington
First a bottleneck on the road and now a bottleneck at the charity event. I see who is causing it and suddenly wish I had a bottleneck in my hand, preferably high-proof.
I try to avoid her, but she’s holding court, her brittle laughter wince-worthy. When her eyes focus on me, her lips tighten.
“Surprised you came.”
I sigh. “I’m chair.”
She waggles her diamond before darting to my ex-. Robert glances up. Do I see regret? Perhaps the younger, improved model wasn’t as good as the original.
Jake squeezes my hand. “You look beautiful tonight.”
Mine is though.
Lil’ Ugly by D. Avery
When he drew a bull called Lil’ Ugly the other cowboys laughed.
Bow legged and barrel-chested with a bottle neck and a jug head, he endured a great deal of ribbing. He disappointed his tormentors by walking away. They could tell they angered him but could never get him to throw a punch. In addition to picking on his looks they questioned his manhood.
As he approached the chute the others joked, wondered who was going to be on top.
They didn’t wonder any longer than eight seconds.
They knew now what he did with his bottled up rage.
Saddleback Sanctuary (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam
Where the valley narrowed, the flagstone path disappeared under boulders and jagged rocks. Landslide from early spring. Diamante surveyed the bottleneck. He weaved carefully around the larger rocks, clambering up and down smaller ones. He paused to rest. A lark flew up into the warm sunny skies. A lizard slithered across the boulder, briefly eyed Diamante, and disappeared. No bottlenecks for lizard or lark.
Another half mile and he was on the flagstone trail again. The ancient abandoned monastery came into view. Near an open broken gate, a giant tortoise slept, its neck well hidden within its saddleback shell.
Part II (10-minute read)
Bottleneck by Anita Dawes
Something we experience when pushing our way into a new life. A tight space, hard to get out of.
Days when the tension holds on to the back of my neck like giant metal claws.
Other times I feel as if I have been snapped back in time, trapped inside the Trojan horse with a bunch of sweaty human beings, waiting to do battle.
The sun will come back and you can move on with your life. The way ahead is clear, or am I trapped inside someone else’s mind?
Is this the bottleneck that will finally break me?
Bottleneck by katimac
They say humans of many forms lived a long time ago. Then a natural disaster struck which wiped out nearly all of them. It was most likely the progenitor of the Great Flood stories found in nearly every culture. Geologists can point to physical signs of it all at about the same time, nearly seventy thousand years ago. Anthropologists can point to one at the same time, about seventy thousand years ago, when mankind was reduced to a small bottleneck group on the western coast of Africa. We ain’t none of us lily-white if we go back far enough.
This Time, This Place by Kelvin M. Knight
Standing in his pulpit, he regarded one bottleneck after another: his overworked PCC; the cavalier making of tea during the service; the choir grumbling behind him; the organ whimpering far far away.
He prayed silently, swiftly. Upon opening his eyes, he spied a congregation transformed. Now they all looked resplendent in starched white collars, whereas he was a shadow, bloated and distorted, and pinched in so many places: from his wallet to his timesharing; from his patience to his love.
Realising he was more guilty than them, he pondered the complexities of daring to share this truth with them.
Not Exactly an Hour-glass Figure by Di @ pensitivity101
‘You need to go on a diet.’
‘Don’t you start! How can I help it if there’s so much to choose from, I want to try it all?’
‘Somehow seeing you stuck like that is doing you no favours as regards your street cred.’
‘I’ll have you know this colour is very fetching! Brings out the natural blue of my eyes.’
‘At the moment they look a bit bloodshot. You’ve probably cut off your circulation, you’ve gotten so fat.’
‘No need to be nasty. I’ll just make a wish!’
‘But that’s cheating!’
‘Ha! I’m a Genie darling! I’m allowed!’
Bored Panda by Deepa
Honey, does this look good?
I nod quickly thinking my way to escape.
Is this one better? She asked me.
If I nod again, I fear she’ll say, ‘so what is wrong with the first one?’
Which one do you prefer? This was she again.
Oh, darling! You look equally amazing in both.
Oh, honey! Do you mean to say can I have both?
It is a terror for spouses when it comes to shopping.
A pleasure for sales guys and a reason for more congestion in the roads and malls.
Buy 1, get one free!
Jessie by Kay Kingsley
It had been 3 weeks and 4 days since Mike and Jessie had broken up and each second that passed was agony for him.
He sat in his usual chair at the bar hoping to be as invisible as he felt, a chameleon basked in neon.
The bar was a loud distraction as he mindlessly stroked the bottle neck, lost in the memory of her smile and the smell of her perfume. Full of regret, his heart ached.
When she touched his shoulder from behind, he looked up and thought it was a dream. They smiled at each other.
Bottleneck by Frank Hubeny
Some say your real brains are in your gut. Bill knew his wasn’t in his brain. Sharon doubted he had any in his gut either.
That’s when she got pregnant and started worrying.
That’s when they had to move to a smaller apartment.
That’s when it looked like he would lose his job.
That’s also when he didn’t lose his job, but got an indirect promotion.
That’s also when they realized they loved that new apartment.
That’s when he held her and told her he was glad she was pregnant.
That’s when she changed her mind about his brains.
One Night, Both Ends of Life by Paula Moyer
One Night, Both Ends of Life
6:30: the call. Finally, that night.
“Today’s the day.” Her nephew Max, about his father, Jean’s brother.
“Did he die?”
“Yes.” The wait/weight – done. Alcoholic organ failure – complete.
7:30 p.m.: the text. “My water broke.” A very pregnant woman’s message to Jean, her doula. “But nothing’s happening.” Jean gassed up anyway.
9:30: the call. The husband. “It’s time.”
Jean battled State Fair traffic, road work, bridge closures.
10:10: Raced into the birth center. “Waaa!” On the floor: Chux pads, blood everywhere. On the bed: parents and one angry baby.
11:30: the drive home, joy and grief wedged in together.
Hillsborough, April 1989 by Anne Goodwin
The match was a sell-out, but progress through the turnstiles deathly slow. To ease the tension outside, they opened the gates and funnelled the supporters directly into the already swollen stand. As the game kicked off, no-one heard the protests of those at the front, the screams forced from crushed lungs. While grown men cried for their mams, kids hadn’t the air to whimper. The first to scale the fence were met with truncheons. Belatedly, the ambulances pulled onto the pitch.
No goals were scored that day. But records were broken in the numbers killed at a sporting event.
The Happiest Traffic Jam on Earth by Chelsea Owens
“When will we get dere?”
“It’s …uh, your turn to answer him, Dear.”
“Whe-e-e-e-en will we get de-e-e-e-ere?”
“I told you, Honey. We’ll be there soon.”
“You said that a long time ago!”
“I wish you wouldn’t call him-”
“No! You said we go in duh car!”
“Yes, Sweetheart. Vroom! Vroom! Remember?”
“You said LITTLE ride in duh car!”
“Well, I meant-”
“You did tell him just a little ride-“
“Dear, please. That’s not helping to side with him…”
“Are we picking sides?”
“WHEN WILL WE GET DERE?!”
It’s a Boy! by Sarah Whiley
Yet still, the cap wouldn’t budge.
I felt so frustrated. This liquid was yearning for release for human consumption and to be enjoyed.
It was a perfect summer’s day for a beer.
Not ready to concede defeat, I kept on trying.
The effort began to hurt my hands.
Damn this thing, I thought.
Then suddenly, I felt it.
A helpful force; working with me from the other side.
Oh joy of joys, the cap began to move!
Finally it was released, and cool liquid amber gushed through the bottle neck.
“It’s a boy!” I smiled.
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
Music pulsed, matching the thump of my heart in my ears as I leaned in and gave the wine bottle a carefully planned spin. Breath held. The circle tightened. Julie Jennings’ knee touched against mine, the bottleneck now a whir of fate.
Thump. Warmth hit my cheeks as the wand settled on Julia. A nervous laugh. What now? But with a giggle Julie nudged it two more places—miles it seemed!—to the metallic smile of Christina Cash. A small terror in my chest. A gust of strawberries. Julia shrugged, winked, then shoved me off towards her best friend.
Chester Makes Amends by Molly Stevens
Chester knew he had to dig himself out of a crater after he gave the wrong impression to his wife, Ruth.
He settled on his strategy and said, “I remember the exact moment I knew you was the one. And though it was magic, my decision to ask for your hand in marriage had nothin’ to do with a silly eight ball.”
“Yes. I chose you in the fifth grade.”
“Remember the party at Rosie house? We gathered in a circle, and I spun first. When the bottleneck pointed in your direction, I knew you’d be mine.”
Bottlenecking by Bill Engleson
I peer into the darkness.
The fog’s thicker than shower steam.
“There’s the turnoff,” I point, bumping my digit against the windshield.
“I see it,” she snaps. “I’m not blind.”
“Sorry…” I apologize, shaking my bent finger.
“Did you hurt your pinkie?” she asks.
“No. Just nerves.”
The offramp quickly turns into a one-lane cow path.
“I can barely see,” she offers.
“It’s a good thing you’re driving,” I confess. “I can’t see squat.”
Suddenly, a tiny wooden bridge appears.
“THAT,” she says, “looks flimsy. I’m turning back.”
“Can’t. Bosses party.”
“Yup. The only guests.”
The Real Winner by Anurag Bakhshi
I looked down at the battlefield, and my heart filled with pride.
My fellow countryman Leonidas and his small band of 300 Spartans had been pitted against more than a million of the invading army of Xerxes.
But the wily Leonidas had taken a stand at a bottleneck in the pass at Thermopylae, and stopped the Persians dead in their tracks for three days.
And the mighty Persian Army would still be fighting a futile battle if I, Ephialtes, hadn’t told them about the hidden path that would allow them to flank Leonidas and his men, and slaughter them.
Bottleneck by Reena Saxena
“I will not give my land. The price you offer is not enough to sustain me, and I don’t have any other means to earn a livelihood.”
“Do you understand that this is for a mega-project, which will change the face of the countryside. History will not forgive you for being a bottleneck in progress.”
“History might forgive and glorify you, but goodness will not.” He signed the sale deed.
Three years later, the land purchased by the parliamentarian’s brother was sold at thirty times the price he bought it for. It helps to know about future developmental plans.
Slow and Steady Kid by D. Avery
“Hey, Pal. Have a beer with me. Ever wonder why bottles is shaped the way they are, with the long neck?”
“Mebbe it’s so it’s easier ta pour. But we got no glass nor class, drinkin’ right outta the bottle.”
“If ya hang onta the bottle neck yer beer doesn’t git all warm.”
“Jist drink it down fast. Gimme anuther Kid.”
“I like coozies, ‘specially handy with so many switchin’ ta cans.”
“Don’t need a coozie, jist drink ‘em right down. ‘Nuther, Kid.”
“You prefer bottles, or cans, Pal? Pal?”
“That was fast. Pal’s downed from downin’ beer.”
What we call magic can be inexplicable — the fantastic, supernatural, universality of experiences beyond the realm of the five senses. Magic can be dark or ethereal. It can be a moment, or, as Elizabeth Gilbert explains, Big Magic is the courage to hunt for the creative life.
Enchanted, or not, writers set out to story-craft tales of magic this week. Like a rabbit pulled from a hat, you’ll be surprised at what emerged.
The following is based on the August 23, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes magic.
PART I (10-minute read)
On the Occasion of the Poet’s Being Challenged (or TGIF) by JulesPaige
Magic for me, starts at dusk
after the sun has retired.
One must wait an entire cycle
for the moonflower to bloom.
Defenceless against the weather,
the desire to grow at night
in shadow is strong.
I find a quality in dusk turning to night
that makes it seem as if the silver river
flows slower over the stones.
The heat of a summer day
makes me tired.
I discover strength in darkness.
Uncover the burdens of night dreaming
and cover myself in moon glow.
Repeat over and over a mantra of freedom.
“It is Friday, it is Friday!”
Magic Exists by Pamela
In the space between the words
In the ideas left unthought
And in the needs now left unspoken
In the dreams as yet undreamt
In the strangers still unmet
And in the future paths untrod
In your mind and in your soul
And in your heart so cautiously
It exists in you
Look for the magic
Be open to its charms
Bask in the wonders
Of the magic that exists
Look for the magic
Before it is gone
I cannot imagine a world so bereft
That magic was not a part
Magic by The Dark Netizen
The old man observed the couple in his crystal ball.
They were standing at the sea face, hand in hand, looking at the setting red orb in the sky.
“You know baby, when we are together, it feels magical.”
She looked into his eyes and smiled in agreement.
The old wizard however had a grim face. He spotted two shadows approaching the oblivious couple. There was no way they could sense the darkness approaching. The old man turned to his assistant.
“Merlyn, we need to move fast. We cannot lose our source of magic. We must protect true love…”
Adamant Acceptance by JulesPaige
Young Kendra willed magic. Ever since the first time death visited her family. Maybe Azrael possessed some healing powers? The girl wanted to communicate with those who had crossed over. Since the ones who were still
around didn’t really communicate very well.
Didn’t the adults read any of the books that contained rituals for magic? If they had maybe they wouldn’t shout so much or rub salt in old wounds. How could they live with themselves?
Kendra would read all the books, even if they
believed she could not read. She would whisper,
repeat and most of all believe.
Janice by Saifun Hassam
With eyes closed, Janice traced the delicate raised patterns on her favorite porcelain vase. Dogwood flowers, swallows, leaves on curving branches. The subtle magic of that touch flowed into her mind.
Her left eye was still blind. Her right eye filled with vision, tears. Fear and hope. The tumor had crushed the left optic nerve, destroyed the pituitary gland and sent tendrils into the gray matter.
She savored the taste of cherry chocolate cake Tom had prepared for her. She breathed in the aroma of the coffee. He had gone to work, but he had left her with magic.
Magic Moment by Sherri Matthews
‘Happy Birthday, hope you like it!’
Colin tore off the wrapping paper revealing a child’s magic set to roars of laughter from his friends.
‘Thanks guys…nice one…you bastards.’
Colin laughed along, but the memory of his family’s teasing when he had put on his first magic show as a kid still stung. Not that his friends knew. It didn’t matter. They only knew that Colin was a media sensation after his win on Britain’s Got Talent.
‘Drinks on me.’
Everybody turned as Simon Cowell arrived holding a magnum of champagne.
Nothing beat the magic of that night for Colin.
Footloose by D. Avery
Ilene Higginbottom pulled a folding chair from the bed of the El Camino and joined Marge and Ernest where they sat in their camp chairs outside the shop.
“That’s a pretty fancy camp chair, Ilene, dual cup-holders, and look at you, it reclines too!”
“Yeah, I like to put my foot up. This’s the last thing I bought with my ex-boyfriend’s money before letting him go; only thing about him appealed to me was his magic mailbox.”
Ernest squeezed Marge’s hand before going for more beer, told her he’d start dinner.
“Marge,” said Ilene, “What you’ve got is real magic.”
Reckoning by Kerry E.B. Black
“Where is your wife, Ward?” The magistrate’s robes flapped like a gaping hole.
“She took our son to visit her family.” Thank God she fled.
But what of Nina? Legs twisted like gnarled, unsupportive vines. Defenseless. Her only crime saving his infant’s life.
The magistrate rested a heavy hand upon Ward’s shoulder. It pressed like a stone. “Your wife will be tried. She consorted with a witch to save your son.”
Fire erupted within Ward, but he struggled to keep calm. “She didn’t. I fetched the woman who nursed our son. My wife had nothing to do with it.”
Magic by Frank Hubeny
On a blue planet people believed in nothing that they couldn’t see. No ghosts. No gods. No angels.
There were natural laws. That magic was powerful. The more it worked, the more they believed. Those who doubted were educated until they believed or in extreme cases there were prisons. In really extreme cases there were nuclear options.
The people on the blue planet made a lot of money except for those who didn’t and so everyone who counted was happy.
Things went very well until the “fay-rees”, as they became known after The Event, had their fill of it.
Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard
‘Do you believe in magic, Logan?’
‘In what context?’
‘What’s wrong with a yes or no?’
‘If you mean prestidigitation…’
‘Slight of hand, deceit, then that’s not magic. If you mean the magic of nature or of birth or first love…’
‘You soppy romantic…’
‘… then yes. There are some things that are truly magical, truly miraculous. They constantly amaze me.’
‘Like my wit and brilliance?’
‘Like the fact that despite you driving me nuts, talking rot, playing the fool, we are still friends.’
‘And my wit and brilliance?’
‘Give me a hug.’
‘Don’t push it…’
The Magic of Decision-making by Molly Stevens
Ruth was on a mission to purge. She examined a round, black object she retrieved from the bottom of the trunk.
“Chester, this yours?”
“Why have you held onto it?
“It means a lot to me. It helped me make some major decisions through the years.”
“Remember when I was thinkin’ about quittin’ school? Magic eight ball said, ‘My reply is no.’”
Chester remained silent.
“Magic eight ball, did Chester consult with you before he proposed to me?
“‘Signs point to yes.”
Chester snatched the prophetic orb and pitched it into the dumpster.
Sleight Fright by Ritu Bhathal
“Think of a name.”
Deanna held her chosen name tightly in her mind and nodded.
“Think of an object related to that name.”
She self-consciously touched her wrist, where her watch was.
Except it wasn’t there.
Where was it? It was the only thing she had left of him.
“I believe you were thinking of Peter, and his black diver’s watch, am I right?”
The magician held out a watch.
Slight of hand or magic, she didn’t know, but Deanna didn’t wait to find out. She rushed to the front, snatched the watch and rushed out of the building.
The Feather by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer
I finished my gardening chores and wrapped the hose into a coil. There on the ground was a tiny grey feather. I picked it up and placed it under my gloves on the table for safe keeping.
I walked toward the front garden where my daylilies drooped. I held the spray over the plants, and there on the ground was another gray feather!
I hurried to retrieve the first feather, but it was gone. It was then, the magic of the moment struck me. Without a doubt, this feather had wanted me to find it. What could it mean?
The Return Home by Jan Malique
Soft, soft are their feet upon the forest floor
Hear their whispers lift on perfumed breeze
The Crystal Sentinels wait
Offer messages only once
Offer wisdom never seen
Hark, the Fey do come
The Light of Ever Becoming approaches
Issues through sky and earth
Infuses Crystal Sentinels
Weaves magic most powerful
Weaves magic neither light nor dark
Hark, the do Fey come
See the Faerie Queen step forth
Peer at human worlds
Command Otherworld gates be open
See her warriors step forth
Speak words of release
The Crystal Sentinels rise
Step through gates of welcome
Step through worlds incandescent
A Warning and a Plea by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Lucy’s footsteps echoed pale blue, up and over the far reaches of Karlssen’s Glacier.
She took her time, minding her breath; these tower steps had been built by others taller than her six foot frame. Per her nature, she’d planned for extra effort to reach the peak.
The half-troll girl was on her way. Magnhildr would need another Season to convince her fellows to foster yet another non-jotun, even Sylvi’s child.
She wrapped the message-crow in her hands, whispering a plea, “The child is no longer safe.”
The bird erupted into the northern sky, its cry splitting the night.
Protected by abhijit ray
“This is magestic,” Sam looked admiringly at the luminous diamond sitting at the feet of deity in dilapidated temple.
“I want it Sid,” said Sam greedily, “it will fetch a fortune.”
“Don’t invite god’s wrath Sam. This stone is under protection of reigning deity of this fort.”
“I don’t believe in power of magic. I did not walk all the way to just have a peek. What good is it here anyway? At least, we shall have good time.”
The leopard was following them for some distance now. As Sam bent down to unseat the stone, the predator pounced.
Acronym by FloridaBorne
“Dr. Michael Arden?” The young woman with a recorder asked, “Why did you become a scientist?”
Should I remind the world? Why not? “You do realize this is a funeral and we’re standing in front of my mother’s casket?”
“You’re a hard man to corner for an interview.”
“My mother believed in magic, used a cauldron and thought she could talk to fairies.”
Wide eyed, she gasped, “Your mother was a witch?”
“If you could read, you would know why,” I scoffed at her. “Mother was schizophrenic! MAGIC is nothing but an acronym for mentally addled gullible insecure citizen.”
Shakespeare’s Cheat Sheet by Katimac
Shakespeare scribbled halfway down the page and froze. It was the same rubbish he had written an hour earlier, reworded. He cursed and crumpled the page, tossing it across the room to add to the growing stack of crumpled pages in the corner of the room. He threw himself back in his chair and thought furiously. After a moment, he called for the maid.
“What’s her name again?”
The maid glanced around nervously. “Are you certain, sir?”
