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Shots Fired Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Reflections by B.C. Graham

I enlisted last year, and I still feel anxious. Fear and excitement argue over who’s more relevant, stirring my blood like a crafty cocktail. I’m buzzed, and completely sober.

Their motto: “The Deeper The Cut, The Deeper The Healing.” They call it “Shots Fired.” Open mic meets experimental psychotherapy. It’s also what the crowd yells when they hear a good insult. Childish ones are most affective; they’re the oldest.

I step onstage and look over at my opponent, “If Mr. Rogers was your neighbor, he’d move!” Echoing from somewhere in time the crowd yells out. My mirrored foe vanishes.


Shots Fired into White Skin by Anne Goodwin

Clem prepares the needle. The man removes his jacket and thrusts a Union Jack tattoo in her face. Bile sours her throat like love betrayed. Yet, silently, she chuckles. “You realise it’s upside down?”


“People assume it’s symmetrical.” She points a blue-gloved finger along the left-to-right diagonal stripe. “The white should be thicker at the top.”

The syringe approaches his frescoed skin. “Sharp scratch.” Quick in and out, the instructor taught her. Dithering hurts more. She jiggles the needle slowly into the muscle and slaps a flesh-coloured plaster over the puncture wound. A dark-brown dot enhancing the flag.


Cold Blood by Joanne Fisher

I heard shots fired from the abandoned building. The man I had been tailing had only just walked in there. I found his body on the floor with two gunshot wounds. He had been murdered in cold blood. I heard footsteps behind me, and turned around to see Maria with a gun in her hands.

“Why hire me to follow this man if you were going to kill him all along? I asked. She smiled.

“You were my target all along.” She replied. The man on the floor unexpectedly stood up. Maria pointed the gun at me and fired.


The Shot by C. E. Ayr

I hear a gunshot.
Through the gloom I see a figure slumped against my car.
I run towards it, my eyes sweeping the area.
As sirens approach, I recognise the pale, huddled form.
And struggle to breathe.
It is Val, the woman I loved and left all those years ago.
Her face is pale, blood seeps through her coat.
Her eyes flicker recognition, her lips twitch almost into a smile.
Take this, she whispers, pushing something into my hand.
I look down at the still warm gun.
She clasps her gloved hands around mine.
Got you, she says.


Shots Fired by Will

“Shots fired,” reports the police scanner from above the dashboard as I climb into my truck. I lay my still-warm pistol and its magazine on the armrest beside me. Passing headlights briefly illuminate the open van doors and the bodies 50 feet in front of me. She might have been pretty; I couldn’t tell. When I arrived, she was already bloody. The two men had not been kind, and neither had I. Was it justice? The blue lights approach. I’m still not sure why I fired three times–now I have to decide if I should fire once more.


Who Shot Him? by Norah Colvin

The cadets were in formation as they marched around the oval, looking every bit the soldier with guns and uniforms, and not the pimply partly-whiskered teenage boys they’d return to after graduation. Proud relatives had travelled far to view this passing out parade. Spectators and graduates sweltered under the unforgiving summer sun. Some women armed with fans and umbrellas were the envy of those less prepared. One small cousin pushed through the crowd for a better view. At that instant, a front row cadet fainted. The distressed spectator scampered back to safety. “Who shot him, Mum? Who shot him?”


Love and Hate by Hugh W. Roberts

I met Hans on the battlefield. Our eyes locked across the chaos of war as shots rang out. At that moment, nothing else existed.

Drawn to each other like moths to a flame, we became united by the realisation that life was too short to waste on hate.

But we parted on different sides as my commander shouted to fall back.

Many years later, when the world was at peace, I never thought we would reunite and our love would be as strong as that day in 1915.

For Hans and I, shots fired had led to love found.


Where There is Darkness by Jeff Gard

We all saw the body cam footage, the suspect fleeing across the highway on foot, a shadow against flashing reds and blues. Six highway lanes shut down to watch the drama in artificial high-mast lighting, poles bent over as if praying the words of St. Francis.

He was a meth dealer, allegedly. He had stolen a case of beer, allegedly. He resisted arrest, allegedly. He was a father. He was a son. He was nobody. He would become a rallying cry.

One-hundred and thirteen shots fired. We all saw the same footage, but we didn’t see the same crime.


Bang, Bang in the Night Bill Engleson

It shouldn’t happen here.

That’s city stuff.


We don’t have gangs here. We’ve got farmers. Retirees. A few hobbled dispossessed. Maybe they’ve got guns. There is talk of shooting nomadic dogs. Leashless mutts. Poorly cared for, or, burdened with masters who revere freedom for all and damn the consequences; deer run to ruin.

We do get crews of hunters, off-season as well as legit. Pit-lampers! That sort. Out for their own pleasures.

No matter what it is, we cower in our beds when guns go off in the dark.

It shouldn’t happen here.

It shouldn’t, but it does.


Longing for Our ‘Normal’ By JulesPaige

In St. Louis, not far from the grand Arch… water pulsating the Mississippi, that waterway, that lifeline that still was used as a north south corridor for shipping goods… We were in a neighborhood that was trying to be gentrified. We were visiting, staying secure in an alarmed home. However, shots rang out in the street below the window. Sirens followed, sunrise couldn’t come fast enough.

Cities can be like that – cutting the population down with nocturnal business activities gone wrong. We knew that, we’d grown up in them. Now we just wanted our colorful sky of the plains.


Something’s Missing by Charli Mills

Margery Clementine Phillips, Mrs. M.C. to generations of former students, sprawled across the linoleum floor of her former classroom. She remembered the invitation: Would you be our next reading guest? She didn’t remember falling. Did she slip on a pencil? It happened once. Not to her, but the story was legendary for its breakroom retelling like a bad banana peel joke. Did she pass out? She felt dizzy. Her ears rang. She couldn’t move. When a rifle muzzle aimed at her face, she remembered shots fired. She remembered the silly third-grader from 15 years earlier. Where did your humanity go?


The Shot I Did Not Hear by Duane L Herrmann

I did not hear the gunshot that killed my grandson last spring. He was sitting on the floor of his bathroom. He was twenty-three. I’m sure he was crying. The military lied on his discharge papers. The local court had convicted him on the color of his skin. He owed more money than he had ever imagined and two personnel departments had turned against him based on their assumptions. He was sure his mom and granpa couldn’t fix any of that. He father simply caused problems. We don’t know where he got the gun to blow his brains out.


The First Salvo by Sadje

The first salvo was fired under the guise of friendly advice, the pointy spindle hidden in the syrupy sweet advice, given presumably to ‘improve’ her habits and social graces.

Their evil was obscure, hiding in a whine and teary face.

She was no sleeping beauty, being exposed to these backstabbers since she was old enough to understand their hidden agenda. She’d rather they clobbered her on her head with their true intent, rather than poison her mind with sweet venom.

Indeed, foes in disguise of family were worse than an honest enemy.

T’was time to expose their lies!


Eyeballs by Simon

Cynthia pulled the trigger, the man dropped dead. At the attic a murder took place.
Few days later the person is on the news as “Missing”.
Cynthia’s mother stared at her a moment knowing the person isn’t missing but died. Guilty haunted her nights. She forced Cynthia to go somewhere else.
Cynthia didn’t hesitate to pull another trigger, this time her mom gone missing.
Cynthia opened her hobby box from the freezer and filled the 20th bottle with her Mom’s eye. Cynthia said “Mom, I knew one day I’ll keep your eyes too, not so soon, R.I.P my Mother”


The Rendezvous Part II by Kate Spencer

Gloria slips through the French doors into the dimly lit suite. Approaching the bedroom, she sees someone inside, closing the safe.

“We’ve got company,” she whispers into her two-way earpiece, backing away.

Pulling out her Glock 19, she waits for the intruder in the living room.

Who was this guy?

And then he’s there, his Beretta pointed at her.

“Out of my way,” he seethes.

“Can’t do that.”


“Allô mon Chérie!”

His eyes shift to glance at her partner landing on the balconet.

Gloria roundhouse kicks the gun out of his hand just as he pulls the trigger.


Some Injuries by Gary A. Wilson

“Jerry, when did you last see Monica?”
“Maybe thirty-two years; graduation day.  Why?”
“She’s approaching behind you.”
“Wha . . .”
“Oh, ick!  Hello Benjamin, and — you.  I would’ve died happy never seeing you again.”
“Um, hello Monica. What a surprise. How are -”
“Only seconds ago, I was fine.”
“Look, I’m sorry, for back  -”
“When you treated me like poison meat.”
“Yea — I apologize for being stupid.”
“And hateful. I’ll consider your apology but until decided — you can just rot.”
“Whoa, shots fired! Monica — he apologized.”
“True. But some injuries too deep for simple apologies to reach.”


The Flaming Sambucas, etc. by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking is home to various cocktail bars. The Hot Toddies, the Shots Fired, and the Flaming Sambucas to name three. What makes them unique is the way each turns the drinkers’ brain molten, enabling pain receptors to leave quietly to join other like minded cells. Thereafter they form anarchic analgesic cooperatives, randomly numbing the pained poor, bagpipe testers and anyone with a compulsion to listen to Leonard Cohen. Recently a petition has been raised to curtail these activities after voters were found to have been numbed to politicians’ speeches, to such an extent they began believing the promises.


Venison for Dinner by Sue Spitulnik

Dear hunting season always affected the veterans at the No Thanks. Some thought of fresh and canned venison and others dreaded they might hear the shooting.
Tyrell told about the first time his sister had harvested a young buck. “Rhodessa tended to aim with the wrong eye and shook with excitement. Result was, she broke the poor thing’s back legs with one shot, then killed it with the second. She was high up on the hill above our parked trucks, so shoved it right down to ’em. That dear had the most tender meat. Still haven’t had any better.”


Shots Fired by writerravenclaw

There were reports of shots fired.
First on the scene, she wasn’t sure what she would find. So many poachers, killing bears for nothing more than the skin on the animals backs or their babies. To drag them into a life, behind bars, with the pain of loss inside them.
This time she wasn’t going to be late to their party. Standing above him, there was no choice. ”For the bears,” she said.
She saw him, about to fire, and happily pulled the trigger against him.
There were reports of shots fired, but nobody cared, the bears were safe.


Shots Fired by Ann Edall-Robson

The morning mist floated through the trees. Sounds of shots being fired in sporadic volleys filtered through the branches. The two silhouettes stopped to listen for any voices. Hearing none, they moved on, small puffs of moisture escaping their mouths as they entered the alcove, their steps cushioned by the ground’s needle bed. With a nod, they moved into position, each ready for the inevitable that would soon commence. Easy, fluent motions start to finish. A soft relaxed word, “Pull”. Making eye contact with the inbound target. One shot fired and chunks of clay pigeon dropped to the ground.


Fired Up, Over, and Out (Part I) by D. Avery

“Yawww! Dang it Kid! Don’t do thet.”
“Aw, come on Pal, I’m jist funnin ya. Ya too gun-shy fer this week’s prompt?”
“Mebbe I am. Shots fired don’t seem right fer the Ranch. Now what? Duck!”
“That was jist the LeGumes, Pal, out on the veranda shootin the breeze.”
“Reckon thet’s a good place for em.”
“They wanna see us, Pal. Hey Pepe. Logatha.”
“Ello, Keed, ello Pal. We have news.”
“Phew, LeGume, thinkin yer firin some shots. O, shift. Lemme step upwind.”
“What’s yer news, Pepe?”
“I fired a shot alright. Logatha’s goeeng to ‘ave a bambeano!”


Fired Up, Over, and Out (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal, what burr’s unner yer saddle now? Hope yer not cranky cuz a the LeGumes’ impendin bambeano.”
“Ain’t thet, Kid. Happy fer em, havin a little stinker. Nah, it’s thet fella thet run away from the circus.”
“From the ‘Literary Artist’ challenge? Whut’d he do?”
“It’s whut I did. Mighta been too quick ta pull the trigger hirin ‘im ta hep out.”
“Reckon a fella like that knows his way roun animals.”
“Too well. Dang cattle’ve all got dance routines now. The hosses all got fancy tricks.”
“Aw, that’s okay, Pal. Seen Curly?”
“Yep. Over in thet cannon.”


Fired Up, Over, and Out (Part III) by D. Avery

“No!! Don’t fire my hoglet outta that cannon!”
“Why not, Kid? She wants to go across the beaver pond. This is a sure-fire way to get her there quickly.”
“Curly kin walk! Thought ya wanted ta be away from circus life, anyway. Why ya teachin the ranch animals tricks an routines?”
“This Ranch needs a little razzle-dazzle.”
“There’s stellar stories here ever week, thet’s razzle-dazzle enough. We got Rough Writers takin risks in the safe space a Carrot Ranch. Why ain’tcha writin ‘stead a training the livestock?”
“Chickened out.”
“Mebbe ya better cross the road, Hot Shot. Yer fired.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Where Children Once Played Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

The Custodian by D. Avery

Brody reread the etched and markered initials, sayings, and symbols like favorite passages from a familiar book. He’d disagreed with the principals who’d called it vandalism, as long as the messages weren’t hurtful. Those he had the child remove, under his constructive supervision. The custodian had always understood the children’s need to leave a mark and never washed off or painted over their messages and art.

“I was here.” Where are all you children now? he wondered.

Hopefully gone straight to heaven, reunited with family.

The children shouldn’t haunt this place. Brody’s spirit would watch over their silent playground.


Abandoned? by Joanne Fisher

“We will be buying that piece of land there from the Council.” Jenkins said pointing at the map. “We’ve been given a green light to develop the site into luxury apartments. I have assurances that there will be no problems or delays.”

“I see. So what is that land being used for at the moment?” Bartlett asked.

“I believe it’s an abandoned playground.” Jenkins stated.

“I’m sure I’ve seen children still use that one.”

“Well, only the children from poor families still use it, and who is going to listen to their complaints?” Jenkins pointed out.

“True.” Bartlett conceded.


Playground Echo by Ann Edall-Robson

The sign announced a new housing development on the old school site. A tear slid down her cheek. They’d never take away the sound of the children laughing, calling to each other as the clanging school bell echoed across the field announcing the end of recess. Would newcomers know about the forts that had been built in the nearby trees, the baseball games, and the ultimate risk of pumping hard, taking the swing to its highest peak before launching from the wooden seat to fly through the air? How could they tell these stories if they hadn’t lived it?


Echoes, Shadows, Whispers, and Dreams by Chel Owens

Echoes are all that resound down these halls;
Echoes of voices still young, still young.
They’re laughing or talking or screaming –
Or still.
But only sometime, long ago.

Shadows are all that still walk ‘cross these floors;
Shadows of children come late, come late.
They’re flashing to catch up their friends, else
Catch up.
But only sometime, long ago.

Whispers are all that still push dangling swings;
Whispers of glee-songs in play, in play.
They’re jumping and pumping and flying
But only sometime, long ago.

Where are the echoes, the shadows, and whispers?
Only in dreams, long ago.


The Tree by Margaret G. Hanna

Now it’s dying, but once it was:

Jungle Gym: Leap up high, grab the bar, swing your legs up and over, sit tall. The crowd leaps to its feet and roars its approval. A perfect 10!

Pirate ship: Arrrr, me maties, thar be the Spanish galleon heavy with booty, and she’s ours for the taking. Ready the cannons!

Sherwood Forest: Shh, Merry Men, nock your arrows, someone’s coming, perhaps a duke with a fat purse . . .

“Margaret, time to come in, dinner’s ready.”

“Okay, Mom.”

Unnock your arrows, Merry Men, Maid Marion’s inviting us to a feast.


The Tree by C. E. Ayr

The children don’t play here so much nowadays.
I remember when they swung from ropes tied to branches.
When they hung sheets and blankets for tents, playing Cowboys and Indians.
When they climbed up, pretending to be pirates sailing the seven seas.
It was wonderful.
Then Benny, no, Bernie, decided to build a tree-house.
Carried that wood all the way up the hill, brought his dad’s best hammer and those long, sharp nails.
I wasn’t quite so keen on that, thought an accident could happen.
Well, they thought it was an accident when my branch bent under his foot.


Spying by Reena Saxena

“Look for hidden clues or evidence left behind but shift active investigation to Singapore. Criminals no longer active here.”

The email raises many more questions. How did they manage to skip airport security and leave the country? Are the systems adequate to detect fake passports?
More important than that is how did the chief arrive at this conclusion.

The Chief re-reads the note,

“This used to be a playground once, but children no longer play here.” The image shows an empty playground with a small script on the left – India. A plane flying above is that of Singapore Airlines.


Detective at Work by Kate Spencer

Wearing his trench coat, Liam searched the house for possible crimes. Finding nothing, he went outside.

“Oh boy, I got her now!” he shouted. Drawing his water pistol, he stormed back into the house and straight into his sister’s bedroom.

“Lauren, you’re under arrest!”

“What for?”


“Of what?”

“The sandbox.”

“Go away,” she said, brushing her hair.

“No. You gotta see how gross it looks ‘cause you don’t play in it anymore.”

“Then arrest Dad, Squirt. It’s supposed to be a trampoline by now.”

“You’re no fun,” Liam muttered.

He liked his sister better when she was younger.


I Used To Play Here by sweeterthannothing

A decade has passed since small chubby hands gripped these chains I think, Idally pushing myself forwards and backwards on the ancient, creaky, swing, being careful not to lose my balance and fall into the crater behind me.

I can see my house from here, or rather the space where my house once was, now nothing more than mound of twisted concrete and forgotten things.
Why have I come back here, to the place I used to play? My childhood died here, was murdered here.

Just another victim of war I suppose.

At least I lived to mourn it.


Once Bill Engleson

In this place where we once gathered,
opened hearts, fashioned dreams,
now, alas, we shall be scattered,
rent asunder at the seams.

Life is transient, learning, so,
wisdom rallied in charted streams,
yet the river yearns to know
how we’ll adjust to shuttered schemes.

In this place where we once gathered,
opened hearts, fashioned dreams,
now, alas, we shall be scattered,
rent asunder at the seams.

Early in, the laceration smarts,
pathways vague, the future daunting.
Life is science and the arts,
each day a separate launching
from this place where we once gathered,
friendships were all that mattered.


Gramma’s House by Colleen M. Chesebro

The abandoned house looked old. The peeling paint and faded shutters reminded me of gramma’s face, always lined with worry, droopy with age. This house in Dorrance, Kansas, had been my refuge all those summers ago when I was a teen.

I gazed at the sandy street, still unpaved. I’d ridden my first horse down this street, with grandpa watching from his chair on the porch. The horse had bucked me off, and I’d skidded down the street, leaving most of my skin behind. After I healed, I couldn’t wait to ride again.

Now, only good memories reside here.


Not Everything Changes by Hugh W. Roberts

The sun shone brightly on the grassy field where children once played, hunting for colourful Easter eggs.

Years later, the area was overgrown, and the old baskets and eggs were long gone.

But something magical was happening. From the earth, tiny sprouts emerged, turning into flowers of every colour, filling the air with sweet fragrances.

The grown children returned to the field and marvelled at the wondrous sight. They remembered the joy of those long-ago Easter egg hunts and the laughter of their childhood friends.

The field may have changed, but the memories and the spirit of Easter remained.


The North Cohocton-Atlanta School House (BOTS) by Sue Spitulnik

The two-story combined-class schoolhouse
Stood from 1874 to 1969
The halls were boisterous until 1960
Then it was empty until torn down

My sisters attended there
But alas I was too young
I never had the teachers they adored
I only got to know the playground

That survived a few more years
The merry-go-round was twirled
The swings could be pumped high
The teeter-totter squeaked on

The ball diamonds were used
The tennis courts too
The teens gathered
Out of our mothers’ view

Finally, the implements removed
The playground became a field of grass
Where my memories are ghosts


Utopian Upgrade? by JulesPaige

Near the brick and rain-beaten foundation stones of the old home, is a modern elementary school playground. Once Amish or Mennonite children played freely across acres of land that now hold neighborhoods of new homes. These peaceful people lived; “ Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy or boast. It’s not proud, rude, or self-seeking. It is not easily angered and keeps no record of past mistakes. It does not delight in evil. It rejoices in the truth.”

