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Whispers

If you are quiet, you can hear the whispers.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Family Garden II by Duane L Herrmann

Reckendorf Friedhof is different from American cemeteries I know. Here, each family owns the plot and one person is buried per grave in most cases. That is not so there. There, the grave is rented for a period of twenty years. Anyone can be buried in that grave who you allow in the twenty years. If rent is not paid, someone else can rent the grave. All inhabitants of the grave are listed on the stone. Bodies decay naturally. Remaining bones can be moved to the bonehouse, at the side of the cemetery. Such cemeteries do not need expansion.

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Un Cuarto Con Vista by JulesPaige

All that was left of the ‘vanity,’ Great Aunt Something
Or Other left her – No real value, just took up space
Left to collect dust in the corner of the room
The Dust Bunnies claimed it for their own and multiplied
As did her stress for trying to figure out what to do with it

Looking in the mirror, she saw her Great Aunt’s face
The lips kept moving without making any sound
So she sat on the cushion stool, stared, waiting
then hearing the faint whisper of music
She saw the lovers waltzing at the Grand Ball

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A Reunion by Paula Moyer

Jean had been coming to family graveside services at Memorial since she was nine. The first was her father’s mother. Now, sixty years later, she just couldn’t remember the coordinates for them all. She stared at the sea of monuments. Nothing.

So at the cemetery office, she handed her list to the receptionist, who gulped. Both sets of grandparents, her parents, four uncles, two aunts, and now four cousins.

“All?” A stern look over her glasses.

“All.”

Disapproving silence.

“I’m from out of town. I forget each time.”

Many look-ups.

“Having a family reunion. They should all be there.”

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Whispers in the Cemetery by Jane Aguiar

One summer at midnight, I went to the church compound to steal tender coconuts. I was stealing tender coconuts, filling a jute bag, and taking a sip of beer. Suddenly, I heard someone whispering in the cemetery. With the jute bag, ran towards the cemetery. Someone was whispering, “One for me, one for you.” I dropped the jute bag right there and drove straight home.

The next day, I informed my friends that there was a ghost in the cemetery and realized that it was not the ghost but they were Louis and Dominic distributing the stolen cashew seeds.

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Whispers by Charli Mills

Jane swung, pumping her legs to gain height. The wooden swing her father hung grew in the red oak her great-grandfather planted as a teenager. Jane never knew Romeo Tonti, an immigrant, but when she reached high enough she heard him whisper through the rustle of leaves. Jane learned the family recipe for spaghetti – use fresh rosemary – and how to splice a crab apple into a honeycrisp tree – for pollination, nipotina. Her mother proclaimed to the other soccer moms that her daughter was a cooking and gardening prodigy. He father would smile and wink. He heard the whispers, too.

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Comfort Cooking by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Bok choy and thin-sliced carrots, a bit past their freshness date, sizzled in the pan. She sniffed the aromas of sesame oil, lime, and Moroccan baked tofu. The sharp scent of sliced onion softened, long layers relaxing, rolling and shining over her cooking spoon.

Red pepper and slivered greens for sharpness and color, to be added at the very end. Peanuts in a bowl.

To her left, a tall pan of jasmine rice steamed, rattling for attention. She adjusted the temperature and resettled its lid.

“What’s missing?” she whispered.

Memory whispered back, “Lemon Pepper, just a dash. And me.”

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Windy Night by Michael Fishman

Bux raised his head and sniffed. He jumped off the bed, let out a quiet huff and padded out of the bedroom.

Carl grabbed the remote and paused the DVR. He leaned over and whispered into Jean’s ear.

“And you tell me this because?” she said.

“Well, forewarned is forearmed, and I think it’s—”

Jean’s face wrinkled. “Oh, Carl, what is wrong with you?”

“I think it was dinner.”

“My cooking doesn’t do that to anyone!” Jean said as she pulled the covers over her head.

Carl thought he heard a laugh but he wouldn’t bet on it.

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The Aging Wind by Bill Engleson

I hear the wind whistle through the trees,
a soft and gentle whoosh through the air
venturing down my spine to my knees,
blossoming in the late evening glare.

I find myself drifting into twilight,
floating as the breezes vacillate,
twisting here and there in the darkened night,
ready to accept my coming fate.

Here in the shadows of my timeline,
ancestors whisper their each and every name,
who was begat from whom, where I align,
each step along my genealogical frame.

And though there are limits to my rhyme,
All I am seeking is solace in my time.

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Whispers Remain by Rebecca Glaessner

People come out changed, or not at all, says the whispers.

Called me in ta’ fix a drone. Remembered thinkin’ their workers looked mindless, till one leaned in, showed me circuitry boosts I never could’a imagined.

Wondered, why me?

Then they hired me full time, ta learn their subatomics, an’ I keep gettin’ a sense there’s more, ‘sif regular scientists hit a wall they won’t never figure.

Them that disappear, there’s papers says they wanted to. I got my own papers now, says my skills are needed off-world.

But I’m stayin’.

Human scientists need help takin’ that wall down.

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Whispers by Norah Colvin

She watched from the side, longing to join in, fearing being ignored. Or worse, banished. Determined to beat her shyness, she’d shuffle one step forward, then the old insecurities would immobilise her, reminding her she didn’t belong. One foot forward. Stop. Another foot forward. Stop. She was almost there when the game paused, and they looked directly at her. She froze. They feigned whispers hidden behind hands. She didn’t need to guess. She ran and hid behind a tree, wishing for invisibility. “I’ll never belong!” Soon one face appeared, then others. “Please come and play with us,” they chorused.

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Aloysius Saves the Day by Nancy Brady

Aloysius heard the whispers of his people. He didn’t eavesdrop on their conversations, but his hearing had become more acute since his adventure in the fountain.

His hearing was augmented by violets, which clung to his fur that fateful day. Months later, Aloysius still could hear the slightest sound any of his family made.

Lily, the youngest child, decided to run away from home because she was mad at her parents. Lily packed underwear in her backpack, walked to the corner, and cried.

Aloysius came to Lily’s rescue, sitting with her, comforting her, purring, and finally leading her home.

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Whispers by Frank James

Kelli and Mary gossiped about George going home for cheating.

“The bell girls,” Mrs. Ugholtz shooed them to class.

At lunch, they chatted whispering in ears. Mrs. Ugholtz said exiting, “No need for secrets.”

They finished skulking to the bathroom.

Mary exclaimed, “Ugholtz. What about Richard?”

“In Juvie,” Kelli chirped.

Mary replied, “Barbie did Buff’s homework because of football.”

Kelli whispered, “I heard it.”

Toilet flushed. Mrs. Ugholtz stepped out, “George’s mother’s ill. Richard toured university. Barbie inspected Buff’s homework. Seven demerits!”

The girls cried.

Mrs. Ugholtz scowled, “Those who spread rumors speak louder of themselves than the scuttlebutt.”

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The Breaking of Trust by Christy Gard

She danced and twirled around him liking and hating the dance at the same time. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but an occurrence that happened enough to create shame, guilt, emotions that were not hers to own. She tried speaking to others. To talk about the pain ripping at her soul. She tried to yell, to cry in desperation with gleaming razors and blood-soaked palms. But others turned away told her it was a lie, too much, to bear, to it kept hidden the darkness. So, it turned into a whisper that floats on the wind of her soul.

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Just Another Life by Richmond Road

A call to arms. Another land
Ideals I did not understand
Unknown soldier. Unknown truth
Ideals are not bullet proof
A fallen hero. Fallen son
Lost to what could not be won
An epitaph to bold and brave
Here etched in stone upon my grave
Words of praise, of noble fight
Not words that I would ever write
Don’t search these graves. Don’t ask the dead
Search within your souls instead
No heroes here. Please move along
Go back to where you come from
There is no honour, only fear
Death the only message here
I was a soldier, was a fool
Do you see honour? More fool you.

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Whispers by FloridaBorne

God whispers, “No one dies.”

I ask, “Why was I given life?”

Love whispers, “This is an interlude.”

“Time’s twists and turns aren’t the journey?”

My eyes glisten and tears threaten to overcome my rational mind. Were anyone to know God speaks to me, I would surely be taken to an asylum.

“Maude?”

The face staring at me is not happy.

“Mother?”

“Your fiancé awaits.”

“I would rather die than marry that fat, old man!”

“It is that, or be disowned.”

In 1886, a rich woman of 15 learns she is nothing more than a slave to her station.

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Battles by Reena Saxena

What I call a whisper is too loud for some
My breath blows away living beings

I can’t hear below twenty decibels
my heart murmurs away all life


My breath blows away living beings
I cannot contain my own power

my heart murmurs away all life

It makes its beats felt sometimes


I cannot contain my own power
What I call a whisper is too loud for some
It makes its beats felt sometimes
I can’t hear below twenty decibels

I see you quivering, blabbering,
Blaming, shaming
Yet I don’t try, and I can’t
stoop low to match smallness

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Whispers by Anita Dawes

Death closed its hand
Beneath the whispering autumn leaves
The old head stones tell of loved ones
I wonder, are some souls on fire?
Do they all lie at rest
Do they whisper of dancing under the sun?
Kissing under moonlight
Do they come back
Whispering in my brain
Of life beyond these cold stones
As yet, none have whispered
Of angels, golden harps or seeing Christ
Before you think me mad
I don’t hear disembodied voices all the time
There is one that stays with me
A female voice, telling me life goes on
Right there, beside you…

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Eloise by Annette Rochelle Aben

Pilar shook as she clutched at her hoodie. It wasn’t the temperature it was the atmosphere. With every step she took in the October darkness, she thought she heard another faint voice.
Get out
This is my home
You are not welcome here
Her head moved like the beam of a lighthouse as she searched for a face. But there was no one in sight. Only dead trees and rocks,
She ran when another voice moaned.
I died here
GET OUT
It was a BIG mistake to visit the Halloween attraction on the grounds of a former mental hospital.

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Tales Come True! by Simon

Stories of missing kids escalated over city for centuries. Words of Horrific murder, ruthless torture was still in the air.

Wells, didn’t care, young blood, sought adventure has visited, despite of all stories.

Palace wasn’t horrifying, delicious foods, erotic woman, proved the tales were fake.

Wells, decided to spread the word, wasn’t this discovery worth sharing to the world?

Wells, couldn’t open the door. Woman turned to ashes, delicious foods turned to worms.

Wells… whispered the palace, tingling skin, chills shivered up his spine.

Floor torn open, stone pellets tore his skin, his screams explained the tales, once again!

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The Whisper by Joanne Fisher

I lay in the dark trying to sleep, when I heard a hissing. I looked to my left and thought I could faintly see two pale points of light, like two eyes watching me. I was completely frozen with fear.

“Hello.” whispered a voice.

“Who’s there?” I asked fearfully.

“Just go to sleep.” the voice whispered again, and the soft hissing began once more and got closer.

I lay there unable to move, as my eyelids got heavier and also now voiceless, knowing I might never wake up again, and there was nothing I could do. Everything went black.

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I Told You I Was Ill by Doug Jacquier

The cracks appear in the plaster
and they start to match up with your mind,
because the foundations have slipped.

You ask not for whom the telephone bell tolls
because it never tolls for thee.

In the silence you can hear Death whispering
and your doctor says ‘take these’.

Your children, with their clever minds and dumb hearts,
are deaf to your rhythms and your reality
and suggest you take up yoga.

If only you knew one thing you were sure was true,
for now and for ever,
instead of watching the cracks spreading
in all of the plaster.

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Seeking Peace by Sue Spitulnik

The two men sat on a strategically placed bench shaded by a majestic maple. Each leaned forward with their elbows on their knees, looking down or gazing up at a pink marble headstone, remembering. The older one wore a Vietnam Veteran ball cap. The younger one, an Afghanistan. His prosthetic legs shouted disabled veteran. They took turns talking, just above whispers. They could hear each other, but certainly, no one else would have been able to. Ending the conversation, the older touched the younger’s arm, “My daughter died doing what she wanted.” Michael cried, releasing unfounded but real guilt.

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Free Will Choice by MyrnaMigala

Shhhh! Quiet, don’t say a word; listen now.
Be very still and with your mind; ask HIM!
Feel the calmness, the peace;
you can almost hear the whisper.
“Here I am.” It speaks. Give ear to the whisper.
The voice that says, “come!”
The battle begins, the distractions, our mind wanders, and we all know why; next, we hear that eerie, dark, sinister voice, shaky almost sing-song. We listen, we hear the call to our mind the word…M I N E!
Forgetting that peaceful moment, we wake and carry on with the voice that called us to them. MINE!

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Forest Floor Magic by Donna Matthews

“I’m so bored!” Jack lamented.

“Oh, yeah?” I murmur back, lost in my thoughts, as I etch out my latest doodle idea.

“Listen to me!” He nearly shouts.

I look up, eyes unfocused on his distressed little face, taking in the slight pout of his bottom lip.

A wide-open day and he was bored!

“Grab your boots,” I declare.

Entering the hush of the woods, I feel him relax next to me. He kneels and explores pieces of the forest floor; pinecones, rocks, acorns, lichen. As he stuffs them in his pocket, I know they’ve whispered their ancient magic.

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Voice Calling by Ann Edall-Robson

Craggy tips awakened by the sun. Visible after the wind pushes the blanket of unfriendly clouds away. Mother Nature confirming her beauty is for those who patiently wait in their search of the early morning sky. She continually baits ones visual appetite for more. 

Moments seem like hours before the simmering palette begins its play among the snow dusted rocks. A powerful vision emerges, eyes comprehend the massive loneliness before them.

And there is a voice calling. Wind moaning, whispering, baring the soul of the stoic rocky crevices. Telling tales of past sunrises relived in stories of the moment.

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The Jetty by C. E. Ayr

The rock-built jetty is so peaceful in winter, just the lapping of the waves, the whispers of the wind.
It is different in summertime.
Although few sun-seekers venture out here from the beach, the sounds drift.
Children laughing or wailing, boys arguing over ball games, girls squealing in mock surprise, I hear everything.
Occasionally a youngster clambers out to explore, usually with Dad, sometimes with a friend.
And shrieks with excitement at the clusters of crabs, or voracious fish, that can be seen down crevices, feeding in unlikely places.
Then I smile to myself.
Because only I know why.

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Seashore by Saiffun Hassam

I sit on that craggy rock near the seashore. I come to listen to sand dunes whisper stories of buried cities, of shipwrecks, of fishermen seeking shelter from stormy seas.

The rock seems like a sphinx, silent and hardhearted. It rumbles and I hear its memories of how the sun and wind and water have shaped the Earth.

Sea diatoms, seashells, sea fans, and sea urchins whisper news from across the oceans of oil spills, polluted waters, crumbling coral.
When glaciers melt, their whisperings build into wild and terrified screams as they are torn apart by a warming climate.

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Dialects by D. Avery

My people are few in number. These English built over their bones, grew their crops in our fields.

Now these English at Patuxet have, for the first time, plenty of food and are sharing their harvest and the fowl they got with the Pokanokets, who roast deer and heat pottages. Both Bradford and Massasoit need me to interpret. Massasoit’s people number twice the English. All are fed and entertained. It is a good time for Massasoit and Bradford.

Wind whispers in the dry cornstalks. Red leaves rustle and drop. These sounds come to my ear in my own language.

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Sardines by Hugh W. Roberts

Does a game of Sardines hold secrets Richard doesn’t want his husband to know anything about?

***
“I hope he doesn’t find us,”

“So do I,” whispered Richard. “We’re in big trouble if he does.”

“Why? What’ll he do?”

“God knows,” murmured Richard, “but it won’t be nice. Now, be quiet; I hear footsteps approaching.”

“Richard!” yelled Adrian as he entered the empty bedroom.

Creaking sounds from the wardrobe grabbed his attention.

“Oh no, I think he’s going to find us,” whispered Richard just before the two doors of the wardrobe opened. “Quickly, hide.”

“Richard! Found you. But who are you talking to?” challenged Adrian.

“Keep your eyes closed, and he won’t see us,” whispered Richard.

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Pig In a Pond by D. Avery

“Why ya whisperin’ Kid?”
“Whisperin’ ‘cause I’m a pony.”
“Whut?!”
“You know, a little horse.”
“Jeez. Why’re ya hoarse, Kid?”
“Been hollerin’ fer my hoglet. Tryin’ ta git Curly ta come home.”
“She’s still hangin’ out with them beavers?”
“Yep. Swims in their pond, heps with their dam, even dives down an’ gits inta their lodge with ‘em.”
“Amazin’!”
“Tell ya what hurts me most, Pal. I walked down there an’ she slapped the water with her tail ta warn the beavers I was there.”
“Thet little curly tail couldn’t a made much sound.”
“Jist a whisper. Still hurts.”

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Whisperin’ Waters A Change by D. Avery

“Kid, mebbe hollerin’ ain’t the way ta git yer hoglet ta come ta ya.”
“S’pose Pal.”
“Look, Kid. Ya were always wantin’ this hog ta be yer fur-baby, even though she ain’t got fur; made her a pet but not much of a pig. Well mebbe she ‘dentifies more as a beaver.”
“Mebbe. Beavers is real smart, like her. But Pal… I cain’t say goodbye.”
“She’s right there in the pond.”
“But that tail slappin’…”
“Yer gonna have ta regain her trust Kid. Meet her where she’s at.”
“In the pond?”
“Respect her beaver-being.”
“I’ll be a beaver whisperer.”

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Across the Water

You will be surprised to find what’s across the water.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Can They See Me? by Michael Fishman

Crisp October morning. Steam fog rises and swirls like smoke over the marsh. The wispy veil slowly moves across the water following the sun’s lead while a group of Canada Geese, hidden in the cattails and bulrush, honk and bark.

I see faces in the swirling steam. Faces of loved ones long gone. Can they see me?

The sun rises, the air warms; the steam fog slowly melts.

If I knew it to be true that we see those who have moved on in an afterlife, I’d close my eyes and lie down now.

I miss you that much.

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A Matter Of Life And Death by Hugh Roberts

Holding on to Richard, Adrian looked out across the water.

“I told you I’d come back as a cat,” laughed Richard, “so I’m not keen being by the water.”

“But we promised we’d come to Brighton beach, ride the carousel and look out across the water on this date every year. Why wouldn’t we come this year?”

“Because it’s still too soon. Grief left empty-handed when you opened the door and let me in, but the answer to your future lays across the water.”

“But I can’t swim.”

“Who said anything about swimming to your future?” echoed Richards’s voice.

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The Middle of a Lake by Donna Matthews

They find themselves in the middle of the lake.

Just that morning, they were arguing again over the stupidest thing…a dirty cup left in the sink. When did their conversations become so hard?

Now, here they are…quiet…lines in the water and lost in their separate thoughts. This unspeaking worse than fighting.

Her reverie’s broken by a sudden drop in temperature and wind on her face. Looking across the water, the sky darkening a deep green, a storm approaching. She chuckles at the irony of this mirror of nature on her marriage. Bring it, she thinks…she’s done with this silence.

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The Wind by C. E. Ayr

I arrive at the headland, exhausted.
The wind-driven snow in my face has made the trip long and hazardous.
These hills can be dangerous even in calm weather.
Across the water I see the lights of home.
Where she is, with the children, my love, and my life.
Not far by boat, but I am on foot.
Another fourteen miles hard trek.
Suddenly the wind lifts again, and I am instantly alert.
My hunter’s senses are keen.
Something is not right.
Bad tidings sweep across the bay.
The sound of misery.
The scent of fear.
The smell of blood.

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Short Story to Rouse Your Imagination by Myrna Migala

Arriving finally at the shore of a large lake, the children were excited. “We can see all the way across the water,” they said!

“Look, see that home. It looks so tall and scary.”

“There is a footpath, and we can walk all around the lake to the other side; what an adventure. We will pack a lunch and go tomorrow.”

They followed the path the next day; within a few hours, they were in front of that large home, now looking across the water to where they came.

“Look! Across the water, there is that scary house again!”

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Across the Water by Sue Spitulnik

Who is it
Looking across the water

The fisherman searches for a set of concentric circles
Showing him the fish

The boater gauges the choppiness
Whether he’s in for a rough ride or not

The new skier enjoys smooth glass
It’s easier to maneuver behind the boat

The child jumps in delighted and unafraid
Not caring about the temperature

The skin diver goes below the surface
Enjoying the beauty and quiet

The bird takes advantage of the bugs
Hovering at dawn and dusk

The Vietnam veteran stares at the surface
Remembering bamboo straws that allowed submerged enemies to
breath

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Styx and Stones by Liz Husebye Hartmann

His nails were dark and sharp, spreading before him as he stretched first one paw, then the other. He backed further under the Juniper hedge.

