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Dusty Trail

Dusty trails lead in and out of the arid lands of the American West. Iconic to cattle drives, pioneers, and the Pony Express, there’s more to the west than frontier, dry land, rugged mountains, and big sky. It was a wild place — still is — but it was known long before settlers and ranchers, loggers and miners hit the trails. Where did they come from? What dusty trails lead people to wander and settle? Are we ever really settled, or is our large human family restless to kick up dust?

Writers had a challenge before them, and like the argonauts before them, they set out with just 99 words in their knapsacks to catch a story on the trail. Read where the prompt led them.

The following is based on the October 1, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that happens on the dusty trail.

My Life’s Dusty Roads by Sue Spitulnik

Growing up dusty dirt roads connected friends farms. We drove them to hunt and parked on them to explore life.

In my thirties I drove dusty roads alone into the mountains, looking for me.

Now in retirement, Charli Mills introduced me to Stegnar and Abbey, lovers of open and natural places.

Then Sean Prentiss took me along to Find Abbey and I rode on some of the same roads while driving Rt66.

Now I’m riding the same roads again with the Ghost Rider, who is sharing his knowledge of ghosts, wishing life didn’t have them.

Coincidence. I think not.

🥕🥕🥕

Dusty Trail by kathy70

Sally walked along the trail covered with dust, no rain in almost two months along her beloved ridge of mountain.  This was where she came to clear her head from all the noise of her family of 11 siblings, all talking at the same time.  She knew that she could only have a few minutes before someone was looking for her.  What would she find here today? Would he still be here, was he feeling well enough to leave?

As she searched the trees and bushes there was no sign of him.  The eagle free from his trap was gone.

🥕🥕🥕

Star Dust by D. Avery

“It’s my magical palace, Mommy!”

Taking her mother’s hand Hope twirled and danced in the hayloft until they both fell back into a pile of loose hay, laughing. Dusty trails of chaff sparkled in the shafts of sunlight.

“Stars!” her mother exclaimed.

“Make a wish, Mommy.”

“Does wishing work with this kind of star?”

“Yup. Mine came true.”

“What did you wish for?”

But Hope only grew quiet and snuggled closer to her mother, who stared up into the glittering dust. “I’m so sorry, kid,” she whispered. “But I’m here now, I promise.” Then she wished upon a star.

🥕🥕🥕

Grand Canyon Cowboys by Deborah Dasante

Confusion. That’s their game. Starched jeans. Stetsons. So you to think that’s who they are. It’s a disguise. I paid good money to ride a mule in a line with a group of others too lazy or too afraid to hike the South Rim. Paid a store-bought cowboy to ‘Howdy’ and to not look like a fool going in circles unable to move forward. Not a dimes worth of difference between a forty dollar mule and a store-bought cowboy. Cost money to find that out. I should of known better when I read the flyer –

“Grand Canyon, My Ass”.

🥕🥕🥕

The Mares of Mars by Anonymole: Apocryphal Abecedarian

Haus spurred his robotic steed. By ‘spurred’ we mean he spoke code into his suit’s helmet that translated to ‘giddy-up’. Within seconds his six legged rover, a cross between a horse, a spider and a stainless-steel nightmare from a 20th Century film, began a sinuous saunter, one that allowed Haus to barely feel the trail.

The pair arrived at a crevasse, one that plunged deep into the dusty crust of Mars.

“The span exceeds safe leaping distance,” said Bray-burry, the mount’s name.

“Bah! This oughta be easy. Back up a bit.” The robot complied. “Now git!”

And over they…

🥕🥕🥕

Gold Dust by Hugh W. Roberts

Heading up the dusty trail of the desert city, nine-gallon, cowboy hat adorned and wobbling around on the spurred boots that were one size too big, Barry remembered the words of his now-deceased, bachelor uncle.

“The trail leads to gold.”

But where was the gold? There was no gold here, just dust, some of which was dirtying his new boots and making him sneeze.

Opening the doors of the venue at the end of the trail, Dusty’s, his heart leapt while butterflies flew around his stomach. A brightly-lit room full of cowboys, all line dancing together.

He’d struck gold.

🥕🥕🥕

A Barf Story by Simon

He entered the bar, covered with brown sand as he came from a dusty trail. Young boy stared at a guy in whites. He bravely went close to him and asked if you are not eating this, can I take this? he was hungry.

The man nodded. He quickly grabbed the spoon and ate it fast as soon he reached the bottom of the Cup he found a dead rat, he barfs up back in the bowl and stared at the man

The man replied calmly, Gross, I did the same when I reached that bottom.
He barfs again.

🥕🥕🥕

Slave by FloridaBorne

Martha Smythe refused her father’s choice, eloping with the man she loved instead.

She remembered little about the siege; her new husband dying from a pirate’s bullet… their ship sinking… being thrown into a hold with other women, faces blank from shock… sails blowing as strong winds propelled them toward the Barbary Coast… huddling in a Morocco slave market.

Her hands bound, she walked a dusty trail to the home of a man with dark face. Instead of a new life in Connecticut, a stranger beat her, used her body, and threw her into a room with barred windows.

🥕🥕🥕

Looking for the Comfort of Autumn… (a dream scene?)
(two verses of a Vers Beaucoup) by JulesPaige

There’s a strain on the prairie plane – no hill or dale, putting a strain
On this traveler’s brain – dry ground, no trained hound
On a lead bound to find any water for this daughter
Who oughter have stayed close to home, but did roam

Running from the season, with no rhyme or reason, spirit to be pleasin’
Yet the nose is just sneezin’ – no thirst quenched, arid dry air first
In spiral clouds burst from the not so shy, dust filled sky
The trail far from the shade of the leaves of willow for my pillow…

🥕🥕🥕

Scorcher by R. V. Mitchell

It was a scorcher for sure, easily ninety degrees in the shade. Too bad there weren’t no shade. George Mason, took off his hat and wiped his forehead with a sleeve. The dust clogged his throat despite the scarf he wrapped around his face.

He had been doing scouting ahead of the train for about two hours or so, and the water holes were still an hour or so ahead of him. The terrain looked tolerable enough, but he was concerned that the dust raised by the wagons behind him might call some unwanted attention to Captain Little’s train.

🥕🥕🥕

The Darnedest Cowboy by M J Mallon

The darnedest cowboy walked towards me. His cowboy boots churned up the dusty road. My heartbeat so loudly I swore it was going to giddy up, catch a ride on a wild horse and land on his Western shirt. His eyes twinkled as he dawdled a few feet away. He kicked a stone, spat some cheeky grits into the ground and walked right past, lassoing my heart with his.

I stayed still until I heard the deafening gunshot. Damn. Wild West gals sure don’t remember no dead cowboy long.

Love ain’t for dead buckaroos!

🥕🥕🥕

Histories Hidden Below Layers of Dust by Anne Goodwin

They trod lightly on the earth, but their footprints were visible for those who cared to see. The White Man did not care: fearing their prowess, he stripped them of their language, their culture, their land. Made them a commodity. Robbed them of their worth.

Centuries later, their descendants plough through the dusty trail to dig up the bones of their accomplishments: the hidden histories of science, literature, music and architecture. Scour museums for stolen artefacts, ornaments appropriated when the White Man rewrote their stories, swapped heroes for victim or villain. Let’s be brave now and face the truth.

🥕🥕🥕

Carrot Ranch by Anita Dawes

We cannot see the wind
Only the lifting of leaves
The swaying or grass
As it passes
We cannot hear the wind
Only the echo
It leaves behind
The dark curtain of dust
It sweeps from the ground
All but swallows
The four horsemen
Riding from the Starbuck Ranch
Out to recover a few stray cattle
Before the savannah winds
Cover the small town of Starbuck
With a dark blanket from hell
Ask my mother
When she tries clearing it up
The air around her turns dusty blue
The four riders return
Spitting blue dust…
Cattle safe and sound.

🥕🥕🥕

Divergin’ Trails (Part 1) by D. Avery

“Jeez, Pal, I’m ready fer a vacation. Where we gonna go, anyway?”

“We? This is vacation, Kid. My vacation is gonna be time away from you.”

“What? Yer leavin’ me?”

“Fer a bit Kid. I’m jist gonna have some quiet time. Mebbe do some fishin’. Catch up with ma cuzzins. Ash and Dusty. Trales.”

“Ya never told me ya had cuzzins.”

“Ya never asked. They run a little farm jist west a the ranch. Raise turnip. At one time they figgered ta give Shorty a run fer her money.”

“Did they?”

“Nah. Turnips is too bitter.”

“Kin relate, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Divergin’ Trails (Part 2) by D. Avery

“Don’t be bitter, Kid. Whyn’t ya use this time ta go back east? Check out thet fall foliage they talk about.”

“Too far.”

“How kin thet be? Ya got here from there didn’tcha?”

“Mean I’ve come too far. I ain’t goin’ back ta where you know who lives. Asides it’s cold there. Think I’d git homesick if I lef’ the Ranch. Reckon I’ll jist spen’ my time up in the Poet Tree. Have ma own quiet time.

Crimson foliage
Crackling conflagrant hues
Ignite morning frost

Burning campfire memories
Smoke’s dusty trails dream west

Yep, I’ll stay here, tanka anyways.”

🥕🥕🥕

Outlaws on the Dusty Trail by Charli Mills

Frankie wiped her glass eye with the scarf she used to cover her face.

“Gotta mask up, Bert,” she told her horse (who wasn’t listening). “Dang dust.”

The dry storm blew like a devil whirling across the flats. Ahead, Frankie made out the outline of riders that looked to her one eye like two outlaws. They were wearin’ masks, too! She tightened the rains and thought about lunging old Bert to keep the mail safe (Bert had no run left in him).

“Hey, it’s Frankie.”

Blowing dust and relief, she realized it were jist her friends, Kid and Pal.

🥕🥕🥕

Too Far From Home by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She’d worn new Oboz hikers and thin wool socks, afraid of snakes on the trail since there’d been none on the plane. She’d strapped on a hip belt with double water holsters, and a chin-strapped billed cap with cape to for sun protection.

She gleamed like a beached whale, from all the sunscreen applied, and wore layers, like multiple skins, to transform from wallowing walrus to near naked nymphette, as the weather deemed. She’d traveled far, with no plans to stay out after dark.

But then she lost the trail, and found two Carrot cowpokes singing by a fire.

🥕🥕🥕

Jess and Cindy Stumble Across the Ranch by Joanne Fisher

“If only our car hadn’t broken down. I hope this trail will lead somewhere.” Jess said. Cindy coughed.

“It’s rather dusty!”

The two women came to a ridge. Below them they saw a ranch.

“We’ve been here before! This is Carrot Ranch where Kid and Pal work. I wonder if they’re around.” Jess wondered. They walked to the fence.

“Look at all those carrots they have to wrangle.”

“Maybe we should take some so we can compare them to our ones.” Jess suggested.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Cindy responded. “It may be regarded as carrot rustling.”

🥕🥕🥕

On the Trail Down Under by Norah Colvin
The hooves thundered along the trail kicking up a storm of dust. Mary watched the cloud clear the trees and turn towards her across the home paddock.

How often had the boys been told to not push their horses so hard?

“Might as well talk to a dead cow,” her dad always said.

Before they’d reined in their mounts, Mary was outside, ready to give them a serve.

“Mum! Mum! It’s Kid and Pal. They’re here,” they shouted.

Mary sighed. Hadn’t they outgrown imaginary friends?

Her jaw dropped when, out of the dust, two figures materialised. “G’day,” they said.

🥕🥕🥕

Saguaro ‘N Seek by Chel Owens

Pal spat into the wind, instantly regretting he’d done so. “Ware be Kid?” he growled as he wiped his face.

“Ware be you?” the wind answered.

Pal whipped around. He slid off the rocky outcropping he’d carefully climbed and scooted across just a few minutes before. His gun flew after him, landing stock first into a Saguaro and shooting its contents sky-high.

“Hey!” yelped the cactus, falling over.

Pal squinted. “Kid?”

“Nah, yer gramma.”

Pal laughed. “Welp,” he said, standing and walking over to his dusty, cactus-clad friend. “I guess you won this here round o’ hide ‘n seek.”

🥕🥕🥕

On the Trail: Crater Lakes by Saifun Hassam

Lorena trekked along a dusty trail to Coyote Ridge in the Crater Lakes Habitat. Green Lake shimmered blue in the fall sunshine. To the south were the mudflats of Lizard Lake.

Lorena was a writer and artist. Crater Lakes, with its rich American West history and extraordinary natural beauty, captivated her.

Lorena hiked past cottonwoods, aspens, and majestic lodgepole pines. On the trail, Ranger Carmen greeted her warmly. Lorena grinned at the other two familiar faces.

“Hey, Kid! Hi Pal! You’re a long dusty ways from home!”

Pal was exploring rancher history.

Kid? He was in Poet Tree heaven!

🥕🥕🥕

The Morning After by Geoff Le Pard

‘Where did you get to, Morgan?’

‘Those two reprobates, Kid and Pal…’

‘You went drinking with them? Give me you wallet.’

‘I didn’t spend much.’

‘It’s not the money; I’m tearing up your donor card. You can’t expect anyone to want your organs now.’

‘I think I must have dropped my brain and bruised it. Did I disturb you?’

‘How kind of you to worry. As it happens, no, though you did leave a sad trail of shed clothes, keys, burger wrappers…’

‘Sorry, I was feeling a little dusty…’

‘Yeah, I get it. They’re hard to refuse, aren’t they?’

🥕🥕🥕

Taking Control by Sue Spitulnik

Katie’s eyes went wide when she saw Kid and Pal standing at the No Thanks bar. “Howdy guys. What brings you here, and, how’d you get so dusty?”

“We’re on hiatus from our Saloon and gettin’ pulled every which way. One writer’s got us drinkin’, one ridin’ the range and another sittin’ at a campfire, so we rode over for a busman’s holiday. Sorry ’bout the dust.”

“Don’t care ’bout the dirt. Couldn’t be better timing! If you’ll tend bar, I’ll go see my students dance at the Irish Festival.”

“We’d love to.”

“Can’t thank you enough.”

“Have fun.”

🥕🥕🥕

In Which One Doesn’t Fly East, The Other Goes A Little Farther West (Part 1) by D. Avery

“Jeez, Pal, I’m ready fer a vacation. Where we gonna go, anyway?”

“We? This is vacation, Kid. My vacation is gonna be time away from you.”

“What? Yer leavin’ me?”

“Fer a bit Kid. I’m jist gonna have some quiet time. Mebbe do some fishin’. Catch up with ma cuzzins. Ash and Dusty. Trales.”

“Ya never told me ya had cuzzins.”

“Ya never asked. They run a little farm jist west a the ranch. Raise turnip. At one time they figgered ta give Shorty a run fer her money.”

“Did they?”

“Nah. Turnips is too bitter.”

“Kin relate, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

In Which One Doesn’t Fly East, The Other Goes A Little Farther West (Part 1) by D. Avery

“Don’t be bitter, Kid. Whyn’t ya use this time ta go back east? Check out thet fall foliage they talk about.”

“Too far.”

“How kin thet be? Ya got here from there didn’tcha?”

“Mean I’ve come too far. I ain’t goin’ back ta where you know who lives. Reckon I’ll jist spen’ my time up in the Poet Tree. Have ma own quiet time. I’d git homesick if I lef’ the Ranch. Asides it’s cold there.

Crimson foliage
Conflagrant hues crackling
Ignites morning frost

Campfire memories burning
Dusty trails of smoke drift west

Yep, I’ll stay here, tanka anyways.”

🥕🥕🥕

Snacking

Grab the popcorn or carrot sticks, and cozy up a collection of stories you can munch to. Snacking can happen on horseback, in the car, or hunkered in the old bomb bunker. What is deemed a snack is as important as when to snack. And you know there is going to be wide variances.

Writers took to snacks with snack (perhaps). Some went dark and some aimed for humor. Many snacked on the seemingly unsnackable. No matter the snacking, it became a story.

The following are based on September 24, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking.

Road Snacks Are Special by kathy70

Snacks are serious. No idea when they developed this attitude but they wear the crown well. Road trip snacks are in special categories while still having the requirement of being bad junk food. Healthy snacks don’t live in this world. Trip snacks require a salty brand of chips, chocolate that does not melt, caffeine drink and something with peanut butter.

In my vehicle this is a well proven larder that can sustain me for days.  In the past, my excuse was mid-west winters that could be brutal.  Now this is just one of those grandfathered laws of my car.

🥕🥕🥕

Cheese and Crackers by Allison Maruska

Taking my plate to my desk, I grab the last bit of cheese and pop it into my mouth, lamenting the end of my snack but ready to get busy. My plot points and character maps have been purposeless long enough. Time to start the first paragraph.

I open the document and place my fingers over the keys.

I stare at the blinking cursor, the only disruption on the blank page.

I tap my nails on the letters. The cursor blinks three more times.

Standing, I pick up the plate. That cheese really needed crackers to go with it.

🥕🥕🥕

Mushroom Monday by Tyler M Deal

Archibald Portobello, acting CEO of DeCOM Enterprises, popped another cashew into his mouth as the turtle taxi lumbered slowly beneath him. He reached into his coat pocket to retrieve a buzzing cell and shouted to the cabbie before answering it.

“Can you pick up the pace! I have a board meeting at the Log in twenty minutes.”

He flipped open the phone.

“Talk. What? No! Sell! Now!” He slapped the phone shut. “Pfft, analysts.” Then to the turtle, “Can’t this thing go any faster?”

Archibald Portobello, acting CEO of DeCOM Enterprises, sighed and popped another cashew into his mouth.

🥕🥕🥕

The Jabberwocky Revisited by Doug Jacquier

’Twas rump-numbing, and the metal seats
Did gyre and gimble in the McClains:
All mimsy were ranch-style kettle chips,
And curds and pears from out the plains.

Beware-ing the unwash-ed ones!
The jaws that blight, the masks dispatched!
She forsook the jujube bird, and shunned
The frumious butterscotch!”

And, as in meringue-ish thought she stood,
The Bar-of-choc, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the nougat wood,
And coated as it came!

But she did slay that Bar-of-Choc
And shouldered arms, her foe now so brittle.
O frabjous day! Get off my block!
She said and scoffed her Skittles.

🥕🥕🥕

Crunch Time by Norah Colvin

“I really need this today,” she said.

“Bad day?” asked the waiter, placing the coffee on the table.

“Yeah,” she sighed.

“Coffee’ll fix it,” he said. “I made it myself.”

She smiled, thinking of all the I-made-it-myself gifts received over the years.

With eyes closed, she scooped the delicious chocolatey froth into her mouth.

Then her eyes popped. There shouldn’t be anything crunchy in a cappuccino. She pushed the crunchy bit out on her tongue.

A fly! She spurted the remaining contents of her mouth over the table as a student and parent passed.

“Are you okay?” they asked.

🥕🥕🥕

Haunt by Dan Julian

Back at the abandoned lighthouse, using the grudging, jerky, taxing telekinesis which had taken him so many years to learn, the specter of Miles Phillips banged open the heavy, creaky door to let himself in, and with a final herculean effort, whooshed up the decrepit spiral of stairs to the top platform where the beacon used to be. The real and actual sheet and bulging bag he’d been concentrating so hard on ‘holding’ dropped to the dusty plank floor, myriad cheerfully-colored candies and snacks spilling out. Time to feast! Oh, how the specter of Miles Phillips did love Halloween.

