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Unexpected Landings

Unexpected Landings by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsYou can fall many ways, and how you land can make for interesting stories. Ever hold your breath as you watched a landing progress? Find your landing is misunderstood? See a cat fall without gravity?

Our writers have crafted the answers into stories of flash fiction. Some, you might say, are flash falls. Certainly what you read will surprise you. After all, flash fiction writers know how to spin a mid-air twist with a well-landed word or line.

The following are based on the July 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an unexpected landing.

***

Mission Impossible? by Jules Paige

It was the cat. Becky knew something wasn’t Kosher. Blinking
was she conscious? The cat had not landed the way a cat
should, well at least most of the time. Cats usually land on all
four of their padded feet from generally any height. But there
wasn’t any real gravity here …was there? Just where was here?

The spaceship battle had taken a nasty turn. Some of the crew
had been beamed out. Along with some other life forms. The
large feline tabby had not landed feet first when transported.
Just what ship was Becky on? Friend or foe?

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

“Malik, what is this?”

“What do you mean? It’s fifty-eight white sheets. Rush order.”

“And the hoods?”

“Why do you ask so many questions?”

“Malik. These are costumes. For the men who’ve landed in town to protest the removal of the statue at the park.”

“Why have statue for loser? Only here.”

“Malik. This is serious. They don’t like us. They call us terrorists.”

“Terrorists Cleaners, now that is a good one, no?”

“Haven’t you seen the news?”

“News. I don’t have time for news. I’m always here, washing.”

“They march. They spread fear.”

“Then they are terrorists, no?”

###

Landing by FloridaBorne

He lifted a slender finger, pointing toward a log cabin at the edge of their landing site. What strange beige creatures and only half his height. The indigenous population scattered into the woods, their screams amusing.

“What is this place called again, love?”

“This continent calls it Earth,” she replied.

He furrowed a grey brow. “No understanding of the universal balance. Class zero planet. Recommend eradication and repopulation.”

“Negative,” she frowned. “The universal mind says this is designated as a prison planet for incorrigible souls.”

“What happened to Mars?”

“They destroyed that in a war.”

“Next stop?’ he sighed.

###

The Bag Lady by Rugby843

Gripping the seat in front of her, she thought she was going to be sick. How many people actually use those bags they put in the seat pocket? She shut her eyes tight, willing nausea to go away.

The stewardess announced, “keep your seat belts fastened, and your head down!”

It was just a short jump from LA to San Francisco, looking down at land the entire trip! How could this be happening?

Panicked, she felt a huge bump, then another. She kept her eyes closed, not daring to see what happened.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to San Francisco”.

###

The Tree House by Susan Zutautas

Meg was determined to find out today what was in the treehouse. When she saw Johnny going up there she called to him. “Wait for me I’m coming up.”

“No, there’s not enough room, and it’s too high.”

We’ll see about that, Meg said to herself.

Once inside she thought, wow what a cool hideout, and took a seat on the floor towards the back.

“Meg you’re gonna have to leave, my friend’s coming up, and there’s not enough room.”

“I’ll just move back.” Pushing against a burlap curtain, out of the treehouse she fell, landing on the ground.

###

A Tune...by Ruchira Khanna

Jangle!

Thump!

Whack!

Victoria came running from her room towards the noise.

She was startled as she gave silent stares.

After a few gulps, she inquired, “Are you okay?” as she extended her hand towards the victim who was laying under a pile of musical instruments.

“Yes, I am.” Pete uttered as he grasped her hand to get out of the mess. Continued to justify, “I was trying to tune them for the big night when I lost control and had this unexpected landing.”

“That was a productive fall. You composed a tune there!” she tried to sound convincing.

###

Unexpected Relationship by Diana Nagai

Meghan adjusted her oversized sun hat as she descended into the Olympic stadium. She scanned the crowd for a familiar face as she recalled the previous year when she landed a client who irrevocably changed her. A man who stirred unexpected feelings within her, but also enriched her life beyond attorney-client privilege.

Hearing her name, Meghan located the source, an athlete bouncing from one foot to one carbon-spring foot and back. This veteran, who had brought the good (love when she wasn’t looking) and the bad (trauma from service), had overcome so much.

Meghan waved back, feeling hopeful.

###

Ready for Landing by Norah Colvin

“Are we there yet?”’

“Not yet, Honey. Look. This is us. This is where we’re going. Another couple of hours. Watch a movie. Then we’ll be almost there.”

Mum replaced her mask and earplugs. Soon there’d be others to entertain Flossie while she relaxed on the beach or caught up with old friends.

She hadn’t realised she’d drifted off until Flossie’s insistent, “How much longer?” awakened her.

“Must be soon,” she flicked on the flight tracker.

“Please fasten your seatbelts for landing.”

“Yep. Almost there.”

“DIVERTED” flashed on and off the screen.

“What! Where?” She squinted. “Home! Why?”

Fog!

###

First Steps in the Air: 1840 by Gordon Le Pard

The men looked at the strange contraption and smiled, they didn’t laugh as that would upset Sir George.
“Climb in there Thomas.” He said, pointing at the small boat with wheels. Thomas grinned at his companions as he sat down and held the tiller.
The men took the ropes and pulled, the machine trundled across the grass, getting faster and faster, then –
The men stopped, open mouthed, the machine was flying.
As the world’s first glider landed Thomas staggered out white faced, he wasn’t laughing now.
“Please sir, I want to give notice, I don’t want to fly again.”

###

First Steps in the Air: 1910 by Gordon Le Pard

“I saw light under the wheels, it left the ground.”
Geoffrey grinned, “Then let’s see if it will fly properly.”
He turned back to the aeroplane, a complicated construction of wood wire and fabric. Buttoning up his tweed jacket he climbed up and nodded at his assistant.
The propeller swung and the engine started. He opened the throttle and the aeroplane bounced across the field, suddenly the bouncing stopped, he looked down, he was flying.
He rose to about fifty feet, then turned slightly.
Suddenly he had a thought – I got up here, but how do I get down?

###

Ground Crisis by Kalpana Solsi

The geography of Leh had many an experienced pilots short of anxiety bouts. But for

Captain Sharma this was a cake-walk.

A co-pilot greeted him,”Juleh”.

Inhaling the fresh mountain air, he checked his messages.

He sat down with a thud.

The landing and maneuvering of the giant metallic bird in a tough terrain proved to be

easier than handling his domestic crisis. His larynx ran out of fuel. The air pressure in his

eardrums had dropped low. His better half was leaving him with a bitter taste. Alimony

compounded with fear stared bleakly at him. She had enough proofs.

###

Flying Lessons by Michael

Chook looked at his hopeful young. They were perched on the top rung of the old henhouse attending what Chook hoped was their first and last flying lesson. He clucked, standing tall, breast puffed out giving each of them the look of his superior experience.

Two clucks and each chicken, in turn, took flight. Gladys landed on her head, Mavis on her beak, Phyllis on her bottom. Chook looking dejected decided it was going to be a long day.

He paced about as they dusted themselves off.

Their clumsiness astounded him. He was glad he didn’t lay their eggs.

###

Nice to Meet You (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

The bus stops suddenly; Jane barely catches her book midair. She throws an annoyed glance the driver’s way as she rebraces her feet against the floor, gripping the strap harder.

The bus lurches again, sending her flying along with her book. Strong hands grab her, keep her from slamming headlong into the pole. Her head clears to the realization she is sitting in some man’s lap.

Her face burns. The man’s hand moves from her hip to the middle of her back, pats reassuringly. “No worries. This might be a sign I should buy you a cup of coffee.”

###

Torment by C. Jai Ferry

We were together six months, so tight from day one. I knew we’d be together forever.

Then a million knives struck my heart—both our hearts. We mourned our daughter.

When his fist landed in my chest, he was still hurting. I couldn’t breathe. He’d kill me, he said, then himself.

The cops asked how it started, what I did. I wanted to explain, make them understand. He was in pain. But they just wanted facts.

I needed him gone. But now his life’s ruined. What have I done?

I love him. I just wish I’d never met him.

###

The Coming Storm (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Wind gusted and cottonwoods along the creek groaned. A nightfall storm closed in. Sarah hadn’t meant to stay so late in the company of Nancy Jane, but venison stew and friendship offered made Sarah linger. How long since she’d had a friend?

A branch cracked and Sarah screamed, escaping the limb’s descent. A man hollered at her to get out of the trees. Topping the gully, Sarah recognized the young stock-tender who rarely spoke. Hickok led the way as trees began to snap.

Hickok’s dugout provided an unexpected landing from the raging storm. And an unanticipated reaction from Cobb.

###

Landing by D. Avery

He did not want to take the old man fishing. He had few enough days to relax, dreaded the criticisms that would roll around the boat like rattling cans.

In the cove they drift cast.

“How’s work?”

Here we go, he thought. “Fine.”

“You deserve a day off. You work hard.”

Then quiet except for one-word utterances, “Nibble.” “Hit.”

Nothing stayed on the line. The old man told about their first time fishing this cove. “We got ‘em that day.”

He had only been four, but he remembered.

Today no fish were landed. “Can I buy you dinner, Dad?”

###

Flash Flood Warning by Anthony Amore

A rising wall of black water hits hard, enveloping and sweeping fast away all the carried things they lugged from the parking area three quarters of a mile up canyon.

The roaring rush scoured laughter and relaxation with silenced desperation and raging fear.

A father holds fast to his baby and a bending tree.

A mother is found but not a teen boy who reached deep for his cousin and two others.

Nine lay dead.

The experienced steady themselves and prepare to accept the worst.

A rescue worker vomits seeing feet protrude from a deep bank of muddy debris.

###

Words on the Stairs by Geoff Le Pard

‘I don’t know, Paul. I really don’t.’

Penny listened to her parents from the shadows on the landing, her face pressed to the balustrade.

‘It can’t do any harm to ask him to find out if your niece is alive, can it? I mean if it’s another dead end, that’s it and if not…’

Penny noted her father’s tone; almost pleading. He wanted Mary mum to continue. Her mother’s voice, in contrast, sounded flat. Emotionless. Penny stood and walked downstairs. She held her baby sister in her arms. ‘We want to know mum. And you do too. Don’t you?’

###

The Diver by Bill Engleson

The high board is a steep climb. Always. But I can do it. I’ve done it a zillion time.

That first time was a killer. I was six. My mother, who wouldn’t even stand on a kitchen chair to brush the cobwebs and spiders off the dining room fan, was like a crazed cheerleader, yelling, climb! Climb! CLIMB!

So, I climbed.

I’d already mastered the low board.

Cannonballs. Loved cannonballs.

But not as much as diving.

The jump. The spring. The flight. The spin.

And then, the landing. A bullet… and, surprize, surprize, an Olympic rocket into the pool.

###

Down at the Beach by Pensitivity

I was terrified.

One minute she was sailing happily through the air over her private obstacle course, the next she’d somersaulted over the groyne and landed on her back.

I couldn’t get to her fast enough, visions of My Baby lying screaming in agony, totally paralyzed.

Heart beating painfully in my chest, I reached the barrier and could see the other side.

Maggie was happily swimming in a little corral none the worse for her adventure and double tuck diving technique.

Me? I was a nervous wreck needing oxygen.

Hubby was in hysterics, saying she did this every day!

###

Pay No Attention to the Woman in the Parachute by Joe Owens

Sally never expected to be here. She even took steps to correct her errant ways, joining a group formed to assist those with impulse problems.

Yet, here she was with her hands on the opening of a small aircraft tasked with delivering her to the ‘jump off’ point of her first skydiving attempt. While staring at the checkerboard of specks below she thought about the disapproving visage of Mr. Elliot, the group leader.

Her face screwed into a look of terror when she remembered the ‘drop in’ picnic for her group in the park below. There was no escape!

###

Soul-Bird by D. Avery

Raven, protector, prominent on the totem pole, reminds all to live correctly. Raven who found the first People in a clamshell. Raven who keeps the tide, who balances night and day.

Do not fear this soul-bird even when Raven comes for you unexpectedly. Yes, you will appear as dead to those who might see Raven bear you away; you might feel that you have drowned in the bottomless pools of Raven’s eyes, feel the winging ascent as soft whispers of spirits. Raven will land you on the moon, where you will be warmly received, where you will be rebirthed.

###

His Sister’s Keeper by Kerry E.B. Black

Mud squelched as Ward knelt beside his unconscious sister. “Please don’t be dead,” he repeated like a prayer. She’d tried to keep up with him, but his agility and speed had outstripped her crippled gait. He’d relished the freedom of flight, enjoyed the thrill of exerting muscles habitually held in check to match her pace, tired of being his sister’s keeper.
Her scream halted his progress and his heart. She’d slipped down the hill. He had rushed to gather her to his chest. Frail, thin, with tendons protruding oddly, Nina groaned. Ward wiped a tear of regret and relief.

###

Post-seizure by Anne Goodwin

Like stepping back from a pointillist painting: distance gives sensation shape. On a scale of one to ten not the worst I’ve suffered: I might have wet myself but I’m uninjured, and I’ve come round in my own bed. The room whirls, but only slightly, as I get to my feet.

