For Bitter or Worse

“Don’t act like you don’t know, I saw your email. ‘I don’t really like my mate; not my cup of tea. My mate is too bitter; I can only take so much of my mate, gives me the jitters….’ Of course I’m upset with you.”

“Darling, the email was to the Tea of the Month Club, they wanted feedback on the yerba mate`.”

“Oh… well, yer ba all right then.”



A silly six sentence story, written for  Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “mate”. 



Robert took up the fleece from its peg on the wall, the one from the big old ram, the one used to cover the seat of the sleigh in the wintertime, gently placed it over the horse’s back explaining in soothing tones, “It’s as much ta protect your back as my backside, I’m a lot more bones than the last time we rode up ta see Mary Eliza.”

The last time had been almost four years ago, ostensibly to look over the apple orchard with Mary Eliza’s father, to let them both know he’d be leaving with the Vermont 2nd  Infantry, and now, his satchel bristling with cuttings, he was again making the trip up the hill road on the pretense of checking on her father’s orchard. The old man’s orchard had seen great improvement in the time that Robert had begun to take an interest in Mary Eliza, before he had gone off with his regiment, but as he rounded the bend in the road, nearing the farmhouse of Mary Eliza’s family, Robert saw that the orchard was again going wild, appeared to have been unattended in the time that he was gone.

From the front of the unpainted farmhouse three figures watched Robert’s approach; it was the old man who spoke first, saying simply, “You’re a might late, young man”, and thinking he was referring to the apple scions, Robert replied that he thought they might still take, but that there was a lot of pruning work to be done as well.

The old man spat on the ground, told Robert that all he ever needed from that orchard was cider apples, that it was fine just the way it was.

By now Robert had dismounted, stood beside his horse confronting the sight of Mary Eliza standing with Elija Jones, a young man about his own age, from a farm further up the hill road than Mary Eliza’s, a farm that had always, even well before the war, been run down in all ways, and there stood Elija, grinning awkwardly, balanced on a crude wooden crutch, his left leg gone below the knee, and, though it ended below the elbow, his right arm around Mary Eliza.

As if to explain, Mary Eliza said, “Elija needs me.”

“But, I thought…” and Robert trailed off, for he hadn’t ever voiced his intentions and now his eyes slid over the ragged orchard and the scrawny horse in the paddock by the barn and he had to wonder what it was he had thought.

Robert fetched the grafting knife from his satchel. He used it to strip some pieces of rawhide from the edge of the fleece that blanketed his horse, then cut off a broader piece, one that had a generous amount of soft wool. Then Robert helped Elija to lean against Mary Eliza while he bound the thick piece of fleece to the top of Elija’s crutch.

“That’s much better, much obliged”, Elija finally spoke, but Robert was already back on his horse, already turned around and headed back down the hill road to his own family’s farm, his apple cuttings still bundled in his satchel.



This six sentence story  is a 12-pack, I doubled up. Written for  Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “fleece”. 

This story follows “Seeing the Elephant”, last week’s Carrot Ranch flash.

Seeing the Elephant

“That was my Uncle Robert’s musket. He leaned it there in the corner when he got back from the war.”

At the time I was too young to have the questions I wish I had asked, that I come back to wondering about decades later. One of 35,000 Vermonters who had gone to see the elephant, surely her beloved uncle told her stories of adventure and strange sights, but maybe didn’t talk about the battles. Maybe he was as silent as the sentinel musket that he had returned with to the family home but would never take up again.


Robert was practically running now.

He would have missed sugar season, but his father would appreciate his help with spring planting. His father wouldn’t ask him, as the man on the train had, about the Battle of the Wilderness.

Soon he’d be eating Ma’s cooking, would tousle the hair of his baby brother, six now, teach him everything there was to know, would have him driving the team, set him up with his own team of oxen. Robert ached to again work the farm, to mesh with the seasons.

Almost home; soon he would set this damn musket down.


Written for Carrot Ranch November 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use the word mesh in a story. Mesh is both an object and a verb, which you can freely explore. You can play with its sound, too. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by November 21, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published November 22). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


No Haven #writephoto



“Mommy, look at the sky, it’s so pretty. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight, right Mommy? Tomorrow is gonna be a great day for our trip.”

She grabbed up her little girl, held her close, told her yes, yes, it was going to be the best day ever, a wonderful trip.

“You’re crying, Mommy. Is it because the sky is so beautiful?”

“Yes, darling, that’s it, and you are so beautiful, and we’re going to have such a great time.”