She should’ve stayed home, not taken the canoe across the water.

He’d felt the storm coming, and had refused to board with her. She’d laughed, secured her furs for trade, and pushed off, waving her paddle before turning toward the far shore.

Rain was relentlessly cruel. Thunder pierced his sensitive ears. Waves crashed cloudy red, tumbling pebbles.

 Nightfall, pressing in, might calm the storm. He’d wait here for her.

 She always came back home.

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Down East by D. Avery

When her husband left she was most concerned about retrieving the boat. 

She hasn’t run the boat for years now, has her groceries delivered dockside every other Thursday. Told Jeb she’d understand him being late because of rough weather, but if he ever showed up early or out of the blue she’d tan him. 

She’d be polite when he delivered, just; said ‘thank you’ then ‘have a good one’; his signal to go. Jeb didn’t even cut the engine.

Was Jeb of course that found her, sprawled on her rocky shores as if still looking beseechingly across the water.

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Her Lover Returns by Joane Fisher

Her love was across the water. She walked along the beach counting the days until his return. One day word reached her that his ship sunk and was lost beneath the waves. She grieved, wishing for his return.

One night on the beach she saw him: his hair was now seaweed and his skin was a pallid green thinly stretched over his bones, but it was definitely him.

“My love!” he croaked, holding out his arms. She hugged him, but his embrace was so tight she could hardly breathe or break free as he dragged her under the waves.

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Is He Dead or Alive by Miss Judy

The cottage was cozy and warm, the porch perfect for unwinding. A wine and cheese gift basket welcomed her. Exhausted, Carrie was glad to be in her homeaway home. She understood her mission, knew her target, nothing left to be done tonight.

Grabbing a glass and the wine, she retired to the porch. Lights flickered across the water but not his. Had he arrived? Lulled by the quiet and warmed by the wine, Carrie fell asleep.

BANG! flashes of light shattered Carrie’s sleep. Across the water his house was ablaze. She has to know, “Is he dead or alive?”

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The Tradewater by H.R.R. Gorman

Across the water is a country of luxury. My family loads our keelboat with goods and drags a raft of timber behind us. Across the river we float, trickling down to the exotic city where we trade.

Our family trades logs for some silk, corn for new shoes, and furs for sugar. We sell the raft to lighten the load back upriver.

I ask Pa, “Why do they trade their riches for our poor goods?”

Pa pushes the keel. “They live in a desert. To them, we’re the rich ones, but we’re all rich once we’ve shared our treasures.”

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Crossings by D. Avery

When Epenow was taken across the water he saw how the English are. He used their words, spoke of gold so the English would return him to Noepe where he escaped. Epenow is their enemy. He became sachem of his people.
Epenow saw that I know the English too, was wary about how I was with Dermer.
Another English ship came. Many people were murdered. When Dermer returned afterwards Epenow mortally wounded him. I was taken captive and placed with Massassoit.
Now a ship harbors near Patuxet. These people, though weak, will be my strength.
I will become sachem.

*Epenow, of the island of Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard) had been kidnapped and taken to England in 1611, four years prior to Tisquantum’s abduction.

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In my mind, I’m there by Anne Goodwin

Across the water, there is no hunger. Across the water, there is no pain. Across the water, there is justice. Across the water, there is peace.

I’d build a boat, but the waves would break it. I’d start to swim, but I’d be food for sharks.

I turn my back against the water. Dressed in rags, I face another arduous day. Sweating, toiling, aching, weeping; if I paused, I’d starve to death.

In my mind, the water freezes. I don my skates and fur-lined coat. With a smile, I glide to freedom. In my mind, there is no fear.

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New Worlds by Rebecca Glaessner

Across the water, something glistened. Had he finally found it?

Racing, stumbling through waves, he slipped. The water dragged him under. He kicked and thrashed for an age.

Ever sinking, tired now. He’d searched for nothing.

A voice, otherworldly and infinite, reached him beneath the river’s roar, “fight, human.”

One final moment, through agony, he gave his last, then stilled.

He gasped, heaved painfully. Air?

He’d finally found it, waiting nearby, whole worlds glistening within. He touched it. It thrummed, infinite, otherworldly. Impressed? Shoulders squared, he disappeared with it, leaving his world behind.

After-all, he hadn’t fought for nothing.

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Water Initiation by Charli Mills

Seele’s initiation to Monitor Creek came in the summer of 1975. Hot asphalt burned the tender pads of her feet. Town kids rolled truck innertubes along the highway, Seele trailing reluctantly. Her Aunt Bonnie suggested she make friends. Did these local kids have iron feet? The cool rushing water soothed until Seele pushed off the edge to follow the others. Rapids grabbed her innertube, swelling over a jumble of hidden rocks, spinning her backward, and slamming into boulders. Rubber bounced, plunged, and rose. At the bridge they all got out. Seele couldn’t wait to go across the water again.

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Rainbow Flotilla by Norah Colvin

She wrote a message on each piece of paper and folded them into tiny boats. At the lake, she launched them from the bank, then watched the rainbow flotilla sail across the water. Curious ducks investigated, capsizing one or two, but the rest sailed on. A turtle popped up, knocking one off-course. It smashed on the rocks, but the rest sailed on. A dragonfly alighted on one, enjoying the free ride as the rest sailed on, finally reaching the other side. A child fished one out and opened it to dry. He read the message, then smiled and waved.

🥕🥕🥕

Wood Ducks in the Golf Course Pond by Paula Moyer

There they are, year after year, Jean said to herself as she pondered the wood ducks. On the other side of the fence at the end of my block. The golf course pond was where, each spring, a mother wood duck brought her hatchling into the water. And there they glided, across the water as smoothly as skaters on ice, the little caravan of mother and ducklings. She had her “ducks in a row.” Under the water was the messy part, legs churning, making it all work. Just like me, Jean thought. The mess is underneath.

🥕🥕🥕

Kolaba Fort, Alibag by Reena Saxena

Silly me! I led my colleagues to a fort in between the sea, without checking high tide timings.

And there we were …. stuck in the fort for the entire day, because we couldn’t go across the water to reach shore. Luckily for us, there was a feast on in the temple inside. They served us lunch at a nominal price.

The waves still looked daunting at 6 pm. Again, the locals came to our rescue and a 10-year old helped us navigate the waters to reach the shore.

What a blissful feeling it was to touch the ground again!

🥕🥕🥕

My Magical Creeks by Duane L Herrmann

My tiny piece of land has two creeks that join together. They are damned upstream, so they don’t always carry water. Sometimes one, or the other, or even both, have water. It ‘s magical when they do. When there is enough water, it gurgles over the rocks causing the creek to sing. Because this isn’t constant, it is more magical and special than otherwise. I would like to listen for hours, but always there is work to do. I have a path across one with two large, flat rocks. When water is running, I easily step across the water.

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Poe-ssion by Kerry E.B. Black

Quaint and curious volumes to ponder
Yet across the water I wander
To find my friend’s lost love Lenore

For he so lost in dreams does linger
That it has quite stilled his fingers
And he writes wise words no more.

‘Tis a fate I can’t abide,
For in his tales I do reside
And hope his muse to restore

In his harried footsteps flounder
Looking for the bard profounder
In the night’s Plutonian shore

Sadness overtakes my searching
A Reaper Grim in gutters lurching
And a Raven quoth, “Nevermore.”

So much more my woe.
My beloved Poe.

🥕🥕🥕

Across the Water by FloridaBorne

The son of a Native American and a French-Canadian fur trapper continued his father’s trade, wandering through the wilds of Canada. In Roxton Pond, Vitaline Bernier became smitten with him, marrying the man who impregnated her.

He rarely visited and she only lived long enough to have three children.

There are many Bernier’s buried in the church graveyard. Vitaline is not among them. He never returned after her death.

His son left home at the age of 14, and worked on a cargo ship bound for destinations far across the pond, for Vitaline’s children were never a welcome addition.

🥕🥕🥕

The Near End by Jane Aguiar

Our boat inverted unknowingly, we were thrown into the water, darkness came before my eyes and not a single word uttered.

Husband tried to save me, but the water was pulling me away. I held my breath, so that water from the nose and mouth would not get into my stomach, even tried to paddle.

I tried desperately to get across the water, but I started to go under the barge that was anchored. My heart sank, when I saw the end near. Even in that situation, my eyes got wet in the water and I closed my eyes.

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Theory of Species X by Simon

It’s dangerous across the water, don’t go to land.

No it’s not. I have practised, I can breath on ground too, it isn’t dangerous.

What if it is?

I’ll survive, we fight monsters everyday undersea, our next level of survival is going to be on land.

You are going to die.

No, you are.

Across the water, it discovered itself. It took different forms, it faced hell and heaven. Today, it took a form of Human, you, me, and everyone around us, is because of that species, challenged itself to change the world.

Theories are not stories, isn’t it?

🥕🥕🥕

Beyond the Horizon by Bill Engleson

I do not see the mountains I must cross.

I know that they are there, beautiful obstacles that I will need to traverse to reach my destination.

Even before I set out on this journey, my eyes see only the dream.

The dream to be there.

I will embrace the journey, feast on every stone, every creature along the way.

I am as prepared as could possibly be.

My affairs are in order.

My mission is clear.

My first step will be to walk across the water.

I will begin at the shore.

Once there, I will be free.

🥕🥕🥕

Reflections by Doug Jaquier

For us,
all things seem possible when we look across blue water,
planning a thousand buoyant courses.

We do not weigh our stamina against the undertow
nor the wind strength against our craft;
we have enough gods
to warrant speculation.

But there are those who stand upon the solid shore
who are already at the end of their worlds
and our imagined journeys
are their fated drownings.

For them,
sailing into the blue
seems a truly godless journey.

So they sit watching us,
like hermit crabs,
waiting for us to set out,
and picturing life inside our empty shells.

🥕🥕🥕

Grandmother by Saifun Hassam

A heron flew across the water. In the early morning, mist drifted among pine, birch, and wild honeysuckle along the creek.

I paused on the weathered, rickety narrow wood bridge across the water. The creek was clear. A few weeks ago, heavy rains turned the waters into a roiling muddy flow. I took a risk on those days, walking on that precarious bridge. The yearning to go across the water was all too powerful, to visit my grandmother’s empty cottage. She was dead now. Her life linked me to other shores, India and Africa. Would I ever go there?

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A‘Wake’nings’… by JulesPaige

A ring across the water, circular trips mostly.
Two in manmade lakes.
One where three rivers met.
Curious tours for Ah-ha moments.
Three of the paddlewheel boats out of four –
One was turned into a diner theater –
Permanently docked – the actors
Making moves across the stage
While wait staff made rings around
The tables – for the service of patrons.
Making their own history, memories for me.

Four different states
Settled perhaps by four different sons
(Or daughters… all had mothers).
All have different pages in history,
Different openings to lead and guide.
So it was for those hosted rides…

🥕🥕🥕

Across the Water by Robert Kirkendall

The family drove through the mountains then the highway straightened as they approached the seaside town. Their young son was on the edge of the back seat eager to get a better view through the windshield. He felt anticipation as they moved closer to their destination.

They entered the outskirts of town and he tried to look past the buildings as they got closer to the coast. They drove ahead and he finally saw the ocean. He looked across the water gratefully as his view stretched as far as his eyes could see, unlike the valley where he lived.

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Smooth Sailing by Annette Rochelle Aben

It was the summer of 1968. The year the Detroit Tigers won the pennant and the year our family bought a pool for our backyard!
The pool store threw in a variety of pool toys as a bonus, one of which was a six-foot Styrofoam surfboard. Temptation got the better of us and as long as our parents were at work…

We used the deck to hold it in place and with a running start, we’d jump onto the board. The force sent us sailing into the opposite pool wall. Oh yeah, we were never bored on that board!

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In the Clover by Nancy Brady

Aloysius, the white cat, was running alongside the black horse. The horse leaped over a fence; Aloysius jumped through the slats, and they continued across another open field nearing a swiftly flowing stream.

The horse easily jumped across the water, but Aloysius stopped on the bank.

Aloysius didn’t particularly like getting wet (and what cat does?), but there was no way he could make the lengthy jump the steed did. He didn’t want to use his blue jay feather to fly though.

Standing in green clover, Aloysius wished there was a bridge, and in the wishing, a bridge appeared.

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Jist Skatin’ By by D. Avery

“Kid! Where ya been? Was worried ya weren’t gonna make it this week.”
“Havin’ the same worry, Pal. Findin’ this anuther tough prompt.”
“Hmm. Figgered ya’d sail with this un, Kid. Or kayak, or swim, or even ride yer hoss across.”
“Yep, they’s plenny a situations could arise. Coulda had the creek rise, mebbe involve Ernie or Curly. But none a that feels right. Have been down ta the creek though, where it pools unner the trees.”
“An’? Catch a story?”
“Nuthin’. Jist set there watchin’ water bugs a-sparklin’ in the sun, skatin’ an’ scurryin’ across the water.”
“Hmm.”

🥕🥕🥕

Jist Skatin’ By by D. Avery

“Shift, Pal! The creek is risin’!”
“Thet’s okay Kid, they’s plenny a room fer thet. We’ll be alright. The Ranch is a safe place after all.”
“Curly’s stuck on the far side.”
“Gary Larson’s Far Side? Seems fittin’ fer Curly.”
“No, Pal, she cain’t git back across the water. Come help!”
“Cain’t cross or won’t? Look’t Kid. She’s over there takin’ up with a fam’ly a beavers.”
“Dam! That’s why the creek’s a-risin’.”
“Yep. Yer hoglet’s heppin’ them beavers make a pond. Thet’s good fer all.”
“But… d’ya think she’ll come back? Or has she b’come a lodge member?”

🥕🥕🥕

The Author’s Chair

The author’s chair is available. If you dare to sit.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Stories from the Author’s Chair by Sue Spitulnik

I went out of curiosity, to hear what the veterans wrote about their experiences.
Each author sat in the special chair to read a piece of his writing. An Army officer recounted delivering coffee in the dead of night to frightened young rookies in look-out towers. An Air Force pilot related seeing a plane crash, then having to walk around the wreckage to go fly his own mission. The Marine lowered his gaze, described the sounds, smells, and angst of the front line, and carrying his wounded buddy to the medical tent.
I wondered who had the worst nightmares.

🥕🥕🥕

Ghost Writer by Ann Edall-Robson

This is my chair. It is my favourite place to come. It’s where I sit in the sun or hide from the weather under the eaves. The view from here and the noise of nature always make my heart sing. The songs let me soar with the lofty clouds to grasp the words no one else hears. Capturing them on scraps of paper I kept tucked in my pocket for just such moments.

My chair is old, but I see it still beckons to those who need to connect to their words. I wonder if they feel me nearby?

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by Saifun Hassam

At the yard sale, Nancy found an ornate garden chair, its metal frame painted bright blue. Nancy placed the chair near the old but still serviceable wood table in the garden near forest green hosta, ferns, and variegated rainbow-colored coleus.

When her best friend and indie author Trish saw the chair, she immediately thought of a garden tea party scene for her new historical fiction novel. Saturdays turned into a scrumptious garden party for their friends, to read and share ideas for their novels and poetry.

The garden chair settled into its new home. Proud to be a ghostwriter.

🥕🥕🥕

Strategic Support by JulesPaige

Just one seat, that old chair…
When words cease to flow
Who can we blame for our lack of skill to write
When the night brings us fright
And we trip, face first

If we could get to it
Those legs strong and true,
To lend us strength to hold us with love and care,
That one chair, near glass with
A view to change sight

To lift and warm our soul
Ease on to that pad
Sit still with calm peace, that slow warmth to grow strong
‘Blank page you will not win’
That must be the cry

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by Michael Fishman

A lumbar support is strapped over wooden cross rails; a cushion covers an unforgiving seat.

My author’s chair hates me.

I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not too cheap to buy an author’s chair. I just don’t consider myself an author.

The chair mocks me.

I’m lying down reading and from the corner of my eye I see the chair angled toward me. “C’mon,” it taunts. “Sit.”

I blink; it appears closer. “Whatcha gotta say?”

I shake my head.

“Got a story, Mr. Writer? A rhyme?”

As it scrapes across the floor toward me, I lose my mind.

🥕🥕🥕

Arthur’s Chair by Bill Engleson

He was one of those kids who needed steadiness. OCD? Maybe. He was a finicky little critter from the get-go. First day, grade one, he had to have a chair and desk right next to the teacher’s desk.

Miss Filbert.

She’d been teaching a while, but Arthur was a new one on her.

“Wouldn’t you be happier sitting next to a friend, Arthur?” she asked.

He shook his head.

Wouldn’t budge.

She was a smart lady.

“Fine,” she said, “We’re desk buddies.”

Thing was, it worked for Artie.

Gave him the confidence to stand his ground.

Or sit it.

🥕🥕🥕

Imposter Syndrome by Norah Colvin

When Dave revisited his junior school, he smiled to see the chair in its usual spot.

“Get down,” his big sister had said. “You’re not allowed on there. It’s only for authors.”

“I am an author,” Dave said, holding up the book he’d made in class.

“Not a real author. Real authors have real books published by real publishers, and their feet touch the floor. Anyway, it’s time to go.”

This time, when Dave sat in the chair, his feet touched the floor. The audience hushed as he opened his real book and began to read. Imposter no more.

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s What? by Duane L Herrmann

“An Author’s what?”

“Chair.”

“What a curious idea. Sometimes a student had to stand facing a corner in the front of the room, otherwise, students seldom came to the front.”

“They didn’t?”

“Not unless they were in trouble.”

“That’s harsh, man!”

“We didn’t want to be in the front with everyone staring at us. I had to do it once, in third grade, to give a report, and I was sure glad to get that over with!”

“Did anyone read outloud?”

“Aside from our reading group in class, which I hated, only the teacher.”

“Only the teacher?’

“Yep.”

“Wow.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Author’s Chair by Joanne Fisher

“So you want to write books?” the figure asked.

“Yes.” the author replied.

“What you need is the Author’s Chair. You won’t be able to stop writing.” the figure said. A brown leather chair appeared.

“That’s what I want. How much for it?”

“Only your soul.” The author laughed upon hearing this.

“It’s of no matter. Go ahead and take it!” the author urged.

“Fine.” The figure disappeared.

The author sat down and began writing and found he couldn’t stop. He wrote many works, but died of thirst, hunger, and exhaustion from never being able to leave the Chair.

🥕🥕🥕

Tree of Life by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Stepping from the top of one tree to middle of the other, she slides toward the trunk, tests each step. Bark snaps and spirals; it’s a long way down. Desire stays true, the guiding song.

Ascending, though the needles hurt, she’s careful to avoid new shoots. The snap of sap both glues and sparks; it draws her upward toward her mark.

Tree sways in an onshore breeze. Lake promises sweet and ease.

Sky opens wide, near Red Pine’s peak. She builds her nest, to wait and seek.

Eagle soars and tips his wings.

She is learning all new things.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s Not the Destination, But What Happens on the Way by Anne Goodwin

Bracken scratches my ankles as I traverse another false summit. For years, I’ve hacked through forest, trod on tarmac, scrambled over boulders, meandered through meadows, lost my way and rediscovered it, but still can’t reach the top. Yet it’s called to me since childhood, as I farmed in the valley below. “Come, scale the mountain, and sit on the gritstone throne.” The closer I get, the more it eludes me, but glimpses tantalise, urging me on. Until, pausing to slake my thirst, I see marvels reflected in the pool. “Relax,” say the waters. “There’s a wondrous view from here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Anticipated Success by Lindsey F. McPherson

The agony of thought, struggles of imagination, threat of criticism, prospect of praise, disturbs my creativity. I always associate the flash fiction competition with the smell of grass, hot dogs and rhythmic jazz music, all necessary for a good festival. On stage, the rainbow-coloured author’s chair is both inviting and threatening, depending on the quality of imagination that trickled into my fingers.

My blood thunders, tentatively I sit. I see family and friends anticipate a successful performance. I’m wide-eyed, bugged-out nervous. Polite applause confirms my failure for the fifth year running. “Never mind’ mother quips, “there’s always next year.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Trinity by Annette Rochelle Aben

Wandering through an estate sale, Michelle hoped they had an old wooden roll-top desk. If it had a matching chair, all the better.
Dan was constantly rearranging items as other items sold. It was his goal to see that everything would catch the eye of the right person.
He had barely moved the Remington typewriter to a more prominent place, when he heard a gasp. Michelle couldn’t believe her eyes. There was her roll-top desk with a matching chair!