🥕🥕🥕

Digesting the Situation by JulesPaige

I needed to divorce myself from my fears. The dark dismal city street appeared to be a place where zombies might jump out of doorways to snack on the likes of me. I had to convince myself that all I had to do was use Fifth Avenue as an entrance and Sixth as an exit. Just because I was no longer married and didn’t have a man to hang onto didn’t mean that I couldn’t do this on my own. I’d done it hundreds of times during the daylight hours.

working late, again
paying for independence
fears dominate sense

🥕🥕🥕

Cheat-ohs by D. Avery

“One after the other, I couldn’t help myself, even when I knew they weren’t good for me.”

“I know what you mean, Ilene,” Kristof said.

“In the end none satisfied. Too sweet. Too salty. Too full of air!”

“But we’ve made healthy choices now, both of us.”

“Hi girls.” Though late in joining Ilene and Kristof, Marge jumped right into the conversation. “What’s wrong with some greasy finger-licking cheese that goes crunch? With enough beer it’s all good.”

Ilene’s brows went up, but she agreed with Marge. “Yes, beer helps. But Marge, we were talking about men, not snacks.”

🥕🥕🥕

Snack Food by Eliza Mimski

From the time she entered middle school, Patty Lay, the heiress of Lay’s potato chips, was teased about her name – classmates, boys of course – saying she was a good lay. Jeannie M&Ms, the heiress of the M&M fortune, had received the same kind of treatment. How many times did she have to hear that she would melt in your mouth, and not in your hands? The same had rung true for Bobby Cheetos. Did he really have to hear one more time that he would be a player, a cheat? And Donna Krispy Kreme. Don’t even ask.

🥕🥕🥕

Snacking by Reena Saxena

“#MeToo movement is not over yet, and here comes the drug-peddling scandal…”

“Why does it bother you?”

“Some of us are being victimised…..”

“Are you sure you’ve never done it to others?”

The big time film director looked flustered. He is not used to this kind of a response.

“Well, it affects the manner in which I earn my bread and butter.” He softened his belligerent stance.

“It is high time you think about it. Stop snacking on drugs and girls, and plan a wholesome meal plan, where you need to work for the final taste and output.”

🥕🥕🥕

Snacking Curbside by Yvette Prior

“Um, you didn’t tell me club members would be here.”

SORRY BABE

“There’s so many of them. And look! Look who is at our table.”

They paused as they reached their assigned table.

“Honey, I can’t sit with them for two hours – especially when I’m famished.”

“I just can’t….”

silence

HEY, I HAVE AN IDEA – COME WITH ME.

Jim grabbed snacks from his truck and sat with Maria, talking on the curb, which provided succor.

The ground was hard beneath them

The sky had soft clouds above

Conversation nourished

READY TO GO IN?

“Yes, Yes I am.”

both smiled

🥕🥕🥕

Nuclear Snacking by Bill Engleson

Jimbo was my neighbour back in the city. Had a bomb shelter. Didn’t build it. It was there when he bought the house. Early 50’s vintage.

“Only one in the neighbourhood,” he’d whispered to me.

“That you know of,” I said. “Read where the first rule of good Bomb Shelter management is…Mum’s the word.”

“I trust you, Buddy. Let me show ya.”

It was cozy.

Outfitted well.

“Besides water, bandages, stuff like that” he noted, “We’ve got a year’s supply of chocolate bars and potato chips. And Pru’s dried apricots, of course. Trick, Marty, is to rotate. Takes commitment.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Culinary Faux Pas by M J Mallon

Vanessa cut the homemade apple pie into dainty, perfect slices.

Rich smiled as he popped one in his mouth. “Did you make the pastry yourself?”

“Yes.”

“It’s crumbly. And different. What’s in it?”

“Cinnamon and lemon rind.”

“Oh, from unwaxed lemons?”

Vanessa swallowed. “I… Oh dear!”

Rich picked up the melted candle on the table. “So, we’re eating cordon bleu Apple Pie snacks flavoured with cinnamon and hot wax?”

“It seems so… Aren’t they delicious!”

🥕🥕🥕

Autumnal Trip by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They’d packed coffee and sandwiches, heading out, bike trails edging around lakes green with duckweed, geese and duck leaving their own paths as they nibbled, non-stop snacking to prepare them for the winter. The two biked on, through leaf-changing suburbs, under sharp-echoing freeways, until they finally arrived at Jack’s place.

The orchard spread before them, multiple rows of red and green globes of goodness, a cool welcome after their long ride.

“Took you long enough to get here!” called out Uncle Jack from the picnic table. “I was just about to grab a snack from one of these trees!”

🥕🥕🥕

Apples by E.A. Colquitt

When he saw them, he knew he had to take them home. One, two, three, four, five: they were small and round, skin gleaming with golden polka dots. The largest even had a leaf pinned, flag-like, to the stalk, just like in fairy tales. He’d never seen that in real life before.

Part of him didn’t want to eat them. It was the smell that won him over in the end: fresh, healthy, reviving. He cut up all five fruits into a bowl.

Afterwards, he fell asleep there, on the sofa, and didn’t wake up for a hundred days.

🥕🥕🥕

Food Thrown in by Anne Goodwin

“You’re working for peanuts!”

“They don’t farm peanuts. Besides, peanuts aren’t nuts.”

“But you are, breaking your back for the price of a few rounds of drinks.”

“How much would you pay for an all-you-can-eat buffet?”

“You’re changing the subject.”

“How much? Cos that’s what you’d save, snacking all day in the fields.”

“Do they grow pizza? Do they grow chicken vindaloo?”

“They don’t. But there’s always a premium for the healthy option. Think what it costs to starve at a spa.”

“Are there strawberries?”

“Whopping great strawberries. Blueberries. Apples. Tomatoes. Cucumber. Peas, beans, big juicy pears.”

“I’m in!”

🥕🥕🥕

Lynn Valley 2020 by Saifun Hassam

Jenny and Marie ended their online discussion of upcoming news stories about Lynn Valley and the pandemic. Jenny was a photojournalist. Marie’s knowledge of farming and rural communities was extensive. Their online stories for Lynn Valley News gave people a strong sense of connection.

Their coverage of Hannah’s website “Spuds Restaurant” and her podcast of the Farmers Four musicians struck a deep chord. The Farmers Market was closed but Lynn Valley was a vibrant community and would rebuild.

Jenny relaxed. She dug into her favorite snack: spicy black beans, fresh farm tomatoes, blue corn tortilla chips. Cinnamon rolls. Coffee.

🥕🥕🥕

Snacking by Anita Dawes

When I caught my mother snacking
She told me in her sweet mum voice
The one she uses
when she wants to be believed
“It’s rude not to eat the beautiful snacks
When so many people have gone
To so much trouble to get them made.
They must earn their living
It’s our duty to try them out
I love the Homestead Ranch chips best
They’re always fresh
They have the best crunch
With every bite.”
How could I argue with that?
I didn’t want to be the one
Putting folk out of work
So I joined mum snacking…

🥕🥕🥕

Busted at Midnight by Charli mills

The crumple of a candy-bar wrapper woke the house. The cat stretched and hopped over to the couch. The dog laid her head on the armrest, silently begging. Martha heard Steve plod down the hall. She quickly shoved the wrapper with the rest down the side of the couch cushions, picking up her geology textbook and hot pink highlighter.

“Still up?” he asked, stifling a yawn.

“Mmm,” she replied, reading tectonics.

The twins and their older sister ran past Steve. Clara, hands on her hips, asked, “Mama, did you get into our Halloween buckets again?”

Martha sighed and swallowed.

Of Mice

Woe to the house with a plague of mice! Black pellets line the pantry shelves as if the rodent version of Hansel and Gretel left crumbs to mark their trail. Insulation, an old romance novel, or your latest homework become shredded nests, all cozy and comfy until the shriek of discovery echoes throughout the region. These are stories of mice.

Some writers imagined the furry pest’s point of view, and others wove tales of invasion. To the credit of characters involved, most showed courage or humor. Some even found compassion.

The following stories are based on the September 17, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story of mice.

Musophobia by Hugh W. Roberts

They weren’t alive, but how had they got here?

Suffering from musophobia, Barbara made a quick exit from the beach that was full of mice.

Turning on the radio when she got home, she waited patiently for the early morning news.

“Reports are coming in of a ship having hit rocks off the coast of North Cornwall during last nights storms. Hundreds of freight boxes containing computer mice have broken up and ended up on the beaches along the coastline…”

Just the sight, thought, or the mere mention of the word ‘mice’ was as much as Barbara could take.

🥕🥕🥕

She Likes Critters by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa asked, “Why did Gaylan’s Mom tell us to wear pants to the party?”

Michael hid a grin. “You’ll see.”

“Didn’t she raise mice in high school?”

“Yup. And she still likes critters.”

**

The huge patio at Gaylan’s was decorated like it belonged outside a bar-b-q joint. Oddly at one corner on the ground sat a pie-pan filled with peanuts, elsewhere there were pans of seeds and nearest the barn, there was an in-ground fake shallow “stream.” Tessa discovered when the humans partied, the chipmunks did too and weren’t beyond climbing a pant leg looking for a handout.

🥕🥕🥕

My Mouse by Eliza Mimski

Since the pandemic, I’ve been sleeping with stuffed animals. Some are leftovers from my grandchildren, and one is a toy mouse that my now passed-away cat used to play with. They comfort me when I sleep and I am like a small child holding onto them because… well, just because.

I don’t like mice generally, but this one looks so cute and friendly. It’s missing its tail and its right leg is chewed on. One ear flops forward, the other straight up. I even kiss it and tell it goodbye before I leave my house.

Please don’t tell anyone.

🥕🥕🥕

Three Fine Mice by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Hickory, Dickory, and Doc have lived with Auntie Dora for near-100 years. A special breed of mouse, they’d been tasked by the besotted wizard Harold to turn back the hands of time. They had done so faithfully since he’d abandoned Dora at age eighteen, astride his interstellar dragon, to restitch the ends of the universe, which goes frazzled every couple millennia.

Dora had understood the need.

And, as the nursery rhyme goes, with a gentle forward nudge of its hands, the clock struck one, and down they ran.

They’d not miss this reunion for a million pounds of Stilton.

🥕🥕🥕

I Mouse the Old Days by Bill Engleson

“Go on, ask him.”

“You ask him. You’re the curious one. ‘Sides, he’s always so grouchy.”

“Okay. I’ll do it. You got that crumb of cheese?”

“I ate it.”

“WHAT? That was for him.”

“It was so good.”

” Okay, no cheese. There he is, next to that old cobweb. Hey, grandfather.”

“Welllll, if it isn’t my favorite grand-pests.”

“Grandfather, tell us about…the old days?”

“I’m busy.”

“Doing what grandfather?”

“Getting old.”

“Please tell us.”

“Fine. We had them by the TV knobs back then, Mighty Mouse. Our own club. The great Mickey.”

“What happened?”

“It’s a micetery to me .”

🥕🥕🥕

Caught Out by D. Avery

“I’ve always been handy at catching them, but I end up feeling bad for them. They can be so cute.”

“Hi girls.” Though late in joining Ilene and Kristof, Marge jumped right into the conversation. “You can’t feel bad for them Ilene. They’re dirty, they get all through your stuff… there’s no living with them.”

Ilene’s brows went up, but she agreed with Marge. “Yes, I have definitely found that it is easier to live without them than learning to live with them.”

“Don’t be soft, Ilene. You have to kill them.”

“Marge, we’re talking about men, not mice.”

🥕🥕🥕

Mouse Rescue by Kerry E.B. Black

Nadia peered into the cage at the panting white mouse. “When did you get her?”

“Not quite a month ago. The other mice were picking on her. I had to get her out of that pet store.” Jenny frowned. “I don’t think they were letting the poor thing eat, either.”

“Why?”

Jenny baby-talked, “Because now she’s plump as a teensy-weensy golf ball.”

Nadia licked her lips. “Hon, I don’t think the other mice were picking on her.”

“You didn’t see them, jumping on her.” She leaned close.“Wait! What’s that? Is Luna hurt?”

Nadia laughed. “Nope. Those are babies.”

🥕🥕🥕

Milo by Anita Dawes

Milo, a little grey mouse
With the heart of a giant
He could stare down the largest cat
And get away unscathed
He would be sent out
For the most timid of his clan
His days were long and slow
He wanted more.
Dressed in his best suit
Knapsack on his back
He was off to the cries of “Don’t go
Who will hunt for us, we’ll starve!”
“I will teach Jacko before I go
I must seek my fortune.
If Mickey can make it big
In Hollywood, Then so can I
I will take Hollywood by storm someday…”

🥕🥕🥕

Rodent by FloridaBorne

“Isn’t he cute?” my friend Rena asked.

She petted the docile rat inside a large cage, as if it were a cute puppy!

“I hate rats.”

“Why?” Rena asked as if I were insulting her and not that pest in a cage.

Rats got into my dresser, peed on my expensive scarves, used my lingerie for bedding, and destroyed $2000 worth of clothing. They left pellets on the floor everywhere.

“But my Buddy isn’t like that.”

“Let him out of his cage, go on vacation for a week, and find out.”

Sometimes, people have to learn the hard way.

🥕🥕🥕

The Mice Ate My Homework by Norah Colvin

“What happened to your homework this time?”

“It was mice, Miss.”

“I thought you got rid of the mice.”

“We did. In the house. But I left my bag in the car last night.”

“Hmm?”

“The car was in the shed.”

“Should’ve been safe there.”

“It would, except —”

“Except?”

“Tommy forgot to let Rusty out.”

“So?”

“Rusty usually chases the mice away.”

“And?”

“Dad accidentally left the window down. The mice got in and —”

“They ate your homework?”

“They thought it was tasty, Miss.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bombay Mix and Chai by Anne Goodwin

I felt honoured, in the rural areas, to be invited into people’s homes, conversing through smiles and gesture. But I needed to keep my wits about me: the poorer people were, the more generous their hospitality, and I didn’t want them going hungry because a white woman had come to visit. A simple shack, the bathroom a field, the kitchen a pot on an outdoor fire, yet their few possessions gleamed. I didn’t worry about hygiene until, hearing a xylophone tinkling, I saw mice scurrying along the shelf stacked with aluminium plates and tumblers, and my hosts just laughed.

🥕🥕🥕

Two Mothers, Two Mice, a Similar Story (BOTS) by Nancy Brady

In a newly constructed house, a mother sat up late feeding her newborn daughter. Into the quiet crept a mouse. With eyes bright, the mouse watched the mother and daughter. The pattern repeated itself night after night until the mouse disappeared.

Thirty years later, in a newly constructed condominium, a mother sat up late breastfeeding her newborn son. It was quiet, and a mouse ran across the floor. The motion caught the mother’s eye, but she dismissed it as tiredness. The following night she saw the mouse running away. Eventually, the mouse ventured out, was caught, and released outside.

🥕🥕🥕

Of Mice, No Men by Charli Mills

In the end, the packrat was her only companion. Clara rode into Vaquero Camp after her diagnosis. What do big city bone-setters know of a woman’s breasts, anyhow? She was born with ‘em and would die with ‘em. Jake said she was foolish. After all, girl babies aren’t actually born with breasts. He’d heard that Flatfoot Bob’s wife had hers reconstructed into perky 20-year-old versions. Clara wanted no men with her. Not the son who left for Portland. Not the dead-beat cowboy who fathered him. Not even Jake, her best friend. Solitude with a packrat set her soul free.

🥕🥕🥕

Matteo the Mouse by Tyler M Deal

On a little island in a big ocean, there lived a family of brown mice. There was a papa mouse, a mama mouse, six little mice, and… Matteo. Matteo always felt a little out of place. For one thing, he didn’t look like other mice. He had dark spots around his eyes, his hair was blondish brown, his toes were too grabby, his tail was too wrappy, his snout was too big, and his nose was too pink. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Matteo wasn’t a mouse. He was a mouse opossum. But he didn’t know that.

🥕🥕🥕

Mice Artists, Inc. by Saifun Hassam

Mice discovered the fun of jumping in and out of small wells of paint in Jenny’s forgotten palette of watercolors on the patio. Weirdly artistic patterns on the whiteboards wandered down the steps into the grass.

Jenny did not have the heart to root out the mice living near the giant oak. Ultrasonic repellers in the cottage seemed to have kept them out.

Curious, she left a palette of red and orange paints on the posters.
Cerise and Tangerine created another glorious work of art: Scattered among colored footprints were mouse droppings! A budding artists’ colony around the oak.

🥕🥕🥕

Suddubsome by JulesPaige

Suddubsome was one of the batch to hatch in the roof thatch.
The seasons were changing but the little grey mouse was careful of following her nest mates.
She stayed clear of cats, hawks, and never entered a human home.
The out building of the farm and the hollow walls where the pipes ran was good enough.
When the barn was struck by lightning, she feared she lost her grain supply.
Suddubsome was clever to not match, (her pace) her patch with (the trap) the catch

one sanctuary
and quick wits is all that is
one needs to survive

🥕🥕🥕

Some Cat by Joanne Fisher

Cindy took a few slices of bread out of the bag and noticed something had been gnawing on it. She showed the bag to Jess who was sitting down at the table drinking some coffee.

“I think we’ve got mice.” Cindy told her. She then looked in the pantry, and sure enough there were mouse droppings everywhere.

“So why isn’t Rainbow catching them? Isn’t that her job?” Jess asked.

“I’m not sure she’s much of a mouser.” Cindy admitted, as she looked out the window and watched Rainbow lying in the sun seemingly oblivious to everything.

“Some cat huh?”

🥕🥕🥕

Two Friends by Ruchira Khanna

“Where’s your other slipper?” Mom inquired as Naina came out from her bedroom, wearing just one.

“Maggie is nibbling on it,” she said with a yawn as she placed herself next to her and brushed her labrador fondly.

Just then, a mouse bolted by, and Maggie woofed along with joy instead of running after her.
The duo was quick to pull up their feet and gave out a shriek.

“I adopted her so that she could keep our house free of critters, but instead, she rejoices on their company and is busy with human objects.” said the enraged mom.

🥕🥕🥕

Mouse over Mice by Prior

Are you talking to Romano?

Tell him his agent called. His photo sold for $10,000!

He wants to know if it is was the Golf Swing photo?

No.

Was it the Boxing Ring Power Punch shot?

Nope.

He wants to know if it was the blurry Runner Catching the Baton or the smooth Wind Glider?

Um, no.

He said he’s stumped. Those are the only photos he had for sale.

Tell him his agent added more to his store. He sold Mouse over Mice.

Silence over the phone.

Then Romano laughingly said, “People today are loco. They bought that one?? Loco!”

🥕🥕🥕

Mouse in the House by Hajar / Douryeh

It has always amazed me: Critters around the house

A childhood fav, was this little mammal: The mouse

Every Spring and Fall, we heard just one shuffle

On the attic, where it cleanly slept, without scuffle

There were no others than this one tidy mouse

Later, I encountered more than one mice filled house

It didn’t make me loose sympathy for the mouse

It’s a gentle spirit; at home, it’s relatively harmless

In a domestic environment, it may cause minor stress

🥕🥕🥕

Mice Musing by Simon Prathap D

I’m small I’m cute
Yet I’m hated by the most
I can run, I can bite
they call me mischievous
I am hairy, am I scary?
Is that why you hate me?
I am hated by the cat’s
I am chased by the cat’s
But scientists wants me to test
I am brilliant I am smart
You are an evolution of me
Before you give me test medicine
Before you give me food poison
Remember I have a family too
All I wanted is, evolve like you
Remember we all are family
because you were once a mice!

🥕🥕🥕

Mice, or Rather the Mouse by Frank Hubeny

“There isn’t much we mice can do.”

“Let alone one mouse”.

“What has a lion ever done for us? He’s probably trapped for a good reason.”