It was not quite noon on a summer day. Just that morning they had listened to the birds’ sunrise songs, had watched them disappearing in and out of the thick green-leaved canopy of the trees. Now in the black silence, she just held onto her child, so tightly she could feel and hear her breathing, feel her heart beating against her own. Then sound returned, a rumbling buzz followed by a crushing roar that pushed the purple and orange sky roiling ahead of it, a massive thundering wave of color and noise that nobody heard.


Written for Sue Vincent’s November 16th Thursday Photo Prompt.

Hang Time

It was the hang-time of late fall, after leaves and before snow, and out on the playground where the real schooling happened, mastery was measured in marbles, and Rex’s ragged bag was always full. At morning recess Rex would reach barehanded into the iced over marble holes to remove the ice, expertly auger the holes smooth and sloped just so with the heel of his tattered Converses, then he’d call the shots, maybe boots and shoots, hitsies, no toesies… but he always called keepsies. There was no shame in losing to Rex, and sometimes a kid might even win a couple of rounds, but then would be obliged to accept the challenge of playing puresies or boulders, a higher stakes game they were certain to lose.

Though Rex was not in the habit of gratuitously punching anyone, he would give anyone who suggested that he had a dog’s name five good reasons not to make that mistake twice, for everyone that was anyone, that is anyone from here, knew better, knew that Rex meant king, and the king of the playground was always respected.

Most of the legends about Rex were true, including that he never cried, not once, not ever in all of school not even in kindergarten. So out of respect everyone stayed away, rushed to the swings or the slide on the Mondays after visitation, the mornings Rex’s eyes watered in the cold air as he stood alone, his marble bag heavy in the pocket of his thin jacket.



This six sentence story written for  Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “marble”. 

Wintry Walk

Under winter’s marbled evening sky begin walking; keep going though snow is now falling, is rapidly covering your tracks.

Go to know the cold that winter brings, and to know also the dark; walk into the night and feel the sting and smart of the cold on your face and hands, then the dull ache of it creeping in all your limbs.

Go further; go till you no longer feel even the dull ache, go until you are numb to the cold.

Walk that far.

Then, shrouded with snow, stumbling in the dark, sinking and flailing through drifts, find your way back; return.

Only now can you know what it is you want from the warm glow of light in a window.



This six sentence story written for  Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “marble”. 

Flash Fire



PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

She set the pages right in the flames of the burner, hoping to silence the voices, the quiet ones as well as the loud ones. Then, exhausted, she stumbled to the couch, trusting the fire to consume what she had fed it. Fire, though, it might start on one thing, nibbling at first, then gulping greedily, but then might move on, leaving untouched tidbits and strewn crumbs behind.

The firemen would discover her lifeless form on the couch, in the kitchen a melted pill bottle and enough charred remnants of her writing that a small voice could yet be heard.


Written in response to Friday Fictioneers, November 17. 100 words.




“She’s terrified of small spaces, didn’t you know? That’s why she moved.”

Increasingly, quite ordinary situations brought on the terror. As her terrors grew her interpretation of small spaces expanded. Being jammed into the back seat of a car was bad, worse was enduring the press of public transportation. People. Any gathering of people became unbearable; even one or two friends became an encroachment. She needed space.

Inside spaces needed to be tidy and organized, ruthlessly uncluttered. She spent more time out of doors, walking, but even there began to feel hemmed in not just by other walkers and narrow paths, but even by trees and hills, hovering, encircling topographies.

She moved to North Dakota, into an old farmhouse with a big open porch overlooking miles and miles of prairie. She spent hours gazing at the flat expanse of wheat fields that surrounded her. But then she came to feel enclosed by this surrounding of wheat that whispered and swayed in the wind, and was grateful for the combines that came and left behind only silent stubble. This was soon covered by snow and cold drove her indoors.

Here was where the real terror took hold. Alone and with no escape, would she again feel crowded, jostled and shoved by the doubts and fears that trolled her mind space, or would she find expansion there in her solitude?

The door was left open, receiving blowing snow that had already drifted onto the porch behind her. She disappeared into the unbroken, endless white of a prairie blizzard.


Prompt: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, First Line Friday, Short Fiction – November 10th, 2017  Your line for this week is: He’s terrified of small spaces, didn’t you know?” 

Baking Lessons

“Really, you think I don’t know what you’ve been doing?”

Sandra was becoming exasperated, didn’t know whom to turn to with this escalating problem.

“You better avoid the principal when you get to school, you’ll get busted.”

“So I’ll stay home, you can tell them I’m sick.”

“No, get going, you need to go to school and you have to give me a ride.”

At first she had taken her at her word, believed that she only smoked a little weed now and again, but lately Sandra’s mother, a high school English teacher, was getting baked even before school.



This six sentence story written for  Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “baked”, just for fun. Other bloggers are doing it. It won’t lead to harder stories, besides I only write six sentence stories now and again. I can quit anytime.