She handed him a check for all three. After all, a writer needed a desk, a chair, and a typewriter.

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by Anita Dawes

My authors chair is in a pub called The Drum.
It has a blue plaque with his name on, H G Wells
A man before his time, no pun intended
He sat inside with the likes of Lewis Carrol and others
Discussing their latest ideas
I would love to have been there as he wrote notes
about what became my favourite film
The TIME MACHINE
How many would queue to sit in that chair
I would in a heartbeat
Push that crystal stopper from his brandy decanter
be on my way
Don’t look for me, I’ll be a while…

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by Reena Saxena

It’s a kind of pilgrimage for her.

They say the author’s soul still resides on that old leather chair, and blesses writers who dare to sit on it. The agent charges a whopping sum for taking people there, and allows no refunds.

A piece of eternity is on her palms, as she touches the worn out chair. Magic flows – she just knows it’s hers – very familiar, very comfortable and she sinks in the seat, never to rise again.

The agent is horrified.

Her frozen smile seems to mock him – “Are you offering a refund now? I won’t take it.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sour Grapes by Doug Jacquier

At John’s sale, his office chair is marked ‘Author’s chair $500.’
‘Are you a published author?’
‘Not yet but I will be and then you can re-sell it for a fortune. And it comes with the tapes’.
‘Tapes?’
‘I can’t type so I dictated it. The money’s to pay a transcriber so I can send it off to a publisher and become famous. And then you’ll be rich.’
‘Your book’s that good?’
‘I’m pretty sure it is but I’ve never listened to it, so it might need a little polishing.’
‘I think I’ll pass, Mr. Steinbeck.’
‘You’ll be sorry.’

🥕🥕🥕

Chair by Simon

Authors Chair, with it, I’ll be famous, just like him.

You can sit under a tree, but you can never be Bhudha.

A talking chair?

Talking Idiot!

Attitude! can you make me famous?

Do I look like a Genie from magical lamp

You are magical and talking!

You are a Human, use your brain, start writing.

And you?

I will give you great comfort! I’m just a talking chair.

I can see that.

Then why you keep asking?

No use of talking.

Enlightenment?

Shut up! I’m writing

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by FloridaBorne

It was 1997, the year I stopped working for companies and started my own business.

The old clunker of a desk was far too big for my office, and needed an army to move it. My new desk was lightweight, and easily relocated at a whim.

I plopped into 50 chairs before I found the perfect backrest, seat padding that wasn’t too firm or soft, and arm rests at just the right level.

Then I read the price tag. “$100? For a chair?”

It’s been 24 years, and I’m sitting in that same chair as I write this post.

🥕🥕🥕

Queen’s Corner by Kerry E.B. Black

Marshalling troops, in that nondescript corner of the family living room. Caught up in her private battles with deadlines and artistic excellence, she remained miles from the mundane. It’s hard to imagine the wonders she created from such a threadbare throne, yet create she did. Three novels and countless short stories she penned in the days before computers, long-hand translations of mental impressions and fanciful flights of imagination. She answered contest questions to earn spending money, captioned for prizes. Now, we haul the wingback to the rubbish as we mourn her loss.

🥕🥕🥕

Seat Of Horror by Hugh W. Roberts

Will Adrian’s birthday gift to Richard spark new ideas or give reasons to be concerned?

***
“Happy Birthday.”

“What is it?” squealed Richard as he tore off wrapping paper while Adrian took photos.

“You’ll soon find out.”

“A chair?”

“Not just any chair. Stephen King’s chair.”

“Stephen King?” You’re kidding me.”

“Nope. I got all the paperwork of authenticity.”

“I love it.”

“Get writing that first novel you keep telling us you have inside you.”

“Horror! It’ll be a horror story. It has to be horror, what with it being Stephen King’s chair.”

“Don’t let it go to your head. I’ve hidden all the knives and sharp objects but left you a pen,” giggled Adrian.

🥕🥕🥕

Purpose Rewritten by Rebecca Glaessner

The alien looked ugly, dying in the dirt, trying to remain human.

It looked like her when she screamed about my room, again. Face twisting like I wasn’t supposed to be there. I screamed back, she slapped me. I laughed.

Actually, she looked like it when I left. Ugly and dying.

I found the alien later and sat with it. It gave me its memories, stories of broken kids.

I let it.

It’s dead now, but I’m not. I found the others.

We got ourselves a space, chairs, tables, where we share the alien’s memories, and rewrite our futures.

🥕🥕🥕

Marked by D. Avery

These ones are grateful for their shelters, are proud of what they have built, though their houses are not as warm as our nush wetus. Even Bradford’s home is not as comfortable as Swany’s was in Cornhill. But like Swany, he has a chair and a small table where he marks on big leaves they call paper. Bradford reaches for his bible as Standish reaches for his musket.

I want this magic, these marks the English make and interpret. When I am sachem, Bradford will be obliged to share the secret of marking leaves. I will know this power.

🥕🥕🥕

Esprit Egression (Double Ennead *plus) by JulesPaige

In the autumn of life
The inkwell was still
In use by the paper thin skinned hand that now
Shook just a little more
while filling the page

Letters scritchity scratched
Black India Ink
Ran, danced, echoed memories real and
Imagined from the pen
Capturing moments

Until the cold winter
Arrived leaving just
The bare bones to drape on the author’s desk chair
Would fame come now that death
Had taken all else?

———–
Is the pen mightier than thoughts that wield it?
Can we define what haunts the doorways of our trials in this life?
Will what’s left tell?

🥕🥕🥕

And Still They Are Missing by Charli Mills

Louise pressed her back against a cottonwood tree, dipped her pen into the ink jar and wrote in her journal. “Silver vanished before the snowmelt and now the mountain aspen turn gold.” Her pen paused. Ink pooled. What else to say? The miners hauled more ore. Investors traded stock. Silver’s mother waited for her “Lord” to return from England. Rumors circulated that Bigfoot carried off Louise’s best friend. No one looked. Only Lord Chalmer’s disappearance made headlines in The Argonaut. One day, Louise vowed to sit in the author’s chair and give voice to the girls sentenced and silenced.

🥕🥕🥕

Author, Author! by D. Avery

“Pal, who’s Arthur?”

“Why d’ya ask Kid?”

“Shorty’s wantin’ folks ta write ‘bout Arthur’s chair.”

“Thet’s ‘author’ Kid, as in writer.”

“Oh. They’s writers all over the ranch.”

“Thet’s right Kid, an’ they’s invited ta take a seat in the author’s chair— share a piece a their work.”

“Soun’s like a hot seat.”

“No, Kid, it’s a friendly exchange. A chance ta share an’ engage with one another as readers an’ writers.”

“Like we do ‘roun the Carrot Ranch campfire ever’ week?”

”’Cept jist one author’ll be featured at a time.”

“Cool! Cain’t wait ta see who signs up.”

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by D. Avery

“So Pal, anyone readin’ this is eligible ta be in the Author’s Chair?”

“Yep. Kin read anythin’ they’ve writ; mebbe somethin’ we’ve seen b’fore or somethin’ we ain’t. Mebbe somethin’ thet’s been reworked somehow. But it ain’t got ta be Ranch related. Kin be from a WIP, a forthcomin’ book, an older book, or no book.”

“Someone jist sharin’ somethin’ they wouldn’t mind talkin’ more about.”

“’Zactly Kid. But the talk’ll mostly come from other folks’ questions an’ comments.”

“Seems ta me folks that write injoy talkin’ ‘bout writin’.”

“Yep. Thinkin’ the Author’s Chair’s gonna be a good ride.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Big Black Horse

Saddle up to ride these stories that feature a big black horse!

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Horses Run at Midnight by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“We’ll start you on Maisie. See how you do.” Her father smiled at her, one hand on the saddle, the other held out in invitation.  

Josie swallowed, took a deep breath, and nodded. She could easily hop onto Maisie’s back — nowhere near as high as the jump to Thunder’s back — with no need for a hand up. She and Thunder exchanged longing glances over the stall door, keeping him locked away.

Maisie nickered, brushing soft lips across stable floor, searching for scraps of straw.

Best she comply for now; Father wouldn’t approve of their clandestine, Thunderous midnight rides.

🥕🥕🥕

The Stallion by C. E. Ayr

I hate when he calls me ‘the black horse’.
I’m a thoroughbred stallion, a champion.
He is an insensitive brute.
I wonder what she ever saw in him.
She is gentle, caring, loving.
I worship her.
This morning I didn’t run well.
Maybe a touch of hay fever?
He’s not amused, he shouts at me.
But when he raises his whip, she tries to stop him.
And he strikes her.
She retaliates by whacking him over the head with one of those tools.
I think he’s going to get up and hurt her.
So I make sure he doesn’t.

🥕🥕🥕

For The Love of Greek Tragedy by Artimis Ash

There are no true words to describe my love of the one walking away back turned toward me. A winter affair, doomed to end when Spring came. My siblings had willed it. I’d argued, cried, lost.

Six months my hands wandered the length of his muscled body. Caressing his long silky hair shadowing his face, darker than night. Nuzzling my nose in his neck. Six months I’d ridden him daily, his strength bucking between my porcelain legs.

Now I stand on the shore of the river watching Demeter lead my stallion away, my chariot dead by the river Styx.

🥕🥕🥕

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby by Fiery Females

The knight on a white horse came riding through the wind and swept her to an unknown place….

The dream always ended at this point, as she wondered where.

Nights are less scary now. The horse is a Big Black one, not white, and the rider is fully in control of directions and destination.

She sleeps in peace and occasionally peeks at the rider’s face.

The mirror is always a lovely place to look in….

The knight on the white horse is trailing behind, wondering if he can keep up with her dreams.

You’ve come a long way, Baby!

🥕🥕🥕

Out to Grass by Ellen Best

The crop snapped his flank,

the pop spurred him on,

His acclaimed turn-of-foot

would deliver his swansong.
A snort a twitch

The winning post Past

At the final stroke

This race would be his last.
Put out to grass

Racing finished

Time to shine gone

No friends to race

Or bowls of mash

No roar of the crowd or

heads to clash.
In this meadow

🥕🥕🥕

And The Winner Is by Myrna Migala

One day not too long ago, a black horse was galloping through the forest.
Stopping suddenly because he heard a cherry tree speaking to its neighbor, the apple tree. “My fruit is much sweeter than yours,”

“You think so,” said the apple tree! The apple tree continued, “have you not heard it was the luscious allure of the apple that resulted in the fall of mankind.”

“That is just a fairy tale,” said the cherry tree.

“Is it?” The apple tree came back with an assertive voice.

The horse voiced, “even if a tale, the author chooses the apple.”

🥕🥕🥕

Destination by Lindsey McPherson

“Hey! Amigos, the border is open, they’re not stopping us”.

The amigos, sized up the border from behind the cherry tree. “Hey, what’s the story?’

One replies “We are waiting for our onward destination!”

“See, we can cross!” They trot through the one-way gate.

“You, black horse, you’re a beauty, you’re going to Hollywood. Palomino, you’re strong, you’re going to Texas. White mane, over there with that family, you’re going to California.”

“What about me, I want Hollywood too?”

Rancher replied, “You’re a pigmy horse, a reject!”.

“So where am I going?”

”France! They prefer small steaks”.

🥕🥕🥕

Elusive by Ann Edall-Robson

Around the dying campfire
old timers’s voices talk…

About the full moon
dancing through the clouds
and the vision of the big black horse
running hard across that ridge

Mares fleeing silhouettes
galloping towards the trees
the black horse nipping
at them, up there on that ridge

And when the moon sets
brining daybreak to its life
the ground is scarred with
hoof prints across that ridge

The stories of the elusive herd
be they truth or be they myth
does a big black horse still run free
up there on that ridge

…chasing wild horses
along that ridge

🥕🥕🥕

Racing the Horse by Nancy Brady

It was the autumnal equinox, and the maple leaves had already begun to turn a bright red.

On his way home, Aloysius noticed a big black horse cantering in a field. He wanted to run alongside the horse, but he was too slow until one red leaf fell.

Stepping on it, Aloysius suddenly sped up. More red leaves fell from the maple trees onto Aloysius’s path; he ran faster and faster until he caught up to the horse.

The horse began to gallop in response to Aloysius’s speed. Joyfully running together, the horse and cat raced around the field.

🥕🥕🥕

Weed by Simon

I’m high, on a cherry tree

could not explicit, this exceptional feeling

questioning! a way to forestall emotions

My emotions, It’s rolling it’s subsiding

Fallen from the tree, I felt no pain

I was on a Big black horse, vain.

It is stealing me from reality, that’s not vain!

Wherein this journey ends? the map says to keep going.

Am still High? I need no end, Must I get more high?

Feels right, weeds don’t hurt

Feels right, feelings don’t hurt

Feels right, to feel okay

Get high, don’t sigh,

🥕🥕🥕

Feeney’s Nightmare by Bill Engleson

Long after the dream ended, Feeney was troubled by it. Dream or nightmare, it was unusual. Sile had given him a middle-of-the-night shake, put her nose to his, said “You’re shouting.”
“Shouting what?” he had muttered. “I don’t shout.”
“No,” she had smiled, “you’re usually a quiet one when you’re dead to the world. Not this time, bucko.”
“So, what was I yelling?”
“Crikey, what was it? Mostly incoherent is what it was…no, it was…Mickey Mouse.”
“Really?”
“Or maybe Pig Pack Porous…?”
”That’s gobbledygook.”
“Okay. Maybe… Big Black Horse?”
“Mice! Pigs! Horses!”
“Maybe Tic Tac Dough?”
“Go to sleep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Nightmare by Kerry E.B. Black

She comes every night with heavy tread. I cower beneath my covers, reduced to a pleading child. It doesn’t deter this manifestation. She looms, breathing heavy snorts of derision. Although I dread it, I know my part.

I climb through my consciousness and mount the beast, this collection of fears made flesh, shadow turned solid. She’ll rear and stomp while I cling, helpless.

Soon she’ll paw the carpet with impatient hooves.

She’ll never suspect I’ve been learning in the afternoons. Tonight I grip a surprise – a bridle.

It’s time I control my evenings.

I hear her heavy tread approach.

🥕🥕🥕

Beauty on the Battlefield by Anne Goodwin

“This devil’s yours, Sambo. Kraut won’t see you coming in the dark.”

The stallion had a malicious glint in its eyes, but the glint in the captain’s was meaner. Walter had never ridden before; Beauty had never seen action. But they’d learn; they had to: hesitant horses were dinner; the deserter’s fate was worse.

Patience paid off. Walter soothed Beauty’s nerves on the battlefield; Beauty eased Walter’s yearning for home. Gassed, shell-shocked and wounded, Walter returned to St Kitts to die. He left his medal with Beauty in Flanders. It belonged to the horse as much as to him.

🥕🥕🥕

Medicine Horse by D. Avery

A shadow softened the sharp rays that pinned him to the sunbaked ground. He opened his eyes to see the soft nostrils that blew a cooling caress; saw an unshod hoof of the big black horse that nudged him until he struggled onto its back.

‘What big black horse?’ the townsfolk asked.

Recovered, he would avenge himself against the men who’d left him to die. But their horses, still saddled, a boot hanging in a stirrup, clattered into town ahead of the big black horse.

‘What big black horse?’, the townsfolk asked, for there was no sign of it.

🥕🥕🥕

Black Horse by Joanne Fisher

Jess and Cindy went out riding. It had been several weeks since Cindy’s miscarriage, and the gloom was still around her. Jess watched her anxiously. As they rode, a big black horse suddenly appeared in front of them. It was black as a storm cloud and it’s hoofbeats sounded like thunder. Instinctively Cindy chased it, with Jess following behind. Then the black horse disappeared, and Cindy brought her horse to a halt. Once Jess caught up with her, she found Cindy motionless and staring into space.

“What was that?” Jess asked.

“Some sort of phantom,” Cindy replied, feeling uneasy.

🥕🥕🥕

The Headless Blacksmith by Gloria

The blacksmith was hanged on a tree that once stood tall and strong. Now, its branches hang low, weeping for him; an innocent man. Guilty only of seeking to castigate the cretin who violated his wife; the influential man who smoked cigars and drank fine whiskey.

The headless blacksmith rides the dark lanes on his big black horse. With no need for sight nor light, he circles the weeping tree before galloping into the night, hunting for the dissolute rich man—who has long since perished under the hooves of the black stallion. The blacksmith rides on; doesn’t rest.

🥕🥕🥕

The Big Black Horse by Duane L Herrmann

My little sister wanted a horse. We had an empty barn and pastures. She promised to take care of it. She begged. Our father bought one and brought it home.

“It’s so big!” My sister gasped, gazing at the giant, black beast.

“Here,” said dad, handing her the brush.

Fearfully, she approached the animal, touched the brush to its side. The skin reacted by rippling and the horse swung its tail in her face. She screamed, dropped the brush, ran out to safety and never approached it again. It took our father a month to sell it.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wild Ride by Charli Mills

Clods of dirt flew. A big black horse thundered through the apricot orchard, a small child perched bareback, her knees drawn up to his withers, tiny hands grasping long mane. A woman in a kerchief ran, bellowing like a calf separated from its mother. Saucy, the Australian Shepherd with one blue eye, zipped past the woman and caught up to the horse, nipping at his hind hooves. The dog turned the horse around at the one lone cherry tree planted at the orchard’s edge. He trotted smooth as butter back to the barn. The woman wheezed. The child grinned.

🥕🥕🥕

Fair Play by D. Avery

“These aren’t like Lucienne’s team of Morgans.”

“No, they’re not Hope.”

“And they’re not like the horses we saw at the pull this morning.”

“They most certainly are not. These are fancy riding horses.”

Hope studied the high stepping horses in their fancy tack. “That one Daddy. The big black horse.”

“She’s a beauty, alright. And big. Are you sure?”

“Yes Daddy.”

“Do you want help getting on?”

“I can do it Daddy.” Stepping into the high stirrup and swinging herself into the saddle, Hope rode round and round while her father watched from the edge of the carousel.

🥕🥕🥕

The Big Black Horse by Norah Colvin

The riders considered the available horses. Fergal chose the big black, Valentina the silver. They mounted their steeds and entered the arena. Fergal cantered to one end and

Valentina the other. They steadied their mounts and faced each other.

“Let the contest begin! Charge!”

The contestants galloped towards each other.

Nearing the centre of the arena, Fergal’s black steed balked, tossing him off. Valentina wheeled her horse around, dismounted and raced to Fergal’s side.

“You okay, Fergal?”

“It’s only a scratch.”

“I’ll get a plaster from Miss.”

“It’s okay. Let’s go again. Can I have silver this time?”

“Okay.”

🥕🥕🥕

What’s the Chance by Rebecca Glaessner

“Black’s not moving-” he cried.

“It’s okay baby, I’ll fix it,” she said. She’d chosen Black. She should’ve seen the signs.

Never again. No more shortcuts.

She’d tried other horses, same dark fur, tall, friendly, but he always knew.

Her team arrived, collected Black and she returned to work, tireless and determined.

If anyone could solve it, she would.

A year on, Black’s fatal allergy to her son’s DNA finally revealed itself.

She watched Black nuzzle him. He hesitated, eyed her, then embraced Black fiercely, grinning through tears.

Regrown, genetics rewritten, memories transferred, Black never had to leave again.

🥕🥕🥕

Escape by Connor Dickinson

1984.
Blackened Coal Miners defeated. Watched by latchkey kid.
I, chained with a rusty key around scrawny neck on pebble-dashed council estate. Sick of the one, stingy Weetabix or watered-down milk.
However, cleaner mum magicked fifty pence for electric meter.
Du du, darra du duuu . . . .
Thirty minutes of a long dull week, I became galloping Black Beauty blurring our 1980s, boxy plastic TV screen. My monochrome coat magicked to colour within a year, defying wood-veneer-surround.
A glossy stallion not delinquent-dobbin: thorough-bred, not horseshit.
Unbridled, not poverty confined.
Clothes fuzzed like static TV.

My field vision became green.