Shakespeare swore again. “What was her name, the magic hag?”
The maid whispered the name in fear.
“Bring her here. It’s time.”
PART II (10-minute read)
First Morning in the New Place by Anne Goodwin
Despite her diligence in tidying away her thoughts on retiring to bed, Matty awakes to a muddle. It is as if a kitten has whiskered its way into a sewing box and woven a cat’s cradle with the thread.
Opening her eyes, it is obvious something larger than a baby cat has caused the chaos. Has a magic carpet whooshed her to China? Or, like Alice, she’s fallen down a rabbit hole to a world where walls move and rooms shrink?
A maid beams at her from the bedpost. “Welcome to Tuke House, Matty! Are you ready for breakfast?”
The Source of Magic by Anurag Bakhshi
Sue woke up to see Charli staring unblinkingly at a tall tree near their campsite.
“Look at that light emanating from that tree, it’s magical,” Charli said softly.
Sue looked towards the tree, and said dismissively, “It’s just sunlight reflected from a mirror on the tree. You really shouldn’t have had those magic mushrooms last night.”
Charli shrugged her head and looked again. Her friend was right, it was nothing at all.
As Charli left to wash her face to clear her head, Sue looked towards the tree angrily. That magic tree had got to control its yawns better.
Magic by Kay Kingsley
I don’t believe in magic tricks but I love being sucked into them. The slight of hand, the show, the impossible result… it’s mesmerizing and entertaining and I have zero desire for someone to explain it to me. What fun is that? I want to be entertained and tricked into awe.
And although I don’t believe in magic tricks I do believe in magic. The magic of timing, of bonding, the pure magic of love. Magic felt, magic seen, magic experienced.
The only magician I ever knew was time and the only magic he ever showed me was life.
Transformed by Reena Saxena
“I have stopped writing,” he appears cold and distant in the darkness.
“Really? Will you survive without it?”
“I spent a lifetime, staining white pages and interlocking fingers with keyboards. It was heaven, it was hell, and I knew of nothing else”, he rambles on, unaware of my presence in the room.
“What do you plan to do now?” I am genuinely concerned about his mental health.
“Whatever I am ordained to do….. I experienced magic today. I saw my thoughts in a physical form.”
I walk out with heavy footsteps, knowing that he does not need me anymore.
The Magic Pill by Ruchira Khanna
“Dr. Ali, I come to you with hope since I’ve heard that you have cured, many!” Sheela said in an earnest tone as she held her rumbling stomach.
“Yes! I treat all,” he said with confidence as he handed her a box of pills with a blank label.
“Fill out your symptoms!”
She followed his instructions with a puzzled look.
“Take 1 pill twice a day. Visit me after a month.”
A month later, ” I am cured!” she shouted with glee, “You have magic pills.”
“Nah! it’s just the placebo effect, and I’m not even a medical doctor.”
A 1966 Really Groovy Incident by Bill Engleson
I wasn’t supposed to be home the day that Alan dropped by with Lita and Louise, two Oregonian hitchhikers.
“Picked them up on the freeway,” he said. “They need a place to crash and I…” and he explained…two rooms, one wife and a huge red setter with bladder problems.
“I can see it’d be awkward,” I commiserated, adding, “In any case, we’re a commune. We can always make extra beds magically appear.”
The Oregonians were exceptionally close.
Still, Lita and I quickly found…mutual ground.
Only Louise needed her own bed.
Everyone was good with that.
Magic Mushrooms by Robbie Cheadle
What happened to her?” Rose asked, horrified at the red spots and broken capillaries that covered her pretty daughter’s face.
“We had to rush her to the hospital and have her stomach pumped,” said her sister.
“She was playing with Sean in the garden and they found a patch of toadstools hidden in the corner under a bush. Sean said she ate one. She wanted to grow big like Alice. She thought they were magic mushrooms.”
“Oh, my goodness, I thought I was doing a good thing when I read Alice in Wonderland to her. More context next time.”
Childhood – A Magical Time by Susan Sleggs
Now that I’m an old lady I can say my favorite sound is a symphony of night time bug noises. I remember the music lulling me to sleep when I was a little girl and I kept the window by my bed wide open. During the day we built forts in the woods, raided the garden for snacks, and enjoyed getting dirty and tired. I didn’t know enough to worry about being hungry, having money problems, alcoholism, or cancer. Today the bug music takes me back to that magical time so I can clear my mind to fall asleep.
Seeing Is Believing by D. Avery
“Pal, watcha doin’ way out here all by yersef?”
“Felt like bein’ alone, Kid.”
“The ranch hands is all busy corrallin’ stories ’bout magic Pal.”
“Jist wanted ta git away, lay out here unner the stars. ’Sides, I don’t believe in magic. Since yer here, set still, listen ta the popple leaves whisperin’.”
“The Ranch is out west Pal, call ’em Aspen or cottonwoods.”
“They whisper the same songs, Kid. Now look’t that big orange moon through the silhouetted treetops. Eh? Look ‘t that star strewn night sky. I tell ya Kid, it’s… it’s…”
“I believe it is.”
A Magic Sound by Susan Sleggs
“Child, open the window by my bed.”
“Nurse told me not to. Too humid tonight.”
“Don’t have nothin’ to do with hot or cold; has to do with bugs.”
“If you open that window like I asked, I can hear them bugs singin’. That sound is magic.”
“Cause that’s the first sound I remember. Lulled me to sleep before I knowed what meanness, goin’ without, prejudice, and drinkin’ was. Can still do the same if I can just hear that singin’.”
“Can I leave if I open the window so’s I don’t get blamed?”
A Sprinkle of This and a Pinch of That by Norah Colvin
“Makin’ a spell.”
“What sorta spell?”
“A magic spell.”
“Can I help?”
“Whadda I do?”
“Put stuff in the pot.”
“What sorta stuff?”
“Gotta read the recipe.”
“What’s it say?”
“Ya gotta read it.”
“Oh. Okay. I’ll help. Look, it says …”
Mum stopped at the door to the kitchen. “Wha— What are you doing?”
“Nothin’,” mumbled the older.
“Makin’ magic spells,” grinned the younger, covered in flour from head to toe.
“What sort of magic spell?” asked Mum, wishing for her own magic spell.
“Take us to outa space.”
“Can I come too?”
The Magic of Imagination by TNKerr
Waves of assassins, ninjas, and marauders had already been turned away by the intrepid Timmy McNab. Dead and wounded were piled, like cordwood, against the back fence while weapons of all types lay scattered throughout the garden. When the whistle sounded, our hero held up one finger stopping an attacking pirate who waited; cutlass in his left hand, dagger in the right, pistol tucked into the black sash around his waist.
“Sorry, Cap’n,” That’s Mom. I gotta go, dinner time.”
“No fair, Timmy it’s my turn.” The pirate groused.
“We’ll play again tomorrow, after breakfast. You can go first.”
Do You Believe in Magic? by Chelsea Owens
Here, he sits. The screen reflects his fat fingers, his glasses, his balding head.
Between lines of numbered reports, his memory sees small hands, perfect sight, full hair. Laughter.
There, she rests. Against the mopped floor rest her orthopedic shoes, her sore cankles, her ample midsection.
Mundane mind-wanderings recall barefoot summers, skinny legs, an inverted belly button. Happiness.
Where, do we stand? Honest bathroom mirrors capture our eye lines, our neck bulges, our long wrinkly faces.
Fleeting cognizance remembers smooth skin, thin necks, unblemished features. Smiles.
Fairy dust? Hardly. Evaporating imagination pulls us ever farther from Never-Neverland.
Magician by Miriam Hurdle
“Danny, you’re my helper. Get me a chopstick and a cloth napkin.”
Uncle Pat shaped his left hand like a funnel, pushed the center of the napkin into it with the four corners flapping like petals. He poked the thin end of the chopstick into the napkin fiercely to the bottom, then pulled it through and shook the napkin in the air.
“Uncle, you didn’t poke a hole!”
“Do it again.”
Three days later.
“Hello, sis, how are you doing?”
“Danny poked a hole through three cloth napkins.”
“He’ll be a great magician one day.”
Up to His Tricks (from Rock Creek) by Charli MIlls
“Wanna see a magic trick?” Hickok splayed a deck of cards to Monroe.
“Pa doesn’t like hands playing cards.” The boy glanced at the barn door expecting Cobb to materialize.
“We’re not gaming. Just magic. Pick a card, any—”
“Monroe, your Ma is asking for you. Said to bring her the hen eggs.” Sarah stood in the door, arms crossed.
Monroe shuffled and then ran out the door. Sarah had to address the new hand before he got on Cobb’s wrong side.
Ready for her scolding, Hickok winked and smiled a boyish grin. “Wanna see a magic trick?”
Breakfast by oneletterup
Nobody even mentions the comet.
But she saw it! Last night. Out the window.
Would they even believe her?
Nobody believes her. Ever.
The little boy squints at her over his oatmeal.
“Come on…what’s your name?”
She shakes her head. Chews.
The little girl smiles at her.
If only she could stay here forever.
She wishes hard for a magic wand.
Poof! She would belong in this blue house with the swings.
This nice man. This nice lady. This little girl and little boy. And her. Safe.
She would stop remembering.
And she’d never have to go back.
Crystal Clear by Di @ pensitivity101
The ranks were gathered, thousands staring at the wondrous sight.
Whispers of ‘where did it come from’ and ‘what was it’ filtered through the regimental columns, no-one making any effort to climb the mossy mound to investigate.
Their Leader came to the front and once he had their full attention, announced that it was indeed magic, a Gift from the Gods.
Their prayers had been answered and their diligence rewarded.
This crystal globe contained a never ending source of the water they so badly needed.
He thus called upon his ant armies to carry it and its precious cargo.
Falling by Patrick O’Connor
There was only one explanation for what happened to me.
No one would have survived such a thing.
I was hanging over the edge of a cliff, clinging to a branch.
My strength gave out and I started falling.
Falling to the rocks below.
Just as I reached the rocks, everything went black.
I awoke on a beach, witnessing a beautiful sunrise.
The only explanation – magic.
I was in the same clothes.
I had all my memories.
But there was something even more extraordinary.
There were two moons in the sky instead of one.
I awoke in the hospital.
Pal Pays PayPal by D. Avery
“What’s up, Pal?”
“I been thinkin’ on all thet Shorty’s doin’; second anthology, the rodeo…”
“Yep. Shore is a worker. Gives so much a hersef ta the Ranch.”
“Well, Kid, I found a magic button thet’ll hep us give ta the Ranch too.”
“Thought ya didn’t believe in magic.”
“Well, I’m beginnin’ ta. Ya jist go up ta the upper left hand corner an’ push some buttons and Kazam! Magically the Ranch is gifted.”
“You ain’t so gifted though. It ain’t magic; ya gotta pay, Pal.”
“So? I’m happy ta pay fer some Ranch magic. It’s priceless.”
With trails that stretch across the sky, some comets burn so brightly they appear during the light of day. They burn into our imaginations, sparking questions and prophecies. Some people dance (naked), some despair.
Writers flashed comets this week with tales from around the world and both hemispheres. Take a ride on a comet through the literary art of flash fiction.
The following is based on the August 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet.
PART I (10-minute read)
The Comet of 1858 by James McCanles (5th-great-grandfather of Charli Mills)
Hail! beautious stranger to our sky,
How bright thy robes appear,
Noiseless thou trends thy paths on high,
And converse with all our stars.
In radiant flame of glowing light
Thy silent orb rolls on,
Through vast eternities of night,
To mortal man unknown.
Thy magnitude thy fiery glow,
Thy towering wake of flames,
But mock our wisest skill to know,
We’ve barely learned thy name.
Through boundless depths of space unknown,
Beyond the realms of days,
In blazing language of thy own,
Thou speaks thy Maker’s praise.
Words beyond time stretch comet-like from 1858,
Oldest flash of 2018.
NOTE: last two lines added by C Mills to make poem 99 words.
Comet by Anita Dawes
When I look at a comet, having been lucky enough to see one, I see a giant snowman, throwing a ball of ice across our night sky, with its tail of dust.
We look upon it with wonder.
Could this giant hand be playing Rounder’s, or maybe Alleygobs with giant marbles? Is there someone on the other side of our dark sky ready to catch them, to hold onto them for too long before we see them again?
Could it be an invisible jockey riding a sky horse or maybe a knight from some forgotten age, looking for Merlin?
Sibling Games? by JulesPaige
There would be punishment for stealing his marbles. But only if the thief was caught. Which was why she hid them in the hem of her black velvet skirt…
Being the children of the Gods, they still behaved with human attributes. Or was it just that humans had to have excuses for their own failures?
If he wanted them back, he was going to have to look carefully. She took them into the night and with all her might tossed them into the universe. The marbles were pulled by gravity, while gaining speed and left a lingering light trail.
The Prophecy by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer
The comet streaked across the sky dragging a fiery tail against the inky blackness. Dennitsa shivered in the gathering gloom. Her dreams of late had been infiltrated by the ancestors revealing the prophecy this celestial nomad heralded. Time was running out.
The old ways of healing-magic were in danger. Today, the Byzantine priests had instituted a plan to hunt down and kill the fairy witches, thus performing a cleansing upon the land.
Ripples of magic exploded from the woman’s form silhouetted against the night sky.
Her spirit calls out—
the continuum answers,
The solution came from above.
Stardust and a Comet by Carol Keefer
According to the J.R.R. Tolkien’s cosmology of elves, the Eldar who lived with Valar in Aman “were also called Calaquendi (Elves of the Light).” The Eldar developed their faith in magic and became magical elements in the tail of a powerful comet. As long as the Eldar drove the comet, the comet would not die. Because they left Aman, these elves did not live in the world of Arda and were subsequently unknown to the inhabitants of Middle Earth. These comet-dwelling Eldar sailed through the universe, developing new weapons and magic until they attracted the attention of an enemy.
Ilesol (from “Quantanelle: Stranded in Space”) by Saifun Hassam
The King’s Astronomer Ilesol tracked the arc of the great Comet Cygnet across the starry skies. At midnight, he was alone in the Royal Observatory on the high plateau overlooking Port Estrella.
Comet Cygnet was known since ancient times to return to the Terran skies every seventy years.
This would be the first and only time Ilesol would see the Comet.
In that thought and moment, the Comet seemed to beckon him, to venture beyond Port Estrella, the Isle of Ilbaiyat, to travel the Great Terran Oceans, to explore unknown worlds. A brilliant light filled the observatory. Ilesol vanished!
Comet by The Dark Netizen
“Whoa! What is that?”
Ethan had taken his little sister for camping. He looked at his little sister pointing up at the astronomical expanse. He could see what she was referring to.
“That is a comet.”
“A comet? What are those?”
Ethan adored his little sister. However, the way she asked so many questions about everything annoyed him to no end. He decided to have some fun.
“A comet is an alien flying so fast, that its ass starts burning, and it leaves a trail.”
“So cool!! We spotted an alien.”
*Many miles above*
“How did the earthling know?”
Comet by Robbie Cheadle
From the small window of the rocket, it looked like an enormous snowball. Comprised of frozen gases, rock and dust, it was the size of a small town. The astronauts realized with horror that there was no escaping it. The rocket lay directly in its path.
As the frozen ball’s orbit brought it closer to the sun, it obliterated the rocket, ending its urgent mission immediately. The comet heated up, releasing dust and gas which formed a glowing head and long trailing tail. The people of Earth rejoiced in its beauty, not realising the loss they had just suffered.
Origins of Comets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Sarah spread a quilt on the knoll above Rock Creek to watch the night sky.
“The year before I was born, stars landed.” Yellow Feather pulled a pitted gray stone from his medicine pouch. He passed it to Nancy Jane.
“Feels kinda like lumpy metal.”.
“It’s heavy, too. This is a star?” asked Sarah.
Yellow Feather said, “My grandfather found it where many small stars burned the prairie grass.”
“Look – there’s one,” said Nany Jane.
“I saw it! Did you see Comet Donati last year?”
Yellow Feather laughed. “Comet Donati? That was just First Shaman urinating across the sky.”
How The Stars Aligned by Geoff Le Pard
‘There’s a comet passing tonight, Morgan.’
‘No, come on. Even you must see how extraordinary these things are.’
‘They’re a bunch of rocks and ice, Logan. You may think watching space grit is fascinating but I’ll stick to the footie.’
‘These are nature’s warnings. They portend the great events of history. The Battle of Hastings, Genghis Khan’s attack on Europe.’
‘Rubbish. Your average Russian isn’t interested in Hastings.’
‘You know what significant event occurred when Halley’s last appeared? It changed the world as we know it.’
‘We started school together and you stole my banana.’
What do YOU Wish For? by Chelsea Owens
“I wish to be a famous dancer!”
“I wanna be a millionaire!”
“I want to build the world’s first robotic house!”
They all turned to their silent friend.
“What do you wish for, Chelsea?”
“I can’t tell.”
Shrugging, they watched the comet pass, carrying their wishes. It would return in ten years’ time, granting them what they had asked.
Carly would be a dancer.
Tanner would be rich.
Edward would be building robots.
And Chelsea? She didn’t know. How could the comet possibly turn her into a cosmic fairy able to soar through the night sky as it did?
Comet Hale Bopp by Miriam Hurdle
“What a crispy night to look at the stars.”
“Yes, it is. A good crowd here. I’m Tim.”
“Hi, Tim. I’m Eric, this is my wife Jan. Jan Hale and Eric Bopp.”
“Hale-Bopp, like the comet?”
“You know it? My dad saw it in New Mexico.” Sparks jump out from Jan’s eyes.
“My dad saw it too in Arizona.”
“My dad saw it first.”
“Your dad emailed the astronomical discoveries. My dad sent a telegram. They got the email faster than the telegram.”
“Who sent a telegram in 1995?”
“Your dad was only a hyphen faster than my dad.”
Once in my Lifetime by TNKerr
I was twenty-four the last time it came, that periodic star that causes ships to ground. She was twenty-six. We drove to the desert’s edge and climbed Blue Mesa in the dark; leaving behind the city lights, the traffic sounds, and the sounds of club music that floated incessantly through the downtown streets. In the stillness we spread our blanket and made love waiting for and watching Edmund Halley’s dirty snowball with it’s retrograde orbit and curved tail. She speculated that lovers had done the same for thousands of years before and will continue to until the comet dies.
Scope by Floridaborne
“Mira,” Frank said, pointing up at the sky. “A comet!”
She looked through her telescope. “Nope.”
“Why do you always disagree with me?”
She chuckled at him, an act that served only to fuel his umbrage. “Peer through the scope. What do you see?”
“I don’t need that thing to recognize a comet!”
“Are you afraid I might be right?” Mira asked, cocking her head to the side like a puzzled parrot.
“Women!” Frank cursed. Through the telescope, a 3-fingered, grey being waved at him. “God almighty!”
“I told you so, Frank,” she said, waving up at the light.
Bequest by Liz Huseby Hartmann
It started as a tone, growing in volume and pitch as it resolved itself into a bright streak, slicing silver blue through an opaque night sky. The tone grew to harmonies as dark stars broke free and distributed themselves across the horizon.
“By all rights, we shouldn’t be able to see anything.”
“Magic tops meteorology!”
“Ha! You just made a pun.”
The first one rolled its eyes as the other two giggled. The dark star slowed, resolving to a single, sweet contralto. It landed in the clearing with a fragrant whump of meadow grasses, rolling, unfolding, and standing tall.
Believe Me by Reena Saxena
I don’t know why the Comet chose privacy, when it struck me. The media remained oblivious of change.
I am transformed. I am blessed with supernatural powers. I can see and hear things other mortals cannot. They do not believe that I am going to outlive them. The idiots have locked me up in a cell in the mental asylum.
I do not seek revenge. I seek enlightenment for all. I pray for another comet to strike them, so that they see and believe what I say. We are all made of stardust.
But, I am the chosen one.
Heaven’s Gate Away Team by Anne Goodwin
I stared and stared, praying for God to reward me. To grant me a glimpse of that celestial spaceship carried in the comet’s tail. But Marshall’s vision was sharper than mine. And his faith.
When the time came, we swallowed the elixir, pocketed the interplanetary toll. We lay on our bunks, veiled in purple cloths. We waited.
The pain was my soul struggling to escape the bonds of my body. The moans were angels serenading us to the sky. Paralysis signalled I was becoming transhuman. And yet.
What if Hale-Bopp were simply a comet? What if Marshall were wrong?
The Idiot by Anurag Bakhshi
They’re right, I AM an idiot.