And so they tried to discourage Tamar from helping the lion escape from the ropes binding him.

“If you’re going to help him, don’t lecture him about his diet.”

“He might eat you.”

“Or smash you.”

Tamar recognized him. He’s the one who let her go. A quiet voice told her to gnaw the rope and then get out of the way.

So she did and when she did the other mice helped.

🥕🥕🥕

What A Time To Be Alive by Donna Matthews

“Dude, time’s up.”

“No! You had it ALL DAY yesterday!”

“So? I’m working on a project, and you’re just playing solitaire.”

“It’s practice. Mike said it helps with coordination.”

“Ahhheeeemmmm.”

Darren slams his hand on the desk and pushes up slow, glaring. Me? Not bothered. This project is a ticket to promotion. I sit down at our communal Windows machine and marvel once again at the nascent technology. The little gadget, called a mouse of all things, fits snug in my hand. No more c:/ prompt. Just a small arrow, leading the way. What a time to be alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Of Mice an’ Shorty, a Contradictin’ Pair (count the previous pompts!) by D. Avery

“Pal, that a high wind a’screechin’?”

“Reckon thet’s Shorty. She ain’t so inclusive, seems like, when it comes ta mice. Screams inside her heart an’ outside too. Dealin’ with them little critters ain’t her crownin’ glory.”

“Huh. What happened ta protectin’ nature, ta justice fer all? This is crazy.”

“Well, she don’t like mice sharin’ quarters thet’s fer sure. I’s wunnerin’ whyn’t she jist go back ta the library cat fer hep? Rainbow’d show ‘em the open road all right.”

“Reckon she’s took charge a her mouse situation. Still… them resourceful little critter’s is jist sayin’, I got life.”

🥕🥕🥕

Heard on the Radio

Cruising down the road, and an old song plays over the airways, taking us back to another place and time. Whatever we’ve heard on the radio has an uncanny staying power you can’t forget. Music, or even stories, forge our memories.

With nostalgia — or not — writers took to the radio as a signal for crafting stories. Flipping through the stories in this collection is like dialing in different stations. Hope you tune into some favorites or surprises!

The following is based on the September 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio.

PART I (10-minute Read)

Journeys of a Kind by Saifun Hassam

It was maybe in 1967.
Sitting on the steps outside the kitchen.
Summer sunset.
Farm fields, wheat rustling in the slight breeze.
Great music pouring out of the transistor radio
Something about a guitar man, wandering the lands.
She cried and she laughed – just like the song said.

She’s now 70?
Those faraway crazy days listening to
Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Joan Baez.

Now it’s the Intenet.
Vivaldi; and Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”.
Great mix of classical guitar and jazz piano by Claude Bolling;
Jazz of Michael Silverman;
And the haunting notes of Eric Tingstad’s “Badlands”.

🥕🥕🥕

Tuning In by Norah Colvin

On sheep and cattle stations in outback Queensland in the pre-television and digital era, when mail and groceries were delivered fortnightly, the party line telephone and radio linked families with the outside world.

Mealtimes were scheduled to conclude with news broadcasts. The chatter and clatter ceased the moment chimes announced the start. Graziers inclined towards the radio, concentrating to extract words from the crackle, hopeful of positive stock reports, promising weather forecasts and news of world events.

Unable to affect, but affected by, the situations reported, the graziers returned to the day’s tasks, hopeful of better news next report.

🥕🥕🥕

“We Interrupt This Programme” by R. V. Mitchell

Six-year-old, Alice was dancing with her doll to the music on the radio. Suddenly, the music stopped and a man’s voice said, “We interrupt this programme, with an important bulletin. The United States’ fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii has been attacked by air and naval forces of the Empire of Japan. I repeat, the American fleet has been attacked in Hawaii.”

Alice ran to tell her mother.

“Mother, the Umpire of Japan attacked Hawee.”

Her mother instantly went pale, and stared out into their Nebraska pasture.

“Mother, where is Hawee?” the little girl asked.

“Too close, Darling. Too close.”

🥕🥕🥕

On the Radio by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Welcome to the Mercury Theatre on Air…” the voice echoed from the radio in the next room.

Rosemary stayed at the sink. She scrubbed hard at a burned spot in the pan. It was her turn to wash the dishes. Meanwhile, her brother and parents relaxed at the table, sipping coffee after dinner.

“…An unusual object has fallen on a farm in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey…” The radio sputtered with static.

Grover’s Mill? That’s where I live! Rosemary felt fear.

The announcer’s voice declared, “…It’s the War of the Worlds. Is there anybody out there?”

The radio went silent.

🥕🥕🥕

Radio Ga-Ga by Tyler M Deal

Narrator: Nearly paralyzed with fear, she inches closer to the open window. The cold, night air chills her skin. Closer… closer… hands trembling, she reaches for the window seal. She swallows hard and looks out. A shadow in the darkness; a gruesome disfigured hand reaches up and… and…

Woman: Ahhhhhhhh!

[Silence]

Announcer: We will pause here briefly with this ad for Radium Water. Radium Water, it’ll cure what ails ya and leave you with a healthy, vibrant glow. Radium Water! Available wherever NukEx products are sold.

Narrator: And now… for the thrilling conclusion of… The Withered Hand of Rrrrrrrrasputin!

🥕🥕🥕

On Being a Believer by Judy Marshall

If you found inspiration today from God’s word, please support our broadcast with a donation…

Grandma rose early Wednesday mornings to hear Dr. Samuel preach. Her battered old radio sat on the kitchen table.

KRST-AM crackled from 8:00 to 8:30 with Dr. Samuel’s soothing voice. Wednesday’s were almost better than Sunday services she attended. She felt renewed from the singing and fellowship of her fellow worshipers.

From these inspirations, she wrote checks. She tithed with a monthly check as God directed  She donated to Dr. Samuel and bought his books.

Grandma truly was a believer. RIP with God, Grandma.

🥕🥕🥕

October Road by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The sun was a memory, the road a straight line swallowed by an empty horizon. This relic of a rental was so old, the radio was one speaker, with five buttons and a dial to select AM stations. Too late even for radio ministry, too early for the farm report; he cranked open the window for the wind’s whistle.
Rubbing his eyes with one hand, he cupped the wheel with the other.

“Joe? Are you there?”

He started, cranked the window shut to hear the radio

“Mary?”

Her voice was clear and strong, as if she was still alive.

🥕🥕🥕

It Had to Be a Sign by Anne Goodwin

“Living Doll” crescendoed as Steve pushed through the swing door into Theatre Six. Three figures in scrubs, and no instruments in sight except the whiteboard marker pens held, like microphones, to their mouths. It had to mean something, Jerry dancing in the middle, the father he never had.

He used to jive with his mother when his big sisters were at Guides. “Did he really do that, Mummy? Did Cliff Richard lock a lady in a trunk so no-one else could have her?”

Now he has a house, a cellar, bolts across the door. A girlfriend, threatening to leave.

🥕🥕🥕

In And Out On The Radio by Hugh W. Robeerts

“Hello,” said Juliet, knocking the side of the ostentatious object, “Who’s in there?”

“Come away,” demanded her mother.

“How can all those people be in there? Why don’t they come out?”

“Don’t be silly! They can’t come out. They’re not inside the radio. They’re broadcasting from the BBC.”

“I want to broadcast from the BBC and come out on the radio,” demanded Julia.

Forty-one years later.

“Today on BBC Radio 4, we’re interviewing actress, Juliet Greenwood,” announced the radio presenter. “Good morning, Ms Greenwood. Are the rumours true?”

“Yes, they are,” declared the radio soap opera star. “I’m gay.”

🥕🥕🥕

True Radio Memory by Sue Spitulnik

A phone call on a weeknight from my UPS driver son wasn’t a common thing. I asked, “What’s up?”

“Every place I made a delivery today the ladies were crying about some DJ dying. Who was he and were you crying too?”

“On my God, yes. Bill Coffey from WBEE dropped dead yesterday after the show. Terry and Billy told us this morning. We all cried together.”

“Did you ever meet this guy?”

“No, but I knew him well. Those DJ’s are my friends.”

“They don’t know you.”

“But I feel like I know them.”

“I don’t get it.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lost Daughter by Charli Mills

Clementine heard her mother over the Stockton radio. She’d entered the small house at the edge of farm fields, picking up fallen produce in the road. Harvest trucks left a trail, speeding to city markets. Her landlady called the rental the Road Garden. Clem thought she meant “rose” and was disappointed to find weeds and a weeping willow. Her mother played Rambler on the banjo and Clem recognized the Tennessee picking popular among California cowboys. She recognized her mother’s name but not her voice. One day, maybe she’d meet the woman who abandoned her for a life of music.

🥕🥕🥕

On the Radio by Eliza Mimski

I’m sorry, so sorry
That I was such a fool
I didn’t know
Love could be so cruel…

Brenda Lee’s voice bled through the radio. The walls sagged, the lights dim with memory.

Marla could not turn back the hands of time. She was sorry. She had been a fool. And from her end, cruelty had entered into their break-up.
There was only one thing to do. She would buy new makeup. She would get a new haircut. She’d go to her aesthetician. She’d practice her coy smile in front of the mirror.

She would get her man back.

🥕🥕🥕

Songs One Can’t Forget by Frank Hubeny

“I hope the kids don’t remember that song you used to sing to them about the bird and the word.”

“I didn’t sing it for long. When they got older, I pretended to be the voice of their doll, Sweetie Baby.”

“You know, we still have that doll in case they ever want it.”

“It’s good to keep stuff like that. Actually some of those old songs aren’t any goofier than the ones they sing today. No wonder we’re all messed up.”

“At least the grand kids don’t know the song.”

“Unfortunately I sang it to them as well.”

🥕🥕🥕

Triggering the Howling Stage by Anne Goodwin

I considered myself happy, that final summer of my childhood, playing housewife, home alone. My mother away, securing my future, my dad at work, my brother at play. My chores complete, I’d doze off with the radio in the afternoon heat. Until a sentimental song kicked me into consciousness, ambushing me with feelings I didn’t recognise as mine. A howling thrusting from my bowels and discharging from my throat. An animal sound, alien, drowning the jingle, almost choking me. Arrhythmic breathing, such wild and weird wailing, it made me laugh. A dramatic overture before the symphony of weeping commenced.

🥕🥕🥕

OMG by Simon

A man was walking down the road thinking. He was listening to radio station, a hot news on the radio station, it said “Ghost writer exposed, he is none other than Sam from a small village in India, and we will be hearing his success story from him very soon, until then stay tuned.” Everyone celebrated and jumped and lifted him. He did not understood why they are behaving strange, his Mom came outside and gave him a spoon of sugar and said, “You idiot, you never told us you are writer.” Sam gasped and said, “OMG! I’m revealed!”

🥕🥕🥕

Live Author Talk by M J Mallon

Those bloody motorbikes can’t they stop! 1 A.M. no chance I’ll get any sleep. Tomorrow’s the live show. Never done this before. What will it be like? I’ll soon know. Introverted writers, tonight at 9 p.m. I’ll talk live. Bound to be a problem with the connection. We’ll get there… I did it! I listen, damn, I can’t see my weird mannerisms, but I can hear them. Perhaps I should have had some water instead of that glass of wine, stupid faux pas, one or two!

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute Read)

Radio Stories by Susan Zutautas

Dan Hill a Canadian pop singer/songwriter was on the radio telling the story of how “Sometimes When We Touch” came about.

A girl he liked was dating a football player and he wrote and sang her his song. She felt he was too intense for his age. Off he went hurt by her reply. He tucked away the song until he was older.

Working with Barry Mann one day he asked him to come up with music for his poem, not mentioning any of the history behind it. It came out in 1977 hitting #3 on the U.S. billboard.

🥕🥕🥕

Heard on the Radio by Anita Dawes

I remember falling in love with a song
After hearing it coming from
my mum’s little Dansette radio
Indian Reservation
Years later I bought it on vinyl
Played it until it became paper-thin
The neighbours banging on the wall
Begging me to play something different
It’s strange how one song
Heard on a tiny radio
Can colour your life
To me the world suddenly
became wonky, off-kilter.
Why do people think they can take
what doesn’t belong to them
Changing Nations with their greed
Indian Reservation
remains one of my favourite songs
to this day
Played often…

🥕🥕🥕

Driving Me by Joanne Fisher

As she drove me home, she sang along to some song on the radio. I wasn’t even sure what it was. She glanced sideways at me and smiled.

“Hey this could be our song babe!’ she said, and then she abruptly began to sing again loud and off-key, as always. Our song? We had only been going out for two days now, and I wasn’t that sure if we were going to last, yet.

“Sure sweetie.” I replied with a half-smile. She laughed loudly and patted my leg.

“That’s my girl!” she exclaimed. And then she started singing again.

🥕🥕🥕

Radio Reboot by Bill Engleson

“He finally bought it?”

“Bloody miracle. Melania kept pounding away at ’em. Know what finally brought him around?”

“No idea.”

“The initials. DJT. She kept repeating FDR JFK DJT FDR JFK DJT.”

“Seriously?”

“Yup. Had him running around the bedroom chanting it. FDR JFK DJT. It was a hoot.”

“And he’s willing to go to the next level?”

“Bet your booties. Anything to get the geriatric vote back. And the younger demographic will be amused.”

“Not quite a fireside chat.”

“No, but ‘Tweet nothings from the Prez’ has a ring. Every radio station we can get. 7:00 am…sharp.”

🥕🥕🥕

Mixed Media by JulesPaige

Even those stations that attempt to bring us enjoyment often spouting that they are the best – this is the icing on the cake – we’ll take care of you, we’ve surgically removed all of the calories. A line we fall for too easily because we sometimes just really want to be fooled. We want what was, that simpler time forgetting the long list of woes each preceding decade has had to deal with. And yet we still seek that sugar rush. Looking for a sweet life wanting music that soothes.

frosted, sugar, chilled?
media complicates things
with their bias views

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Good News on the Radio by H.R.R. Gorman

David wrote nervously at his desk. He scribbled numbers and added them to prepare other people’s taxes. The radio played in the background, droning out music and ads from a tinny speaker while David waited.

When the news came on he fiddled with a key on his ring. Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, U2 spy planes: one day they’d go too far, and the red trigger would be pushed.

David was prepared. Years of food, fluorescent lighting to grow plants underground, a generator, barrels and barrels of diesel. Just give the word, radio, and he’d leave accounting forever.

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1938 CBS Mercury by Kerry E.B. Black

The rich-voiced announcer interrupted our background music with a report. A Professor from Jenning Observatory detected explosions on Mars.

I shared a nervous laugh. “Nothing to worry about, children. Let’s carve our pumpkins.”

The reporter interrupted again. A hideous monsters that had fallen from the skies. I bundled the kids close, jack-o-lanterns forgotten. We crept outside, but nothing disturbed the starry expanse overhead. No Martians. No attacks.

A neighbor asked if we were alright.

We whispered, “Martians are attacking New York.”

“You don’t say?”

We nodded.

“Way I see it, you shouldn’t listen to Orson Wells’ show. Charley McCarthy’s funnier.”

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Station To Station by Geof Le pard

‘Let’s have some music, Logan.’

‘There’s nothing worthwhile.’

‘That’s ridiculous. American has more stations than All India railways.’

‘But they’re vacuous. Not like Radio Three on the Beeb.’

‘You mean pretentious presenters widdling on about Bach’s innovative use of the semi-breve?’

‘Exactly. Better than some tight-trousered troubadour bemoaning his herpes.’

‘That’s your summation of a whole genre, is it? Go on…’

And now a word from our sponsors, Artic Deodorant…

‘See, just bloody adverts…’

‘Shush, you may learn something…’

It may be winter outside, but it’s always August under your armpits. Freshen up…

‘You’re right. Turn it off, Logan.’

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Beyond  by D. Avery

They pulled the door shut against the snow squall. “We made it.”

He fumbled for a switch. “There’s still electricity.” Then the lights flickered out.

“Not surprising in this storm, but look, there’s wood, and there’s coals glowing in the fireplace. The owner must have preheated the cabin for us.” He soon had a fire blazing. She spotted a battery-powered radio.

Roads becoming impassable…

“Radio works… now for this lantern.”

Police have suspended their search for an escaped serial killer.

The lantern beam encircled them like a snare. Stepping from the shadowed edge of light, a silhouette took form.

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Time in a Radio by Chel Owens

“The shadow knows…” cassette-crackles our road trip-bound car, forced upon us by ancient parents. I can’t wait for

“That was Mars, The Bringer of War…” intones the always-calm classical voice, soothing from my bedside speaker. I’ll never change to

“Help! I need somebody…” Another sort of Classic, crooning comfort. “Here comes your ghost again,” cannot be replaced by

“Video killed the radio star…” my teenage mouth moves along. Why kill art; why listen to anything but

“The shadow” bzzt “Mars” bzzt “diamonds and rust” bzzt “all that glitters is goooold” bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Dial broken, static cleared; I play them all.

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Music by FloridaBorne

The first time I heard the continental divide of music, I was at a stoplight that stayed red for so long it tried my patience.

“Bye Bye Miss American Pie…”

The light turned green just as the song began, and I shifted into first gear. I drove a Nash Metropolitan, not a Chevy, and there was no levee in sight.

Age 21, with an entire lifetime ahead of me, the song was screaming out a message I was much too young to understand.

It’s been almost 50 years. Will our republic lose control of the plane in this battle?

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On The Radio by Donna Matthews

I drive across the lot and find a spot. I turn off the engine, head in, and scan quickly for an open seat and friendly face. New writing class jitters.

The instructor opens with the 19th 9/11 anniversary. 19 years! I still remember all that time ago sitting in traffic, hearing the news on the radio, and thinking how surely it was a terrible accident.

Our assignment is to imagine a moment from the perspective of someone there. This is horrifyingly simple. I picture the spouse picking up their car from the ferry dock among the hundreds still there.

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Now Why? by Reena Saxena

The road trip was taken against her wish.

A sense of foreboding descended on her, as they drove on the same zig-zag roads climbing up the mountains, but she controlled herself. Teenage children don’t listen anyway.

The familiar refrain of a song brought her out of her reverie.

“OMG! This is not possible. It’s the same song.”

“You enjoy old songs, Mom…”

“This radio channel closed down long back.”

The same figure in black stood on the roadside with an infant in her arms. She had stopped them a decade ago.

She’d died fifteen years ago. Now why?

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iAiai by D. Avery

“Pal, do you have a ipod?”

“I don’t.”

“Should git one.”

“I won’t.”

“Pal, we’re out here all the live long day, we should have a playlist fer when we work.”

“Yer hardly workin’, Kid. Jist leave the singin’ ta the birds.”

“Y’ever yodel, Pal?”

“Never.”

“Knock, knock.”

“Ah, jeez. Who’s there?”

“Little Old Lady.”

“Little Old Lady who?”

“Gotcha ta yodel, Pal!”

“Hmmf.”

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Brain KROT by D. Avery

“S’pose all we need’s thet old radio in the bunkhouse, tuned to KROT. Weatherman says them high winds is slacked off. Says the skies are not cloudy all day.”

“Sportscaster says the Rodeo’s comin’!”

“Yeehaw!”

And the Ads Played On

“Yep, KROT’s a good station, plays jist what ya wanna hear when ya wanna hear it.”

“How da they manage that, Pal?”

“Reckon ‘cause they’s fictional, like us. Shush listen.”

Come shift or shine ya don’t need no fancy wine but fer a real good time try Ernie’s Corn Juice! Ernie’s Corn Juice— dis still the one fer fallin’ down fun.

“Ernie’s advertisin’ on KROT!”