🥕🥕🥕

The Magic of a Silly Brown Pup by Sue Spitulnik

When Michael started whistling the tune to “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree,” Jester went into action. He raced from his master to the door and back several times while Michael donned his prosthetic legs. Once outside, Michael sang his own words to the catchy tune. “You’re a too tall mutt with floppy long ears. You walk in the trees with me. Woo-hoo. Woo-hoo. My chair stays home, where many think it should be. Woo-hoo. You’re as much to me as any big black horse could be. Woo-hoo. My silly brown pup runs along with me. Woo-hoo. Woo-hoo.”

🥕🥕🥕

Horse by Saifun Hassam

Along the rocky shores of Lake Kiefer, one boulder stood out, with its obsidian color and unique contours. Old George called it the Big Black Horse. Sunlight lit up Horse’s dark eyes in his proud, uplifted head.

Old George and Horse became friends decades ago when George and his children came for fishing and camping. He was surprised how quickly the youngsters “adopted” Horse, leaning comfortably on his back. Horse listened to the children confiding secrets, and he kept their secrets.

Old George died at 90. In a powerful earthquake, Horse tumbled as a pebble disappearing into the lake.

🥕🥕🥕

Blizzards Of The Mind by Hugh W. Roberts

Why does Richard’s memory of a big, black horse take him in the wrong direction?

***
“Do you remember the day we first met?”

“Why do you ask?”

“No reason. I’m curious.”

Adrian watched Richard go into deep thought.

“Did it involve a big, black horse?”

“It did, yes!”

You were riding it through a snow-covered field during a blizzard one Christmas. You and that horse stood out so much,” laughed Richard.

Smiling to himself, Adrian closed his eyes and recalled their first meeting. On Brighton beach, he watched Richard riding a big, black horse on the carousel one summer.

The early stages of Alzheimer’s were causing another blizzard in the mind of his husband.

🥕🥕🥕

Steady Gallops by Ruchira Khanna

Being an empty nester has more pros than cons. The house is cleaner than before, with not much on the to-do list. The driving from one class to another is bygone. The constant chattering and the back n fourth arguments are on silent mode.

Over the years, we’ve taught him the values of Life by discriminating right from wrong and emphasized discipline, respect, and hard work.
Now, it’s time to sit back and watch the show.
Hopefully, it’ll be a steady rhythmic ride where the kiddo will learn new things and move forward with steady gallops like a stallion.

🥕🥕🥕

Dreaming of Horsefeathers or Big Medicine? by JulesPaige

Long day began at getting up early to take the grand to school. After that I visited my little free library and dropped off egg cartons and vases for the farmer’s daughter, that has a stand in her aunt’s yard across from the Little Free library. Then together we stopped to visit a friend who was moving. We stopped at a yarn store to use a gift certificate.

We then were meeting another friend for lunch. I saw them. Many horses on the way home… Maybe we could go riding this autumn?

suspended
single summer day
by a nap

🥕🥕🥕

Another Horse Story by FloridaBorne

“Not another story about a big black horse,” the editor of a prestigious publishing company said. “How many does that make this week?”

“Six,” Marsha said, one of the employees he called his lesser editors.

“Does no one have an iota of creativity?”

“All the good writers are self-publishing,” Marsha said. “When you gave your regular authors their walking papers, that’s what they did. Look at the non-fiction best sellers.”

Reviewing a list on Marsha’s computer, he exclaimed, “How to Publish Your Book and Keep Most of Your Profits!?”

“They’re not horsing around,” Marsha said, chuckling at the joke.

🥕🥕🥕

Horse Tails by D. Avery

“A black horse Pal? Seems anonymous.”

“Think ya mean ominous.”

“Did ya catch its name?”

“It didn’t say.”

“An anonymous black horse. Could be a portent.”

“Ev’ry prompt’s important.”

“Well, I’ve called on Logatha LeGume fer this one. She knows horse magic.”

“Logatha knows horse magic?”

“Oui, Pal. Some people read tea leaves, I read horse muffins. Keed, dees ees fresh from da black horse?”

“Yep. How’s it lookin’ Logatha?”

“I see horse tales in da future.”

“Ya kin see that from what’s passed?”

“Really Kid? This is horse puckey!”

“I sense you weel step in eet.”

“Aw, shift!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Cooking Show

Time to find out what’s cooking! Lights, camera, start the stove…

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Witch’s Brew with Morgana Blackwing by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Welcome to this week’s broadcast of Witch’s Brew. Please welcome our guest, Morticia LeFay. This barista-witch knows how to mix her infusions!”

“Thank you, Morgana. This week, we’re brewing up a new concoction called Writer’s Essence.”

“Sounds perfect for all the writers out there.”

“That’s right, Morgana. It’s guaranteed to stop writer’s block!”

“How’s it made?”

First, bring a kettle of water to boil. Drop in a pinch of periwinkle, a shot of vodka, and some lemon juice. Let the tincture cool. Next, set your intention. Drink up!”

“Thanks for stopping by witches! To your health, bottoms up! Wassail.”

🥕🥕🥕

Seabright Port Newsletter, June 1963 by Saifun Hassam

“On the first Saturday of June, Seabright Port overflows with visitors from nearby towns. It’s time to check out the Teflon Kitchen Exhibition and run in the 10-mile Teflon Kitchen Race. No one knows how the race got renamed “Teflon Egg Race.” Every year all the posters around town vanish with the visitors at day’s end.

The Seabright Seafood Omelette cooking show draws over five hundred entries. Five of the region’s best chefs are the judges. Fifty people are selected by a random drawing for the contest, more popularly called “The Teflon Stuffed Omelette Contest.” It’s a tough contest!”

🥕🥕🥕

Debt to be Paid by Rebecca Glaessner

Radiation reached his skin through UV-resistant clothes.

“Four-hundred-thirteen billion credits for today’s contestant! If he survives…”

A hidden crowd cheered.

He retrieved his only permitted secret ingredient with a blistered hand.

“What’s today’s contestant chosen for us?”

Blinding light. The crowd gasped.

The glare receded and he staggered forward, balancing a platter, alien delicacies piled high.

“I… think he’s done it!”

Thunderous applause.

“Come. Into the shade. There. Tell us, what’s your secret?”

“I saved… a Moru life… once,” he wheezed, stumbled, “they owed me- Ma! I can finally fix the air-con now!”

🥕🥕🥕

Missed It by Ann Edall-Robson

“What channel is it on?”

“Seventeen.”

“That’s the cooking channel. We want local.”

“It’s being televised on the big network.”

“You sure?”

“Yes! Your channel surfing is getting us no where.”

“Seventeen?”

“We are going to miss it. Their group is on first.”

Flashes of shows popped up on the screen one after another after another.

“Stop. Back up. Whoa! This is the one. They’re at commercial. Don’t go to another channel!”

“And now we return to the teen division. The judges have made their decision.”

“We missed the beginners. Why do you insist on not sharing the remote?”

🥕🥕🥕

Rachel’s Cooking Show by Joanne Fisher

“Welcome back.” Rachel said smiling at the camera. “Today I’m making my no fail chocolate cake. In the last segment I mixed the cocoa, flour, and baking powder. Now I’m going to cream the butter and sugar. A microwave is good for softening the butter, but make sure you don’t melt it…”

They looked at her through the glass window.

“What do you suppose she’s doing?” asked one,

“She thinks she’s hosting a cooking show. A rather unfortunate case.” the other said, as they watched her beating an imaginary bowl. They then moved on to observe the next patient.

🥕🥕🥕

Weighty Tales by Reena Saxena

I couldn’t believe it was her.

The eyes shone bright as ever, but the rest of her was lost under pounds of flesh. Yet, the famous hostess of a cooking show attracted attention.

She starts with a story.

“I dated an overweight guy and wanted him to lose weight. It did not happen, but I married him and got drawn to the world of good food.

So, here’s a dish we devoured on our first date…”

I’d rejected the same rich guy, but ended up being overweight myself. There are weightier matters to think of, while dating a man.

🥕🥕🥕

Annoyed by Simon

What the rock is cooking?

Rock is cooking? is that a dish name?

Rocks don’t cook, yes it is a dish name.

Stares blankly… can we skip that question, what are you cooking for our show?

Cooking a delicious meat to eat.

How do you cook?

Obviously, In the fire?

I mean what style are you going to cook?

A style that needs to cook well.

How do you like it to be cooked?

I like it to be cooked well.

You know what? I quit! Channel, find a new anchor!

Are we stopping a boat now?

God!!! No!!

🥕🥕🥕

Fishermen’s Stew by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“The first part of your feast begins with a kettle of cold mountain water, placed over the fire like so.” Sonja swung the kettle arm over the flames. “Tussen Takk for hauling water from the waterfall, Narn.”

Narn bobbed his head and blushed, then sat back on his haunches.

“It’s best to start with root vegetables, as I’ve done here. They take awhile to soften, so adjust by size of the protein source,” she continued. “What d’you think? When do we add the protein?”

“Later. They’re so skinny.”

Sonja nodded approval.

The tiny fishermen, wide-eyed, sweated in their cage.

🥕🥕🥕

Cooking Show by Robert Kirkendall

“Today we’ll be cooking octopus,” the chef said to the camera. “The key is to cook it quickly on a high heat so it retains moisture and doesn’t get too chewy.” He held his hand over a skillet. “Our cooking surface is now hot, so let’s get it out.”

He opened a basket, then an octopus suddenly jumped out and wrapped its legs around the chef’s face. He struggled to pull it off as he thrashed around the studio, his screams muffled. He finally pried it off and the octopus quickly crawled away.

“But first, make sure it’s dead!”

🥕🥕🥕

Cooked Rat by Doug Jacquier

The famous chef strolled onto the TV kitchen set and, after he’d waved the adoring response of the audience down, he announced he would be showing them how to make perfect ratatouille.

Suddenly, a woman stood up in the audience and yelled, ‘No. Today you’re going to make perfect amends. Sixteen years ago you got me pregnant and promptly disappeared, leaving me to raise our son alone.’

She turned to the young man seated next to her and said ‘Stand up, James’. As the boy stood, she turned back to the chef and said ‘Meet your new apprentice, Gordon.’

🥕🥕🥕

Intercultural Cooking Contest by Anne Goodwin

I hope she doesn’t cook curry, thought Mary, offering the other finalist her hand. The smell!

Please don’t cook beef, thought Manju, greeting her rival with palms joined as in prayer.

Winking at the audience, the compere showed them their separate kitchens. Manju gasped at the oak cupboards, the marble worktops, the built-in stove. Mary gasped at the water pump, the stack of firewood, the grey clouds above.

Defeated by the controls on the cooker, Manju diced raw onion into yoghurt, garnished with coriander. Mary grated raw carrot into cream. Wisdom worth more than money, both felt they’d won.

🥕🥕🥕

Tough Cooking by Kerry E.B. Black

Mostly bare cupboards, yet Rayne needed to feed her hungry family of five kids, plus herself and her husband. She pulled cans of tuna from the back of a low shelf. Butter and cream from the fridge. Peas and herbs from the garden. Rayne imagined herself on a cooking show. In her “basket” she found few luxuries, yet she wished to wow the judges. She whipped up a tuna noodle casserole and sampled the finished product. She smiled and set the table.

“Dinner!”

Family trickled to the dining table, grumbling. “Yuck! I don’t want this!”

“These judges’re tough,” she thought.

🥕🥕🥕

Cake in the Pan by Norah Colvin

Deidre laughed, sang and clapped on cue at her first-ever real live Christmas pantomime, until … the clowns prepared the cake. Deidre knew how to make cakes — she’d made them with her mum. The clowns obviously didn’t — tipping more flour over each other than into the pan, splashing the milk, and cracking in eggs, shells and all. The audience roared as the clowns placed a lid on the pan, shook it vigorously, then tipped out a magnificent cake. When offered a slice, Deidre folded her arms and clamped her lips. A cake made like that could never taste good.

🥕🥕🥕

On Course by D. Avery

It was a marvel what she produced in such a short time and with so little space, just a narrow counter top and a butcher block kitchen island.

She commandeered the small kitchen, flour clouding the roiling tempest of her activity. Then, while the oven did its transformative work she swabbed the surfaces and restored calm as she stowed the dishes and debris from her preparations. Snapping a table cloth over the butcher block, she displayed her confections. There was Black Forest cake, lava cake, and even rocky road ice cream. The butcher block was an enchanting desserted island.

🥕🥕🥕

A Hare-brained Idea by Sue Spitulnik

Normally Michael had other band members along when he drove the Veterans Music Van to the VA. Today he needed silence to brainstorm. The Irish Dancers needed money so they could attend a competition. How could he get enough people involved so it wouldn’t be a hardship on any wallet? His mind wandered to his stomach. He hadn’t eaten breakfast. Food! What if they had a cook-off? Each group he belonged to could make the same meal using their own recipes. Voting for favorite dishes could be done with dollars. Cooks would get ribbons, and the dancers the money.

🥕🥕🥕

Able Canning-Celebrity Chef by Bill Engleson

“Louie, caught your new show last night. Breakfast with Bernie.”

“That was episode two…you missed the pilot. What did you think?”

“No, I caught the pilot. Porridge! He ate porridge, Louie.”

“Bernie’s all about healthy breakfasts.”

“Last night he ate Gruel. Gruel is porridge.”

“No, it’s porridge-lite. There are innumerable porridge possibilities.”

“I don’t know. Shoulda went with Able Canning. The Dark Web’s feasting on his cooking show.“

“We looked into it.”

“It’s got fantastic numbers. Excellent audience participation.”

“Yeah. Once. Then they become filet mignon.”

“Earth’s overpopulated.”

“True enough. Still…”

“Food for thought, Louie. Food for thought.”

🥕🥕🥕

It’s What’s for Dinner by Michael Fishman

Everyone wrote about the zombie apocalypse, but no one really believed it could happen.

Surprise!

I won’t bore you with viral genetics; I’ll just say that as SARS-CoV-2 continued to mutate over 103 years, the infected – 94% of the population – didn’t suffer the same as their ancestors, but instead became zombies.

A world of 10.8 billion zombies, all of them interested in different culinary traditions because there’re only so many ways to cook human flesh.

***

“Huuhnee, please turn on TeeVee?”

“Uhh kay, sweetie.”

“If you dish not cut it, chefs. Youuu wuhl be chopped. Open baskets now.

🥕🥕🥕

The Cooking Show Bombs by Charli Mills

Carl chewed on his bottom lip. The basket revealed to him contained squid, maple syrup, goat cream, and volcanic black rice. The crowded rotunda erupted as the host of the MOA Cooking Challenge explained the secret ingredients. Sharon, fellow chef-restauranteur in downtown Minneapolis, gave Carl the side-eye. The squid. How in the world…? Ink. Black. Rice. Cream. But goat? He released his lip and ran to the pantry nearly colliding with Li Sun of the Golden Dragon Sushi Bar. She’d be his competition this round. Sharon froze on stage, flummoxed. Then, security rushed the stage. Saved by a bomb.

🥕🥕🥕

Chef of the Hour by FloridaBorne

Jill yawned. Her best friend Kara had free tickets to “Chef of the Hour” and wanted company.

Four chefs battled for the $10,000 prize each week? Boring.
Why was there one empty station?

“Jill Jones,” the host said. “You’re our monthly mystery chef. If you can beat out these three, you’ll win $50,000!”

She walked to the station, and waited for the bell. Thirty minutes later, she’d perfectly created her mother’s chicken pot pie recipe. An hour later, she’d won!

Kara ran on stage, expecting a hug.

Jill glared at her. “Was the deception worth losing your best friend?”

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GBBS by Nancy Brady

Weekly, Julia watched mesmerized as twelve amateur bakers were whittled down to the best baker during this reality cooking show. Each baker was tasked with making baked goods based upon the theme.

There were three timed challenges: the Signature Bake, a special themed recipe that the contestant was comfortable preparing; the Technical Challenge, which consisted of one of the judge’s tricky recipes. Ingredients and minimal instructions were given to each baker, prepared, and then blindly judged; and the Showstopper, an over-the-top concoction.

Julia was most impressed with the unique flavor combinations, the imaginative designs, and each baker’s baking skills.

🥕🥕🥕

Baking Her Way to Fame by Ellen Best

After watching The Great British Bake-Off, Sarah decides to self-tape her efforts to launch a cooking show. The next Nigella, she mused Mary Berry of East Anglia. She planned and tried recipes for days hoping to perfect a bake that would stun and make her go viral on Instagram or Tick-tock. Eventually, Sarah settled on simplicity after all, just how hard can a limoncello cream stuffed choux balls wedding cake, a Croquembouche be.A new apron couldn’t disguise the abject failure of her bake. She now is a star on tick-tock as ‘The Comedy Baker.”

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Hosting Facts and Fictions (in the Early Iron Chef Kitchens) by JulesPaige

“Allez! Cuisine!” or “Go! Kitchen!” was the instructional lead of a favorite cooking show “Iron Chef”. Katsuta Shigekatsu was an actor who played Chairman (Takeshi) Kaga. Kaga loved musicals; starred as leads in the Japanese theatrical company Gekidan Shiki as ‘Jesus’ and ‘Tony’

Mark Dacascos (born in Oahu, Hawaii) hosted the American version and was introduced as Kaga’s nephew. The only thing they had in common was that they were both actors. Apparently Mark did do the opening flips for that cooking show. Dacoscos could still flip in 2009 at the age of forty five! But could they cook?

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More or Less by Myrna Migala

“Deciding what recipe to donate for the recipe book; while encouraged to give our very best!”

“My opinion, share your mother’s muffin-tins “tatoe-bacon” recipe, and while your add it, whip a batch for the freezer for an occasional snack.”

“Good idea, since the ingredients are not written in stone, more like less of this and more of that, I’ll note the measurements.”

Mix 1lb of hash brown frozen shredded potatoes
one grated onion
one cup bacon-bits
two cans evaporated milk
three eggs
1/2 cup of flour
salt and pepper to taste
pour into muffin-tins bake at 375

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A Tiny Flaw by Ruchira Khanna

To the lightly roasted course semolina, add one cup of lukewarm milk.

Allow it to cook on a slow flame.

Once it’s semi-solid, add half a cup of granulated sugar.

Give it a vigorous stir before turning off the gas.

Now, I’m going to serve the audience.

I said with a wide smile as I approached them with serving bowls garnished with sliced almonds.

With fingers crossed, I watched them take a spoonful of my sweet dish into their mouth.

They ejected the morsel in unison.

“Major flaw!” one declared.

“You’ve put salt instead of sugar.” the other screeched.

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Light Charcoal Action by Annette Rochelle Aben

There is something special about charcoal-grilled hot dogs. Frank made sure he rolled them for even browning. He loved to use the grill. The taste of the food, along with the oohs and ahhs from hungry diners made his day.

Poised and ready for the first taste was Zeus, a patient, playful Rottie! His head followed the action of his master’s hands in syncopated rhythm. It was as though he was willing Frank to drop something on the ground.

Aware he was being watched, Frank laughed, “Gee, Zeus, I didn’t realize I was putting on a show here!”

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Pot Luck (Part I) by D. Avery

“Whatcha cookin’, Kid?”

“Makin’ beans fer Ernie an’ Wanda’s potluck gatherin’ Pal. Problem is, I got wind that Pepe’s also makin’ beans. An’ so’s Shorty. I cain’t no way compete with Shorty’s beans.”

“Is it a competition?”

“No. Jist a frien’ly gatherin’. But my beans is dif’rent. Folks’ll compare ‘em ta the other beans.”

“An’ they’ll notice thet each bean dish’s dif’rent, each good in its own way, reflectin’ the maker’s hist’ry even. Folks’ll be glad ta sample ‘em all. Kinda like the buffet a flash fiction responses thet Shorty puts out ever week.”

“So it’s all good?”

“Yep.”

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Pot Luck (Part II) by D. Avery

“So whut’s some a the others bringin’ ta the table, Kid?”

“Wanda’s makin’ her fire-in—the-hole chili. Ernie is a course makin’ his special cookies. Frankie says she cain’t deliver on cookin’ but will bring olives.”

“She did thet last time. Ate one a Ernie’s cookies an’ spent the rest a the night in a starin’ contest with one a her olives.”

“Ha! Yep.
Heard Logatha’s bakin’ up loaves a brown bread. What about you Pal?”

“Think I’ll roast corn over the fire.”

“There’s always a good fire ta set aroun’.”

“Thet’s where we share our stories.”