Moreover, I had to demonstrate my stupidity to the entire world, with my doomsday predictions of comets, and meteors, and asteroids.
I’d even set a date for the collision, yesterdays.
But they laughed at me, while I hid with my family in the bunker that I’d constructed for us.
I should go out and admit to my failure now. Maybe I can just blame it on my tiny brain.
Their brains are much larger. That’s why the dinosaurs have ruled over us for ages, and we cockroaches will soon die out, I’m sure.
PART II (10-minute read)
Perseid Meteor Shower 2018 by katimac
I lay in bed, drifting to sleep in a window filled with falling stars.
A cool breeze wafted across my nose, and stardust drifted in my eyes.
A cat shadow crept along the window sill. She sniffed the screen and sneezed stars.
“Gedsunheit,” I whispered. Her eyes glowed disdainfully down at me, starlight reflected in them.
Meteors competed with the moon as they exploded overhead, casting noon-bright shadows on the side of the barn outside my window. Horses stood in the paddock in silent awe, watching the spectacle with equine aplomb.
Hair! Up in the Sky by Bill Engleson
“There!” I point skyward.
She looks up sharply, asks, “Where?”
I, of course, hang my head and repeat, “gone.”
“You gotta be quick,” I tease. “Don’t call them comets for nothing.”
“So, smart guy…what else do you know?”
This poses a challenge. I’m never quick to put on my thinking cap.
She knows this. Oh, I’m good for a slick rib poke but actual knowledge…that’s a puzzler.
“You got me,” I confess, adding “Halley’s Comet.”
“What about it?”
“Well, I know I’ll be 114 when it rolls around again.”
“Good luck with that,” she laughs.
Pamela Comet by Ruchira Khanna
High School Reunion
Pamela, the brunette at the age of 23, was huffing and puffing about her new husband to her friends.
“Then, what do you?” inquired one of them.
“I raise my voice. I argue. I fight until he bows thee!” she said with a wink and triumphant smile.
Pamela meets her old friends who inquire about her life. She blushed at first then pushed the stray grey hair behind her ear, ” I was like a comet, bright at the head, but years changed my perception allowing me to tail away from the headstrong attitude.
Winning at Charades by Molly Stevens
Rosie was excited about an evening of charades with her women friends.
She glanced at her word and said, “This will be tough.” But having once yearned for a career in the theater she knew she was up to the task.
She pointed to the sky and mimicked staring through a telescope.
“Star! Constellation! Astronomy!”
Rosie shook her head no. Then she stretched her arms in a dramatic upward sweeping motion and assumed an awestruck expression.
With no answer forthcoming, she kneeled on her hands and knees. Pretending to sprinkle something onto the floor, she started scrubbing.
Comet by Jack Schuyler
Janet scrubbed with all her might, but the brown ring remained. As she did every day, leaning over the toilet bowl, she found herself hating her job. The same stains, the same sore arms, and the same cleaning solutions.
She had studied astronomy in school, but apparently there was no more need for people who looked up at the stars. Now she only found herself looking down.
She dumped more Comet into the toilet and scrubbed with irritated vigor. Comet, The irony of the name stung. There was one shooting start that would never make her dreams come true.
Impeding Doom by Susan Sleggs
“Who cares if I don’t know the difference between a meteor and a comet?”
“I care, as a science professor, you embarrass me.”
“Well la-dee-da Mr. Education. Is it true a comet warns of impending doom?”
“That’s all myth. Science has advanced enough that we know better.”
“Perhaps this one is warning of our doom.”
“It’s not going to hurt us.”
“You give me no credit. I was thinking of how doomed our marriage is.”
“You may have a point.”
“Maybe I could catch a ride on its tail to a happier galaxy.”
“They don’t leave our galaxy. Sorry.”
Comet’s Tail by Abhijit Ray
Rahul was alone on the terrace in this moonless night. A comet appeared on the night sky with its long tail following luminous body.
“Kind of like our life would you not agree” observed Heena softly, “a promising career, a high profile marriage, followed by a trail of scandals and a messy divorce.”
Internally, Rahul accepted his failed career compounded his drinking and philandering habits, culminating in divorce from Heena. He simply did not want to hear about his weakness from Heena.
He did not want to extend comet’s tail any farther by strangling her.
Close Call by Patrick O’Connor
“You never know what you’ll see ‘round these parts.”
Stanley spoke to Bert on the carpool drive to work. 4:30am rise time.
Hit the road by 5:15am in order to make it to the factory on time.
“Yup. Sure don’t.” said Bert.
Suddenly, in the sky in front of them, a huge ball of fire, complete with a sonic boom.
“Jiminy Cricket!” shouted Stanley, Startling Bert.
“Woah! That’s big.”
“Look there! It’s gonna hit!”
Across the sky, the ball of flame got closer.
Suddenly, there was a flash and the comet (meteor) burned out.
“Whew! That was close.”
You Should Have Listened to Me by Robert Kirkendall
“I see a dark omen ahead for you,” the sorceress warned.
“Well that’s a bummer,” the man said nonchalantly.
“Heed my words!” the sorceress reiterated. “When a comet appears that is aligned with one of the planets, it will spell your doom!”
“How does a comet align with a planet?” the man said dismissively. “That doesn’t even make sense.”
“Doubt me at your own peril!”
“Planets move in orbits, comets go in a straight line,” the man explained condescendingly. “Crazy old bat,” the man chuckled and left.
He crossed the street and was struck by an old Mercury Comet.
Comet by Deborah Lee
“They say our origins dictate our path in life, our fate,” Henry says. He looks at the homeless tent city around them. “The son of a teacher and a CPA, upright churchgoers, shouldn’t end up without an old-age pot to piss in, wouldn’t you think?”
Jane laughs ruefully. “I was conceived on a hot summer night, in the blaze of forbidden teenage passion, in the backseat of a ‘64 Mercury Comet,” she tells him. “Shouldn’t that make for a charmed life?”
Henry tops her wine cup, his grin brilliant. “Maybe, maybe not. I’d love to have that car, though.”
The Signifier by Margaret G. Hanna
A hot summer night.
Two friends, friends since high school, different in backgrounds but united by their uniqueness. Friends through husbands, children, divorces.
They sat together on a park bench by the river walkway, watched couples stroll by hand in hand, a canoe slide down the river. Heard a whippoorwill call. Felt a gentle breeze. Contemplated the white slash of the comet against the ink-black sky.
“Medieval people believed a comet signified the end of the world.”
A glance exchanged. A wry smile shared.
“They were wrong. It’s the beginning of a new world.”
They clasped hands. Embraced. Kissed.
Elgin: Our Cross-County Rival by Nancy Brady
In the early sixties, it became common for smaller schools to consolidate into larger schools. My county was no different with several schools opting to consolidate. Not my school, however; our district chose otherwise!
Elgin became one of those county schools; it was supposedly named by combining the three schools that made up the new school: LaRue, Green Camp, and New Bloomington. Elgin even named their mascot based upon America’s new obsession of space.
Elgin was our biggest football rival, and often, the conference championship hinged on the last game, us against them, with the Comets streaking to victory.
An Imperfect Proposal by Norah Colvin
He scrambled through bushes, slipping and sliding on twigs and gravel in haste to his love. When he reached her, she was doubled over holding her belly.
She shook her head.
“I thought…” Her body shook.
“What?” he soothed, wiping away tears.
“Snake… I thought…” She pointed.
On the bed lay the strap of his telescope bag coiled neatly.
Camping became their family tradition, but their children’s favourite story was of the “snake” that frightened Mum, not of the comet that graced the sky the night that he proposed.
Speed Demon by Ann Edall-Robson
Crouched by the fence she watched, reminiscing, smiling at her childhood partner in crime. They had been a formidable team. Each day they had forged rivers, hid in canyons and chased foe. Together, their teamwork had conquered imaginary obstacles. No chore was too tough for them. Sometimes reckless, but always sure-footed, and with mane and tail flying in the wind. She laughed, remembering their nickname, Speed Demon. Those days were gone now. Slowly he came toward her, head high, ears at attention, looking for a treat. Standing, she called her trusted friend, the one she had named Comet.
Comet by Frank Hubeny
There are stars out, but that doesn’t mean anyone notices. However, the comet was special. People pointed it out proving how smart they were being able to see what others told them about.
Charles didn’t care. He looked at Anne’s eyes.
Sure, they were told about the comet, the rare comet that comes once in a million years. “You better look while you have the chance!” “You may never see something like that again!” “Don’t miss it!”
They looked, but they were not sure they saw anything particularly remarkable out there. They were more interested in each other’s eyes.
Goodnight by Di @ pensitivity101
Emily was sitting up and looking out of the window, fascinated by the bright star in the night sky.
She turned to her Dad who had just finished reading her a bedtime story.
‘Do you think she can see us Daddy?’
He felt a lump in his throat and tears fill his eyes. It had been only two months since
Nancy had been taken so cruelly from them.
‘I think so Sweetie.’
Emily waved at the comet and snuggled under the sheets, then looked across at the empty bed where her twin used to sleep.
‘Night, sis.’ she said softly.
Make a Wish! by Deepa
as a child
I always thought
airplanes were stars
wishes and requests
my heart pains
‘Hey! shooting star
make a wish!’
I heard me say
not to expect
anything out of
something that occurs
once in 75 years
I wish upon
to show my son
who I lost
to terminated pregnancy
several years back
for unknown reasons
A Thousand Wishes by Kay Kingsley
The sunset fades into dusk. Bright pinks and reds slowly change to burnt shades of orange and purple. The horizon glow dims as the blanket of night covers all.
The rising hum of crickets and frogs fill the summer night and a warm breeze welcomes us to settle in like the flashing of lights before a performance begins.
Time to take your seat. The show is about to begin.
With excitement the event begins as the first comet streaks the sky.
Tonight is a night of a thousand wishes and with all of mine I wish you were here.
Comet by oneletterup
The screen door slams behind them.
She rushes past the little boy. Runs upstairs.
The little girl stays behind.
“What happened?” he asks.
“I think she’s scared,” the little girl answers, eyes wide.
“Someone was spying on us from the woods!”
They like this new silent mysterious guest.
She stays upstairs. They let her be.
Day becomes night.
She crawls from under the bed.
Peeks out the window, eyes scanning left and right.
Nobody out there.
Transfixed by the starry night, she sees it.
A blazing white streak across the sky.
Like from the book.
Billy & The Comet by Grae:)
“The ‘Comet’ is coming!” hollered little Billy Ollerenshaw, at the top of his voice. “The ‘Comet!’ Billy passed by nos. 17 and 19 Combination Street heading towards the town centre.
“Do you think he’d be so happy if he knew that it was a rogue comet that is going to destroy the Earth, rather than that old steam train that he so loves? He has a picture of it on his wall.”
Mrs. Ekkerslike was a placid lady, the far side of sixty, and resigned to her fate.
“Best to let him think of a steam train.” said Mrs. Wensleydale, sighing.
Heavenly Calling by Ritu Bhathal
It was 1910. She was ten. She’d often sit on her windowsill, legs dangling, staring out at the stars. That night, she’d seen something different, a ball of light travelling through the sky.
She never expected to see that in her lifetime again, and yet here she was, in 1986, eyes trained on the stars, with her ten-year-old granddaughter for company.
A ball of light flashed through the sky. Doris smiled and sat back.
“I saw it! Did you see it? Gramma!! Did you see it?” Rosie turned to her grandma.
Gramma sat, eyes closed, at peace.
Writers contemplate the watcher’s next move. They craft the place and people involved. Peering from the woods, stories emerge. (Photo Credit: J. Madland)
August 9, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes an act of “peering from the woods.”
PART I (10-minutes)
Ed in the Woods by Charli Mills
Ed was peering at me again. I could feel his gaze crawl across my shoulders. Let me finish the chapter, Ed. The Legendary Leaphorn is in the arroyo. The tickle continues. I persevere, finish the chapter and set down Tony Hillerman’s latest southwest detective book.
Snagging a sip from my gin, tonic, and blueberries, I grab a fresh-husked corn.
Ed still peers at me from the edge of the woods. His ears twist like radar. Slowly I raise my offering. He hesitates, leans in and nibbles from my hand. The deer dashes off, leaving me to read in peace.
Into the Forest by Jack Schuyler
I peered into the woods and the woods peered back.
“Enter into my respite.” Said the woods. It spoke in tongues of wind and beckoned me with all the rhythms of the earth. “Walk beneath my shade, swim in my streams, eat of my harvest.”
“But mother told me no.” I replied, “She says beasts of night roam your shadows and sweet poisons wait beneath your trees.”
“All true,” growled the forest, “and you would do well to heed her advice. But if you stay in the shelter of the village, do not expect to share in my treasures.”
Mountain Lion by Heather Gonzalez
“Aren’t there mountain lions in these woods?” Samantha shivered as she pulled her sleeping back closer to her body.
“Stop worrying so much and just enjoy it.” Jack turned off the lantern and settled in.
Noises kept coming from beyond the clearing. Jack had fallen asleep and no amount of whispering for help would wake him. Samantha slowly unzipped the tent to peer out upon her fate. She saw the eyes peering from the woods and froze in fear. There was nowhere to run.
A soft meow came from behind the bushes.
“Some mountain lion you are.” she laughed.
Luminesce (from “Lynx Valley Biohabitat”) by Saifun Hassam
Valerie and Carmen tracked Luminesce to a tumbled mass of boulders and ledges. The bobcat’s den was hidden by tangled vines and woody shrubs.
Lynx Valley Biohabitat was a mix of woodlands and open scrub land. Tall grass grew along the Lissoire River. From the Rover, Valerie caught the glint of eyes peering from the woods.
Luminesce stole into the tall grass. A panicked rabbit shot out. Near the river, the red deer froze. With powerful strides, the bobcat pounced ferociously on the deer. She dragged it through the tall grass, to her waiting cubs at the woods’ edge.
Sad Cat Diary: Wildlife Edition by Robert Kirkendall
The mountain lion came up to the forest’s edge drawn by the scent of food. She peered from the woods at a flock of livestock in a nearby pasture.
One of those sheep could feed me and my little ones for a week, the mountain lion thought as she longed for the forbidden sustenance, but if I take one, the humans will come after me and kill me! I only want one, the lion moped, and they have so many, it isn’t fair.
The dejected feline slouched in defeat. Why must the humans be so cruel? she wondered piteously.
Lone Ranger by Nancy Brady
Going crazy, our cat saw something in the dark that she felt shouldn’t be in her territory. At first, I couldn’t see anything, but her night vision is better. But then I noticed the glint of dark eyes staring at us from the wildflower garden. A tangle of weeds and flowers blossom on the edge of the property, allowing for fauna hiding within, and on this night, the masked bandit was hiding inside.
Why the raccoon was there wasn’t apparent until the next day when we discovered our sweet corn was decimated, a tasty snack for a midnight marauder.
Watching Out for the Birdwatcher by Anne Goodwin
Birdseed on the fence post again. My heart skips. Who would dare feed animals when people starve? An ornithologist, that’s who. Another forbidden word.
Scrambling over the layers of barbed wire, I pick my way through a soggy carpet of mashed leaves into the shelter of the trees. Birds flit from branch to branch, their sweet song sweeping all worries from my mind. Then I hear it, smell it: someone’s stopped at the fence.
Peering from the woods, I must be dreaming. Whacko has a gentle side? Something to use against him the next time he brandishes his cane.
Possum by kate @ aroused
Polly swung through the forest
of large macadamia trees
drawn by the scent of ripened fruit
She spied a woolly alpaca herd
grazing contentedly with a horse
Buster watched on from a distance
But Polly was blinded by the sun soaked
fields as she was accustomed to the dark
yet the orchard beckoned heavy with fruit
She would have to wait until dark
to scamper across those open fields
to gorge on a gluttonous banquet
Alpacas and horse would by asleep
but Buster might be on alert
so she would need a sprinting spurt!
Polly’s long peep was fruitful!
Flash Fiction by Di @ pensitivity101
Here’s Looking at You.
Did you hear it? That gentle rustling in the leaves.
Did you see it? A quick flash of a white flagged rump.
Did you catch it? Yes, but only on film.
Did it see you? Most definitely, it was looking right at me.
I often wonder what animals think of us humans when they see us intruding on their domain. I am certain there are more creatures looking at us than we realise.
The woods are alive with insects, snakes, animals and birds.
It is their world, and we abuse it. In fact, we’re killing it with our pollution.
The Heat of the Day by Carol Keefer
The clearing in the forest was so bright, filled to the rim with hot sunlight suddenly free of trees to beam down and touch the earth with its heat. I had had enough of the sun’s heat and wanted only to observe this quiet, serene oasis from a point in the shade of trees so I peered from the woods. Suddenly, a black grizzly and a doe sprang from the trees on the other side. What could be pursuing them? They were running together. It was only a few minutes later when I smelled the smoke wafting towards me.
Fox Cub by JulesPaige
Seeming to be always at as well as on edge;
creeping closer just to see if it was safe. Like
her namesake, senses on high alert – always.
They had left her to fend for herself. Was there
a lesson to be learned? Distant from community,
yet wanting to be a part – included, but always
to some extent excluded.
They made up excuses for her lack of cooperation. Dim-witted, ignorant, lame; would limping be her way of life.
The forest had felt safer when the sun was out.
But there were predators everywhere. Perhaps
that was the lesson They taught?
The Fawn by Rosemary Carlson
She watched him when he was a fawn. Come summer, he grew spikes. A young buck. He was unafraid of her. He grew accustomed to her apples. He came to the porch and snatched the food from her hand. She grew to love him that winter. She was alone.
The next summer, he was a four-point buck. He came to the porch. She tried to make him go away, fearful he was too accustomed to people.
It’s been ten years. An old buck comes to the porch. He takes the apples. She knows by his eyes that it’s him.
Peering Through by Peregrine Arc
Mary stood in her bedroom, staring closely into the antique mirror hung on the peeling wallpaper. Music crackled on the radio from across the hallway.
An oil painting hung behind Mary of a lake and cabin scene at dusk. A man was smoking a glowing pipe patiently, peering from the woods. She could smell the smoke.
But every night, after Mary finally turned away from the mirror, the man vanished. The painting returned to normal, barren of any figures.
But the light was left on in the cabin tonight. And its front door was left open, quiet and inviting.
The Connection by D. Avery
“I can’t do this anymore.”
“What? The research? The constant camping it requires? Or…us?”
“All of it. I’m just done.”
“Ok. I’m sorry if this crazy venture made our relationship impossible. I’ll hike out with you. I’ve given up on ever finding Sasquatch. I’m done too.”
It wasn’t just his obsession with his work. She’d never felt a strong connection with him. She knew now that she could have more.
While he packed up the equipment, she hid the tufts of hair she’d found under a stone, brushed over a footprint.
Sasquatch peered from the woods, relieved and sad.
Knowing by D. Avery
They trudged to the logging road together, loaded the equipment into his truck, rode in silence to the general store where her car was parked.
“I guess he doesn’t exist”, he said to her as goodbye.
“I guess not”, she replied, and went into the store as he drove away.
Resupplied, she returned to where she had seen the signs and had felt Sasquatch’s presence. She was learning that finding Sasquatch doesn’t require any electronic equipment, only being fearless and open-hearted.
She smiled to find wildflowers left for her on a log, smiled that he’d known she’d be back.
Surprise! by Norah Colvin
She parked her car beside his and grabbed her bag. As she locked the car, she looked around. Where was he? He said he’d be watching for her. Cicadas buzzed louder than her footsteps crunched the gravel. A bird startled as it squawked and flapped overhead. Where was he? He must know she’d arrived. Even with the fairy lights, it was darker than she liked. Peering from the bushes, he willed her to be brave, to open the tent, to find what he’d made for her. Finally, tentatively, she pushed aside the flap. Her screams silenced the night chorus.
Feral Natives by Chelsea Owens
The small natives, unkempt and unruly, peer from a shadowed arch. They stop, keenly watching an inert female creature just ahead.
The first whispers, “What’s she doin’?”
His companion checks. “Nuffin’. Sleepin’, most like.”
Urrrrhaghaaah! She moans. They scamper back to shadow’s safety.
“Did she see ya?” The younger sucks a finger.
A quick peek. “Nah. I think she’s fakin’.”
One second later: “Now what’s she doin’?”
He looks again. “Rolled over.” He scowls. “-Wait! I saw a light. She’s got her phone!”
“She’s awake!” Excited, the younger boy grips his brother’s arm.
Drat, she says.
“Let’s get ‘er!”
