Uninitiated

The children and even grandchildren bring their own signature dishes to family gatherings, but her mother remains the pie maker, her piecrusts legendary, the recipe and technique an unwritten mystery. To learn it, she would have to apprentice under her mother, observe and practice. That takes time. She would become initiated later.

At the last gathering even the uninitiated recognized that the slits in the top crust, usually cut so artistically, had been forgotten, the pies uncharacteristically soggy.

At this gathering they mine their pie with worried forks, something less obvious obviously forgotten.

She would never know the mystery.

Written for Carrot Ranch July 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a pie. You can make it any kind of pie, focus on filling or crust, or tell us about the pie-maker. How does pie set a tone in a story? Does it warm the hearth or bring disappointment?

Landing

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

They cast, drifting in the cove.

“How’s work?”

Here we go, he thought. “Fine.”

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

Then quiet except for one-word utterances, “Nibble.” “Hit.” Nothing stayed on the line. The old man told about their first time fishing this cove. “We got ‘em that day.”

He had only been four, but he remembered.

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

 

Written for Carrot Ranch July 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an unexpected landing. It can be acrobatic, an unplanned move or created into a metaphor. Go where the prompt, or chickens, lead.

Soul-Bird

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

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

 

Written for Sammi Cox’s weekend writing prompt #11 and Carrot Ranch July 13th flash prompt.

The Fold

This is the complete and completed series that began with “Highlander”. The first four are flash fiction responses for Carrot Ranch. The final four are also exactly 99 words each, and though encouraged by the good folks at the Ranch, are unprompted.

Highlander

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

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

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

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###

The Return        

“You’re back. How far’d you get?”

“Far enough to figure some things out.”

“Uh?”

“Figured out they don’t have as many seasons out west. If they have deer season, you’d hardly know it. They never heard of sugarin’ or mud season. I wanna settle in for mud season.”

“You came back because you wanna be here when the roads turn to shit?”

“Early April, right?”

“Yup. Lotta my Highland heifers are due to calve ‘bout then.”

“I figure that’s my time too. We’re pregnant.”

“Well.”

He’d seen rangy heifers become content after calving. He embraced his wife, thankfully, hopefully.

 

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#### 

 First Cut         

“Did I hurt you when I left?”

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

“Yup. Hurt a lot.”

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

“Uh.”

The baby sighed and fell asleep against her. “I never was scared before though.”

“You were scared?”

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

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

###

Awestruck

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

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

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

Would she ever leave again?

“Hey”, she whispered. “How’s Hope?”

“She’s a light in the storm.”

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###

Hope

Hope pushed her toy tractor in the dirt in front of the porch.

“What ya plantin’ Hope?”

“Daddy! There’s no planter attached!”

“You’re right. Again. So, what are you doing, just riding around on the tractor?”

“Yes. I am going away for awhile.”

“Oh, I see.” He sat on the step, leaning heavily against the post, watching his daughter push her toy tractor away from him, humming a high gear noise. Then she geared down and maneuvered back to the step where she parked the toy and sat beside him.

“Daddy, when is Mommy coming back?”

“I don’t know.”

###

Knowing

 “Hope, listen.”

“The loons!”

“A mommy, a daddy, and a baby loon live on the lake.”

“I know.”

“The mommy and daddy loon call out to each other, let each other know where they’re fishing.”

“I know that, Daddy.”

“Both the mommy and the daddy loon take care of the chick. They both built and sat the nest, both fish for the chick, protect it, teach it.”

“I know that, Daddy.”

“Did you know that sometimes one of the adults leaves and goes to fish on another lake?”

“Just like us, ‘cept we live on a farm.”

“I know.”

###

 Always

“Mommy!”

She swung Hope high then held her tight. “Mmm. My Hope. Such a big Hope. Is Daddy in the barn?”

“I’m here.”

She turned. “You always are for me.”

He continued to stand in the doorway. She noticed the fall colors beginning to show on the mountain, visible over his shoulder.

He rubbed his shoulder as if it and not his heart ached. “Welcome back. Supper’s already started.”

After putting Hope to bed they sat on the porch step, listening for the loons.

“They’re both together on the lake.” She squeezed his calloused hand. “With their chick.”

“Yup.”

th-2

###

Sunset

“There’s not a sunset anywhere like this one”, she said, leaning against him on the steps.

“There’s no one around here who’d know that better than you.”

“I don’t mean to hurt you.”

“I know.” They sat in silence until lightning bugs glittered the night air.

“You done leavin’?”

“No.”

“Uh.”

“But next time I want you to go with me.”

“What? And leave all this?”

“Well, I was thinking we could wait until Hope is able to look after the farm while we’re away.”

“Oh. That’s a ways off.”

“I know. Gives us plenty time to teach her.”

###

Scoring

Second term had begun, and in the teacher’s lounge surprise, and even disappointment, was expressed at Robin’s class selections, spoken as if the woodshop teacher wasn’t even in the room. Because of their daily talk he knew that this was an uncharacteristic choice for his new student, and that she had been increasingly less academically inclined, was no longer involved in sports and afterschool activities.