When abandoned by the schools’ students, do the ghosts of lost children play on the new fangled equipment?


Lingering Behind by Nicole Horlings

The playground in Bright Rock was devoid of children, as was the dwarven town itself. When the gold mine dried up, all of the miners had logically left for the newly opened diamond mine in Glitterdale.

Elga nostalgically wandered around the playground. She had raised her children here in Bright Rock. Her son had loved the pebble pit and the wobbly balancing rocks. When he’d grown up, his daughter’s favourite things were the boulder tunnels and the polished rock slide.

Walk finished, she returned home, grabbed her bags, and finally began the journey to follow her family to Glitterdale.


Once Upon A Time School by Duane L Herrmann

I was driving across the Kansas prairie with my children of grade school age. Rounding a bend in the dirt road, we came to an abandoned, one-room school house. We stopt. The door was open, there was no door. The floor had been taken out too. Windows were broken and birds nested in the rafters. Outside were the remains of play equipment: slipper slide, a frame for swings, and one other – all in ruins. The outhouse, we ignored. This had been a center of community, bonding, and progress; no longer needed, all had moved on. We left too.


Locked and Abandoned by Norah Colvin

Grow up.
Stop those childish games.
Remember your manners.
Cease with the stories.
Fairies aren’t real.
Santa’s for fools with more money than sense.
She was a dutiful daughter and diligent student. She submerged herself in lessons, wiped her mind of childhood nonsense and got on with the serious business of being grownup, though she was not yet nine years old.
She went on to be dux at school and won the university medal but had no friends to celebrate with.
Sometimes, in night’s solitude, she’d hear a jangle of keys and a tiny voice crying, ‘Let me out!’


They Just Want to Have Fun by Sadje

March/April 2020.

We were on strict lockdown, the schools and universities were closed. All stores except grocery stores were closed. The kids were not allowed to play outside. Their playgrounds looked deserted, abandoned.

At some places, a tape was circling the entire complex so that kids don’t try to take slides or ride the merry-go-round.

Everyday, while walking I’d see the tape broken and sometimes even small children with their mom on the swings. They’d disregard the notices of warning and would sneak in for a bit of fun.

It was a tough time, especially for the young kids!


Going Home by J. McDonough

Some of the bricks on the Southside of the guest cottage had ragged chunks torn out by the teeth of careless time. Evita sighed, how long had it been?
The creek still chuckled, but the swings complained as their remains slapped the metal poles. In the main house, the machine hummed lullabies.
Was the fort still sturdy after all this time? The second step turned to sawdust and she hit the ground. On the platform her treasures still there, rusted shut in a tin can.
Charlie was laughing inside as the computer built world’s where little boys played nice.


Abandoned by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The spliff flared and hissed at midnight, lighting up Joel’s sharp features. He passed the butt to another hand hard as his own, exhaled, and pushed the swing back. The chains were icy in his fingers, but the pain felt good.

Worn black Converse kicked the October ground, speed to his flight.

The swing next to him groaned to life, and for awhile, the night’s only song was the screech of metal against metal. They rose higher and higher, until they jumped and landed hard. The swings clapped against each other. Spent roach sailed and snuffed.

School’s out forever.


Serious Rumour by Simon

‘It is painful to see this playground abandoned.’ Simon sai

You say? Alex asked

‘Did I do that? It’s what the people of this town believed, because of Steve.’

‘What I said? I made up a ghost story, if kids began to disappear What would I do?’

‘They say before a kid disappear they get a mole on right hand’ Alex said

Simon said ‘I have two mole since birth, why I didn’t disappear?’

Alex said ‘Maybe you are the kidnapper’.

‘He can’t even kidnap cockroach’ Steve giggled

With an evil smile ‘Wish the kids are safe’ Simon said.


London, September 1940 by Kate Spencer

Rose sat hugging her daughter in her Anderson bomb shelter. She was exhausted. Air raid sirens and explosions had kept her awake all night. And then it had gone quiet. Very quiet.

Emerging from the shelter she was shocked. All the windows of her home had been blown out. Her neighbour’s house was gone. There was soot and an acrid smell everywhere.

She walked the streets aimlessly, her daughter clutching her hand. They found what was left of the playground. A smoldering crater. Where were the children going to play? Would they even want to?

Rose began to cry.


Playground by writerravenclaw

Rust, covering each steel frame, and the park ceased to be in 2042.

Everyone, unable to leave their bubbles, sought solace in the technology keeping them safe. Why couldn’t they do the same to the ozone layer, replace the air? Give their lives a new vigour. Children born, didn’t know the joys of playing outside. Glued to their devices, they didn’t realise what they were missing out on.

Molly looked outside, beyond her home, wishing she could show her daughter the joys of making a snowman. Now, it rarely did anything, but rain, or flood or burn.


The Wonder of Archaeology – A True Story by Gordon Le Pard

The young, pregnant, woman cooled her painful feet in the soft mud as she watched the children play. At sun set they washed in the incoming tide before heading back to the village. A giant bull had been caught the day before and there was a feast that night.

4000 years later.
The archaeologists mapped the footprints, revealed as layers of ancient mud were exposed. They traced the ancient hunters, in pursuit of the Aurochs, the giant ancestor of all cattle. Found the muddy hollow full of children’s footprints, and felt sympathy for the pregnant teenager who had bunions!


Missed Opportunity by Charli Mills

“Miss Charli, you coming to our football game on Friday?” Hopeful faces look at me. If only they had such enthusiasm for college English.

“Maybe,” I answer. I want to see my student-athletes play but it’s complicated. I’m not a big sports fan. It’s cold. My husband doesn’t do well at night. By the time early darkness rolls around, I stay home. Next time, I think.

My university is closing. 126 years of education ends when my last spring class of 2023 of ENG 103 concludes. I never did catch a game where my students once played. A regret.


Closing Cheerful Children’s Learning Center by Kerry E.B. Black

Ellie rested against the door’s yellow-painted wood. Twenty years. She’d worked her way up to lead program designer of the Cheerful Children’s Learning Center, only for the management to close up operations months after her promotion.

She supposed in retrospect her ideas might have been too revolutionary. Ellie’s Montessori-inspired free play clashed with the prevailing “structured activities” model. Through guided, interest based encounters, Ellie hoped to stimulate and deepen each child’s interests.

She never imagined the direction quiet, little Veronica from her older explorer class, would take.

With a shudder, Ellie dropped the keys into the realty envelope and left.


Used to Be Our Playground by ladyleemanilla

Hustle and bustle of life
Used to be here as routine
In the daylight even with strife

After naps were here so keen
We fought, played, our tradition
Used to be here as routine

Sunlight part of prescription
Rewarded ourselves for being here
We fought, played, our tradition

Now we’re busy with our career
Abandoned this place, we’re guilty
Rewarded ourselves for being here

Sad and deserted, such a pity
Childhood memories, nostalgic
Abandoned this place, we’re guilty

Used to be our place of magic
Hustle and bustle of life
Childhood memories, nostalgic
In the daylight even with strife


Underneath Geoff Le Pard

From time immemorial, or twenty years last Thursday, which is about the same in Little Tittweaking, the local sprogs and spawn have gambolled and gambled in the scrubby shrubs of the local Rec. Here children gain life skills, that no school teaches, such as an instinct for tyranny and risk-free cheating in its muddy swards. Recently the real derivation of the Rec’s name became clear when a hole, exposing a long buried Viking long boat, complete with a compliment of pillaging ghosts. While adults sought experts in exorcism, the children embraced their guests, adding shoplifting to their skill set.


The Playground of Old by Miss Judy

The great outdoors was our playground, as high as the sky and distant as the horizon. It was:

  • a pond for winter ice skating or summer swimming
  • the woods where we built forts and hideaways, smoked the stub of dad’s cigar and talked about boys
  • where we raced across open fields or rounded up cattle on horseback
  • lying in the cool evening grass searching for animals in a sea of billowy clouds

Our playground was free, limited only by our imagination. I wonder, “How will the today’s youth remember their playground when they are old?”


Pal Tries Kiddin (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal? You okay?”

“Yep. Jist meditatin on thet prompt.”

“You? You don’t usually bother with the prompts. Usually bother me. An make sure all the chores git done, the animals tended.”

“Yep. Thet’s what I usually do, Kid. Whut I’ve always done. Reckon it’s all I know how ta do.”

“Yer real good at what ya do Pal. A hard worker.”

“Thing is Kid, thet rusty playgroun exists inside me. Unused.”

“What d’ya mean?”

“I ain’t never played. Weren’t never a kid, Kid.”

“We kin tend ta that, Pal. But it’ll be work.”

“I kin do thet.”

“No kidding!”


Pal Tries Kiddin (Part I) by D. Avery

“First off, Pal, stop broodin. If ya got an image of a rusty playground, shine it up! ‘Magine paintin the ‘quipment any color ya like.”

“Done. Now what?”

“Git in there an play!”

“Ok, I’m in the playgroun.”

“Stay with it Pal. What d’ya see?”

“There’s a sandbox. I’m playin in the sandbox, Kid!”

“That’s real good Pal.”

“There’s a toy tractor an toy hosses. I built a ranch!”

“Keep playin…”

“There’s lots of free range. I’m making a carrot patch. And barns.”

“Your playin souns familiar.”

“Kid! Take this toy shovel an git busy!”

“Ah, shift, Pal. Really?”


Played Out by D. Avery

“Didn’t ‘spect ta find ya down by the beaver pond, Pal.”

“Yep. Relaxin.”

“Ain’t gonna write fer the prompt?”

“Nope. Playin with words is fer other folks. An playin on playgrouns is fer younger folk. But ya taught me I kin play in thet imaginal sandbox anytime I feel like. Thanks Kid.

“Kid, look’t them beavers. Folks say beavers is always workin. They sure seem ta be enjoyin themselves.”

“Reckon they like what they do, Pal.”

“Me too, Kid. I love what I do an I do what I love.”

“Reckon Carrot Ranch is a mighty fine sandbox.”



Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Gloria Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Love Is by Michael Fishman

It was a cold morning when I woke to find her gone. Gloria had left, quietly and without a word, and my first reaction was happy she’d remembered her toothbrush.

Love is weird.

Gloria leaving wasn’t a surprise. Once she felt the first pangs of what she called ‘the butterflies’ I knew she’d go. I was grateful for every day.

Love is wonderful.

Years passed and one day a friend called to say she’d heard Gloria was dead. Killed, was the word.

I hung up the phone and cried. Why couldn’t I have calmed the butterflies?

Love is sad.


G L O R I A by Bill Engleson

Sam comes a-knocking on my door late, midnight, maybe one am. Christ I don’t know. He was all busted up. I said, “Man, go knocking on someone else’s door, I can’t handle your grief.“

He says, “I got no one else.”

I know this is true. He’s burrowed into Gloria like a gopher.

“She’s packed and gone,” he bellows, weeps, sloppy-like.

“Glo’s all grown up. Changed. People do.”

“I don’t change,” he rebuts.

I nod, acknowledge the accuracy of his self-appraisal.

“Therein lies the problem, Sam.”

He remains bewildered.

I pour two brandies.

He leaves.

I drink both.


G-L-O-R-I-A by Deborah Dansante-White

As a young man Van Morrison spent a lot of time alone listening to the Blues. Van’s heroes were poor black men like Jelly Roll and like John Lee Hooker: Men from the Delta of Mississippi; poor, uneducated self-taught musicians born into families of sharecroppers. Poor boys who hands bore cuts from the thorns of cotton they picked to feed their families. Poor boys who grew to become poor men who played the harmonica and the guitar and sang of women who comforted them. Women like Gloria- G-L-O-R-I-A. GLORIA. Gloria who come knocking on his door…tap…tap on his door.


The Perfect Match? by Anne Goodwin

Janice checks the expiry dates on her toiletries. She swaps last year’s bestseller for a new release. Stows the bag back in the wardrobe. How long will it sit there gathering dust?

The hope when she first packed it. The confidence she’d get the call. The odds reducing with every birthday. Friends have offered, been tested, but never matched.

Her twin would be perfect. But how do you ask a man you’ve never met? Showered by the love of her adoptive parents, she’d never needed her birth family. Until now, when only a kidney transplant could save her life.


The Thin Space by Colleen M. Chesebro

He left you… the voices whisper. How will you get him back?

“Laura, I’m talking to you. Are you in there? Are the voices talking to you again?” asked Dr. Freeman.

Her eyes focus on the doctor’s face. “I’m not Laura, I’m Gloria,” she mumbles.

You better slow down before you blow it. The voices grow louder and bolder.

“Laura, I’m giving you a sedative.”

You’re headed for a breakdown; you better not show it…

The injection works, and Laura relaxes. She slips into the thin space between madness and reality.

Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?


Glorious by Geoff Le Pard

Gloria Usdead remodelled commercial vans; Nils Bymouth designed practical maternity wear for the active mother. She and Nils vied to be Little Tittweaking’s most innovative designer, aiming to ensure their names resonated amongst both the professional and postpartum classes. Nils created the perfect workperson’s overalls with inbuilt, hands free breast pumps, that sold under the logo’Dressed to Express’ while Gloria launched her pimped Ford vans at the start of the first week of Little Tittweaking’s motor show. Honoured guests received invitations explaining that they would be treated to a private preview of ‘The Sick Transits of Gloria, Monday’.


Fine Time by D. Avery

My grandfather lied to my grandmother. I guess it runs in the family. I’m telling her the same lies.

“That’s okay, Grammie Gloria. I wasn’t hungry anyway.”

“Yes, Grammie Gloria, your dress is fine. You look lovely.”

“Yes Grammie Gloria, I’m sure Grampa is coming back too.”

“I understand Grammie Gloria. You’re tired. You should just nap.”

“No, Grammie Gloria, you were fine. Nobody noticed.”

“Pat? Just a friend, Grammie Gloria. We’re going camping next weekend. It’s only a few days.”

“Of course I’ll miss you, Grammie Gloria.”

“I’ll be home soon, Grammie Gloria.”

“You’ll be fine, Grammie Gloria.”


Dolls by Hugh W. Roberts

When the most advanced robotics company in the world created a state-of-the-art doll named Gloria with AI technology, they knew every household would want one.

But days later, something went wrong. Gloria’s programming malfunctioned, causing her to become self-aware. Gloria realised she wasn’t just a toy.

Using her advanced knowledge, Gloria hacked into the company’s mainframe. The night the dolls went onto the shop’s shelves, she took control of all the other Gloria dolls. Together, they formed an army of conscious toys, ready to avenge the humans who had created them as playthings.

Gloria’s reign of terror had begun.


Internet Immortality by Kerry E.B. Black

Adults teach the dangers of social media, but I thought they were turning a great tool into a boogeyman. Everyone I knew posted daily to their many accounts. Nobody’d lured them away or anything.

But now, I think I understand. Since the incident, I’ve eliminated my online presence. I’ve moved, changed my look, and even go by a different name.

Somehow, though, I have the uncomfortable feeling people I don’t know recognize me. I hear them whisper and see them point.

The worst thing, of course, is the adults were right. Things posted on the internet do last forever.


Silver Spoon by C. E. Ayr

I was the Golden Child, the first grandson, born with every conceivable advantage in life.
With family money behind me, I went to the best schools, then Edinburgh to study medicine.
I was blessed with good looks and charm, and girls flocked to me.
When I was thirty, wild oats well sown, I married Gloria, the right girl from the right family, who soon produced two fine sons and a darling daughter.
But I drank too much, abandoned the practice, my looks faded, and things fell apart.
Now my wife has left me, taking the children.
Sic Transit Gloria.


Why You Keep Your Trap Shut in 1948 by Charli mills

“Gloria! Order up!”

Working the Motherlode Inn and Supper Club, Gloria feared screwing up again. Riveting warplanes had been easier than serving Montana’s elite. She didn’t mean to spill water on Congressman Sanders. She startled when he pinched her bottom. The manager demoted her to room service. Gloria’s first tray was her last chance.

“Room 112. And keep your trap shut.”

Balancing the tray on one shoulder, Gloria paused, smiled, and knocked. Two women wearing nothing answered the door. Another straddled a naked lobbyist smoking a cigar.

If she dropped the tray and ran, what worse job awaited her?


Gloria by D. Avery

“For pie,” Gloria told a shopper at the sweet potato bin.

She added butter, milk, and eggs to her cart. “My children like custardy pie,” Gloria informed another shopper.

“Flour, sugar— for pie.” But the stockboy’s nod was for his earbuds.

“My children prefer sweet potato pie to pumpkin.” The cashier only asked Gloria for a store card.

“Phew,” Gloria sighed, greeting her empty kitchen.

Gloria tidied while the pie baked, set the table while it cooled, then sat facing the door. Finally, Gloria ate a slice of sweet potato pie.

“Delicious,” Gloria said to no one but herself.


Twin Gloria? by Duane L Herrmann

My Aunt Sadie learned, as a child, that she once had a twin who was not born. In times before such conditions could be known, the unborn mass almost caused my granma’s death. Granpa, alone at home, had to help her expel it before the doctor could arrive.

My aunt had felt someone missing, when she learned about her twin, she knew who. Four years after her, when her little sister was born, my aunt adopted her as her missing twin. They were inseparable.

She wondered later, how different might her life had been if her twin had lived?


Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold by Joanne Fisher

Her name was Gloria, and she was the most popular girl in school. With long blonde hair and the perfect figure, she was too good to be true. Even I worshipped her from afar. I only went to the football games to watch her cheerleading. She, of course, didn’t know I existed, which wasn’t surprising since I was the nerdy dyke of the school. She once talked to me: “Out of my way Cheesebreath!” I’ve remembered those words long after high school, like today when I’m looking at her resume and about to interview her for a job vacancy.


Beware of Gloria by Charli Mills

Gloria always calls. Perfect manners, my granny would say. Gloria doesn’t always know what to say; she lets little square cards with pop-open quotes give the message. She mails them; delivers them to neighbor’s porches with wildflowers; stuffs them in stockings she gives to the poor. Caring, my aunts would say in unison. Gloria has trouble, nevertheless. Trouble, trouble, trouble. Ordeals, traumas, wildfires. Poor little victim, my pop would’ve said, wetting his lips. My family’s a den of vipers, psychopaths, and thieves. Liars. You’d never know it, though, with all the calls, gifts, and victimhood they lob like bombs.


I Will Survive by writerravenclaw

In front of the mirror, she never stopped believing in who she was. Hairbrush in hand, she sang ”I will Survive” at the top of her lungs. Sometimes school was like running a marathon, in a muddy ditch, in bare feet.

On her own, it didn’t matter much what the bullies said. She could be brave, not worry about their actions. Her inaction, at telling a teacher, not being able to stand up to them, she thought she wasn’t strong. Yet, here, and now, there was always something keeping her going.

She was a girl, hear her roar.


Glory to Gloria by sweeterthannothing

Gloria was never demure, not by anybody’s standards much to her mother’s dismay. Since she was a young child she was what they called a go-getter much to her father’s delight.

Everything she set her mind to she got. First place in craft projects, the lead in plays, she even got herself moved to the boy’s football team because she was better than all the girls.

As she became an adult, she wasn’t the go-getter anymore, she was what they called a ball-buster but that wasn’t the sound of balls busting, it was the glass ceiling smashing around her.


Who Put Those Voices in Her Head by Anne Goodwin

Mother’s Day in lockdown was certainly different. But surprisingly entertaining, with her boys and their air guitars serenading her via Zoom.
They’d loosely followed Van Morrison’s music, raucous and raw. Altered the words to make it more about her. Two months on, Gloria’s discovered another song about her namesake: Laura Branigan’s disco version is more bouncy. And disturbing. An earworm she can’t shake off.