Becoming Wild by Paula Moyer
February, 1966: Jean’s family did a suburbs-to-small-town move. Home was a two-bedroom rental at the edge of town. Behind the house, a woodsy spot. Jean was 13, Sam 11, Donny 9.
When summer came, that spot grew dark with leaves. Sam and Donny disappeared into it every morning after breakfast. They would grab lunch and vanish again. Jean ignored them, practiced the piano.
“Jean, go get the boys,” Mom called from the kitchen. “It’s supper time.”
Sounded easy. Jean stood at the trees’ edge. “Guys, supper!”
A Taste of Wisdom by Molly Stevens
Mary tapped a forbidden cylinder from the box. She couldn’t believe her good fortune, having found half a pack beside the road. She peered through the woods at her home, struck a match, and took her first drag.
I didn’t even cough. I knew I’d be good at this.
Later she shuffled home, wondering how to conceal her headache and nausea.
At the sound of the screen door, her mother said, “What have you been doing?”
“Does God give you what you want to teach you stuff?”
Her mother smelled cigarette smoke, observed her daughter’s pale countenance, and smiled.
Peering by Floridaborne
“You say you’ve never been camping before?” He asked, with a twinkle in his eye that I didn’t like.
I looked down at two sleeping bags thrown on top of ferns and bristled. “We don’t belong here.”
“Don’t worry about that rusty, no trespassing sign,” he scoffed.
“She told me we’ll die here tonight,” I replied, pointing at a deer peering out at me from the bush. “We’ll be thrown into a mass grave.”
He threw his sleeping bags into the back seat and we drove to the paved road in silence. Yet another relationship ruined by my gift.
Caught In The Act by Ritu Bhathal
“Well Annie, that was fun! We should make these meetings of ours interesting more often.”
Petey unzipped the front flap of his yellow tent, allowing for a slice of light to cut through the darkness of the forest.
He stepped out and stretched, post-coitally, opening his eyes to the beauty of nature.
What was that?
Peering from the woods, he swore he saw the face of his wife, Susan, eyes open wide in horror.
A rustling sound followed.
“Come back Petey honey, we’ve still got time.” Annie’s voice brought him back.
Petey feared his time was up.
Ready by The Dark Netizen
Cadet Billy peered from the woods.
Perseus’ bullet had missed. Medusa had spotted them. Things were not going well. This was his first field mission, and he already felt that he was out of place. These were not mere humans. What chance did he have of contributing at all? He could see Medusa approaching, almost gliding towards them. He began to feel numb. Was he turning into stone? No. This was fear. He watched as Perseus drew his heavy pistol drawn. Keynes caught Billy’s eye, and nodded at him. Billy could not let his mentor down.
Billy was ready.
PART II (10-minutes)
Devastation by Diana Nagai
Night fell over the property. A leather lead dangled useless in his hand. He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and he looked up. The firefighter shook her head. So, his horse had not been found.
“It’s time to evacuate.” She paused, then added, “Please.”
His heart constricted and he wiped a tear.
As he turned to the flames engulfing the barn and beyond, he could have sworn he saw eyes peering from the woods behind the fire line. God, he hoped so. He screamed a silent prayer. Run! The eyes disappeared. He never saw Diamond again.
Fawn Within Fawn by Late Night Girl
“Oh deer! No headlights this time; Just eye to eye”, I thought to myself when I encountered this beautiful beast unsuccessfully trying to camouflage as a tree. Its two-leaf ears gave it away! My green coat may have equally looked like food, too, but I actually was looking for some game, yet couldn’t bring myself to break it to the fawn, gun in hand!
What now?! We could both pretend neither is here or just hop on to the next best eatable opportunity down the food chain.
I leave it to the reader to decide what happened next.
Imagination – Another Strange Meeting by Gordon Le Pard
“Then they looked out of the wood – and saw dinosaurs!”
The novelist put the papers down. “A good way of ending the episode?”
The palaeontologist nodded, “Wonderful, what an imagination you have.”
“You too must have imagination, to create lost worlds out of fragments of bone.”
“But not like you.”
As he left he thought of the bones in his workshop. His imagination had created something very special, the Missing Link, but no one would realise it wasn’t real for many years, if ever.
His friend was just a great writer, however he was the greatest scientific hoaxer ever.
Dashing by Miriam Hurdle
Peering from the wood, something got its attention. It dashed across the road.
Thump, thump, thud!
“Oh, no. I didn’t see it coming.” Sid and Cindy jumped out of the car.
“The impact was forceful. It crushed the front of the car.”
“Is the deer okay?” Cindy looked at its head.
“Let’s wait. It’s trying to get up…”
“It’s limping across the road.”
“It went across okay… No, it flopped and lied still.”
“Do we want to go camping?”
“The engine suffered the impact. Let’s go home.”
* * *
“Our car took the last breath getting us home.”
Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard
‘You can’t see the woods for the trees, eh?’
‘That’s another stupid expression. All I was saying was I saw something in there.’
‘Seriously, it was alive.’
‘It could be that weirdo.’
‘Any specific weirdo?’
‘I’m going home.’
‘Don’t be a wuss, Morgan. Probably a deer.’
‘Or a lion.’
‘You know they say a tree makes no sound if there’s no one to hear it when it falls. Do you think you can see a lion if you’re not there when it appears?’
‘You’re a moron as well as a coward, Morgan.’
The Deadly Hunt by Anurag Bakhshi
Travis looked at the cute, round-as-buttons eyes peering at him through the woods, and smiled.
He had spent half his life searching for the Ringa-Tinga-Ling, the mythical oldest animal species in the world. Today, he and his cameraman had finally found him.
Still smiling, Travis raised his rifle, and took careful aim. His cameraman saw what he was doing, and shouted, “What the…” But before he could finish, Travis had fired.
And even before the cameraman had hit the ground, Travis took out his handgun, and shot himself.
The Ringa-Tinga-Ling looked on with his cute, round-as-button eyes, and smiled.
Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle
Going on a picnic was a treat for the family. Dad carefully cleared a circular patch in the undergrowth while the children collected rocks. Dad packed the rocks around the cleared patch to ensure that the fire he was building was well contained. Everyone was busy preparing for the fun of cooking their lunch sausages on sticks over the open fire.
“Where’s Hayley,” Mom asked.
She was nowhere to be seen. She must have slipped away while they were all working.
Sheila smiled with relief when she saw her peering from the small copse of trees nearby. Thank goodness.
Who’s Watching Julie by Oneta Hayes
Four-year-old Julie, intent on filling her basket with flowers, wandered from camp, unaware that eyes were peering from the woods. She walked deeper and deeper into the brush and trees. Julie – as sweet and innocent as Little Red Riding Hood going to her grandmother’s house.
Fortunately Julie’s Grandmother was not sick in bed; she was in the camp. Where’s Julie? She sounded the alarm and campers began the search. Aha! It wasn’t long before Grandmother herself found Julie. Neither was aware of the Wolf who slunk away without a sound except for the hungry growling of his stomach.
Pee(r)ing Through the Woods by Deborah Lee
Jane hunkers down in the foliage. Her knees already ache from the awkward stance. She checks her pants and shoes; both should be out of the splash zone.
Just as she relaxes her muscles, feels the stream start beneath her, of course that’s when she hears voices.
She’s been here for hours, hoping for someone who might buy a paper. Naturally, it’s not until she can’t hold it anymore, with the nearest public restroom an hour away, that anybody comes along.
Jane narrows her eyes, peering through the bushes. If she can’t see them, they can’t see her…right?
Flash Fiction by a story forms my mind
Startled. Her eyes snap open. The right side of her face and mouth pressed into wet pine needles. Above her the sky, barely visible through the dark canopy of spruce.
Her arm aches and somehow her dress has been torn. She unfurls herself from the forest floor, searches for her phone, her bag, anything that will explain why she is here.
The only sound, the creaking of trees as they move in a wind she cannot feel. She sees eyes peering brightly from the trees and hears the roar of traffic from the highway.
Then nothing but cold.
Those Two by Reena Saxena
All the persuasion by his friends failed to make him participate in a jungle picnic. He looked petrified, and his wife insisted that he be left alone. The friends decided to take him to a counsellor later.
Nobody realized that he was consumed by guilt. It was a crime committed in the first flush of youth. He finished college, found a job and married a beautiful girl.
But, those two eyes never stopped peering at him from the woods. Those two eyes spewed fire, and swore revenge. He did not know if those two eyes were dead or alive.
Silhouettes by Bill Engleson
At that time, the lake was more a swamp.
Stumps rose like rogue cannons, wooden effigies of flooded farmland.
We hiked the deer path that edged the water.
Eventually, we found a grassy knoll that afforded a cushion of comfort and privacy.
Our adolescent fumblings did not betray us.
Soft sun bathed my lover’s skin.
Still, something, real, imagined, concerned her.
“Are you sure we’re alone?” she whispered.
I was sure of very little then.
“Why?” I asked, looking into the nearby bush.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It just feels creepy.”
That did it.
We hightailed outta there.
Cache Only Memory Access by Deepa
I could feel Thomas hands intertwined in mine. I could hear him. He was telling me about the memories of our adventures. I am not sure how long I had been lying in the coma.
Thomas gently caressed my hands and peered into my eyes, “the auburn color of your hair reminded me of the woods, and now it shines like the snow. You ask me why I didn’t seek adventure over the years.”
How could I do it without you? We are partners in crime.
Thomas was an adventure freak. Tears trickled from my eyes.
Sanctuary by abhiray59
Deer calf was peering through the bush. It was looking curiously at the movement of humans down the trail. Other members of its family and friends were nearby having their daily feed of green grass. This calf was curious.
Sam raised his rifle to aim at the deer. “Don’t shoot. This is a sanctuary. Wild animals are expected to be safe here”, said Sid, a fellow hiker.
A leopard pounced on the calf. Curious calf was enamored with humans. It forgot about other lurking dangers in the sanctuary. After all, it was a sanctuary for the leopard too.
The Hollow by Kati MacArthur
It was a dim, dark forest. I stood on the edge, looking in at a large green fern, solitary in the darkened clearing, spotlighted by a single dusty beam of filtered verdant light. No crickets here, no birds. Just sunlight and darkness: cool, green, quiet.
I see these things when my serenity is threatened. They are images from the hollow where my friend goes to mourn her horse.
In times of strife, I remember this: melancholy sunshine with cool, green quiet a few steps away. Two separate worlds, one before me, one behind me. Which way do I turn?
From the Woods by Allison Maruska
I crawl through Darkness, the ever-present being, one I can’t touch but knows me completely.
Darkness wants to keep me here, in these woods, surrounded, lost. If I have no hope of escape, Darkness gets her wish. But if I find the way out, Darkness is powerless to stop me.
So I crawl, unsure of direction. I could be heading farther into her depths. But then, I see it: a light. It’s a pinpoint at first, but it gives me direction. And so I crawl.
Finally, I find Darkness’s edge, and peering out from the woods, I see hope.
Flash Fiction by Anita Dawes
About an hour into the woods, I thought I heard a sound. Just ahead of me, peering through the trees I could see 12 standing stones with a large stone table in the middle. I had never seen these before so I took dozens of photographs.
The air seemed to whisper with strange sounds, almost words I could not hear.
I reached home and downloaded them. My breath was taken by the sight of King Arthur and his knights. There had been no one there. Had my imagination imprinted these images, or was it my desire to be there?
Silence by oneletterup
She likes it here. How the breeze blows her hair as she swings. Back and forth.
The soft sweat pants protect the scabs on her legs.
“What’s your name?” the little boy keeps asking.
But she keeps shaking her head. Silent.
The little girl asks “Ya wanna swing with me?”
She smiles and nods.
In mid swing she sees it.
A flash of red. Movement.
In woods across the street.
Foot down scraping grass.
Swing slows. Jumps off. Stares hard.
Someone is peering at her from under a tree.
Turning around, she runs.
The little girl follows.
Unwelcome Guests by Susan Sleggs
“My Dad told me the new people in the fenced mansion belong to the Mob,” Rock said.
“I heard it was some rich old guy with a sexy young wife,” Dude answered.
Crazy, always needing excitement, suggested, “Let’s sneak through the woods to see what we can see by their pool.”
Shortly the rowdies peered around dense manicured bushes at scantily clad young beauties.
A body guard turned their direction saying loudly, “I can feel eyes on us.” He reached behind his back bringing a gun forward and fired a shot above their heads. “Next time I won’t miss!”
Fred’s Confession by Sherri Matthews
Fred peered out from behind the garden shed into the steely-eyed glare of Ethel through the kitchen window. He froze.
‘Hello my sweet, you look lovely today,’ Fred squirmed.
‘Get yer hairy arse back inside, now!’
Fred padded gingerly into the kitchen and gulped. ‘Ethel, me and Mavis…’ He caught his reflection in the mirror, distracting him from his confession. Funny, the dentist hadn’t mentioned how long and sharp his teeth had grown. And his hair, so grey…
‘Shut up yer gormless twit,’ Ethel fumed, ‘Mavis is a slut, but you…you’re a bleedin’ werewolf and it’s full moon tonight.’
The Lewis and Rebman Expedition by TN Kerr
Lewis increased his pace to catch up and have a word with Rebman, “I expect our way will be blocked when we round the next bend. Have you seen them?”
“Seen whom?” Rebman asked. He glanced about, now noticing flashes of bright crimson and deep indigo between the dense trees. He asked, “Who are they?”
“The locals here are autochthonous,” Lewis advised. “They claim to be descended from Lellages, the purported elder son of Belabub. Who, in turn was a Philistine god. The Hebrews called him Beelzebub, the Christians, called him Satan.”
“I believe so, Rebman? I believe so.”
The Target by Patrick O’Connor
Breathe in, Breathe out.
Breathe in, Breathe out.
Breathe in, Breathe out.
The wind is negligible.
No one would be able to see me from this perch as I peer from the forest.
I am a good mile away anyway.
Looking through the scope again.
Breathe in, Breathe out.
Don’t move at all.
Last check. I’m ready.
Big inhale. Slow exhale.
Squeezing the trigger until…
Three, Two, One.
Looking through the scope again.
Right on target.
That guy won’t be a problem anymore.
Lone Wolf to command.
On to the next target.
Outlast by Kerry E.B. Black
We’ve always lived in the woods. Of course, back in the day, woods stretched for acres. Now they’re confined to a small patch surrounded by manicured lawns and asphalt.
Few venture here. They linger along the outskirts and peer into the cool depths beneath the leafy canopy, as though they fear once they enter, they’ll never return to their civilization.
We wait here, sneering at their brash attempts to confine us. We bide our time.
Soon, they’ll become negligent groundskeepers, and with quiet tenacity, we’ll reclaim land, break through turf, swallow structures.
We will outlast, as always.
So They Say So by D. Avery
“G’day Pal. Where’s Kid?”
“Hmmph. I ain’t too sure. Still tentin’ I reckon. Complained last week about yeller tents and then takes off fer the woods totin’ one.”
“Look here, Pal, a note. It says, ‘See ya later Pal. Shorty says I am to appear in the woods.’ Seems Kid has misread the prompt again.”
“’Appears so Aussie. Dang!”
“What’s wrong, Pal? Kid does just fine in the woods.”
“Normally, yeah, but who knows what these ranch hands is gonna put inta the woods with this prompt. Why, they even say there’s a Bigfoot out and about.”
“Oh, I hope Kid doesn’t come across Bigfoot!”
“Me too, Aussie, poor Bigfoot doesn’t deserve that. Hey, do you feel like we’re bein’ watched or somethin’?”
“Yes, I do, Pal. Why, who is that peering from the woods there? Kid!”
“Aussie! Pal! I’m back.”
“We kin see that. Where ya bin?”
“I been appearin’ in woods all over. Went west. It was wild. Saw fossils an’ artsy facts an’ muse-icians.”
“You call that campin’?”
“Call it vacationin’. Guess who I spied peerin’ from the woods when I was tentin’?”
“Frannie Hooe. Least they say it was her.”
Writers stepped up to the challenge like queueing up for the circus. Some rogues found romance, some yearned for Yellowstone. The dialog, tension, and humor flows from the imaginations and shared memories of writers from around the world.
The following are based on the August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent.
PART I (10-minute read)
Boxing Up the Past by Heather Gonzalez
They say you can’t go home again. Lucy and Rick had to deal with what to do with their childhood home now that their parents were gone. Covered in cobwebs and memories, it was like stepping back in time to the 80s. Boxing up the past, Lucy came across a box of photographs.
“Hey, Rick! Come look at these!” Lucy held up a photo of them in their homemade fort as children.
Using a bright yellow sheet, they recreated their childhood. Under that tent, they felt young again, letting the loss of time melt away into the linoleum floor.
The Crawlspace by Bill Engleson
“Help me?” she pleads.
“Sure. With what?” I reluctantly query.
“The crawlspace…under the back porch. It’s a fire hazard.”
The world is ablaze, I think, and she’s worried about the dank confines of the porch.
“Okay,” I concede. “I’m too big to slither in there, though.”
“Fine,” she says, ticked. “I’ll slither in…hand the stuff to you.”
Delighted with my negotiating skills, I wait while she inches in.
“This is heavy…smells to high heaven.” She shoves out the old canvas tent, once khaki, now splotchy yellow.
“Full of sweet memories,” I opine.
“And fat spiders and mummified mice, sweetheart.”
The Yellow Tent by Anita Dawes
I have never been camping, nor slept in a tent
But I do know that yellow is the colour of magic.
Maybe I should try sleeping under a yellow canvas
To see where magic might take me.
To an enchanted forest with a babbling brook
Listening to the music made by flowing water
With fairy lanterns to light my way.
A castle where I might find my own Prince Charming
King Arthur and the Round Table
With Merlin by his side.
The golden chalice having been found
Back in its rightful place
Maybe there, I will find my happiness…
Yellow Tent by Reena Saxena
During a session in neuro-linguistic programming, she was asked to imagine the peak of happiness, and visualize being swathed in golden-yellow light. It was like a magic bulb she was supposed to switch on in depressing moments, to migrate to a different mindset. It seemed like quackery, then.
Fifteen years later, she had lost her husband and retired from work. There was not much left to live for. But she brightened up talking about events in her prime, during interactions with her old-age home inmates.
It was the yellow tent she sought shelter in, to protect her against misery.
Sunny Cindy by kate @ aroused
Most prefer to blend into the bush when camping but not Cindy. When searching for firewood she had a tendency to often wander off completely distracted by an insect or looking for rocks or flowers. Hence she found a bright yellow tent was much easier to spot from afar.
And let’s face it if there are other campers about they cannot wander into Cindy’s by mistake as it’s so distinct. Besides yellow suited her personality as she was a sunny type of lass always smiling and chatting to anyone with the time. Ready to help or listen whenever needed.
Yellow Tent by the Dark Netizen
“You know its a one in a million chance, right?”
The two were sitting in their yellow tent, entrance flap open, hoping for a shooting stars shower.
“You have said this before, Sammy. But, I really want to watch it.”
He wrapped his arms around her.
“I know that.”
She placed her head on his shoulders. And then it happened. Suddenly, the dark sky was filled with a stream of white stars. He held her tighter.
“For once, I am glad I was proven wrong.”
“It happened because we are one in a billion.”
“That we are.”
With Intent II by Norah Colvin
“I have to work.” She feigned disappointment.
“That’s okay. Come after work.”
“But I’m working late. It’ll be dark.”
“It’s well-lit all the way.”
“But I don’t know the way.”
“That’s okay.” He punched the address into her navigation device. “Just follow the directions.”
“How will I find you when I get there?”
“I’ll be watching for you.”
Conjuring no more excuses, she wasn’t yet ready to explain her attraction to him didn’t include camping.
Later, when entering the campgrounds, deserted but for one yellow tent lit by solar fairy lights spelling the words, “Marry me,” her fears melted.
The Sunshine Kid by Kay Kingsley
I emerged at dawn to a silence only those who have known solitude in the forrest long for. The sweet dampness of the morning burned the smell of warming Redwoods into my memory as I sat quietly by the fire perking coffee I drank from a tin cup.
The smoke rose into the forrest’s canopy as the fire pit crackled and popped and as peace settled in the sun broke free, cascading a kaleidoscope of light all around and from our yellow tent emerged my favorite person of all, my sunshine kid, beaming a smile from ear to ear.
Blonde Dreams? by JulesPaige
Yellow was the color of my true love’s hair
Never quite long enough to act as a tent
For me to hide in –
But with hugs and silent strength
(even when a very few times when
patience ran thin)
I’ve always had that haven…
Camping out in a yellow or any tent –
Not high on my radar.