‘Ello. Dees ees Pepe LeGume of LeGume’s Cleaning Services. Leave a shine behind! For a clean that lingers, hire LeGume’s.”

“More ads!”

Frankie delivers da letters with an eye to quality.

“Kid, iquit radio!”

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High Winds

Weather shifts and high winds blow sails and change. Fierce, it topples sunflowers, fences, and rooftops. If harnessed, high winds energize travel and electricity. It’s a phenomenon that can be destructive or helpful.

Such a dichotomy brings opportunity to writers to play between the lines. High winds blow across the stories in this collection, drifting between different ideas and storylines.

The following is based on the September 3, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about high winds.

Breakwater by D. Avery

Stories distracted and comforted her younger sister. “One night a mighty wind banged and tore at the trailer until the trailer lifted right into the air and carried the two girls far away, where they lived just them.”

“No dad?”

“No. A big tree killed him. The mom cried and didn’t even notice her girls were gone. But they lived happily ever after in the candy meadow.”

Sudden pounding and roaring stole the younger girl’s smile.

“It’s just that wind, Sis. You stay down.” Biting her trembling lip, the older girl stepped into the hall to meet the storm.

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High Winds by Frank Hubeny

The only high winds were Windy, the wolf, so Straw, the pig, built a house of straw. Brick overbuilt with bricks. Stick used what was lying around, sticks. Both annoyed Straw. “It’s not fair!” Straw complained to Windy. He wanted all three houses.

Windy went to Stick’s home and blew it down. Chomp! He ate Stick. Then he went to Brick’s home. Brick gave Straw a key. Straw lent it to Windy. Chomp!

When Windy returned Straw squealed, “Perfect!” Windy, mind-blown as ever, thought: yummy. Chomp! He (gasp!) ate Straw.

Moral: Some high winds can take your breath away.

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The Tree of Life by M J Mallon

I encouraged my mother-in-law to venture out for a walk. She hadn’t been out since a fall laid her low before lockdown. We sat by the wise old tree. I had no idea that just a few days ago this area had been the site of a funeral gathering. The family decorated the branches with colourful ribbons, dream catchers, pretty baubles and teddy bears. As we talked, a tremendous gust of wind blew the ribbons, twirling them in a whirl of colour as the baubles and teddies danced.

I heard leaves rustling; it was his last goodbye.

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Where The Wind Carries Us by Hajar / ‘Douryeh’

Native American wisdom says, wind is God’s voice — maybe

Wind easily always reminds me of this: The sky

Looking at the sky, is looking at unending history

At daytime, you see the Sun; maybe the Moon

At nighttime, you may see stars, dead since millennia

Also wind, reminds me of history — but, my own

Its sound in the foliage brings me back decades

I heard the same whisper, when walking to school

Wind brings us back to history and to nature

Maybe indeed wind reminds us of our very core

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Smoke and Rain (Diamante) by Saifun Hassam

Fierce unseasonal northerly winds drove forest fire smoke over southern coastal villages. Diamante and villagers trekked into the upper valley farms inland for shelter. Like generations before them.

An eerie ochre murky red sun sank into a churning turbulent sea. At midnight calm descended. A silver moon rose over the mountains. The harvest was lost. Shorelines were buried under endless hillocks of sand dunes.

Grit and fortitude was part of survival on the coast. The villagers would rebuild. Like their families before them. Diamante’s spirits lifted. The sea was tranquil. In a few months, southeasterly winds would bring rain.

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The Sudden Storm by Joanne Fisher

Eliza, Captain of the The Crimson Night, was asleep when the squall hit. She quickly arose and staggered to the deck. The scene was complete chaos. The high winds shredded the mainsail to shreds, while the mizzen looked in danger of collapsing.

The crew desperately tried to bring the sails down as high waves crashed over them, washing some overboard. Eliza took the wheel trying to keep the ship on course, holding on to prevent being swept into the brine herself.

When morning came, the squall had blown itself out. The ship was heavily damaged, but they had survived.

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Eros Wind by Kerry E.B. Black

Mary rested her chin on her hands, framed like a Madonna by the window frame. The day brought challenges, and she wished for someone to love.

The wind stole sighs from her lips and swirled them into intricate hearts until it found its quarry.

Ed rubbed the small of his back, soothing work-weary muscles, and blinked into the setting sun. A breeze brought sweet, perfumed sighs as he drove his Harley toward home.

The winds picked up and whirled.

“Better stop.” Ed parked at a diner.

Mary strolled by – that familiar perfume! Their eyes met.

The wind whistled self-congratulations.

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You Are Late!  by Simon Prathap D

It’s been three years, I have to propose her’ he said and took a step forward.

A strange noise, a high wind approached them, he looked around no one was there, he quickly removed his long coat and covered then both and took her into his car and Parked his car under a building.

Breathing heavily he turned didn’t waste his moment, her face was crimson red already, our nervous hero finally opened up and said ‘I love you’ with a rose in hand without petals. She shows a new ring in her hand, she replied ‘you are late.’

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The High Winds of Temptation by Donna Matthews

My dad was a boisterous one in the morning. He would be whistling a tune with his coffee and pouring over the newspaper. He scoured the want ads, marking those that sounded promising. He had a job, but he believed one needed to be open to opportunities. He’d finish off his research and bounce out the door, signing off with “another day, another dollar, a million days, a million dollars. He never did earn that million dollars. Taken out by the high winds of temptation, he tried his luck in an embezzlement scheme and ended up broke, drunk, alone.

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Flare-up by Bill Engleson

The pressure builds. Each second of squall is a minute of gale, is an hour of fury, is a lifetime of rage.

Hoble is the town weatherglass. When he is at peace, found comfort in food, in conversation, in those placid moments most of us can kick into gear with planning, common sense, whatever you call it, then we breathe one of those sighs of relief found when wars end.

When Hoble explodes, when the world twists him pretzel-like, when he steps into an errant cheerless shadow, we cower.

And we wonder, how did we allow this to happen.

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Gale Force Winds by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa struggled against the wind to open the front door and once inside, the gale slammed it behind her. She heard no greeting. “Michael?”

The wind squealed through the house’s old window frames with such ferocity she feared they would break. She went from room to room calling, “Michael? Jester?” She saw Michael’s empty chair in the bedroom and discovered him in the closet cuddling the dog under a sleeping bag.
Tessa crouched down. “You two all right?”

“Yeah. Jester buried himself in here when the wind got bad so I joined him. I think we need new windows.”

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Last Pass by Charli Mills

In the Sierras, high winds herald snow. A wagon train of weary souls had hoisted beasts and conveyances to the top of Kit Carson’s pass to reach California’s goldfields below. They looped their way around bulging batholiths and high-altitude lakes glimmering like cut emeralds. The air thinned and the wind rose. The wagon master bellowed, and oxen trundled faster, sensing danger. They didn’t stop at night to rest. By the light of lanterns, they battled banshee winds, tarps snapping like sails. Sunrise opened with peaceful silence followed by splats of rain. Behind them, snow closed the pass until spring.

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Beyond Bluster by R. V. Mitchell

“How did this happen? You saw the alert, and should have known better,” the superintendent scolded.

“I did my best, and as far as your message, I never got a chance to read it,” the manager retorted.

“And why, might I ask didn’t you read it?” the superintendent snapped.

“The wind! You sent a message warning all camp managers to evacuate the campers to the solid structures based on the weather report back in Capital City. You didn’t take into consideration that those of us on the ground, out here in the west, got the storm five hours earlier.”

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Worst Storm of My Life by Susan Zutautas

Can’t we just pull off somewhere, I said as I was clutching the grab handle strenuously thinking I was going to die tonight. How the hell can you see anything?

The rain was pounding down with a furry. Turbulent winds were slamming us as we tried to make it further down the highway.

All that could be heard on the radio was take cover and stay off the roads if possible.

We were losing ground trying to keep ahead of the hurricane.

Cars were pulling off to the shoulder, but we kept going until we made it home safely.

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Winding Up by Geoff Le Pard

‘You’re not going out, Logan!’

‘Why not? Just a light breeze.’

‘It’s a hurricane. Did you see that trash can fly by?’

‘A tr… oh the rubbish bin. Rather flimsy.’

‘You think British bins are better?’

‘No, it’s just they make such a fuss…’

‘The US gets stronger winds than we do.’

‘Of course. They supersize everything. They call that a lake, but it’s the size of Wales.’

‘It destroyed those sunflowers.’

‘My point exactly. When Sevenoaks was devastated by the 1987 hurricanes, the citizens just changed the town name to Oneoak.’

‘They were lovely sunflowers, though.’

‘I know.’

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Bettering Michael Fish by Anne Goodwin

His family spent summers camping. Idyllic, except the canvas never dried out. Back home, he kept his sleeping bag beside his wellingtons. Rain equalled holidays to him.

He was five in 1987, when the famous hurricane struck England. Old enough to ask why the weatherman said don’t worry. Young enough to fear he’d be yanked from his bed when the wind took the roof from the house. Now, as climate change makes high winds more common, he’s determined he won’t get caught out. A degree in meteorology got him in front of the weather chart on the evening news.

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High Winds by Eliza Mimski

California is burning. Lightning. Sparks. Heatwaves. Rescue missions. High winds. Wildfires, ambivalent, rage up hills.

The house had belonged to them for years – decades. It was their first and only home. They’d collected memories. The photographs on the mantel. The ones hanging on the walls. The bed they had slept in, the table where they’d eaten. Their pets. Their garden.

Before they fled, they watched the house burn, a wall of orange reducing it, their life together extinguished. They lost their memories, their photographs. They can’t find their precious cat.

Winds blow. Fires spread. Trees, land, houses burn.

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Blown Away by JulesPaige

The high winds left from the last hurricane pelted Gina and James as they tried to get to the pier. Even without getting into the water sand managed to find its way into every crevice of their bodies. The ocean water had risen to make rivers across the beach and over the sidewalks and onto the road. The ocean had risen so for the safety of the public, the pier closed. The couple made their way back to the ice cream parlor for refuge. What a vacation!

deafening air moved
across their ears; no gulls flew
was nature angry?

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Bring on the Rain by Chel Owens

“I am in control!” She screams, gripping fists of invisibility so hard she feels what’s left of fingernails digging against her palms. Forget the past; forget what Steve or Phil or Jack or even James -if that was his name- said. “I am in control!”

Forces more powerful than any touched by man answer, without words. Pushing, tearing, whipping the lake’s edge against her -her, a small, insignificant figure to challenge God’s great breath.

“I am -” she gasps, “in control!” Spray and tears stream down her face;
wipe clean
spray
clear

Till, beckoned by her challenge, the sky-fall comes.

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The Void by Tyler Deal

Arture dashed across the windswept plain. His heart pounded in his head; his feet pounded the ground. Sand bit at his face as it was dragged away into the void behind him.

What now?

A rocky outcropping jutted up ahead. Perhaps it would shield… Arture faltered and dodged as the mighty wind peeled giant jagged stones away from the earth.

Every fiber of his body strained forward. Then… Arture left the ground. The void pulled him in like a great whirlpool.

Arture set his jaw, tucked his legs, and sped at the void like a cannonball. This wasn’t over.

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When the Wind Blows High by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Cora stretched her long neck, beak pecking the fast moving clouds in the pale sky. Twisting, she at last freed herself from her heavy, confining carapace. It’d been necessary protection against wicked solar radiation, brought on by the forebears of those singing blessings to the thin creek twisting through desert, below.

Wind off the melting icecaps ruffled her damp feathers, coaxing the final stage of her transformation to fierce dragon, like breeze to butterfly. When the wind blew high, she would fly to find the rest of her kind.

She eyed the scant group of humans below, stomach rumbling.

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Landscapes by Reena Saxena

My heart aches at the thought of what could have been.

I woke up with a dream on the morning of 1st January, like many others, and prayed for a more sane and sensible world. I am a doer, not a vanilla dreamer. There was an action plan in place, in process of implementation.

And then, tragedy struck. Nobody had any control on the high winds which swept the landscape altering the structure and foundation of dreams.

altered landscapes
call for new designs
I wait with a pen
but Ink that dried
with uncertainty
Is yet to flow again

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Erie Kai by Nancy Brady

The cat was roaring…
wild
roaring all night long
I could hear it
in night visions—
a feral cat
invading dreams,
disturbing sleep.

In the morning still angry
with power,
lashing out its claws,
swishing tail,
leaving marks as it paced
and scratched, attacking its prey
with waves and water flying
all up and down the coast.

Anger spent,
the wind subsides, turning 180 degrees.
The cat begins to purr,
paws now velvetted,
lapping and grooming the shores once again,

Except in Canada where
winds are high,
blowing from the south, and
the cat begins to roar.

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Strong Westerlies by D. Avery

“Seen mighty high winds in my day Kid. ‘Member one time winds was so strong they took the barn apart, all the boards and beams swirlin’ in the air. When it settled down thet wind had put the boards back t’gether its own way, had us a silo. ‘Nuther time it blew fer days an’ days. Carrot greens flew like feathers.”

“Still had the roots?”

“Yep. But the animals was upset, felt thet wind deep inside themsefs. All the hens give after thet was scrambled eggs. Milk cow was so churned up all we got was butter.”
“Unbelievable Pal.”

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Lemon Queens

As one writer said, “Pucker up!” The Lemon Queens have stories to share that will have you smacking your lips for lemonade. The right amount of sunshine, the balance of color, and a bit of sweet to balance the tart. Whether sunflowers or bold girls with a lemonade stand, there is something delightful in the name.

Writers pushed their imaginations and found stories full of pucker, pride, and playfulness. Find out who the Lemon Queens are from biscuits to monsters with magic and realism in between.

The following are based on the August 27, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features Lemon Queens.

Canyon Lands by Saifun Hassam

Lightning flickered across golden sandy tracts of the Five Canyons Land. Deep beneath sandy soils, paleontologists discovered extinct microbes and algae with yellow chromophores. Over eons, pigments stained layers of soil with vibrant lemon and orange hues.

Spirals of pinnacles, the Lemon Queens, towered over yellow sandstone cliffs. In the sunlight, the Lemon Queens glowed crimson, fiery red and sparkling citrine.

From dark long shadows, dust rose like mystical spirits in flowing robes of the yellow and red landscape. A rider emerged flying on her steed across the open plains. Topaz jewels and silver threads flashed in the sunlight.

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The Lemon Queens by kathy70

In this year like no other in memory, I am spending more time in the garden. The flowers are mostly putting on their last show for this season. All the veggies know their time is almost at an end, how do I stretch the days. Is there any way to keep the sun higher and brighter in the sky. I, the oldest of the Lemon Queens will need help doing this task. I gather all the queens and instruct them on the chant. As we gather an eclipse happens now the sun is really gone for four more years.

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Last Words by Simon Prathap D

Mr.Sam would like to share few last words about Madam Bea.

You know, Good people have got very less time on this planet. She is a tall woman, and I’ll call this is a fall of lemon Queen sunflower. Why? you’ll not like her, but, she is a good person, she is a queen in heart, cares for everyone around, she will go any extent to save people she care, like a sunflower, stands tall like a beacon of light and attracts beautiful people like a flower attracts butterflies, we are going to miss her. Rest in peace Bea.

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Maybe Even Prettier by Donna Matthews

“What’s this flower called mom?”

“A lemon queen.”

“And this one, mom?”

“A poppy.”

“This one, mom?”

“Oh, she’s a primrose.”

“Primrose?! I have a friend at school named Primrose. Well, I did. I haven’t seen her in my zoom class this week. Do you think she still goes to my school, mom?”

“I don’t know, honey.”

“Will we ever get back to normal, mom?”

“Certainly. Do you see all these flowers? Each spring, they grow back from hibernation. They look dead, but then they come back. Things look bad now, sweetheart, but they’ll grow back. Maybe even prettier.

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A Place for Everyone by Norah Colvin

Rose prickled and turned away from the newcomer. “You can’t blow in here on a breeze expecting to be welcomed,” she whispered to a neighbour.

Sweet Pea belied her name, ignoring the stranger and trailing away to mix with others of her own kind.

Even cousin Marigold wasn’t hospitable, fearing he might spoil their whole bunch.

He didn’t tempt rejection by the glamourous golden Queen outstanding in the field.

Instead, he sailed right by and alighted far from cultivation where his lowly origins wouldn’t raise a brow.

“Look! A dandelion! Do you like butter or cheese? Let’s play!”

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The Lemon Queens by Eliza Mimski

The blonde fields. Stalks of lemon queens. Blue skies and clouds that drift.

Marla lay back in the field, worried about her upcoming wedding day. She didn’t love Xavier, but at 45 you had to marry someone. Who wanted to grow old alone? She posed her question to one of the lemon queens, its chocolate face studying her.

“You mustn’t settle,” it firmly said. “Hold out for true love.”

She asked another.

“You can grow to love him,” it said.

Neither helped.

“Which thing would you rather be unhappy about?” asked the third.

She smiled. She had her answer.

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My Lemon Queen by Ruchira Khanna

“The house looks so clean. Where’s my cyclone?” Dad inquired as soon as he entered his home.

“She’s mostly been in her room since then. Let me get her.” said five-year-old Trisha’s Mom.

“Aha! There’s my Lemon Queen,” he said with glee and was quick to extend his hands towards her. His daughter came towards him with exuberance and landed on his lap.

She placed her tender fingers on his cheek as the dad started to tickle Trisha. Her giggles filled up the room, and the parents’ face radiated like the sun from the happiness that she spread year-round.

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Magic Lemon Queens by Ann Edall-Robson

“Nana, what are they?”

“They are known as Lemon Queens. Only those who believe will experience their magic.”

The sound of a gruff voice broke the mystical moment.

“Are you spinning that yarn to her, too? They’re dragonflies, nothing more!”

“Think whatever you like son. I’ve watched you talking to them like you did when you were her age.”

Picking up his daughter, he whispered into her tiny ear.

“Do you think they are magic?”

She nodded.

“Me too! Don’t tell Nana, okay?”

Giggling, she blew a magical kiss to her Nana as they watched Lemon Queens take flight.

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The Stand by Pete Fanning

At the courthouse steps, Sergeant Nelson was watching the men with rifles trade insults with the masked skateboarders when his deputy rushed over.

The deputy removed his gas mask. “Sarge, we have a situation on the South Lawn.”

“Yeah?”

The deputy pointed across the courtyard, where two schoolgirls, one black, one white, both wearing tiara’s, sat hands crossed and smiling at a makeshift cardboard stand. The sign read, Lemon Queens.

“No permit, boss.”

The Sergeant laughed. He sat a hand on his deputy’s back. “You know what, Deputy? I think we could all use what they’re selling right now.”

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Appeal by Annette Rochelle Aben

When they were little, people referred for them as the Lemon Tarts as the only treat they ever brought to the church bake sale were lemon tarts. Of course, they had no competition, for no one dared to challenge them they way an ordinary chocolate chip cookie might demand. One must be rather dedicated to perfect a lemon tart!
Over time, the tarts advanced in age and like their bite-sized lemon goodies, they remained favorites of the congregation and fans of the bake sale. To honor their steadfast contributions, and their age, they became, the bake sale Lemon Queens!

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The Lemon Queen Festival by Colleen Chesebro

“So, what does it say?” Francine asked.

Rachael stared at the positive pregnancy test results in her hand. “It says I’m pregnant. Now, I’ll never fit into my dress for the Lemon Queen Festival.”

“Mom’s going to blow a gasket when she finds out. What are you going to do?”

Rachael pondered her sister’s question before answering. “I’m not sure. I might have to live with Dad.”

“Mom will never let that happen. Just tell her the truth!”