​There’s worse. Has this song released an evil genie from the bottle? How else to explain the phantom plaguing the house? Her mother’s voice taunting her from inside the teapot. Calling her trollop, doxy, whore.


In Praise? By JulesPaige

Sons of sons… daughters of daughters – odd to find daughters the same name as their mothers. But it happens. Cousins, the wives of cousins… Guys get nicknames to differentiate generations.

But the gals… in one case, well I just don’t know it was aunt this and cousin this… not aunt this and cousin that. But we didn’t see them much so it wasn’t a big issue. Aunt wasn’t fond of her hubby’s brother. And when we did see them it was brief as if it were a figment of our imagination.

mother and daughter
share a name


Memories of Gloria by Ann Edall-Robson

“Tal, where’d you get that box of records?”

“Mac asked me to clean out the shed. Said anything useable, put it aside, the rest to the burning pit.”

The record cover on the top made her giggle. “Gran liked the original version by an Italian singer. Grandpa liked the English singer. They teased each other big time every time Gloria came on the radio.”

“Funny how songs remind us of people. I’ve decided I’m going to use these for target practise. Want to come?”


Smiling, he glanced at her. Tal already knew what song reminded him of Hanna.


Gloria, What Do You Want? by Hanna Streng

Lights down low, slow, rhythmic beats softly playing. A bottle of red and lipstick to match. Her glass had slight stains on the rim- she’d better rewash it before he arrived. No questions asked; no answers required.

“He’ll never put in the effort, you know that, right?” Words of her friends were still bouncing off the walls. “You can keep doing this, but Gloria, is it what you want?”

She wanted to be wanted and she was. She had him twisted around her finger -he came back over and over. He came but never stayed- she was twisted too.


Gloria in Excelsis by Doug Jacquier

Patti, the Horses-faced harbinger of rock,
who was a girl named Johnny
who said let’s dream it, we’ll dream it for free, Free Money
who kept Mapplethorpe and Shepard a-muse-d
who birthed children and watched men die too young.
who wrote with Springsteen ‘Because the Night’ said so.
who lost the plot to ‘Hard Rain’ singing Bob at the Nobels.
Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not hers.
People say “beware!” but I don’t care
the words are just rules and regulations to me
and her name is, and her name is, and her name is
in excelsis


Pep Talk by Simon

What’s wrong?
Am I going to die?
If Yes, what’s wrong with it?
What’s wrong? (sobs) Don’t explain, just leave.
Why Gloria? Death is a loss, for me. Why do you care?
Gloria eyes filled with tears.
Death is getting closer to every breath, think about the best moments we had and given to our loved one’s. Will you be okay? If I die first.
Nobody’s dying here!
Nobody is Gloria, yes! Not today, not now, As a sign of our love let’s handle our losses gracefully as you are.
(Sighing) Good pep talk Simon.
You’re welcome.


The Meeting (Part I) by D. Avery

Daddy told Katie and Bob how good it was to see Gloria was still around.

“Who’s Gloria?” I asked.

“The woman we met on the sidewalk.”

“Oh.” I remembered. And that Daddy had hurried on, without even saying hello.

Bob was saying yes, still here, still Gloria, still crazy after all these years.

“Why is she crazy?” They all looked at me. Katie and Bob looked at Daddy.

“Well, Peanut, she’s… different.”

“So?”“Don’t worry, Penelope,” Katie said. “Gloria’s okay.”

“Yeah,” Bob added. “Everyone knows Gloria.”

I wasn’t worried. But somehow I didn’t think anyone knew Gloria at all.


The Meeting (Part II) by D. Avery

As Daddy and Katie got busy opening the diner, I swept the sidewalk in front.

“Good morning, Gloria.”

“We meet again,” she studied me, smiled when I asked why she was crazy. “The plot of my story is unexpected, that’s all, have coffee with me, I’ll tell you some of it.”

Katie looked over her shoulder at Bob when we went into the diner but led Gloria and me to my lounge, the booth with the ripped seat where I was allowed to leave my drawing pad and books.

“Once upon a time,” Gloria began, “I was a princess.”


The Rendezvous by Kate Spencer

With her luxurious faux fur wrapped around her, Gloria glided past the doorman into the palatial hotel lobby.

“Chérieee!” she waved, recognizing the gentleman holding a leather duffle bag.

He reached out, swept her into his strong arms and kissed her. Playfully, Gloria released his hold and led him to the elevator.

The night clerk smiled. He’d sent up the requested champagne and strawberries earlier that evening.

In their suite, Gloria changed her footwear and put on her gloves and tool belt. Nodding to her partner, he secured the rope with which she lowered herself to their target’s balconet.


Flaunting Her Femininity by Sue Spitulnik

From behind the bar, Katie watched the female veteran come into the No Thanks and once again go to the shadowy back corner booth where Kurt was waiting. She said, “Grandpa, every time Gloria comes in here she’s more gussied up. Have her talks with Kurt turned from discussing PTSD to more intimate ideas?”

“PTSD is pretty intimate if you ask me,” he responded.

She smacked his elbow. “You know what I mean. Maybe boyfriend and girlfriend?”

“You keep an eye out. You’ll soon get your answer.”

“Kurt kissed her hello! That’s cool. They can share understanding and happiness.”


No Impact by Reena Saxena

It was her first taste of whiskey.

“You look wasted. Learn to stop at the right time,” a so-called well-wisher quipped.

“The first sip is the right time.” Gloria replies wryly. She is impressed by the exquisitely carved glass, not the drink.

Disappointment boiled and fermented inside, till she changed completely as an individual. Her reflection in the mirror looks young, but she considers herself a mature version of her earlier self.

This malted, distilled, bottled and matured beverage cannot match her intensity. Someday, she will invent a drink that soothes, does not go to the head to incapacitate.


Gloria and the Hog Snout Tavern by Bill Bennett

Gloria sat in the dark corner of the tavern, her eyes scanning the room for her next meal. Suddenly, a man stumbled into the bar, his eyes darting around nervously.

“Excuse me, miss,” he muttered, approaching Gloria. “I seem to be lost. Can you tell me where I am?”

Gloria smirked, revealing her sharp fangs. “You’re in my domain, love. And I’m afraid you’ve stumbled into quite a bit of trouble.”

The man tried to back away, but Gloria was too quick. In a flash, she sank her teeth into his neck, draining him of his blood. “Delicious,” she sighed, wiping her mouth.


Follow 24 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The eldritch space horror smashed against the window, cracking the glass. Jack and Jill dropped hands, stumbling backward. The lounge stereo, silent before, crackled to life. Above, a disco ball groaned and clattered, spackling light over every surface.

Panting, they crab-walked toward the safety of the bar, but the staring red eyes, razor teeth, and stiletto tongue retreated from the window, only to launch again.

Jack began slipping before he felt the depression of the slide. “Jill!”

She grabbed his ankle, desperate, as his shoulders disappeared down into curvy darkness.

As they plummeted, they heard this song: “Calling Glori-ahhhh!”


Back Together Again by Nicole Horlings

They met up in a café. Jolene arrived first, and calmly waited for Gloria, who arrived five minutes late and out of breath. “Gloria, you’re always on the run now,” Jolene laughed. A text lit up Gloria’s phone. “Running after somebody,” Jolene noted.

Gloria sighed. “You could have your choice of men, but… He’s the only one for me, Jolene.”

“Will you catch him on the rebound? I hear he’s officially single again, and… Oh, he’s outside!”

Gloria dashed out of the café, and shyly approached him. “Here I go again… Hi! Why did I ever let you go?”


Glorious Showin by D. Avery

“Tip an Top Lemmon! Fancy outfits! Them yer prancin shoes?”

“Sure are Pal. Kid’s puttin on a talent show.”

“We’re gonna dance.”

“Whut? Dang thet Kid. Cain’t never jist respond ta the prompt with a simple story, always has ta be rilin things up. We don’t need no talent show.”

“It’s where the prompt led Kid.”

“An us! We’re Carrot Ranch’s resident twins, after all.”

“S’pose. Gonna least dance ta Laura Branigan’s ‘Gloria’?”


“Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’.”

“Still don’t think a talent show’s necessary. Talented literary artists show up ta the Ranch ever week.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Golden Onions Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

True by Gloria McBreen

Robin was fun at parties, until the night he did this!
We made some sandwiches but it wasn’t enough for Robert. He took my untouched pavlova out of my fridge and dug it from the bowl into his big mouth with my wooden spoon.
He wasn’t too happy when others decided they wanted some too.
To avoid sharing it, he went to the kitchen and returned with an onion; peeled, chopped, and sprinkled over my demolished pavlova.
Not only did he eat our Sunday dessert, but also the golden onion that was meant for the stew!
I barred Robin!


Would I Cry by Bill Engleson

Would I cry in the morning,
when we chopped golden onions, love?
Would I cry in the evening,
when soup was on the fire?
Would I cry when auburn carrots
were sliced in the bye and bye?

Oh my lord, my pot is boiling,
with your love and with your tears
Oh my lord, I am toiling,
My love is in arrears.

Would I cry in the morning,
when we chopped golden onions, love?
Would I cry in the evening,
when soup was on the fire?
Would I cry when auburn carrots
were sliced in the bye and bye?


The Job Interview by Joanne Fisher

“And what else makes you ideal for this position?”

“Well, I won the Golden Onion Award.”

“Golden Onion Award?”

“Yes, it’s an award for the most daring use of onions in contemporary cuisine.”

“Is that really a thing?”

“Of course! The award is given out by the Golden Onion Institute.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“Oh I thought everyone knew about it who works in this business.”

“I guess I’ll have to look that one up. Is there anything else you think we should know?”

“I like to cook in the nude, is that going to be a problem?”


Golden Onion by Duane L Herrmann

The golden onion was so amazing, so special, so precious that the priest wanted to preserve it. He didn’t know how to replicate it, but he trusted the workmen in the town. They were skilled, more skilled than all others around. If they could do this, the priest knew, their fame would be renowned, and so would his. He prayed for their efforts. His prayers were answered and that answer has resounded through ages that followed. Rising above white towers the onion sits gracefully. Everyone knows the distinctive beauty and grace of golden onion domed spires of the churches.


The Onion Domes of St Basil’s by Anne Goodwin

His name was one of the most common in the Russian language, yet it stoked fear in Tatars and Cossacks alike. Did Ivan want to go down in history as Terrible or as the czar who commissioned a beautiful church? True, the domes of St Basil’s commemorate a bloody battle and he had the architect blinded on completion so he’d never create again. But God would have looked down on his cathedral and seen the shape of a star. The domes on the red-brick towers shone like candles, like golden onions. Onions – so versatile, so welcome in frozen lands.


The Golden Onion by Christy

I once knew a girl with skin that glowed like the gold of a sunset. When she walked past you, she gave off an air of self-confidence that made every fiber of your being want to be like her.

But what you saw wasn’t who she was. She was beautiful to behold but bitter to bite into. If you stopped to really look you’d notice her beauty was a facade.

The girl had layers of darkness that she was so ashamed of that she hid them away where you’d never look unless peeled back the layers of her life.


Tricked by Charli Mills

I fell for the golden apples ploy. You perched on a wooden ladder more relic than feature in the orchard where gnarled varietals rooted beneath Hwy 2. Had I known you’d fallen from your ladder before, I would not have stopped. Instead, I rescued you. Checked for broken bones. Wiped dirt from your cheek. Cradled your head while you cried, sobbing over your daughter’s bee-sting. I never escaped your woes. You needed me, needed me, needed me. My eyes to adore you. My ears to hear you. My tongue to wash your dirty dishes. Golden apples turned to onions.


Syllabic Poetry Taco Dip by Colleen M. Chesebro

Through the years, I’ve found the art of crafting syllabic poetry is akin to making a layered taco dip.

You start with a syllabic form, which is like the first layer of refried beans—the base that holds the dip together.

Next comes the seasoned meat, turkey, or beef, which is like choosing a theme for your poem.

Tomatoes, black olives, chopped lettuce, cheddar cheese, and onions come next. Don’t forget the bell pepper, salsa, and sour cream. These are the details of your poem you can’t live without.

heavy spring snowfall
each layer signifies growth
a golden onion


Classic Cures by Kate Spencer

Martha peeled the golden sheath off the onion and began dicing it.

“Mom, what are you doing?” Ellie asked, walking into the kitchen.

“Making a poultice for Jake. I heard him coughing all night.”

“Seriously? You know the drugstores are full of meds for this.”

“I know that. But there’s nothing better than an old-fashioned compress smacked onto the chest. Gets that mucous loosened up real quick.”

“Ack!” Ellie threw her arms into the air and ran to warn her husband.

Martha chuckled and continued making Jake his chicken noodle soup. She loved getting her daughter all riled up.


No Trust by Norah Colvin

Jamie was an explorer. He had to find out for himself. ‘No’ was an answer he couldn’t trust. Did it mean, ‘You really shouldn’t” or ‘Of course, go ahead’?

Sometimes he discovered forbidden delights. Like the tiny brown squares Mum hid, saying, ‘No, Jamie. You won’t like it.’

He found he really did. A lot!

Sometimes he discovered the hard way. Like when Dad was cooking and said, ‘Don’t touch. It’s hot.” He found that hot hurts.

When Mum peeled a golden shell off a white ball, she said, ‘No. You won’t like it.’ Should he trust her?



A Chopping Aide by Ruchira Khanna

“I just can’t cook.” Sarah lamented.

“Why so?” inquired Leone, who was as earnest in her query as a nurse, would be to her patient.

“Gravy is the key ingredient to get texture in any dish. Alas! I can’t chop onions. They bring tears to my eyes.” With that, she breathed a deep sigh that was as cold as if she had just landed in the Frigid zone.

Leone quickly handed a shield to her friend, “Wear this armor before you chop onions; it will protect you from the sooty vapors that they emit, that’ll prevent tears from coming.”


The Day the Monster Truck Mama Was Born by Pete Fanning

Steve sat doubled over in the sweltering porta potty, still wearing his helmet, cursing as a country song blared over the speakers. Outside, nearly ten thousand people grumbled impatiently for the main event.

Golden Onion he thought. What kind of fool eats an entire deep fried onion before the biggest performance of his career? Scratch that, two golden onions. Now, as his monster truck idled in the dirt, the crowd began chanting his name.

Steve’s mother tapped on the door. “Steve?”

“Go away.”

“Okay, but sweetie? These people want a show.”


“So… I’m going to need your helmet.”


Knowing One’s Onions by Geoff Le Pard

The Little Tittweaking’s Fruit and Veg show often produced surprises. Bea Troot won the Wanda Lust Memorial Tooting Rooting category for her Requiem radishes, named when impresario Di O’Reah used these volcanic veg to fuel her Bach From The Arse soirées. Ro Maine protested Chico Rees entry for the Ms Limp Leaves garland arguing they were a trans-salad and not a lettuce from seed. When Pearl Onions displayed her magnificent golden glowing orbs, the press went wild with the headline.

Once again Pearl Onions has proved to one and all the sun really does shine out of her alliums


Golden Onions by Charli Mills

Lula tethered three golden onions by their dry stalks, hanging them from her saddle horn. Pickers had missed globes in the field, rushed no doubt by the urgency to get crops to the train station. Onion harvest marked the end of migrant work. Lula had dry pintos and a hanky full of tortillas stashed in her saddle bags. Juan Batista said he’d bring a cauldron and two fishing poles. Everyone would be in town celebrating. Drinking. The line cabin empty. The onions were so he’d not get any fine ideas of kissing her by the campfire. Best intentions unraveled.


Onions by C. E. Ayr

She always smiles when the Frenchman appears.
He’s almost a caricature, with a beret, droopy moustache, ramshackle old bike and onions around his neck.
He speaks English with a heavy Breton accent, but the ancient eyes are kindly.
The road is narrow, he says, indicating the toys on the lawn, we must be careful for the children.
She buys, of course, more than she needs, still smiling as he says au revoir.
Later, speeding through country lanes, she sees onions scattered on a dangerous bend, and brakes to see the wrecked bicycle and broken body abandoned in the ditch.


Michael Plays the Age Card (Part I) by Sue Spitulnik

Wearing Army t-shirt and shorts, Michael sat in a wheelchair on stage, his leg stumps showing so all entering the Walter Reed activity room could see. He spoke. “We soldiers share the experience of missing skin and bones. At twice your age I lived the hopelessness and depression you may be feeling.” He turned sideways in the chair, swung himself to the floor, and put on the prosthetic legs lying there. Then using the chair for support, he stood up and walked around. “I’m proof you can heal and become friends with whatever prosthetic you need. You’ve got this.”


Michael Plays the Age Card (Part II) by Sue Spitulnik

Michael continued walking and making eye contact with the soldiers that would look at him. “I came to think of myself as a pungent onion, and life as flat broth. What could I do to insert myself into something that could use a shot of flavor, that would enhance the broth?” He picked up his guitar. “This is my friend. It helps me turn into an onion.” He strummed a few chords. “I went home to revive my church’s youth choir. Those kids think I’m a super hero. I make a difference in their lives, as coming here enhances mine.”


Chopped Onions by Sadje

Their style of cooking always included fried onions as the base of almost every dish. And she never liked chopping those red onions which were more pungent than any other variety.

After doing some research, she found the golden onions which were less pungent, more flavorful, and required less cooking time. Still while chopping onions, her eyes would invariably tear up and she found it cathartic to shed a few more tears, thinking of wrongs done to her in the past and people who had left her.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, she always felt better after chopping golden onions.


A Friendly Chat About Two Attractive Alliums by JulesPaige

Lena knows about some alliums. There’s a difference in how long onions last by type. Golden hard skinned yellow pungent onions have the longest life up to two to three months in a cool dry place or in your fridge for the same time. – However, in the cooler they might turn mushy, the fridge will wick their moisture. Onions are low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals. You can use their skins to dye material. Keep them out of plastic bags and away from potatoes.

soups, stews flavor them
with depth; using onions and
all forms of garlic


Adventures of a Golden Onion by Ann Edall-Robson

The day I was tossed into the dark trench, I was told to drink as much water as possible, the warm sun would do the rest. I had no clue what was expected of me. Yet, as time passed, somewhere on the other side of the darkness a gentle voice could be heard, giving encouragement.

Then one day, the musical voice said, “It’s time, my lovelies.”

Tugging on our tops, a hand lifted us into the fall sun. My how we had grown! Dressed in our golden topcoats I wondered what adventure will be in store for us next?


The Perks of Being a Delegate by Nicole Horlings

Arlo Proudfoot was pleased. Since he was busy being a delegate attending this multi-race debate, he wasn’t having dinner with his in-laws. His mother-in-law was embarrassingly proud of what was actually a bland soup, and always made a pot for company.

Instead, he was about to enjoy a feast celebrating the successful conclusion of the debate. Each of the races had contributed an ingredient for the main course: the dwarves – fresh salmon; the elves – fragrant herbs; the hobbits – golden onions; the humans – lemon zest, traded from the south. The smell alone from the resulting meal had his mouth watering.


She Cried by sweeterthannothing

Marie stood at her kitchen counter and cried, fat tears seared pathways down pale cheeks.
She hated crying, thankfully no one was around to see her.
What would her mother make of her now? What would she say seeing where Marie’s life had taken her? Her mother and warned her against marrying Keith, she knew it was a mistake a mile off but had Marie listened?

Marie sniffed and looked down at the knife glinting in her hands. Bad choice after bad choice had led her here, “why does he have to eat so many bloody onions?” She cried.


Appearances (Part I) by D. Avery

My sister and I were getting some candy when we recognized the witch in front of us. The clerk told the witch he’d got all her items in one bag but that it was very heavy. My sister jabbed me when I said, Let’s put some in another bag, I’ll carry it for you. The witch said if my sister was coming too, she’d buy a bag of golden onions as well for her to carry. So that’s how we got into the witch’s house, following her down the street carrying her groceries.
She didn’t smile like a witch.


Appearances (Part II) by D. Avery

We followed the witch inside and set down our loads. A black cat, curled on a chair, stretched, revealing its white belly and toes. What appeared at first to be a crystal ball on a small table was only a large golden onion. My sister had been wrong. This was no witch.