However I hope that when we retire
We can travel in or out of country
(we’ve not yet been to all fifty states –
I’ve been to a few countries)
Maybe the hotel walls will be
White-washed yellow – and that will
No Vacation by Paula Moyer
Jean was 10 years old when she saw it in the catalogue: a bright yellow tent. It gleamed and beckoned. Oh, wouldn’t it be so marvelous – to live in that tent, with her family, on a vacation?
She sighed and dreamed.
“I’ve camped enough.” Her dad’s flat response woke her up.
Twenty years before: “the war.” Simple name.
Clarence, her dad, served in North Africa, Sicily, France. Like everyone else – “for the duration.” Three years in a khaki tent – no playful yellow.
“I’ve camped enough.”
Years later, in her own yellow tent, with her boyfriend, Jean swatted mosquitoes. Understood.
A Wretch Like Me by Sherri Matthews
‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…’
Will sang to his heart’s content, as tuneless as he cared to in his truck and no chiding from Pauline back home fixing dinner, no ma’am.
‘That saved a wretch like me…’
The radio cut dead and Will clamped the breaks. ‘Well, I’ll be damned…’ A tent as yellow as Pauline’s lemon pie covered Bud Wilson’s field and not a soul in sight.
Then he heard it again, but from the tent. He walked inside.
‘I once was lost, but now am found…’
Bud found Will’s body next morning, comforted by his smile.
The Birdcage Cover by Susan Sleggs
My sisters and I were gathered around an open trunk from our family home. Angelina took out a piece of yellow fabric that was shaped like a small Christmas tree skirt but only had a tiny hole and snaps along the open edge. I asked, “What’s that?”
Deanna said, “Do you remember the yellow canary we had when you were little?”
“Yeah, it sang when we ran water and louder when anyone whistled.”
“Mother made this from a tablecloth after Dad put the umpteenth cigarette burn it to cover its cage at night. I wonder why Mom kept it?”
Luxury Home by D. Avery
If you’ve ever sat and watched a mountaintop succumb to dusk’s misty cover; if you’ve sat long enough to see the fog reveal the mountaintop again but linger in the cuts and valleys; if witnessed a westward mountain reluctantly letting go its grip on the slanting sunlight that battled clouds all day, now trailing yellow rays, grasping at the underside of high branched leaves, streaking yellow ripples across the water, then you know. You’re just a poor camper, with all the riches that heaven and earth have to offer, the late evening sky the roof of your yellow tent.
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
Judy always loved the countryside drive. All that fresh air, the postcard views, the streams, the tattered American flags—some confederate ones too. She could almost hear the hymns of old spilling from the window-less clapboard church, its steeple at a tilt.
But the yellow tents were new.
Her breath caught. A camp, but nothing like she’d seen, with black and brown bodies, childrens’ hands grasping a gleaming chain link fence. Judy’s foot found the gas pedal.
Judy thought the scene belonged in Europe. In the news. Debated from podiums. Instead it was sitting between cornfields, confronting her scenery.
Before The Gold Rush by Liz Husebye Hartmann
We’d started loading at the dawning of the third moon. Triage overflowed after the fifth wave from the Kipstanian Crisis. We tried to get the word out to all survivors; transport off our doomed planet ended today.
There would be no more planet to doom.
Flashing a light in the evacuees’ eyes, I direct them to the three loading tents. Green equals “Go”, red “Stop”, and yellow “Caution.” The Kipstanian crisis made id-ing dangerous types easy. Red eyes never made it off the planet. Blue, Brown? Approved.
Then SHE came, one eye blue, one green.
I point. “Yellow tent.”
The Autumn Leaves by Kenzie Farrington
Autumn leaves wander aimlessly through the breeze
They’ll tell you stories of the trees, if you bother to listen
Hear them pass, hear them humm
Past the city streets they run
Past the children
Past the swings
Beyond the buildings–
To where the river sings
Listen, listen, watch them glow
Green, red, orange, yellow
They’ll bring you something–
Something familiar, but far away
You’ve seen it before
Sometime last May
You were lying in your yellow tent
You met the moon, and she was beautiful
And those autumn leaves made you cry
Because there, you knew you were alive
Yellow Tent by oneletterup
“Are you okay kid?”
The last thing she remembers is a truck door closing.
Then sleeping in this soft lap.
She struggles to open her eyes. So tired.
Where Am I?
“Kid! What’s your name? Who are you?”
She turns toward the voice. A kind voice.
A smooth hand covers hers. Gentle and warm.
Something in her untwists.
Tears escape, sliding down her face.
She feels herself lifted up. Hears a door opening.
She peeks. A blue house. Flowers. Swings.
A little girl. A little boy.
A little yellow tent; flap up. Toys inside.
“Ya wanna play?”
Solitude, Wait for Me (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam
The tide was out. Sand dollars were scattered across the wet sands. Diamante pitched his yellow tent near the broken wood fence, and walked along the deserted seashore. Solitude.
A yellow butterfly fluttered past him. Seagulls swept out to sea from the dunes. A dragon kite sprang into the skies, its tail a ribbon of yellow flags, its eyes glinting with multicolored sequins. Children’s laughter rang out on the warm sea breeze.
Diamante sighed. He loved butterflies and kites. He loved the villagers. And it was time to fix the broken fence. Solitude would have to wait another day.
Bright Yellow Tent by Teresa Grabs
“Let’s get you guys this one,” Lucy said, picking up a dome tent.
Amber and Gin moaned.
“Girls, the tickets alone were nearly a thousand dollars. I am not buying a top of the line tent for a music festival. Besides, how many people there will have a bright yellow tent?”
They knew she could still change her mind about letting them go and she had a point about the color of the tent. No one wanted a bright yellow tent. When they arrived and was blinded by sunlight lying on the ground they learned how wrong she was.
Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard
‘Logan, what are you doing?’
‘Trying… what a stupid idea to use this tent.’
‘Why? It’s fine…’
‘It’s so small I can’t even fart…’
‘That’s one blessing. Anyway, you’ve happily spent hours crushed with 100,000 strangers by the main stage, dancing to Metallica…’
‘I didn’t know them. I know you.’
‘Surely it’s the other way round?’
‘No… is that what I think is sticking in my leg?’
‘On the tube, if a stranger stinks, elbows me, I get off. Here, I’m stuck with you.’
‘I don’t smell. Do I?’
‘No Morgan. Are you sure that’s your elbow?’
PART II (10-minute read)
Big Yellow Tent by Sascha Darlington
Have you ever heard sunshine in laughter?
It was moments before I saw her, head tilted back, laughing up into the cerulean sky so free-spirited that I was charmed.
But then there was her big scary yellow tent.
“Hello,” I said, always great with words.
She grinned. “Hello, yourself.”
“What’s with the tent?”
“It’s my big yellow taxi.”
“Where’re you from?”
“Scotland. Ever heard of Joni Mitchell?”
I shook my head. Politician? Actress? Reality TV?
“One of the greatest singer/songwriters who ever existed.”
“My big yellow taxi takes me away.”
And, somehow, it took me too.
The Porch by Late Night Girl
Reinhold Messner sought the Heights
and found his Porch
No Mansion by the Beach
or Villa in the Hills
can bargain with him
for his little Yellow Tent
on top of the Peak
No incentive of a fake Sky
via a tasteless satellite dish
can pay him to observe
electronic stars and purple rain
sprinkle down upon his Summit
The Snow is his Sand
the Tent his Castle and
the Sky his Umbrella
to protect him from
a moderate Life
The Crisp Air is his Coffee
the Moon his Bread
and the Earth his Bed
Being Yellow by floridaborne
Two pictures sat on mom’s kitchen counter; my parents standing near a yellow tent, and a rich bitch wearing yellow standing next to my dad taken days after he’d abandoned mom for her when I turned one.
Mom and I lived in subsidized housing. I made straight A’s in school, had a free ride to the local state college, and mom died a month after I received my degree.
The doorbell rang. I opened it to stare into eyes just like mine.
“Go to hell. It’s yellow there, just like you,” I said, slamming the door in Dad’s face.
Sales Shopping for a New Dress by Anne Goodwin
“You don’t have it in a different colour?” Or a different shape? It could be fancy dress. Marvellous! they’d say. You’ve come as a tent.
“Not at this price,” says the assistant. “But yellow’s definitely your colour.” How does she know? Because of my sunny disposition or because I’m a coward? Or because this frock is taking up space she needs for the winter stock.
“I’ll take it.” If only to hang in my wardrobe along with several other outfits I haven’t the courage to wear. “On second thoughts … Snap off the sales tag! I’m wearing it home.”
Yellow Tent y Robbie Cheadle
“I bought us a two-man tent so we can go camping.”
“Really,” said Helen, “are you referring to the child-sized, yellow tent you just put up in the garden.”
“Yes, and it’s not child-sized, the man in the shop said it would sleep two people comfortably.”
“Does it have a bathroom and kitchenette?”
“No,” said Dave.
“Does it have wi-fi, air-conditioning and plugs for my laptop, iPad, iPhone and hairdryer.”
“You’re being ridiculous, of course it doesn’t have those things. It’s for camping. We’ll have a great time experiencing the great outdoors.”
“You mean you’ll have a great time.”
Cowardly, Chloe Goes Camping by JulesPaige
I knew I’d be a heel if I didn’t go camping with him. He said it was a time to heal, being in nature. He’ll provide everything he said.
I dreaded him coming down my lane. All night I
had lain stiffly prone trying to sleep in the comfort of my bed… I tried to dream up some excuse not to go. I couldn’t find any…
Maybe one night wouldn’t be so bad? We got to
the lake and he set up a yellow tent. He brought
an air cushion …
No indoor plumbing. I’d be peeing in a can.
Wanting to Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls
Danni unzipped her tent. Vapors rose from the creek where it meandered smooth and flat across a meadow dotted with daisies. The sun cast colors across the eastern horizon of sharp mountains. She checked each boot, a habit from growing up in Nevada where scorpions liked to take refuge in a cozy shoe. The feel of laced boots gave her confidence to face the day. The volunteers would soon be arriving to camp. Ike had always teased her about how bright yellow her tent was – “Astronauts in space can spot it.” Today, she wished she had his camo tent.
Yellow Tent for Sale by Peregrine Arc
“Yellow tent for sale, never used. Complete with stakes and poles. Good for camping trips. $99, OBO. Sleeps four comfortably. Inquiries at…”
I squinted at the ad as I picked up the phone. Files littered my desk. Paper clipped photos of children stared back at me vacantly.
“Hello? I’m interested in the tent. Would $70 do? Great, I’ll pick it up today. Cash only–I understand.”
I grabbed my keys and stuck my head into my boss’ office.
“Got another tent for a family. Be back in ten.”
Misunderstanding by Kerry E.B. Black
They pitched their tent at the top of the hill, its brilliant golden canvas welcoming as the sun.
A hundred other campers went about their lives at the hill’s base. They lit fires and toasted marshmallows, roasted hot dogs, and gossiped around the flickering flames. “Why’d they build their tent atop the hill? Do they think they’re better than us?” “Yellow’s an ostentatious color. Why not pitch blue or grey tents like ours?” “We distrust them.”
Atop the hill, they hoped for visitors. They baked scones, percolated coffee, and fried platters of bacon and eggs to share.
At the Midway by D. Avery
It was a yellow tent, not well placed in the carnival midway, but its owner sang out to prospective customers, enticing them to come closer, come curious, come in.
*Come in, come in, all will be revealed
Lived well, or sinned, come see how you’ll be dealed.
Step through the yellow tent
See how your end of days are spent.*
Most went in just for a lark, laughing.
Some came out beaming, said the tent had the buttercup color of sunshine summer days. Others came out shaken, said the tent was sulfur colored, reminded them of lightning, striking close.
The Fortune Giver by D. Avery
Also on the midway, an exotic red haired Portuguese gypsy woman spun fortunes from words. Her tent was unmistakably the color of sunshine, which drew people eager to spend their 99 cents for the gift of story. In every story the gypsy spun, they heard their own story and left emboldened enough to tell their stories themselves. This yellow tent buzzed and hummed with story as more and more people came to hear and to tell. The gypsy woman glowed, basking in her good fortune, measured not in the 99 cents, but the 99 word stories of her community.
A Cold Night by Anurag Bakhshi
It was a cold night, and my teeth were chattering as I made my way towards the yellow tent in the middle of the desert.
There was a feeling of warmth emanating from inside the tent that seemed to be calling out to me.
I peeped in through a small hole, and saw a girl, alone.
Unable to resist any longer, I rushed into the tent…and fell right into a boiling cauldron.
And the last words I heard before I lost consciousness were, “Aah, rattlesnake soup will be just perfect to keep me warm on this brutally cold night.”
For All In Tents and Purposes by Nancy Brady
The truck pulled up and parked on the side of the road. The two men climbed out of the truck. Arrayed in green shirts, khaki pants, boots, and a utility belt to rival Batman’s, they attached their belts and shimmied up the telephone pole.
With the sky looking overcast, the men put up a little safety yellow tent on the telephone line. Looking more like a tiny house than a typical pup tent, it hung there fifty feet above the street. It sheltered the two men as they worked furiously to fix the phone lines before the storm hit.
The World Through Prismatic Glasses by Chelsea Owens
“When I grow up,”
From too-tall counters, unfair portions, summer bedtimes.
When I grow up,
For friends, a car, no one ever telling me, “No.”
When I grow up,
Promises will be kept, rules followed; the world blacks and whites.
Crumb-filled countertops, imperfect pieces, little sleep.
For friends, fewer expenses, parents’ good advice.
People are human, rules bend; the world….
I take a crayon and draw my mind:
And a yellow tent,
Glowing from within.
Not What She Had in Mind by Molly Stevens — Shallow Reflections
“What are you watching?” asked Chester.
“The Travel Channel,” said Ruth. “Don’t you wish we could drive an RV across the country? There is so much to do and see.”
“I’m pretty happy right here,” said Chester scratching his ample belly.
But he saw the wistful look in Ruth’s eyes.
“I’m going to run into town,” he said.
When he returned, he was as radiant as a cloudless July sky.
“This is going to be our home at Park’s Pond campground up the road in Clifton,” he announced.
“Oh, Chester, I was longing for Yellowstone, not a yellow tent!”
Yellow Tent by Frank Hubeny
Perhaps it was the sunshine yellow that attracted the bear or the food or curiosity. Bill had a camper over his Ford pickup truck, but he could not stand up in it and so he bought the tent.
He thinned naturally grown trees on clear-cut paper company land. This kept him alone in the woods for a week at a time or until the project finished.
He thought the tent was perfect until the bear came. It pushed its nose into the fabric deeply breathing. Bill swatted it and it ran off.
After that they left each other alone.
Yellow Tent by Miriam Hurdle
“How was your sleep last night?”
“Awful. I’m not the camping type. My back hurts.”
“You slept in a cot. Didn’t it help?”
“It’s just the idea of not having walls around that gave me a nightmare.”
“The tent is our wall.”
“But that yellow color is so light that I could see the moonlight.”
“That should be soothing and relaxing.”
“But, but… it’s like transparent. I felt like sleeping in the open air. I heard growling and saw a bear chasing me.”
“The bear didn’t chase you. We had a bear visit and stole our food last night.”
Thin Layer of Bravado by Oneta Hayes
Our traditional Kidz Kamp was marked by tent colors: blue for boys, red for girls. Mine, as Counselor, was yellow. I said it meant “courageous” and the young children believed me. Bigger kids would catch on right away. It stands for “coward.”
That was not always so. “Just give me a flashlight and let me at ‘um,” was my motto. I was an owl-chasing specialist. Until the “spider” incident. I screamed. The kids came running to offer their help. Betsy stepped on the spider – barefooted.
Those kids have grown; the story is dead. But it sticks with me. Coward.
A Beatle’s Wasteland by Late Night Girl
‘How did I get myself into this mess?!’ he thought while trying to find beauty in his surroundings, with freeze burn on his toes.
His mind was frozen from the cold. And in this solitude all he managed to do was to hum a tune to try and stay awake.
All that came to mind in this ironic turn of events was a song he used to sing with his friends under a starry night around the camp fire:
“We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow sub…mmaa….riiinee…”
And then he dosed off into the stars.
Lovers by Patrick O’Connor
Strolling through the woods on a hot summer afternoon.
We’d been three days in the forest, looking for a place to camp for the night.
Coming to a small clearing, we noticed a tent.
It wasn’t really much of a tent. More like a lean-to.
Looking closer at the material, it looked like a tarp that was once green but now a dirty, faded yellowish, grey.
Walking around the front, we got the shock of our life.
Inside the lean-to? Two skeletons. Obvious lovers, cuddled together.
They must have been there for years.
A sad ending to two lives.
Watching From Above, Waiting by TN Kerr
peering through his scope at the landscape below
an encampment, an encampment of one
that almost went unnoticed.
a flax coloured tent with a muted hue, sombre. quietly
blending into the background,
a cold camp, no fire and the only sign of life is a yellow dog
stretched out and still
near an assortment of gear, stacked to one side
it has to be him
it must be Munroe
nothing to do now except stand by,
Munroe will be back.
a disturbance from behind, then a voice, whispers,
“Hullo, Sutherland. What took you so long?”
Yellow Light District by Ritu Bhathal
A rustling noise caught my attention.
I trudged through the forest, kicking up the leaves, trying to trace the source of the sound.
A glow emanated from a clearing up ahead.
As I got closer I saw the glow came from the inside of a yellow tent.
It was a hastily erected contraption, and accompanying the rustles were giggles.
The light created shadows.
There were definitely two.
The giggles became moans.
The shadows moved slowly, the moans became more intense.
I turned around, embarrassed to be there, until I heard “Oh Petey!”
That was my husband’s name…
Tent Tense by D. Avery
“Huh? Oh, hey Pal. Jeez… Yellow tents… ”
“You seem a might tense, Kid. Maybe a might yeller too. Just go where the prompt leads, don’t be afraid.”
“I ain’t afraid, Pal, in fact I prefer ta sleep out under the stars, no tent at all.”
“Don’t Kid, ‘cause I’m afraid I’ll have ta listen ta yer complainin’ ‘bout skeeter bites.”
“Hmmph. Pal, why is Shorty’s tent yeller?”
“It ain’t yeller. It’s transparent.”
“Yep. The midnight oil she burns makes it ‘pear yeller. Claims it’s like sunshine.”
“I prefer moonshine.”
“Jist go ta yer tent Kid.”
Such was the task for writers who penned stories about the stranded suitcase. Read on to discover what a stranded suitcase can hold.
The following is based on the July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase.
PART I (10-minute read)
Persephone by Jan Malique
Everyone thought they knew the true facts of her abduction by Hades. Only Hekate knew, and she vowed to keep the secret to herself. The Hidden One assisted in every way possible to enable the sacred rite to reach its conclusion
Persephone went as a willing sacrifice, carrying the symbol of her death and rebirth, the pomegranate. It was safely packed in a well used suitcase. her favourite. It took days to reach the mouth of the Underworld. Dark days.
The pomegranate was taken out and offered to Hades who stood at the entrance. The suitcase was left behind.
Three Sisters by D. Avery
Three sisters came upon a worn suitcase in their path.
“Unattended baggage!” the first cried.
“Abandoned,” lamented the second.
“Lost,” declared the third.
The first sister would not go near the suitcase.
The second sister found the suitcase too heavy to move.
The third sister found that she could manage the suitcase.
All three sisters gathered round to peer inside.
The first sister saw fear.
The second sister saw worry.
The third sister saw hopes, dreams and wishes.
She left the wishes. She took hope and her best dreams. Continuing their journey, her steps were lighter and more certain.
Suitcase by Anita Dawes
To some people, I am a simple suitcase, something to put your belongings in to travel.
I am lost and Sally cannot find me.
I have been in the dark hole of a plane, dropped from the cargo hold and left on the tarmac.
You would think my bright yellow colour would help unite me with my owner, but rain or shine, no one sees me. Sally waits for me to be found, to be reunited.
You see, I am her good luck charm, Sally will not travel without me.
Has my luck run out, will Sally find me…?
Luggage by floridaborne
My daughter laughs at an abused green suitcase. “I remember that thing!”
“You used it for a summer in Morocco. I trusted you…”
“I know, I know,” she chuckles at me. “You kept it in pristine condition and I returned it all beat up without the wheels, BlahBlahBlah… Why won’t you throw it away?”
“Together, we explored the world. I had a career… a life. I met your father…”
“Then you had me, so it’s all good!”