On the landing, my vision blurs again, the carpet a kaleidoscope of colour. Brushing the wall for balance, I stagger towards the bathroom and a reviving shower. Ouch! My shoulder dislodges a framed photo. That’s not my family staring out of the picture. This isn’t my house.

###

Black Hole by Reena Saxena

Have I landed in Ayn Rand’s Atlantis, like Dagny Taggart? I did not aspire to meet the love of my life, not with my age and appearance.

The mirror in the hallway belied my assumptions. I looked young and ahem … pretty, just like that painting on the wall.

Whhaaaat? My picture in this place ………..?

Instinct drew me to a picture perfect bedroom with lace curtains, and I saw myself knitting. But I prefer reading anytime, anywhere.

Looks like I have landed into a past life, through a black hole. And my folks out there are placing ’Missing’ ads.

###

Almost Ready to Fly by Liz Husebye Hartmann

After a crackling-hard winter, she was relieved to drag the Adirondack chair out of the shed. Morning sun dappled through the leafy canopy overhead, warm enough to make morning coffee outdoors feasible, but not enough to waken mosquitoes.

This vision had carried her through those brutal months before retirement. Leaning back, she stretched her bare toes into the dewy grass and smiled. Too early for ticks, too!

“I left the nest! God-willing, may all my mornings be blessed like this.”

A nestling sparrow plummeted through the trees and onto her lap. He glared up at her through sparse fluff.

###

Roosting Time by D. Avery

“Aw, fricassee! I ain’t never seen chickens ‘round the ranch before. We gonna have to herd them too?”

“If Shorty says.”

“Chicken’d go nice with carrots.”

“I doubt the chickens end up in the pot. She already thinks they’s ladies in petticoats for gosh sakes.”

“Hmmph.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me none if Shorty got ‘em to scratch out 99 words in the dirt for her. They’d scratch out some egg-citing tales, alright.”

“Bah, what stories do chickens have?”

“Some speak of the coop, some the road.”

“Shorty says she’s done crisscrossin’ roads for awhile.”

“Yep. That chicken has landed.”

“Unexpectedly.”

###

Beacons of Light

Beacons of Light by the Rough Writers & Friends@Charli_MillsWhen it’s dark, foggy or dangerous we look for beacons of light to guide our way. Beacons can be what we expect and fill us with relief or hope. Yet beacons can be unexpected, even deceptive.

Writers considered how to tell a story about beacons and shed light on shadowy places, feelings and situations.

The following stories are based on the July 6, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a beacon.

***

Beacon (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane edges up the tiny spiral staircase, bending to look through the mullioned windows. Gulls wheel, screeching; the sea murmurs. The top level is nothing like she’d imagined a lighthouse would be: Hardwood floors, foghorn mechanism, and arc lamp all gleam in angled sunlight. On tiptoe, she can see the noses of seals playing below.

It’s not Paris; it’s not a beach weekend; it’s not even a bus ticket home to her mother’s kitchen. But escape was a beacon; the sandwich in her bag, her student bus pass, the Internet list of area lighthouses, all gave it to her.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

Most have been lost from the roadside and replaced under the guise of progress.

The modern ones have little charm, despite being made from similar components.

The striped pole denoted a rigid sentinel either side of the childhood chasm, dignified in its support of an amber globe which flashed intermittently and continuously on the crossing, topped by its familiar dark cap.

What is this mediocre dotted halo over a dull orb that pathetically illuminates the way to safety?

The Red Man may warn before the Green Man takes over this vigil, but I will always remember the Belisha Beacon.

###

Woman Overboard by Joe Owens

Wayne gripped the rail of the light house beacon house as tightly as he had anything short of his beloved Claire. She knew this storm would be bad, but she was determined to make her run. Just one more job.

The water churned away while the wind roared. Wayne futilely wiped the rain from his face trying to catch a glimpse, any sign really, that she might be out there. But there was only more darkness, more despair to find.

“Why you stubborn woman, why?”

It took three days for her boat to be found. Her body never was.

###

Lighthouse by Robert Kirkendall

Wendy and Jack approached the old lighthouse with other tourists.

“I just love these old buildings!” Wendy gushed. “Don’t you, dear?”

“They’re okay, I guess,” Jack replied.

“But it’s so grand looking! They knew how to build things then.”

“It’s just an archaic brick building with no more use. Modern ships rely on more advanced technology.”

“But it’s historical!” Wendy reminded.

“It’s useless,” Jack insisted. “There is no more need for it.”

Just then the long, ugly sound of a ship crashing upon rocks and resulting screams filled the air.

“Okay,” Jack admitted, “maybe this lighthouse is still useful.”

###

In Extremis by Anne Goodwin

The white light drew me, summoned me, invited me, called me to dissolve where pain was unknown. The blue light flashed, on off, on off. Although much colder, it wanted me too. If my body could divide into a white side and a blue side, I could rest in peace. If I could float in the white till I was mended, I could give myself to the blue. But there was no going back from the white light. I had to decide.

Another light, sharp, beams into my eye. “Got a response here!” I’d been chosen for the blue.

###

The Arc of Descent by Elliott Lyngreen

Almost sideways
Against surface
set to angles

(There’s nothing to lean on)

hovering us above
then below the lake

crests

from an emerging ship,
groaning up-sideways-steep-

The world lost your stories
when you had your stroke

In the channel
At West Sister
You’re the ghost in the Lighthouse now
(grinning from ear to ear)
signaling beams
over distances I miss

Casts. The drifts.
trolling as we were
Thee Great Fishing King
and a chosen boy
lingering…

so to not have a moment
Like this.

Like, reeling in two-ton shitheads
how We slammed them against
Starboard side,
pure, disgusted, whips

###

A Sign by Ruchira Khanna

“Step outside, Thea.” asserted mom as she entwined her fingers.

The daughter was adamant, ” The world will judge me. I want to spend the remaining days of my life inside.”

She silently wiped her tears and stroked her daughter’s crown that was hairless and bisque in color. Her eyes that were lively and naughty were pale and dejected. She was pronouncing herself dead even before the last breath.

Just then there was a knock.

Thea’s friend entered with a warm smile.

The Mom envisioned it as a signal of hope and sunshine in her daughter’s life.

###

Self-Doubt by Reena Saxena

For how long has the lighthouse been there, in the middle of the sea?

The ships have moved, using information relayed by it, and escaped hazardous shoals and reefs. Have they, or have they not? Maybe, they own better technology – the electronic beacons and navigational systems.

I am forever on the move – mentally and emotionally, and sometimes physically – collecting, curating, processing and disseminating information, along with my interpretations of reality. I wonder if I have been useful to others, or only to myself, at a high cost of maintenance.

I think of the lighthouse again. Should it start moving?

###

The Storm by Susan Zutautas

Squinting, trying to see a few feet in front of the car was impossible. I only wish there was a car in front of me to follow.

OH NO ICE! Don’t panic, I said to myself, and for God’s sake don’t hit the brakes.

Slipping and sliding losing control of the car ….. SHIT, I was in a ditch! Oh great now what.

Unprepared for this dressed in heels and a short skirt, walking would be suicide in this snowstorm. Better stay put.

Freezing to the bone, hours later, I could see a most welcomed beacon of light. Safety.

###

Meeting Destiny by Kerry E.B. Black

Like overgrown fireflies, they bounce before me, silent beacons to the unknown. Be they corpse lights or Will-o-the-wisps, their pale glow fascinates me.

Grandmama whispers prayers when they appear. She says they’re the spirits of passed ancestors, but Aunt Emilia warns not to heed their invitation. “They work with monsters to lure the unwary to their doom.” However, my uncle scoffs. Swamp gas, says he, and nothing more.

Wordless invitations pull at my curiosity. I imagine they’re a gateway to mysteries, lighting a path to my destiny. I’m bold. I’ll face them, follow their lead, and discover for myself.

###

Night Search by Bill Engleson

It’s not that anyone thought that Mickey and Sal were bad parents. And if they did, most wouldn’t say anything. Why beat up on folks that were as full of sorrow as they were.

“We’ll keep looking beyond sunset,” Sam Travers, local fire chief and search party head honcho, told us. “Are you with me?”

One hundred heads nodded in the fading light.

“We’ve got a good supply of torches. Lucas is only three and there’s a storm due by morning.”

Lucas had gone missing the night before.

One hundred flashlights might be just enough to bring him home.

###

Let there be Light by Norah Colvin

Eyes squinted in the dim light under low ceilings. Immobilised by never-ending paperwork, the menials dared not look up. Flickering numbers on data scoreboards mesmerised supervisors. Inconsistencies meant remonstrations, even punishment, from above. Heads down, keep working, don’t ask questions. The system worked fine, until … Maxwell nodded off. His pencil fell, tapped first, then rolled away. Startled, Maxwell went after it. The room stilled. Sliding too fast, he slammed into the wall, activating a button that illuminated a set of stairs leading up. Everyone gasped. Maxwell hesitated, took one step, then another. Nothing happened. He continued. Everyone followed.

###

The Light by Allison Maruska

My brother sits next to the window, shaking. “I’m scared!”

I roll my eyes and join him. “It’s just the dark.”

“I don’t know the dark!”

“It’s never dark forever. Okay?”

“How do you know?”

“I’m older.”

“Barely.”

“Still counts.” I try to be patient. It wasn’t that long ago that I was stretching my wings and looking for a beacon of familiarity.

A light behind us comes on and he takes off.

“Wait!”

He smacks into the bulb and falls back.

The human bats at my brother. “Stupid moth.”

Sighing, I park on the ceiling. He’s still learning.

###

Beacon by Jeanne Lombardo

I search the night sky. As if the answer were there. As if science fiction were true and benevolent aliens could save us. Why bother? I see nothing. The stars are snuffed out.

Here below flames rip at cars and barricades and shop fronts—bonfires of fury and pain. The undercurrent of violence deafens me, pulls me down on streets wet from water cannons. My hands bleed from the bricks I have thrown.

You pull my arm. You scream. The maelstrom snatches your words and eats them.

But I follow at last—you—a brighter beacon than the flames.

###

Mother Hope by Kalpana Solsi

Flashing the red beacon light and a shrill siren announcing urgency, the white metal body moves.

A budding life, inhumanly left to wither is picked up with love. The ‘unwanted’ tag is abandoned and a new name and home is given.

The wrinkled destitute breathe their last with dignity.

Bodies afflicted with diseases get palliative care.

Women and children counselling programmes uplift the society.

Refugees, prostitutes, street-kids are accommodated.

The selfless Sisters at Missionaries of Charity in the City of Joy spread sunshine under the darkest conditions.

The Mother in white and blue sari is a beacon of hope.

###

Hope Is A Four Letter Word by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mrs. North? Greg O’Connell. I tracked down your sister to the Sisters of Mercy.’

Mary felt a familiar cloud cast a chill shadow. ‘I remember.’

‘They’ve found the records. At last, eh?’

Mary couldn’t speak.

‘Bit of light at… sorry, I’m rambling. A beacon of hope, maybe. Katherine Potts. Your sister, right?’

‘Yes.’

‘She had a daughter, who was adopted. The family was from Dublin. Mrs. North? You there.’

‘Is she… alive?’

‘That’s why I rang. Do you want me to keep looking?’

Mary shut her eyes. Could she stand more disappointment? Was this beacon really bringing good news?

###

First Cut Pt. 1 by D. Avery

“Did I hurt you when I left?”

They were sprawled on the grass in the pasture that overlooked the house, the barn that held the first cut of hay. She stroked the baby’s dark hair as she nursed.

“Yup. Hurt a lot.”

“I’ve always been a bolter. It’s like I can’t help it after a while.”

“Uh.” The baby sighed and fell asleep against her.

“I never was scared before though.”

“You were scared?”

“Afraid I’d gone too far. That I wouldn’t be able to come back. To you.”

His arm around her was strong, gentle. “I’m always here.”

###

First Cut Pt. 2 by D. Avery

He stood on the porch, watching the storm rolling over the mountain, trees bowing before it, excited leaves anxiously twisting and turning on their stems, murmuring at the rumbles of thunder. Soon it would rain.

The Highlands would be fine. The calves were healthy, feeding well, the new mothers patient and fiercely protective.

Quietly, he went back inside where she had fallen asleep on the couch. He sat before the sleeping baby in the bassinet, still awestruck. Would that feeling ever go away?

Would she ever leave again?

“Hey”, she whispered. “How’s Hope?”

“She’s a light in the storm.”

###

Beacon by Rachel A Hanson

“I know your name,”

She was standing at the kitchen sink, feeling low as she sipped her coffee. She looked up to see Moana.

As the tears flowed out she realized how invisible and alone she felt.

“What’s wrong, Mama?” Her little one ran over.

“I just love you so much,” she said.

Her little face lit up with a smile a mile wide that shone like a beacon, cutting through the darkness in her soul.

“I love you too, Mama.”

As they embraced the smile of the baby became another beacon of love that shone through the dark.

###

Beacon of Goodness by KittyVerses

As the day of my friend’s wedding grew near,excitement in all of us rose to the next level. Exuberant, like the rest of us about her attire and the celebrations that would follow, she was eagerly looking forward to her D-day.