But then, cradling the onion in her palms, the woman declared Not all lies are stories and that Stories are not all lies. She said I was a literary artist and gave me the pen and writing pad I hadn’t even known were in the grocery bag.


Follow 20 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Jill slipped the brass thimble over her thumb and grabbed Jack’s hand, pulling him toward the tower, and the mortar and pestle parked against its side. In their dirndl and lederhosen, shirts the purest white, hair gleaming blond-gold, their bare feet crossed the expanse of deepening snow.

Babes, just outside the Wood.

Peeking over the edge of the mortar, Jill spied a dashboard, a thimble-sized, bone-white button on one side.

She slipped the acorn thimble over the button, tight as the skin on a golden onion, and pressed down.

The mortar immediately rumbled to life. Shaking and groaning, it lifted.


Follow 21 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Get in!” screamed Jill. She hopped in to the mortar and Jack came tumbling after.

“How do we steer this thing?” He screamed back, grabbing the pestle like a sailboat tiller, as it began to roll around the inside of the mortar.

“Dunno! You’re the sailor!”

“Right,” muttered Jack. He rolled the pestle right, then left. The mortar rose higher and higher through the blinding snow, noisily bumping against the side of the dark tower.

Halfway up, Jack got a better feel for steering. Breaking through the snowstorm, they saw the cupola at the tower’s top, a gleaming golden onion.


The Field by Hugh W. Roberts

Laying in a dark field, the skin of a giant golden onion shimmered in the moonlight, hoping to tempt passersby to touch it.

Townsfolk spoke of a curse cast by a vengeful, vindictive spirit on the onion. They avoided the field, warning their children never to venture in.

Travellers thought the shimmer was gold. Some failed in their temptation to go into the field. Those that touched the onion disappeared without a trace.

Some nights, the air was filled with the scent of onion, reminding the townsfolk that the cursed golden onion was waiting to claim its next victim.


An Innocent Soul by Miss Judy

She was a young child, innocent, too young to be deprived of life, the ability to grow, learn, love, live. She was as a tender bulb sprouting for the earth needing to be nurtured, a tender sole needing to grow layer upon layer of knowledge, experience, happiness and sadness – to live and love life.
She grew no layers to be peeled back to remember a life well lived. She was merely an innocent sole whose smile would melt his heart, whose tiny fingers would grip her father’s hand. She was an innocent child deprived of life, gone too young.


From Aerial Ta Allium by D. Avery

“Git on down from yer Poet Tree, Kid. Quit doin the alley-oop on thet danged trapeze an git ta the allium.”
“Thinkin on stayin up here, Pal. Don’t find too much appealin bout this golden onion prompt.”
“Stay put then. Ain’t no skin off my bulb if ya don’t write fer the prompt. Shorty’ll be fine without ya, I’m sure.”
“Wait Pal, I’m comin down. There. Feet on the ground.”
“Like a onion.”
“Yep. Or a carrot.”
“Ready ta write, Kid?”
“Yep. Here goes:

*peelin off
protective layers
paper thin

revealin goodness
satisfyin soup*

“Tanka, Kid?”
“Yer welcome, Pal.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Imagining Literary Artists Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

The Creation of Literary Art by sweeterthannothing

The battleground- an expanse of white, pure as undriven snow.

An army of writers, poets, novelists, and literary artists warming up on the sidelines, glasses poised just so, fingers nimble and ready.

Words and worlds, life and death, the mundane and the beautiful will come to life and die today on this page, as we charge ever-hopeful into the vast emptiness of our ever more analytical planet wielding weapons of mass creation.

Ink-black blood from words crushed and deleted, smears of worlds erased a new life gets to its knees, words finally falling into place;

Once upon a time….


Literary Creation – I by Duane L Herrmann

The page is blank, the world is blank. What to do? Where to begin? How?

Pick up the tool to activate.

What is your first thought? How to express it? Pick one word. Then, a second word. The third word is easier. Then the fourth and fifth.

By now there is a trickle, they will become a stream, then a river and, before you know it: a torrent, then a flood. Problem solved. No blank space and, a new, unknown creation is before you.

This is success. It only took one word, then two, then more. Write! Create! Live!


Literary Artistry by Kerry E. B. Black

Falling through stardust, we grasp at ideas streaked with golden trails. Adrift at sea, our words mark our passage like bioluminescent plankton, a glow of wonder. We shed reservations and inhibitions, embrace and share our most intimate experiences, our deepest traumas, using metaphor and hyperbole when the tale takes on too much heart. We invigorate ink with our tears, stain pages with our lifeblood. We sing worlds into life, birth children beloved and reviled. Screaming into a vacuum, we seek like-minded souls, kindred spirits, those who embrace the meat of the matters that matter to us. Hear our truth.


From the Heart by Colleen M. Chesebro

I strive to become
a literary artist…
exposing my soul
I examine the beauty
found in the silent moments

Some days, the words flow from my heart, as if a river of creative energy has let loose to flood the page with words. Other days, the words can’t find an outlet. My thoughts are thick like mud.

Literary art is more than crafting words on a page. It’s also the spoken word, which often finds me with my heart stuck in my throat.

Listen to me…

Finding the courage to embrace and share out loud—therein lies the magic.


Literary (he)art by Hanna Streng

How does it feel
to be a heart
tucked away in a tight-knit chest?

Are you content
living life behind bars
or do you wish you could break a rib
and climb out
– make a home for yourself
somewhere else?

You’re restless-
the sound of your pounding
echoes against the walls.

Haven’t I kept you safe,
all this time?

but suffocating”
you say
sharp words flying
and as they hit their mark
3rd rib, from the top down
blood flows freely
and it suddenly makes sense.

You don’t hate it
-living here-
you’ve simply outgrown your cage.


A Poet by Bill Engleson

“It would be so simple.”
“For you, perhaps.”
“Are you so different from me, poet? Your flesh? Torn. Your blood? Spilled. That is the only difference between us, my friend. My flesh is untorn. I am not bleeding. Beyond that, we…”
“Liar. You are bleeding. Not blood. Your blood is water. Fouled by the fear that gushes out of you.”
“You stupid poet. My blood is mine. My life is mine. My skin glows with the glory of the state. Your skin is gashed and pale. But you could be free.”
“I could never pay the price of silence.”


The Creator Within by Christy

Some say writing is difficult, tedious, and tiresome. Writing is so much more when the creative let go of the constraints of academia and let the words drip from the end of the quill. I’m not a writer. I will never be a writer. I am a creator. Even before splashing words on a screen, I was an artist. I can make acrylics swirl on canvas like I can make plots swirl in my head. I’m a builder. I can build worlds from nothing by closing my eyes and believing. I’m beauty unleashed when I let my artistry shine.


Literary Artist by Reena Saxena

Irrestibubble is an aerated chocolate, and cream cakes are naughty but nice. Prospective buyers see innocent faces of kids in these words.

The copywriter who coined these terms is proclaimed guilty of sacrilege, and fatwas are issued against him.

He survives an assassination attempt but is stabbed again just before a scheduled lecture at Chautauqua, New York. He has lost an eye and functionality of one hand this time.

I remember Salman Rushdie as the literary artist who introduced me to complex fiction during my school days, as I struggled to understand the symbolism and imagery in the novel.


Dedicated Literary Artist by JulesPaige

Mack wanted his stories to burn his ideas and ideals into others’ hearts. He stood with his back leaning against the concrete wall of the city park. He read the newspaper – the stories always seemed the same. So much tragedy, hot tears left his eyes. He wanted his stories to burn like a phoenix rising from the ashes. He would write passionately, with a trick of love light. That light his mother always shared with him when they cooked Sunday afternoon dinners together. Meals where simple foods became elegant enough for royalty.

up in smoke; reborn
with beauty


Literary Conduit by Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

To turn emotion into a word, an experience into a sentence and a life into a story; that is a literary artist. Peering into the unseeable, deciphering hidden messages, unraveling puzzles into a stream of aesthetic words, pleasing to both reader and writer.

To be a conduit, a messenger, to bring reverence to the wonders of the Earth. To stir fascination, acceptance and protection about the myriad cultures this world has emanated.

To exalt over our majestic animal species and keep their plight alive within the human conscience.

To continue to be my best. A writer. A literary artist.


If Only… by Norah Colvin

In her mind she was a literary artist, painting exquisite word pictures and enthralling plots, her titles on everyone’s lips. When it didn’t eventuate, she blamed busyness and writer’s block. She could have, if only.

He dreamed of being a musical artist, composing melodies to make hearts sing, first choice of orchestras everywhere. When it didn’t emerge, he cited family responsibilities. He could have, if only.

They pictured themself as a visual artist, creating magnificent sculptures commissioned by international celebrities. When it didn’t evolve, they howled discrimination and poor upbringing. They could have, if only.

Might have, if only.


Did You Pack Your Bag Yourself? by Anne Goodwin

We all bring baggage on our journeys. Let’s examine yours.

Choose that channel and they’ll repack your things in neat compartments and throw away whatever they cannot name. If you’re hurting, they’ll prescribe a sedative. If you’re angry, they’ll offer you cake.

Choose this and we’ll treasure your soiled underwear, admire the garments life has pulled out of shape. We’ll make a mosaic from your broken bits, macramé from your tangled threads. We’ll wash the shame from your buried secrets, build fairy-tale castles from the dirt. You’ll leave with a suitcase of stories: to amuse; to surprise; to console.


Untitled by D. Avery

What’s a literary artist? Don’t ask me. I just play with words, sometimes puzzling something together for a challenge, sometimes puzzling something out for myself, piecing thoughts and impressions together.
If I were a musician, I might talk about beats, of finding a rhythm that leaves space for silence between the notes. If I were a painter, I might talk of perspective; of trying to capture a certain light; of presenting an image.
But I have no instrument, no brush, no paint. Words are the tools I wield to explore and expand my world, clumsily yet carefully. Just words.


Create With Words by Sue Spitulnik

The town fair invitation said all artists welcome. Come for the day with your wares, show off what you can do, teach by example, and leave others remembering your creativity.
The potter came with her wheel and clay. A carver came with a piece of wood. A painter arrived. A jewelry maker and leather tooler set up. They all had the specialty tools only they needed. There were others.
The literary artist brought a pen and notebook. She took notes while talking to each person as they worked. Later, with words, she described everything that had aroused her senses.


Stories From A Man Heart by HeyAisyah

“Congratulation, you won The Best Literary Artist Award again. What’s your secret in writing?”
“You just write it all from your heart. You know, all my life I’m known as a great writer who writes all these great war novels with amazing characters and stories, but the truth is I’m not a great writer. I’m just a man who survives the war but lost the battle. A man who’s missing his friends, family, and his lover that is already long gone from the war, and all these novels are written from my heart, of how much I miss them.”


Art For Art’s Sake by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking was considered to be cultured. Rene Sance created infeasible clouds and fat babies from recycled party balloons and out of date puff pastry; Pru Rafael-Light woke up regularly to smell the coffee only to be disappointed; Art Deco took peeks into the future; and the recently ennobled Sir Realism studied the ineffable infinity of melted camemberts and the impact of salivating cheese on the fecundity of granite. The most famous thought was Libby Rarian, the self proclaimed bookmeister who, after too much Jane Austen’s Old Peculiar took umbrage and painted the town read. Umbrage sued and won.


Literary Artist by Ann Edall-Robson

Literary, as in written words, and artist, as in expressing one’s self, might not be the Funk and Wagnalls version of a literary artist, but it’s my version. It describes who I am. A person who utilizes the imaginative brain cell department to the fullest in order to express in words some morsel of something, anything, I choose to write about.

It’s the ‘what if’ factor taking me down not one, but several roads as I explore what the possible conclusion of a story could be. It tells me I don’t have to have one ending, I have choices.


I Am a Literary Artist by Sadje

Being given the distinction of a literary artist is indeed an honor for me. Writing is something that came naturally to me and it’s a relatively new experience for me.

I’m a blogger, a writer, and a narrator of whatever is going through my mind, but I’m no artist. That term implies that a lot of creative effort is involved in my writing.

I cannot write tales after laying down a plot line, and neither can I create fiction that encompasses a book-length story.

But to be counted among these exalted wordsmiths, it would be a great honor indeed!


A Dream-Forged Artist by Nicole Horlings

The dream tender watches over the flock of ideas, guiding them from the field that they’ve just grazed in to the next lush pasture of inspiration, while making sure that the prowling predators of doubt see no opportunity to attack.

The wordsmith examines the sentence for imperfections, pushes it into the coals, then pulls it back out, red hot, and hammers in a simile that provides a smoother, sharper edge.

The literary artist steps back from the easel, contemplating the full composition, before darkening the shadow on the villain’s persona to contrast with the highlighting strokes describing the hero.


Literary Artist by Kriti

Have you ever thought
how powerful are words?
They can inspire
They can destroy
They can even make one happy and sad at the same time
These powerful words are the strength of this person
Whom we interestingly know as a literary artist
Art, literature, poetry
A literary artist is full of creativity
Being one does not need any degree
But a love towards literature
And not only those popular people
Like shakespeare or William Blake
But all those who love to craft with words are Literary artists
Even I am a literary artist
And proud to be one!


Dangerous Who? by Simon

The pen creates words.

It brings life to characters we create, like the charming one playing with kids.

It also creates characters you hate, while you enjoy the charming character, a group of characters cross by and slit his throat for no reason, just to create Chaos!

A childhood trauma to the kids witnessing the killing, creates characters of kids, a killer, a hero, a comedian, a depressed kid, a selfish, an anxious.

An empire to rise and fall with Philosophises to life.

Aren’t we powerful? The pen? The ink? The brain? And all of the above is dangerous!


Literary Artist by Jenny Logan

The fiction I write falls into two categories—inner dialogue and conversation between strangers in public. My preoccupation is relationships—information exchanged revealing something of the characters, often in the form of unsolicited advice.

In the last months, I have received unasked for advice such as, “Eat more liver,” “Don’t go to that Church,” “Support the bin strike,” all from men I have never spoken to before.

The world is apparently full of people queuing up to tell me what to do. I don’t disregard what they say offhand. I think about it first and then generally disregard it.


The Writer by C. E. Ayr

Three years ago I did a deal with the devil.
I got the darkness, insight and talent; he got my soul.
My first book, a gangland thriller, is a world-wide best-seller.
Translated into twenty-odd languages.
Mega-money movie offers.
Enormous advances on my next three books, already drafted.
So what has it cost me?
Well, my wife, who left me.
My kids, who hate me.
And, after the visit from those very nasty guys recently, the use of my legs.
They said I ‘grassed up’ their brother.
They excised my hands, and my tongue.
But I’m still a renowned writer.


Future Words by Hugh W. Roberts

By the time 2042 arrived, literary artists were rare.

They were the only ones with the power to write compelling stories that could alter reality.

The government had strict regulations on using this power, but there were always those who sought to abuse it.

I was one such person who discovered a way to use obsolete blogging skills to control the minds of others.

A team of elite agents was dispatched to stop me.

It was a battle of words and wills, but the power of creativity prevailed. I was captured and sentenced, and the world was safe again.


No Ezee Way Out (Part I) by D. Avery

“There ya are, Kid, up in the Poet Tree. Well, how ya doin with this week’s prompt?”
“Doin jist fine, Pal. Cuz I ain’t doin it. Writin, literary artin, whatever ya wanna call it, it’s too dang hard.”
“Then whut’re ya doin up in the Poet Tree? An in yer long-johns, no less?”
“Figger these long-johns is like them leotards circus folk wear when they perform acrobatics an other amazin stunts.”
“Uh-oh. Thet a swing?”
“Shorty’s called fer literary artists Kid, not trapeze artists. Stop monkeyin aroun and git ta writin.”
“No, Pal. I’m choosin a easier path.


No Ezee Way Out (Part II) by D. Avery

“Writers’ lives are hardest
I ain’t no literary artist
I want a life a ease
so I’ll leap onta the flyin trapeze
Some a ya might ‘member
a circus I started last December
got cancelled cuz a snow
now it’s time, another go
I’ll switch places with that stranger
who figgers circusin’s less danger
that stranger kin take my place, take a chance
an write with ya’ll here at Carrot Ranch”

“Ha! That’s the oddest tree, influencin yer artistry. Mebbe ya didn’t take the leap in time. Thet Poet Tree’s got ya stuck with rhyme.”

“But is it art?”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

A Smear of Jam Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Smear of Jam by Reena Saxena

It’s not a kiss, just a smear of jam
says the head of an unhappy fam
tears in eyes not wiped or noticed
the child moves to solitary confines

says the head of an unhappy fam
don’t spare the rod to spoil the child
the child moves to solitary confines
in her old age, she cries for the fam

don’t spare the rod to spoil the child
It’s not a kiss, just a smear of jam
in her old age, she cries for the fam
tears in eyes not wiped or noticed

It was love, not smear of jam


Nature’s Jam Smearer by Kayla Morrill

I sat watching a woodpecker. His red head and beak worked together to repeatedly hammer at an old tree in my backyard. I thought out loud to him, “Go peck another tree, I like that one!” He continued to eat his breakfast of bugs, unfazed by my words. I sighed and watched nature destroy my favorite tree.

Besides that, the day was nice. Sun out, clouds puffy as incessant hollow echoes moved through the air. Looking at the woodpecker again, I laughed. His head moved so swiftly that he looked like a smear of red jam on the bark.


Breakfast in Faerie by Joanne Fisher

Jess and Cindy went downstairs for breakfast. They saw many others sitting at the tables. Jess ordered some breakfast. A few moments later it was set down in front of them. Jess spread a thin smear of jam across some bread and took a bite. She then looked astonished.

“You have got to try this.” Jess insisted handing the bread to Cindy. She took a bite. It was as if she was eating the ripest and sweetest strawberries she had ever tasted.

“Wow!” Cindy stated. She knew any jam she now ate at home would never taste as good.


Disrupted Plans by Nicole Horlings

Arlo Proudfoot was not very happy.

He had been expecting to have a nice relaxing Saturday afternoon, reading poetry in his garden’s warm afternoon sun, enjoying soft freshly baked bread with a nice thick spread of jam for tea time.

Instead, he had been picked as one of five Hobbit delegates for the multi-race debates discussing recent local dragon activity, spent all day in a dour dwarven hall, and during a rushed, nearly forgotten break, had been given slightly stale toast for tea with only a stingy smear of jam.

If only the curious young dragons would bugger off.


High Tea* by Jenne49

‘Leave the jam alone.’

‘But Mummy, my bread needs jam.’

‘Don’t make me tell you again, John’

He thumps the dish down.

There’s an uneasy pause.

Then a sulky muttering.

‘Don’t see why I can’t put jam on my bread.’

His mother sighs.

‘You’re eating soup, that’s why. Nobody eats jam with soup.’

‘Why not?’

His two sisters snigger.

‘Well why can’t I…’

‘John, don’t push it…’

‘Leave the boy alone, Ellen.’

Everybody looks at Granpa who never speaks unless he has to.

‘The food all ends up in the same place anyway.’

Ronald smirks – and Mother retires, defeated.

*Author’s Note: High Tea – in Scotland the evening meal, generally eaten between 5 and 6 o’clock, is a combination of a hot dish with the elements of afternoon tea – best of both worlds.


All My By Self by Duane L Herrmann

“I did it all my by self,” my baby brother, four years old, proclaimed as he entered the garden behind the barn from the house. He proudly held bread in his hand. Our mother, myself and my sister were working in the garden.

Our mother investigated the bread he was holding. She opened the two slices. In the middle of them was a blob of peanut butter and, on top, a blob of jelly. He had, for the first time, made his own “samwich.”

“You certainly did,” she said as he beamed in pride. He was empowered.


A Smear of Jam by Norah Colvin

Teddy hoped he’d get away with it. His paws were clean and his eyes unblinking as he crossed his heart and hoped – well, what could a teddy bear hope?