What if I’d told him no?
Like this dusty attic, I hold the memories of a lifetime no one understands.
Life in a Nutshell by Deepa
There lies a suitcase deserted on the tracks of life.
On the top left corner rudiments of past are carefully lined at the bottom only to be taken out when there is a need.
The hidden secrets hide underneath the lustrous covers zipped tightly not to be stripped and found by anyone.
There are also some catastrophes packed into an airtight bag isolated from the colorful facades that occupy the most space.
Isn’t the world too big to be carried into this small suitcase?
The Suit Case by Patrick O’Connor
“Has the jury reached a verdict?” asked the Judge.
“We have your honor.” replied the jurist.
“Please state the verdict.” followed the judge.
“We find the defendant, Maxwell Suit, on the sole count of fraud, guilty as charged.”
A shocking gasp came across those in the gallery.
Maxwell stood there, dumbfounded. How could anyone reasonably find him guilty?
Maxwell Suit, once a highly respected CEO would surely go down in history as a disgrace.
“Order! I’ll have order!” barked the judge.
“The defendant is hereby sentenced to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1.5M. Court’s adjourned.”
Abandoned Case by kate @ aroused
The suitcase lay abandoned on the line … would the owner have less clothes at the other end? Had staff been incompetent when loading the baggage? Or had someone tossed it off to be retrieved later?
In 1939 nobody considered bombs or sabotage. Odd things happened in times of war and extreme poverty.
People noticed the case but speculation was preferred as nobody approached it. Reluctance to get involved held them back. Everyone thought the other should investigate the contents yet nobody touched it!
What was in that suitcase and who had lost it … mystery and intrigue prevailed!
The Suitcase by Shreya Punjabi
Since his childhood, the suitcase had been scared of the dark. He had traveled the world, but hotel rooms are comfortable in the dark. The only ghost he met was reasonably friendly.
When the suitcase fell out a train, he panicked. The wind was cold, the tunnel in front of him looked like it would never end. The sun was setting slowly, like it would never stop.
But it did.
There was nothing but the dark.
He heard the familiar horn of a train. The tunnel exploded with comforting light that came closer by the second. The suitcase smiled.
Unopened by Jack Schuyler
I saw the old man down the street in the paper this morning. His obituary was short and assured me he’d left nobody to mourn his absence. I visited his abandoned hermitage on my walk today, either out of curiosity or respect for the forgotten, I don’t know which. I opened the door, stepped inside, and was met with the relics of a lonely past. There were torn doilies, stained armchairs, an astrolabe, and a hundred letters spilling out of an old suitcase. I picked one up. It was light and pale, sealed with a kiss, and never opened.
The Case by The Late Night Girl
This is the case of a man who walks the tracks, burdened with a bundle that life over time has loaded on his shoulders. He loves the stillness and the protective feel of the walls.
He carries his suitcase and the load on his shoulders as he reaches the threshold of a tunnel, not the light at the end of the tunnel, but the darkness at the end of his life.
He leaves his case on the tracks as he doesn’t need it anymore and walks into the tunnel. This is the case of a man who once lived.
A Case of the Unexpected by Norah Colvin
“I wonder what’s inside,” said Jamie.
“D’ya think we should open it?” Nicky asked.
They looked around. No one anywhere.
Jamie shrugged. “I guess.”
“Looks old,” said Nicky.
“Probably been here for years.”
The rusty catches were unyielding.
“Might be locked,” said Nicky, hopefully.
“Let’s see,” said Jamie.
They pried with sticks, battered with stones and willed with all their might. When the catches finally snapped open, they hesitated.
“Go on,” said Nicky.
“Okay. One, two, three … open!”
The children’s eyes widened.
“What is it?” asked Nicky.
“Dunno,” said Jamie. “Looks like …”
Keeping Secrets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Anabelle found the suitcase in the hayloft, upright as if ready to travel. She didn’t see the slim shadow of a boy slip out through the stalls below. She grabbed it and ran to the farmhouse where her uncle was frying supper.
“Uncle Henry! Look what I found.”
“That’s Grandma Mary’s old medicine bag.”
“It’s a suitcase.”
“It’s what she used to tend to the Ottawa. Been missing for thirty years.”
“It was in the hayloft, plain as day.”
“I’ll be. Someone brought it back.”
Annabelle open the latches. A single sketching of Cobb McCanles drifted to the floor.
Unfaithfully Yours by Anurag Bakhshi
Running away together had not been an easy decision, but they didn’t have a choice. His wife had started suspecting them, and their life could be destroyed any day now.
But right now, he was waiting for her, alone, with the suitcase. Maybe she too had abandoned him, left him stranded, like that suitcase.
His eyes teared up as his thoughts turned dark with despair. But then, someone patted him on the back. He turned swiftly.
“Let’s go,” she said breezily, “Hope you’ve checked the suitcase again. All the money from our last robbery is in there, right Dad?”
Chaste Case by kate @ aroused
The old bus with no windows slowly wound it’s way up the twisty steep Himalayan road with barely enough space for traffic to pass. The journey was hot, dusty and arduous.
Our luggage had been tossed up with the market produce and locals who all rode on the roof. Well aware that we were overloaded and listing didn’t instil confidence.
Watching in disbelief I saw my suitcase fall from above to tumble down the mountainside. So I had no choice but to disembark and follow the windy road back to where I could see my case laying far below.
My Denied Destiny by Roger Shipp
My heart is lightened remembering the first time I had pulled this old thing from our attic. Its ebony wool was frayed and one of its brass corners had been removed. It had be Great-Aunt Gertrude’s carry-on for her train-ride to the West.
For me, it was my get-away bag. My denied destiny… the rodeo.
Girls weren’t to climb trees, bust horses, or chew…. according to Father. But I was better than brother at all three.
I was packed and gone – three whole hours- when Grandpa found me headed toward Tulsa.
But I never did unpack it.
Quantanelle: Stranded in Space by Saifun Hassam
The stranded suitcase glowered at the receding spaceship flying through the wormhole. Andromeda Alice was so excited about finding the Looking Glass, she jumped and forgot to activate the suitcase. But Quantanelle was no ordinary suitcase: she was an automaton, and that suitcase was a brain that worked at lightning speed.
Quantanelle was not one to sit and mope. She was a suitcase who had traveled vast interstellar spaces. She measured her existing activation energies.
The nearest spaceport was on the planet “Carrot Ranch”. Quantanelle beamed an SOS with her co-ordinates. She would follow Alice on the next spaceship.
The Suitcase by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer
The suitcase lay in the weeds at the side of the tracks. Today, the mischievous brownie had been discovered and tossed away like yesterday’s newspaper.
The satchel scrutinized the desolate landscape. The brownie, a shapeshifter who could change into a suitcase to mingle with the humans, waited. Someone would come along. They always did.
“Well, I’ll be darned,” the old man said. “Look Ethel. Isn’t that the bag you saw in the general store?”
“It is. You said we couldn’t afford it,” she pouted.
“Well, you can afford it now.”
The valise grinned. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.
Rose’s Suitcase by Nanct Brady
Rose packed her bag as she was told. Underwear, socks, dresses, and, of course, her teddy bear Samuel, who knew everything. Sam listened, comforted, and kept secrets. Samuel was her best friend.
Her parents and Rose walked to the train station; she carried her whole world in that suitcase.
The men made Rose put her suitcase with the others. “They’ll be on the train,” they said, herding everyone into train cars.
As the train pulled away; Rose saw all the suitcases still on the platform. Her little suitcase was dumped, contents rifled, and the bear tossed onto the bonfire.
The Respite Suitcase by oneletterup
She is so very tired. Of walking and walking.
The sun blinding as she emerges from the woods.
Dirty. Legs scratched. Cotton dress torn.
Cars roar by. A motorcycle backfires.
She jumps, turning to go back.
Then she sees it. It looks kind of familiar.
Grimy and gouged, its rusty metal corners bent in.
An old suitcase stranded in the brush.
She stumbles over to it, considering.
“I’ll just rest here for now. It’s okay.”
She cleans a spot for sitting, picking off dead leaves.
Carefully lowering herself down, she sighs; eyelids closing.
As a truck pulls over. Unnoticed.
Matty Resists the Call by Ann Goodwin
Clark Gable is pinning a red rosette on the bodice of her second-hand dress when the maid shakes her none too gently by the shoulder. “I wasn’t asleep,” she lies. On the parquet beside her feet sits a battered brown suitcase. “Are you leaving us, dear?”
“No, but you are, they’ll be here any minute to escort you to Tuke House.”
“Tuke House?” Matty knows of the Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall. She knows of the Folies Bergère, despite its salacious reputation. She has never heard of Tuke.
“Thank you, dear, but the current arrangements are perfectly acceptable.”
No Child Left Behind by Kerry E.B. Black
Melanie studied her students as they completed their exams. Threadbare clothing revealed malnourished limbs. Although clean, the children sniffled and coughed. Melanie bet most hadn’t visited a doctor in several years.
Poverty stunk of limited opportunities and unfair challenges. Concentration waned when stomachs growled. While choosing how to spend a small income, most opted for food and heat rather than school supplies. Melanie provided some for the kids, or they’d be without.
She’d experienced difficulties in her life, certainly, but they paled when compared to her charges’ life-threatening situations.
She’d give them skills to help them negotiate life’s perils.
PART II (10-minute read)
Takin’ It Easy by Liz Husebye Hartmann
I bin standing on this corner in Winslow Arizona since she tossed me out. Well…me, a half dozen t-shirts, some ragged jeans…
The wind blew them sideways –not so far as his nasty boxers, but not hard and vertical, like his Gameboy.
She’d smelled Lulabelle on him late last night. He left for work. She began hers. ‘Cept she treated me gently, even cried a little when she put me out here. I’d been his grampa’s suitcase.
And now, Lord! She drives up in her flatbed Ford.
She slows down, stops. I see she’s looking at me…smiling.
Recycled by JulesPaige
I am and will always be a ‘valise’. Of a rare heritage. Vintage large blue marble Samsonite.
I held the young wife’s Trousseau – and was passed on for her daughter to use. Though I am heavy, I held all of that little girls things as she was bounced around to different locations.
Until finally I was filled up with old things – Not as old as I. And donated to charity… After all age took its toll, my seams were coming undone and my lining frayed.
I am in an old house again. Filled with blankets, for a Mother cat.
Message in a …… Suitcase?? by Rosemary Carlson
It was twenty years ago. I was shopping the antique stores looking for unique things to furnish my house. In one store, hidden in a corner, was a leather suitcase. An old one with straps around it. I pulled it out and decided I loved it.
As I was cleaning it up, I felt a bump and heard a crunch under the inside liner. I worked the one-page note out the edge of the liner. Dated 1945, it said, “Meet me by the hickory tree. If you aren’t there, I’ll know you didn’t mean it.” It was a man’s writing.
You Can’t Be Too Careful by Geoff Le Pard
‘I know what it is…’
‘Why’d you ask?’
‘What are you doing with it.’
‘She asked me to watch it.’
‘The woman who asked me.’
‘Are you nuts. It might be a bomb.’
‘She looked nice.’
‘Or a body…’
‘Or laundered money…’
‘Though her shoes seemed ill-fitting…’
‘You know, like she got them cheap…’
‘And wouldn’t admit she’d made a mistake…’
‘A mobile crystal meth lab…’
‘And it was too late to take them back…’
‘Blood diamonds… ill-fitting shoes?’
‘She’ll have a latte.’
Missing Luggage by Robbie Cheadle
The luggage conveyor belt went around and around. I felt dizzy watching the same bags come into view and then disappear. None of them were ours. Mom’s face flushed red. Her agitation at the missing bags grew by the second. Willy tried to climb onto the conveyor belt and Mom grabbed him by the scruff of his neck.
The crowds of people claiming baggage thinned and soon we were the only ones left.
The empty conveyor belt stated the facts. Our luggage was missing. Dad sighed. “We’ll have to go to missing baggage,” he said.
“Oh no, more waiting.”
Abandoned Fountain of Youth by Paula Moyer
Be alert to unattended items. We learn this now. But here is a suitcase at the St. Paul Amtrak Station, the new Union Station with its vintage look. Made to look old. And there’s the train – headed points west, so far from the suitcase now. The night train.
The Amtrak employee removes it. The dog sniffs. The security guy opens with tongs and finds … curlers, cosmetics, anti-aging cream. Calls the number on the tag.
The train station tries to look old. The sleepy lady answering? She was peeling away the evidence, but left her accomplice on the track.
Stranded Suitcase by Miriam Hurdle
“The passengers picked up their suitcases. The one went around in the carousel is not mine.”
“The dark green color and the size look like yours.”
“Mine has a red and green stripe.”
“Let’s go to the customer services.”
“I couldn’t find my suitcase. This one has men’s clothes.”
“Let me check… Have a seat.”
“I need things when we get to the hotel.”
“Excuse me, Madam. A passenger has mistaken your suitcase as his. He lives two hours away and is driving home. We’ll exchange them and deliver to your hotel.”
“Oh, well… at least it’s found.”
Worrying Too Much by Reena Saxena
I wondered, or rather worried aloud why the train stopped between stations.
It was a bomb scare. All rail movement on the tracks was brought to a halt till a detection squad arrived. The sniffer dog ran towards the suitcase, as if eager to meet a long-lost friend. He sniffed and sniffed, and moved all around it. A team member in full armor came forward to open the dreadful case.
The dog stepped forward to partake of the feast, as dog biscuits tumbled out. Did somebody leave it for him, to deflect attention?
Maybe I was worrying too much.
The Suitcase by Michael Grogan
The calls for the next flight were met with mass movement. Beside us sat a black suitcase. We waited for the traveller to return but the longer it sat there all alone, the more on edge we became.
My sister alerted the airport security and immediate there was a clearing of the area. We were questioned to make sure it was not ours.
Within minutes the area was cordoned off, security barriers erected and everyone moved back. Then there was an explosion, and the suitcase was no more.
We often wondered if the man returned to retrieve his underwear.
In Brief by Sascha Darlington
“There’re two ways to approach this,” Joe says.
Emily shakes her head. “Nope. One. We got to make sure it’s not a bomb. Protocol, Joe, protocol.”
Joe presses his lips together. Thirty years ago, they would have checked to see who the suitcase belonged to. Now they got to check for a bomb. Who’d want to blow up the train station in Tuttle, a town without even a traffic light to its name?
He nods at Emily. “Do what you must.”
That’s how they end up with a blown-up suitcase full of $20 bills and a pissed-off FBI agent.
Other Peoples Stuff! by Bill Engleson
You see it often on country roads, goods left out at the top of driveways.
Sometimes there is a sign.
I scored a nice office chair that way, once.
Well, it had a wobble.
But so did I.
Today, someone’s put out a non-descript hard suitcase, popular back in the day.
It is pale green.
My parents once told me about Jack Graham who blew up a plane with his mother and forty-three others back in ’55.
He put a bomb in her suitcase.
Their advice: “Always pack your own suitcase.”
These are great words to live by.
Perdu and Dod o Hyd by Chelsea Owens
Henri couldn’t believe his luck, stranded at Aberystwyth with only the clothes on his back.
“Don’t worry; you’ll only need your carry-on,” his wife had said. “You can even put your wallet and passport in there.”
He stared up at the station timetable, trying to make sense of the ridiculously long Welsh words, and sighed.
Gwilym, meanwhile, couldn’t believe his luck. As a pickpocket, he needed to be careful working the stations; and yet, he’d not lifted a single wallet for today’s find.
Once outside the Hereford station, he opened the battered suitcase. “Henri, eh? Merci, mon ami.”
Possession by Di @ pensitivity101
No more could he take the tormenting dictatorship of his life, the personal sleights, the ridicule.
He packed everything into a battered old suitcase. There was no connection to him and he could walk away.
The train was due in five minutes. This place was perfect and deserted when he tossed the case off the bridge, ignoring the voice from within screaming
‘Let me out! Let me out!’
The train smashed the case into a thousand pieces, the dummy inside with it.
The head landed at his feet, and the sinister smile said it all.
He’d never be free.
Suitcase by The Dark Netizen
The suitcase lay abandoned on the forsaken track.
The reason why this railroad was deserted and operations were abandoned was because people feared the cursed area. Anyone who ventured out on the track, would never return. Entire trains had disappeared, simply vanishing into thin air. People believed the abandoned suitcase was the only remaining sign of some poor soul who had joined the ranks of the missing people. However, there always remained some foolhardy bravehearts who would go looking for the suitcase.
They did not know that the suitcase had been placed there, by those living in the tunnel.
A Bereft Duffle by Susan Sleggs
My son returned from the war in person, but his mind never did. It took me years to understand why he refused to take off that dirty field jacket. I would beg him not to wear it. I even hid it once when he was in the shower and I don’t want to tell you the fight we had before I gave it back and he stormed out of the house to walk the streets, his mind encumbered with the scenes of war. The day I found him hanging, the coat was folded neatly on his full duffle bag.
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
They played Three Little Birds at the funeral. Close enough I suppose. Time’s up and my suitcase is full. Not like most of us get a choice, anyway. Though my baggage is spare. stranded memories of work, tuna salad, regret, the real stuff I packed away for safekeeping. My first love’s smile. The kids. That dawn with Dad in the wet grass and the big moon. But you’d be surprised at what lingers for eternity. Mom’s death. The hot lash of her slap on my cheek. Lower back pain. The pulse of summer in the woods. Every little thing…
The Chase by Late Night Girl
In the stillness, a sudden noise from the horns of a train erupted in the tunnel, followed by a blinding light. Out came the man running for his life. About 20 meters into the tunnel he had second thoughts that were immediately confirmed by an oncoming train chasing the man back out of the tunnel.
But his case was gone already, while his life was found again. Exhausted, he sat by the side of the tracks, feeling the guilt of almost having involved an innocent train driver into an involuntary act. New hope and the chase for life begun.
Suitcase of Hope by Ritu Bhathal
Opening the bedroom door, the first thing I saw was the abandoned suitcase, open on the bed. Half packed, it had been left, bereft at not being full, zipped up, and off on another adventure.
I walked over, closed the lid, fastened it and placed it to one side. “Don’t worry, he’ll be better soon, then you can both go on your travels, with no worries at all.”
Pops appeared by my side, having taken a few moments longer to climb the stairs than me.
“It’s okay Pops, rest up. I’ll pack your case when the time is right.”
Waiting For The Right Train by Teresa Grabs
“There’s rumors of this line,” the old man said, “they say all those lost eventually find their way home.”
“Nonsense!” Charlie knew this line. Who was this old tramp to tell him of this line — his line? “Been here over thirty years and never heard anything of the sort.”
“I would sure love to go home. Go all the way back to Ma, the farm, to Lucy. Back to the day I made the wrong decision.”
A suitcase fell from a train crossing the bridge overhead landing gently in the old man’s lap. He opened it and went home.
Good Measure by D. Avery
“What’s in that case, Kid?”
“Hee hee, wouldn’tcha like ta know?”
“Yep, that’s why I asked ya. So?”
“Ha! No. What’re ya wishin’ fer it ta be, Pal?”
“I dunno, I jist wondered is all.”
“Are ya worried ‘bout the contents, Pal?”
“Knowin’ you, yeah, a little.”
“Well Pal, I’ll tell ya, some say what’s in here is a treasure. The key ta yer success even.”
“My success? Kid, what in tarnation is in that case?”
“Ah, Pal, you’ve failed in yer quest ta guess. Ow! Okay, Pal. There’s 98 Ranch Yarns in here. An’ now 99!”
They say she drowned in Lake Fannie Hooe. They say a bear left behind only a spilt basket of blueberries. They say a lot about a woman who returned to Virginia to live a full life after time spent at the remote wilderness Fort Wilkins in 1845.
Writers imagined between and beyond the facts of the real-life character of Fannie Hooe whose legend and name remains upon a lake at the far reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
The following is based on July 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe.
INTRO TO FORT WILKINS by Charli Mills
1844: Fort Wilkins stands to protect the copper. A young nation encroaching further west, the Michigan wilderness known to the fur traders and voyageurs, marks a lucrative spot on territorial maps. From the decks of sea-faring, Great Lakes mariners can trace veins of copper rich ore to the shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula. At its tip where land juts into lake like a bent finger, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company stakes its claim. The garrison of soldiers with memories of the War of 1812 forge a fort. Peaceful as a Sunday picnic. No one badgers the copper miners.
PART I (10-minute read)
Fanny Hooe, Oh Fanny Hooe by Chelsea Owens
She came from The Virginias and she settled in our town.