A typical Indian arranged wedding, they hardly knew one another for six months. A new person , new family, new lifestyle, these thoughts kept haunting her. An element of fear lay hidden beneath her otherwise joyous face.

As we parted, I wished fervently, Let the beacon of goodness shine and may she be that beacon in this new journey.

###

Philandered Pharos (Janice vs Richard #13) by Jules Paige

Carla Scott wanted nothing more in life than to own a little
bookshop in the coastal town she’d grown up in. Instead
she’d become a policewoman. Helping people like Janice
from cabal men who held tightly onto the concept of
‘disregard’ of humanity in their absolute quest to make
women feel Fremdschämen. Men like Richard rarely
worked alone, belonging to some kind of opaque group,
whose asomatous leader didn’t leave paper trails.

What turn of events or item preceded a criminal’s mind to
hum above decent coherency? Blip off and then stand tall
withdrawing from the beacon of justice?

###

Beacon by Michael

He was a beacon of hope to so many. He spoke the language they craved to hear.

To others, he was a beacon of disaster. Everything he said was a lie a falsehood designed to deceive and confusion.

Where he promised prosperity for all to others, he spelt poverty a modern-day Judas selling out those whom he should have supported for the lure of the mighty dollar.

He used people for his own ends, he cared little for their well-being concentrating totally on what was best for him.

In the end, he was justifiably condemned to rot in hell.

###

A Beacon of Her Light by FloridaBorne

“Are you telling me you are what you write?” Lee asked.

“No.”

“You’ll never be a Hemingway,” he sneered.

“It’s the journey, not the destination that’s important.”

“I’ve heard the cliché,” he snickered.

“I hear the universal heart and my write-house shines out a beacon of her light.”

“That’s a stupid pun! If you’re the lighthouse, I’m the caretaker that straightens the beam.”

“No,” I chuckled. “You’re a ship’s captain refusing to allow a light to tell you there’s danger ahead.”

“What danger?”

“You’re about to crash on the rocks. My lawyers have pictures of you with your mistress.”

###

Night Riders (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

 “Nancy Jane, it’s dark. I can’t see!” Sarah reached for her friend.

“Beyond the ravine we’ll have light. Come on!”

When they emerged from the creek oaks and cottonwoods, the plains remained cloaked. Stars cast no light on this moonless night, but lone campfires topped the hills. Sarah asked, “Why are people in small camps? I thought they were afraid to sleep outside groups.”

“Nah, those are the fires warning where the ridges are.” Nancy Jane whistled and her horse nickered in return. “Ready, Sarah? Let’s ride the plains and let the Otoe night signals light our way.”

###

The Royal Navy by Gordon Le Pard

Here it is again, and a sequel

“They’re here!”
He looked out at the horizon and saw nothing, “Nonsense” he thought as he walked over to his excited colleague bending over the strange device, he looked through the little lens. There was a tiny ship – with the cross of Spain on its sails. Moving it he saw more, the Armada had arrived!
Moments later the beacon was lit, within hours the English fleet was at sea.
The Spanish thought they had the English trapped in Plymouth harbour – but at dawn the Royal Navy launched their first attack. The defeat of the Spanish Armada had begun.

The first telescope was probably invented in the 1570’s by Leonard and Thomas Digges, but kept secret because of its military importance. I have placed one in the hands of one of the men keeping watch for the invading Spaniards in 1588.

###

The Spanish Armada by Gordon Le Pard

Admiral Recalde was worried, the Royal Navy was supposed to be in Plymouth, and no knew they were coming. Last night they had glimpsed the coast and seen twinkling lights on the hill tops.
“Fires, to burn the heretics.” The priests had said encouragingly.
But he feared they were beacons.

As dawn broke he found he was right. The grey western horizon, which should have been empty, was full of ships, English ships, the fastest warships, the best guns and the finest seamen in the world.

He no longer thought of victory, instead he prayed that they would survive.

Admiral Recalde, one of the most experienced officers in the Spanish Armada, was always doubtful about its chances of success. He managed to bring several ships home after the disastrous defeat, but collapsed and died a few days after reaching Spain.

###

A Hero’s Welcome by Pete Fanning

The whistle hit as the train rounded the bend. At Jem’s, couples abandoned dancing and ran for the door. Drowsy children lifted warm cheeks from the padding of their mother’s arms. Old timers rocked forth to have a gander.

The boys wanted to shoot his Springfield. The girls wanted to hear all about Paris. Lawrence had seen the world. He’d taken on the Nazi’s and defended freedom.

Six hours late, a beacon shined on the withered streamers and curled signs of patriotism. They stood as brakes screaked, they watched patiently as the “White Only” cars passed.

Lawrence was home.

###

Between by Sarah Brentyn

He flies halfway between day and night.

His wings reach out, touch the rooftop of my home.

The silence outside me, the noise inside me…

I hear him.

Tomorrow, he tells me, will be softer. More forgiving. Wait.  

I believe him.

His message quiets my raging mind.

Delivered tenderly, I feel the force behind his words not to go gentle into this good night.

 

Feathered fingertips brush blue sky down into the pinks and purples of evening.

I will live to see him, this paintbrush of the Gods, bring the periwinkle light of sunrise up into sapphire skies.

###

Whatt the Blazes? by D. Avery

“Hey Shorty. That’s a fine fire you got there. Cookin’ somethin’ up? Bacon sure would be nice.”

“No, ain’t cookin’.”

“Oh. Cold?”

“No, I ain’t cold.”

“Oh. Scarin’ away coyotes?”

“No, ain’t seen any sign of coyotes.”

“Shorty, why’n heck you got this here fire blazin’ away if you ain’t cookin’, ain’t cold, and ain’t worried about coyotes?”

“Let’s just say this fire is for anyone who is hungry, or cold, or worried about coyotes. A welcome to set a spell. Share stories.”

“A beckoning beacon.”

“Exactly.”

“Still, some bacon would be nice.”

“Here, have a carrot.”

“It’s raw.”

###

Save

Frayed at the Edges

Threads unravel and seams pull apart. What is frayed at the edges can be more than a bit of fabric. It can be a feeling or circumstance that wears.

Writers explored what is frayed this week, looking for meaning among the threads. Word play, metaphors and stories for deep within knit this week’s compilation.

The following are based on the June 29, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about something frayed.

***

Frayed by C. Jai Ferry

His first year back, it was burgers and beer, with a side of Black Cats. In the glow of the rockets’ red glare, his belligerence burned white hot, landing a bluish bruise across his wife’s cheek.

How could you, they said.

His second year back, he eschewed the fermentation of the fruited plains. The aerial repeaters spewed bombs burning in the air. He squeezed his eyes shut against the crushing memories.

Man up, they said.

His third year back, he hid in a dark room, his scars shrouded in the battle-worn flag from his barracks.

How unAmerican, they said.

###

Current History by Elliott Lyngreen

Now structured, carved lens, laser-like bends, sharp ghosted terrains; find everything after.

Burning, streaking figments of my youthful imagination burst and fray into them great sky-legged creatures.

And mind –awakes that fearless struck-in-the-head type waves, booms frequencies, this smoked raining –I remember… in so many ways, angles, viewpoints.

‘That was everyday once’ ,,,, of the smoke grains in empty space…. Tristan says.

I can see it all, misting and blown open.. balanced, the message, the things we already know, ‘gravity always wins’…wearing down.

Long, long ago, far far removed, but arching, spot in the clearing …..remains, lonely…history.

###

Away Too Long by Kerry E.B. Black

Ward relied on memories as frayed and faded as an old coverlet. Remembered roads looked unfamiliar. Street names sounded foreign. As he struggled to recognize a landmark or some continuity of recollection, the thread unraveled further. He squinted, envisioning younger trees and buildings without patina.

A child carrying a wicker basket rushed ahead. Ward called,

“Pardon me? Is this the way to Accalia?”

As he backed away, Ward imagined in his upturned eyes a resemblance to an old school companion. The child clutched his basket. “Can’t talk to strangers.” He ran.

Ward sighed. “Guess I’ve been away too long.”

###

Fray (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane sits in the reception area, her face a mask of pre-interview eagerness, mentally rehearsing everything she’s learned about this company.

If she crosses her legs, she can hide the crease in her slacks. Living out of a duffel doesn’t allow for ironing much. She eyes her blouse cuffs and wonders again if the frayed edges are obvious, whether rolling them would look too casual.

Even her good-luck almost-leather portfolio, cradling her resumé, looks frayed. Frayed, like her heart, her very spirit, after so many years of trying and failing. How many times can you try just once more?

###

An Everyday Occurrence by Bill Engleson

“Are you afraid?” I ask. She is just a shape in the shadows.

“Yes…yes, I am,” she answers, just as another volley smacks the air.

“It sounds like they are on the floor below,” I state, guessing more than knowing.

“They? There’s more than one?”

“I don’t know. It’s usually one crazy person I suppose. But sometimes…”

“Why would someone, anyone do something like this? I don’t understand.”

Her voice is cracking, her fear rising, the sound of her fright getting louder.

“You shouldn’t talk,” I suggest. “We need to stay quiet.”

“Of course. I’m sorry.”

And we wait.

###

To Unravel, or Repair? by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The spell had existed, long before she’d begun chronicling by gathering their hair. Candle-lit, she bent over the long braid, a weave of auburn, nut-brown, curly black, and her own pale blonde.

She’d discovered her three friends intertwined in a drunken Midsummer meadow. She’d been forgotten once again. Her heart cried betrayal.

When had it begun?

She turned the braid and saw the place where her strands had loosened, as theirs grew closer. “There!” she hissed.

Tearing at the strands, she stopped.

She pressed them to her face, inhaling.

Sighing, she set her clever fingers to reworking the braid.

###

Before the Castle Gates Close by Madra Sikora

The hallucinated movements in my peripheral vision are tricks of the fatigue.

The Queen walked this same journey’s path to her new throne. I wonder, did her cloak become frayed and torn from the thistles and brush constantly clawing, holding her back?

How did this trail look with hope calling from the destination? How does it feel to be rushing toward the light rather than fleeing the darkness?

The forest nights offer no respite, the eyes of the universe upon me. One step after another, I continue on, praying I reach the castle before the gates are closed.

Forever.

###

Worn by Sarah Brentyn

My teacher slaps my desk. I jump.

Students keep their heads down. I’m glad for this.

He asks me a question. Tells me it’s the second time he’s asked. That I’m not paying attention.

He’s right. I’m not. At least not to this lesson. I’ve been staring at his robe.

The edges are frayed.

Teachers are respected in The Society. They wear the robes of the higher classes. Dark blue. Tailored. Immaculate.

He sees me eyeing his sleeve and yanks his hand away. Something is wrong. I make a mental note to look at the other teachers after lessons.

###

Tattered by Kalpana Solsi

“The blue represents the water bodies”, replied Amritawith complete concentration on her school project.

“And the adjoining green body is land-mass.”

” There aren’t demarcated boundaries on this globe”, I reminded my daughter in amusement.

“There shouldn’t be any. A global village in the truest sense is what we need.”

“The lines on the land fray people’s emotions segregate into nations and separate humanity”, she continued in even breath.

I inhaled deeply. The Amritsar air seemed less polluted.

I thought about my estranged cousin in Lahore. The lines of

communication have to be kept open obliterating all barriers.

###

Frayed by Susan Zutautas

Sitting on her bed with her head heavy in her hands, Meg felt as if she was going to explode all over the walls. She didn’t know how much more she could possibly take. Her nerves were frayed and she was exhausted from all the bullshit that was going on in her life.

She started her new job but wasn’t quite feeling all that comfortable yet. Her step-mother kept calling her work, only to complain about her father. The endless calls were driving her to drink.

Meg’s cell rang. Not again! She let it go through to her voicemail.

###

Quintessential Quietus (Janice vs Richard #12) by Jules Paige

Janice refused to posture to slovenly behavior while being
immured in the safe house. Wondering if Richard had more
than just an insulin imbalance – how could he still shake up
her emotions like lightning radiated from a cloudburst – she
was the one who suffered!

Containers from the latest takeout restaurant displayed the
strength of gladiola or – was it a lotus, Chinese symbolizing
purity? And then the fortune, what galimatias was that? It read;
“Hereafter is your passion; frayed dreams stabilize future plans”

Would it take the death of Richard to calm Janice’s frayed
nerves? Detective Longhorn thought it might.

###

Frayed by Michael

Roger and Mary’s marriage was frayed to breaking point. Long had gone the means of communication they once enjoyed. Nowadays their relationship consisted of a series of grunts in greeting the start of a day the ending of the same.

The trust they held in one another was considerably threadbare, their physical contact was tattered, ragged and holey. In fact, Mary found Roger shabby in every way.

It was the start of another day, and Roger grunted to Mary to pass the sugar as he sweetened his coffee the only sweet thing left in his frayed and moth-eaten life.

###

Dodging the Question by Geoff Le Pard

‘For pity’s sake, when will anyone ask?’

Mary glanced at Susan, who said, ‘Ask?’ The three women had known each other since antenatal classes.

Naomi waved a hand. ‘About… Sorry, you’re both lovely, but…’

Mary said, ‘We didn’t, you know, think you’d want reminding.’