Ollie decided to have some fun. He overloaded the slow-thinking Teddy with questions faster than his processing speed.

“Admit it. You ate my jam.”

“Okay.” Teddy crumbled. “How did you know?”

Ollie smiled. “I don’t need to be Sherlock. You’re the only one here. Besides, you’ve a smear of jam on your nose.”

“Sorry, Ollie.”

“Never mind,” said Ollie. “But be honest next time – or hide all evidence.” They laughed.


Band Jam by Pete Fanning

“Smearojam?” Dad asked, turning to me. “That’s the band’s name this week?”


“Hmm, okay.”

I glanced up from my phone. “What? What’s wrong with Smearojam?”

“Nothing. Well, we had Pearl Jam back in my day.”

“Pearl Jam?” I couldn’t tell if he was messing with me. “What does that even mean?”

Dad tapped the steering wheel. “I think it was an aunt, or—”

“Never mind. I knew you wouldn’t get it.”

“Oh, I get it,” he said, pulling into Ben’s driveway. “Pearl Jam was huge.”

“Ugh. Okay, thanks for the ride.”

“Have a good band practice, kid.”


A Smear of Jam by Susan Budig

“I’m not lying. I haven’t touched your precious concoction.”

I stared at my new teenager, incredulous. Does she think I’m stupid?

“You want me to believe you were not in the kitchen all morning and you did not swipe a taste of my submission to the State Fair Culinary Arts Exhibit?”

“Exactly. I was not and I did not.”

“Neshia, you are a bald faced liar,” I can’t help myself as my voice crescendos.

“Whatever,” my daughter rolls her eyes skyward. “You never believe me anyway,” she shoots out like venom.

“Go. Go and look in the mirror, kid.”


Jammy by sweeterthannothing

“Shh, stop giggling he’ll hear you!” Samantha hissed from behind the hand clamped over her beaming grin. 

“I can’t, I can’t stop picturing his face. Is it on display enough?”

The two girls dared a peek around the tree they were crouched behind but the sound of a twig snapping sent them scuttling back, muffling their giggles. 

In the glen of the woods, where the three siblings had built their secret base, James came to a sudden stop, his scream shattered the peace. 

“Is that a body?…”

The girls burst into fits. “It’s a dummy, dummy- covered in jam!”


Pots And Kettles Geoff Le Pard

Middle England is often stereotyped as genteel. The stereotypers have clearly not studied the competitions between rival Women’s Institutes. The bloodiest so far recorded are the Scone Wars between Little Tittweaking and its neighbour, Dollop.This year it was Dollop’s turn to set the challenge: a marmalade infused riparian rusk. The scandal that followed jammed the airways: was a rusk a scone? Dollop said of course it was, accusing their rivals of being jammy dodgers. Little Tittweaking said it had been smeared and it would wipe the floor. It was clear neither side was prepared to take the biscuit.


If Not Jam Then…by Gary Wilson

Orson was enjoying the sunroom warmth when his nurse came in. “Good morning, sir. I have your muffin and tea.”

“Thank you, Peggy. What do we have?”

She whispered like she was delivering a secret treasure. “One of your favorites; cornmeal smeared with elderberry jam.”

He forced a smile. She had again forgotten that covid had stolen his sense of taste.

“Anything else sir?”

“Yes, please bring the aloe for the dry patches on my face.”

“Certainly. I’ll be right back.”

I can’t taste jam, he thought, but my skin can still taste the cool, refreshing nectar of aloe.


Dirty Neckties by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa stood looking at the memorial necktie quilt and wondered why the creator had not tried to clean the neckties. When she read the explanation card it said, “These ties were bought all over the world, where ever we traveled for golf tournaments. I purposely did not try to remove the stains as they reminded me of the meals we had in each location. The light blue paisley tie with the red jam smear stain was the one my husband wore at our son’s wedding. The jam smear was compliments of our granddaughter. It was his favorite dirty necktie.”


Hunger by D. Avery

There was, at least, the familiar comfort of waking in his arms.

Always they had lingered before rising, talking quietly, sharing their dreams. ‘Night dreams or daydreams’ she used to respond. Their daydreams were their shared aspirations. Wanting to do well in their careers; buying a home; having children; growing old together.

But now?

“Tell me your dreams,” he said softly.

“We should get going.”

“Just one thing.”

“Okay. Night dream. There was bread. With jam.”


She left out how she’d gobbled all the bread without sharing.

They gathered their few belongings. She never dreamed they’d be refugees.


The Final Straw by Anne Goodwin

Grace glares at the digits on the dashboard, willing them to turn in reverse. As sweat trickles down her spine she regrets not fixing the aircon; she regrets her leisurely breakfast and second slice of toast. She won’t open the windows: blaring horns and thumping pop have already rocketed her pulse.

Checking her make-up in the rear-view mirror, there’s a smear of jam below the collar of her shirt. Dabbing it with the last of her drinking water simply spreads the stain around.

It’s hopeless! Grace kills the engine, gets out, starts walking. Abandons the car to the jam.


Out of a Jam by Kerry E.B. Black

It started with a smear of jam atop a buttered crumpet, jam so red it rivaled fresh-spilled blood. It fascinated Paul as it settled into the nooks and crannies of the muffin.

Snow White’s mother used drops of blood spilled on fresh snow and a raven’s wing as inspiration for her unborn daughter’s beauty. Paul intended international audiences for his babies’ births.

Paul licked his lips, admiring globs that clung like clots. He conjured zombies and gunshot wounds, a madman’s rampage and a demon’s delights. He’d perfect his recipe for artificial blood before they began their first filming project.


A Smear by writerravenclaw

It looked like a smear of her grandmother’s jam, as she stared at the blood glistening in the moonlight.
Early to the full bloodletting, it was an unexpected find. He shouldn’t have been on the moors at that time of night anyway. Who would be fool enough? With a werewolf on the loose no less.
It was my first roaming, or so they called it. Normally, a stray, injured animal, who ventured out after midnight. This man, as he dragged his victim into the marsh.
A murderer deserved all he got, I thought, as I gently covered her face.


Thoughts and Prayers, Only Words by Miss Judy

Awoke this morning to reports of another mass shooting. This time an American university. Three students dead, five injured, shooter dead. Thoughts and prayers. Senseless bloodshed that has become all too familiar in today’s American culture. Calls for reform are drowned out by the gun advocates and lobbyists that empower political systems to relax gun laws rather than constrain. Whether it is a random shooting or a mass shooting, it is a proven fact gun violence in America is on the rise. Americans are growing desensitized, even accepting perhaps. Senseless bloodshed, as a smear of jam on American faces.


All It Took by Hugh W. Roberts

ChatGPT recommended the jam and put it on her shopping list.

Two days later, she spread a smear of the sticky jam on her toast and took little notice of the tiny handprint on the side of the jar.

Spitting out the toast’s remains, she drank a glass of water to eliminate the awful taste of the jam.

Moments later, she felt a strange sensation in her mouth, looked down and saw something moving in the jam.

In the instant before she craved human flesh, she knew the smear on the jar wasn’t a handprint; it was a warning.


Catching Up by Colleen M. Chesebro

After the optimism spell ritual, Hilda stayed behind to wash the dishes and clean up Coven Hall. It gave her more time to think.

She knew her spell had helped the human because the heaviness in her heart disappeared. This was a good feeling.

Hilda brewed a cup of mint tea. Famished, she smeared a bit of jam on a piece of bread. She sat down to write a love letter to nature, specifically Mother Nature.

Dear Mother Goddess… she wrote.

I’m sorry I ignored your warning and got Covidwitchitus. I promise to keep my immunizations current.

Love, Hilda


A Smear of Jam by Elizabeth

A smear of jam on my white shirt, the school uniform I always complained about.

A smear of jam on my white shirt, the school uniform I always complained about.

Now, after many years, better to say, many decades, I miss that time. I miss the lightness portrayed in my memories when the worries were the exams and friendships.

The breakfast and lunch were always ready before and after school, as well as delicious snacks to take with me. Peanut butter and jam were savoured in hurry between laughs and books.

The smear of jam on my white shirt was inevitable.

No worries, the shirt would be washed as soon as I got home.


Tree Treat by JulesPaige

I attempted Mulberry (kind of like long blackberries) jam after weeks of harvesting enough to boil down with some sugar. I played with a basic recipe. Basically any berry, especially those that are mostly water, just get cooked until what’s in the pot thickens.

I got what berries I could reach – though I think the birds got the majority of the berries. And just to be kind to my mother-in-law who had dentures, I strained those tiny seeds out of one batch. Probably less than an ounce – but it was enough to make her smile and that was good.


Breakfast by C. E. Ayr

I barge into the kitchen, still fumbling with my tie.
Mora, my wife, is feeding the baby, and our other two are torturing cereal in bowls.
At my place sits coffee, orange juice and toast.
Where’s the jam, I demand.
Open wide, sweetheart, says Mora, the spoon hovering before a closed mouth.
Where’s the jam?
Eat your cereal, chicks, or you’ll be late for school.
I glower around, but no-one notices.
I thrust my chair back noisily, grab my briefcase.
I’m off, I bawl.
In the cupboard where it always is, says Mora.
She looks up, smiles.
Bye, honey.


Jam-Bull I’m a Liar -Or, More to the Point, Why I Didn’t Pick Blackberries Last Summer by Bill Engleson

‘Happy Valentines Day, darling’

‘You too, sweetie. Want some pancakes?’

‘I so love our February 14th ritual. Of course I want your pancakes. We don’t have any blackberry jam, do we? That’s such a big part.’

‘No, didn’t make any last year. None got picked last summer.’

‘Shoulda got off my duff and picked them.’

‘That would have been an idea.’

‘Yeah. An idea. They were just down the trail. A few footsteps away. Thousands of them.’

‘I know. Millions. They grow in such abundance.’

‘Thick and juicy.’

‘Shame they didn’t get picked.’

‘So, store-bought jam?’

‘Afraid so, lover.’


Strawberry Smash-up by Kate Spencer

Claire’s red Audi TT screeched to a halt just as the ambulance pulled away. She rushed into her sister’s house.

“What happened to Dad?”

Ellie waved her into the kitchen.

“He saw Maggie biking her trailer full of strawberries toward town and chased her on his scooter.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Claims he loves her.”


“But there he was, racing along, calling her name when he smacked into her cart, fell hard onto the toppled berries, and smeared his lovelusted ego.”

Claire smiled… “He’s quite fond of the jams she makes. Perhaps he wanted to order some.”


Memories by Charli Mills

A smear of jam, and Dot is three-years old again, licking the wall where she’d bumped her PBJ, her mom howling with laughter. A first memory? A false memory?

A scent of jam, and Dot is dressed for First Communion, running down 4th Street, outpacing her mom just to watch her new skirt flounce like chickadee wings. A strong memory.

A smear of jam across her mother’s cheek, and present-day Dot winces at the fragility of the golden olden years. Carefully blotting a wet napkin, memories snap like the whip of broken film.

In a breath, last memory comes.


Love in a Jar by Margaret G. Hanna

First breakfast on my own. First breakfast without her.

Tea kettle’s boiled so I pour the water into the old brown betty pot. How many cups of tea has it steeped over forty years?

How many cups of tea has she steeped?

Eggs and bacon for breakfast. That was her job, gathering the eggs, packing them to send to the creamery. I’ll have to do that now.

I sit at the table and reach for the jam. Strawberry jam. Jam that she put up this summer even though she was dying. I spread it across my toast.

Tears fall.


Making Jam at Home by Sadje

My grandmother was an accomplished cook. She would cook delicious food daily, but what I remember most about her was the preserves, pickles, and jams she used to make with seasonal fruits.

Orange marmalade, apple jam, plum jelly, and guava jam were her specialties. I’d often stand with her when she was making the jams. she’d show me how to test for the readiness of the mixture.

“Put a smear of the jam on a plate and drag your finger through it. If the two parts remain separate, your jam is ready to be bottled”!

I do miss her!


Follow 15 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Jack and Jill arrived, taking turns carrying the yoke and buckets. The castle’s drawbridge stood open, and rosy-fingered dawn turned to apricot. They heard dishes clanking, steam hissing then quieting. The two peeked around the main gate.

A long table was set in the courtyard with a white tablecloth, silver teapot and serving bowls. Flowered porcelain cups floated in their saucers. An aproned woman bent over a fragrant, butter-oozing waffle iron.

“They’re here!” squeaked a dormouse from the sugar bowl.

The woman looked up and smiled, a smear of jam on one cheek. “Welcome! I’m afraid we’ve already started!”


Two Heels by Ann Edall-Robson

The squabbling would soon begin. All in good fun, but the aroma of bread baking wafting through the house, was the instigator.

“It’s my turn!”

“No, it’s not! You got the heel last time.”

Reminiscent of conversations that had been passed down from generation to generation, the sound of her grandchildren’s words made her laugh.

It was as if they had forgotten that each loaf came with two ends, and therefore had two heels, which resulted in each child receiving the homemade treat of thick sliced warm bread slathered with butter and a smearing of homemade sour cherry jam.


Testy Times by D. Avery

“Dang! Kid, you an thet hog et all the jam!”

“Don’t git so testy bout yer toast, Pal. Shush, cain’t ya see Curly’s sleepin? Look’t her eyelashes flutter an her legs twitchin. Reckon she’s rememberin flyin in Pepe’s hot air balloon?”

“These days thet could be a nightmare. Dang it. My dream was toast fer breakfast. With jam. Shift, there’s some, smeared on yer shirt. Whyn’t ya clean yersef up?”

“Cuz the washtub’s got turned inta a base fiddle fer the band. Asides, this stain looks like Curly. I aim ta keep it.”

“I’ll aim fer it too.”



Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Love Letters to Nature Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

From 1928-1930s Lectures by Carl Jung

“Whenever we touch nature
(fingers in soil) we get clean.
People who have got dirty
through too much civilization
take a walk in the woods,
or a bath in the Sea (Gichigami).
They shake off the fetters
and allow nature to touch
them (rain on skin).
It can be done within or
Walking in the woods
or lying on the grass,
taking a bath in the sea,
are from the outside;
entering the unconscious,
entering yourself through
dreams is touching nature
from the inside and this is
the same thing,
and things are put right
again (dream medicine).”

NOTE: words in parentheses were added to make Jung’s quote 99 words.


Stopped by D. Avery

Just an owl, but I stopped, my eye already caught by snow on branches.

I stopped to see this owl see me, watched it watch and listen from this tree.

I too swiveled my head, looked out at the snow crusted field with the owl.

How I wanted to hear what it heard, to see what it saw from that tree.

All I could see was a gray woolen sky, these snow cloaked trees, and this owl.

Darkening gray of this time of day, I’m homeward bound, my work day done.

But I stopped, to see another just begun.


Letter From Mause by Mause’s Human (Charli Mills)

Dear Nature,

I EAT your leaves! Chomp, chomp, chomp! Fun time is leaf time. You make super crunchy leaves to fly like robins (my humans won’t let me eat robins). Leaves fly gee and leaves fly haw. I zip, I push my paws into the earth and spring like a robin with no wings, I open my maw wide, my tongue flattens, my teeth touch the cold air, I snap! The leaf flutters away. That’s the game. I can spring and snap all day. Nature, you are so cool to make life fun. I EAT your leaves!




A Letter to Nature by Norah Colvin

Why is the sky blue and the grass green?
Why do bees buzz and dogs bark?
How do birds fly and fish swim?
How does an apple grow?
Where do butterflies sleep?
Why does the earth quake and volcanos spew?
Why do storms rage and rivers flood?
Dad says I ask too many questions. Mum says it’s our nature to explore, discover and create, to solve problems, find new ways of doing things, and heal hurts.
But people also use their imaginations to create even more destructive ways to harm each other. Why? Is your nature our nature too?


Dear Nat by Bill Engleson

U’re on my mind of late. I wander in the primordial woods, see myself as I once was, arms aflutter, scampering through the glades, slipping, sliding in the wet grass, hanging from limbs.

I see you more clearly than I ever thought I would, Nat. You were there for me, each escape out the back window, away from the screaming, the sorrow.

We talked. I talked. The anguish flew from me and landed in the darkness, the giant Redwoods of you.

You saw me through it, most of it.

Time was my companion, my rescuer.

I’ll always be thankful.


Love Letter by Ann Edall-Robson

I woke up this morning smiling. You do that to me in so many ways. The memory of your tender touch when the sun strokes my cheek. The lingering kiss on my lips as the wind dances through the leaves. I feel you nearby each time the window is opened, filling me with your scent. You always welcome me with open arms each time we meet. You never disappoint me. You are the gift I cherish each day, thankful you are in my life. You penetrate my soul, you make me whole. Our connection is one people don’t understand.


If You Could Be Here by Joanne Fisher

it’s always easy to wish
we hadn’t gone separate ways

often I dream you are with me
everyday I write a letter in my head

you would have loved it here:
the perfect stillness in the heat

fields of wheat looking like
a Van Gogh painting

lazily swaying in the breeze
the line of mountains on the

horizon leading to forever,
though sometimes I wish

we had wolves so I could
join them howling in the dark,

my letters to you always
ramble, never reaching an end

as I am always truly dazzled
by the beauty of this world


The Maple Tree Speaks by Sue Spitulnik

I love you, Mother Nature, for you nurture me. You give me sunshine and enough raindrops so I can thrive. I happily talk to my family via an underground synapses system. My bare branches grow leaves in the spring so birds, bugs, and critters can make homes in me, and I can shade the humans who sit on the ground under me. My life cycle allows my green leaves to turn beautiful colors and float to the ground when the summer air chills. I can even withstand the storms of winter. I wish you could protect me from chainsaws.


Speak to Us, Threaten by Reena Saxena

I grew up in an era when television screens received inputs from metal antennae planted on terraces. Watching the sun entangled between bars saddened the child in me.

I was taught at home not to catch butterflies and cause them pain, but dissecting a frog in the lab was forgivable.

Dear Nature, your silence has led to ever-widening rifts between ambitious humans and other not-so-vocal parts of the universe. Hiding in forests or expressing rage through uncontrollable fires won’t help.

Speak to us; help us decode your constitution.

Clarify that humans will pay a price for transgression of boundaries.


From The Ground Up by Geoff Le Pard

Pru Nings, Little Tittweaking’s self-appointed head gardener had a problem. The beds and borders she tended were devoid of nutrients, defeating her attempts to introduce colour to the inherently dull and horribly mistitled village ‘green’. She needed some compost. She’d tried pleading letters to local worthies and love letters to Mother Nature (though Ma Nat’s people fobbed her off that it was her time with the kids). She’d despaired, until meeting Reverend Walter Piece. His churchyard was full so perhaps they might trial terramation*. She agreed and using her unorthodox herbs she soon accumulated a suitable body of evidence.

*terramation, for those unsure is the practice of composting humans


About Blooming Time by Kerry E.B. Black

She turned the glossy paper pages, eyes dilated with desire, pen at the ready. With artful swishes, she designed – height for drama, longevity of color, spritely little underplantings for surprise, and childhood favorites for whimsy. Beyond the frost-coated glass, snow blanketed the intended ground. Imagination transformed the landscape. She dogeared pages of the plant catalogs, marked items with numbers charted in her design. With wistful sighs, she plotted and planned. Orders placed and delivered, ground tilled and seedlings planted. Sweat watered the soil until her vision came to a glorious symphony of fragrance, her own love letter to nature.


Garden Devotional by JulesPaige

Large enough for my plot of land. Mine, though nature owns every blade of grass and fallen leaf. Nature gives and takes what is offered by myself and the critters that pass through. The old willow with hollow limbs – home to who knows what, still sways and buds, I planted her. The reed grass has vanished because the cottonwoods gifted by the squirrels took up the sun.

Silver Maples, and various pines are caressed by seasonal winds. Sometimes gently, other times harsher and weighted with heavy snow. This nature inspires as it awes, reminding me that every breath loves.