Her eyes sparked just like agates and her hair was copper brown.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?
She settled at Fort Wilkins, to help her sister’s child.
She settled in the soldiers’ hearts whene’er they caught her smile.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?
One night they sought young Fanny but found she had gone away.
The soldiers mourned her memory and call her still today.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?
Where Did You Say She Went? by floridaborne
“Breathe,” Fannie whispered, staring at a man six feet tall. Shiny leather boots … broad chest decorated by rows of buttons, she desired … needed …
With a charming smile and a nod, he said, “Howdy, ma’am.”
“Pray, tell me your name?”
His smile gleamed at her. “General Al Eyeon. And you?”
“Miss Fannie Howe,” she said coyly. “What brings you to Fort Wilkins?”
“Want to see my ship?”
At lake’s edge, he lifted her into his arms and jumped through a door she couldn’t see. Fannie loved his starship’s interior. He appreciated the taste of succulent meat.
Truth or Fiction: Will the Real Fannie Hooe Please Stand Up by Norah Colvin
Contestant 1: I am Fannie Hooe. My pregnant sister was an excuse to escape my abusive husband. After the baby’s birth, I ‘disappeared’, started a new life in Canada, and never remarried.
Contestant 2: I am Fannie Hooe. While visiting my sister, I was abducted by miners and forced to be their slave. When I escaped, I was so disfigured, I wanted no one to see.
Contestant 3: I am Fannie Hooe. I was pregnant, unmarried, and begged my sister to hide me. She refused and banished me. I started a new life in Virginia as a widowed mother.
Fanny-tastic Names by Ritu Bhathal
“I’m trying to find Fanny Hooe.”
“Yes, Fanny Hooe.”
“Right… Fanny who?”
“Look, I need the surname for the announcement, mate. So, Fanny who?”
“Listen mate, it’s bad enough her grandma insisted on naming her Fanny. Stop taking the mick with it. Her name is Fanny Hooe. As in H – O – O – E.”
“Okay. Calling out for Fanny Hooe. That’s Fanny Hooe, as in H – O – O – E. Fanny Hooe please come to the service desk. Fanny Hooe!”
“You know they all call me Fran here, not Fanny… Now I’ll never live it down!”
Straight From The Horses Mouth by Teresa Grabs
The Riley County Ladies Reading Circle met every Tuesday night at Lois’ house, mainly because she had the largest parlor in the county, and made mighty fine fresh sourdough bread on Tuesday mornings. The meetings were more talking than reading, and tonight’s tattling stirred up old stories of poor old Fannie Hooe, who disappeared near here.
“I heard she went out west and a buffalo killed her,” Evelyn said.
“Oh, fiddlesticks,” Lois said. “Everyone knows she drowned in the river.”
“I reckon she just stayed, opened a boarding house, and got married,” Frances said.
Everyone laughed, shaking their head.
A Sister’s Sobriquet by JulesPaige
Fannie Hooe, her
Sister’s helper – was never
“They say” Lucy Frances’ disappearance was due to bear, drowning or murder. So they named a lake after her… in Michigan. I wonder if she knew…
…a memoir letter…
“I was thirty seven when I went to visit my sister and help her birth her child at Fort Wilkens. I told Richardetta I couldn’t stay long. I had my own beau waiting for me back in Virginia. And his name was Mr. Chester Bailey White. Our brother Thornton thought I’d be a spinster. I wed Chester in 1949.”
Hiding on the Inside by Paula Moyer
“Who’s my Fannie Hooe?” Jean asked herself after hearing the UP story. “Who’s my lost girl who’s never found?” Of course, it was herself.
Jean was never missing – not for that long, anyway. She hid in plain sight, though. Went through the motions, learned the rules of the party games. But inside, she was somewhere else: riding a magic carpet, soaring like a bat through hidden caves, gliding down a promenade staircase in high heels – never tripping.
Let the birthday girl’s mom spin her. Around and around. Jean would be dizzy, stumble, blindfolded, toward the donkey. Inside? Somewhere else.
Honey, Don’t Pull a Fannie on Me by Neel Anil Panicker
“How do I know you’ll not do a Fannie Hooe on me?”
Richard looked at his beau from across the window.
Overcome with emotion, he leaned forward and held Janet’s hands.
Her fingers had turned moist, just as her eyes.
“I meant don’t do the disappearing act just like Fannie did eons ago.”
The train’s giant wheels were already trudging forward.
As Richard’s hands slipped out of her fingers his parting words were, “Listen, I know not who or what this Fannie thing’s all about. All I know is we’re going to get married in six months.”
The Lesser Sister by Nillu Nasser
They say she had hair like spun hay and her pretty soprano voice soothed the most wretched heart. They say the touch of her lips fell like satin on the roughest cheek, and old crones wept when they looked upon her, in mourning for their lost youth.
But I know her legend to be a lie.
Always the lesser sister, the one who hooted at others’ misfortune, interested only in men’s purses, not their hearts. That lake was the making of Fanny Hooe. When she emerged from it, her sins had been washed away.
She finally found new life.
Fanny Hooe by Anita Dawes
Last day of our holiday Dad said he’d like to drive to Lake Fanny Hooe.
After an hour’s drive, Tommy was still giggling about the name.
The lake was stunning, the bridge even more so.
Dad was here for the legend about the five kids who drowned after daring to jump from the bridge. Dad snapped away, hoping to catch a shot of them. Thing is he was missing the beauty.
The grape design on the bridge was so beautiful.
Tommy slipped his hand in mine. ‘I can hear them, Alice. They’re laughing as they jump from the bridge.’
A Daughter’s Love by Anurag Bakhshi
All I remember is my name — Fannie Hooe.
And that I’m looking for my Daddy.
Mommy told me that he was a soldier at Fort Wilkins, and I would recognize him if I ever met him.
I’ve met so many soldiers till now, but none of them is my Daddy.
I see another soldier walking past. He seems to be of just the right age.
“Daddyyyyy…” I call out to him.
He turns, starts walking towards me.
Now I just need to wait for him to drown in my waters before I can be sure if he’s my Daddy.
The Legend of Makwa-ikwe by Colleen Chesebro
They say Fannie Hooe drowned, but my daddy told me a different story. He said she didn’t drown, she transformed. After a bear mauled her and rolled her carcass down the hill to the beach to die, the Chippewa found her.
The Indians nursed her back to health. Daddy said she was deformed after the bear attack. The Indians didn’t care. To them, she was Bear Woman, *Makwa Ikwe.
Fannie fully integrated into their native society and became a powerful shaman. Her magic was very strong. I know, because she healed me, and I lived to tell this story.
Fannie Hooe by Frank Hubeny
Fannie disappeared and they searched for her around the lake. Jake went missing as well, but he often went missing. He would pop up again later. No one cared.
Fannie was someone special. She smiled at you and made you glad you were alive.
They searched for days until her sister told her good neighbors to stop. She declared that Fannie was gone.
She never returned except as mythic remembrance. It took them over two months to wonder why Jake hadn’t turned up either. Fannie’s sister suspected why but she let her silence give them a chance to escape.
Hiding by D. Avery
“They say.” The old woman rocked forward and hocked one off the front porch. “They say old women shouldn’t chew,” she cackled. “It’s unseemly. They say.”
She directed her sharp eyes at the young woman sitting on the step. “They say all number of things, made up things, hurtful things, say them as cowards, after you’ve turned your back on them. They can’t take a turned back; makes them wonder about themselves.”
“Great Aunt Fannie, they say you disappeared.”
Phwoot! She hocked another into the tall weeds. “Yes, they’ve always said that. Because they can’t explain me being here.”
Lingering by Miriam Hurdle
“It’s a perfect day to walk in the wood, Dan.”
“Yes, good that you walk with me, Sally.”
“We can pick some blueberries.”
“Lovely ideas. You like making blueberries muffins, I like to eat.”
“Oh, look. A lady walking by herself.”
“She looks frantic, she must be lost.”
“Let’s find out.”
“Humm… She disappeared.”
“Oh, Dan, it was Fannie Hooe. Some people saw her. She’s still finding her way out of the wood.”
“I thought she returned to the family home in Virginia.”
“See that white house down the hill? She lived there. The light goes on and off.”
Tiny Fannie by Ashley Oh
Fannie tumbled downstairs to the same blueberry pancakes she’d eaten for forever because of the overproducing blueberry bush outside her house.
To change her breakfast fate, Fannie headed out to a nearby a lake, where her nose led her: a bush. Finding a pink, round berry, she picked it in curiosity and ate it. Suddenly, the sweetest, magical taste filled her mouth. Grabbing some more, she walked in, when suddenly, her body tingled head to toe.
Her grandma call out, “Fannie Hooe!”, and she frantically waved her hands, so she would notice her, but she just passed her by.
In The Shadow of Fannie Hooe by Geoff Le Pard
‘You know sweet FA, Logon.’
‘You know what FA means?’
‘FA? Eff All.’
‘Nope, it’s Fanny Adams, an eight year old murdered and dismembered in the 1860s.’
‘You’re a mine of irrelevancies. Why’s a dead girl come to mean Eff All?’
‘Navy slang. A euphemism. Navy introduced tinned meat. Sailors loathed it and said it must be the dead girl. Sweet Fanny Adams became sweet FA which then became another way of saying eff all.’
‘Like that Hungarian director… he said, ‘you think I know f**k nothing when I really know f**k all.’
‘You always lower the tone, Morgan.’
Fannie Hooe by TNKerr
Grandma pointed at the faces in the photo one by one.
“That’s Bea, she was my mother. These here are her sisters; Beryl, Fannie, and Clint. Bea became an oilman’s wife and your great-grandma. Clint ran the ranch for as long as she could. Beryl taught at the schoolhouse. She was a teacher of mine when I was young, and Fannie – well Fannie disappeared up north. Some say she was a spy or an assassin. That her life caught up with her, others say she was a gambler; killed in a poker game at a saloon in Kewenaw.”
“I bet they do,” she interrupts.
“As I was saying…they say a woman by the name of Fanny Hooe boarded a freighter in San Francisco sometime in the early 1920’s, disembarked at Victoria…and then took the train up Island to Fanny Bay.”
“So, our little Piglet was named after her?”
“Hamlet. Not Piglet.”
“Forgive me. Was it?”
“Named after her? No. The source of the name, Fanny Bay is murky. Nevertheless, most authorities agree that our…little community…was named long before she arrived.”
‘Did she stay?”
“No. Two days after arriving, she disappeared.”
“Not a trace.”
In Every Rumor by Sascha Darlington
Every rumor holds an inkling of truth. Or so they say.
I never intended to stay in Fort Wilkins. Once my sister had her baby, I’d return to Virginia and the life Jonas and I planned along the Potomac River.
“Miss Fanny, I wish you’d reconsider,” Frederick said.
“I’d loathe these Michigan winters,” I said, attempting to ease my way out.
“I would see to your every comfort.”
While pleasant on the surface, Frederick possessed a darkness I’d seen in men before, a ruthless persistence, which would not end well.
Only my sister knew the truth of my disappearance.
PART II (10-minute read)
Who? By Ann Edall-Robson
I’m looking for information on Fannie Hooe.
Fannie who did what?
No, Fannie Hooe.
Like I said, Fannie who did what?
No, no! Her name was Fannie Hooe.
Round in circles we’re going on this one. Again, I ask, Fannie who did what? Unless you are willing to share more information than her first name, I can’t help you in your search for this person.
All I know is the name, Fannie Hooe.
Sorry, can’t help you.
Wait, you must, she was related to my grandpa’s wife and I need to find her.
What was her name?
Lucy Frances by D. Avery
The summer of ’44? That’s when I visited my brother and my sister out in that God forsaken place. Their eyes shone like copper when they spoke of the Kewenaw, but I couldn’t wait to leave. The summer bugs were fiercer than the bears and wolves. Can you just imagine the winters up there?
I had enough of wilderness, and I had enough of my brother and sister who insisted on calling me, a grown woman of seventeen years, by my childhood appellation.
Let them go west and keep going. I returned East to civilization, happily became Mrs. White.
Grandma Fannie by Charli Mills
Grandma Sarah rocked with restraint as we drank mint water over chipped ice, a luxury in 1870s Virginia, especially after the War. Grandpa Hooe was a Union officer, commissioned in the wilds of Michigan. Grandma told stories about how they met at Fort Wilkins the year she stayed with her sister. She told me how her nickname was the same as mine – Fannie.
“My bonnet blew off, and your grandfather swore he was bedazzled by the sun on my blond hair.”
All the men from the garrison courted her, but she left the wilds with Grandpa as Fannie Hooe.
History’s Full Circle by H.R.R. Gorman
Fannie patted off the birthing fluids with clean linen and magically peered into the boy’s eyes. She shivered and examined his future. This boy, born in a fort, was destined soon to die in a fort.
She handed the child to his mother and ran out into the woods. She cried, “Why bring this boy into the world for such suffering?”
The entire company of the fort looked for her, but she returned at her own pace.
She moved to Virginia where her vision directed. In twenty years, Fannie Hooe comforted a dying young man in a Union fort.
Fannie Hooe by oneletterup
“Let them think I’m out picking blueberries!”
Fannie’s mind raced as she ran through the woods; not noticing her long dress catching on low branches. Leaving a fabric trail.
“Fannie this Fannie that. Do they think I’m just a servant? I’m mighty tired of taking care of everyone.” She dreaded going back to Virginia. And she loved it here near Fort Wilkins. Beautiful and calm.
“The lake! There it is!” She smiled. Sweat dripped from her face.
Thornton must be looking for her, but she didn’t care.
It was so hot and the water was so close.
The Hero’s Wife by Anne Goodwin
They hailed him a hero, she called him a fool. Someone had to save the kid, he said.
Maybe, but why you?
She couldn’t look at him at dinner. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t watch the evening news, took herself to bed. But even with her eyes screwed tight, she saw him, grinning, dripping lake water on the shore.
Later, he found her, let her cry in his arms. I’m sorry, he said, I didn’t think. Dived right in.
Why should he think? He never met her father, the hero dead before her teens.
Rescuing a girl from drowning. Fannie Hooe.
Fannie’s New Family by Di @ pensitivity101
Fannie’s game of hide’n’seek had gone sour, and now she was alone in the dark having fallen asleep in her hiding place.
She heard breathing behind her, and turned to see a wolf looking at her quizzically.
She reached out her hand to stroke it, and the animal backed off slightly, but didn’t run away.
She started to shiver, and the wolf came closer, lying down beside her and wrapping her in its warmth. Fannie wasn’t afraid, and curled up against its belly, falling asleep again almost immediately.
When she awoke, she was somewhere else, but she didn’t mind.
Fanny Who? by Anisha Jain
All of them call the old Japanese woman by the lake crazy. But she’s the only one who knows the truth.
They say Fannie Hooe was the daughter in law of an officer at Fort Wilkins who disappeared mysteriously, either eaten by a bear or abducted by a tribal.
But only she knows the truth. Fannie was a Jorogumo — a shape-shifting spider from Japanese folklore, who’d turn into a seductress and lure young men to the lake, playing her flute before drowning and dining on them.
No one believes the old Japanese woman, who used to be her teacher.
Frannie’s Disappearance by Nancy Brady
Frannie Hooe disappeared one starry night. What happened to her was pure conjecture, and yet only Tillie knew the real story behind her disappearance. First off, it must be stated that Frannie was an adventurous young woman. Most people weren’t aware of her wild proclivities; frankly, they considered her a mouse—meek, mild, and well mannered. A real milquetoast, but that wasn’t the case at all. Her imagination took her everywhere. Paris to Marrakesh to Rio to London to Singapore and beyond, she traveled the world in her dreams. Until the night, while stargazing, she was abducted by aliens.
The Wrong Choice by Robbie Cheadle
She was born with a caul. Her mother carefully removed it, dried it and gave it to her brother, a sailor, before he set sail for the Caribbean.
“Take this,” she said, “it will keep you safe from drowning.” The young man appreciated her thought and tucked the wrinkled brown piece of skin into his Bible.
How was Fannie’s mother to know that she was the one who needed the caul. She was the one who would set off on an adventure and be lost in the cold, blue water of the lake. The lake was named after her.
“Ariel’s Island: Prologue” by Saifun Hassam
Clouds turned deep indigo in the fading light of the setting sun. The last slivers of sunlight shot up through pinholes in the towering cumulus clouds.
Fannie Hooe was aboard the passenger ship The Rosalinda, sailing from the Carolinas to Bermuda. As a novelist and poet she was entranced by the intensifying storm. But the ship’s officers had ordered everyone to remain in their cabins.
Gale force winds buffeted the ship. As darkness descended, a thunderous boom echoed through The Rosalinda, churning in surging, seething waves. In the next instant, Fannie and the ship sank deeper into the ocean.
Selkie Mom by Wallie and Friend
Annie always wondered why great-grandmother never insisted on the truth. She wondered why the old woman allowed the legend to persist, when the twists to the story were often so lurid.
Then one day as she sat listening to her husband talk to their little daughter, she realized.
“And that’s how I met your mother,” he said. “I told the selkie king I couldn’t live without her. And he saw that it was true. That coat in the closet there, that’s her selkie coat.”
Annie listened to the little girl’s awe. And for the first time, she understood great-grandmother.
The Talisman by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She held the rock to her lips. Copper and silver shone where her fingers caressed.
For a moment, Gichi-gami rolls beneath this secure Virginia town. A birchbark canoe glides through a long inner lake, a steady plash of paddles dip into dark water. Her strong shoulders stretch in delicious ache of the final reach and scrape to rocky shore.
Two friends part, a talisman given. What had she gifted her?
“Mama! Come tuck us in.”
“Fannie! Where are my silver cufflinks?”
Slipping the stone into her pocket–all her dresses had pockets—she turned away from the gaslit street.
Fannie Who by kate @ aroused
The child was born with a lisp so we kindly indulged his impediment by copying his adaptions. R’s and w’s were particularly difficult to pronounce so Muriel became Mooel, Frances became Fannie, and Howe became Hooe.
He’d quickly become attached to Fannie who was a plain but pleasant young lady visiting her sister in Kenenaw before she gave birth. So when Fannie went missing the child could be heard wailing Fannie Hooe, Fanny Hooe.
But Molly, the wise one, had watched the rapport build between Fannie and the local chief’s son. Unacceptable to either race she had silently vanished.
Legend or Truth by Susan Sleggs
“Dad’s taking us to Fannie Hooe Lake in upper Michigan for a week this summer. He wants to visit Fort Wilkins. Says that he had a relative stationed there years ago.”
“That should be interesting. I wonder how the lake got a ladies name.”
“Legend is she drowned in it, but Dad’s family story is she ran off with a gambler. She was so wild her parents were thankful so they gave her dowry money to the town fathers who had to agree to never tell the truth. The money was used to build store-front board walks.”
Paparazzi by Reena Saxena
Fannie Hooe came and disappeared in a flash, leaving tales behind.
The paparazzi failed to notice that her sister’s child was not seen after that. Her sister was a single woman, and soon left town, but nobody enquired about the father.
In fact, it should have been about the mother of her child. Fannie Hooe was a celebrity, and her sister had agreed for surrogacy. They had planned to be as discreet as possible, but Fannie’s fame followed her.
Now, the media says that a look-alike had visited the old, dilapidated township to get photographed and create a flutter.
Fannie Hooe: Michigan Auto Workers by Peregrine Arc
“We gonna get some overtime, you think?” Earl asked, pulling on his coat.
“Only if they can pay us for it. Otherwise–could be lean times!” a second worker proclaimed.
“We survived the recession, right?” Earl insisted. “It can’t be that bad. What do you think, Fannie? You’ve been here longer than any of us.”
“I’ve seen Michigan get through harder times yet,” Fannie said. “But right now, we’ve all got warm homes to get to. Let’s go!”
Any Who by D. Avery
“Hoo-wee, Pal, Shorty’s give us a tough one.”
“Fannie Hooe. How’m I ta write ‘bout this Fannie?”
“Yer writin’ ‘bout yer fanny?”
“Hooe! Fannie Hooe!”
“Jeez, Kid, yer practic’ly yodelin’. Is it a hootenanny yer writin’ ‘bout?”
“No! Fannie Hooe. An historical figure up there in Copper Country, so they say.”
“An’ I figger yer hysterical, Kid. Jist spin a story.”
“Any clues ‘bout Fannie Hooe?”
“Well, if’n they named a lake after her she musta made quite an impression.”
“I hear tell she brought smoked bacon ta Copper Country.”
“Ya don’t say.”