“Tell me what?” Mom asked from the doorway.

“I’m going to miss the Lemon Queen Festival this year,” said Rachel sheepishly.

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Lemon Queens by Frank Hubeny

They call themselves the Lemon Queens, bitter as a lemon and twice as nasty. Don’t get me wrong. I love lemons. I even eat the rind. But those two with their cursing, spitting and hostility give lemons a bad name.

I have no intention of kneeling to these queens to pacify them. That’s just what they want. That’s just what they’re not going to get.

We arrested them last night. They hurled a trash can through a store window. Their lawyer insisted they were peaceful protesters. Then someone bailed them out. Now someone will have to arrest them again.

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Lemon Queens by FloridaBorne

It’s hard enough being recently widowed, harder yet to move from your large home of 40 years into a senior community.

The neighbor who owns the backyard facing mine is a “chatty Karl,” a person who asks ridiculous questions like, “Are you growing Lemon Queens this year?”

“No. I don’t like lemons.”

“They’re sunflowers,” he chuckled.

“Gardening is not one of my talents,” I frowned. “If you want to see something die, ask me to tend it.”

Thank God he hasn’t spoken to me since. Perhaps the shotgun next to my rocking chair had something to do with it.

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Lemon Queens of Nevada by Charli Mills

Lara, Eugenie, and Jess scrambled up the wooden slats of the corral to watch Big Bones Janey sort the dinks from the keepers. Roundup always smelled of warm sage and fresh horse apples. Wispy sun-bleached hair escaped the matching braids on the young cousins and in the afternoon breeze, their fringe formed halos. Janey trotted past the wide-eyed girls, winking. She called them Lemon Queens and taught them how to settle a stallion without breaking his spirit. Fifteen years later, riding stunt horses for Hollywood westerns, the Lemon Queens owed their skills to the maverick horse trainer of Winnemucca.

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Royalties by JulesPaige

Bob and Cora let their seven year old granddaughter run loose in the heliocentric field of Lemon Queens. It would be the last year for that crop. Well, any crop since they’d decided to retire. No one in the family wanted the farm. The developer gave them a very good price. They could move to a warm climate and never worry about shoveling snow again. They could buy or build just the right place to welcome their children and grands any time they wanted to visit.

little princess found
all her subjects heads bowing
as she skip danced passed

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Lemon Queens by Sue Spitulnik

When Michael rolled out of the church back door he saw Tessa standing at the far side of the parking lot dabbing her eyes. He went to her. “What’s upset you?”

“Look at Mrs. Staples’ house. It’s run down and her gardens have gone to weeds. Remember those tall yellow flowers called Lemon Queens? It wasn’t summer until they bloomed.”

“I’m afraid she’s gone into a home and her kids won’t sell the house while she’s alive, so it sits.”

“That’s awful. I’m going to visit her and share my memories. I wonder where I can buy lemon Queens.”

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End of a Dream by Reena Saxena

A vision in pale yellow floated through the park. This is my new neighbour, Miss Daisy. I would’ve named her Sunflower though.

As if on cue, she turned towards me and smiled. I guess I missed the acerbic expression in her eyes.

“I heard some noise yesterday, and your house help sneaked in on the pretext of asking if I needed something. Let me make it clear, Mr. Whoever-You-Are, I value my privacy.”

I added more sugar to my already sweet lemonade, as she stomped away. Well, now there is a reason I’ll label her Lemon Queen.

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The Lemon Queens by Joanne Fisher

In Lana’s dream she was warned the Lemon Queens were coming. Abruptly she awoke and began shivering. You would think Lemon Queens would be something pleasant, but in reality it was a euphemism for humanoid figures with blotchy sallow skin unpleasantly stretched over their thin frames. Their hands had long fingers that ended in sharp claws used for disemboweling their victims. They also had sharp pointed teeth for ripping throats open.

Lana sat up in her bed in the dark her arms cradling her shaking body. On the edge of hearing the door handle to her bedroom slowly opened.

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The Rush of The Morn by Bill Engleson

Eyes glued shut,
middle of the morn,
Wobble to the window,
Screen ripped and torn.
Flies buzzing in,
Making for my toast,
Lava butter rolling,
Time for a riposte.
Sun streaming in,
burning up my eyes,
trip on the rug,
crush a dozen flies.
Pick myself up,
grab a cuppa joe,
out on the deck,
watch the morning glow.
Birds peck at seeds,
cats about to pounce
savvy birds fly away,
Watch old kitty flounce,
Morning is so bright,
Best Its ever been,
Hydrangea, blue and rich
Snuggles to the lemon queen.
The day’s fair majestic,
a satisfying scene.

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Naming the Biscuit by Anne Goodwin

“We can’t call them that!”

“Why not? They’re lemony. They’re puffy. They’re not lemon crisps.”

“Why not? Because it’s a term of abuse.”

“Nonsense! No-one thinks that anymore. Homophobia’s consigned to history. Along with racism and blaming women for being raped.”

“Remind me of our demographic.”

“Middle Englanders. Conservatives with a C both big and small. People who’d never dip a biscuit in their tea.”

“Unless it’s a ginger snap?”

“They don’t buy ginger snaps. They’re for the hoi polloi.”

“Royalists?”

“To the core. Loyal to Prince Andrew. Think Harry should be shot.”

“Then let’s call them Lemon Queens.”

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Lemon the Queen of Fruits by Ellen Best

When I teach my daughter about Lemons she’ll say, ‘they are sour, and need loads of sugar before you use them.’ I will pour her a homemade lemonade, sweetened with Agave. I’ll tell her how lemon juice can cure heartburn, it’s the only citrus fruit that turns alkaline once joined with saliva. While passing her a slice of my lemon drizzle poppyseed cake, I clean my glass to a sparkle with a used lemon skin as we speak. We will chat about life and love as I slice lemon and freeze them, for days when there are no more.

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Lemon Queens by Priorhouse

Lydia and June carried in numerous bags and crates with workshop supplies.

Catching their breathe, they placed the heavy items down and began setting up:

Water bottles

worksheets

pens

name tags

June Spread out a yellow table cloth across the round table in the corner.

Lydia spread out six dozen sliced lemons.

The workshop would have their speciality “lemon-themed” group activity.

There would be a taste test to experiment with sour.

Lemons would be added to water to alkalize the body and provide Vitamin C.

Standing back, they dimmed the lights and smiled.

The Lemon Queens would strike again.

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The Queens by R. V. Mitchell

Vincent sat at his easel and squinted at the majesty of the queens in his vase. The Paris series had been a success. Now a year later, Arles beckoned. The pot – simple, two-toned, was a perfect tool, as was the plain wall of the studio.

“How many sunflowers?” he questioned to himself. “Ten. A dozen more or less.” He grinned to himself. “The public needn’t know how many are actually in the vase, only the number in my mind.”

With that Vincent picked up his palette and began to mix his yellows, as the lemon queens awaited their day.

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When Ranch Chores Is a Drag by D. Avery

“Kid, where’d them two towheaded twins git off to?”

“Went inta the bunkhouse, said they’d be right out. They say they wanna work fer Carrot Ranch? Or the Saddle Up Saloon?”

“I reckon the Ranch. Tip an’ Top Lemmon are hardy hard workin’ cowboys. They’ll be a fine hep aroun’ here, ‘specially since yer always doin’ ever’thin’ but yer chores these days, what with thet saloon an’ all.”

“All this mention a the saloon, Pal. Reckon this is a crossover piece, huh?”

“S’pose… Whut?! Kid, who’re them fancy dancehall girls struttin’ along the bunkhouse veranda?”

“Introducin’ the Lemmon Queens!”

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First Flight

From the nest to new ventures, first flights are often fraught with hazzards and delights. Birds test their wings and people test their abilities. No matter what happens next, it is the first time that remains memorable.

Writers imagined those moments. The first leap, jump, departure. Some landed and some flew beyond our gaze.

The following stories are based on the August 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a first flight.

PART I (10-minute read)

First Flight by Charli Mills

The phoenix spent a lifetime reinventing herself. Each experience stabilized the bits, girding future wings. Her thoughts solidified. From dusty ashes, elegance rose. Sometimes her development caused an imbalance—she’d gain strength in one wing, leaving a talon incorporeal, a sooty ghost foot. Failure created more ashes, but ashes packed form like down in a pillow. Soft, at first, the padding transformed to muscle and bone. Fully engineered, the phoenix’s original vision improved with age and wisdom gained. A fire of kindness flamed her fully actualized self and she burned, a sacrifice to the ashes of her next life.

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First Flight by Joanne Fisher

She was the strongest and first of her brood, and had eaten her brothers and sisters as soon as they hatched. Now she was perched on the cliff edge and something instinctive began to take over. Without even thinking, she launched herself into the air. As she plummeted, for the first time her wings began to stretch out. She swooped up into the blue sky, the red sun glistening on her scales. She knew she would grow larger and master this element. Nothing could defeat her now. She roared into the wind and the first trace of flame appeared.

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First Flight by Colleen Chesebro

The wings were brand new. The two small buds on her back had blossomed into full-fledged wings covered with white feathers. She stretched these new extensions as far as she could, flexing the newly formed muscles taut.

She was sure that they made these new appendages for flying. How long had she wished to fly free like the eagle and the hawk?

She sniffed the air and pawed the ground. From a canter to a dead run, she was ready to spread her wings. At the cliff, the ground fell away, and she flew. It was unicorn’s first flight.

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Flying Pizza by Geoff Le Pard

‘I tried to talk to that rock woman again, but she just got in the lake and swam away.’

‘She swam in that?’

‘She could be a mermaid.’

‘More like a nice maiden. Or it could be a version of our hard-wired response to danger.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Haven’t you heard of the fight or flight response, Morgan?’

‘My hard-wired response is different.’

‘Of course it is. What do you do if danger threatens?’

‘I eat pizza.’

‘How on earth did those palaeontologists miss that third hard-wired response? It explains those Stone Age ovens.’

‘Experts, huh?’

‘Exactly.’

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First Flight by kathy70

I’m taking the early first flight out this morning. Handy trick learned years ago that allow options if I miss it. DC is ugly hot this summer. Today’s assignment is to meet an old friend for lunch. Twenty years is a long time, I wonder how he’s changed. Will he know me? My job today is simply gathering information on what’s next years hot clothing color. How does a nice girl from Kansas get in the spy business? Should I have married that farmer? On my flight there is a familiar face in the next seat. “Hi I’m Dorothy.”

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Betsy 1965 by Deborah Dansante

Callow listened as the weatherman told her she would wash away in the storm unless she got out now. The siren sounds the radio made when the warm winds blew down to Grand Isle from New Orleans helped Callow to believe this was true. Callow took up her lamp. Kneeling in prayer, Callow repeatedly raised her arms up and down, finally letting them fall gently to her sides. This was to remind Callow of what to do if she was to suddenly to take off flying with the hurricane. Callow fell asleep listening to the buzzing sounds of WWL.

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First Flight by H.R.R. Gorman

It was our land which had the wind, the sand, the beach. It was here they assembled the pieces, here they first revved the engine, here they first left land. Here mankind first leapt to the heavens during 26 seconds that shrank the earth. Only five witnesses saw the first moments of mankind’s destiny, a destiny riding upon muslin, and aluminum engine.

Arise, children of Earth! Fly upon wings of intelligence and daring, upon the backs of bloody lessons learned! From a colony lost to the sky found, the Carolina coast is there.

Oh, and Ohio can suck it.

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The One by Paula Puolakka

No 9/11. No pandemic. The airplanes could have not worked as weapons of mass destruction and a swift way to spread the virus if the citizens of the USA would have agreed with the One who tried to stop the madness from happening a long time ago. Instead, he was called crazy, locked inside a vault, and quietened.

The first flight can be observed after the first attempt to fly and after the first fall. Just listen to “Learn How to Fall” by Paul Simon, and you will realize that (ad nauseam) the truth will make you try again.

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Metamorphosis, Revisited by Jeff Gard

Jerome’s thumbs peck the screen. His eyes burrow through layers of lamestream media to find the Truth. Hunched over his phone, bones strain at skin, T-shirt molting against expanding shoulder blades until leathery wings sprout.

Truth flees sentences, buzzing through air, swarming like gnats. Everything the establishment hides, deep state crimes of pedophilic cannibalism obfuscated by so-called experts – these morsels can only be consumed by minds adapted to bite-sized, carefully coded minutia.

Jerome chases the latest conspiracy out a window in dusk where other believers gather. They speak in stuttering chirps, guiding each other with the sounds of night.

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A Flightening Experience from Back in the Day by Bill Engleson

“It was up there,” Ham Slater, the friendly, eager, local realtor said, pointing to the high bluff running along the skyline for a few miles.

“Really?”

“Yup. 1968. Hot summer evening, they say.”

“They?” I asked.

“Yup. Locals. Ones playing golf on the meadow below.”

“The island has a golf course?” I interrupted.

“Wellll…not officially. Mostly farmland. Sheep keep ‘er nicely chomped.”

“Ah,“ I said, not fully enlightened. “So, the bluff?”

“Zeke Buttworm, old time farmer…inventor. Built a glider…also tried…mescaline…young hippie girl Zeke was…courtin’…Lass was devastated.”

“It crashed?”

“Yup. Killed Zeke dead…and three sheep.”

“Sad.”

“Oh! And one golfer.”

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The First Flight by The Curious Archaeologist

He stood on the edge of the tower, checked his linen covered wings, took a deep breath and jumped.

They worked! He glided for nearly two hundred yards before the gust hit him, he struggled as he dropped, his wings broke his fall. He awoke in the infirmary with a broken leg. The Abbot beside the bed.

“Brother Elimer, my old friend, there must be no more flying. I don’t wish to bury you next time.”

“But if I had a bigger tail I could fly”

“Not now.” The Abbot was firm, “One day perhaps.”

The year was 1005.

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First Flight by Frank Hubeny

The interviewer wanted to know whether Bird was scared when he jumped out of the nest for the first time.

Bird said, “Technically I didn’t ‘jump’. I flew. My wings moved. Soon the nest was far below me. I don’t know how it happened. It’s not like jumping. There’s a difference.”

The interviewer wondered, “Really? What’s the difference?”

He clarified, “You see, any monkey can jump out of a nest. You know as well as I do what will happen. I’m not going to go there. But birds, well – how do I put this? We don’t jump. We fly.”

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Earth is Curvy by Simon Prathap D

It was his first time, he was nervous. He looked at the place around, the man at the opposite was busy securing belt all over his body. He took a deep breath and counted one and before he said two he was pushed away from the mountain, his first skydiving. His partner laughed at his screaming. In few seconds he started to feel the wind, the air, the landscape, the beautiful mountains and the animals that was running in the wild, it all said him one truth about the universe. ‘Earth is not flat, it is curvy’ he said.

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First Flight by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She shifted her hips, attempting to get comfortable. Elbows on the counter, chin on fist, she gazed at the display, attempting to suss out meaning from the frothy spill of words. All gibberish. She sighed.

And she’d wanted to make a good impression.

He perched, mirror image to this beautiful woman, heels hooked on the stool’s rungs. He’d suggested this venue for its relaxed atmosphere, located between river and train. He also wanted to make a good impression.

“I don’t know beans about beer!”

“Trust me?” he leaned back. “Let’s share a flight. This brewery has a nice selection.”

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Viewing the Nazca Lines by Anne Goodwin

“After breakfast is best. The first flight.”

Gulping coffee and empanadas de queso at sunrise before cycling to the airstrip, I wondered if I’d heard him right. My stomach lurched as the plane vaulted the perimeter fence. Just us, our guide and the pilot: no other tourists to block the view. Pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched in the desert: how did they make them? Why?

There’s the dog! The spider! The plane tilts, wings verging on horizontal. Hummingbird. Monkey. Tree. I cup my mouth, breakfast tastes sour the second time around. How did I misunderstand it? Definitely breakfast after: desayuno después.

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Take Off, Eh? by Annette Rochelle Aben

The honeymoon flight from Detroit to Los Angeles was her very first. Not knowing what to expect, the young bride allowed her more well-traveled husband to guide her along the way.
He graciously gave her the ilse seat and held her hand gently while the flight attendant covered the emergency instructions.

As the plane pulled back, he reminded her that she should put the chewing gum in her mouth.

“Honey, look we’re climbing into the clouds!”

She leaned forward to take a look, and vomited on the back of the head of the person seated in front of her.

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Her First Flight by Ann Edall-Robson

Desk, check. Window, check. Binoculars, check. Camera, check. Water, check.

She sat on a log, enjoying the vista. The sound of the creek chortling over the rocks made her smile. A shadow of a cloud floated within sight. Lifting the binoculars to her eyes she almost missed the hawk lifting of its perch. Its flight taking the predator out of camera range.​

Her contented sigh caused a misty cloud in the cool, morning air. Picking up her pencil, she started to write. Her first flight to work from home was a success. Outdoor office days were here to stay.

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Arriving by D. Avery

Signs and arrows made navigating the mazelike interior of the airport easier than she’d imagined. Still she was passed left and right by more experienced travelers towing wheeled suitcases, rushing down the wide corridor labeled “Departures”. She clutched her satchel and continued until she was in a glassed in peninsula thrust into a sea of tarmac, roiling with activity. She found her gate, a closed door really, but one that would open for her, take her away. Away at last. Seated close to this doorway she again examined her ticket. One way. She would be transported and then— “Arrivals”.

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Just Another Baby Bird by Lottie M. Hancock

Women have mid-life crisis, too. Mine came with a thirty-six-foot wingspan.
Preflight checklist: Ready.
Doors latched. Check.
Fuel valve on. Check.
Butterflies in stomach. Check.
Trim set for takeoff. Check.
Heart raced. Check.
Wing flaps at 0. Check.
Breathe!
I kept the horizon level. The ground fell away.
My instructor stared straight ahead.
Power at 2200 RPM. Check.
The city I grew up in shrank. The sky grew.
I watched the gauges steady and trimmed the elevator.
A flock of geese formed around us. Just another baby bird.
Prepare for final approach. Check.
Regret having to land. Check.
Touchdown.

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Dear Butterfly, Love Caterpillar by Norah Colvin

Dear Butterfly,
You make the impossible seem possible. You inspire our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams. How can I be like you?

Dear Caterpillar,
Dreams create possibilities but now you are exactly who you were meant to be.

Dear Butterfly,
Life is monotonous. Everyone does the same thing, day after day. Shouldn’t life be more than this?

Dear Caterpillar,
Nothing happens overnight. Patience, determination and persistence will reward you in the end.

Dear Butterfly,
I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore. I think I will sleep forever. Goodbye.

Wake up, butterfly. It’s time to spread your wings and fly!

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PART II (10-minute read)

Joshua by Saifun Hassam

Joshua was excited as the pilot flew the Aerial Research seaplane over the offshore waters. This was his very first aerial survey flight.

Digital cameras revealed incredible details of shapes and colors of underwater rocks, once fiery molten lava. It was a feast for him as an artist and a geologist. Sea crustaceans, sea urchins and sea stars, jellyfish, and sea horses seemed like delicate otherworldly creatures.

Working with other researchers, he would use aerial photography to probe for undersea archeological sites, search for fine differences in the waters and along the seabed where buried structures might lie hidden.

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Discomfort by Reena Saxena

She cringed on seeing the large number of people who had come to see him off. Well, it was nice that his employers were sending him abroad at a raw age of 23, and he was the first in the family to fly abroad, but the crowd was kind of too large for comfort.

It was the first glimpse of a culture gap. They shared too much, they had no concept of discretion or privacy.

Years later, she evaluates her discomfort with his family and finds the same reasons. She needs space, but they are unaware of the concept.