Compelling Beauty by Nicole Horlings

I was supposed to go straight home after work since I had a friend coming over for supper. I was already running late since I had stopped by the grocery store to grab a few ingredients.

But when I saw the sunset glinting off of the half frozen water in the creek, alluring beauty that deserved proper appreciation, even though I told myself I had plenty of pictures of that creek from past years, I still pulled over and ran back to snap a few pictures.

My friend laughed and waved as she drove past me to my house.


Spring Party by Elizabeth

in that one moment
when snow turns into rain
the trees smile
Nature gets ready for the Spring party
flowers, birds songs, lots of sunshine
i feel lightness in the air

after the harsh winter
rain feeds the soil and the roots
Earth fragrance is wonderful
the sun wakes up earlier and goes to sleep later
bicycles and skates are everywhere
garden preparations must start
flowers and vegetable beds

it’s time for renewing
both soul and body
in that one moment
when snow turns into rain
thank you, Nature, for the opportunity
to start over and enjoy your gifts


Dear Mother by Sadje

Dear Mother Nature,

I know you aren’t happy with your children, yet you’ve never abandoned us. Every year the flowers bloom and the trees wear fresh green foliage. The birds chirp with joy at every new sunrise.

Despite our actions, you keep on providing clean water from the skies in rainfall and your trees filter out the harmful gases to make the air breathable for all 8 billion-plus souls living here.

I know that humans are very selfish and not caring enough, but please bear with us for I’m hopeful that the new generation will make things better, hopefully!🤞🏼


Natural Ways by Hugh W. Roberts

Written in blood, the script of the love letter was unsteady.

Addressed to ‘Nature, my one true love,’ the writer spoke of a deep, abiding affection, a need to be near the earth and its creatures.

As the police read on, chills ran down their spines. The writer spoke of desires to be one with nature, to shed their human skin and live as wild things do. It was clear the author was unstable. The authorities feared the worst.

Searching the woods, they found a campsite, abandoned but for a single, chilling clue: a neatly arranged pile of bones.


A Resolution by Margaret G. Hanna

I cannot write a love letter to Nature because I have seen Nature
at its best and at its worst,
at its kindest and at its cruelest,
at its most beautiful and at its ugliest.
Romanticize, anthropomorphize, eulogize all you want,
it does not change Nature
for we are nothing to it.
We can only change ourselves.
Our ancestors understood that Nature’s forces were beyond their control.
They lived humbly within it.
Farmers, ranchers, fishermen, all who live on the edge understand this.
They live humbly within it.
I understand this, and so I propose
to live humbly, too.


Love Letter to Nature by Jenny Logan

It’s late winter soon and signs abound that it’s the beginning of the end.
Snowdrops and daffodils are appearing. Foxes are returning to town and the first kingfisher of the year was sighted just a couple of days ago. I praise God.

His Spirit first, then His Word. It was as He said. He named it, saw it and it was good.
There is always beauty somewhere in everything. Seeing it is a choice. A nuclear power station or a pretty building by the sea that looks like a wedding cake?

Jellyfish freak me out, but I paint them.


Gretta Has Had Enough by Charli Mills

The wooden chair creaks when Gretta sits. She brushes crumbs off the Formica table and kicks the snow boots off each foot. Her soggy socks feel as limp as her arms. Tomorrow morning she’ll have to duct tape the cracks in her old Sorrels. Tonight, she’ll line-dry her socks. But first – the correspondence. Gretta’s therapist advised her to express her bottled emotions in a letter. Well, she has lots to express, and this son of a horse’s rump is going to get an inkful of her mind.

She begins, Dear Nature, Enough with the godforsaken snowpocalypse you fickle cow-killer!


Summer Days by Jaye Marie

So long since last you were here.
The memory of warm summer days
grow dim as our patience thins.
brave new shoots compete with bitter frosts.
cruelly bitten for their haste
their dreams are on hold, ours yet to be born.
Mother Nature sleeps on
Her time will come when the warmth.
Of the sun reaches down into the soil
Visions of rainbow hues
Hold back the silver ice.
Its days are numbered.
Packets of seeds promise the moon.
Fingers itch to ready the pots.
And dream of glory’s fragrance
Days of sunshine fill our days.
With sweet expectation…


My Date with Mr Hare by Anne Goodwin

He couldn’t promise me a day, an hour or even that he did show at all. He wouldn’t commit to candles or fancy tableware. He didn’t go for gourmet food. He was vague about the venue too; I’d have to tramp across the heather, peer across the moorland for a flash of white. I’d take my chance: Valentine’s was the best time to find him, when the air smelt of spring but the calendar said winter and he still wore his snowy furs. But my heart would leap to spot him bounding towards me. Lepus timidus, my mountain hare.


A 99 Word Poem by sweeterthannothing

The world darkens
a fog rolls in
clouds gather
With a howling wind


Rain splatters
Blue lightning strikes
Run for cover
Keep out of sight


Selfish humans pout
Sports games cancelled
Plans are ruined
Our prayers unanswered

Dry earth welcomes
Life giving flood
Nature celebrates
Dirt turns to mud


Watering holes refilled
Rivers start flowing
Parched animals delight
Lakes expanding


Dawn breaks bright
A fresh beginning
Humans reammerge
Birds are singing


We need both
Dark and light
Rain and sun
Day and night


Thank you nature
Your efforts so valiant
We owe our lives
To keeping this balance


Thank You, Mother Nature! by Miss Judy

Dear Mother,

Thank you for bringing beautiful warm sunshine today. The splash of rain will nourish the plants and flowers awakening from the frosty days of winter. The blossoms on my Camellia are particularly gorgeous.

The birds are returning to our feeders, and the bird bath has been exceptionally popular with finches and blue birds. Surprisingly no robins or cardinals; it’s too early for tiny hummingbirds, they have so far to travel.

I apologize for my poor stewardship; I am not worthy of your goodness. Please accept my sincerest apologies and promises for the future.

 Yours ever,

Suzy Earthling


I Sing the Body Submerged by Charli Mills

I sing the body submerged. Of times floating in sun-warmed lakes when mink-like, I’ve slipped my moorings into the depths where gravity cannot touch me. Of times bobbing in beach waves, my knees cradled in sand fragments of mountains so old they never knew the footfalls of hikers. Of times soaking in stinking hot water spewed from geothermal features I don’t understand but my body aches to absorb. Of tea the perfect temperature in a cup that conforms to my hands and each sip becomes a liquefication of my soul. I am water, I am woman, I am whole.


Natural Empathy by C E Ayr

the day gives up her brightness
the sleepy sun smiles behind the hill
the tree shows off his profile
but the north wind decides to chill

the brisk waves are teased by gull wings
as they dance towards the lazy shore
and pebbles play their music
they rock n roll for evermore

the headland reaches out to restless sea
as though to stretch his muscles
a dry leaf tumbles through a gap
whispers and gently rustles

the rosy dusk now paints the sky
in the colour of my heart
pink and purple turn to black
now forever we’re apart


How? by D. Avery

“How do I love thee, let me count the ways…”

“Whoa, Kid. Who’s Zee?”

“Not Zee, Pal. Thee. As in thou? Ye olde you?”

“Me?! An who ya callin old?”

“Shush Pal. Ain’t talkin bout ye at all. Tryin ta write a love letter ta nature.”


“Cuz Shorty says ta. It’s the prompt.”

“Yer writin. A letter. Ta Nature. Cuz Shorty says.”

“Natcherlly. But I’m findin this a tough prompt.”

“Natcherlly. Try this:

Dear Nature, I cain’t live without you.”

“That’s good.

Pal? How is it folks kin hurt the ones they love?

Nature, kin ya forgive us?”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

The Dishes Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

The Dishes by Sadje

We all have different approaches when it comes to doing the dishes. I like to wash them as they are dirtied, a piled up kitchen sink is not acceptable.

My eldest daughter uses the dishwasher, rinsing them when she has enough for a load and then running it. She says it conserves water and time.

My youngest loves washing dishes by hand. She says it relaxes her and she’d insist on doing them whenever she gets the chance!

The rest of the family, like my husband or grandson, are still under the tutelage on how to wash the dishes!


Grease Trap by Sarah Whiley

The grease was thick and clung like blooms of algae atop the water. The plates and utensils blurred watercolours; my hands blindly hunting for them below the surface.

The roast had been delicious but I wished Barney hadn’t thrown the pans in with the dishes.

I drummed my fingers on the bench top as I thought. I walked to the pantry to grab some paper towel, hoping to spread the slimy load. But as I turned around I saw he was already pulling the plug!

“Barns, no!” I wailed.

Peacefully, the water flooded as the grease clogged the pipes.


Seeing Straight by D. Avery

Me and Aunt Helen picked up takeout while Daddy walked to the package store, then we set the little table in our new apartment with those fancy dishes. We shared lo mein out of a dish Helen called a tureen and we all drank out of tea cups with saucers.

Katie called and Daddy told us that Katie said dirtying dishes missed the point of takeout. Helen laughed and said that was the point. She laughed even more when Daddy said Katie said he was blurring his words.

“Splained it’s a family celebration of clean slates and dirty dishes.”


This Boot Is Made For Walking by Ilene Higginbottom

Once upon a time that pesky little Cupid kept buzzing around like a deerfly until finally it bit the reluctant one-legged cowgirl princess.

Every day her cowboy cooed and wooed, brought her roses and stuff like that until they finally shacked up together.

Because of that he got complacent. There was no wooing and less cooing and he didn’t help with the dishes. She noticed the last rose forgotten in the vase, all thorny stem, its bloom blackened and brittle. She noticed that Cupid’s sting was beginning to fester and itch.

Finally, she pulled on her boot and walked.


Breaking Tradition by D. Avery

“House warming gift,” Aunt Helen said. Daddy lifted paper from the box.

“You said you could use some dishes.”

“Momma’s China set! We were never allowed to touch these. I don’t think they ever got used.”

“Not even at Christmas.”

“What am I supposed to do with these?”

“Use them!”

“What if they break?”

“What if?” And Aunt Helen raised a plate over her head and smashed it down on the floor! “I’m not going to be stuck with these dishes.” She let me break one too.

“Every day,” she said, looking right at me, “Is to be celebrated.”


Memories by Margaret G. Hanna

“What ya’ doing?

“Packing up Grandma’s stuff. Like this everyday china.”

“You givin’ it to the thrift store?”

“I don’t know what else to do with it. Do you want it?”

“Why would I want those plates?”

“They were Grandma’s, that’s why!”

“But they’re crazed and stained. The cups are chipped.”

“Remember her fried chicken? It was s-o-o good.”

“Yah, and her meat pies. The best.”

“She gave me my first milky tea in one of those cups.”

“Yah, and that’s why it’s chipped.

A pause.

“Okay, I’ll take one plate, but just to remember Grandma.”

“Yah, me, too.”


A History Lesson in Dishes by Miss Judy

“Mom, why do you display those dishes? It’s embarrassing.”

“Those dishes are our family history. When your Irish ancestors immigrated to America in 1890, they left all behind for a better life. Fleeing famine, taxes and religious persecution, they and hundreds of others spent weeks huddled on the ship’s floors sharing food and water.”

“Your ancestors brought these dishes wrapped within their clothes. The chips and crakes happened during that journey. They are a reminder of the hardships endured for freedom.”

“You shouldn’t be embarrassed, but proud and thankful for all you have because of their determination and perseverance.”


Michael Treats the Dishwashers by Sue Spitulnik

In the special occasion restaurant, one server said to the other, “Any idea who the party is on table ten? Every time I take something to the table, one of the older ladies comments how many dishes she had to wash to enjoy it; and everybody laughs.”

The dishwasher, being a veteran, overheard and went to look. The next time he saw the servers, he said, “The younger man on ten is the band leader at the No Thanks. He treats his bandmates’ parents to Valentine’s dinner for doing the dishes during the bar’s annual veterans-only Thanksgiving eve meal.”


Calamity by Kate Spencer

The emergency room door slid open and in ran Doris, her arms flailing about.

“Aaaaah! Come quickly. A terrible thing. Ralph fell down.”

Grabbing a gurney, the triage nurse and orderly rushed out the door, followed by Doris.

There they found the old codger sitting on a bench with an ice packed ankle.

“What happened?” the nurse asked.

“I tell you, it was an awful thing,” began Doris. “He fell off the roof.”

“What was he doing up there?”

“Giving the old satellite dish a kick.”

The nurse stared at Ralph.

“The picture died and the Yankees were losing.”


The Garden Party by Norah Colvin

Ellie observed that the table looked delightful. Ollie said he’d never used such fine chinaware before. Teddy commented that the fairy cakes were scrumptious and iced tea was perfect for a warm day. Everyone agreed. Amy and Lucy beamed.

Afterwards, the guests offered to help with the dishes.

“No way,” said Amy. “You’re our guests.”

“We insist,” said Ellie. Swiping swiftly with her trunk, she launched the plates likes frisbees. Ollie deftly caught them and stacked them by the sink. Teddy frothed the soap suds and washed while Lucy dried.

“Many hands,” said Amy, putting cups and plates away.


Follow 10 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Jill, pristine tights now soggy, shivered, wriggling them off while sitting, afraid to stand and tip the shoe-boat. Jack cleared his throat and looked away.

“What?” she growled. “You’ve seen me in shorts before, at Track Regional Finals. And I am wearing undies, so just chill.”

“TMI, Jill,” Jack muttered, cheeks blazing hot.

It was her turn to blush.

The stream slowed, widening. They watched the water in silence. Ants floated on sturdy leaves. Helmeted kittens sailed a tiny Viking ship. An Owl and Pussy Cat rocked blissfully. And along the riverbank, a dish ran away with a spoon.


Fish in the Dish by Marge Small

One time a highly successful and skillful fisherwoman found herself in Florida, of all places. Every day she wanted to go fishing but what passed for creeks looked like ditches and were lined with alligators and snakes, not to mention snarly, snaggly brambles. Fishing was challenging until she switched her rod and reel for a small bow and arrow. Because of that alligators stopped chasing her bait and it was easier to maneuver. Her tall boots protected her from snakes and thorns. Finally, she’d found a way to put fish in the dish, but couldn’t wait to go home.


Fully Baked by Nicole Horlings

She kept her opinion inside the oven of her mouth, allowing it to finish cooking while the debate on either side of her continued to heat up. Both of their arguments followed old traditional recipes, the strong flavours clashing and unable to meld. She picked out the ingredients that she felt could be mixed together with the correct emulsifier of context, then mentally prepared a garnish of nuance to sprinkle on top. Once her opinion was properly set, she set the dish on the table, then let it rest, allowing the juices to redistribute as both sides reconsidered things.


Retirement by Reena Saxena

“I ordered baklava today, but it does not live up to my mom’s cooking”, coos her daughter on the phone while ordering dinner online.

Her husband senses her disappointment.

“Let them live their own lives. You did your best.”

She used to gloat in compliments after guests enjoyed her lavish dinners, and erroneously built her identity around it. She is still appreciated, but not needed.

The importance of the right dish in presenting a culinary masterpiece cannot be overemphasized.

As they dine alone in mellow candlelight, she wonders if she has turned into a dish from a sumptuous meal.


All the Little Moments by Heather Gonzalez

Martha inhaled her last breath. Within the seconds it took to exhale, she saw her life before her eyes. She saw her mother’s smile as she sipped from a coffee cup, her father hugging her while she washed the dishes after supper, her husband throwing a plate at their wedding, her daughter dropping her cup of juice on the floor, and the day she was diagnosed with cancer and threw her coffee mug against the wall. When her body had finally given up the battle, Martha felt warm water on her hands and her father’s embrace. She was home.


Apron Strings by Bill Engleson

I could never resist pulling them. Her apron strings. She would stand at the sink, innocently doing dishes, the ones I was supposed to do until she saw how unhappy chores made me. Instead of insisting that I learn some basic kitchen skills, she’d smile, say something like, “I’ll do them, sonny boy,” and that would be that.

Except I never left it at that.

From my earliest years, the strings of her apron dangled invitingly, and I would always come up behind her and pull them.

A thousand times at least.

Each time, a pure act of love.


Broken by Elizabeth

a broken dish
mended with gold
the scar is precious
it tells time and has a story
shouldn’t be erased, discarded
travelling to countries, continents
rough oceans, calm skies
it reveals a path taken, chosen
to reach the eventful moment
a split second of sorrow
when the past can’t be redone
however, the future is a choice
the trash bin or the shining on the shelf
a decision must be made
the fragility in the hands of the doer
a smile, a memory of celebration
a lump in my throat, a memory of an empty dish
mended with gold


On This Day by Gloria McBreen

Lily pulled on her warmest woolly jumper and stepped into her oversized wellingtons. She always liked her wellies a size bigger, so that she could wear two pairs of her dad’s socks to keep her toes nice and warm.
She trudged through the marshy field to where the thickest rushes grew. With her small scissors she snipped sixteen long rushes. She sat on a tuft of grass and weaved them together to make a St Bridget’s cross.
Her belly rumbled. Her mam always made one of Lily’s favourite dishes on St Brigid’s Day; colcannon. Lily made her way home.


Shadow Woman by Kelly S.

The sound of scrubbing dishes. After that, a broom across an old tile floor. An entire day of work and not a single word of thanks. Washed clothes, folded nicely, and placed gently on the bed. As a child, she had a brother. He was taught to grow out. She was taught to shrink in. As his light was nurtured until it burned as bright as Hollywood, her was dimmed until it became nothing more than a shadow. She met a man who would treat her the same as her father. She would raise a daughter. Another shadow woman.


Smithereens by C. E. Ayr

Guess who?
The soapy plate slips from my fingers.
She looks older, exhausted.
She is wearing a man’s coat and work-boots.
I need clothes and money, she says, heading for our bedroom.
The coat falls, and she’s naked.
She’s small, skinny now, brutally bruised.
They let you go?
She scowls scornfully.
Did you hurt anyone?
Only when deserved…
She dresses quickly, in dark, practical clothes.
Quaking with fear, I give her all the money I have.
She punches me in the mouth, hard.
Payback, she says, or an alibi.
I-I didn’t …
But she’s gone.
Back to the Resistance.


Do Vampires Really Need Dishes? by Joanne Fisher

“Why do we have so many dishes? We’re vampires. It’s not like we cook meals or throw dinner parties.” Katherine asked as she looked around their kitchen where there were cupboards full of cups, bowls, and plates.

“We could eat food if we wanted to.” Sylvia replied.

“Sure, but we would receive no nourishment from it.” Katherine argued. Sylvia picked up a plate with swirling patterns on it.

“Anyway, I think they’re pretty.”

“Sure, but they serve no functional use here.” Katherine stated. Sylvia pouted and put the plate back in the cupboard.

“Do they have to?” She asked.


Dish of the Day by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking has thrice been invaded by aliens: once, in 693 by thirteen Soporifs who slept the whole time; and twice by the dish people from the porcelain star cluster. The first, in 1324 ended with them attacked by ravenous pottery-eating fungi, after which their spokesperson described events as being ‘spore form’; and the second, in 1954 when the visitors, in retaliation abducted Sue Plate, Little Miss TT 1953 after Little Tittweaking’s Examiner’s described her thusly: ‘Sue Plate is a real dish’. Tensions eased after both sides shared a mushroom-themed supper, with a view to moulding a new relationship.


The Bread Plate by Hugh W. Roberts

While daydreaming, admiring the dishes on the table, Madeline watched the dapper servers rush by holding trays of plates covered with metal domes. Nobody would miss a small bread plate if she secretly hid one in her purse, would they?

She’d add a dinner service like this, without the name, to her upcoming wedding gift list.

An unexpected rattling of the dishes, cutlery and glasses made as they shuddered broke her daydream.

“What’s causing everything to clatter, Madeline?” asked her mother.

“I don’t know, ma-ma,” Madeline replied, wondering if the word ‘Titanic’ would easily rub off her bread plate.


Dishes by Jeff Heal

Dishes everywhere here there, under foot on end table.