Naomi glared. ‘Reminding? My husband’s dead at 44; I’m reminded every time I wake up.’ She shook her head. ‘I’m sorry; everyone’s really nice, sympathetic but you assume I want to move on, not talk about it. And I do but you two,’ she waved again. ‘I need more, if I’m not to come apart.

###

Let Freedom Ring (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“I heard her husband led the Palmetto Guard.”

“He murdered free-staters on raids.”

“Hussy!”

Mary McCanles walked bare-headed through the crowd with her basket, ignoring the fine women in stiff bonnets deep enough to hide wrinkles and scowls.

She settled on the quilt her daughter Lizza spread. A gray-haired woman herself, Lizza smiled broadly and attended several Otoe-Missouri papooses. Though frayed, it was Mary’s treasured marriage quilt.

“I love babies, Mama!”

“You are good with them, Daughter.”  Mary dared anyone say anything to Lizza. Born a blue baby, she was often ridiculed. Not today.

“Ain’t Independence Day grand, Mama?”

###

Fraying Nerves by Jeanne Lombardo

Fuck. How did I get in this position, she thought.

Her hands burned, the rawness bleeding the rope red.

“Come on! You have to help me.”

She watched the young man through the slats of the bridge. He looked up from where he dangled, the ground a mile down. Still he did not speak.

“I can’t hold you. Climb up or swing to the supports. Are you listening?”

The rope jerked, sawing at her hands.

“There’s no more time,” she screamed. “The rope is fraying.”

She saw herself then, and let go, falling back, gazing into the cloudless blue.

###

Her Knitwear Will Not Fray by Anne Goodwin

She played the pins the way the nuns taught her: in – over – through – off. Later, when her dreams began to fray at the edges, until all she’d worked for seemed to slip away, she added another stage, and another: pull – pull tight.

Her kids complained their clothes were too constraining, biting into their armpits, crushing their chests. They wanted the freedom to flap their arms. They thought, in their youth and innocence, they might fly.

But she was stronger, wiser, resolved to save them the only way she could. Weaving a cage with her yarn to lock them in.

###

Frayed by D. Avery

Weather worn, that’s what she was, frayed further from lack of sleep. The relentless rain was a steady march, a bellicose drumbeat that only paused, never stopping long enough for anything to dry out. In the night, if the rain did cease for a time, the change in tempo would awaken her. The drilling streams from the broken gutters, the incessant drip from the trees, ponging off the roof, kept restless rhythms. Should the sun ever shine again she would lie outside and sleep in quiet, absorbing the warmth and the light into the vast reaches of her dreaming.

###

Nerves by Reena Saxena

Being everything to some people, and something to everyone takes its toll. Susan had struggled to retain her own identity. Yet, she felt like being several parts that did not add up to a whole.

She moved to get up, but the tassels of her scarf were entangled in the drawer. Her stylist was right, that she needed only clean, straight lines in her clothes.

It was an epiphany. She needed to be at the center, where others connected to her, not vice versa. Only then, she could smoothen the frayed edges of life, and stop being all nerves.

###

A Bit Frayed by FloridaBorne

Great Aunt Lucy struggled to remain calm. She turned to walk out the locked door, stopped by my insistent hand. “You want that hand swatted?”

“Do that, and you’ll be committed too,” I replied.

“She’s a worthless addle.”

“Her husband of 50 years just died. She’s still in grief. Her children want her committed so they can take her home away.”

“That’s not my business.”

“You have no children, and her children are your next of kin. You allow them to do this, and you’re next!”

A bit frayed she replied, “I’ll get a lawyer – for both our sakes.”

###

Second-hand Store by Norah Colvin

He’d perched on the stool for longer than anyone knew. Though his coat was threadbare and his bowtie frayed, nothing could erase his smile as he waited daily for a tinkle announcing a potential buyer. The days, though long, were not too long for one as imaginative as he, conjuring stories for items cluttering the shelves.

One day a woman in a large blue hat and floral coat examined everything in the store, so quietly, he’d forgotten she was there. She startled him saying, “I’ll take him.”

Lovingly restored, he took his place alongside others in the Toy Museum.

###

The Blanket by Allison Maruska

Baby girl skips through the rain. She stops, holds her arms out, and spins.

“Child! You gonna catch pneumonia!”

“What’s that?” She runs to my dry spot outside the 7-11.

“A bad cough. C’mere.” I grab the tattered blanket from my cart and wrap her up. “Your momma can’t afford you gettin’ sick.”

She runs her fingers over the frayed edges. “This is old.”

“So am I.” I wink. “Don’t mean it ain’t still useful.”

She giggles and hands it back. “I’m gonna bring you a new one!”

“Nah.” I tap her nose with it. “This one’s just fine.”

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

She hated sewing. It wasn’t that she couldn’t, just that she preferred not to.

Her daughter was the same, she too would rather go out and buy a new pair of jeans or shirt than sew a hem or put on a button.

Their mutual love of gardening saw them outside tending blooms and trellises, hitching and pitching, digging and twigging.

Their clothes became snagged and tagged, but they didn’t mind.

In fact they came up with such a novel idea, they set up in business.

Who would’ve thought that frayed jeans in disrepair would become the latest fashion!

###

Camaraderie by KittyVerses

Meeta chose to visit an old age home,as a part of her college project. She was very excited, she had no grandparents of her own and was envious of her friends who recounted the camaraderie they shared with their grandparents.

Some people were there because they had no one of their own, others due to the neglect of their kids, yet others due to poverty. They all had one thing in common, they craved companionship, their only possession being frayed memories of good times gone by.

She promised to visit them every week, she was their own granddaughter now.

###

Restoring the Threads by IdyllsoftheKing

“It was grandmother’s. We could still reconstruct it, with a bit of work.”

“That’s work that we don’t need to do. We should give up. Things have changed since then. The world is different. Why fix the quilt?”

“Is it really that different? We made an oath.”

“I don’t remember making any oaths, do you?”

“Our duty goes beyond just us. This is for everyone.”

“And if I want a normal life? Something something where I can participate instead of just observe?”

“Then that’s your choice, not mine.”

“What if nothing comes to me?”

“I know you’ll be inspired.”

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

I studied the picture of Mom on my dresser, at the beach pier, her arms on the railing, her hair swept back by the ocean mist in the breeze. Sometimes I spoke to her or kissed her pretty face before I went to sleep. Sometimes I heard her soft, gentle words in the crashing waves.

The mist in my eyes. I fell onto the bed, plunging deep into the soft down comforter.

This new life of mine was bizarre, almost fake, while the memories with Mom were frayed and strained. The result was this. Now.

Breathing but not feeling.

###

De Fence by D. Avery

“Sorry Shorty, I thought it was apple juice. I didn’t get into the fray, I’m just steerin’ the Kid here to the bunkhouse.”

“That’s quite a shiner. What happened?”

“I showed ‘em, that’s what happened. I said, ‘Shorty ain’t ‘fraid of nothin’ and I mighta punctuated my meanin’ with a left hook.”

“Your left hook was more of a question mark, Kid, but that was quite the exclamation point you took to the eye. Shorty, I thought the Kid knew they said frayed, not ‘fraid.”

“Oh, it’ll be alright. Kid, sometimes we’re all afraid and frayed.”
“Yeah?”

“ ’Fraid so.”

###

Dreaming

Dreaming Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsIt can be a relief to wake up and realize, it was only a dream. But what if we are always dreaming? Dreams are the veil between the conscious and subconscious. Perhaps daydreams are the bridge between possibility and practicality.

With dreaming, anything goes. Writers plunged into the prompt, one offered by Rough Writer and author, Ruchira Khanna.

June 22, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves a dream.

***

Beach Daydreaming by Susan Zutautas

I stare into space
Where no one knows, where I’ve gone

I like to hide in my mind
And daydream

Sometimes I think of younger years
Sometimes I think of my fears

My favorite dream is on a beach
Lying in the sun and sand
Feeling the heat beating down on me

I feel the sand between my toes
A gentle warm breeze goes by slow

Listening for the waves to crash
The warmth of the water hits my back

The sweet smell of salty sea water
Fills my nostrils and I smile

There’s nothing like an ocean dream

###

Deep Sleep by D. Avery

The stone dreamt of cold grinding ice and was not afraid; dreamt of twisting transforming heat and was not afraid; dreamt of the crushing weight of oceans, and was not afraid; dreamt of the acidic embrace of mosses and was not afraid. The stone dreamt it was asleep and dreaming that it was asleep and dreaming of timelessness and fearlessness. The stone dreamt that it was the Earth, that it was the universe, that it was a tossed pebble.

She awakened suddenly, slowly, acclimating herself to her limbs, her body, to the return from dreaming of being a stone.

###

A Writer’s Dream by Reena Saxena

The woman in black finally decided to reveal her identity. I watched with bated breath, as she lifted her veil, and then, I almost stopped breathing for a while. She was not strikingly beautiful, as I had expected, but was a relic of the past.

What had happened in her life, in the interim period? And why was she following me? It was scary, but these are the twists and turns of fate, that keep the story of life going.

I woke up drenched in sweat. Why don’t the characters of my novel leave me alone, when I sleep?

###

Lost in a Dream (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Young Sally stirred the bean pot and twittered about lace she’d seen in Beatrice. Sarah saw herself as if in a dream, a memory vividly sketched in mind but dormant for years.

“Beans look ready Miss Sarah?”

Her hands, no longer stiff and aged, trembled at what she knew came next. She heard herself repeat words from 70 years ago. “Check one.”

Sally blew on the wooden spoon, a lone pinto perched in thin liquid. Bread cooled next to churned butter and wild plum jam.

Sarah succumbed to the memory of the day. There never was a last supper.

###

But I Can Have a Dream, Too by Joe Owens

Erin studied Eric’s speech he had spent so many hours on, checking and rechecking it as her good friend requested.

“It’s great except for one thing. You can’t use the ‘I have a dream’ line at the beginning.”

“Why not?”

“There is a very famous speech with that line you don’t want to copy.”

“Doesn’t every speech reuse some words from another?” Eric asked.

“I suppose, but I think you should try again on your opening,” Erin said handing the papers back to Eric.

Two days later Eric began his speech like this: “Dreams are the mind cataloging memories!”

###

A Dream is Just a Dream by Anne Goodwin

“What does it mean, doctor?” She sat back, wide-eyed, expectant.

Flying cats, talking trains and flowers oozing blood. The ward staff called her an attention-seeking fantasist, but I gave her an hour a week of my full attention and she filled the space with her rambling dreams.

I didn’t want to disappoint her, but none of my interpretations had hit the spot. Sometimes a dream is just a dream. But only in their telling did she seem alive. “I wonder,” I faltered, “did you ever dream of writing a novel?”

She snatched a tissue. At last, we could begin.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

The organ blasted out ‘Here comes the bride’.

What was I doing here?

This wasn’t what I wanted or needed.

The pews were full, of people I didn’t know.

Was I in the right place?

I walked alone up the aisle, no-one to give me away.

My groom had his back to me.

His stance was unfamiliar, strange to see a Morning Suit.

Oohs and aahs echoed all around me.

I looked down to see I was stark naked.

Exposed for the fraud I was perhaps?

The music stopped.

So did I.

He turned slowly.

A man without a face.

###

I Saw Her Again by Drew Sheldon

I ran into her the other day. She looked great. She got divorced and quit smoking a few years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look so happy and healthy. We talked and laughed just like we used to all those years ago. No topic was off-limits. No joke was too tasteless. She was just as brilliant and funny as I remembered. Somehow I hadn’t realized how much I missed her. Suddenly it occurred to me in all the excitement I had forgotten to hug her. So I reached over to her…
And then I woke up.

###

Visitations by Sascha Darlington

I feel gentle fingertips caress my temple, wake to his brown eyes fastened on mine, concern etched in them. His breath, hot upon my cheek, once would have been enough.

“Are you getting up?” he asks, a whisper.

“I need a little more sleep,” I say. He nods, kisses my brow. I almost pull him to me, to have him close.

I’ve never told him that sometimes she appears in dreams and her laughter clutches me. I sleep hoping to dream of her.

I think I hear him say: “Please come back to me” before I slide into slumber.

###

El drac dels somnis by Jules Paige
(Janice vs Richard #11)

Clothed in a neat kimono type wrapper, Janice felt there was
nothing mundane about this dream. She’d been spirited off to
a tentative safe house. There was no going backwards as far
as escaping Richard was concerned. Even with attempting
La gaudiere for the man – there couldn’t be even a partial
reconciliation.

Warm air vented from the nostrils of the tree brown dragon
that nudged her, as she patted its’ spine. Janice wasn’t
opposed to staying in this dream and felt herself smile.

The Dragon’s eye swirled into a scenic window of greenery.
It was time to wake up.

###

Livin’ the Dream (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Becca pushes out of the consignment shop, not daring to breathe lest it tip the tears poised to fall. A year ago she had bliss. Now she’s selling what left she has of Richard.

That happy life, that wonderful man, it must have been a dream. She would never have been so careless as to lose him if it was real. She would have felt its fragility, would have known not to let him leave the house that day.