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Not Everyone Fits

Inspired by Ellis Delaney’s song, “Not Everyone Fits,” prompted by “prom dress” from within a creative circle of songwriters. Prompted music prompted literary art. We break free.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Ess-sense by Doug Jacquier

Not everyone fits a prom dress
Not everyone fits a compress
Not everyone spurns a temptress
Not everyone earns their distress
Not everyone wears a nightdress
Not everyone cares to undress
Not everyone has a headdress
Not everyone has the right address
Not everyone has their wounds dress’d
Not everyone is super-stressed
Not everyone gets some redress
Not everyone feels they’re repressed
Not everyone is a seamstress
Not everyone is a mistress
Not everyone is a waitress
Not everyone is a priestess
Not everyone is a tigress
Not everyone has to digress
But everyone needs a hand to press.

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Dress Code: Fancy by E.A. Colquitt

Kara was stuck. The only dresses in the approved shop were a trip hazard. And dinner jackets just felt so restrictive! By day, they barely stood the school blazer, throwing it off as soon as they got in.

Around the house, Kara just wore superhero costumes. They longed to inspire their peers, as their namesake had them. But how?

Mum was unfazed. ‘What’s the problem?’ she asked. ‘It says fancy dress.’

So, masked-up, Kara flew off to prom. Those knee-high boots with hidden jets easily vaulted the venue’s ha-ha.

No flowing cape, though. It’s not exactly à la Mode.

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An Unexpected Guest by Joanne Fisher

“My name is Gruu’nuh. I wish to look pretty and go to prom.” Gruu’nuh announced after emerging out of a portal in Samantha’s bedroom floor. Samantha was going to say that prom was for students and guests only, but she looked up at the towering figure with claws and writhing tentacles, and well, who was she to say no?

Nothing in the house would fit Gruu’nuh, so Samantha draped material over her and stapled it together. Satisfied, Gruu’nuh applied lipstick to her many mouths and eyeliner to her clusters of eyes. It was going to be a memorable evening.

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Dressed for the Prom by Norah Colvin

She surprised them when she emerged, resplendent in formal gown, announcing, “I’m going to the prom.” With a smile as wide as a rainbow after rain, she twirled for them to admire her from every angle. Gorgeous, they agreed, though it was a little wide in the shoulders and a little long in the hem. The neckline would be revealing without underclothes. Someone suggested the beads were overdone, that one or two strands would suffice, but the decision was made. As soon as Billy arrived in the limo for big sister Maud, she was ready. What was keeping him?

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If the Dress Fits by Duane L Herrmann

“Dad! NO! DON’T!!” Tuzulia shouted as her father went into the dressing room.

“You said you would be the ugliest person in this dress,” he replied. “I want to find out.”

“Oh, Dad,” she moaned and slumped in the chair by the door. Why had she opened her big mouth? Though she knew her father would do something incomprehensible; she never anticipated this!

“So,” he announced later, stepping out. “Who’s uglier in this prom dress? You, or me?”

“You,” she moaned.

“Now,” he asked gently. “Which one do you want to try on?”

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Not-so-haute Couture by Nancy Brady

Steve surprised Julia by asking her to the winter semi-formal. In high school, this didn’t mean a gown, just a dressy dress. When she asked, he told her the same thing.

Julia never went to prom; nor had a prom dress, but Julia was always worried about dressing inappropriately for events.

Julia wore her best short dress, but she was the only one. The other women wore gowns, but Steve didn’t seem to mind. He stopped and kissed her on the way in. It was her first kiss; he tasted like cherry, and she stopped worrying about her dress.

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One Size Does Not Fit All by Joanne Fisher

Max (short for Maxine) had always been a tomboy. Now into her teenage years others assumed she would finally become more feminine, but she continued to defy expectations by always wearing jeans and t-shirts and keeping her hair short, but now it was time to attend prom.

After going around clothes shops and trying on dresses, Max knew it wasn’t her every time she looked in the mirror. Her father remarked: “Not everyone fits a prom dress” when he saw her frustration. So Max went to the prom in a tux instead. No one was the least bit surprised.

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Sumita by Saifun Hassam

Dress? Sari? Sumita was adamant. She was not going to the prom dance. She thought of her music class at the temple that same evening.

Growing up in Chicago, Sumita enjoyed many things American and Indian. When it came to music, she loved Indian devotional music.

She went to her music class, playing ragas on her sitar. She came home to find a gorgeous bouquet of star lilies for her. It was from Paul. He wanted to learn to play the guitar to the sounds and rhythms of Indian music. Could he join her next Saturday at the temple?

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Haunted Prom Dress by Simon

Group of college students walked into an abandoned hotel for thrill.

One of them opened a room and there was a prom dress, bright and shiny. Amazed with what he saw, he tried to call his mates.

Before he does, he disappeared!

The moment he opened his eyes, he was wearing the dress.

His plea for help, scared his friends away, since then he is missing.

The investigations found a simple note

“Not everyone fits a prom dress, the one that fits will disappear”

The missing guy screamed, nobody heard his plea, all they saw is hung prom dress.

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Red and White Dress by Anne Goodwin

The bodice crushed my bosoms. Which would burst first, the seams of my dress or me? But I refused to wear that ugly smock for my homecoming. They could keep it for some other unfortunate girl.

Through the taxi window, nothing looked familiar. As we stopped at a palatial building, Sister Bernadette began to pray.

“Am I to go into service?”

A man descended the stone steps to meet us, his gaze on my breasts. I hoped he’d mistake the leakage for a white spot in the pattern of my dress.

“Welcome to Ghyllside.”

The asylum? I’d been tricked.

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Promenade? by Connor Dickinson

9am, Friday 4th July. I’m Cinderella’s lost slipper.
IT girl Melania indulges a tarty-red-number. Then weighs me up, ‘Who would want that porker?’
I’M LAYERED. Yet humiliated threadbare. Our Queen’s classless jibes. Her King dumbwitted: screwed.
Hailstones marble.
God, am I unworthy? I’m prettier, voluptuous perhaps?
Fantasy. A tuxed-Casanova, spins me. The dance floor explodes purple- organza-Catherin-wheels.
4pm. Door opens. I tremble. Damn, another false alarm.
4.55pm. Hopeless. Mother outlaw’s suitors after 5pm.
I hang?
Execute me please?
4.59pm. Chubby Clare Rogers trundles in panting, pounding Gallow-boards.
‘That beauty.’
I nearly die. Relief. Gracefully hooked off the rack.

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Something Old, Something New by Sue Spitulnik

Becca asked Tessa, “Is there any chance you still have your sparkly white prom dress from high school?”

“It’s probably in a closet at my parents. Why?”

“Michael frequently mentions how you looked in that dress, and he’s carried the picture all these years.”

“Really? You must realize there’s no way it’ll fit.”

“But I’ll bet we could use the skirt fabric layers to make a new bodice, even with sleeves if you want, and add a different skirt. Michael would be thrilled.”

“Won’t it be too formal?”

“Not if I design it right,” she said, sketching her visualization.

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Forgetting by D. Avery

A June night. Prom night. ‘A Night to Remember’. “You’re beautiful,” he said.

An August evening. “I’ll do the right thing. I’m working full time… we’ll live with my mom.”

A September morning. She would have been at college. It was a small wedding.

The baby came in March. “He’s perfect,” he said. “He looks just like his father,” his mother said.

Another August evening. He held the sleeping baby while watching baseball with his mother.

“I’m going out for a bit,” she said.

“Home run!” they shouted, waking the baby.

She left her prom dress and son behind.

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We Might Have Danced by Bill Engleson

We might have danced in the morning,
We might have breathed the sweet early air.
We might have flown like an eagle soaring.
We might have landed almost anywhere.

Maybe you think that we knew it all,
that there was nothing else left to learn.
But if we listened to our hearts love call,
We might have found a new fire to burn.

We might have danced in the evening light.
We might have breathed the cool night air.
We might have put up more of a fight
If we hadn’t been wearied from all that wear and tear.

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The Fitting Challenge by Fiery Females

“It tastes heavenly, but this is not the traditional recipe.” The mix of approval and disapproval in her expression is priceless.

“I tweak recipes everyday, because I don’t like food from graveyards. Those recipes were invented and perfected by people long gone. Food needs to be alive like me – thinking, changing, evolving and just the right fit for today’s moods.”

My aunt looks disgusted with “food from graveyards.”

“We need to respect our heritage.”

“By all means, I do improvise on heritage. Just don’t ask me to fit into old dresses or old lifestyles. You will always be disappointed.”

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The Inevitable by Charli Mills

A deputy pounded on Faith’s door. Time to flee. When evacuation orders came, Faith rushed.

Living in the Tahoe basin, she memorized a fire-safety plan she never believed she’d use. Nervous remote workers had fled earlier. For weeks, impenetrable smoke curdled blue sky. Her weather app displayed a gas-mask for air quality. Neighbors passed a rumor that the Nation would deploy the Army. Who would let Tahoe burn?

Climate reality answered with unstoppable flames jumping HWY 50 and the Pacific Crest. Faith double-checked her mental list shoved into a car.

The prom dress from 1985 she hung to burn.

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Mother Teaches by Myrna Migala

“Mom, Dad look and see that house you often admired its yard. It’s for sale! You would often say the grass was ever so green.”

“Yes, dear, but the grass always looks greener on the other side.”

“Huh, what does that mean?”

“It means some people are never satisfied with their own lives and wish for what they should not desire. They even believe that God makes mistakes.” Mother continues. “When/if they arrive on the greener grass, they might find out where they were was the best fit after all. Always trying to fit in can be boring.”

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Successful Stress by JulesPaige

I didn’t want to fit into a prom dress. Especially the one my mother picked for me. Nor did I really care for the blind date my father had set up. I’d have done just fine if I never attended my High School Senior Prom. In that white eyelet lace halter top, floor length gown. My waist long hair plastered in a ridiculous updo because the hairdresser my mother took me to, said it was all the ‘rage’. Bologna! I don’t think one other gal had such a stupid teased updo.

peer pressured
parent pleasing fail
year end dance

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The Pact by Annette Rochelle Eben

Senior prom, the biggest night of high school life, even bigger than homecoming. Cheryl was in tears. She had just been cast as the female lead for a local community theatre production of Butterflies Are Free. Of course, the production would run her senior prom weekend. It meant that she’d be the only one in her senior class who wouldn’t be at the prom.

Hearing her crying, her friend Annette promised to work backstage on the production so Cheryl wouldn’t be the only one not at the prom. There’d be at least one friend there for Cheryl’s big night!

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Not Everyone Fits by FloridaBorne

I didn’t want to go to my high school prom; I’m a terrible dancer and didn’t have a boyfriend.

My mother would have made a dress for me had I wanted to go, but who wants “mom” driving them to the prom?

When my boyfriend in college invited to the ROTC dance, she made an empire-style prom dress out of black velvet on the bottom with orange satin top. Mom had sewn it using a dollar’s worth of remnants and it was an inch too short.

My dress received lots of compliments from girls wearing expensive Scarlett O’hara dresses.

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Cigarette Smoke and Bad Memories by Ellen Best

On the anniversary, she hung her dress at the window. From her mattress, she watched the morning sun catch the turquoise fabric making it shimmer. She studied it through a haze of thick Cigarette Smoke.

The dress was the cleanest thing in there. The dress still bore the stain of his urine. Time had turned the intricate chiffon bodice a dirty shade of chartreuse.
Such a glorious name ruined as she had been ruined. It wasn’t only the prom he spoiled, but herself, her innocence, and the only connection to family that she had left, her Grandmother’s beautiful dress.

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Why I Didn’t Make It to the Party by Anne Goodwin

“Sorry, can’t let you in.” The bouncer thrust the invitation at her.

Anne checked it over: right date; right nightclub. “You’re joking!”

The bouncer flexed his muscles. “Your outfit contravenes the dress code.”

“What?” Anne knew she looked good tonight, even if she didn’t always, in her faux-silk trousers and high-collared blouse.

“The slippers.”

“What’s wrong with them?” What was wrong with him? If only the embroidered dragons on her pink satin shoes could breathe real fire.

“Let’s go!” Hari took her hand.

Anne’s cheeks roasted. It wasn’t her footwear that caused offence. It was her boyfriend’s brown skin.

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Timeless by Rebecca Glaessner

Despite countless weeks spent on coding and design, she’d almost forgotten the outfit.

School notification; dance-hall activated.

Eyes closed, chest tight, time to upload.

Other students uploaded too, filling the dark virtual dance-hall with a chaos of colour. The guests contrasting with timber decor meant for long-lost tuxedos and ballgowns.

She took a moment to escape above the excitement, drifting in a sleek, flight-encoded, wavelength-shifting jumpsuit.

Someone announced her name, startling her as she landed.

Everyone cheered. Friends embraced her.

She’d won best-dressed.

Breathing deep, she ascended again in a shimmer, and soared, feeling free and utterly glorious.

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The Night Owl by Donna Matthews

5 am, and my alarm is blaring.

Last night, frustrated by my less than stellar morning routine, I decided to start waking up earlier. But now that the moment arrived, what the hell was I thinking?? I didn’t even bother with snooze, just shutting the damn thing off.

Noon, I’m berating myself with a pile of unpaid bills, errands unrun, no workout. What’s wrong with me???

Later, after dinner, I break out the watercolors, inspired by a book I’m reading. Around midnight, I step back to admire the piece. The night owl stares back…two kindred spirits sharing the night.

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A Stitch in Time by D. Avery

“Kid! Thet ol’ Singer’s singin’! Didn’t figger ya fer a sewer.”

“Cuz ya make assumptions Pal, which limit yersef as well as me.”

“Hmmf. What’re ya makin’? Thet looks like a pile a old prom dresses thet yer takin apart at the seams.”

“Yep. Then I’m sewin’ ‘em all t’gether inta a parachute. Curly wants ta keep at flyin’.”

“S’pose thet pig told ya thet hersef.”

“Don’t assume she didn’t. If pigs can fly,…”

“Kid, thet was last week’s prompt. This’s pretty lame.”

“Tough prompt. What else I got?”

“Yer fergettin’ the Lemmon twins.”

“Shift! Mebbe I’ll be back.”

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Bespoke an’ Be Speakin’ by D. Avery

“Here they are! Tip an’ Top Lemmon!”

“Hey Kid. Heard ya was strugglin’ with the prompt.”

“It ain’t a good fit, fellas. Um… Yer wearin’ cowboyin’ duds.”

“We been cowboyin’, Kid. Was ya hopin’ we’d be wearin’ prom dresses?”

“Um…”

“Anyway, growth is good, but it sure makes it hard ta squeeze inta them old dresses.”

“Why d’ya do it? Hasn’t puttin’ on women’s clothin’ made it hard fer ya ta fit in?”

“Women’s clothin’? Clothes is clothes.”

“We’re comf’terble enough in our own skins ta cover our skins with whatever’s comf’terble.”

“So if it feels good—”

“Wear it!”

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Flight of the Pigs

The impossible has come to pass. And look — pigs are flying!

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Landing A Flight Of Pigs by Mr. Ohh!

Barnyard Air Four Three Niner this is Old MacDonald tower. Do you copy?

Oink Oink Here

Roger that. The winds are out of the north at two knots, we will be asking you to use runway one eight zero. That’s the one by the silo. Do you copy?

Oink Oink There?

Roger. The other runway is currently blocked by cows Frankly It’s just everywhere a moo moo, down here. Also be advised that Colonel Porker will want to see Captain Swine upon landing. The call letters are Epsilon, Indigo, Epsilon, Indigo, Oscar. Acknowledge

Here an Oink There an Oink

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A Healthy Pork-Life Balance by Bill Engleson

It started when I built that house of brick. You remember that story, right? Made the social media rounds. Pretty soon every pig and his brother wanted to know how to build a brick house.

I kept on saying, read the book. That’s what I did. One hundred years old.

Lots of pressure from my brothers.

“You wanna be a one-brick piggie all your life?” they asked.

Anyways, soon I had to become a consultant.

Flying all around the country.

Showing porkers everywhere how to build brick pig houses.

Brought in a lot of bacon, let me tell ya.

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The Pigs In Their Perfect World by Larry Trasciatti

The big Piggies chase

After the small Piggies

Their bacon supply is low

There is a flight

To freedom at midnight

Only available to those

Who have purchased tickets

Most local streets are vacant

Except for the ones

That lead to escape

The Large Piggies demand equality

‘Conform at all costs’ is

Their defiant battle cry

Equality is conformity for

All in their world

There are porcine gunmen

Always patrolling the streets

For some reason the

Road leading to the

Airport is much foggier

And icier than the

Other roads around here

Equality is the ultimate

Priority for pigs

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Unexpected Cutoff by Rebecca Glaessner

“Apologies all, our project must end,” the speaker announced.

“One more day!” Someone stepped forward, “we’re so close. Their brain’s are simple. I can prove-“

“No. We leave now. It’s not safe anymore, they’re volatile.”

With a thought, doors opened and the nervous crowd filed out.

Their commotion grew as others joined.

“Hostile movement ahead.”

Someone triggered a different thought-command, halting the hostiles.

The speaker hesitated, shouted, “run!”

As a crowd of feathers, fur and wool flew by, armed humanoids watched, immobilised by their own neural-chips.

Headlines the following morning read: Intelligent Lab Pigs Plot Mass Breakout. Now Citizens.

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Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad by Doug Jacquier

As he tentatively trottered onto the plane, Napoleon ticked off another first for an upright pig. Squealer followed close behind, as always, and when they settled into their first-class seats, the hostess brought them complimentary champagne. Both pig-men were excited to be attending the first international convention of animal farmers, where Napoleon would deliver the keynote speech and covertly lobby to become their President. The plane shuddered into the sky but, after leveling off, suddenly changed course and flew towards the ocean. At the controls, a revengeful Mr. Jones was ensuring the flight of pigs would remain a myth.

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This Little Piggie Went… by Deborah A. Bowman

The little piggie that went to the store, while the other stayed home, are usually connected to a foot. Tiny little toes and big fat pigs. Go figure?

How did we get this size thing all switched around and upside down? Humor and fantasy are close knit friends.

I see a minuscule world on the tip of my tongue. The clouds are my cheeks; the sun my nose; the Universe is violent shades of color, depth, and rambling highways mimicked in arms and legs.

When I scream, the darkness in my throat is a black hole.

I am complete.

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Head for the Hills by FloridaBorne

“Tell me again why your pigs fled for the hills?” Officer Benton asked.

Farmer Fred held a hiking staff, his backpack sporting a sleeping bag and supplies. “Granny says there’s an earthquake coming.”

“Where’s your granny?” Officer Benton asked the man of 70.

“Over there,” Fred said, pointing at the family graveyard.

“Your dead grandmother told you?”

“I was 30 when she said, They’ll be an earthquake here when pigs fly. You’d better tell folks to flee north.”

Fred walked away toward the hills. Benton drove away. A mile from town Earth shook; then the ground opened beneath Benton.

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Fear of Flying Course by Anne Goodwin

The registration desk is closing when I show the clerk my booking reference. After scanning my phone, she scans me. “You didn’t bring a pet?”

Hours searching for Marmaduke had made me late. “My cat had other plans.”

“No problem. You can pick one from the menagerie outside.”

I try to decline but she insists the treatment won’t work without an emotional support animal. I follow the direction of her thumb. The dogs, cats and hamsters are all taken. No way can I cuddle a rat. I board the plane with a piglet. Hoping pork can assuage my fears.

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My Guardian Angel by Annette Rochelle Aben

Roxanne’s daughter, Tiffany, made a bed in the hay, right next to her pet. Angel. The young sow was ill and the Vet said they had done all they could. Kneeling down next Tiffany, Roxanne covered the crying child with a warm blanket. It seemed like the only comfort she could offer.

“Mama, tell me something. Will Angel go to Heaven when she dies?”

“Honey, I believe she will always be with you because she found Heaven in your heart.”

“So, she’ll be like an Angel, I mean one who watches over me, right?”

“Right.”

“Will she have wings?”

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Beer Flights and Bar Fights by D. Avery

“That your girlfriend?”

Ignoring the two men beside them at the bar, Nard and Marge continued talking about Nard’s beer brewing projects. “I finish it in plastic 2 1/2 gallon dispensers, called pigs. I’ve got different kinds of beer going, Marge— a flight of pigs!”

“Your girlfriend looks like a pig.”

Just then Kristof arrived and kissed Nard.

What those two men said next needn’t be repeated.
They hadn’t seen Ernest also come in. Ernest lifted both those chauvinists off their barstools and tossed them squealing out the front door.