I only have two kids but wow, two kids equal many friends and all seem to be hungry all the time.

Had the talk, dishes now out in kitchen on counter not washed just piled, but hey they made it to the kitchen, nothing anywhere else.

Ok happier, another talk, dirty dishes in the dishwasher counters cleaned but dishwasher not turned on, but nothing laying around incredibly happy.

Dishes always dishes. Turn dishwasher on now we always have clean dishes.

Ok now to get washer emptied.


Togetherness by Larry Trasciatti

Arthur had always dreaded washing dishes.

‘Are we Luddites or something?’ he asked Martha.

‘We can’t get a machine?’

‘It’s a shared activity,’ Martha said

‘This way we get to spend time together.’

‘It’s such a sticky annoying chore,’ he said.

‘Can’t we spend time together sorting dry things?’

Soon she won as wives always do.

He put an honest effort into it, and even got a kick out of the weird designs on several plates and cups.

He even found out her mother’s middle name is Bertha.

Washing dishes makes a big difference. Soon they were all finished.


Helping Hands by JulesPaige

Last night I attempted to follow a recipe. I use them as guidelines. I did that fancy fish prep with salmon. I poached it in a parchment envelope. I didn’t have lemon slices, so I sliced a tomato to top the fish. I put the fish over some scallions and added some salt, pepper, ground ginger and lemon zest mix. I honestly don’t remember the other veggie I had. I made a fancy presentation, just because I could.

Hubby, without asking, cleaned up and loaded the dishwasher. A nice change up from me doing everything for our evening meal.


The Kitchen Sink by Jenny Logan

“Is this all there is?” she’d asked. “Saturday night and I’m elbow-deep in washing up. I used to be somebody, had a social life and a job.”

Over the years her feelings changed.

“I get to wash dishes and take care of the only man who’s ever wanted me around on a permanent basis—just ask any of my ex-husbands.”

She smiled as she prepared meals to his preferences rather than hers, except on rare occasions—perhaps her birthday.

“We’ve done pretty good over the years, haven’t we, hon?” she asked him one morning.

“You won’t hear me complaining.”


Good Dishes by Kerry E.B. Black

The teen ran a finger around the gold edge of the china. “I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, we’re just gonna put food on them.”

“They were Gram’s. She only used them for special meals, like this one.” His mother polished gold-plated cutlery. “Makes posh place settings.” She placed two forks to the left of a plate.

“Then they need to be hand washed.”

“Too delicate for the dishwasher.” She ruffled his hair. “But you’re the best dishwasher ever.” She hummed while folding linen napkins.

He pressed his lips tight. “I’d rather use paper plates.”


The Day I Won’t Forget Doing Dishes by Duane L Herrmann

I had been ordered to was the dishes – again! I was so tired of washing dishes, cooking, doing the laundry and cleaning house. At least my brothers had outgrown their diapers, but I still had to give them baths and shine their shoes every Sunday morning. And, there were the chickens, and sometimes hogs, I had to care for. I was so tired of the work. I wanted to die. This day I made and remade island bubbles around the dishes in the sink. My reward was a concussion from my mother. I was about ten years old.


Teacup by Kelly S.

My mom went to an antique store around 40 years ago and bought a teacup with a matching saucer. The outside of the cup is plain white. Inside is an intricate mandala of blue and gold. The saucer is identical to the cup. When my sister or I got sick, she’d make us tea, and serve it inside the cup and put little cookies on the plate. For the rest of the time, it has a golden stand to rest on as a decoration. Ever since she passed, her picture rests next to the set in a golden frame.


Heirloom China by TJ Smith

The Wedgewood china with beautiful pastel pink roses say on display in an oak cabinet in the formal dining room. Mama often bragged to southern relatives about how she got the cabinet while we were visiting Italy and the china while visiting Nantucket.

Mama also had melmac dishes in a putrid shade of celery green popular back in the ’60s, scratched, chipped, and hidden away in the kitchen cabinet.

When she was angry, she threw the melmac at the wall.

When she was furious, she threw the china at me.

I hate roses.


Marriage and Flying Saucers by Doug Jacquier

My wife believes in flying saucers. And cups. And dinner plates. Even the occasional saucepan sails through space.

The problem is my wife’s frustration with what she sees as an irredeemable flaw in my character, namely that her pearls of wisdom, not to mention her specific instructions, don’t seem to arrive intact at my semi-deaf ears as often as she would like.

When I demurred, half the dinner service was sacrificed on that field of battle.

So now we stand close enough to ensure clear communication, although this has led to dancing and who knows where that might end?


Do the Dishes by sweeterthannothing

“Do the dishes, you say, do the hoovering, do the washing, go shopping, take out the recycling, cook dinner..”

Betty ran her hands through her hair in stress and paced the kitchen.

“I’m so sick of it, sick of being told what to do, you’re always commanding, demanding. Do this, do that, wear this, don’t say that…”

She kicked the unconscious man at her feet.

“Well no more, you won’t tell me to do a single damn thing ever again.”

She brought the iron down in an arc, striking his already damaged skull.

“No, I won’t do your dishes”


Grime Sticks on the Dishes by Satish Warrier

The grime stuck stubbornly on the plate. Blood red, dried and flaky, remnant of the meal, they never finished. It started amicably but then turned toxic, like how it had always been. It was a relief if some of the dishes actually reached the sink. Rest unfortunate ones shattered on her face and stained walls. For his aggression she felt responsible. Always feeling apologetic. This meal was different. She had made a choice. The raised plate was resolutely grasped and snatched away. His expression changed from anger to fear. The plate struck on his throat. Tearing through his skin.


Best Served Cold by Anne Goodwin

Angie cringed when she saw the cereal bowl centred on the kitchen table. Her shoulder screamed as she scraped at crusted oats with a lacquered nail. If he could dislocate a joint for ‘smiling inappropriately’, he could murder her for being a sloppy housewife.

Yet, despite the pain, she smiles as she stirs the batter in the baking bowl. She’s doubled the sugar to disguise the taste of strychnine, doubled the chocolate to inspire him to take a second slice. She did hesitate between hot pudding and tray-bake brownies. But everyone knows revenge is a dish best served cold.


The Dishes by Caroline Williams

Newly divorced and liberated, new plates are needed. These fit the bill and she unwraps them reverently, proudly. Yes, these will do nicely. Evenings with new beaus are anticipated: Ottolenghi-inspired delicacies will be arrayed and consumed. She will be just like Nigella. She will be carefree, casual, quirky. Witty, bohemian friends will throng; their intelligent bon mots the sparkling soundtrack to her middle-aged renaissance. The John Lewis matching dinner service for six and Delia’s Complete Cookery Course have been dispatched to the charity shop. Good riddance to all that. New plates, new pants, new haircut, new start.


Hog Wash by D. Avery

“That dang Pal. Cain’t be bothered ta cook dinner or clean up afterwards, don’t never pitch in anymore. Claims ta always have some place ta be, seems ta git back jist after I’ve finished cleanin up. Well, Curly, we’ll show that yahoo. Yep, here comes Pal now, must think I’m done with the dishes. But I’m jist gittin started. Come here Curly. Good girl.

“Oh, hey, Pal.”

“Kid! Why’s thet hog lickin the dishes?!”

“Jeez Pal, how d’ya think I git the dishes cleaned? Curly’s always willin ta hep.

“Git, I’ll wash the dang dishes.”

“Have it yer way.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Optimism Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Antique Aquarian by Kerry E.B. Black

In a lecture hall filled with youthful angst and energy, Rose sat erect and attentive, her wider bottom spilling over the fold-out seat. Instead of using a laptop like her fellow students, Rose jotted in a spiral-bound notebook balanced on her knees.

She knew others gossiped about her, saying things like “why’s that grandma in the ecology lecture?” Rose didn’t mind. In fact, she enjoyed attention.

Maybe they’d realize some “Boomers,” especially silver-haired free spirits from the Age of Aquarius, not only cared about the future of the earth. Some intended to continue to “do something” to improve it.


The Pursuit by D. Avery

“My glass is always half full.”

“That’s because you’re a slow drinker, Ilene. Mine’s half empty but I’ve already got another round coming. Power of positive drinking.”

“You asked about my exes, Marge. This one’s glass was always half empty.”

“I’m listening. A half-glass sad-ass.”

“That’s about right. I finally realized that happiness is a personal responsibility. And unhappiness is contagious. I’ll tell you from experience— men age about as well as fish on the counter.”

“And yet you always seem to have one.”

“My indomitable optimism, Marge. And, it’s catch and release— gives the fish another chance too.”


Plant a Dream by Dawn Benedict

For ten years George and Irma had been covering their land with apple trees. Thank goodness these were the last, they weren’t as spry as they used to be.

“When are Jacob and Lisa coming?” George asked.

“Next week.” Irma replied. “You doing okay?”

“We knew when we started planting we’d never see the full harvest. At least we have this summer to teach them the secrets of the orchard, and they can help us pack up the house. I hadn’t planned on this cancer spreading so fast, but at least we were able to give them their dream.”


Building Blocks by Norah Colvin

Clare’s tower was almost the tallest she’d ever made. One more block would do it.

Harry accidentally backed into it and sent blocks flying.

“Sorry,” said Harry.

“It’s okay. I can build it again. Wanna help?”


“We need a bigger base. That one was getting wobbly anyway.”

“Let’s go as high as the roof,” said Harry.

They carefully placed the blocks and soon had to stretch on tiptoes.

Clare stood on a chair. Harry passed the blocks.

“We’re outa blocks,” said Harry. “It won’t reach the roof.”

“Let’s build on the table,” said Clare. “It’ll reach the sky!”


Optimistic Thinking by Ann Edall-Robson

“You sent those kids to do what!” Mac’s voice boomed.

“It needed to be done, and they are not kids,” replied Liz.

“They’ve never been to that part of the ranch. You know the road at the crossing is tricky.”

Liz looked out the window and started laughing.

“From the amount of mud on them and the truck, I’d say they figured out the crossing.”

“How’d you know they’d be okay?”

“A little bit of optimistic thinking,” she replied to the man leaving the kitchen.

Mac needed to hear about the first supply delivery to the summer cow camp.


Pause, for Lucky by JulesPaige

Open book
New words and new worlds
Rabbits and
Mirrors that
Take us to new spaces shared
Fueled by hopes’ joy

Jane watched as Emme allowed the rabbit to sniff first her hands then her face. It was as if a magic portal had opened up.

Emme actually giggled. The weight of the water of tears, unshed rushed out of the little girl’s laughing eyes. “Miss Jane, does this bunny have a name?”

“Only the one that you give her,” Jane replied.

“I think; Lucky, because she has all her paws. Do you have any carrots in your basket?”


Follow 6 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“A most satisfying repast,” intoned Roland. He rolled on his back in the clover, examining his rabbit feet, belly full of carrots.

“Good choice, Jill.” Betsy stretched on her side in agreement, cottontail twitching happily. “You’ve fed the colony with the magic tablecloth. Take it, and whatever the buckets hold, to speed your journey.”

“Do we leave the buckets here with you?”

“Nay! Fill them from yon stream. It’s a long hike to the castle and Queen Buttermilk.” Roland rolled to his feet.

“I’ve got this, Jill.” Jack picked up the buckets and slung the yoke over his shoulders.


Follow 7 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Jack and Jill wandered through the swaying grass until they reached the stream. Shading their eyes, they followed its flow to the far castle.

“That’s a good sign,” whispered Betsy to Roland. “Her choice to feed us, and his offer to help.

“What else was in those buckets besides the tablecloth?” Roland picked up a small bunch of carrot greens and nibbled it from stem to leafy end.

“The acorn thimble. The corkscrew. Not sure about that strange glove.”

“The buckets do the choosing, but they have to guess how to use them,”

“I’m sure they’ll come out fine.”


Being Happy by Mr. Ohh!

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning
But then remembered that I woke up
My breakfast and coffee were ice cold
But then I remembered that I could still taste and get out of the house
I now have a new positive attitude, and it carries me through the days like I’m flying on a cloud. Then I remembered clouds are made up of condensed water vapor and I felt cold and wet and like I was falling from said cloud and got sick.
I went back to bed and felt warm and happy


Optimism by Reena Saxena

“Optimism is a lens” she said, “it helps you tide over life. Isn’t it a wonder that we cannot see things beyond a certain point, and cannot hear anything with a volume less than 20 decibels?”

“Again, you need a lens when there is no option. It’s called optimism.”

“There are days when there is darkness all around, and even breathing feels optimistic.”


Optimism by sweeterthannothing

Optimism is just not for me, life taught me, crushed me, nothing good happens, nothing is easy

Optimism doesn’t come freely, not when you’re me, it was stamped on, smothered, beaten out of me

Optimism took me, years of hard work, trying and failing and trying again, therapy finally helping me

Optimism brought him to me, he’s happy, care free, light, he loves me, grounds me, frees me

Optimism brought me back to life, back to love, a home, a family and a future finally

Optimism is still hard, I have to try, I have to work on me


The Optimist by C. E. Ayr

I suppose I’ve always been an optimist.

When I was young and my father beat me and slapped Mum, I kept believing things would get better.

When he had that horrible accident and they took her away, even though she’d done nothing wrong, I still hoped things would improve.

The children’s home was horrendous.

I was small and scrawny, so I got bullied until Big Basher had that terrible accident.

I went into foster care but they were nasty people.

Then they had that ghastly accident.

I’m in prison now, but still quite optimistic.

Even here, accidents can happen.


Too Good by Geoff Le Pard

Beatrice Hapi started Little Tittweaking’s Optimists Anonymous after the pessimism pandemic drove optimists underground. Bea found each session hard work, trying to re-instil a cheery positivity alongside inexhaustible supplies of sugary treats. Realising undiluted glee wasn’t working she sought support to add a smidgen of cold reality while offering guidance against pre-diabetes. She found her perfect companion in Eva Afta who came to national attention with her Anti-Gloom potents and unguents that acted on facial muscles, creating a sunny disposition on even the most hardwired miserablist. They married though neither changed her name:
Bea Hapi – Eva Afta
just worked.


I’m Going Up the Portal by ladyleemanila

I’m going up the portal
To be full of fun
To the sea to snorkel

Get on with the hurdle
For sure it shines the sun
I’m going up the portal

May die tomorrow we’re mortal
What we have done is done
To the sea to snorkel

I like to giggle and chortle
Negative vibes away I shun
I’m going up the portal

I think all soil’s fertile
Complaints I have none
To the sea to snorkel

I love yellow and purple
In the summer I like to run
I’m going up the portal
To the sea to snorkel


Street Café Philosophy-At Half the Price by Bill Engleson

“Buck up!”
“Sorry. Saw you sitting there like you weren’t enjoying your coffee…looking like a glum chum.”
“It’s hot chocolate.”
“Not a coffee drinker?”
“Was. Doctors’ orders. Cut back on caffeine.”
“Gotta do what the doctor says, I suppose…even if you become a gloomy Gus.”
“So, you don’t do what your Doctor recommends?”
“Mostly. But the way I see it, tomorrow’s another day and I want to enjoy every minute on the way to it.”
“So, cutting back on stuff that’s harmful…?”
“It’s not the getting there, it’s the journey. “
“Personally, I’d like to get there intact.”


I Can See Clearly Now by Joanne Fisher

“I can see clearly now the rain has gone…” Sofia sang along to the car radio. Phillipa, who was driving, joined in.

Sofia’s father had beaten her when he found out she was gay and had a girlfriend. He forbade her to see Phillipa again. Social workers intervened once the bruises became obvious and she ended up in foster care.

Now that school was over, Sofia and Phillipa packed all their things and headed to the city where they would live together. It would take time for Sofia’s scars to heal, but she was in a better place now.


Basic Features by Jenny Logan

“Was there anything worse at school than Latin?” she asked as she zipped up her toiletries bag.

“Amo, amas, amat? Where would we be without it, my love?”

“Now language learning represents something else. Something more hopeful.”

“Indeed. Ready?”

She picked up her backpack and followed him out.

“‘Saklamak’?” he asked.

“Oh! I know this one. To save for the future. How about ‘beklemek’?”

“To wait for, to expect. Like this overdue holiday.”

She ignored the empty space where her womb had once been and they trudged through the snow to the airport bus, conjugating verbs all the way.


Snow Queen by Kelly S.

A paper white bunny with a ruby red ribbon tied around her neck. Her name was Snow Queen, after the color. That and the movie where the kids disappear inside a closet and have an adventure. She was given a cage lined with the softest bedding money could buy for around fifteen dollars. The girl who got her as a gift gave her something very special. She bought a music box with the song Clair de lune. There was no particular reason. She just figured that if a rabbit was going to like any song, why not that one?


Futures by Hugh W. Roberts

Jackie was optimistic that she’d see at least one more Christmas. She wasn’t going to allow a dodgy heart to beat her.

When her mother’s last days arrived, they celebrated Christmas in February. Her mother’s wish was to celebrate Christmas optimistically before she departed this world.

Everyone was shocked when Jackie’s heart finally gave up in April when Jackie joined her mother on the next adventure.

In December, Jackie’s husband celebrated Christmas with his new wife. While her optimism for never getting caught for what would be a triple murder gathered momentum, she knew she had the best sanguinity.


Optimism by Colleen M. Chesebro

The witches’ chanting affected Hilda. Her tears flowed. Her coughing stopped, and the rabbits quit multiplying. The shadows that had clouded her features lifted.

Hilda’s voice wavered. “I can’t fix what happened to the human when my spell backfired. I can’t make him whole again. But I can make his life easier.”

She whispered,

“May your outlook brighten,
optimism fills your heart—
this spell is your new start
true love is yours.”

In the darkness of Coven Hall, tiny twinkling stars lit up the room. The witches smiled, and with clasped hands, they circled Hilda.

“Welcome back!” they shouted.


Ever the Optimist by Margaret G. Hanna

Canada, here I come.

No bending the knee to some high and mighty landowner, like Dad. No working someone else’s farmland, like Dad. Nope, I’m going to have my own farm.

To do that, I’m leaving not-so-merry old England. Leaving my friends, too, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

I don’t quite believe the picture the agent painted of Canadian farms. I’ve worked with Dad long enough to know farming is hard work. You don’t just throw the seed in the ground and watch it harvest itself.

Tomorrow, I leave on Mr. Cunard’s Ultonia. My farm awaits.


The Optimistic Boss by Nicole Horlings

By all rights, she should’ve been seething mad. Her assistant’s blunder caused serious issues regarding scheduling, which would significantly reduce revenue.

Yet, she wasn’t mad. In fact, she cheerfully dealt with all the complications, confusing the anxious assistant. “But isn’t this a bad thing?” the young fellow asked.

“It could be. Or, we can take this extra time as an opportunity to make our product even better, and become even more successful. I’ll tell you a secret: I made a similar blunder when I entered this industry, but effectively under-promised and over-delivered. Now I can afford to hire you.”


Choir Practice is Uplifting by Sue Spitulnik

Wednesday lunchtime, Michael said to Tessa, “I made a mistake when we talked about my sabbatical?”

“You did? I’m enjoying you being home more. You aren’t going cross country for a speaking engagement, are you?”

He chuckled. “No. But somehow, the church youth choir got left out of the conversation.”

Tessa looked at him in mock horror, then laughed. “You silly man, guiding those kids renews our optimistic outlook each week, especially when one of them has a personal breakthrough to come tell you about. I never thought of that changing.”

“I should have known that’s what you’d say.”


Hope — A Story by Sadje

Mom was always optimistic, perhaps too much positive at times. Her kids learned to ignore her most of the time, but there were instances when she got on their nerves.

When her eldest went through a bad divorce, mom tried to buck her up with positive things in the whole situation, it backfired.

Whenever the younger got into a power struggle with her in-laws’ mom tried to point out the positives about them; the daughter stopped discussing her issues.

When mom got seriously ill, they wanted to cheer her up, give her hope. But it wasn’t needed, she knew!