But why would anyone wake from a dream like that one, if dream it was?

Same result. Gone, either way.

###

Dream by Lady Lee Manila

I never believe in dreams
They were just for kids, it seems
Like one of their childish games
But you came and I’m in flames
I’m still smiling with that beam
When I sleep, I dream of you
In the blue sky and you flew
Searching and calling my name
– Believe in dreams
Now I believe in daydreams
Hoping you are my mainstream
And my heart you have inflamed
Dream to be with you I claim
With preference, my eyes gleam
– Believe in dreams
When I sleep, I dream of you
In the blue sky and flew

###

The Spider by Jeanne Lombardo

Rain-washed light filtering through the glass doors. The snug kitchen dawning with the day. The woman pondering her dream.

She’d been sitting in this kitchen. An egg, perfect in its pure, curved symmetry nestled in a china bowl before her.

She cracked it open. The yolk dazzled. But it was not a yolk. It was a magnificent spider, its body a glinting gold topaz.

In the waking world, she would have recoiled. She would have screamed.

But in the dream she watched, smiling.

Now it seemed a visitation, a hopeful omen, a sign. What did the jeweled spider portend?

###

Dreaming Well by D. Avery

“There’s people there now, but I’ll clean up after them, check on the well.”

Johanna couldn’t believe her fortune in finding a special remote location for her “gang” to base their retreat ride.

“I’ll take the tractor out there and brush-hog the meadow and grade the lane so you ladies can get in and set up your tents. My, having visitors does keep us young.”

“Okay”, smiled Joanna, reaching for her helmet, “We’ll all be back next weekend, it sounds great, like a dream come true.”

“Yes”, said the older woman, her eyes gleaming, “It’s a dream come true.”

###

Dawn, Noon, Dusk by idyllsoftheking

When he wakes up, the red light of morning streaming through his window, his heart skips a beat. The sun? Natural sunlight! He rushes out of bed greet it.

When she logs in, she responds to emails in order of panic. No, she assures the recipients of her comforting lies. No, there is nothing to fear. It will hold. Their arcology is the best on Io.

When they crouch down, underneath the sparking and burning wreckage of their glass and plastic castle, they look at each other with undeniable hatred. His dream lives, hers died. Simple. She kills him.

###

Dream Crashers by Sascha Darlington

You can’t keep dead people and dead dogs out of your dreams. They think they have a right to be there in all of their once alive glory. They laugh and hug or pant and bark and wag their tails and make you believe during your REM state that they are totally alive. For blissful moments, you believe, like it was yesterday, but the sepia tones should be a giveaway. When your dog wiggles her rear end and skips, your chest tightens as consciousness fights for witness: this is a dream and when I wake up, I will cry.

###

Dream by FloridaBorne

“Mother? Where am I?”

“We’re having a nice hot cup of tea.”

She held her plain white porcelain mug with dainty fingers, and took a sip.

“Why are you wearing a white dress? You hate white.”

The scent of Earl Grey intermingled with six white fresh-cut roses from her garden. The sun began to drift down…down…down…fiery golds, orange and red becoming muted greys and green while we silently sipped tea together.

Darkness…bone chilling cold…legs pinned…arms pressed under tons of earthquake.

“Mama…I don’t want to die. Not like this!”

“Sleep my child,” Mother said. “Soon you will be coming home.”

###

Yet Another Day by Kittyverses

It was yet another day. After the death of her husband, their son decided to travel overseas to seek fortune, promising to return soon.

Days turning to months,months to years, all that she cherished of him were the weekly telephonic conversations.

It wasn’t that her son didn’t want to care of her but monetary circumstances prevented him from returning back.

There was a knock on the door, one fine day. Hurrying to open, standing in front of her was her son. Pinching herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming, she cried in joy, Son! My faith has won.

###

Dream by Kalpana Solsi

She lay supine on the hospital bed surviving on prayers of children and modern medicines.

She feels her soul separate from her mortal body as Chitragupt calls her name.

“Beware, thorns and stones that hurt you” he cautioned.

“I have experienced pains and downfalls”, she trailing him.

“Regrets?”

“None”, confidently.

“Wishes?”

“My Home needs a replacement to be run altruistically. The children would suffer”, she requests.

“Those orphans?”,

“They’re my children”, she emphasizes.

Doctors credit her recovery to a miracle.

“Was it a dream or trance?”

“Was it re-birth?”, questions a journo.

She nods, waves at the vanishing Chitragupt.

###

Lion Fish Vacuum by Anthony Amore

Robert follows the Lion Fish deeper into the reef, spear ready. An invasive species in the Keys, these are legal prey.

Within reach something yanks from behind, tugging; the mask falls from his face. Oxygen evaporates gulping water gasping.

He jolts awake. He’s never been diving in his life. He’s never been anywhere. HIs legs, his arms, they do not work. This was a scene from a cooking show that flickered last night and glowed deep into the vacuum of his hospital room.

Feeding him water from a straw, the night nurse says. “Sleep tight.” He will likely not.

###

Sharing Dream Time by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She rolls in flickering blue and white, darts between other bodies, slick and shining, touching but not colliding. Breaching, she leaps into the moon, heavy with promised bounty. She swallows silver light, joyfully sated as it fills her center.

Deep drumbeats increase in speed and volume, drawing near. Writhing and diving, she hides from grey and black shadows that slash and shred. In an eyeblink, Moon’s soft rays hang bloody between wicked spearhead teeth.

She wakes, wiping salt tears from her son’s eyes. Repeated night terrors; she no longer knows if he’s sharing her dream, or she’s sharing his.

###

The Dream Tweeter by Bill Engleson

“She’s finally asleep.”

“You sure? She fakes it sometimes.”

“I lingered awhile. Just watching…if she’s a faker, she’s damn good at it.”

“She tell you the story?”

“Story…?”

“That thingee she’s been rambling on about…the dream tweeter, the goblin who steals dreams and then tweets them to God knows where.”

“Yeah, she mentioned him. It?”

“It about covers it. I think she’s been watching too much television…especially cable news. She doesn’t even know what a tweet is.”

“Who does. I mean, what’s the actual point of twitter.”

“Well, by some measure, its purpose is to keep the President sedated.”

###

Dumbfounded by Michael

I was watching TV when a boy from the school over the road set himself up on my veranda. He thought my place was his study centre. I told him to leave. I thought of child protection and all that involved.

Then there was a noise in my kitchen. Around my kitchen table eating my food were a heap of Year 9 students. I rang the school and the Principal came over. He thought it a great joke. He shuffled them out explaining in the kindest terms it was time to go back to class.

I woke up! Dumbfounded!

###

Off with the Fairies by Norah Colvin

Each year the school reports told the same story:

He’s off with the fairies.

Poor concentration.

Needs to pay more attention.

Daydreamer.

Doesn’t listen in class.

Must try harder.

Needs a better grasp on reality.

Will never amount to anything.

Meanwhile, he filled oodles of notebooks with doodles and stories.

When school was done he closed the book on their chapter, and created his own reality with a best-selling fantasy series, making more from the movie rights than all his teachers combined.

Why couldn’t they see beneath the negativity of their comments to read the prediction in their words?

###

Writing about The Island before Writing about The Island by Elliott Lyngreen

The outfield was a road; curved. Another couple formed an unoccupied lot, an island which resembled a baseball diamond..

Frontyards were HOMERUN territory.

Relays came from manicured gardens, yard niches, overwhelmed ivy, realms in two-story architecture; swiftly from Murphy, swung to Fearns, divided down to Harold at the sidewalk crosshairs—pitcher’s mound—to goofy Darryl – who tags Stewart with a catcher’s mit.

Bicycles.

We knew John Zaciejewski’s garage code; for more gloves, bats, balls…; and his pool.

Dreams never stood a chance for the Major Leagues.

Yet immersed….from wonderous transition, to awake neck hairs softly tingled.

Formed as literature.

###

I May Be A Dreamer by Geoff Le Pard

Rupert steepled his fingers. ‘My dreams? Goodness.’

Penny sat at her uncle’s feet, rocking her baby sister.

Mary shared a grin with her half-brother. ‘Mine were cliched. Ballerina, show jumper.’

Penny waited. Finally, Rupert said, ‘I didn’t know it then, but finding you. A family.’

‘You had your mum.’

‘Oh and I was happy but now, well, it’s better.’

Penny frowned. ‘Does that count as a dream? I mean, looking back?’

‘A retrospective dream? What do you think Mary?’

‘Why not? Especially if it comes true.’

Penny smiled. ‘We’ll make it a thing. Our thing.’

‘Yes, a family thing.’

###

Family Resignation by Diana Nagai

The summer sunset held my gaze as I pulled the blanket tighter. My aunt, who had raised me, sat close.

“Are you happy?” she broke the silence.

“I achieved the life I wanted.”

“When did you stop dreaming?”

I tensed at the implication. “Did I? I hadn’t realized.”

“I’ve always been proud of you, you know that. But, you could have been so much more.”

Her words stung. I was happy with who I became. And I still dream, everyday, that my parents hadn’t gotten into the car that fatal night. But out loud, “Yes, auntie.”

###

Flash Fiction by Carrie Gilliland Sandstrom

I sit in my arm chair like a cat, curled up in the sun. My book lays open but its words cannot capture my attention today. I am pulled under, into a dreamy state by warmth and comfort. I like to play there while the light dances on my eyelids giving my world an orange-red glow. I dream of sandy beaches, cool crystal blue water and a tanned lifeguard named Rico.

“Mom?”

Rico walks over to me, eyes inviting and warm.

“MOM!”

I ease my eyes open to address my interruption, “Yes?”

“I can’t find my other frog slipper.”

###

Family Sacrifice by Kerry E.B. Black

The sight paralyzed Ward, a vestige of a nightmare brought to reality. They walked from the fog, cloaked figures wearing crosses that swung with each step. Faces once familiar contorted with fervor and undeterred purpose.

Ward backed to his door, certain they would rip through their clothing to reveal their natures. Wolves, hungry for a kill, anxious to devour the weakest of the pack. Instead of howling, the lead man presented official documents to Ward. “We’ve come for the woman named Nina. Relinquish her, and there will be no trouble.”

Nina. His secret sister. Sacrifice for his family’s safety.

###

The Anthem by Allison Maruska

I approach the lone microphone on the 50-yard line. Stadium lights shine down, obscuring the thousands of spectators. I clasp my shaking hands in front of me.

“Singing our National Anthem tonight is Cassandra Jenson, senior at Ridgefield High School.” The announcer’s voice echoes off the stands. “Please stand.”

Silence fills the stadium, and I take a breath, remembering my starting pitch. “Oh say—”

“Cassie!” Jordan shakes my arm, pulling me from my daydream. “I got it! I’m singing the anthem!”

“Oh.” I smile, covering my disappointment. We both knew only one singer would get the job. “Congratulations!”

###

Dreams Come True by Susan Zutautas

Meg was having a hard time finding a new job. She’d been on countless interviews and was starting to wonder if she’d ever find a job. Exhausted from travelling all over the city, she flopped down on her bed in tears. As she drifted into a deep sleep she was thinking the move to this new city might have been a bad idea.

That night her deceased mother came to her in a dream and told her everything was going to be okay.

Meg was woken by the phone. She was offered a position and could she start immediately.

###

Transmission to Transition by D. Avery

“Kid, you gotta grin a mile long on that face a yours.”

“‘Less I’m dreamin’, Shorty’s back!”

“Yep, I saw. She brought us flowers from the prairie, by gosh.”

“She’s been on walkabout.”

“Walkabout? You been talkin’ with Aussie?”

“Well, it has been kind of a vision quest for Shorty, ain’t it?”

“I reckon so. She’s been runnin’ down a dream alright.”

“Well now what?”

“There’s work involved in a dream coming true, Kid.”

“I know. What can we do to help?”

“Shorty will keep us posted. In the mean time, dream along.”

“Dreamin’ big as a prairie sky!”

###

Save

Games for the Fun of It

Guest Compiler: Rough Writer & Ranch Hand, Norah Colvin

Last week when Charli wrote about games, she wrote about games for the fun of it, and more serious games that give us the run around with very little enjoyment. She challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves playing an outdoor game, like tetherball, hoops, tag. It can be made up, traditional, cultural or any kind of twist. Go where the prompt leads. There was no question about whether writers were game or not, and many joined in the fun. These are their contributions, starting with Charli’s own:

Games Across Rock Creek (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Rawr!” Cobb charged his five children on his hands and knees in the cropped grass in front of the west ranch house. Lizzie stood and giggled, blind since birth, she relied on her brothers to get around. Even playing games, the boys guided Lizzie. Cobb gently bumped her with his head and she squealed in delight. Young Charl tried clambering up Cobb’s back. Monroe boosted his youngest brother so he could ride Da’s back like a horse. Laughter carried across Rock Creek.

Sarah watched from the shadows on her side. Away from his precious family. The games they played.

Flash fiction by Pensitivity

It was the annual family picnic, everyone brought something for the table, we had a portable stove for making tea and loads of games.
With inherited grandchildren due to second and third marriages, there were over forty of us now, so we had plenty of options for team games and even a treasure hunt.
There were prizes too which was why the kids loved it so much.
The grand finale was always Scrabble.
Wrapped sweets were thrown into the air for the little ones to catch and collect. The older kids helped them so no-one went home empty handed.