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Fallen by Joanne Fisher

in the end I was always

a child of the dark, even though

once I was a shining light

there I was, in Paradise

but my heart was uneasy

never a team player, all I wanted

was a change in the management,

I was cast out, and fell a long way…

Hell was already there, all I did

was make it my own, a reflection

of my own torment

my wings broken, through

the long millennia they began

to heal, until one day

I launched into the air

and for the first time flew

above my own dark kingdom

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This Life by Marjorie Mallon

Three years ago, we said our goodbyes at the departure gate before that first flight. How I cried. I wept for a day, and the next day I wept without weeping. My darling daughter gone so faraway. She braved how scared she was. Now, she is adventuring again – not so far this time! And yet her friends miss her already. I miss her already. This is life, young adults are always moving, taking those steps to independence. They never leave your thoughts. They’re always a part of you, wherever they are.

Daughters always remain in your heart.

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First Flight by Anita Dawes

As we grow older
We tend care a little more
About the young ones
Children, animals, it doesn’t matter
If they’re young
We acquire a mothering apron
Fussy over their first steps
Eager that they don’t fall
A fall may put them off trying
God helps us when it comes to their
First steps to foraging for themselves
Mother mode goes into overdrive
Unfortunately, we cannot keep the door
Closed to the grown-up world
Wanting to, can’t make it so
You can only hope and pray
That you did a good job
Trust that you have
And let go…

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First Flight by Christine Bialczak

When granny died mommy said that she went to heaven I don’t know if I know where heaven is or if it’s really even a place because when mommy told me the tooth fairy came and took my first tooth I think she was lying because I saw my tooth in the bottom of the trash can in the bathroom mommy said maybe the tooth fairy went in the bathroom for a drink and dropped it by accident and that I should just be happy with my dollar bill but I would be happier to know where granny went.

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First Solo by Donna Matthews

Charlie was out of bed before his mom came in to wake him up. He’d laid out his clothes the night before, and he couldn’t wait to wear his new tennis shoes. Running down the hall toward the kitchen, his mom intercepted him, leaned over, kissed his head, and asked him if he was ready. “Yes!” he nearly screamed. Barely tasting his cereal, he grabbed his new spiderman backpack full of all the new pencils, erasers, and folders and hopped at the front door. “Let’s go mom!”

She sighed, her baby on his first solo flight known as kindergarten.

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What Grandmothers Do by Eliza Mimski

She’d been there with him the first day of kindergarten, waiting anxiously at the classroom door when school was over.

She’d been there with him when he’d needed surgery on his toe, him later laying on the couch with his pain medication and Ritz Crackers on the coffee table.

She’d been there with him at every baseball game, basketball game, and she’d picked him up from his martial arts class.

She’d picked him up from middle school and taken him to get pizza, then to Burger King when he was in high school.

Now he was eighteen. Entering college.

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First Flight by Susan Zutautas

It was all set, soon we would become empty nesters. It was sad to see them leave, and I knew we would miss them, but they had to go and start new lives and families of their own. I am sure we would see them from time to time and for visits on birthdays and holidays.

One bright sunny July morning we all woke up and I knew it was the day to teach the little ones how to fly.

Okay kids it’s flying day and we’re all going to go together. Watch what I do and follow me.

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Fledgling Dancers by Sue Spitulnik

Before she moved home, Tessa’s sister had kept her informed about Michael’s growing involvement in community activities since his return. Ally had never mentioned a bar called the “No Thanks Needed,” nor the Irish dancing classes being held there.

Soon after she arrived in town, Michael invited Tessa to go watch. She had never seen Irish dancing up close and was surprised the youngest of the dancers were only eight years old. Compared to their teachers, Thad and Katie, the children looked like fledgling birds trying their wings for the first time. They were tittering like young birds too.

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First Flight by Michael Fishman

I can’t say he took it all in, but today was a beautiful day for a first flight. The sun shined down from a bold blue sky and lit the runway.

“Ground control to Captain Griffin.”

“Griffin here.”

“We’re a ‘go’, Captain.”

And just like that things started to speed up.

“You got it?” I huffed as I started to run faster.

“I think so.” His voice was a little shaky, but not from fear.

“I’m letting go now, Griff. Hold the handles and keep pedaling.”

“I— I got it, dad!”

And just like that my son was flying.

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First Flight by R. V.Mitchell

He was nervous, but the amount he had been offered was more than a mere street urchin could hope to acquire in a month. Now, standing on the rooftop, and the distance to the piazza seemed impossible.

Angelo felt the harnesses being tightened around his emaciated frame, and the canvas and weight of the wooden frame made him wonder if the experiment could ever work.

“Now,” the Leonardo called from the ground, and Angelo felt a shove from behind. He immediately crashed onto the cobbles.

“Not bad for a first flight,” Da Vinci said, looking down on the boy.

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Fight or Flight by Doug Jacquier

Every schoolyard has it’s Bomber, so-called for his propensity to drop tucked-legged from the high board at the local pool and make tidal waves that left smaller children spluttering. Big for his age, monobrow hovering over piggy eyes, permanent Band-Aids on his knuckles from the dragging and never short of choices for lunch. I knew my turn at victimhood would eventually come and it did the day I asked him to desist from inserting my friend’s head into a toilet bowl. Leering excitedly at the opportunity for fresh blood, he ambled towards me and my first flight began.

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First Flight by Irene Waters

Unaware of the steps his momentum sent him flying through the air, arms and legs akimbo. The letter he’d been reading floating gently in the breeze behind him. His thoughts were those of a drowning man. This is what it feels like to fly? First his childhood, then the small amount of adulthood he’d experienced. Should have told Alison I love her. Should have written a will. A bellyflop onto concrete that’ll hurt.

He landed hard. He momentarily felt like Humpty Dumpty before all thought left him.

Alison screamed. “Don’t die. Not when you’ve just inherited and can live.”

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First Love by Kerry E.B. Black

He stared, a heat-seeking missile intent upon its target. She swayed to the music, spellbound, her motion a metronome, unaware of his interest until her friends elbowed her and whispered their giggling observations. She startled at his intensity but didn’t shy away. No, his open desire found in her an equal audacity. Without regard for decorum, she fantasized a relationship. It happened in a flash, an atmospheric conflagration that propelled her heart from its protection into the realm of pre-teen romance. The lead singer proclaimed nonsense and thinly veiled entendres while her heart took its inaugural flight of fancy.

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Learning to Fly by JulesPaige

was judgement clouded
when the elementary
student left at lunch

first time run-a-way; gone south
trying to find those who cared

since it was so clear
that one little voice would not
be heard by adults

Over the years; still no one would listen. More attempts were fathomed, planned, engineered and carried out. No real truths were ever revealed leaving the past misted in disillusionment. No real resolutions, except to forgive those striving to do their best for themselves with only second thoughts to those around them. The pain lessens. Clouds parted for true love, laughter and compassionate hope.

🥕🥕🥕

A Graduate by Ruchira Khanna

Traditional hat toss. Some motion blur.

He throws his graduation cap in the air while I have tears flowing down my eyes.

He’s no doubt very excited about the ‘freedom’ that he’ll get. That involves no reminders or nagging from my end to do things.

As a parent, I ought to step back and give him wings to make his first flight away from home. Only then, I guess, he’ll realize the importance of all that care, love, attention, and the need to manage time well, that he used to knit brows upon.

As the wise said, “Give them wings to appreciate what they had.”

🥕🥕🥕

Basket Case by D. Avery

“Whoa, Kid. Stop. Back up. What’re ya plannin’?”

“Pal, this is gonna be great! We’re gonna fly!”

“Prompt says anythin’ or anyone thet flies, but I’m tellin’ ya, Kid, I ain’t goin’ in any flyin’ contraption. ‘Specially if Pepe LeGume’s runnin’ it. What in heck’s he know ‘bout aeroplanes anyway?”

“Ain’t gonna fly in a aeroplane, Pal. Pepe’s got a more economical idea.”

“Oh, jeez, Kid, what’re you two up too?”

“We’ll be up, up and away in a hot air balloon! An’ guess how Pepe plans on fuelin’ it?”

“Oh, the humanity!”

“Pepe’s an amazin’ human bean alright.”

🥕🥕🥕

Her Crowning Glory

Hairstyles might be low on the priority list mid-2020, the Year of COVID Hair but her crowning glory is still at the forefront of many minds (and heads). Traditionally, we might think of a regal character with long locks braided, curled, or teased like the heroine on the cover of a romance novel. But it could be unicorn mane. In the hands of creative writers, what might her crowning glory look like?

Those who chased the prompt this week found unique expressions and ideas to describe different possibilities. You’ll read about hair and so much more in this collection.

The following stories are based the July 30, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the phrase “her crowning glory.”

PART I (10-minute read)

Gifts by Reena Saxena

“The Gift of the Magi” by O.Henry was a lesson in gifting. The writer’s intention may have been completely different.

It is difficult for a girl to give up her crowning glory to buy a gift, more so than it is for a man to give up his inheritance. I think about the story more now, when people are losing their steady source of income. Gifting may soon acquire new forms, as modes of celebration change.

Ria spent hours designing an online gift for her beau. Digital art is not easy, but one piece suffices for three boyfriends.

🥕🥕🥕

Crowning Glory by FloridaBorne

Queen Catherine loved her silver crown inset with sapphires and diamonds. She sat quietly on a smaller throne, a trait expected of the window dressing sitting next to her husband, and sank into mental soliloquy.

Her only sister had a washerwoman’s build and face. Catherine, graceful and filled with a legendary beauty, was traded into loveless marriage at 15 for a substantial fee. Women envied Catherine, but her sister chose to read, chose to be tutored by scholars, and still lived with her brothers.

Catherine had chosen the design of her crown.

Why did it seem a hollow victory?

🥕🥕🥕

Mrs. Brouillette’s Auspicious Adventure by Deborah Dansante

On Ellen Brouillette’s 99th birthday, unable to find anyone to climb Mt. Monodnack with, she decided to go alone.

Later, from her hospital bed, during an interview with Channel 2 News, Mrs. Brouilette insisted that her failed attempt had only to do with those awful black flies, which were particularly troublesome that year.

When Missy Jan, Channel 2 news anchor, suggested to Mrs. Brouilette a less dangerous activity for her 100th, Ellen Brouillette looked into the camera and asked the audience if they thought knitting cozies would’ve been her crowning glory or have gotten her on the evening news.

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Stacking Stones by Frank Hubeny

Nature does a grander job. What we made was mindful. Besides that wasn’t why we piled stones on top of one another. We were testing each other’s patience.

I failed the test and let her set the last stone, her crowning glory, on top. They didn’t fall and so per agreement she left.

I would have told you about the arguments, but I’ve forgotten them. I only remember where we set those stones. It was out of the way. A decade later I came back. I looked everywhere.

Nature let us take our turn then washed it all away.

🥕🥕🥕

Glory by Pete Fanning

I was raised to think I was special. My mom liked to call me her crowning glory. She’d smile proudly whenever she said it, blind to my blemishes, immune to my mistakes. She’d look at me, eyes glazed, seeing what no mirror could ever produce.

The last time she said it was the day I went clean for good. We held hands, my tears spilling to my arm, washing over the scabs and needle marks.

“My crowning glory,” she rasped, sinking away, leaving me alone with my demons.

I knew there was a will.

But I wanted her glory.

🥕🥕🥕

Her Crowning Glory by Anita Dawes

She stands on the edge of decision
Beneath the pale silver crescent
Her earthly form chosen
Dark mane flowing
Magic cannot be contained
Her crowning glory, the spiral horn
Long sought after by man
One such as hers
Said to be held by Merlin
The magician, to raise Camelot
She must risk going back in time
When magic held no mystery, it just was
To find a mate, to keep magic
Between the worlds
As it had been from the beginning
Will she risk losing her magic
At the hands of some eager
Wannabe wizard
Or find her mate?

🥕🥕🥕

Unexpected Escort by Charli Mills

In the end, a unicorn fetched Sarah from her deathbed. She’d been hearing Cobb’s steed galloping five nights in a row, expecting he’d finally come to take her to hell. She’d lived with the guilt of his death for 76 years. Cobb’s soul would have vengeance soon. But it wasn’t the specter of the man she once loved. It wasn’t his horse pounding past her door. The unicorn’s crowning glory wasn’t flowing mane or golden horn. It was Sarah’s lovely daughter grown past the infanthood she’d never survived. Resplendent on the beast’s back, she said, “Let’s go home, Mama.”

🥕🥕🥕

Crowning Glory by R. V. Mitchell

Dora was the plainest maiden in all the kingdom. Some even said that she was ugly. It was precisely that fact that led to her retaining her virtue far beyond the time in which it was relinquished by her peers.

This purity, however, was also her crowning glory, for she could see and converse with unicorns.

“Oh, I wish I was as beautiful as you,” she said to Daisy, one day.

“And I wish I had your lovely voice,” the unicorn replied.

They were suddenly transformed, but Dora could tell no one – for she had become a little horse.

🥕🥕🥕

Crowning Glory by Jenn Linning

One evening, the national animals of England, Scotland, and Wales met to settle a friendly argument: who, if it came to it, would overthrow all the others in a fight to the death?

England’s lion went first, flashing his claws, gnashing his teeth, and roaring as menacingly as he could. Wales’ scarlet dragon laughed quietly at his non-magical cousin’s display, orange flames escaping carelessly from his nostrils as he did so. Scotland’s white unicorn simply rolled her eyes and bowed to display her crowning glory: her twisted opal horn, sharp as a dagger and a hundred times as deadly.

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15 Years Later by Norah Colvin

A reunion wouldn’t normally appeal but the timing seemed right and, anyway, Miss R. would be there and, hopefully, Jasmine so she wouldn’t be alone.

Marnie inspected her reflection, predicting their scrutiny and subsequent reaction. What was once a nest of tangles was now her crowning glory, sparkling like gold. A final touch of the lightest spray smoothed every strand to perfection. Brucie, who’d once poured an entire pot of glue over her head, declaring it an accident, could — well, it didn’t matter. He couldn’t touch her now.

As she was announced, the room hushed. “Marnie? Really?” Brucie spluttered.

🥕🥕🥕

Coda? by JulesPaige

The instrumental of her voice, soft whispers, forced grunts, maybe even a scream or two. When she’d thought of all she’d ever done it was her crowning glory to ‘gift’ a safe arrival to her children. Everything else paled. Departing from graduation ceremonies, even the wedding ceremony – while still high on the list of accomplishments – the light of her life that brought her out of the darkest of thoughts were the successes of her children.

lullabies she’d sung
created solely from love
easing them to sleep

Still, she remained an individual. And perhaps that counted the most.

🥕🥕🥕

He’ll Walk for Emma by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa leaned close to Lexi to ask, “How did you get Michael to wear his legs for the baptism?”

“Reality, Mom. I simply told him I was afraid Emma wasn’t safe being perched in his lap while he was using his arms to wheel his chair and I wanted her grandfather to carry her forward when it was time for the ceremony.”

“That will be your crown of glory for years to come my daughter. Next time I think he should walk instead of ride, I’ll get you to convince him.”

“Not my doing, Mom. Give Emma the credit.”

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Nandini by Saifun Hassam

Nandini, a graduate in the marine sciences, was a daughter of the Samari Archipelago. Her ebony curls and lithe bronze body reflected her ancient ancestry of Black slaves and Pacific traders.

Nandini loved exploring the abundant lagoons. Coral reefs ringed lagoons and extended into deeper waters. Her studies focused on reef growth and fragility, the impact of human activities and nature’s forces, of weather, of deep ocean volcanos.

When she won the coveted student award, “The Sea Urchin” in marine and oceanographic research, it became both her crowning glory and gave her a sense of direction in her career.

🥕🥕🥕

Knees Up by Geoff Le Pard

‘Aunty Madge mailed.’

‘How is the old loon?’

‘Fed up with lockdown, though she’s ridiculously excited she’s got a hair appointment.’

‘What is that all about? A hair cut? Sheesh!’

‘You’ve got none to cut. Mum always said her hair was her crowning glory.’

‘What’s yours, Logan?’

‘I’ve not given it any thought.’

‘Mine’s my knees. I’ve always thought they were rather finely sculptured.’

‘Seriously? Knees have to be man’s ugliest feature.’

‘No, that has to be elbows. Awful things. Come on, what’s yours?’

‘If I have to pick, then my intellect.’

‘More like your crowing glory, then.’

‘?’

🥕🥕🥕

Her Crowning Glory by Irene Waters

“I need a bathroom quick. “Ahhhhhhh.” Cramp.”

He guided his wife to the toilet block worrying about food poisoning. As he looked beads of perspiration dotted her brow and her crowning glory became wet and lank.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” His strong grip prevented her collapsing. He guided her into the first stall.

“Gosh it’s big. There’s a loo for everyone………..”

His wife moaned. “Feels like a ring of fire.”

“You’re Not pregnant?”

“No.”

He pushed her back and looked. “You’ve crowned. ” He caught the baby. “Who knew the family loos would be where we became a family. Let’s call her Glory.”

🥕🥕🥕

Leaving by Joanne Fisher

Though her work for the company was quite pivotal, Lily found herself largely ignored there. She had worked for a number of years in accounting, but often felt she was passed over, forgotten, even taken for granted.

One day Lily decided to leave, as she wanted to work somewhere where she would be more valued and appreciated. She baked a cake for her last day of work there, to let everyone know what she thought of them. Lily believed it was her crowning glory: the cake was the shape of a large hand, with the middle finger fully extended.

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

Tip of the Hat by Ann Edall-Robson

The quiet rumble reminds her of far off thunder as the truck tires roll over the cattle guard. She knows her way out of the blackened ranch yard by heart, not turning on the headlights until she reaches the end of the lane. Her hand drops automatically to flick on the turn signal. She laughs at herself knowing the courtesy is only necessary when headlights or dust tails are coming toward you. In twenty minutes she’ll be in the hills waiting for the sun to rise. The morning’s tip of the hat, her crowning glory, to start the day.

🥕🥕🥕

Clover Crowns and Dancing Rings by Kerry E.B. Black

The cousins braided daisies into crowns and rested them atop each other’s heads. “What a perfect May Day!” The girls spun, hands clasped, until they fell laughing to the ground. The world spun on without them, and their stomachs fluttered.

“Let’s find 4-leafed-clovers!” Heather found one. Then another, and another. She discovered so many she braided them into her daisy crown.

Kay scowled at the field, determined to find at least one. Instead, she discovered a circle of white mushrooms.

Heather gasped. “Fairies dance inside those.”

They left their daisy chains within.

Heather sighed, “Fairy rings are cooler than 4-leafed-clovers.”

🥕🥕🥕

Never Mind by D. Avery

Never mind what exactly the boys said, the gestures they made. It was rude. It was disrespectful. And how they waited for her response, grinning, still taunting. Who would treat an elder this way?

She calmly unpinned her gray bun, shook loose her long hair. She stood tall, her hair now a high wind whipping and lashing the cowering boys. She watched, impassive, her hair now a frenzied torrential rain that pelted the whimpering boys.

Then she brushed her hair, now a golden sun, a dazzling halo. And she wound it back into a gray bun, her crowning glory.

🥕🥕🥕

The Queen of Winter by Colleen M. Chesebro

The wind howled like a banshee as the first storm of the season battered the cottage. Niall settled into his chair for the night.

Wild dreams tortured his thoughts. The image of the Cailleach Béara bloomed in his mind. Each year the old crone brought winter’s fury. When she appeared, stones flew from her apron and landed upon the ground. These stones, her crowning glory, grew into rock formations or mountains.