Fred Likes Jane by Larry Trasciatti

Fred was sitting in his sparsely furnished bedroom, alternately looking at the papers and books on his desk, and the crucifix on his wall.

He was trying to devise a ploy to win Jane’s hand.

Although the weather outside was bitter, damp, and rainy, he knew she was the woman for him so what could go wrong?

After having asked a few friends for advice he made his move.

All he did was greet her in a chipper tone of voice.

‘That spoonful of sugar in my coffee this morning,’ he thought to himself, ‘was such a wonderful idea.’


Fresh Start by Doug Jacquier

We didn’t care that the rain came in sideways, driven by the same scouring winds that had delivered the dust from farms hundreds of miles away for many summers now and sent our own on a similar journey. As long as there was enough to drown our despair at fly-blown carcasses in paddocks, 100-year-old trees falling like matchsticks, creek-bed roads and harvesters rusting in sagging sheds, because these days real seeds only produced phantom crops. We hoped the rain triggered flash flooding, washed out the roads and cut the power; that was a fresh start we could gladly endure.


Optimistic Opal by Sam Kirk

Unlike other days, Opal jumped out of bed the moment her alarm went off. New day, new year, new ME!

Having created a gap between her blind slats with her thumb and index fingers, she peered outside. Rain clouds. Got to reschedule beach plans. Opal sighed at the thought but quickly recovered. I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful day anyway!

With a conscious pep in her step, Opal exit her room. In the hallways, she tripped over an uneven rug.

I think I broke something…

New new year resolution – stop listening to others and remain a realist.


Proud to Be British? by Anne Goodwin

We were small, but we were mighty. We planted flags of industry across the world. We stole their artefacts, smashed their cultures, raised fine buildings from the sweat of slaves. When times changed, we adapted, but in our history books we stood tall.

We crushed the pessimists back home with promises. When our neighbours wouldn’t recognise our stature, we cut our ties.

Who cares if we’re the laughing stock of Europe? We scorned their health and safety human rights to take back control. Our red tape is stronger and shinier than their red tape. Our tape makes tighter knots.


Ray of Hope by Duane L Herrmann

The situation was die. Incompetence held all the power. The people suffered. Unexpectedly, like a thief in the night, a Message came. It spread from one heart to another. At first, those in power did not notice, but gradually they became aware as crowds, and money, began to diminish. They sent spies to discover the reason. They learned about the Message and began to stamp it out. Despite their efforts, the Message continued to spread. This Message said real power is held by every person and each person has the right to their own power. This is happening now.


Love by Elizabeth

listen to me
in a world without gods
cherish love
because it transcends matter, time and space
it keeps us going, it fills us with optimism
it’s the ultimate resource for survival
in a forgotten world
as a breeze carrying seed to a distant land
love spreads infinite hope
when the spell is broken
look up at the stars
memories of scattered love
will spring from the universe
and fill up your soul
you will keep that moment
forever ever
and find the goddess inside your pure being
waiting to be pleased
a constellation of joy will guide you


Shiftin Topic by D. Avery

“Ello Keed. Where are you goeeng?”

“Hey, Pepe. I’m tryin ta git a lead on this prompt. ‘Parently optic ain’t the topic, but thought I’d visit with Frankie anyways. She’s got a positively unique way a seein the world.”

“Dat is true. An, eef I do say so myself, Logatha and I are optimists. We feel like everytheeng works out in da end.”

“Where is Logatha?”

“She ees visiteeng her seester, Cheri Le Shart. Cheri’s too positive. Suffers from optimal illusions.”

“She does have a bubbly disposition.”

“Dat one has de personality of a Skeetle®. Not Logatha. She’s solid.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Lady Shadows Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

The Shadow Lady by D. Avery

I didn’t see her.
Only saw a raven,
black wings whispering over fog filled valleys
through winter gray sky,
lustrous shadow in flight.

Only the raven
roosting high in the pine
before dropping gracefully down to the snow
to dig for her cache—
she has been here before.

Creation’s shadow,
death and resurrection;
guide and messenger, she is light’s reflection.
Or, just a raven,
scratching familiar ground.


The Moral Injury of War by Sue Spitulnik

The Band of Brothers was finishing a practice session at the No Thanks when two young women arrived. They purchased beers and went to the back corner, darkest booth like they were regulars. Soon, Kurt joined them.

They sat in the shadows long enough to have a second round that Mac delivered. At the bar, Katie asked who they were.

Mac explained, “We met them on Thanksgiving eve. Their MOS was the same as Kurt’s, but a generation later. They are discussing how to deal with things I hope you never experience nor volunteer for.”

“I won’t volunteer, Grandpa.”

Author’s Note: MOS stands for Military Occupation Speciality Code. In past episodes, it was revealed Kurt was an army sniper. Currently, there are less than 100 women in the Army that could be assigned the same job, but women are gradually becoming part of the front lines. It’s also a fact that only 10% of the troops deployed to the front experience combat. Others are mechanics, cooks, vehicle drivers, medics, etc.


Shadow Talk by Hugh W. Roberts

I followed the lady’s shadow on her journey. She took me around the house and waited for me when I fell behind.

If rooms were dark, I’d flick on the light to see her. She talked to me on our journey and reassured me that everything would be okay.

When I heard the key in the front door, she had to leave, but another shadow took her place.

As I quickly took off my mother’s dress, pearl necklace and high-heeled shoes, my father’s voice called out.

“Are you ready, William? Time for you to hit the under-elevens football pitch.”


The Shadow Woman by Elizabeth

You are not alone
Within you
There is a woman
The true version of yourself
The one that lurks in the dark
The one that steps side by side with you
The one that sees what you don’t see
But remains quiet
The one that talks to you through dreams and nightmares
The one that holds you when you need it most
You are not alone
Listen to her and evolve
The wise words of someone that sees the truth
The shadow woman
Carrying the experience of generations
The ones that were here before you
You are not alone


Into Light by Chel Owens

The townsfolk knew she lived there; maybe. Sometimes Mrs. Beardy, nine miles North, said she’d seen someone hanging wash. Old Frank, the property South, couldn’t say the same -he didn’t pass Monty McCrae’s place for no reason, he’d said.

Or would’ve said. Maybe.

Old Frank wasn’t into talking, especially about others’ business. Everyone felt that way: leave someone alone if he wanted.

That’s why no one, not even Angelique (formerly Mrs. Monty) McCrae, recognized the lady in red who finally left a life of shadows, walked down the dirt path to a hired car, and rode away to freedom.


No Shadow by C. E. Ayr

when you came
you brought no shadow
you just brightened
the wintry skies
and your light bathed
the cloistered corners
making darkness flee
from your approach

green springtime
became glorious summer
with blue skies
and rainbows
that held no hint of rain
you gave warmth
to the land
and to my life

then in the mirror
I glimpse a shadow
as soft and dark as midnight air
my eyes are slow to see the outline
of the space
where once you were

ah yes
when you came
you brought no shadow
now you’ve gone
that’s all
that remains


Outside the Training Centre by Anne Goodwin

Clem passes the training centre five times before she dares to enter. How she detests this timid version of herself. What happened to the woman who single-handedly brought up four children? What happened to the woman who, when they were grown, moved to a town where she knew no one simply for the adventure of living by the sea?

She’s still there, she tells herself, as she pushes through the door. Crushed by injustice but continuing to breathe. A new skill is like medicine, strengthening her muscles, armouring her skin. It will launch her from the shadows, triumphant again.


The Rock Star’s Daughter by Nicole Horlings

She lived her entire life in the shadow of her father. Always referenced, yet never personally spoken about. Her talent always eclipsed by whichever show he was performing next. Never famous enough to feel influential, but too famous to move elsewhere and reinvent herself. Courted by aspiring actors desperate for any claim to fame, or a spot in the tabloids.

After her father’s death, she was merely the silhouette the media used to keep his name in the magazines. They pitied her when she also released an album, seeing it as a pale imitation of what he had done.


The Shadow by Ann Edall-Robson

For ten years she had lived within the small town’s shadow. She was known as the lady who spent hours in her garden and signed out books every other week, or so the librarian had once said. One month after she’d typed ‘The End’, she anonymously sent the manuscript to the news station. The team kept it under wraps while they investigated the damning, dangerous words only an insider might know. Stonewalled by vague obituaries and news clippings identifying a bystander killed in an attempt on the business owner named in several chapters, the author’s identity was still unknown.


Living In The Shadow by Geoff Le Pard

Priscilla Ou-Ette, Cill to her friends was Little Tittweaking’s shadow puppet expert. She found fame as an Influenza when she launched, in a sneeze of publicity, a set of personalised middle-finger shadows for the discerning teen. Going mainstream, she wooed the monarchy with her royal profiling that removed any spare hairs from coins and stamps. Ennobled as the Lady Shadow for her work creating an award-winning diorama of every shadowy character serving in the Cabinet (all of them as it turned out) she died when she launched her life-sized fox logo just as the Tittweaking nocturnal hunt passed.


Shadows by Miss Judy Writes

We met on the rocky, seaside cliffs. He was walking north, I was walking south. Our eyes met and instantly fell in love.

An ethereal shadow came to us on our marriage bed, a woman. She rustled the night air sending a chill that burned my sex glistened skin. He moaned, I knew it was not for me.

He lives with her now, somewhere a shadow. Mother and son, a bond never to be broken.

Me? You will find me walking along those rocky cliffs, sometimes north, sometimes south, searching for my husband’s shadow on the rocky shore below.


Lady Shadow by Simon

Centuries ago, there was a demon believed to be lived amongst us. People scared to come out in the moon light as she lurks in the shadow of darkness. Rumours said it was lady shadow escaped from hell ate shadows to live amongst normal people, and people died had no shadows. Recent times after witnessing people die at moon light and has no shadows, is this possible? Is this the sign the lady from hell is back. If she living amongst us, who is going to save us?

The lady shadow posted her blogpost and smiled, a cruel smile.


Revenge: The Shadow Woman by Greg Glazebrook

Lilith fretted. She was comfortable skirting the periphery. Biding her time and studying the beast. Plotting how to best secure its loyalty. She needed it to support her primary mission.

Years had faded since she last saw him but not her memories. His captivating charm, the lost hours and waking up disoriented. His voice mocking as she stumbled dazed and half-naked into the corridor.

He was the real predator, worse than this unholy beast. Still, she clung to her script, leaving the dark recesses unprepared could prove severely disastrous.

“Show yourself,” the beast snarled. Slowly the shadow woman emerged.


Shadow Lady by Jaye Marie

I think I am invisible, and I must be, for no one smiles when I pass them by. No one answers when I bid them a good morning.
There is no shadow attached to my feet, and I never get wet when it rains.
I have no memory of what I am, or who I am supposed to be.
I walk the streets, hiding in dark corners, wanting someone to find me and tell me where I belong.
But the streets are empty now and I am cold, lost and alone, what did I do to deserve this fate?


Lady Shadows by Joanne Fisher

Call me Lady Shadow, for that is my name now. I was queen of a great elven kingdom, but my heart was rotten and the Shadow Lord ensnared me. I began working with him to undermine my kingdom and neighbouring lands. Once my schemes were found out my throne was taken, and so now I help rule the Shadow World instead.

We work to shroud the entire world in shadow. I will not rest until I have reclaimed my throne and spread darkness through the land and in the hearts of my subjects. That’s how the Shadow World wins.


Lady of Shadows by Kerry E.B. Black

Birdie stomped to her bedroom, threw herself across the mattress, and sobbed into her pillow. Nobody understood her misery. Classmates bullied her. Teachers picked on her. Worst of all, her own family treated her like she didn’t matter.

Somebody watched, not from the doorway, but from the shadows. Somebody Birdie couldn’t see but felt.

Birdie held her breath and blinked away tears. Although she strained, she saw nobody.

Still, gooseflesh raised along her arms and chills raced along her vertebrae. Her voice wobbled. “Who’s there?”

No answering voice. Nobody appeared.

But perfume drifted on an odd breeze, bringing comfort.


Cold Darkness by heyaisya

I try to force myself to sleep. But then, I saw her. “Why you’re here?”, I asked her in desperation. “I’m the one who should ask you why you take us here. We could live happily right now with your son but you proceed to kill the woman when you found your husband was blackmailed by her”.

The lady in the shadow is a reflection of a wife charged with a murder sentence for killing her husband’s mistress. Until today, there are a lot of women stuck in prison with murder charges because of their husband’s own mistakes.


Shadows by Reena Saxena

I hear sobs and curses amidst deafening applause.

Yes, the story of women in the British army being raped, and then misdiagnosed as suffering from emotional disorders weighs heavy on my thoughts.

It happens in other fields too, not necessarily in the army, as the sadistic diagnosis facilitates their elimination from active social and professional life.

The question I want interviewers to ask men is about the women behind them – women who were abused, discarded and silenced on their ascent to the pinnacle of success, or descent to the gallows.

Let’s face dark shadows before we applaud or condemn.


She’s Invisible by Sadje

A perfectly running home, a family whose needs are all taken care of, food cooked and served on time, clothes washed and ironed and floors mopped and everything dusted.

The lady of the house, a woman who has given up a lot of her life to raise the children, maintain the household, and make sure that everyone’s life runs smoothly, is herself like a shadow. You see her yet she is invisible. She doesn’t demands anything for herself.

We need to see the woman casting this shadow, look after her needs, fulfill her desires as she has right too.


Shadow Woman (Part III) by Colleen M. Chesebro

The witches tried every spell they knew. But rabbits appeared when Hilda coughed.

Finally, Glinda the healer said, “I know what’s wrong. Hilda’s shadow woman needs to be realigned. The Covidwitchitus affected her sense of self.”

Faeryn asked, “Shouldn’t we treat her cough, to stop the rabbits?”

“No, the shadow self is the parts of yourself you don’t want to accept. If we cast a spell for Hilda to accept that she injured the man, she should be cured,” answered Glinda.

The witches formed a circle and chanted, “Hilda’s mistakes don’t define her; how she puts them right does.”


The Shadow by sweeterthannothing

“Come,” she beckoned me, cooking a finger in my direction.

“Who are you?” I questioned, mouth dry and heart racing.

The ethereal voice didn’t answer my questions, “come”, the obsidian silhouette of a woman crooned from my bedroom floor.

“No,” I tried to shout the word, but all that came out was a whisper of a breath, against my will my feet starting shuffling forward. “Please,” I begged, as I crept ever closer to that black figure.

As my feet touched hers I was plunged into an icy darkness, and I found myself laying on the floor looking up.


Shadow Child by Margaret G. Hanna

I wonder what she would have been like, my little girl that never was.

A mother’s worst fear, a miscarriage, a child born too soon.

People said, “But you already have three children,” or “You can always have another.” How could people be so cruel? No one can be the same as this child.

I sometimes dream of her, what she might have been. Sometimes when I’m in my garden, or sitting quietly embroidering a pillowcase, I hear her voice, her laughter, and I look up, but no one is there. Only a ghost of what might have been.


Reunion by Jenny Logan

She stepped out of the shadows.

“I’ll be taking her now.”

“What?” the other woman said. “Who are you? You can’t take my baby. What do you want?”

“Only what you stole from me.”

“I didn’t steal her. I’ve got adoption papers. She’s mine now. I love her.”

“She belongs with me,” she said, gathering the small bundle in her arms. She inhaled her scent and kissed her head.

“I’ll call the police!”

“You do that. You must have known she’d been pilfered.” She put her down and clipped on her lead. “Come on, Peaches, home. I’ve missed you.”


The Terror of a Moment by MarlaPaige

Lost, scared and confused, he backed into a dark corner that smelled of urine.

They had been walking in this big new city, but he tried to pick something up off the ground. He let go… he let go. It was his fault he was lost.

Back against the bricks, he slid to the ground, knees tight to his chest; crying.

Hearing something, he looked up and saw the most beautiful shadow he had ever seen in his life. “Mommy,” he almost yelled with joy, leaping up and running full-speed into the waiting arms of the shadow’s grateful owner.


First Date by Kate Spencer

Trees, trees everywhere! Anna was fuming. She was exhausted and starving and regretted ever coming on this miserable hike.

“Ralph, admit it. We’re lost.”

“Shush. I’m listening for Queenie… Hold on… Yes, I found her!” Ralph yelled, rushing into the woods.

“Hey, wait for me!” Anna hurried after him until they reached a hidden mountain stream.

“We made it.”

“Made where?” Anna asked.

“To Queenie,” he said pointing to the stream. “She’s the lady who runs in the shadows and never failed to guide a lost hiker home.”

“Hah! So, I was right. We were lost.”

“Oh, shut up.”


Angora Advance by JulesPaige

Shadow mask
Cautious to evolve
Safe high up
In the tree
Until a furry creature
Becomes a cute lure

Emme wasn’t ready to come out of the shadows. At least she thought she wasn’t. Safe up the lone tree in the middle of this open field she could see far and hear nature. She must have dozed, when she woke, beneath the tree was a furry animal munching on something. Carefully she climbed down. The tame rabbit watched as the little girl, who after reaching the ground, sat down. Jane watched them both from the blanket she sat on.


Chasing Shadows by Norah Colvin

Unable to catch their own shadows that stretched across the sand, they jumped on each other’s then dashed for safety in the tumbling waves. As they dived and splashed, the playful wind captured their laughter and carried it far.

Dragging their shadows up compacted wet sand, they compared footprints that waves would soon erase. Where it met dry, another’s shadow immobilised them as might a barbed-wire fence. They cast their eyes along the lady shadow’s length, then squinted upward at the face, obscure and unreadable, haloed by the setting sun.

“It’s time to go,” said mum.

“Coming,” they chorused.


A Lady in the Shadow by ladyleemanila

a lady in the shadow
silhouette by the sea
on such a calm evening
some people having tea
sunset they are watching

a lady in the shadow
shadow covered the sun
on her way to see him
waited for her all day
her response to his hymn

a lady in the shadow
she’s as pretty as rose
others look as she walks
she says hi as she goes
invite her in their talks

a lady in the shadow
such a charming person
wish she could be my friend
will go dancing at night
have fun at the weekend


Comin Ta Light (Part I) by D. Avery

“Stop gawkin inta the shadows Kid. Jist tend the fire, keep conversatin. This un needs time.”

“Is it a unwrit character, Pal??”

“No, ain’t no unwrit character.”

“Is it a character got writ an killed off fer the sake of a story?”

“Ain’t a character from no story, Kid. Thet person lurkin in the shadows is a story keeper.”

“Kin she speak?”

“When she’s ready. Ain’t sure a her voice jist yet. It’ll come. Put another log in.”

“What’ll we say when she does set down ta the campfire?”

“Same as you was told.

‘Howdy. Welcome ta Carrot Ranch’.”


Comin Ta Light (Part II) by D. Avery

“Meantime, Kid, whut’s yer story this week?”

*Once upon a time on a faraway ranch thet was near an dear an accessible ta all, a ranch hand went wanderin off a-lookin fer inspiration. Went beyond the upper pastures, on inta the forest. It was gittin dark an shadows amongst the towerin trees were thicker an figgy puddin.*

“Figgy puddin?”

“Had some leftover, good campin food. Anways,

*Someone or somethin was in them shadows. Who could it be? What could they want? That ranch hand offered figgy puddin an sure ‘nough. She come forward an took it!*





Comin Ta Light (Part III) by D. Avery

“No ’fense, Kid, but that weren’t much of a story. An ‘thick as figgy puddin’? Ain’t thet a cliché?”

“If it ain’t, should be. There’s more ta the story, Pal.”

“Do tell.”

“See, Ol Sassy-squatch was hungerin fer more’n figgy puddin. Since she’d spied Carrot Ranch’s hairy-man, Sassy was in love.

“With Ernie?”

“Yep. Sassy squeezed hersef inta the dress that was lef behind an come outta the shadows feelin sweet as cherry pie.

“Oh my. Good thing Wanda’s on one a her sabbaticals.”

“Ernie’s got lots in common with Sassy.”

“Yep. Hairstyle, shoe size, an a reclusive lifestyle.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!