###

Like Mother-Like Daughter by Ruchira Khanna
“Twist your waist along the loop,” she commanded from her balcony on the fourth floor.
“You silly girl!” she screamed when her daughter’s hula hoop came sliding down, “You ought to move your waist all the way!”
“Mom!” she cried out, “Chill!”
Sara’s friends tee-heed while the embarrassed mom stepped away.
There was a pause, and the daughter clarified with perched eyebrows as she adjusted her plaid skirt and put her loose strands of hair behind her ear, “My mom is the best, and she wants me to be the best too! What can I say!”

###

I’m Game by Geoff Le Pard

‘What shall we play? Rounders? Frisbee? Wheelbarrows?’

Penny and Mary exchanged a look as Paul pulled a ball from the bag. Penny giggled. “I’ll look after Charlotte, mum. You can be dad’s stooge.’

‘Stooge?’ Paul put hands on hips. ‘Is that what that school teaches.’

‘Love the double teapot, dad. What about a sand sculpture?’

Paul smiled. ‘Best one gets to choose the ice cream.’

‘Does everything have to be a competition, dad?’

Paul began digging. ‘Hmm?’

Mary whispered to her daughter. ‘Give it an hour and he’ll be fast asleep. Then we can go and get some tea.’

###

Bush rescue by Rowena

Bob saw the helicopters hovering over the lookout again.

“Blimey, another bloody tourist’s lost,” Bob announced, taking his eyes off the footy. “All our taxpayer dollars going up in smoke. They should pay. This isn’t a free country.”

“Daddy! Daddy!” The kids puffed. “Jet’s stuck in a tree.”

“How on earth did the dog get stuck in a tree? You gone mad?”

“Hamish threw his tennis ball over the edge, and Jet flew straight after it.”

“Bob, told you that dog’s a maniac.”

“So, all those helicopters are out saving our dog????  Thank goodness, he doesn’t have a collar.”

###

Bricktown Boys by Pete Fanning

Ron and I rode our bikes past the abandoned brick factory that lined Clay Street. I checked for new graffiti or tags or any signs of life.

Our part of Fairview was known for bricks. The blackened stackhouse stood defiantly against the sky as our monument, the teeth-like shards of broken windows were a warning, and the immovable darkness inside those old walls seemed to live in every man who’d walked into my living room.

The factory was our landmark. A big, tough, ugly, brick trophy we held up to prove how tough our neighborhood was. Bricktown. Enough said.

###

Counting by D. Avery

“Come on, Buddy, that’s at least fifty.”

When they were younger, they counted to ten. Then twenty-five. Fifty was a maximum.

Sometimes they just had their hands, clenching a fist with the index finger serving as barrel, thumb as hammer. Sometimes they’d find perfectly shaped sticks. Christmas might bring a realistic looking cap gun.

Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians; “Bang, you’re dead”, and if it was an obvious hit you had to fall down for a specified count.

Now they were playing army. They were the good guys.

“Buddy, just get up. I don’t want to play anymore.”

###

Flash fiction by Bill Engelson

May 30th 1955

We were not supposed to play after dark.

“I want you back before the sun goes down. You pay heed.”

And our old lady meant it.

But the thing about dark, it sneaks up on you like the devil.

When your kid brain is consumed by the action, heart pumping, feet stomping, bush tromping, heavy breathing, finding that sweet spot to nuzzle into, to hide, to be sought but not found, that was the rush.

But there was that thing about dark.

It snuck up on sister Sue.

It stuck her in a sack.

And she was lost forever.

###

Come, Play along! by Kittysverses

The elders of Vasant Housing Society, were in a fix. It’s was two weeks since the summer vacations began, and all that they could hear was silence in their compound. True, the kids were forced to studying during the school days, but it was the vacations the elders wished they played. The victim in the form of modern gadgets was found. This kept the elders thinking, and they came up with a planof organizing traditional Indian outdoor games for the young and old. *Kho-Kho,**Gilli Danda, ** *Lagori, ****Dog and the bone were among the main events of the D-day.

###

Remembering Kabaddi by Anne Goodwin
Ram often dreamt he was a child again, running barefoot across the dusty earth. Amid the singsong voices of the staff, he often felt a child, unable to dress, wash or eat without assistance. But never before had he been led to believe he’d been transported back to childhood, his playmates’ chants ringing in his ears: Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi …
He opened his eyes. The care staff considered the sports channel invigorating, but Ram wasn’t interested in cricket, rugby: English games. Now TV had stolen his memories, his village roots, taming the ancient game with a court and referee.

###

Let’s Play a Game (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane smooths lotion over her knee, pausing over the scar. Ten, she’d been, suited up in roller skates with the key around her neck. Her friend Carla on her bike, eyes full of the devil. “Hold on to the sissy bar and I’ll pull you. It’ll be fun. Just like waterskiing.”

And it was. Hair flying, eyes streaming in the wind, both of them shrieking laughter, blazing down the middle of the street until Carla wiped out and Jane went flying and blood flowed. No helmets or kneepads back then.

Kids can’t come close to fun like that now.

###

Golem’s Truth by Jules Paige
Carrie wasn’t sure she wanted to play Golem’s Truth – being
Mal de coucou in this new neighborhood. The tendency in
these new situations was to play the awestruck outsider.
Be a parallel player without spilling too much of her own
Background.

With a strong desire to fit in with this group, Carrie had to
build up some nerve to please these ‘new’ friends. Without
putting up too much of a smoke screen.

This new twist on Truth or Dare and Spin the Bottle. A
couple had to go behind the barn, do something – And not
tell what they did.

###

Around and Because by Kerry E.B. Black

Henry stepped to the plate. Eager teammates turned from loaded bases. “Come on, Henry. Don’t blow it.”
“Again,” added Henry.
Two outs. Two runs down. The last inning of a decisive game weighed.
Queasy wriggled his stomach. His hands sweated. He gulped and swung.
“Strike one.”
Coach yelled, “Shake it off, Henry.”
“Strike two.”
He blinked tears. Two balls. A foul tip.
He prayed, swung, connected. The ball soared. Unaccustomed to hitting, he watched it ascend, bounce, roll. Team mates screamed, “run.” He did not. Three slid past him to home plate. They won around and because of Henry.

###

The First Game by Gordon Le Pard

“We will have to stop Sir.”
Prince Frederick looked up to the sky, there was no way the rain was going to stop.
They stopped the game sadly and walked into the tavern.
He enjoyed sports, and knew that this was a way into his subject’s hearts. The British loved sport, so did he and knew he had to show he was British, ‘Glory in the name of Briton’ he had told his son, and playing traditional British sports was one way to show it.
This game, however, was new to him.
“What’s it called?”
Lord Middlesex replied.
“Baseball!”

###

Safety first by Anthony Amore

The neighbor kids started using a basketball but it proved too heavy to shoot with a hockey stick. The six rode either skate boards or roller blades around the cul-de-sac taking turns shooting into a lacrosse net alternating between a tennis and a soccer ball.

Then someone upped the ante.

“Put the net at the end of our driveway,” he said. “No, there,” he added pointing down the steep asphalt incline.

“There?”

The first nodded, “We skate down, shoot, score.”

“How will we stop?” someone asked, sensibly.

“Don’t worry; that’s why we have helmets. Who wants to play goal?”

###

I Got My Dude Right Here by Elliott Lyngreen

This dude had strolled up the cosmic black walkway spinning a gray-weather shreaded basketball ahead of himself so the english zipped it perfectly rolling atop the backside of one hand, up his arm, around his chest, swiftly down the other arm to a flip-spin onto the original hand with the middle finger extended in such wobbling revolutions he casually slapped, straightened so the ball turn smoothly and faster with each tap; then dropped so sweet as his knee come up, bumped the rock back up in one continuous motion continuing the tight whirling.

Asked, “who got last ya’ll?”

###

Face tag is our game by Joe Owens

Kaley looked at Casey with an unsure expression.

“It’s simple. Make sure they don’t see your face. If they do you are frozen.”

Kaley nodded with her understanding. She was totally zoned in until they picked the tagger.

“No!” she thought without speaking. Not him. Anyone but Eric.

Casey saw her expression, tapping her on the arm while asking with her eyes what was wrong.

“It’s nothing. I am good.”

“Wait,” Casey said her look of concern morphing into a wide smile. “I guess I know who you like now, huh?”

“Don’t say anything, promise!”

“I won’t have to.”

###

Wifflduff by Michael

This is a fun game to entertain kids in the back yard. The idea is to disassociate the words given with their meanings. For example, spaghetti. If you answer pasta or food, you would be wrong and out of the game. If you say dog/cat/elephant, you would be correct.

In the one minute, you attempt as many as you can. If you survive a minute, you accumulate how many you got right. One wrong and you are out, and as added fun, you have to prance around the yard like a chicken saying whiffleduffwhifflduffwhifflduff.

Hours of fun and excitement.

###

Wanna play? by Norah Colvin

From the verandah, the park looked enormous and inviting. The men, lugging boxes and furniture upstairs, stopped chatting. Mum bustled them too, ‘Here. Not there.’

‘Stay out of the way,’ she’d commanded. He suggested the park. ‘Not by yourself,’ she’d said.

He went anyway, crossing the wide road alone. He watched a group of kids kicking a ball around. They looked friendly, but… He glanced back at the house. Not missed. Would they let him play?

‘Hey, kid,’ one shouted. He turned to run. ‘Wait!’ called the voice. ‘Wanna play?’

Reassured by smiling faces, he joined in the game.

###

Strategy in the game by Jules Paige

Longhorn knew it was a paradox; Janice full of tension but
being in a semophoristic mood, she didn’t want to talk, not
in the park. The detective would have to bite his tongue on
all the questions that were musing around in his head. No
woman deserved the smooth playhouse of thieves that
people like Richard played in.

Once Longhorn had moved Janice into the safe house
code named ‘Neptune’ – he could end this stalemate and
she could open up about any information she possessed that
would put a final checkmate on Richard and put the rogue
behind bars.

###

Aw, Skip It! by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Find one that’s flat and smooth…no bigger than your palm.”

“Bigger than your palm?” she tipped her head. “Or mine?”

“Great question! Let’s look and see what we find.” The water was clear, chilling his pale feet. She followed, knee-deep, eyes round.

“Curl your finger around the edge, and flick!” The stone sailed, tripped half a dozen times and sunk.

She grabbed a rock from his hand and threw it underhand. It arced and splashed.

“Good first try!” He spied the perfect stone, heard a deep splash and got soaked from behind.

“How’s that?” she laughed, hands on hips.

###

Up and At ‘Em, by D. Avery

“Come on Kid, up and at ‘em.”

“Uhhnn. Where’s Shorty at anyway? I heard she mighta went into town.”

“You heard, you heard. Ever heard of herdin’ cattle?”

“Shorty’s in town, probly playin’ cards, havin’ fun.”

“Shush. Shorty’s busy. And she might be gambling, but it’s a serious game she’s playin’.”

“I heard Shorty’s at the rodeo.”

“Well you heard right. She is, and it ain’t her first time. But this one’s big.”

“What can we do with Shorty away?”

“We’ll do what we always do.”

“Yee haw! Time to play with words.”

“That’s it Kid. Round ‘em up.”

###

Games in white gym suits by Floridaborne

“Gym suits, the only piece of clothing that could make Marilyn Monroe look dorky,” I said, showing my teenage daughter a garment hated by anyone with a brain in the 1960’s.  “PE is why I had glasses in junior high!”

“You’re blind without them, mom!”

“I’ll compare it to making you wear one of my suits,” I said.

“Ewwww!  Gross!”

“We had a saying that boy’s don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. You might as well be hiding behind a wall.”

“Why were you forced to wear glasses, mom?”

“I mistook my archery instructor for the target.”

###

 

 

More Than a State of Mind

Guest Compiler: Rough Writer & Ranch Hand, Norah Colvin

Guest Compiler @NorahColvinIn the introduction to her post and flash fiction challenge, Charli discussed her feelings of contentment at having reached Kansas. She said,

“I had such a feeling of contentment when we breathed a sigh of relief upon arrival. Contentment to be among loving family. Contentment to be up to my eyeballs in historic records. Contentment to be gifted a chance to dig.”

But the feelings were somehow overshadowed by

“the shadowy beast of homelessness (that) follows, lumbering and restless. It’s been a year, and normalcy is something for other people. Rootlessness is something you can’t understand without experiencing it. And it’s punishable by society. The silent judgement of you did something wrong, you deserve this.”

With her feelings of contentment mixed with those other shadowy, less pleasant feelings, Charli challenged writers to write a story about feeling content. And write they did.

While Charli doesn’t often ask, she reached out for help with chores around the ranch, including compiling the flash fiction responses. I agreed to do it, and here is the result. Please forgive any errors and omissions. I’m not as experienced as the Boss Lady.

We’ll begin with Charli’s own story, which got us all started on thinking about contentment.