The woodshop teacher didn’t need his colleagues’ comments to recognize that Robin wasn’t the typical disenchanted and disenfranchised doper that he usually got in his classes, and he made sure to present her with challenging projects, encouraged her to be creative. Today he showed her the scoring saw and was impressed by her interest and her questions, smiling with her at her delight in the word kerf, which she defined as being “the nothing that is left that is bigger than the cut itself”.

“I want to use the scoring saw to make a design in my table top”, she said, “beautiful kerfs for all to see.”

He agreed, gave some procedural advice, insisted that she roll up her customary long-sleeves, and was more surprised that she readily did so while looking him right in the eye than by the meticulous scoring on her forearms.

 

Six Sentence Story prompt at  Recording Life Under the Radar using the word score.  

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Windswept

Grandmother and granddaughter lay on the grass, looking up at the windswept sky.

“That cloud looks like a bird.”

“Could be an angel.”

“Look there! A wispy dragon.”

It was hard to know who was mimicking whom. One felt young, creative; one felt old, wise. Both were content, both ageless.

wispy-cloudsWritten for Sami Cox’s writing challenge # 10Prose Challenge – Write a story in no more than 50 words inspired by clouds.  Bonus points for those who manage to get the word “mimic” in there too

 

First Cut    

“Did I hurt you when I left?”

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

“Yup. Hurt a lot.”

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

“Uh.”

The baby sighed and fell asleep against her. “I never was scared before though.”

“You were scared?”

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

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

***

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

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

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

Would she ever leave again?

“Hey”, she whispered. “How’s Hope?”

“She’s a light in the storm.”

***

Written for Carrot Ranch, July 6, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a beacon. It can be from a lighthouse or other source. Use the word literally or figuratively and go where the prompt leads you.

I doubled up. These continue the Highlander and Return stories written earlier.

Water of Life

With Joanna now bundled into one of her sweatshirts and clutching her from the passenger seat, Nancy slowly and carefully skippered the motorcycle up and out of the meadow, down the muddy lane, then motored on until pulling over at the real estate office in town where some young women were now sitting on benches outside.

“My dears, is anything the matter, we weren’t expecting to see you… so soon.”

“There’s got to be an explanation, maybe you can tell us, my friend says something about the well…”

“Oh, isn’t that a lovely well, very old, on the same aquifer as the town water.”

“We were just wondering how you ladies were doing, and I was even inspired to start up my old Indian. How about we take a ride back up to the cabin and see what’s going on?”

***                                                 ***                                              ***                                        ***

Despite the circumstances, Nancy couldn’t help but admire the red Indian motorcycle that the real estate agent rolled up on. “Wow, what is that, like 1915, is it original?”

“1917, and yes, it’s all original, in fact, I am the original owner.”

Suddenly Joanna roused herself and spoke in a tremulous voice from behind Nancy, “You, you are all so young!”

“Why thank you”, said one of the women from the bench, smiling cunningly, “It must be something in the water.”

Nancy’s heart skipped a beat as the implications of the woman’s response finally registered.

***

Liberties were taken, I doubled up on the six sentence constraint, for the same reason that there are 12 packs of beer; sometimes six isn’t enough. Perhaps this ongoing Well tale (click for full series) still isn’t resolved, but anything over a twelve pack in one sitting would be excessive. Thank you Zoe at Life Under the Radar for the prompts.

Six sentences any way you like, any genre, any length, any order…just six. Use the cue SKIP.

Surrender

What would you do if

all that came to your ear was the

rushing waterfall the busy

birdsong of morning the

leaves whispering with the

breeze, sunlight refracted on

water,  kaleidoscoping beauty?

 

(And all of this

forgiving of your presence

accepting and tolerating of your

being here.)

What would you do?

 

You’d probably try to

capture it all

in a poem.

 

But how can you when

the loons appear shimmering

in the midst of the dervishing sunlight

their every movement striking

ecstatic dazzling sun sparks

radiating around them?

My God! you cry

and you mean it;

they appear no less as angels

haloed, hallowed, holy.

 

You should probably forget your

poem, your attempts at capturing

these visions, these visitations; should

yield, surrender, be quiet

let the steady waterfall stroke your weary ear

let your eyes sing softly with the sun

swimming with the lake.

Resistance is futile.

Just surrender.

Spring Cleaning

Their marriage lasted longer than most of their long time friends’, who often remarked how wonderful that they never argued.

It was true, they didn’t. “Life’s too short to argue”, he’d always said, and, “Marriage is about compromise.” She remembered his words like it was only yesterday. In fact, it was only yesterday, spring-cleaning day.

“It’s my retirement too”, she had said, steadying the ladder as he wiped down the ceiling fan. He didn’t want to argue, nor did he want to compromise.

But he was such a good sport to help with the cleaning. All their friends would have to know that his death was accidental.

 

Written for Weekend Writing Prompt#9-“Accidental”                                                           Posted on July 1, 2017