The next morning Niall’s home perched on the cliffs above the sea. Nearby, a large rock resembled the ancient Cailleach’s face. There she remains to the present day.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wheel Turns by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Chad scrunched his brow, tapping the turntable with a desultory forefinger. The sculpture rotated slowly, displaying all its sides, seeming to delight in its own ineffable shimmer and elegance. It almost winked at him, whispering “You don’t get me, do you?”

He shook his head and turned away to pour another dram of Scotch into the ceramic mug, one of the first pieces Susan’d submitted to apprentice with him. He threw back the Scotch and grimaced at its bite.

This was her crowning glory?

Yet there was something…artistic genius he couldn’t grasp.
The student had bypassed the teacher.

🥕🥕🥕

Crown of Snakes by Kerry E.B. Black

Medi scrubbed marble columns, hands raw but heart swollen with adoration for her goddess, Athena.

Poseidon, smelling of brine and lust, pushed Medi to the floor and stole what she’d sworn as sacred.

Athena found Medi clutching her torn chiton to her ravaged body.

Fury seized this goddess of wisdom. Dare Poseidon violate her temple with carnal acts? Debase Her by soiling Her maiden?

Athena couldn’t punish Poseidon, but by Zeus, she’d be avenged. She seized Medi’s silken locks and cursed. “Let none desire you.”

Hair transformed into hissing snakes. Eyes steeled into weapons. From then, all feared Medusa.

🥕🥕🥕

Mis-steps by Eliza Mimski

Genovese’s goal had always been to snatch away a married man. She was competitive by nature. The married man offered a certain kind of drama other relationships lacked. The clandestine atmosphere, the sneaking around, the mis-steps. So far she hadn’t reached her goal, but that in no way meant she wouldn’t, and that it wouldn’t happen soon.

She had her sights on the CEO, married for forty years to the same woman, and with three grown children. Just think of the accomplishment, hearts broken, tears falling, anger raging, and all because of her.

It would be her crowning glory.

🥕🥕🥕

Stand on Your Feet by Sanjuna.SR

A curly haired girl with honey-eyes well-groomed in blue gown is serving the most delightful delicious desserts in a small shop which was famous for its taste and People were praising her cooking skills stating “health to her hands”

To find the curiosity of why this pretty doll is working here? We asked her name.

For my surprise, her surname belongs to a  respectful posh society yet she acts like a normal person and does not tout her background.

She is trying hard to stand on her own feet in spite of all the inheritance is her crowning glory.

🥕🥕🥕

Elevated Upcycle by kathy70

As we stepped off the elevator I felt a bit anxious.  I was visiting my friends family lake front condo on the 32nd floor of this building and I had heard stories about the fabulous decor.  The huge entrance hallway was a deep dark brown with floor to ceiling world renown famous artists works on display.

To me her crowning glory in this unit was the 3rd bathroom we saw. Bath mat, seat cover, tissue box and wastepaper basket all covered with mink.  Upcycled old coats rescued and remade by her mom.  So unexpected it took my breath away.

🥕🥕🥕

He Was Right by Paula Puolakka

The shift of the north magnetic pole has increased the leakage of space radiation. People are worried about its effect on The Global Positioning System, but nobody’s interested in health issues. The radiation is, for example, corrupting our brains and memory and increasing eye and heart problems.

In her crowning glory, as she’s trying to figure out things by using intuition and keeping her crystal skull (Sahasrara) clean, she understands even more clearly how Mr. Kaczynski was right all the time. The violent acts of today have been caused by radiation, together with the falsity spread through technological devices.

🥕🥕🥕

It Grows Back by Annette Rochelle Aben

They went to visit her mother. Both were in need of a haircut. Her mother was enrolled in beauty school and needed to practice on real heads as opposed to mannequins.
He went first. Drape in place, the scissors could be heard merrily snipping away. Renegade hairs were whisked off his shoulders and they pronounced him perfect.
When it came to her crowning glory, her mother was not so attentive. As her husband walked by to get a drink of water, he shrieked in horror. Her mother had replicated HIS cut on the left side of his wife’s head!

🥕🥕🥕

Shaggy Inktop by Anne Goodwin

Feathered frame for her face, her surprise lockdown hair was a triumph, visually. That couldn’t be said of the inglorious thicket that sprang from her crown. Sweat lathered her nape as the sun reported for duty. Fatigue in her arms as the queue formed outside the shower. Should she chop it to the bone, don a hat with her mask for the supermarket? No-one saw the back of her head on Zoom. Should she make it a feature, a topknot, a śikhā, a Hindu thread to heaven? Inspiration dawned with a fungus: inky black dye topping her shopping list!

🥕🥕🥕

Scat by Bill Engleson

She’d sneak into the rooms of others, paw their possessions, hold the ones that appealed, and then, rather than scurry away, hide in a closet, and listen for the sounds of other people living their lives.

We suspected she’d use whatever hairbrushes she could find and stroke her hair, leave some of the hairball bramble that always seemed to tangle her up.

More often than not, she would be discovered.

Occasionally though, her crowning glory was a sly entry, a sensuous caress of some personal items of another, secreting away, being pleasured by their sounds, and a clever exit.

🥕🥕🥕

Hiding Her Crown by Charli Mills

When Thomas fell down the main shaft and died, the mining company told his widow to send one of the boys or leave the company house. Jack was ten and frail from illness. Robbie was eight, and Brad six. Lizzie was fourteen and fit. She sheared her crowning glory of long red curls. No one likes a ginger, Mrs. Lewis next door would say, her mouth pinched perpetually. Wearing her father’s clothes tied and tucked into her brother’s boots Lizzie settled the miner’s helmet on her bald head. No one ever paid the poor Irish kids much mind, anyhow.

🥕🥕🥕

Colorful Souls by Donna Matthews

I hurried up the steps of the little clapboard house. Entering, I couldn’t help but notice the signs of neglect. But no time. I made my way down the hall and gently pushed open my mother’s bedroom door. Seeing her tiny frame under the covers, I swallowed my grief whole and picked up her white hand with my brown one.

Oh, mama

Tears falling, I consider the painting above her bed, from her college days. Colorful Souls, she called it. It was her crowning glory as an artist and how she met my dad. Two beautiful artists together again.

🥕🥕🥕

Acceptance As Kid’s Crowning Achievement (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid, whyn’t ya ever take thet hat off yer head?”

“Whyn’t you? Ain’t we s’posed ta wear these hats, bein’ ranch han’s an’ all?”

“Ya mean fer UV ray pertection out here on the range?”

“No, I mean fer our iconic stock character status. Ya know, brandin’, like… a look.”

“Yeah, well, now I’m curious. Let’s have a look unnerneath thet hat a yers.”

“You first.”

“Oh fer shifts sake, Kid, jist take it off!”

“All right. There, ya happy, Pal. Pal?”

“Oh I never ‘magined thet!”

“Lemme guess, a dirty sweaty hat ring?”

“Ya’ve got a uni-corn horn!”

🥕🥕🥕

(Part II) by D. Avery

“Impossible!”

“Why? Jist ‘cause I an’ you ain’t never ‘magined it? Someone must’ve ‘magined it, ‘cause there it is, a nubby little horn jist unner yer forelock.”

“Someone! Indeed! D. Avery! Dang her! Why in heck’s she doin’ this? Thought she di’n’t even like uni-corns.”

“Heard she’s got a couple neighbors up in them woods a hers is workin’ on her uni-corn issue. Mebbe she’s jist ‘sperimentin’.”

“Hey, stop puttin’ a hole in ma hat!”

“Jist givin’ ya room ta grow Kid.”

“Hmmph!”

“Mebbe, Kid, it’s like Pinnochio, mebbe ever time ya whine an’ complain thet nub grows longer.”

🥕🥕🥕

(Part III) by D. Avery

“Hey Pal. Thanks fer doin’ ma chores. Don’t feel like goin’ anywhere’s like this. Uni-corn horn’s gittin’ bigger.”

“Huh. ‘Cause I know ya been workin’ real hard at not whining an’ complainin’. Mebbe thet ain’t the cause a it.”

“I been real calm, Pal, been mindful an’ grateful, an’ even practicin’ self-compassion. But when I git all like that, the uni-corn horn grows! This is some situation. Wunner what Shorty’s gonna say?”

“Shorty’ll be fine with it. Reckon she might even snort laugh.”

“That’d make this all worthwhile. Ya know, I’ve come ta accept this thing!”

“Kid! It’s gone!”

🥕🥕🥕

Protect Nature Around Us

Aldo Leopold once proposed a land ethic — that we treat the environment as we would humanity. It’s not a new concept. The Native Tribes of North America have co-existed with the plant, animal, and fish nations. A land ethic calls us to protect resources and maintain wild spaces for the future. There is a balance between what we domesticate and use and what we leave untouched.

Writers resolved to tell stories to protect nature, which is not an easy task. Some turned to the past, others to the future. Most presented moments to pause and understand why we need to heed this call.

The following stories are based on the July 23, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to show what it is to protect nature around us. It can be set in any era or told in any genre.

Bug Killer by Sascha Darlington

Words never suffice for non-believers. They need to see. They all think they’re suddenly from Missouri saying: show me.

I’d tried to tell them:

“Pesticides kill baby birds.”

“We have no ladybugs since you’ve started spraying.”

“Don’t you care about the environment for your kids?”

Well, sure. They buy organic. They spray their yard, so their kids won’t get all kinds of mosquito-induced diseases because they are very good parents. They are hands-on.

Bugs? Insects?

A raised hand, a shake of the head. “Our guy said the spray only kills mosquitoes.”

I offered a nest of dead baby catbirds.

🥕🥕🥕

Steward by Frank Hubeny

Jim spent decades getting sick without realizing it. When finally diagnosed with an autoimmune disease he didn’t believe it. Sure he had a belly, but he felt fine. Reality smacked him and he rejected all prescribed medications. He would rewind his life’s bad habits starting with his diet.

That took time, but he lost weight. His biomarkers improved. The diet became habitual. Jim forgot he was even on it.

He stopped thinking about himself. He realized he was consuming less. Perhaps even he, old Jim, could steward the earth rather than want to eat more and more of it.

🥕🥕🥕

Prayer to the Nature Spirits by Colleen Chesebro

Tara heaved the last rock into place. Twelve stones twisted in a spiral around the ancient Rowan tree.

“What does the tree mean, Nanna?”

“The tree symbolizes the nature spirits, Maeve. It’s roots sink into the earth, past the Ancestors to the water below while its branches touch the sky, to reach the Shining Ones. We live in the middle realm between the Ancestors below and the realm of the Shining One’s above. It’s up to us to give offerings and thanks, and to protect the land.”

The two knelt down in the earth and said a silent prayer.

🥕🥕🥕

Grandpere’s Farm by Saifun Hassam

When Grandpere died, Pierre gifted the family farm to the University. He and Grandpere had discussed the matter some months ago. Pierre was the sole surviving family member. He was a marine scientist and he knew it would be difficult to manage the farm.

The farm’s apple and peach orchards were well known for their distinct delicious varieties, including two heirloom apple varieties.

Grandpere had leaped at the idea of protecting the orchards. He was very open-minded and excited to learn that new varieties of fruits could be developed. The farm would “live on” long after he was gone.

🥕🥕🥕

Spirits Within by Jessica E. Larsen

When I was a little girl, my grandfather told me, “Jen, remember there’s a spirit within everything,” he stretched his wrinkled fingers toward the mountains. “Even the grass and the trees got spirits, so be kind toward them. They will never fail you.”

Because grandpa was my favorite, I listened and treated everything with care.

It was during my teens when I got lost in the forest with my sister. I heard a soft voice “this way.”

When we were out, I said “thank you” and smiled to my sister. “Good thing the voice guided us huh?”

“What voice?”

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Take Me Back by Ann Edall-Robson

Windrows thick
Sweet smell of fresh-cut hay
Brown Eyed Susan nods approval
From beyond the fields
Calves hide in back-high grass
Mothers lay nearby
Content, chewing cuds
Silence shattered, momentarily
The crunch of gravel under tires fades
Reflections ripple across the water
Slough grass supporting life
Cattails sway in the breeze
Rustling grasses serenades
Golden dragonfly rests nearby
A blowfly buzzes past, circles back
No hurry to go anywhere
Mauve Harebells dance
Bobbing their heads
Fingers caress sage
Savouring earthy aromas
Interlude soothes
Cherished moments, gifts
Focus, click, captured
Take me back
When I am far away

🥕🥕🥕

Mother Nature’s Fingerprints by Kerry E.B. Black

Biological systems are dynamic and interconnected, she realized. Each aspect leans into the next to build an overall structure. Mother Nature’s fingerprints.

She boosted social consciousness using her amassed science. Mankind, she asserted, needs to question “who speaks, and why?” Sometimes, the loudest voices preserve the wrong things. After all, people can not eat money or gold.

She became a Mother of the Modern Environmental Movement and gave voice to a Silent Spring. Her words acted as harbinger of the dangers of treating plants with pesticides.

Rachel Carson was not only my neighbor. She was a good steward to the world.

🥕🥕🥕

Privileged by D. Avery

They swept through like a squall, igniting the canopy, alighting on branches that swayed and bent under their weight, climbed tree trunks like woodpeckers. The actual woodpeckers stopped their work and watched, astounded at this swarm of grackles. The surprised robin watched their feeding frenzy from an uppermost perch of a slender maple before flying off. I bore witness. What appears as pillage must surely be feeding on insects invisible to my eye.

Some people say grackles are useless. Others tell me these trees block the view.

I don’t listen. I know a good thing when I see it.

🥕🥕🥕

Leave No Trace by Deborah Dansante

Niela spent two years secretly planning her thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail. Neila’s journey began and ended in Georgia on Springer Mountain. There she met a man who spends his days clearing paths, blazing trees and leaving ‘trail magic’ for eager hikers. Neila now spends her days writing notes of encouragement to tie around protein bars. Charlie, Neila’s husband, spends his days mulling over which cable channel to add to the “line up”. He wonders sometimes as he is shouting out consonants if his wife will ever come to her senses. He wonders if Neila is ever coming home.

Deborah Dansante resides in south Louisiana with Ponder, her golden retriever. In their twilight years they are more often found paddling wild rivers or sleeping in a tent on distant mountaintops.

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To Protect and to Serve by Charli Mills

Reba pointed her kayak east and sprinkled a pinch of asemaa into the breeze when the sun’s first light touched the water. Her grandson had grown the tobacco last summer that she dried over winter to fill her pouch. It became an offering to the spirits, a promise. She paddled to shore, singing to Nibi her gratitude and respect. Driving to work at the tribe’s fish hatchery, Reba passed the community gardens and the inlet where rice grew on the water – manoomin. Everywhere she looked, she saw the First Treaty upheld – to protect and to serve the precious gifts.

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Bosco Verticale by Jo Hawk

Stefano lifted the heavy portfolio in his hand and swiped his forearm across his sweaty brow. A city bus whooshing past, momentarily offering a welcome breeze followed by the acid aftertaste of hot exhaust. Concrete, glass, and steel, absorbed, intensified, and reflected the summer heat.

As a child, Nonna told tales of long-ago country summers. Tree leaves danced in gentle breezes, birds sang, and the earth cradled soft blue skies.

He featured urban forestation and nature in his architectural designs. Trees, shrubs, and perennials festooned every design, and he proudly wore the title of The Baron in the Trees.

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Come into the Garden, Maud! by Anne Goodwin

He showed her his outdoor Jacuzzi. She showed him her wildlife pond. She gave him a tour of her birdfeeders. He commended the pellets that kept his hostas slug free. He presented his PVC decking. She volleyed with her woodpile, a haven for hedgehogs, she hoped. The advantage of lockdown dating: exploring his habitat safely online.

She made a tisane from her herb garden. He poured wine from his well-stocked cellar. Where was his commitment to conservation? Was his profile a lie? “I never buy wine with a plastic stopper. Preserve the cork forests to save eagles and linx.”

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Small Steps by E.A. Colquitt

Hoarding began when he researched, on a whim, his favourite childhood holidays. The pair of four-hour flights alone drained nearly all his annual carbon footprint allowance. Each trip itself had lasted a mere fortnight, maximum.

He’d shuddered, then investigated more. The eating would be hardest, meat and dairy being his favourite groups in the food pyramid…

He tried his best. Hopefully, the netting from chocolate coins would twist together, one day, into bird feeders. In good weather, he tended a new vegetable patch. On rainy days, he spent hours with search engines that used ad revenue to plant trees.

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And I’m Still Alive To Tell About It by FloridaBorne

The first day I met her, I knew she had my sense of humor.

She’d been a military MP. After retirement, she chose a receptionist job that lacked the stress of policing soldiers.

“It’s hot in here, and you’re wearing a sweater?” she asked me.

“People move here from up north, complain about the environment, and add to the problem by turning on the air conditioning.”

“It’s essential,” she insisted.

“If everyone who couldn’t live without air conditioning fled, true Floridians would be so happy.” Her frown became a scowl. I added with a smirk, “All ten of us.”

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If We’d Known by Donna Matthews

“Do you ever wish you could see the future dad?” the small girl asked her father.

“Hmmm, I don’t know, Hunny. What’s on your mind?”

“Well…if we’d known the forest fire was coming, we could have told mom. And we could have told everyone else to watch out.”

Her dad, his hands shaking, knelt in front of his now motherless daughter and answered quietly, “Sweetheart, just because we know something’s coming, and we tell everyone, doesn’t mean they’ll listen.”

Her sad eyes met his sad eyes.

“What do we do, Daddy?”

“I don’t know, baby. I really don’t.”

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An Addition to the Family by Liz Husebye Hartmann

A morning breeze tripped through the back garden. Tall cornstalks shivered and shushed one another, delighting in the sleeping baby that had fallen from the sky overnight.

The woman here would find her, not knowing of the fiery, silent dragon battle of the night before. The mother’d died, but not before dropping her egg through suburban power lines to what she sensed was a place of protection.

The children, in a pancake coma, were installed in front of Public TV. Caroline headed to the back garden, to sit with a quiet coffee.

Peace abandoned, she scooped up the egg…

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The Vision by Joanne Fisher

The crystal had shown terrible things. The Elder came out her dwelling. She clapped her hands and the entire village looked up at her.

“Humans are coming with axes to destroy our forest. We must protect it! All remaining archers need to go to our northern border. Falnek, take the children to the sacred Bloodwood.” There was sudden activity in the village. “Aalen, when the humans are defeated come back to us.” Aalen nodded and left with her wolf bounding in front of her.

The Elder looked over the village and her people. The crystal had shown terrible things.

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That’s It by Simon

Ocean is dying, nature died animals died, it’s only few of us at 2060, how it all started?

It all started with the discovery of plastic, and our pathetic ancestors acted like they cared for environment and none of them truly stopped using plastic. Greedy entrepreneurs in plastic industry never let plastic disappear, now all our natural foods have micro plastics and here we are at the last moment of the world.

That’s it?

That’s it! Earth was destroyed by nature many times, this time it’s us, and we caused this to ourselves.

This is the end?

Yes indeed!

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Plastic by Reena Saxeena

Julie holds my hand, as I’m about to fling the empty water bottle away.

“Let’s walk a little more. There must be a recycling bin somewhere.”

“Bottles are picked up to be refilled and sold again.”

“Crush it as much as you can. Do you remember how my sister could not receive medical help during the floods, and …..” Her voice was choked.

“What does it have to do with this bottle?” My left arm was around her, as I held the empty bottle in the right.

“It is this plastic at the bottom of the sea which causes floods.