***

Happily Digging (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni heard Ike’s truck rumble down the gravel road. She knelt barefoot by a window to the past – a square troweled to reveal debris from long before. Sifting had revealed ceramic sherd, a few square nails, and a cigar token to the old Congress Hotel in Sandpoint. A window gave an archeologist quick insight to a possible site.

Danni pondered possibilities when she heard Ike’s truck door close. The sun had warmed the soil all day, and Danni was content.

He approached the fence and freshly tilled soil. “I thought you were gardening today.”

“I am,” she replied, smiling.

###

And on the advice of Anne Goodwin, this one comes in second with a story that shares a simple but effective way we can help ourselves by helping out here at the Ranch.

 Contentment by D. Avery

“But I thought Shorty was the cook.”

“Shorty knows roundup like no other, one heck of a wrangler. Why she’s the ridin’est, ropin’est wrangler out here. There’s no better out on the range.”

“I hear she wants to grow the ranch. Expand the brand.”

“Yup.”

“In a setting like this, we characters oughta rob a bank, hold up a train. For the Ranch.“

“Now Kid, Shorty don’t need that kinda trouble. Snap outta character and just hit the paypal button.”

“Yeah, I will. ‘Cause I like the content at this here ranch.”

“Didn’t you mean contentment?”

“Yeah, that too.”

###

Time Enough by Bill Engleson

One leg up. Then the other. Crack open a Club Soda. Mid-week. Something about being on the wagon.

It’s a warm day. I see the chores, piling up like a smattering of mumblety-pegs. Each one demands I take a huge bite and wrestle the task to the ground.

I exaggerate. But not by much.

“You’re taking a busman’s holiday,” she says, sneaking up on me.

“You mean, same old same old!”

“Yeah, that’s what I mean. Can’t get a lick a work out of you, Simon.”

“I’m a big disappointment to myself, sweetie.”

“Enjoy it while it lasts, lover.”

### 

To Be Content by Pensitivity

I don’t need complications.
I’m a simple girl who likes the simple things in life.
They say the best things in life are free.
A walk in the park, birdsong, the scent of lilac on the tree, the gentle trickle of water from a country stream, dipping your toes in the water on a hot day, the sound of kids laughing, ducks and swans with their young, a tender smile from the one you love.
So many things we take for granted or miss altogether because we are too busy trying to survive in this cut and thrust world.

###

Contented by Michael

She watched him breathing deeply, the look on his face told her so much but she wanted to hear what he might say.

“So how are you feeling?”

“Very contented,” he replied in between breaths.

“So, what does that mean?

He waited a few minutes before replying. “I feel loved like never before, you have accepted me with all my flaws, and despite that, we get along so well.”

“You are worth it babe,” she said kissing him lightly on the cheek.

“You make me feel so good about myself.”

“It’s what happens when both of us are contented.”

###

Content by ladyleemanila

Do we do things or wait our chance?
I’d like to dance
And then you came
Told me your name
Sweet serendipity, what’s that?
I dropped my hat
You picked it up
Sweet as syrup
Overlapping paths we do take
We make or break
Life’s a delight
Makes us excite
So in love with you
At a sea so blue
You look so cool
Your smile, your care
We are such a pair
A flower that blossom
You’re my superstar
You came down from far
To make me happy on earth
And so with pleasure
I’ve got the answer

###

The Anniversary Dinner by Susan Zutautas

As soon as Jim walked through the front door the aroma of Megs cooking put a smile on his face.

“Oh my goodness woman what are you cooking? There’s enough food here for six people!”

“Just the two of us, I wanted to make it a special dinner. After all, it is our anniversary.”

“Are those lobsters?”

“They sure are, and to go with them we have steak, mushrooms, crab legs, shrimp skewers, scallops, and a Caesar salad. Just wait till you see dessert.”

Jim could barely do it, but he ate his cherry cheesecake and felt totally content.

###

The Return by D. Avery

“How far’d you get?”
“Far enough to figure some things out.”
“Uh?”
“Figured out they don’t have as many seasons out west. If they have deer season, you’d hardly know it. They never heard of sugarin’ or mud season. I wanna settle in for mud season.”
“You came back because you wanna be here when the roads turn to shit?”
“Early April, right?”
“Yup. Lotta my Highland heifers are due to calve ‘bout then.”
“I figure that’s about my time too. We’re pregnant.”
“Well.”
He knew that rangy heifers usually became content after calving. He hugged her thankfully, hopefully.

###

Flash Fiction by Carrie Gilliland Sandstrom

She loved dusk most of all. The sky was an indigo blue with tiny stars sparkling, trying to be seen. She starred out their bedroom window, which she insisted on keeping open, even if just a crack. There was nothing better than feeling a cool breeze across her face as she burrowed deep under the warm covers.

A strong arm wrapped around her and pulled her close. She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.

He kissed her gently on the shoulder. “This is still my favourite place to be,” he whispered.

“Mine too,” she said, already half asleep.

###

Gramma’s Legendary Cheesecake (A Tall Tale) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“How’d I get here?” Alice tipped back in her porch rocker, watching sunset over misty mountains. “Cheesecake, darlin’…”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Back in the 80’s, Gramma’s Great Smoky Cheesecake was multi-billion, multi-national, with an option to go intergalactic. I was so busy dealing with the Martians, I didn’t see what was happening with my husband and the Venusians. When he filed for divorce, he wanted alimony—which translated to all-my-money. He got it, he spent it, but he still can’t make cheesecake.

“So here I am, and I couldn’t be happier! Have a slice…it’s Gramma’s special secret recipe.”

###

Zen by Reena Saxena

Michelle had been trying to befriend Maria in the club, for several weeks. But, Maria had chosen to ignore her, for reasons best known to her. One evening, they found themselves seated on adjoining bar stools.

“It is always a pleasure to see you. You radiate so much peace”.

“Yes, because I am content with my life”.

“I wish you would mingle a little more. Others need those Zen vibes”.

“I am content with the blessings in my life, and also problems. I do not wish that people add their two bits to it. Hence, I prefer my solitude”.

###

A Familiar Content by Lisa Listwa

It is almost time.

Steam rises in front of me, blurring my vision slightly. I inhale deeply, taking in all that I can by breath. A gentle heat kisses my cheek, turning my skin warm and moist. Bright flashes of orange and green swim before my eyes, darting impishly in and out of bouncy cream-colored curls. Metal brushes against porcelain. The distinctive clang of a muted bell beckons to my body and soul.

Slowly, I sip and taste, letting the warmth rush through my body, spreading goodness contentment around me like a favorite blanket.

Familiarity breeds comfort and content.

###

Contentment by Floridaborne

Contentment depends upon perception.

From age 0 to 20, I experienced a dream many children coveted; to live in the same house with caring parents.  I wanted, more than anything, to travel.

At 23, I married.  We were in Minnesota for 2 years, then traveled through 5 states, and lived in 9 homes during our first 7 years together.  I loved that life.

Widowed at 33, I drifted around in a sea of discontent…until I discovered writing.

I might live in a shack with walls crumbling around me, but as long as I can write, I’m happy.

For now.

###

Silent Connection by Irene Waters

The cabin walls closed in. The fixed porthole prevented fresh air entering and the stale air weighed down on me. ‘I’m a sardine in a can,’ I fought the urge to scream. My heart pounding, I escaped to the deck. I paced, looking for a place I could sit and drink in the velvety night. All the seats, bar one, were occupied with lovers entwined. A solitary man, a priest, sat alone. He patted the seat, inviting me to sit. I did. We sat in silence. Connected. Content. Hours later he stood to leave, saying, “Sometimes, words aren’t necessary.”

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Mr. Melvin strummed a gentle chord, as though playing a soundtrack to his memories. The guitar wailed, spilling sounds from his soul, crying out with all the hurt he must have felt in that old lying heart of his.

Another strum of the strings. Another song. Outside a siren wailed. The world was riddled with crime and hurt and too little kindness. I had a long way to go in my quest for peace. But in his apartment, watching him play, my mouth hung out to dry. I knew exactly what he’d meant.

There was truth in the blues.

###

The Traveller Returns by Anne Goodwin
No more lumpy mattresses in airless dormitories resonant with other people’s snores. No more restaurants serving chicken as a vegetarian meal. No more conducting conversations with a two-year-old’s vocabulary. It’s time to go home.
Home to a choice of more than three outfits. Home to friends for whom neither your accent nor your humour needs translation. Home to shelves of books you never thought you’d miss.
Enough of novelty and adventure. The old familiar everything thrills you now. Rain and roses, the Bobbies in their uniforms, traffic on the left side of the road. No excitement, no effort. Content.

###

Crossfade by Elliott Lyngreen

emanating layer upon layer
of prodigious cells burning off,
into, spectacular sun-bathing
upon a blanket.
cross fades flickering heats, afire,
but meaning poetry indescribably, harmlessly
watching these cilia in her corners
flares candelabra
a cinnamon scent of some grand unlost memory
and recovers the eternity, grace
(the first smooth thighs of a 90s girl)
in incredible rays
and solid hypnotic
radiated sinks in radio-waves
into the way I can’t
see into this place
where my heart endlessly compresses
in these sweet beams,
but ricochets
to leave via the upstairs garrets
glided
flew
for more soft views,
transitions smooth.

###

Flash Fiction by Kalpani Solsi

I make an arduous mental effort to garner sepia toned 

images vividly scattered on the periphery of my subliminal 

existence and they slowly coalesce   to form a perfect 

collage. 

As I obambulate the muddy road, the sights and smells 

tickle my senses.

The play-ground reminds me of the agility of our minds 

and bodies.

I lose myself in the pages of the library to find my voice.

Rainy splashes bring out the fecund innocence.

Pals widen the curve of my lips to spread consoling 

warmth.

I refuse to come out the labyrinthine garden of 

Contentment

Return If Possible, childhood.

###

The Bundle by Allison Maruska

I lift the bundle from the floor

Heavy yet not burdensome

I support with both hands

Though one would do fine

I’m holding more than it seems

I hold dreams

Plans

Potential

The future

So I use both hands

Resting, I set the bundle on my chest

Carefully

No rolling allowed

My hand offers support

Encouragement

Love

A small yet meaningful gesture

The bundle settles

And takes a long breath as sleep arrives

I stroke his back

Feel his warmth

His life

I close my eyes

Breathing in the contentment

Of his being

My joy

My heart

My son

###

Contentment by Rachel A. Hanson

She was sitting on the deck listening to her children play while holding a steaming cup of coffee as the morning sun shone down as she closed her eyes, drinking in the sensations surrounding her.

“This is what perfect contentment feels like,” she thought.

“Mama, look!” Her toddler exclaimed excitedly.

She expected to see something remarkable. Maybe a butterfly or a squirrel scampering across the lawn.

She was not met with beauty, but danger! The baby had been trying for weeks to pull herself onto the ledge with no success. Today was the day the season of contentment ended.

###

Purpose in Play by Norah Colvin

They worked furiously as if with one mind; digging, piling, shaping, smoothing the sand.  As if on cue, two began to tunnel through from opposite sides, meeting in the middle. Others carved into the surface, forming window-like shapes. Sticks, leaves, and other found objects adorned the structure. Then, simultaneously, the work stopped. They glowed with collective admiration. But Than was not yet content. Something was missing. He swooped on a long twig and stuck it into the top, antenna-like. “For communicating with the mother ship,” he declared. Soon they were all feverishly adding other improvements to their alien craft.

###

Finding Contentment in Being the Greatest of all Time by Dave Madden

The champ awoke in a daze. After a ten-year reign, his eyes struggled to focus on the cage side physician’s finger wagging in front on his face; the taste of blood in his mouth had yet to register.

An eerie silence filled the arena, and whispers of ‘next steps’ for the most electrifying mixed martial artist of all-time resonated into a deafening energy.

As his cognitive faculties slowly returned, the realization, at the age of thirty-eight in a young man’s game, of contentment from an untouchable legacy would lick his warrior spirit’s wounds after walking away.

###

Tentative Content by Kerry E.B. Black

Like their ancestors, they huddle in caves, but instead of hiding from beasts, predators come from their own blood-lines. They use the caves’ walls as chalk boards, creating places to teach cross-legged children in an attempt to establish some normality for their war-torn lives. From scavenged bits, they craft toys to amuse their little ones. They recite stories and sing nursery songs. Of the little food they scavenge, the best goes to the young. From their faces they try to hide the ravages, turning instead gazes of hope upon their progeny. In their safety they find a tentative content.

###

Serenity Square by Jules Paige
(Janice vs Richard #8)

Janice hadn’t realized that she had been leaning on the tall
Detective, James Longhorn while he had lead her into the
secluded park.

The police station and the court house were connected ‘L’
shapes that had two secure emergency egresses where
the two buildings’ brick and concrete stonework met.

Private offices looked into the acre of serene park that had
several shade trees and a koi pond in the middle. It was a
place to ease fears and promote contentment for witnesses
that needed a safe place as well as for officers of the precinct
and court to decompress.

Contentment Earned (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

This one day makes the last five worthwhile.

Forcing herself to the grocery to stock up when she’s overwhelmed by a full workweek of politics and deadlines, senses raw from the onslaught of noise and movement. Barely edging the fenders past the posts in the underground garage, battling traffic and crowded aisles. The panic, the people.