“Bravo, Ernest! Now that was a flight of pigs!”

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Pigs Don’t Fly By Cara Stefano

Ava didn’t have one of those picture-perfect childhoods; her parents were either yelling or absent. The one thing they got right, however, was getting Ava a library card. Every day after school Ava walked to the library for her daily escape. When her parents got home, usually long after she should’ve been in bed, Ava tried to share her excitement. “What if I was strong like Superman, Mommy?” “Can I be an astronaut when I grow up?” “Can we go to Mars, Mommy?” All she ever heard back was, “When pigs fly, kid!”

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The Time is Now By Cara Stefano

When Ava started reading books about animals she finally learned that pigs don’t fly. After so many years of hearing that her dreams might come true if ever she saw a pig fly, this was a particularly devastating revelation. Imagine her surprise when one day after reading a really great book about farm animals, she happened to look up at the sky; to her delight, there among the clouds Ava saw a flight, a flock, a swarm of pigs, all sporting tiny wings that held them aloft! Her mother stared, open-mouthed, amazed.

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Family Shenanigans by Sue Spitulnik

Who said a forty-something shouldn’t feel like an excited young bride? The ladies in Tessa’s family invited her friends for a personal wedding shower. Michael’s and her sister oohed and aahed as she opened each special gift, but they held one box in reserve to be the last presented. Finally, the most elaborate paper and bow lay on the floor. Tessa held up a life-size felted pink piglet with curly tail and sparkly silver wings for all to see. She didn’t understand the present.
The sisters exclaimed, “Michael swore he wouldn’t get married till pigs could fly!”

Everyone laughed.

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Do Pigs Fly? by Myrna Migala

The day! An excellent turnout if Miss Suzi Qque had anything to do with arrangements. Everything flawless, decorations to the menu.

These ten women had something to celebrate! What was it? A party to rejoice after they worked hard to lose 50 lbs.

The mascot chosen for laughs and keep them on their guard. A pig!

Pigs were the center of the decor; a tasty treat to nibble on was pigs in a blanket, a dish consisting of sausages wrapped in pancakes.

These women also had a catchy slogan, “Do we miss those 50 pounds? Do pigs fly?” NO!

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Drunkard by Jane Aguiar

A man used to come home drunk. One day he fell sick and was admitted to the hospital. He promised his wife that he would quit drinking. He then recovered and came back home.

When he woke up the next morning instead of drinking tea, he started running out of the house. Seeing him wearing sandals. His wife asked him, “Where are you going?” He replied, “I’ll be back soon.”

Wife understood his intention and she tried to stop him. He said, “I’m trying to quit drinking from tomorrow.” His wife ironically replied, “surely you’ll change, when pigs fly.”

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Swine Song by Kerry E.B. Black

We lived outside of Gerasene, a land where the Chosen never harried us.

Or so we thought.

A man swathed in sunlight called to a madman chained in the nearby tombs. “What is your name?”

The darkness within the madman growled, “Legion.”

The glowing man sent Legion into our doylt.

Cold settled into our bones. Acid ate our flesh. Demonic whispers infiltrated our thoughts.

We acted before Legion controlled us as it had the madman of the tombs.

Together, we leaped from the cliff, truly flew, suspended in our divine act before gravity called us to the primordial sea.

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Flying Pigs by Joanne Fisher

“Don’t those pigs have wings?” I asked looking up at the pigs in the laboratory.

“This is our research into flying pigs. We crossed them with bats. Unfortunately vampire bats, so not only do they fly, but they’ll swoop down and drain your blood. Hence the protective safety glass.” My guide tapped the barrier.

“Just one question: why?” He shrugged his shoulders.

“We thought there might be a market for it.”

“Flying vampiric pigs?”

“Well maybe not vampiric…” He conceded. “We’ll iron out the problems in the next trial. Hopefully they won’t escape the lab this time.”

“This time?!”

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Grafted Rethink by Connor Dickinson

Xenotransplantation Zoom Conference.

‘Germany flew twenty chimera-pigs secretly to Bavaria, high-tech laboratory professor Santiago.’

‘Swines. A scientific dew-claw. As FDA Argentinian Chair, I vote pannage for livestock, and no to human-pig trials Doctor Mateo.’

Week later.

I’m hospitalised with sixty-degree, pig-iron burns, my flesh putrid, steaky, nauseating.

‘Sign consent form for xeno/pig skin graft? Most like human skin,’ says silhouette.

‘NO.’ I die from painful heart attack.

Yet a day later I live, with a new pig heart. German maverick doctor glares at me. ‘Now, ethics committee advisor will you say yes to human pig trials?’

‘Definitely!’

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Flying Pigs by Norah Colvin

Children’s squeals drew the principal to the window. Ms Irena’s children were running about the yard tossing bits of paper in the air. What were they up to this time?

“We read a book about a flying pig,” explained Ms Irena. “The children decided to make their own pigs and see if they could fly. Then they wanted to see whose would fly the farthest or highest. After, we’ll write stories about our pigs. So, it’s literacy, art, maths and science rolled into one — STEAM!”

The principal smiled. “A flight of pigs. With Irena, even the impossible seems possible.”

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Indigo Wings by Nancy Brady

Aloysius loved to fly. Yet, he rarely stuck the feather behind his ear unless he found it absolutely necessary.

The day he wandered into farm country, a few pigs had escaped and were being chased by a dog. Squealing in fear, they ran. Aloysius wasn’t fond of dogs either, but he wanted to help.

Finding it absolutely necessary, the white cat put his feather on, grabbed the pigs, and tried to lift off. They were too heavy until the feather turned a deeper blue. Aloysius and the pigs rose, taking flight, sailing over the field back to their barnyard.

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ALotta Piggies in Flight by JulesPaige

Me, be an editor?! When pigs fly. Apparently the pigs are flying. I can now list on my resume that I am a co-editor of a poetry book! I’ve done my part in spell checking, design, and general co-creator! That’s what you get when two people can work together (via the internet) and encourage each other.

like moths to a flame –
do pigs fly when the moon’s full?
maybe in autumn

I’ve zoomed, zigged and zagged. Now I can sit back and cheer. Thanking all the folks who counted syllables to create enchanting verses for ‘The Moons of Autumn’.

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Sometimes a Miracle! by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Maximilian munched on his last MLT sandwich. The sun set over the mesa he lived atop. Years ago, it’d split away – like magic! – as the surrounding continent had sunk under the ocean. The sheep dwindled, while lettuce, tomatoes, and wheat thrived.

He knew it would be fish sandwiches from now on.

Max’s wife, Valerie, had known about his shameful craving for a BLT; pork was unlikely in their situation. On her death, tired of hearing him kvetch, she’d shrieked “When pigs fly!”

He sighed. And then heard the faint squealing and flapping of tiny wings, high above and circling.

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Once Upon Impossible by Duane L Herrmann

“When pigs fly!” She said dismissively because, of course, pigs can’t fly. Generations pass. Chemical pollution generated mutations. Animals sprouted features they’d never had before. New shapes, unusual combinations, appeared. A form of bird lots its feathers, except for the wings, which expanded. It also grew two extra feet, out of its chest, and began to walk on all four. Being closer to the ground, it began to root around and the beak became blunted. It developed a pot belly. They became named: Schwein Vogel, and would fly in herds.

Soon, impossible things occurred, now that pigs could fly!

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Sometimes, You Don’t Need What You Wish For by Frank James

Herbert the guinea pig escaped a cardboard box, scurrying outdoors. Boom! Talons snagged him, and up he went. An eagle found dinner, but Herbert writhed in air. He squealed as the bird swooped into a nest where chicks squawked.

Herbert struggled harder, but the bird squeezed his neck harder. He flipped him into the center of nest. Herbert saw an opening in the nest wall, dashing for it. A hungry chick grabbed his back, but Herbert yanked free into the hole. He hopped down limb-by-limb, except the last one. He had to jump.

“Whee!” He squealed, landing his master’s arms.

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Campout: A Mini-Memoir by Michael Fishman

I dated a farm girl who loved camping. Me? My farm knowledge was the words to Old McDonald, and camping was a room at the Holiday Inn.

You do things when you’re in love and that’s how I found myself camping in her brother’s yard one July Saturday night. The bathroom was close, and all things considered, it wasn’t so bad.

Early Sunday morning I woke to a shove. I opened the tent flap and was face-to-face with a very large pig. The pig snorted. Molly reacted with some deep-seated farm knowledge. The pig ran.

I didn’t scream.

E-I-E-I-ohhhhhh.

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When Pigs Fly by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Come one, come all, the circus is in town,” bellowed the bearded lady.

Me and Jude stood at the side of the road and gawked at the circus wagons. The calliope played with such fervor we had to cover our ears from the noise. We’d never smelled so many smells at the same time.

When the wagon of monkeys stopped, the critters screeched and pointed, like we were the funny ones.

“What do you think, Jude? Is your ma gonna let you go?”

“I hope so. Last year when I asked her all she said was, “When pigs fly!””

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The Fair Opens Early by Charli Mills

For three days, diesel engines have geared low to turn at Satori’s Corner halfway up Quincy Hill. Carnies arrive, hauling chunks of amusement rides and galley games. Trucks towing hot dog shacks, popcorn houses, and ramshackle campers follow. Carnie food and homes. Perpetual travelers from across the nation bring fun and excitement to rural counties on a continuous loop. The Houghton County Fair opens on Thursday. When a trailer full of 4H pigs escape and the Ferris Wheel operator leaves popcorn in a seat before the test ride, a flight of pigs launches the first attraction a day early.

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Sure Enough, I Saw by Artie Camenzind

A herd of roller-skating tortoises by the pond. A beaver family dancing salsa atop their dam. A rookery of herons singing Cosi Fan Tutte. A patch of hazel-nut trees debating souffle’ recipes. A group of teens with mobile phones off. A dog talking about irrigation flow efficiency. A yoga class of cats in downward dog. A stroller pushed by love bright as sun. A flight of pigs, none named Bacon Sandwich.

On Geisel’s Ferry Boulevard, I sure enough saw all this and more; sure enough I did do not say I did not – you were there, you saw.

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Pig Aloft (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid? Kid, where ya at?”

“Psst! Pal. I’m up here in the hay loft.”

“Ya sure flew the coop at this prompt. What’re ya doin’ up there?”

“This’s a cruel an’ unusual prompt. Figgered I’d put Curly in hidin’.”

“How in heck’d ya git yer dang pig up there?”

“The hay elevator. ‘Cept I had it runnin’ too fast. Poor Curly went flyin’ across the mow. Now she won’t come near it.”

“Hmmf. How now d’ya pr’pose ta git thet pig down outta thet hay loft? She’s too big ta carry anymore.”

“I’ll figger somethin’ out.”

“When pigs fly.”

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Pig Aloft (Part II) by D. Avery

“Kid, kin ya mebbe lower her down? There’s a block an’ tackle over the hayloft doors.”

“Poor Curly’s so upset from her elevator ride I cain’t git near her.”

“Now whut’s all thet squealin’? Did ya catch her?”

“No, but she’s all caught up in somethin’. Some sorta sign. Her hooves’ve gone through, she’s wearin’ this thing like a… a wing! Look out below! She’s skidded inta the wild blue! Curly’s flyin’!”

*When pigs fly
Aloft on good grace
Prayer wings*

“Landed at the Poet Tree. Hep her outta that wing.”

“Thet wing was Shorty’s rodeo banner.”

“Uh-oh.”

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Stars in the Sand

Take a walk through storyscapes and stars below the heavens.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Walking Through the Galaxy by Joanne Fisher

Their spaceship had crashed. The survivors had activated an emergency beacon. Ta’an left the wreckage in search of nearby settlements.

When Ta’an got to a plain, she beheld a breathtaking vista. It was as though there were two galaxies before her: the Milky Way above, and it’s mirror opposite below; stars in the sky and stars in the sand. The surface was so reflective that as she walked onwards, it was as though she was walking among the stars. They surrounded her. Looking downwards she saw red lights swiftly approaching. She looked up: the rescue ship was above her.

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Shelley by Connor Dickinson

Immortal sorcerer you wizard words on holy parchment.
I’m an inflated balloon, electrostatically charged.
Buoyant, seduced by my shadow-trickster: a sinking and drowning clown.
The prettiest words I would need.
Warped inside, wanting to honour you with pride.
Chewed-up by Devilish-diction. Reluctance, frustration, defeated. Capsized.

But your eternal-spirit rejuvenates my soul.
A revelation, ‘Don’t compete.’
‘Enjoy my odes and your writing journey.’
Millennia crush my bones to white ash.
Enchanted solar-winds carry my iridescence.
Let us share a Moon Fountain of lunar-sand.
Our pearl essence, caressing and cascading metres or miles-high in ballistic trajectories, timelessly.
Togetherness, stars in the sand.

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Stars in the Sand by Sue Spitulnik

Sand and rocks, all the same color. Windy. The sand didn’t care whose clothing it sifted into; US troops in full battle gear, residents they were training, or the enemy they had trouble identifying.

Then came the explosion. Michael’s legs in a million pieces, splattered in every direction. His driver’s body torn apart. The identifiable parts gathered reverently to return home in a flag-covered casket.

The General visited the compound. His soldiers knew he would come. He had their respect. He cared about their well-being. His stars shone in the sun, the same color as the unforgiving relentless sand.

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Idas and Marpessa by Anne Goodwin

Evenus insisted the man who married his daughter should first prove his worth. Challenged her suitors to a chariot race; a hundred losers’ heads graced his palace walls.

Idas loved Marpessa. She loved him. Yet, when Idas beat her father, Evenus set him ever more difficult tasks. Finding a needle in a haystack. A unicorn on a ranch.

Idas was a patient fellow, but he couldn’t waste another year searching for stars in sand.

Marpessa wept when he left her. But busied herself returning a thousand needles to her sewing box. Gathering a million stick-on stars from the beach.

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Midnight Dream by Jane Aguiar

Midnight, all flat,
Everywhere is quiet.
The twinkling of the stars,
And the moon’s dim light!!

Far away where the horizon is seen,
The sky yearns to meet the ocean.
There, We met each other,
And the pain vanished!!

Slow gusts of wind sound,
Innumerable stars around.
Suddenly you hugged me,
And pulled me on the ground!!

You dragged me into arms,
I stared , through the window of my eyes.
You kissed and cuddled me,
And I gave a good response!!

Suddenly I woke up,
And realised.
My dream was shattered.
But,I saw the stars
In the sand!!

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The Kaleidoscope by Larry Trasciatti

I’ve wandered into a kaleidoscope

The rules aren’t the same here

As I walk on by

I often peel the clouds from

The blue noontime sky with friends
Shall we share a most breathtaking

Lunch of sweet tangerines and marmalade?

Do whatever you want as long

As you get home by midnight

Meet the deadline and you’ll

Always be so very happy

During the frequent truly fine moments

You can truly relish the sparkling

Of the Stars In the Sand

The kaleidoscope will tell no secrets

Let it be your daily adventure

A splendid time is guaranteed for all

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Lake Michigan Midnight (Shore Lunes) by JulesPaige

too soon, the path will
allow me
to arrive coast side

I, imposter here
among the
good trees; hide from day

seek constellations
the sky’s book
notwithstanding dark

Black light at the ready to harvest rocks with iridescent spots. I will seek the stars in the sand as well as in the sky. Did the stars fall millions of years ago? I will create my own origin stories.

From this great lake with its north and south beaches… gifting up fossils, glass spears; marbles, lost china from sunken ships. Those can go to the day hunters. I’ll hoard Yooperlites!

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A Change of Climate by Floridaborne

Sigrid had looked out her window at the steep fjords white with snow many times, and as many times she’d turned her gaze toward the wall mural of Florida she’d once loved.

She’d dreamed of the palm trees, sleeping in the empty hammock strung between them, and shining white beaches with tiny stars sparkling in the sand.

Her plane landed, a taxi carried her to a beachfront hotel with the promise of hammocks amid the palms. She fell asleep to the whisper of waves, awakening inside a Miami hospital.

“Third degree burns,” the doctor said.

Sigrid longed for home.

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Stars in the Sand by Kerry E.B. Black

Lonely footprints in the sand marked her progress, footprints watered with her tears and the exuberant salt spray. She sniffed sadness with each step as she left her marital home.

The moon danced in the dark ocean’s waves and laughed at the woman’s consternation. This orb’s influence led the sea astray, pulling the waters along lunar whims. Likewise, it diverted the woman’s husband, enhancing his basest instincts. Like a madman, he romanced in moonlight with howls, dances, and gore.

In despair and fear, she fled, unaware with each resultant spray of her passage, she revealed stars in the sand.

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Stars in the Sand by Doug Jacquier

Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott-Thomas, their characters besotted with each other, gaze at the stars in the desert heavens and glory in both their mass and their individuality. Suddenly the sky is more sand than stars and they realise they are about to be enveloped by a khamsin. They make it to their truck and spend the night pursuing their mutual obsession as the sand buries them. They have no fear or trepidation because the English are very patient. In the morning, they dig themselves out and their journey continues, because the sand cannot bury stars of any kind.

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Stars in the Sand by Reena Saxena

“Join me to start a new initiative – social, creative or commercial”, I said. “It’s the closest friendship I can think of.”

They give me blank looks.

“You’re busy in a lockdown?” I hear amused remarks.

I stay away, not wanting to be a part of the idlers’ club.

I’m politely labelled unsocial, and treated as if I’m anti-social.

“You’re not counted in the close circle. Nobody likes you,” hisses my venomous mother.

Actually, nobody understands me. Is it fear or envy?

Some day, I’ll write my story with stars on the sands. I’m already visualising my Ted Talk.

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Heavenly Body by Annette Rochelle Aben

She absent-mindedly heard the tide rush towards the shore but felt it touch her toes as though trying to get her attention. A million miles beyond the moon was where she was tonight. Could the water take her to that distant galaxy where she felt she belonged?

One step at a time, she followed the promise of the tide that had obviously been sent like a taxi hailed by her heart. As water swirled around her ankles, she closed her eyes and smiled. She walked until she was floating above her tears which glistened like stars in the sand.

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Promised Waters by Rebecca Glaessner

Solar floodlights expose the beachfront like daylight. Crowds gathered there nightly to escape the endless heat, their music drowning the waves. I move on over slippery rock-pools and round the cliffs further up the coast.

Human sounds fall away as the cliffs lower to reveal a river mouth and marshy swampland, visible now beneath unburdened starlight, and rest upon a tree root.

They don’t have oceans on Mars, yet. That’s why they’re sending me.

Starlight glints off flecks of sand beneath my bare feet.

They say there’re stars in the sands of Mars.

Perhaps the waters will free them.

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The Collector by Hugh W. Roberts

The Collector has an important message for the people of the planet Earth. Will they listen?

***
One hundred and twenty million years had passed since its last visit.

It didn’t like the feel of the granular material, but the stars that had fallen into what humans named ‘sand’ needed replenishing to keep the planet alive.

Picking up an item the waves washed ashore, the Collector studied it. It smelt and tasted good. For every one of these items it took away, it left a star.

As beaches around the planet shone, humans wondered where all the plastic in the seas had gone.

It would only be another twenty years before the Collector returned.

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Aloysius on the Beach by Nancy Brady

Although the family, who believed they owned Aloysius, tried to keep him in their house and yard, he often wandered further afield.

One day he made his way down to the shore. The sunshine was shining brightly on Aloysius’s fur; the yellow beams created stars on the sand.

Like any normal feline (and Aloysius was anything but), the white cat reacted as most cats would, he pounced upon each and every star he saw. Aloysius vanquished them all, never looking back. Swishing his tail back and forth triumphantly, he padded back home, each footstep leaving behind another sand dollar.

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Foraminifera by Simon Prathap D

It’s boring here, give my brain something to chew.

How about sand?

Sand? what is there about it? are these alive?

how these sands looks like?

Star shaped?

Stars in these sands, are a living organism,

Living? are you kidding me?

Foraminifera, a single celled organism, found in open ocean, along the coasts and in estuaries, and they are ALIVE!

ALIVE! now I have hundreds of questions about it.

Good, now explore it and stay curious.

This is not fair

Now you got what you asked for, learn yourself, world is an amazing place to learn before you die.

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The Sea by Saifun Hassam

He is an old fisherman. He knows the seasons. When the Cygnet is high overhead, he walks barefoot along the dark shores.