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Teamwork Rewards by Sue Spitulnik

The youth choir’s annual adopt-a-highway clean-up day dawned sunny and warm. Michael whistled while he inventoried coolers of iced water and boxes of sweet-smelling homemade cookies. He loved escorting the teens. There was a freedom of expression while they were outside working together that didn’t happen at choir practice. Last year they discussed the ills of littering and not showing respect for the natural beauty of their area. Gaylan had written a serious but comical essay about it that ended up in the school newspaper. Today Tessa planned to point out wildflowers and weeds that could be used medicinally.

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Freedom by Padmini Krishnan

“Caesar doesn’t belong with us, Sal,” Clare said firmly.

“Don’t do this. He’d never survive the predators.”

“Don’t deer co-exist with lions?”

“Caesar is domesticated.”

“We are forcing him into domestication.”

“But we treat him as an equal…like a human”

“Humans are not chained. We should let him go.”

They had come to the dense part of the jungle. Clare let Caesar down. He licked her hands and wagged his tail.

“Nobody owns you now, Caesar,” Clare said, softly, “You are free.”

Caesar heard a howl from afar. He took a few tentative steps, then ran into the wild.

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Human Nature Being What It Is by Bill Engleson

Gilpen was an odd duck.

No two ways about it.

As a child he was gone for hours.

The woods back of his family farm were delightfully wild.

Undeveloped.

His playground.

The Terrific Rewards and Unparalleled Motivation for Profit Corporation eventually bought the land.

It was never a question of would they build a swack of monstrous multi-million-dollar mansions: just a matter of when.

Until Gilpen took them to court.

“Not on my watch,” he argued.

“A Nature Preserve?” critics scoffed. “Fool! The wealthy need their palaces.”

“And Mother Earth needs her lungs,” he countered.

It was some battle.

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Common Land by R. V. Mitchell

This wasn’t some Seuss Lorax or a Horton saving a clover. No, this was the real deal, the council was trying to sell off the water meadow for development. Had they considered the added run-off and flood risk? Of course not, they were trying to make a quick buck to balance the books.

Many were up in arms over it, as it was one of the few unspoiled places in the entire town, but it looked a done deal, especially when the words “affordable housing” were uttered.

That was until Mary Denning found the Medieval deed to the property.

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I Love You and You Are Part of My Life by Eliza Mimski

I am seven years old. There is a large shade tree in front of the roominghouse where we live in St. Louis. It sends down its circle of shade. I sit there to get out of the sun. I name the tree Stella and I talk to it, asking it how it is.

There is a deep lawn. And the hot summer sidewalk. Overhead, the blue sky. At night, the lightning bugs.

Now, I am 73. I live in San Francisco. I water my many plants. I tell them they are beautiful. I tell them, You are my babies.

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Commonalities? by JulesPaige

We had weekly meetings to contemplate more than just our navels. Each of us on screen at our own table with our own china cups. It wasn’t safe to meet together. The diversity of our ages, professions and passions we hoped would bring forth some solutions.

We all so wanted to hug a tree; besides each other. Hoping that the youth of the world would know what a tree was… in 2030 or 2040.

the future tea leaves
is anyone’s guess; action, though
speaks louder than words

We would be leaving no footprints. Just possibly a remedy or two.

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Pal Speaks by D. Avery

It’s like this Kid: we got jist this one planet thet sustains us. Shush, I ain’t listenin’ ‘bout no Mars. We got jist one. So ever’one’s got ta do their part. Got ta do their part ‘cause we’s all part a the whole. D’ya see, Kid? We’re each a us a part; a piece a it, a component. Not apart. Don’t matter where in the world ya’s at, yer a part a this one world. It’s yer home. It’s yer food an’ shelter. It’s yer Mother.

green and blue Her robes
Love’s elemental colors
we’re threads in Her cloth

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Monreal Dorb

Spam can be annoying. It clogs up filters and requires extra labor to make sure legit comments and submissions don’t get lost in the Word Press wasteland. But sometimes it can be amusing. A rather prolific spammer has been submitting links to Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenges under the dubious pen name of Monreal Dorb. We decided to have some fun with our shady spammer and write about this character.

As usual, writers were encouraged to go where the prompt led, to track down the imagined life of a spammer named Monreal Dorb. To date, MD has submitted over a thousand times and a few compilations of MD’s 3- to 9-word entries were cobbled together to make several 99-word stories. Credit given to the mysterious author spam.

The following are based on the July 9, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes that answers the question, who is Monreal Dorb.

I Can’t Read Your Derp Anymore, Monreal Dorb by Charli Mills

You had my attention for a week. Over a thousand times I saw your Full or Pen Name listed for the July 9 FFC Submission Form. Never were your submissions more than 9-words long. I entered a few for you, cobbling together short entries to meet the requirements. No more will I wonder at intrigues like, “sports throughout shape shorts,” or “more assets committed to control cats.” I won’t worry that you are “so tired you might do something you never tried before.”

Try this: stop spamming and write poetry. Get sunshine and bliss out on bird song. Relent.

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Incapable by Sam “Goldie” Kirk

He sat in a dark, basement room with only the tiniest of windows, revealing people’s feet and the wheels of cars that drove by. It wasn’t his fault that his stories were “uninspired.” The mere thought of this word made his lungs fill with rage. He could kill Charli, who didn’t appreciate his flash, but that might lead him to lose the last of his freedom. So he submitted 574 stories in hopes that she would like at least one. “Really monotonous derp,” Charli called his last piece. “Monreal Dorb,” he signed, hoping that was how it is spelled.

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Who is Monreal Dorb? by Y. Prior

Will you read aloud?

Sure.

“Something in his walk, his look – the way he stopped when he saw us.”

Three more people listened in.

Louis L’Amour words filled the air like cognitive candy: land, skies, suspense, character quirks…

”Orrin was cocky, with a tone of authority. Beneath it, he was still the same man – only better – from livin’, learnin’, and all that growin'”

Reaching the last page, we sat up attentively.

“Mountain air is clear. Sound carries. When Dru called out – we knew who was Monreal Dorb. It was Tom Sunday!”

We sat silent.

Moved from our western escape.

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Firewall by Ann Edall-Robson

It’s everywhere. The fine mist-like clouds swirling, settling on everything in its path. Closing in like a blanket, obliterating objects a touch away. Everything important sacrificed in the blink of an eye. Those who are inexperienced, panic, and point fingers. When the smoke lifts, what will remain? That’s when the trauma of the carnage becomes real. Like a black screen appearing on a computer. The disbelief when the silent scars and skuz is all that stares back. Memories wiped out. All because people didn’t bother to protect themselves with a firewall. There had been time…There always is.

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—–$CLUE FOUND$—– by Sanjuna.SR

Christy feels something wrong with Robert’s Action who is recently behaving strange .So she decided to follow him along with her friend Harry.

Robert was speaking with someone on telephone about the recent “fire-accident “and drove his car at high-speed.

Harry questioned Christy whom he must be speaking with and they decide to follow him.

Mr. Monreal Dorb handed his suitcase to Robert.

Now, it’s the time to reveal the mystery. So, Harry hurried towards Robert and grabbed his hand and opened it –For his shock, he found the clue.

They suspected them but they are the helpers now!

—–$CASE CLOSED$—–

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Angry, Frustrated, Sizzle Spam Hot?! by JulesPaige

who is Monreal Dorb?
hot jammer spammer dude?
dead end cul de sac?

just the way things are sometimes?
does he lack true courtesy?

does the attention
that he seeks warrant us all
to say; “Let me go?”

Is perhaps Monreal a dudette? Does she lack true confidence demanding to repeatedly be seen on our computer screens? How does she get to play spam-a-lot? How does she change her addresses on the spot? Is she a bot?

Is his name Rob D. Learnom? Or maybe her name is Dorra B. Lemon? How can we collectively quench this hot bot?

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Monreal Dorb by Anita Dawes

Sparrow, a twelve-year-old urchin
living under an abandoned railway arch.
The one thing you remember about Sparrow
Is his midnight blue eyes
They look right through you.
You feel him searching for your inner most thoughts
Living on his wits, finding odd jobs to get by
He’ll clean your shoes, run errands.
One errand to the library almost cost him his life
When he ran into the street,
white as the ghost he just met
narrowly missing a hansom cab, horses flaring.
Clutching the book, he read the title
“Have you met Monreal Dorb, the library ghost?”

Ile de Monreal by Saifun Hassam

Andre anchored his skimmer in a secret cove of Ile de Monreal. His blue and silver eyes shimmered, reflecting stars in the cold wintry skies.

Unerringly he climbed a steep twisting forested path and then down to Lac du Soleil. He knew this island; he knew Chateau Toussaint across the still lake.

Stealthily, keeping close to the shores, he followed a hidden trail, and a few hours before dawn he was at the Chateau. Somewhere in there was his twin sister. An android, like him. Andrea Monreal Dorb. He would do his utmost to release her from her prison.

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Who Told You? by T. Marie Bertineau

She stood trembling, knees weak, blue veins bulging in her alabaster neck. “It’s not true,” she muttered. “It can’t be.”

He didn’t speak. She needed time, needed space to absorb the shock.

She raised her fiery eyes to his, her glare bored through him. “Someone is lying,” she accused. “Someone has lied to you. And now you’re lying to me.” Her anger bloomed, her face so red he could almost smell it.

He reached out, touched her arm in support—this woman scorned.

She shook him off, backed away. “Who told you?”

“The private investigator,” he confessed. “Monreal Dorb.”

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The Arrangement by R. V. Mitchell

Monreal plopped down on the straw-filled mattress raising a cloud of dust that made his eyes water. Fighting back a sneeze, he fished the stub of a pencil and some scraps of paper from inside an old boot which served as his pillow. Monreal Dorb, one time lawyer and now convict, began to scribble blank verse onto a scrap. The arrangement was simple, Monreal would write a poem and the guard would claim the verse as his own, and the accompanying profits. In exchange Dorb received more paper. Little did the guard know that these verses contained coded messages.

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What’s In A Name? by Geoff Le Pard

‘You okay, Morgan? You’re white and sweaty, like yesterday’s tripe.’
‘You remember that protest?’
‘Where you made me wear a Mini Mouse mask?’
‘Yeah, well… I was chatting to the organiser…’
‘… with little regard for social distancing…’
‘She was very compelling…’
‘Oh yes, she forced you that close…’
‘Anyway, she said we’d be followed…’
‘…you’re paranoid…’
‘…and gave me this flyer. See…’
‘He was in the diner.’
‘And he’s just signed in.’
‘Probably coincidence.’
‘Guess his name…’
‘?’
‘Ron Earlobe MD.’
‘Oh come on, that’s ridiculous…’
‘Yeah, but if you reorder the letters…’
‘Monreal Dorb!’
‘Now do you see?’

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Grand-mere’ by Deborah Dansante

Our grandfather spent his twilight years drinking cognac and reliving the War. Initially, Papa Jules had been assigned submarine duty. He was transferred to a desk job in Brussels after his commander realized Papa spoke a peculiar French. When Papa died we found in the drawer of his armoire ninety-nine photos of naked Belgium women in various poses. When our New Orleans-born Creole grandmother saw the photos she noted each woman’s posture accordingly. The mirrors in our grandmother’s home were turned to the wall for one full year. Our grand-mere’, Monreal Dorb, spent her twilight years writing about love.

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What’s in a Name? by FloridaBorne

I remembered Monreal Dorb long before he changed his name to Monty Dorn, though 40 years had passed. Skinny, pale, cursed with an arrowhead nose, he’d spent hours in a gym and changed his face, but there was one thing he couldn’t change.

I shuddered at Monty’s dark brown eyes staring into me as Mr. Smith screamed… and his wicked smile! I’d witnessed Monty doing something to our teacher’s chair pad, and dared not tell the principal about it.

So many people were shocked that debonair Dr. Dorn was arrested for child sex trafficking and murder.

Everyone but me.

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(*_*)Cindrella(*_*) by Simon Prathap D

Julie’s step mother Martha, ‘Who would have married a woman like her, must be a beggar, look at him, I would have chosen a man like him for her’. The man in tuxedo smiled.

Julie’s sister, ‘Mom, I know you won’t do that, Stop lying.’

Julie announced proudly, ‘I’ll let my husband introduce about him.’

The man in tuxedo stood up. ‘I’m Monreal Dorb.’

A reporter from crowd asked, ‘Why a rich man like you choose this poor woman?’

Martha’s Jaw dropped.

He smiled. ‘She is my cindrella, I’m her prince, but without fairy godmother’s help.’

Julie Kissed him.

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Monreal Dorb = Ronald Brome by Sue Spitulnik

When The Band of Brothers finished a set at the No Thanks, Michael wheeled to a booth to chat with Ronald Brome who sat with his laptop open. “What ‘cha workin’ on? Your fingers and head were keeping beat to the music.”

“Been spammin’ a website called Carrot Ranch.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Why? Because I can. I got in 574 hits during your set. They’ll think I’m a bot, but haha, I’m not.

“You should use your skills for something productive.”

“Government taught me how, then turned me loose. They’re lucky I’m not messin’ with their files.”

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A Senior Citizen Will Survive by Charli Mills

Monreal Dorb teased her hair into a beehive, saturating her silver locks with hairspray. She dabbed her lips hot pink and stepped out into the blazing Arizona sunshine in wide-width flip-flops. Her neighbors sweltered in the shade, waving. Monreal – Rea to her friends, and she had many – mounted her scooter and set off for the office at the head of the gated mobile home park. There, she’d wipe down her desk after Russian Peggy’s shift of credit card hacking, don a glam mask, and start spamming. She’d survive covid-economics on spam just like her mother did during the Depression.

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Scum by Eliza Mimski

There are some people, like Monreal Dorb, who are the scum of the earth. No one knows how they got that way. Sometimes, oftentimes, they come from good families, are highly educated with a multitude of breaks in life due to their economic background. Still, they are sleaze.

Monreal Dorb is sleaze of the highest order, a record keeper of how many families she has ruined through infidelity, a number keeper of how many men she’s sent to prison through false accusations. She steals. She swindles. She bribes. She deceives. And she does it all with an inner smile.

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Therapy by Joanne Fisher

“It’s as though no one believes I’m a real person.” the man said as he lay back on the couch.

“Go on.” said the woman sitting on a chair writing notes.

“They seem to think I’m some fictitious entity intent on scamming all the time. I don’t know why.”

“I see. So how does that make you feel Mr Dorb?” asked the therapist.

“Please, call me Monreal. I guess I feel uncertain about how to change that perception.”

“Interesting, Monreal. I have another question for you.”

“Yes?”

“When you were making an appointment, why did you send me 574 emails?

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Monreal Dorb by Jenn Linning

When computers came along, my late grandfather – director of a local newspaper – became determined to conquer the art of touch typing. He would battle our clunky PC for hours, turning the air positively blue with curse words as the desired keys on the qwerty keyboard invariably evaded him. “Bloody… qwerty!” he would shout. “Asimov was right: there are ghosts in the bloody machines.” Given the choice of haunting grounds after death, I have an inkling what he may have chosen. His name? Darren Bloom (though it may be spelt differently if he still taps the keys out of order).

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Monreal Dorb by Pete Fanning

Montreal Dorb was the brainchild of Dorb Enterprises. Programmed to generate text in fiction form, the machine’s initial works were clunky, incoherent, mere lines of code submitted in bulk to online contests.

With each rejection, the algorithm shifted. Datasets and patterns tweaked. The machine plugged away, its vocabulary expanded, and the scientists noted the machine’s style became less predetermined. No longer sci-fi but more tragic, heartfelt, more about love.

Baffled, the scientists continued to monitor the broken-hearted machine. And they split evenly the $500 prize money, when Montreal Dorb took first place in the Southwest Texas Romance Writers Contest.

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The Pamphlets Are Being Printed by Monreal Dorb.

Next year I think it will go further if you use people changing their names. Last year was a record high. Black Friday. Oval and pear cut glass created cela fut voqu and the ever graceful dolphins. Whereas in Japan, it remains unclear. I spent 20 years in industry as an executive and consultant and had a big voice. These facts cannot be used as a defense by the accused, but it gets a mention in Bible Exodus 30. You know what’s strange? Disney and the Pentagon, soft core porn as much as possible, and another new hypersonic missile.

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A Body’s Got to Do What a Body’s Got to Do by Bill Engleson

“I don’t want to get involved, Mr. Learnom.”

“Call me, Brod.”

“Fine. Brod. It’s just, Nanny…Nanjo…was my friend. When I read that the police discovered his body in the clutches of those repulsive organ smugglers, well, I wanted to do right by him.”

“Right being?”

“A decent burial. Money’s no object.”

Money’s always my object, I thought, but kept my witty trap shut.

“So, you want me to arrange a funeral for Nanjo Castille and keep you out of it?”

“Yes. The whole unseemly process. And the coffin.”

“You’re funny,” I said. And thought, ‘and ripe to be plucked.’

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Monreal Dorb Regrets (sort of) by Anne Goodwin

I regret the inconvenience, but I acted in good faith. Times are tough and, if the boffins can’t create a vaccine, we must apply ourselves by fair means or foul. When a president advocates bleach and hydroxychloroquine, what’s wrong with tinkering with spam? When spiced ham couldn’t cut the mustard, I went digital. Viral. If you thought my behaviour brutal, be thankful you’re no virgin, raped as a fantasy cure for AIDS. So carrots, why not carrots? Avoiding the stick, they help us see in the dark. In the current leadership vacuum, don’t you yearn for some of that?

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Sexy Beast Like Me by Monreal Dorb

There’s no better choice than a Honda Odyssey to seem completely bulletproof. Peter Parker already spent seven years as Spidey, but I was under too much pressure and couldn’t concentrate on training (yes, I, Monreal Dorb, will be the next Honda sponsored Spiderman). Like all of our horses, I gave my other cars to charity years ago, to the Medical Academy of Valuable Geldings and Hot Pies for Homeless Russian Social Disruptors. With this modern twist on a classic comedy, a sexy beast like me will put myself in their mindset. No Spidey suit. Naked in the driver’s seat.

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Spam Spam Spam by Joanne Fisher

Monreal Dorb, or was he Brad Romonel, or maybe Moral Broden, or even Ander Mordob? Infamous spammer and International Man of Mystery! Today he would spam a writing site with 574 posts. Not 575, but 574. The number had to be exact: the first three numbers he saw after waking up. The reason for his spamming? Monetary gain? No, he was a spamming purist. You couldn’t cheapen spamming with money. For him it was an art form, his mode of expression, as he gleefully clogged up internet sites with his posts. Why does he do it? Because he likes being a dick.

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Spam Is Not Just For Eating by Kathy70

Had she missed the opportunity to go jump in the lake?  Would they ever invite her again?  Living in this hamlet in Germany I knew or was related to all of these people but  removed emotionally.

Could the village you are named for turn on you when you try so hard to compete. The water may have refreshed but I have only submitted 324 versions of our stories. They must understand I only create spam to help. Pandemics may come and go but  our “art” will survive.  Monreal Dorf will revitalize this village when her dreadful spam is known worldwide.

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The Shiftin A Nanjo Castille by D. Avery

A bunch a ranchers was havin’ a time at The Saddle Up Saloon

Kid was in the Poet-tree, jist a-howlin at the moon

When out a the void a the virtual, inta this site bright and vetted

Come a sketchy pair with bot-spring hair, appearin ta be two-headed

Steppin up ta the bar was Nanjo Castille! His presence cause fer alarm

Strollin’ with ‘im, eyes circling aroun, Monreal Dorb upon his arm

The bar went chilly quiet, afeared a these two spammers joined

But Shorty said “You kin stay, but here it’s jist play, so don’t be flashin bitcoin.”

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