All deposited against today, when she can stay in bed with the quiet, linger over coffee and sweet cream, plant flowers on the terrace high above the street. Dirt under her nails, the sun shining for her alone.

Far above the madding crowd.

###

Hope Doesn’t Knock by Sarah Brentyn

They say we should have hope.

Yet they take away everything that might make us feel hopeful. People seem content. I don’t understand.

One morning, after breakfast, I ask my father. He sits with me. Takes a breath. I think he is going to speak but he ruffles my hair. Tells me to enjoy my day. His eyes flick to the doorway.

I turn and notice my mother, watching us, wiping her hands on a dishtowel.

This is my cue to leave. When the door shuts, I see an ornament on the wood. This is not good for our family.

###

Summer Vacation by Diana Nagai

The waves gently buoyed them on the surface of the lake. Their floaties connected by each other’s resting feet. The summer sun heated their skin to burning levels.

She looked over at him, eyes closed, content as fuck. As if they hadn’t just fought World War III over breakfast. As if his half-assed apology was supposed to make her forget his need for constant confirmation of his masculinity. He only highlighted his frailty.

The resentment bubbling within her reached dangerous limits. Dipping her foot deep into the water, she kicked with everything she had, tipping the smug son-of-a-bitch overboard.

###

Just One Minute by Sherri Matthews

It’s a rope tying my guts together in hard knots. It sits there, like a weight pressing down on my chest making it hard to breathe. My heart pounds so loud I feel it pulsing in my eardrums and my head spins; I think I’m going to throw up. Anxiety Disorder, the doctor says. Not to be confused with ‘feeling anxious’. This is its bigger, older and uglier brother. It means business. It never leaves. But all I want is calm. A place where I can breathe again, to sink deep into a minute’s worth of contentment. That’s all…

###

Being Content by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mum what is adult content?’

‘You know. Stuff that only adults should see or hear.’

‘Oh yeah. Soz. Silly.’ Penny sniggered. ‘It’s con-tent, isn’t it? Not content. You know like dad after a curry.’

Mary smiled. ‘The content of the curry makes him content.’

‘What makes you content, mum?’

‘The family being happy.’ She smiled. ‘Your grandma was the same. She always said if we were happy, she was content.’ Mary thought back to her mother’s last days, when she knew she was dying. She’d been content then. It angered Mary then, that acceptance. Now maybe she understood it.

###

Gather the Longhorns

Gather the Longhorns Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsYippee-ki-yi-ay, get along little longhorns, Carrot Ranch will be your new home! Yippee-ki-yi-ay, get along little longhorns, these stories are rich black loam. 

And so the writers sing a herding song this week as they gather the longhorns and tell the tales. An unusual topic, perhaps, but it’s approached as usual by versatile and creative writers with wit, tenderness and even some creepy-crawlies.

The following are based on the May 25, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a that includes the word longhorn.

***

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

It was all Horace’s fault, having said the grass was always greener on the other side.

In the early hours before anyone else was up, Longhorn Bert set off on his lone adventure.

Somehow though he’d lost his sense of direction, and found himself in a bit of a scary predicament.

Though the leaves were greener than his familiar pasture, they were definitely not grass.

Not wishing to attract attention to himself or give up his new found freedom, he decided to stand still on the roof and hope no-one would notice.

He wondered if anyone would miss him.

###

Where’s the Beef? D. Avery

“Fifty musta’ made her cantankerous.”

Shorty just smiled. Even as they whined and complained they were checking cinches, adjusting stirrups. Getting ready.

“We’re not all country western singin’ cowgirls!”

“A short piece on longhorns! I’d rather a tall-tale than a longhorn.”

“Are there even any left?”

Shorty finally spoke. “There’re longhorns out there for you to wrangle and round up. Bring one back to the ranch on the hoof; raw, if you will.”

More grumbling but they were already mounted and ranging out.

Shorty never used a stick, and knew that the carrot was simply a job raw done.

###

Myths of Longhorns (from Rock Creek) by Charli MIlls

“Ever see cowboys riding the trail with their longhorns?” Jesse asked.

Sarah was tucked in a blanket, sitting on Jesse’s porch. Shulls Mill squatted dingy with lumbering dust and brick buildings. Not the crisp colors of the prairie. “No,” she replied.

“But I thought Hickok was Marshall of the biggest cowtown.”

“That was later. I saw plenty of oxen and some had long horns.”

“I pictured longhorns on the prairies.”

“Buffaloes. I once saw a herd so large the ground shook.”

“Weren’t you afraid of Indians?”

“Jesse, there’s much about the west not in those dime novels you read.”

###

Holy Cow! It’ a Long Shot by Norah Colvin

The enclosure was built, the hay delivered, the trough filled. We children watched from the rails, as Dad and Mum manoeuvred Cow #1 into the yard.

Everyone clambered to be first to milk her.

“We can all milk her – in the morning,” assured Dad.

But in the morning, the cow was gone. The gate lay crumpled on the ground.

A stronger gate contained Cow #2, but she squeezed under the fence.

More repairs must secure Cow #3? She jumped over to flee.

Defeated, Mum replenished her powdered supply, and we kids never learned to milk.

Should’ve got a longhorn?

###

Steakhouse by Elliott Lyngreen

She had put contacts in.

He put on deodorant and her favorite button-down.

She offered, “you can move here,” smiling without glasses, taking him to glimpses in here many years ago, before the lumps appeared.

He accepted, “dont mind if i do,” nearly wincing into the booth against her.

He knew exactly what she wanted. Steak and potatoes.

The restaurant always resembled a giant tree hollowed, carved into places to eat.

He had far away stares of her, them; laughing contagiously; two kids up too late in a treehouse.

She squinted, “you will never go south again. ok?”

###

Defining Moment by Jules Paige

Detective James Longhorn knew that there would be no syncretism for Janice and Richard. The reformation of a psychopath was like trying to collapse the tough cast iron barrel of an old cannon.

Richard seemed to have a stiff vertebra, and the uncanny tendency to warren his way into the nerves of a woman whom he had once controlled. Longhorn would do all he could to catch Richard whether the troll was actually lucid or oscitant.

When that horrid call came over the invisible strands of transmission; to the unboxed cell phone – everyone in the police precinct room shuttered.

###

Long on the Horn by FloridaBorne

Texas, the longhorn state. The real thing isn’t anywhere to be found in the city of Houston. Sure, you have plastic replicas of longhorns, but the days of the cowboys tending them are relegated to rodeos.

Sleeping on the ground, stepping in manure, and being bath deprived aren’t my idea of an ideal any more than doing garbage pickup or plumbing. Nor would I want to have the job of keeping predators away from the livestock. Nowadays in Houston, braving the traffic is just as dangerous.

That’s today’s cowboy: It’s a dirty job and someone has to do it.

###

Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard

Mary smiled at Paul. ‘One more round.’

He affected a sigh, ‘If I’d known the booze was shit, I’d have babysat…’

‘Harry doesn’t understand wine.’ She glanced at their team captain.

‘Ok so who knows about Americana? Paul, you’ve been to the States. You’ll be good at this. Odd man out. Which isn’t a Longhorn? A cow, a cheese, a basketball team and a steakhouse?’

Paul grinned then shook his head.

‘Well? Share your ideas Paul. I’m sure we’ll all be grateful.’

‘Sounds like the name of a male porn star.’

Mary sighed. Paul wouldn’t be invited again.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Gruene Hall was roasting. Renee and I sat drenched from drink and dance. Her hair shined. My favorite curl had slung itself around her cheek as we heaved, giggling when the headliner, Merlin Mowers, slid next to Renee. A round of Lonestar longnecks followed.

Renee squealed. We snapped selfies. All was wonderful until Mowers veered into Renee, his long face like a Cadillac Deville, his mustache a set of longhorns affixed to his grin.

Renee’s eyes widened. Her grip tightened around the longneck.
I could’ve told Merl to duck.

Instead I bailed out my lovely wife the next morning.

###

The Longhorn Saloon (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane walks past the bar, its door open to the summer evening. How wonderful to step inside, clink a frosty mug with those of others, join the ritual of shaking off the workweek.

But it could never be like it was back home. Clack of balls on a pool table, shrieking laughter of women with too-big hair and too-tight jeans, jukebox blaring country music she only likes with draft beer and too many cigarettes.

The Longhorn Saloon. How she’d loved that dive. Of course, last she heard it changed hands and was Bob’s Place or something.

Jane walks on.

###

Curds and Wheys and Means by Bill Engleson

Sally Longhorn Wakely made her pitch to me one night on the corner of Blather and Scrounge.

I wasn’t ready for it but knew it was coming.

Sally was a little like Runyon’s Apple Annie but with cheddar dreams.

You just knew she would bake a swell pie.

“I just wanna make cheese, Gerry. Cheese. Is that so much to ask?”

Well she had me there. I’d funded a brick load of Yankee lads and lasses who knew no other dream then one pleasured with carroty joy.

Trump had delivered their moment of revival.

We were feeling the auburn.

###

A Horn for Hearing by Anne Goodwin

Squeezing the mouthpiece between her lips, Liesel exhaled. Two short blasts sandwiched between one long one, timed by the beating of her heart. Heads turned, foreheads creased at the woman-made incursion on the birdsong but, seeing the alphorn, longer than the instrumentalist was tall, they smiled and cocked their ears towards the distant hills, tuned for his reply. Nothing heard. She blew again without response save the call of a cuckoo. Red-faced, she tramped back to the car.

His hearing horn discarded on the backseat. Without it he could not hope to hear her call.

###

Andy Longhorn by Michael

Andy Longhorn was the lawman in my part of the world. Everyone called him Longhorn and no one was sure where the name came from though some women in the town thought it was because…but that was just hearsay.

He cracked the great cow rustling caper back a few years ago. Tracked down those thieving wretches and put them well and truly out of business. That act alone made the town feel a debt of gratitude to him.

He never wanted any reward. He wanted a quiet town. A quiet town meant a happy Longhorn, and that suited us.

###

Highlander by D. Avery

These green mountains had never held her the way they held him. She’d always chafed at the constrictions of hill farming, pined for open range. With dual citizenship she could be anywhere; Texas, Alberta, anywhere her wild western dreams led her. He wouldn’t look.

He was pioneering right here, innovating with heirloom breeds and traditional farming methods. He raised Highlanders for meat, but kept one as a milk cow, another tradition for this loyal breed. These Scottish Longhorns were hardy and independent, but also good-natured and reliable, good mothers.

He’d be right here with his fold should she return.

###

Long on the Horn by Ansham

The hidden light of the sun barely cut through the thick fog that covered the prairie in that remote village when, unexpectedly, a strange shape could be discerned in the distance. I stalled in fear.

The crisp winter air and the moisture made the scene even more ethereal. There I was, face to face with the most magnificent animal staring deep into my eyes. She was standing still, enamored, looking beautiful, majestic and grandiose. I was stunned, speechless and mesmerized as this longhorn cow communicated to me the essence of her right to live. And then she was gone.

###

Saints Marching by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They clattered down the long hallway, down stairs littered with rocks, crossing the division into darkness.

“There it is again,” they whispered. A low bellow moaned from the depths below.

Right, left, left again, then down once more. Their torch flickered in the thin breeze.

“Any Minotaurs in this labyrinth?”

“Don’t worry. I know the way out.”

Another bellow, followed by sliding sobs. They sprinted hard now.

And then, a Sousa solo.

“About time you got here!” The earthquake had wrecked the practice room, tipping the sound panels and trapping Tony.

“We’ll save you, but that trombone stays here.”

###

Longhorn’s Tale by KittyVerses

There wasn’t any connectivity through roads and no means of transport from his village to the nearby hospital. One had to pass through the forests to reach the other side. He had to visit his ailing mother. The village folk ensured they reached their destinations before dusk. It was rumored that a giant inhabited and nobody lived to tell the tale.

He was asked to duel with the giant. Sensing defeat, he escaped between the legs of the giant.

Always mocked at for being puny and untrue to his name, he received a hero’s welcome,

Hail Longhorn! Brain is mightier than brawn.

###

Cerambycidae by Sarah Brentyn

I feel them crawl over my skin before I see them.

Looking up, I notice hundreds of insects skitter across my floor, up the walls. They are everywhere. I want to scream. To call for help. But I don’t.

I study one on my left arm and become entranced with its bright, colored spots and antennae.

I have a memory of school where I learned about this species. The common name, ‘longhorn beetle’, fits well as the antennae extend past the end of their bodies. It’s fascinating. I lean in for a closer look but see only my bare arm.

###

Longhorn by formicatio

She stared out across the field as one of the mighty beasts lumbered over to her.

She hated the ranch.

Born a book lover on a longhorn ranch, a disappointing oldest child followed by three born-farmer brothers, she couldn’t wait to get out. The scholarship she’d won to what her parents called a ‘fancy city college’ had been her dream, and now her packed bags were waiting in her pick-up truck. The longhorn pushed its nose against her arm, and she scratched his forehead affectionately. “Bye, buddy,” she said, “seeya in three years,” doubting very much that she would.

###