Writers wrote along the fence line this week, seeking repairs or reasons to fill their stories.
The following are based on the July 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence.
PART I (10-minute read)
Write On Buckaroo Nation by D. Avery
“Kid, why’re you sketchin’? That was last week.”
“Thought I’d sketch the Ranch. For perspective. Look, not a fence in sight.”
“I see it that way too Kid. Free range.”
“That’s right, free range! Where ever the prompts lead! No boundaries!”
“While I appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm Kid, there’re always boundaries.”
“What d’ya mean, Aussie?”
“You’re free to range about, explore and express yourself, but within the bounds of societal norms.”
“Oh. Maybe we oughtta fence out the new normal.”
“No Kid, let’s see what comes and goes as we all range freely.”
“Good ideas Aussie! Good ideas.”
I Threw a Shoe by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She sits on the highway’s gravel shoulder, rubbing her sore, unshod feet. The sun presses hard on her head and shoulders.
She roots through her backpack, amazed at all the crap picked up on her journey, and pushes it away, disgusted; had she truly traveled so far without a sip of water on hand?
She waves to her children, galloping down the same road she’d traveled all her life. Colleagues also pass, clomping by in their own heavy shoes.
She rises, scenting sustenance in free-flowing water and her real tribe, just through that busted gate and across the meadow.
The Wood’s Wet and Rough by Papershots
A wooden fence. The end of the path? The wood’s rough and wet. The fence’s small, no, hold on, it’s broken. There’s a plaque – cold, steel – then the hand drops. Go back. It says something. Not in your language, though. And friends have always been teasing for trying. For what? “It’s not like you can read “our” books!” Did they shake their heads? Skeptics do that.
E… n..t.. r…a.nce – s.. i.. gn… – f..or.. – e..qu.. i..n.e… – f.. a ..c..ili.ti. es..
There’s more. Will it explain why it’s broken?
S..t..a..bles – f…a..rms –
The mind gets there before the hand.
Frayed by Sherri Matthews
Exhaustion seeps through me like melting lead. I feel older than my years, stretched too thin like frayed rope. Tie another knot. Maybe it will hold a little longer. Or maybe it will slip and come undone. There is no more space to fill with let-me-help-you. I wander, aimlessly, from one broken fence to another, and my helplessness mocks me in the scrape of splintered wood against my skin. Bleed, then. Stick me again, and again I will bleed. Then I will cuss and rage and come to life, and I will wield my hammer and nails and rebuild.
Resilience by Anurag Bakhshi
Charli fell on her knees with her head held in her hands and let out a loud, piercing wail.
The fence was broken, and so were all her dreams, hopes, and aspirations. All the horses bolted….not a single one left.
All her hard work…all that waiting…it had all been for nothing. Her life was over…for good.
But then, she took a deep breath and shook her head violently.
No, she would not allow despair to overpower her spirit. She would find another ranch, and prove to everyone that there was no rustler better than her.
Flash Fiction by David Wesley Woolverton
He should have been a writer or a con artist. He should never have been both. Being both meant spending too much time in fantasy, losing ground in reality. Now the consequences were beginning to show.
“I don’t have a sister. Wait, I do.”
The fence that should separate lies from the truth was breaking down.
“Or maybe she was a cousin. How many of those did I say I had?”
He mentally flipped through the reference book of his characters, then realized that was the wrong place and tried a family album, then realized the album was forged.
Flash Fiction by M J Mallon @ Kyrosmagica
The stony-faced agents sat together in neat chairs, tables locked, faces fixed with false smiles.
As I approached, I imagined an insurmountable stone fence, groaning under the weight of their nervousness and my self-doubt.
My eyes locked on my chosen agent. She gestured to me to come over. I feared nothing could save me but as I spoke the stones tumbled down leaving me with an open gateway, an opportunity to shine.
I grabbed my pitch and went for it, galloping over my doubts. The fence of agents lay in tatters, but my idea was met with cheers.
Good Neighbor by Sarah Whiley
What miscreant has been here? I wondered, inspecting the damage to the fence.
I was not at all, properly attired, and looked about, seeing if there was anyone who could assist.
Nope. It was just me.
I considered my freshly polished shoes, crisply starched white pants, and my lace detailed silk shirt, and huffed.
I did not need this today, not one bit, I cursed.
Part of me was tempted, to just walk by; pretend I had never seen it. But I couldn’t abandon my responsibilities.
As they say, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
So I got to work.
Broken with Intent by Norah Colvin
The fence was too high to jump or even see over, no footholds to climb, and palings too close to squeeze or even peer through. It hugged the soil too compacted to dig. It seemed impenetrable, and so intrigued. He stacked boxes for makeshift steps—not high enough. Finally, he hatched a plan—balloons! He blew them big and tied them tight, attached some string, and waited. And waited. Then a gust of wind lifted him high, over the fence, where another, just like him, smiled and said, “Should’ve used the gate; latch is broken—always open to friends.”
Reckon You’re My Neighbor by Chelsea Owens
Windstorms were frequent visitors to the valley; at least, they had been as long as Beck’s and Kirk’s families remembered. The only thing more frequent than wind, in fact, was their petty neighbor disputes:
Kirk called the police on Beck for some fireworks.
Beck’s wife blamed Kirk’s kids for broken gate slats.
And everyone said Kirk’s dog was just plain yappy.
But the day after the panel blew down between their yards, Beck showed up, right at Kirk’s door. “Reckon you could use a hand with that there rotten post,” was all he said.
And they got to work.
We Survived by Patrick O’Connor
The wind howled.
Rain came down almost sideways.
Lightning came closer by the minute.
Day became night.
We left to find shelter in our storm cellar. Tornado sirens had been going off for several minutes.
Suddenly, the sirens stopped; but we could hear the wind whipping all around. The pressure change made our ears pop.
Finally, the winds subsided. We waited a few more minutes and then cautiously came out of our hideaway.
Looking around at the devastation, we were happy to be alive.
But – all that was left of our house was a sad, broken fence.
After the Storm by Saifun Hassam
Diamante and the villagers were stunned at the destruction along the beach. Logs from miles of broken fence were strewn along the sandy cliffs and dunes. The wood piers and fences, strong and sturdy in years past, were no match for the stormy winds of last night.
Inland, the terraced fields of barley and wheat had been flattened. Somehow, the living fences of hedgerows and cedar and pine groves had weathered the storm and sheltered the olive and peach trees.
Diamante prayed at the ancient temple, amid the broken pillars and urns and uprooted plants, for courage to rebuild.
“Perfection” by katimac
She sits cross-legged on the tumbledown wall in the overgrown lot waiting for the sunrise. The lot is surrounded by a picket fence, grown gray with age. She’s watched the sun beam through the one missing picket to the east as it’s crept across the lot, closer and closer to where she’s currently perched, like an elf on a shelf.
Today’s the day sunlight reaches it. No time until it shows in her missing slat. She adjusts her butt on the wall and raises her camera to her eye. The blaze ignites in her lens and her eye. Perfection.
Hidden Garden by Kerry E.B. Black
Erin swung the two loose boards of the fencing and scampered beneath, heedless of the dirt grinding into her knees and palms. She shouldn’t enter this yard any more than an errant Peter Rabbit should raid Mr. MacGregor’s garden, but something about the forbidden draws the adventurous spirit. Once she discovered the accessibility of the fence and that it was just her size, she couldn’t resist.
She hunkered beneath a hydrangea to take in the scene. The old lady’s yard outdid any park Erin had ever seen, with fragrant swaths of flowers surrounding bizarre statues. Why did she hide it away?
Broken Fence by Frank Hubney
The Fredericks bought Adkins Estate with farmhouse, barn, and sheds. The farm maintained itself from land rentals to local farmers. There was also a notorious fence separating it from ancient Indian burial grounds.
That’s why they bought it. They planned to rent rooms to people wanting to spend the night in a haunted house.
They repaired the buildings but broke the fence to make it look spookier. They called their website “Visit Fredericks’ Freaky Ghost House.”
Many rented rooms and left five-star reviews until it became known that after changes to the fence, the ghosts no longer felt welcome.
Broken Fence: by The Dark Netizen
The fence to her house lay broken. The petulant old woman looked out from the window.
The townsfolk always thought that the house was haunted. They absolutely believed that the old woman was a witch who knew all kinds of sorcery. She welcomed their superstition. She loved her peace and knew that fear kept all the annoying people away from her property. At least, it had managed to until today. Today, some teenagers had broken her fence, trying to show-off.
She removed her pen and wrote their names in her black book. Stupid teenagers.
Her fearful legend would expand, tonight…
In-Between by Wallie and Friend
The fence had stood between them since they were children. When she was little, Emmy peeked between the slats. She made up stories about the secretive boy-next-door. She decided he was magic.
In her teens, Emmy was still making up stories. Joey wasn’t a fairy or an elf anymore. He was an idiot. The nights they spent fighting over the telephone only to make up the next day, leaning over the fence.
When she came home from college, the fence was broken. Mom told her it was the storm. Seeing Joey waiting for her, Emmy couldn’t have agreed more.
The Yellow Flower by Susan Sleggs
I was a reservist in Iraq, where everything inside and out of our barbed wire compound was sand colored, including the hazy air. One morning there was an unfamiliar excited buzz in the conversations. The words flower and yellow were prevalent. I listened for details. During the day I made it to the south side of the compound, where outside the fence, sprouting out of a pile of leftover razor sharp wire was a sorry excuse for vegetation. The weed wasn’t even green, but it had the most beautiful yellow flower on top. Hope growing out of the dust.
The Short Way by Eric Pone
Suzie and Sue made their way along the fence perimeter owned by the Jamison Cartel in Columbia. Suzie was intent in her search.
“What are you looking for?” Sue in a whispered voice.
“There is always a broken section in a fence. And its always out of the way. Be patient love.”
Around the bend, they found the break. A broken section of fence with paint long since withered. Suzie thumb her comm.
“Found a break target acquisition in one hour.” She said.
“Roger That! Standing By” came the reply from Ginger playing sniper and their cover 2200 meters away.
Part II (10-minute read)
Broken Fence by Anita Dawes
Late one night after having a skin full, dad drove through Mrs Mack’s front garden.
Breaking the fence was bad enough, but he took out her favourite roses too.
Dad said he was sorry, that he would fix the fence first thing.
Mum brought roses, but there was no answer when she knocked on the door. She left the roses on the step but watched to see if her friend would take them in.
They died where mum left them.
After a week, mum told us that some fences cannot be mended. That she had lost her best friend…
Matter of Time by oneletterup
His hand hurt like hell. She’d broken the skin.
Blood smeared onto the bed as he pulled himself up.
He stumbled out the open back door into the yard.
He lit a cigarette and growled…”I know you’re out here. It’s just a matter of time.”
Moonlight reflected off the chicken wire on the old split rail fence. The entire yard surrounded. And overgrown.
He smiled and spoke…”You Know There’s No Way Out.”
Then he noticed it. Mangled wire. Rotted wood in pieces. An opening.
A broken fence had ruined everything.
She was gone.
The Broken Fence by Rosemary Carlson
Every morning when she took her walk, she passed beside an old, weathered board fence. It didn’t seem to hold anything. No horses, no other livestock, not even a house. Every third or fourth board was missing.
She didn’t know why she came this way. She thought of her family each time she saw that old fence. The family that didn’t want her anymore. The family that was gone that had left her alone. The family that didn’t care now.
Her feelings for them were gone. They’d slipped away like the wind slipped through the gaps in the fence.
Horses Have Greater Value (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
“Blast it you duck-billed buffalo!” Cobb lunged at the stock handler.
Despite his injuries, Hickok dodged the charging man better than the bear that tore him up. “It weren’t me,” he said, confronting his angry boss.
“That busted fence didn’t happen on its own accord,” Cobb growled, pointing to the corral empty of horses.
“No Sir, pert sure it didn’t. Found it that way before you showed up. Recon’ Dock rode out after ‘em.”
“Then quit idling and get after that herd!”
Hickok sighed and set out on foot, his left arm hanging as useless at the fence post.
Broken Fences: Realised Dreams by Ritu Bhathal
Many an afternoon, I’d sit there, peering through the gap in our broken fence.
It was like a portal to another world.
I’d see them all laughing, playing together, running around freely.
Oh, to be able to laugh openly with friends.
Laughter was in short supply here since my Daddy died, and that new Father had arrived.
He didn’t want no brats running around the place. It was bad enough I existed.
To escape the prison that our home had become, I’d come and sit here.
For the first time in years, my Mummy seemed happy.
I didn’t complain.
Old Hickson by Bill Engleson
I would’ve come home anyways that summer. There was the job at the mill. This was in the days when a few months work could pay for a full year of edumacation.
So, when mom called and said old Hickson had up and died, I knew there’d be a new layer of remembering.
He was always the old guy next door. On the other side of our fence.
His fence, really.
As a kid, I avoided looking over.
But one year, I was fourteen, I saw the way he looked at me.
The lonely old bugger.
And I knew.
The Fence by Nandini Jain (Dexterous Writer)
Mocked by the people of the village, those stereotypes scoffed her determination by saying,”what can a girl do?”
To express their rage, they break the fence of their house.
Years later, Sitting beside the banyan tree the proud mother used to stare at the broken fence surrounding the house. When asked, “why don’t you mend it?” She replies,” It reminds me of the force and energy my daughter applied to fly above high, accomplish the goals, chase her dreams and these broken wooden planks remind these stereotypical evil minds that a mighty heart and liberal mind can do wonders!
The Seagulls’ Fence by magnoliajem
The falling slat startled the roosting seagulls.
“Whadaya doin’, Tommy? Supposed to be mendin’ fence, not breakin’.”
“Damn gulls don’t belong this far inland.”
“They’s travellers. Sea in the morning. Eat. Home here at night.”
“Yeah? They need-a keep goin’ ‘stead-a shittin’ all over granpaw’s fence.”
“Breakin’ the fence ain’t gonna stop ’em from comin’ here, long as that compost sits there.”
“Why? Y’jus’ said they eat at sea.”
“Oh, they’s always lookin’ for food. Don’t always have a taste for fish.”
“We’ll see ’bout that. They need-a leave.”
With compost moved and covered, gulls left. Fence got mended.
A Gift by Susan Sleggs
“Grandpa, there’s a round green thing growing out back by the broken fence.”
“There is? We better take a look.”
After a slow painful walk, Grandpa said, “I’d say that’s going to be a pumpkin.”
“Can we keep it?”
“Rightly it belongs to the neighbors. It’s their vine coming through the hole.”
“Let’s not tell them.”
“Would that be right?”
“No, but can we wait till it gets big so I can watch it grow?”
“No harm in that.”
A few weeks later they found a note near the big, almost orange pumpkin, “It’s yours. Carve it for Halloween.”
[trade] by Deb Whittam
The call came in at 2am, waking him from a dream featuring babes dousing their bodies with sunscreen.
For five minutes he had listened to the caller, to their heartbreak and woe … then once he had appeased them, he had booked it in.
It was going to cost him more in time and money than it was worth but there wasn’t any alternative.
When you’re a fencing contractor, and a loose paling comes off at Grandma’s house, you answer the call.
He sighed, then rolled over, perhaps he would catch the babes as they jumped into the pool.
Emotional Barricades by JulesPaige
Clark could only imagine how his daughter felt. Mainly because he never asked. Then her thick letter arrived. He’d never had the opportunity to answer her questions before. It was about time he mended those fences with truth, even if it was just from his vantage point. Then he died.
While cleaning out Clark’s paperwork, his third wife found the letters relating memories that she selfishly couldn’t cope with. So, she trashed them.
Years later the wife, in a conversation filled with anger, told the daughter what she did. Thus, creating a new unmendable fence cementing their shaky relationship.
Mend that Fence! by floridaborne
A finger pointed at my middle-aged sister, I yelled out, “I hate you!”
“Why?” She asked.
“All I ever heard from mom was, ‘Jane is so smart. Jane is in the honors society.’ She never loved me!”
“All I ever heard was, ‘Susan is so creative! Why can’t you be creative, too?’ I was never good enough for her!”
We stared at mirrored eyes reflecting the same story. Mom didn’t believe in praise, only correction. I was the first to say, “Let’s mend this fence!”
We became sisters that day, choosing our mother’s nursing home a few months later.
Grandpa’s Fence by Teresa Grabs
It was just an old wooden fence out back on my Grandpa’s property. Nothing to look at, nothing special. Every summer we took a bucket of whitewash out there and painted the fence. Time passed, and when I was thirteen, I refused to go visit. Hadn’t spoken to him in fifteen years. Not until the day Grandma died. I wasn’t invited to the funeral. It hurt, but I knew why. I left the family. I drove all night to get there on time. When he came home, I had the bucket of whitewash ready to mend our broken fence.
Family Rift by Di @ pensitivity101
The Gap was like a hole in a fence, patched but forever failing.
‘The strength is in the surrounding support,’ the experts said.
Support indeed, carrying, lifting, holding, protecting, but still, The Gap remained.
In desperation, the family closed ranks, thinking erroneously they were helping by providing shelter and respite.
Their unity failed too as the recipient felt trapped, claustrophobic, judged, restricted and stifled, rebelling in anger, spite and bitterness.
So it was agreed to leave The Gap alone, maintain the remainder and leave the open wound to heal or fester. Time would tell and they would be waiting.
Broken Fence by Lady Lee Manila
This used to be our garden
We ran, spun and had fun
The old oak tree by the fence
Now the fence is broken and shun
We were brash and made lots of pretense
Quite rambunctious, please no offense
Running till we were all breathless
Between all of us, we had sixpence
The gate used to creak, no fuss
Playing hide and seek with us
Outside until we were tanned
The world was vast, was bonus
This used to be our dreamland
Played everywhere and the sand
We grew up fast, world expand
This was our fence, always grand
Crossover by Reena Saxena
Jamie Patel had just recovered from a stroke, but was asking for all forbidden foods since morning.
“Let’s celebrate, kids! I guess I survived to only see this day.”
His daughter-in-law faced redundancy in the office, and did not take kindly to his remark. He continued at a high pitch, sensing her mood,
“Check your portfolio. You can bid goodbye to that job of yours. Nifty has crossed the psychological barrier of 10000 today. The only way goes up.”
Jamie was the oldest broker of Dalal Street, and had seen humble beginnings. He had reached the summer of 2017.
Balancing the Butts by Geoff Le Pard
‘What are you doing, Morgan?’
‘Mending a fence.’
‘Who have you annoyed now?’
‘That’s a stupid expression, Logan. How does ‘mending a fence’ resolve a dispute? If you mend a fence, aren’t you just re-erecting some barrier?’
‘What if the fence is keeping something important in or dangerous out? Mending it would restore the balance.’
‘You know, the only reason you’d ever mend the bloody fence is to sit on it.’
‘There are times when you’re like a fence, Morgan.’
‘If I spend much time with either of you, you both become a pain in the butt.’
Strong and Stable by Anne Goodwin
Some party! Guests hurled abuse across a bifurcating fence. But Theresa would get them dancing and use the wooden panels to erect a different fence. Strong and stable to keep the rabble out.
Sipping champagne, she waited for the guest of honour at the porticoed door. Behind her, the factions hollered, whacking each other with bits of broken fence. Theresa’s smile was equally wooden. Just high spirits, she’d tell the POTUS, when he finally arrived. Where was he?
She turned, flinching at the wreckage as Boris shook Donald’s hand. He’d certainly made an entrance, bulldozed through her precious fence.
A Fence by kate @ aroused
Many build fences to keep others out … boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.
Others build fences to keep loved ones and livestock in, wandering off considered a sin
Fences are constructed of various materials, some attractive others more practical but their purpose is clear to all. Demarcation their vocational call.
Gates can be kept tightly locked, under guard or opened to those of like mind.
But don’t be fooled by those gates coz some are real unkind!
Some mend fences while others are keen to tear them down.
What are your fences for … solicit smiles or a frown?
Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall by D. Avery
“En guarde, Pal!”
“Put that dang thing away Kid.”
“Foiled again. But Shorty says we’re to fence.”
“We’re ta mend fences Kid.”
“Oh. Didn’t know we had a problem Pal.”
“We’re fixin’ fences ‘round the Ranch.”
“What’s that fence there do, keep the garden from strayin’?”
“Keeps critters out.”
“What about that fence? That keep critters out?”
“No, that one keeps the cattle in, keeps ‘em from strayin’.”
“Oh. Like if they reckon they’s greener pastures on the other side a the fence.”
“Seems like they’s two sides, in and out.”
“Seems like that could give offense.”