He listens to the surf, far out, coming ever closer. Phosphorescence creatures ride the waves, sliding down along the walls of waves. Momentarily the dark wet sand comes alive with brilliant greens and blues. Millions of tiny universes scintillate like stars in the sand. The stars dim. Another wave spills its surf on the sand. Instantly the stars light up. Fiery and fluorescent the stars ride back to the waters, lights bound up with their watery universe.

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Stars in the Sand by D. Avery

Grandma says there are stars in the sand.

A lot of people think Grandma’s crazy.

I think it’s crazy that I have to go to school where all I learn is to keep quiet and avoid bullies.

Come on, Grandma says when I get home, Let’s go star gazing, and heads down to the beach, hours before sunset.

It’s not the right time, I say.

We can handle time she says, and we do. Wordless, we marvel at the glittering sand; we smooth it, sift it, lie in it.

You’re a star she says, and I know she’s right.

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The Crooner by Bill Engleson

I was on a late-night stroll along the sea wall. The moon was half full, slipping through the shadows of trees along my way.

I was alone, the last person on earth.

A comforting imaginative thought.

As I rounded a corner, I saw him sitting on a bench, singing: “Don’t let the stars get in your eyes, don’t let the moon break your heart…”

Suddenly I was a child again, mimicking Perry on the Motorola, flubbing the lyrics: “don’t let the stars in the sand get in your eyes…”

Mother would correct me.

I’d try again.

Loved her laugh!

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Stars in the Sand by Norah Colvin

Works of art, created from random pieces of this and that, were incomplete without a generous sprinkling of glitter. When stars were available, the children were in heaven. Though insignificant to others, the works held meaning for the artist, at least for a moment like a particle of glitter passing through a sandglass. Peta watched George painstakingly place his stars. She turned his paper around. “Stars don’t go in the sand, silly. They go in the sky.” George turned it back. “They’re starfish. Starfish go in the sand. Don’t you know anything?” “Oh,” said Peta. “They are beautiful starfish!”

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Ode to the Sandman by Myrna Migala

One day in the home of a happy family, the tiny little boy asked his mommy! “Where was I before I was born?”

“Oh dear, you were the twinkle in daddy’s eye.”

“Like stars?”

“Yes! Like stars.”

“Wow!” He kept saying as he excitedly ran to tell all his friends.
After a few days had gone by, he woke up rubbing his eyes on one fine sunny morning and noticed some sleepy particles on his fingers.

“Mommy, mommy, look and see the sandman came last night to visit me.
“I do hope he put some stars in the sand.”

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Stars in the Sand by Sarah Whiley

That’s right

I’m the sidekick
Riding the tailcoats
Of those braver than I



Too shy
Too scared
To bare my teeth
And so I smile






Push me around?
You can for a while
I promise, I won’t mind
Instead I smile

My knuckles are white
I grit my teeth
Composure like armour
“Yes,” I smile

My soul awakens
She tries to get out
Shh. No one cares
I falter…

Gently I push
Gently I prod
The cocoon opens wide
And I fly right out

I am bioluminescent
I’m ready.
Projecting my stars in the sand
For all to see

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Stars in the Sand by Anita Dawes

They told me that Egypt, the pyramids
Would be the holiday of a lifetime
Leaving the rain behind
Take off delayed
They forgot to load the luggage
Not a good start
We might have left the rain behind
The black cloud had followed us aboard
The hotel turned out nice, mood lifted
Next morning, with the tour guide
We made our way to the pyramids
Wow! They really are something
Somehow, I got separated from the tour
The sand dunes I found myself on
As beautiful as any painting
That’s when I found three lucky stars in the sand…

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To the Stars by Duane L Herrmann

“To the Stars Through Difficulties” is my state motto, a constant reminder that nothing is attained easily and certainly not stars. My life can be defined by its difficulties: social isolation, emotionally crippling effects of abuse, intellectual struggles with dyslexia, ADHD, and the limitations of poverty. There were certainly no stars, nor sand, but dirt – yes.

We farmed the dirt.

Despite all that, I continued to try. Rooted in that dirt, I reached for the stars and now, after decades, have attained some success: being published around the world, in several languages, one I can read and even others.

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White City Sand by Charli Mills

Copper miners’ families crowded the double-decker steamer. Wives and children sported tiny brass stars on collars and lapels. Solidarity for fair treatment twinkled across the open decks. An anonymous patron had provided the striking miners with an exclusive excursion to White City. Thirty-minutes east of closed mines, the summer-weary strikers and families anticipated their lucky day. Respite. The promised carousel, dance pavilion, and ham picnic came into view. Mine enforcers emerged. Hundreds. Clubs in fists. The boat docked. They say you can find stars in the sand where the working class were tricked and beaten into submission in 1909.

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99 Carrot Stars by D. Avery

“Kid what’re ya doin’ lettin’ thet dang hog a yers root an’ dig ever’where?”

“If it’s okay fer Mause, it’s okay fer Curly. We’re lookin’ fer stars in the sand, Pal.”

“Thet ain’t sand, Kid, thet’s Shorty’s garden.”

“Close enough. Hey, another one! Good Curly.”

“Thet ain’t a star, Kid, thet’s jist a carrot.”

“Jist a carrot?! Carrots fer the people, Pal. Tell ya somethin’ else. The people that show up ta the ranch is all stars. Their stories shine! An’ while we ain’t got beach sand here, there’s plenty a folks with grit.”

“Reckon so, Kid, reckon so.”

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Cacophony

A car alarm screeches, a unicorn snorts, and a spaceship breaks the sound barrier. But writers use the cacophony of sound to craft stories.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Cacophony by Norah Colvin

Children’s voices rose from the street with excitement, until laughter exploded like fireworks, startling a flock of corellas into screeching flight.

Mrs Black in #4 slammed her door and windows tight, excluding the abhorrent noise daring to smother her favourite show.

Mr Judd from #5, pruning his grevilleas, shook his fist and said, “Stone the crows! What’s with all that racket?”

Mr Dredge in #7 dozed on, snoring in decibels way higher than those outside.

But Mrs Twigg in #3 flung wide her window, inhaling the children’s merriment that inspired memories of her own childhood antics so long ago.

🥕🥕🥕

This Sickness by Kerry E.B. Black

Someone with a ball peen hammer pounds every joint, stretching muscle and ligament until bone grinds cartilage.

An orchestra warms-up between the ears, its cacophony deafening, with pulse matching its erratic rhythm.

Eyes receded into aching sockets, where lightshows dance along the periphery.

Shadows sink into vision, obscuring. Strained eyesight triggers migraines, with comic book enthusiasm. “Bang, Pow, Pop!”

Razorblades reside in vocal cords, stripping speech to a barely audible squeak. Amusing to the children.

An anaconda squeezes the midsection, shrinking stomach capacity.

Hazy zombie turns to exhausted fever dreams between doses of medicine that promise returned good health.

🥕🥕🥕

Laying in a Hospital Bed by Susan Spitulnik

An inward sucking noise
An outward swooshing
Over and Over
The ventilator keeps perfect time

The incessant beeping
When the IV bag is empty
“Someone” please turn it off
Where is everyone

Now a fall-alarm is blaring
My adrenalin rushes but
I hear no one running in response
Don’t they care

Too busy to answer call buttons
But I can hear them talking
How many people are working
Where is my friendly nurse

The meal-cart wheels squeak
Compartment doors slam
The tube prevents eating
My mind says I’m hungry

My God, it’s finally quiet
It’s peaceful
Am I dead

🥕🥕🥕

Night Sounds by Bill Engleson

The crow came to my window at midnight,
cawed his screech,
his dark bird speech,
like a bent rusty nail caught in his throat,
pulled out by the sinister hammer of night,
the crow’s squawky plea
in much the same tone,
a raw shattered bone
stuck in his craw
as when he flies the zone
far above my head
In the dead
of day.

The crow stayed at window ‘til morn,
and beyond,
a bent broken bird
sprawled on the sill,
rotting away,
flies pecking its flesh
as the sun lit the day,
as the crows had their say.

🥕🥕🥕

Dream a Little Dream by Sarah Whiley

There’s a cacophony in my head.
And it won’t go away.
I’ve tried sleeping pills
But there’s no guarantee.

I drop some helium
To cull the birds
Coz the tweets are endless
A faithless dirge

And so I’m held
Too painfully aware.
Is it possible to hope?
Do I dare to care?

This fustian pair
Between my ears
See that decisions are made
for me in arrears

Wishes are portable
This I do know
Thoughts are transferable
Wherever I go.

So while there is still
a slit; a gleam
I have to believe I can
Dream a little dream

🥕🥕🥕

Well, Why Not? (Part 4) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Sister Indelicata left the cacophony of squeals and laughter behind her; the tall, hardwood door sneezed delicately shut, blessing the happy, healed family. Indelicata’s bare feet whispered swift and sure, softer than the guttering of the beeswax candles that provided more scent than light.

She caught the perfume of open sea before she saw it, and glided through the marble hallway to the worn spiral stairs and ocean access.

She shimmered; habit, wimple, and net slid free into the freezing waves. Flicking her mermaid’s tail, she dove.

Goodbyes were easiest if her charges never liked her to begin with.

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius’s Changes by Nancy Brady

Aloysius had just finished lapping at the fountain in the middle of the maze. He sat, licking his paws and whiskers. His bath complete, the white cat sauntered away.
Aloysius’s tail flicked from side to side causing a cacophony of colors to burst out. To the left and right, he left a trail of lush wildflowers in his wake. Purple and blue lupine, poppies of red, and yellow and orange coneflowers with deep indigo centers sprung up all around him. Green ferns, too, could be seen waving their fronds.
Not only had he changed, but so had the garden.

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Came the Night by Frank James

Footsteps captivated a smile into a wrinkled face
A final prayer begged forgiveness to no response
Boots thumping grabbed his throat
The lock clanking shivered his body
Rattling chains extorted a moan
His whimpering proclaimed the end was near
Dragging feet marked his last seconds, as guards pulled him down the long hall
Rapping and squealing opened the door to the next life
A priest praying welcomed him into the tiny chamber
A final protest fell hushed by manacles clasping arms tight
His last word: Please
A flip of a switch silent came the night
Whoosh went the spirit

🥕🥕🥕

Voiceless by Joanne Fisher

Harriet loved Lily. She felt deeply connected to her, though Lily never spoke to Harriet. All she wanted was a chance to speak to Lily to tell her how she felt and what Lily meant to her.

Now after years of pining away for her, Lily had unexpectedly consented to meet her in a cafe.

“So you wanted to tell me something?” Lily asked.

With a cacophony of voices behind her, Harriet gazed longingly at Lily’s blonde hair and perfect skin. She found herself unable to speak, as if she didn’t know where to start or what to say.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wooden Sanctuary by Donna Matthews

a past week cacophony clamors around inside my head
harsh self-loathing
a death certificate
grief picked open
bizarre new dizzyness
money— work— purpose— insecurity— anxiety
discordant thinking no one else can see
all reaching a deafening crescendo— when did this concert grow so noisy?

spinning
spinning
spinning
thinking too much

I lace up my boots— and walk
one foot in front of the other
into the cover of a wooden sanctuary.

The clanking noise inside drowns out
a new cacophony—
cicada hum above, babbling creek below.

My breathing settles into a new rhythm—
that wondrous, peaceful melody of now.

🥕🥕🥕

Copse of Cragged Cliff by Connor Dickinson

3pm. Granite bowl. Foxglove pestled. My knotted-knuckles s-n-a-p and c-r-a-c-k:
sinewy-veins, grinding roots of poisonous digitalis for marrow-bone-broth. His last supper.
‘Soup . . . . honeymooner?’
‘Mmm . . . . Clarissa.’
Choking.

Eventide.
His mother’s soul-less s-c-r-e-e-c-h-i-n-g statues me at convulsing ribbed-shutters. My nostrils torch as Romani’s blazing umbilical tail, scorches and whips a million spruce leaves, raven-black.
Thanatos cometh.
Her cavernous, d-e-t-a-c-h-e-d. face: misty-mottled-blue. Hovers around me.
Howling putrid breath, lacerates my barked flesh.
Thrashing her bitches’ acidic tongue, licking bones clean of skin.
Gypsy-blood cursifying. Fracking my bones. E-x-o-r-c-i-s-m.
My jowl r-a-t-t-l-e-s ─ but no-body hears.

As, she entombs me.

🥕🥕🥕

Batter-born Biscuits by Charli Mills

Batter-born biscuits dropped to a sizzling cast-iron griddle. Max held her lips in formation. The day before, her mother complained Max was too pretty to withhold her smile. Max adjusted her prosthetic foot to stand near the outdoor flames. The arrival of a squawking blue jay, twittering squirrels, and her father in a silk robe announced morning with forest cacophony. Weird as her dad might be, she’d take him at her campfire wearing what suited him best over the silent pretense of her mother’s morning prayers, rules, and cold cereal. Funny how grim her mother looked, reading her devotions.

🥕🥕🥕

Judy Says ‘No’ by Doug Jacquier

As she stood in the queue at the bank, Judy was approached by a smarmy suit and patronisingly advised that she could complete her transaction at the ATM outside. Judy said loudly ‘No, I’d prefer to keep a teller in a job, not in another queue, at the unemployment office. That way they can pay the rent and feed their kids.’ The suit approached others and a chant of ‘No’ began to gather in strength, rising to a cacophony that had the security guard retreat with his hands over his ears. But to Judy, it sounded like a symphony.

🥕🥕🥕

Tower of Babel by Anne Goodwin

Beyond the wire, the night was silent. Within the camp, moaning built a tower of noise. Women called, but to little purpose. Words are worthless if those who hear can’t comprehend. Detainees complained in ninety different mother tongues.

A translator fished among the discord for languages she recognised. Echoed pleas in Pashto, Dari, Belarusian and Tajik. Others dredged for schoolgirl Urdu or dialects they’d heard their neighbours speak. Each language a stepping-stone to another, phrase by phrase community took hold.

That’s how they learnt that some were journalists, others lawyers. That’s how their fight for justice boomed and bloomed.

🥕🥕🥕

Cacophony by Reena Saxena

shrill allegations
piercing souls
raised fingers
I’ll break some day…
What are they trying to
make me feel guilty about?

I want to give them mirrors
which show pictures
like those of Dorian Gray
podcasts which repeat
their word bullets
smash their eardrums

deep sense of inadequacy
their egos demand
unquestioning obedience
as they get uglier by the day

screaming
obstructing
objecting
blocking
now helpless…

They all disappear
I transcend
Into a state of being
alone, peaceful
On a solo journey
never to return

No destinations
nor a quest for happiness
finding eternal truths
shedding
Unhappiness
masquerading as Life

🥕🥕🥕

Burn by Anita Dawes

The spiralling crescendo of roman candles
Shot towards heaven
Pulls an ancient knowing from my soul
Like a half-remembered dream
I stumble forward for knowledge
That is stacked up behind me
Above my head, fireworks light the sky
The sound echoes in my bones
An old sound that never went away
The colours remind me of something hidden
The lost pages of the grand grimoire
which have everything to do with
the last cacophony of sound
that will never be heard again.
the world will fall silent
not if I get my hands on it
I will burn it…

🥕🥕🥕

Savannah Lands by Saifun Hassam

The dry winds intensified. The roar of the fire was deafening. Older forest groves were engulfed instantly.

For two days, animals streamed out of the valleys. They ran along ancient treks sounding warnings. Above the thud of pounding feet, you could hear the urgent trumpeting of elephants, the defiant roar of lions, the panicky laughter of hyenas, the howling of monkeys. Antelopes and gazelles ran, graceful, focused, silent. Elands and wild buffaloes rumbled along.

Majid, a biologist, and fireman followed the animals along a scorched forest road. He would do everything he could for the animals to find refuge.

🥕🥕🥕

Dawn by Joanne Fisher

Natasha dreamed she was with Ellie. They were holding hands and walking down the sidewalk. It was sunny and they were heading for the beach. Then she was suddenly awoken. The dawn chorus had begun in the treetops above her. Already there was a cacophony.of birdsong building up. Since the end times they had gotten louder.

Natasha reluctantly got out of her sleeping bag and looked around, in case there was a roving band of survivors nearby. She didn’t want to end up being eaten, or worse. Thinking of Ellie, she quickly packed up her things and moved on.

🥕🥕🥕

Tarnished Tranquility Rebecca Glaessner

She’s trudging through the forest as silence hits, sending chills through her despite the hike and heat of nearing sunrise. Could’ve been peaceful, under different circumstances.

Determined to find her missing friend, she persists. Body growing numb.

The forest’s stagnant silence thickens. Her mind reels.

Shouldn’t have ignored the reports, her friend wasn’t invulnerable.

And neither is she.

Sudden sound startles her, the cacophony yanking her senses back.

From nowhere, her friend emerges, barrels past, yelling “run!”

She staggers, follows.

Noise strengthening her after the eerie silence, they escape back to the comfort of a chaotic, sound-filled, life-affirming world.

🥕🥕🥕

Cicada Circus by Duane L Herrmann

Summertime. Hot. As heat rises: 85, 95, 100 (Dear God, NO MORE!), cicadas increase their chorus. Some in seven year cycles, others – eleven years. This, the eleventh year, they are out in full force shrieking their joy and life in the heat. Today 100, and they did not stop until long after dark when it cooled down to 85. Finally cacophony was over and we could all sleep. The sun would soon cook us another day. As a child I delighted in finding the cases they had emerged from, and attach them to something else, but no longer.

🥕🥕🥕

Myth by Simon

Dog’s are howling, someone’s going to die!

Who said that?

Dad said!

Death is inevitable and no one on earth could predict it.

But dad said, dog’s cacophony is a bad sign.

World is created by men like your dad, don’t believe anyone, question them, even me. Dog’s are our friends, they love us, the abandoned dogs feel lonely and they let out their feelings by howling, if some other dogs Howl, they share their feelings together.

I would like to adopt all our street dog’s.

All of them?

Yes mom, I don’t want them to feel lonely again.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer in Suburbia by Annette Rochelle Aben

The thumping bass of the stereo starts around nine in the morning and blares all day long. Cue the beer-drinking corn hole players who curse if they win and curse if they lose. Then there are the children who bounce from the trampoline into the pool while shrieking like bloody murder at the top of their lungs. Add to this, the poor dog who barks from one end of the yard to the other to remind them that he needs to eat. And when it starts at nine in the evening, it goes on until 4 in the morning.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer of Love by D. Avery

The pair of geese that patrolled the yard were first to sound the alarm. Then his father’s hounds bugled from the kennels. The Jerseys lowed as they closed ranks across the pasture and filed toward the barn. Finally there came the sharp report of the screen door springing shut behind his mother, anxiously wringing her dish towel on the familiar porch, laughing and crying at his approach.

These welcoming sounds began to quiet the shrieks and chants from the gauntlet he’d faced at the airport. But even as his mother refrained, ‘You’re really home’, doubts drummed like throbbing pain.

🥕🥕🥕

Cacophony by FloridaBorne

Summer. Time for fans in the window. In the kitchen, there’s a ceiling fan, and a window fan cools the concrete floor where dogs like to lay.

Each fan sings a different pitch, gentle background music when I used to sit on the steps to watch clouds float by.

Once, a cacophony of crickets, katydids, birdsong, and wind flowing through the pine needles blended together.

A peaceful sound.

People moved from city to country. They play music so loud you wonder if their children are going to be deaf before the age of 15.

Now, there is no peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Unbound Sounds by JulesPaige

All that’s left is crumbs.
Empty pie tin
Pitted the cherries
Cup of sugar…
Quartered the feast

(spoons rattled, clanged
oven door opened with a metallic creek
and closed, bang
fork scrapped the china plate…
scritchty scratch
buttons popping… tapping the wall, ping
rattled and settled, plop)

Ate each quart(her)
Cherries, cherries, yum, yum!
Patterns on her dress
Now on the floor –
Since it don’t fit no more.

(now resting stretched
out on the bed
with a soft pillow for her head…
content and full –
there not so dainty
started as a wheeze,
now an outright snore)

🥕🥕🥕

Bela’s Evenings by Kavita Deo

Every evening Bela sat in her large patio overlooking a green hill and surrounded by greenery. A beautiful view for sure!

Bela enjoyed this hour with her coffee while winding up her day. Highlight of the coffee hour was surely the large gathering of crows that would start making a noise as if they are in a round table and trying to come at a resolution. Hearing them the parrots, the peacocks and sparrows would join them. Bela didn’t exactly mind the cacophony but would be all ears and wished she could get them to chirp in symphony!

🥕🥕🥕

Surround Sound by C Mills

Shorty approached the Poet Tree. Ribbons and leaves bobbed in the breeze. Silence. Kid was off chasing Curly in a unicorn-y snafu. Somehow the piglet got stuck in a child’s floatie after Kid and Pal helped Marge dismount from her big bass adventure. Whatever cacophony hung over the lake between campfires in these parts, Shorty couldn’t hear. Ol’ Captain pulled at the bit. Shorty let the gelding have his head to munch the grass and swung a leg to rest across the saddle swells. Characters laughed, moaned, cajoled, and rose up in the distant ranch ether. All was well.

🥕🥕🥕

Open Doors

Go ahead, crack open the door and read on.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

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

Unopened Door by Duane L Herrmann

I was in the house, the same but different, there was a new door, opening to rooms, spaces I’d not known before. As I wandered these empty, unused places I wondered why we had not lived there. Possibilities were vast. When I woke up I instantly knew these were our possible lives that my mother did not know, experiences of joy and love we did not have, but could have. And I grieved for their absence in our lives. We could have been happy, enjoyed each other, been a real family – not the hell that was our home.

🥕🥕🥕

Child Welfare Report by Bill Engleson

I never forget what it was like. A complaint comes it. Something terrible is happening behind closed doors. The doors of a family home.

First steps are to do some checking.

What do we know?

Who knows what we don’t?

Who knows this family?

Will they tell us something useful?

All this is happening with lightning speed.

The best approach is to see the child at school.

When that is not an option, for any number of reasons, a frontal assault is all that is left.

The knock at the door.

The heavy hand of the state.

And then…

🥕🥕🥕

Un-Cooperative Doors by Connor Dickinson

1975’s dark mahogany doors s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d their masculinity, timelessly to the cornflower blue powder sky. Rectangular misty glass panels, soul-less eyes, vanishing miles from my four-year-old ‘buckled’ Clarke shoes. Mother knotted, scurried inside the Cooperative amongst thirty-so Glaswegians, grabbing a four-pack of McEwans, ‘not enough change’ for the 7p beans.

Gigantic metal padlock, unhinged stared at me demonstratively. Etching SECURITY in my brain. Clasping childhood shut. Happy to lock-up. Cursing shop-teller rang the police. Mother madder-red with embarrassment. I, menacingly content that dad couldn’t blacken her other eye for ages – the unlocking blue sirens seemed a lifetime.

🥕🥕🥕

Two Masks Really Are Better Than One by Tain Leonard-Peck

Earlier today, two men robbed Rocky Mountain Bank. The pair briefly conversed with the receptionist after entering the building. It is believed they were stalling until the manager returned from lunch, as only she could open the vault door.

Once the manager arrived, the thieves removed their face masks. The bank’s occupants fled in a panic. The thieves then looted the bank at their leisure.

Police are doubtful that the perpetrators will be apprehended, as they were wearing Ronald Reagan masks under their Covid masks, which the victims didn’t notice as they fled in a Covid mask violation panic.

🥕🥕🥕

Doors Old and New by Geof Le Pard

‘No good?’

‘They didn’t even call. Just a texted no.’

‘I did say you needed to think through your CV.’

‘They never mentioned piglet castrator, Logan.’

‘You wouldn’t, would you? If you wanted someone to sell deodorant.’

‘Oh well. One door closes, another opens.’

‘Really?’

‘I said as much to the chap in reception. He’d sold them a door. Offered me a job. Said he liked the cut of my gib.’

‘I’m pleased.’

‘Logan. What’s my gib?’

‘Your new post lockdown haircut.’

‘You think that’s what swung it?’

‘If you hair opens doors, then I’d even forgive a mullet.’

🥕🥕🥕

What If?  by Hugh W. Roberts

What if what was on the other side of the open door wasn’t what he was expecting?

***
As I watched figures going through the open door, not even the pattering of rain on the roof of the car took away the fear I felt.

“What if…”

As my hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, anxiety began to snowball out of control.

“What if..?”

The thoughts of home and a warm bed were welcoming and safe.

“What if..?”

As I drove away, the LGBT community, who I feared, would have to wait another two years before joining them behind the open door that led to non-judgemental new friends, a new life and being who I really was.

🥕🥕🥕

Door Duty by Heather Gonzalez

Macy knew she had locked the door, but something inside her told her to go back and check. It was wide open. There were no sounds to be heard from down the steps which scared her more than if she had heard screaming. Every citizen took turns checking that the door stayed locked.

Macy took a deep breath and began to walk towards the door. That is when she finally heard the guttural howl from below. Without a second thought, she slammed the door and locked it. She planned to be sick the next time it was her turn.

🥕🥕🥕

Should I Retain Possession of My Hand, I Will Offer You Possession of My Heart by Kathryn Leonard-Peck

“I knew we shouldn’t have opened the door. Vampires in the ballroom, werewolves in the garden!”

“Calm yourself, darling. I have silver bullets. The way you’re wailing, you’d think us surrounded by French Republican rabble.”

“Heaven forbid. Did you know, Lord Ruthven told me the unnaturals gamble, then sow discord to avoid their debts.”

“That is shocking. Fangs to your left. Mind your hat.”

“Fur to your right, my lord. I shall dispatch it with my hatpin.”

“Shall we fight our way to the punchbowl? Slaughtering is drying work.”

“Thirsty…for blood!”

“Drat. In want of a wife again.”

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius’s Curiosity by Nancy Brady

Curiosity killed the kitty cat, they say, and Aloysius was extremely curious. Fortunately, he was also skilled at getting out of scrapes. Aloysius would sneak past those humans who might harm him, but he also knew instinctively whom to trust.

One night while prowling, Aloysius discovered a door built into a hedgerow. Curiosity getting the better of him, he pawed it open and entered a maze. In the center of the maze was a fountain full of sparkling water. Little did he know that lapping from that fountain changed his life; his life would never be the same again.

🥕🥕🥕

Giving Lacuna by JulesPaige

At the door, in uniform – one anyway…
Her muliebral brother
Was in a sleeveless dress
Down to his ankles…
Probably not spoiling for a fight –
Just there to accompany the girl…
It wasn’t until after she left
(I bought my favorite cookies…)
That I wondered just how liberal
This town was… and hoped
Perhaps beyond reasoning
That they’d make it back home –
Because I knew that across the street
Behind some of those closed doors
That some of the neighbors
Who’d given our family some grief
Because ‘We’ weren’t like ‘Them’ –
Might not keep their door or mouth shut.

🥕🥕🥕

Closed Door by D. Avery

The door was almost within reach but still she moved slowly. In her socks, she crept at the edge, avoiding the creaky worn boards in the middle of the hallway. Holding her shoes in one hand, her stuffed shoulder bag clutched close under her arm, she cautiously listened to his steady snoring from the couch. Then she reached for the knob with her free hand.

Click.

He’d sat up, cocked his revolver.

“Fooled you.” He fired.

Her shoes hit the floor before she did. He fired again.

She bled out in front of the door, now out of reach.

🥕🥕🥕

Left the Door Open by Anita Dawes

Honey, you left the door open
God’s doing that shining thing again
Does he still have the hump with you
For believing your own abilities?
For taking so many of his winged ones with you
What did he have to say?
The more I lift them up, to do their own thing
The more he will smite them
He is threatening floods, famine, plague
He has a nasty one up his sleeve
Says he’s been working on it for awhile
When the moment is right
He will arrange for a cock up
Many hands, but China will take the blame…

🥕🥕🥕

Trapped in a Nightmare by Miss Judy

Jessica found herself in a long, stark white hallway, antiseptic. Doors to the left, doors to the right, all sealed shut. She looks back, sees only the same white hallway and doors sealed shut.

An open door appears ahead filled with darkness and shadows – a way out? She walks toward the open door and the darkness. She gets no closer. The hallway seems to have no beginning and no end. Frightened, she tries to scream but cannot. “Jeff, where is Jeff? Help me!”

A hand grips her arm. “Jessy – wake up! You were having a bad dream.”

🥕🥕🥕

Keys in Her Hand by Annette Rochelle Aben

She knew she had to leave a marriage that most likely should have never taken place. Doors were opening all the time. On their honeymoon when he raped her, that was the first door. But she was just too shocked and confused. Their first wedding anniversary when he told her what a piece of shit she was, was another open door. But the sweet apology closed the door, because she believed she was worthless anyway.

7 more years of verbal, mental and emotional abuse opened the door to counseling. Which lead to opening the door to the lawyer’s office.

🥕🥕🥕

The Blue Door by Reena Saxena

The door was never locked, just pulled tight.

She kept floating in self-doubt, inadequacy and a guilt about not being what others expected her to be. Deep down, she knew the allegations are not true. But there was no way out. There was no way of getting rid of antagonistic shadows.

Today, that one truth hit her like a sun in darkness. She is a victim of mental abuse, not a perpetrator of wrongs.

That one article, that one link to a webinar, and she knew it….

The door was always open. She just has to walk out.

🥕🥕🥕

Doorway by Sarah Whiley

I dream of escape
Escape from in here
Here is my nightmare
Nightmare and fear

Spiralling down
Down to the black
Black prefers dark
Dark doesn’t talk back

It’s been a long time
Time has stood still
Still in my mind
Mind been through hell

But now dawn is rising
Rising to light
Light from a doorway
Doorway in sight

I cross the threshold
threshold anew
anew expectations
Expectations of you

Please hold my hand
hand trembling, I go
Go through the opening
Opening so slow

Guide me with love
Love me carefully
Carefully we’ll weave
Weave a journey

🥕🥕🥕

Essentiality Remains by Rebecca Glaessner

My restless body sleeps, mind seeking.

Endless doorways. Some lead nowhere, others to places I cannot comprehend.

There’s just one I search for. Within, contains a source of darkness. I must eliminate it.

I wander twisting corridors, labyrinthine in nature, as all minds are.

There, ahead. The darkness, flickering and tremulous. I follow, my heart pounding within and without.

The next corner conceals it. I falter as I turn. Reach the final door. There’s no light. I proceed despite fear.

Within, darkness overwhelms, engulfs, devours me.

Fear.

I breathe.

I embrace.

Persist through.

Quiet.

Strengthened, mind and body remain.

🥕🥕🥕

Door to Adventure by Kerry E.B. Black

In Granny’s grand, dark house, Cleo was forbidden to enter the study, no matter how intriguing. Granny’d locked it and all of its secrets when Uncle Jameson died.

However, Cleo longed to sneak inside.

The door breathed temptation. Its woodgrain spelled suspense.

Day after day, Cleo snuck to the door and pressed her ear to the warm wood. Night after night, she turned the handle. It remained unmoving.

One quiet evening, Cleo’s family left to run errands.

Cleo crept to the door and turned the brass handle, expecting it to remain stable, as always.

Incredibly, it twisted in her grip.

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She Escapes by Joanne Fisher

When he arrived home, he found the door to the basement was open. With his heart thudding in his ears, he quickly went down the stairs and found the cage he had kept her in was empty, the door hanging wide open. How she had escaped he had no idea. He went back upstairs. Already it was dark and quiet outside. She could be anywhere by now. He sat down on a couch and waited for the inevitable. Soon there was the sound of many sirens approaching. They wouldn’t understand that with her free, the world would soon end.

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DD (Death Door) by Simon

Grim reaper assistant accidentally opens a door of death.

“What have you done?”

“Boss, apologies. This is a mistake”

“My work load is going to pile up with dead souls”

“So a new catastrophe? this door is gonna be interesting”

“Interesting? seriously?” sighed Grim Reaper “The game between life and death is what makes earth interesting – it can be closed, IF human worked together”

“Are they powerful than us?”

“Not really, but they are, we create catastrophe, they create peace”

“Just one catastrophe, right?”

“One? enough to wipe 50% of human population. Catastrophe Begins 2019, Ends Unknown, COVID”

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An Open Invitation by Norah Colvin

Actions speak louder than words so, when the door opened, she assumed it was an invitation, even though she’d been told to stay inside. She didn’t need naptime. She was a big girl.

Outside the day sparkled with springtime. Birds chatted as they flitted from tree to tree, inviting her to follow. A lizard peeked from a log, then rustled away in winter’s leaves. She followed, crawling under bushes, into an open space where rocks warmed in the sun. Gum nuts and seed pods, twigs and leaves enthralled until, lulled by the warmth and the dappling light, she napped.

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Letting the Light in by Anne Goodwin

Suzi begged her mum to leave the door ajar. She begged her daddy too. Then, if a nightmare awoke her, she could see her teddies, and the landing light would stretch through the gap and chase any witches away. But if the adults’ games disturbed her – thumping music, shouting, shattering glass – she’d creep from her bed and shut the door on the noise.

One night, she felt a hand on her tummy. Under the Cinderella duvet and her Pocahontas pyjama top. Suzi hasn’t slept at her daddy’s since then. Even at home, she insists on closing her bedroom door.

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Open Doors by FloridaBorne

“Be wary of con artists,” Mom said. “They’ll open doors you thought impossible to enter, and you’ll beg them to take your money.”

Her clothing was modest. She never traveled farther than the county’s edge. When strangers entered our town she sequestered us inside the house and closed the curtains.

When she died, we found a poster of her. Young, wearing a gypsy-like outfit that showed off a well-endowed chest, the caption said, “Madam Truepetto, fortune teller.”

Next to it was a newspaper article titled “10 most wanted,” her picture on top.

I opened my own doors after that.

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Michael’s Motivational Speech at Walter Reed by Sue Spitulnik

Had I not been in a bomb blast, I would probably still be on active duty, stationed who knows where. Instead, I’m directing the teen choir in my hometown church, I’m singing lead in a veterans only band, I’m taking the healing power of music to multiple veterans’ facilities in a gifted van , I’m marrying for the first time, and I’ve immersed myself in family life. It took me a while to realize losing most of my legs had opened doors for me. The secret is to believe there is a specific, exciting purpose for the new you.

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Freedom by Michael

Freedom! That’s what lay beyond the opened door.
If only I could be brave enough to take that step.
The shackles that bound me were growing tighter, pulling me into a dark abyss I knew would be my end.
I had long harboured the desire to escape, find my own way. Threats kept me in my place. Financial ruin, public humiliation, alienation from my family.
So, I labored within the confines I allowed to be imposed on me.
But one day, the shackles fell, the door opened, I turned my back on misery and looked into a new world.

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A New Door Opens by Charli Mills

At fourteen, Francis hid behind doors, gripping Mama’s hand, her breath hard as ore in her chest. One door led to another until they boarded a creaking vessel, shut below decks. Water lashed. The ship rose and fell and swayed from side to side. Wind howled. Finally, the hatch opened to sunlight and seagulls. They merged with a sea of humanity, walking to a mining camp called Cliff. When the mine captain’s wife died, Mama was the only one willing to wash and prep the body for burial. A new door opened – a job, income, a life beyond slavery.

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Not on My Shift You Don’t by Doug Jacquier

A nurse flits into Dad’s room, mock scolds him for barely touching his breakfast, and flits out again, ‘Were you born in a bloody tent?’ he calls after her, which means she hasn’t shut the door behind her. Again!

I ask him how he is. His face sags, he looks me in the eye, and says ‘I’m buggered*, son’ and I know he’s decided he’s had enough and just wants to be left alone to leave this world on his own terms. But the nurse doesn’t want that happening on her shift. So she keeps leaving the door open.

* buggered – Australian slang for ‘finished, exhausted, dead tired’

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Diamante by Saifun Hassam

Diamante hiked down the mountain trail under a canopy of tall evergreens. Sunlight filtered through openings like windows into the cloudless blue sky.

Diamante had finished helping the teachers of the mountain villages set up their summer classes. He was enjoying his new role, learning to be a teacher of teachers.

He loved the mountains, but his first love would always be the sea.
He trekked down to the limestone cliffs and saw the sea. Like an open door into another universe. He gazed entranced by that far horizon where the sky touched the sea. Time to go sailing.

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Well, Why Not? (Part 3) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

(A ninety-nine word flash, times three…that will lead you back to Door Number One)

The twins pushed the net over their heads, flinging it to the side. “Well Mam-Duchess, why DON’T you marry one? We’re still just kids, after all!”
Sister Indelicata tipped her head, as she gathered up her seal-hunting net. That was the most grown-up thing they’d ever said. Perhaps those girls had promise, after all.
The Duchess blushed and the lonely widowers shuffled. The first, largest group beat a hasty retreat to the ballroom door, careful to stuff handfuls of delicacies from the banquet table into their pockets. One snagged a bottle of bubbly. Sister began to swing her net.
#
The door began to swing shut behind the First Lonely Widowers. The Duchess shook her head. Sister shrugged and folded the net over her arms. Twins Tikk and Tokk drew their sleeves under their runny noses, eying the glistening towers of spun sugar confectionaries.
The second group of widowers muttered to each other.
“Those two girls could use a good bath, and some discipline…”
“I prefer them meek, like my dearest departed…”
“Too bad the net-hunter’s a nun…”
“Give them another five years, I might…”
“How old do you think they are? How old do you think SHE is?”
#
One man stepped forward, teary-eyed for the Duchess’ embarrassment. “I don’t know who’re the biggest fools, here. This group of shallow, (some) slightly perverted, bored widowers that came here to take advantage of your generosity…or you?! All that was needed was to ask for help, little sister.”
“I wanted to raise the girls on my own. Their father was my childhood love, their mother my dearest friend.”
“You’ve always been independent.”
The twins’ eyes grew wide. “You had a choice, and you chose us?”
The Duchess nodded. The girls tackled her.
Sister Indelicata smiled, and slipped out the door.

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The Wolf Pack by Donna Matthews

A smirk plays at my lips as I study the females through the windshield. Some girls like to be cute, as in, “Feeling cute, might delete later!” Me, I’ve never related. Cute feels fragile, fleeting. No, I definitely feel more at home with wild, untamed.

I check myself.

Why is it we humans feel this need to compare, to rank ourselves? We aren’t so removed from the wolf pack as we like to think. Alpha, lone wolf, the outsiders trying to fit in. Ugh. The ridiculousness of it all. Opening the car door, I smile and greet my friends.

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Common Ground? by JulesPaige

The spiel around the deck’s fire pit, where we sat on benches, was about a raven. The bird screed into the night mimicking the other forest creatures. Like the storyteller droning. I only half listened.

Some of us were camping in the backyard. After retiring, nature called. I wasn’t expecting to find a blackbird right outside my door flap. Thankfully neither of us made a sound. Though my heart raced. I fished out a granola bar out of my pocket as a peace offering. It was accepted, and the bird flew away. The quiver of darkness returned to normal.

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Couch Philosopher by Michael Fishman

Margie didn’t say goodbye because that conversation had taken place a long time ago. She just took one last look, exhaled and opened the door and walked away. Darrell sat on the couch and watched the door until it faded and became a part of the wall.

He thought Emerson said that every wall is a door. He wondered if it’s the walls in front of us or the doors we walk through – or close – that define our existence.

Hell if I know, he thought.

Then one day he stood up and opened the door and took a breath.

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Go Hog Wild (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid! Shut the front door!”
“Leavin’ it open fer Curly. My little hog’s wandered off, hopin’ she wanders back.”
“Reckon she will aroun’ dinner time. What’d ya think a Shorty’s prompt?”
“It’s liminal! Unlimited possibilities. Course, Slim Chance says opportunity only knocks at yer door jist once.”
“Hmmf. Ernie says a jar’s a open doorway. I’d ruther set aroun’ with Ernie an’ his jars a story grease then thet shyster Slim Chance. He’s always lookin’ fer a opportunity ta pad his wallet. Nope, real opportunities abound, Kid, ya jist gotta grab hold of ‘em.”
“Reckon so, Pal, reckon so.”

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Go Hog Wild (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal, let’s go ta the Saddle Up Saloon, see if Curly’s gone there.”
“Sure Kid. Anyway’s it’s about time we checked on the place.
Wunner if folks know all the possibilities fer ‘em through them saloon doors.”
“Them door’s always open ta folks wantin’ ta take the stage, mebbe let their characters out fer a romp, or share a story or happenin’.”
“Yep. Folks could chat with us or showcase their art, promote a book— jist about anythin’.
Well, here we are. Oh no! Yer puglet’s opened some doors fer hersef. The kitchen’s a mess!”
“Who cares? Curly’s safe!”

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