Nashville Dreams

People come here to where the stars burned bright.

 Stirring embers of memories, sifting through the ash                                                                        They’re looking for Patsy, looking for Johnny Cash

Tourists ignore my singing, walk by my coin sprinkled case, go inside where it’s warm, go inside for ten-dollar drinks, where they’ll tip the band for playing lousy covers, tell them they sound real deal. Like they’d know.

 They walk by they look right through me, unseen space between the stars                                          Just another street bum, all I have is my guitar          

Cold. It’ll be another sleepless night of shivering, of wishing underneath the stars.

 

Written for Carrot Ranch, December 28, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a wishing star. It can be central to the story or used in a different way. You can have a character interact or not. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by January 2, 2018 to be included in the compilation (published January 3). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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Disbelief

Me and Jimmy, we usually would go to the swimming quarry, an older quarry surrounded by trees and filled with deep clear water, but on this day we came up here to what we call Dry Quarry, a place cut into the side of the hill with a great view, which is one reason to climb up here, but we also just enjoy chucking pieces of granite from our high perch on the ledge over the cut and watching it disappear and then hearing it crash and shatter below on the shelf of granite at the bottom of the quarry.

I sat down when we got up there, just enjoying the view for a bit, and to be honest, the height does bother me, I like to sit down and get centered, but Jimmy, fearless and surefooted even on that sheer ledge, you know how he is, always in motion, he’s already chucking rocks and gathering up a pile of them for when he’s ready for a more methodical chucking.

I’ll never in all my life forget what happened next and how it happened, and even though we have an English teacher who tells us it’s bad to use clichés, sometimes things just happen a certain way and that’s how it gets told, like when Jimmy stepped on loose rock that moved like marbles and he skidded backwards and right off the edge and into the air, it was like watching a cartoon. That English teacher, she also said something about a suspension of disbelief and that was the look on Jimmy’s face, like he just couldn’t believe that he was in the air, and I swear it was like he was suspended there just off the ledge and in the air and like a cartoon he seemed to believe that he might be able to run on air or to flap his way back to where I sat. But then, after that split second that seemed to last forever, it became apparent that gravity would have its way, even with Jimmy, and he, still suspended in air it seemed, still looking at me, seemed to know it too and so he stopped flapping and flailing and tried one more trick; he turned in the air facing out over the quarry, and folded forward and then kicked his feet up overhead, arms reaching down and he descended in perfect dive form as if by doing so the granite would part like water and take him in and let him arc back up to break the surface, triumphant.

And this might sound cliché, but because of that time Jimmy had stolen a bunch of melons from that hippie market garden and we brought them up here to chuck, I can tell you from first hand experience that when his head hit it really did sound like a melon coming apart and that the only thing that echoed against the granite walls was silence.

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Written for Ivy’s Six Sentence Story prompt, “suspend” at Unchartered.

The Quill

Here is the third and (I am pretty sure) final installment of the fairy tale inspired by Charli Mill’s December 21st flash fiction prompt. For the first click HERE.  cropped-carrot-ranch_lc_30july17v2 (1).jpg

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For seven days, or maybe it was seven years, or even seven lifetimes, the girl and her young former soldier journeyed. At first they started down a well-worn path through sun-dappled woods. Then a gust of wind blew the white feather from the girl’s hand and it drifted away from the path and into the darker woods. Without hesitation they followed to retrieve the feather though they went far and farther off the path, deep and deeper into the woods. They found the feather and found themselves they knew not where, knew only that they journeyed.

Always as they journeyed the girl held the white feather close. Always at night, by firelight or moonlight or even starlight, the girl wrote their story with the quill. There was no shortage of ink, for always was some blood from their trials, always a tear could be wrought from their travails. They were wind whipped and sandblasted across barren plains. They climbed jagged mountains of sharp cold stone that tore at their feet and hands as they crawled its craggy paths. They traversed a swamp that sucked at their feet and pulled at them, threatening to mire them forever. Then one day they found themselves in a wood so thick with thorned brush and branches they feared they could not go on.

“I wish I had my trusty sword”, the soldier lamented. And as soon as he had wished it, the sword was in his hands. He smiled broadly. Now he knew what to do, now he would get them out of this entanglement. Boldly he slashed and fiercely he sliced at the branches but every time he cut one away it grew back three-fold, the branches becoming ever thicker. Finally the girl cried for him to stop.

“Let me try”, she said, and held forth the white feather quill. She held it up and laid it against a branch and the branch was swept away. Again and again, one branch at a time she wielded her feather quill until finally they emerged into a clearing at the foot of a steep hill. They crawled into a cave that was there and fell in a heap of exhaustion. Clutching the feather, clutching each other, they slept. They slept without stirring for three days, or three years, or maybe even three lifetimes, until finally dawns’ light and birds’ song drew them out.

Blinking in the light the soldier exclaimed when he looked upon the girl. “Why, you have transformed again!”

“What?”, laughed the girl, “Am I a bird again?”

“No, you’re a wise old woman. I mean you are a beautiful young woman. I mean… you’re…”

“She is all of these. She has always been this and more.”

“The bird!” Both the girl and the young man turned and there was the great bird that she had freed.

“So surprised? Wasn’t it I that you sought?”, said the bird. “I see that you still hold the feather. I see that it is stained and worn; well used.”

The girl looked at the feather that she yet held in her hand, even after their long time in the cave. Gently the great bird took it from her and tossed it into the air. Then all her words that she had written with the quill gathered and began to flutter and flit like damselflies, then gathered and grew into feathers and finally swirled into a flock of colorful birds that darted into the trees singing and chirping.

“These magical birds will take you wherever you wish to go. They will lift you up and you will soar with them.”

“So now we live happily ever after?”

The great bird laughed. “It’s never that easy”, it said. “The magic of the quill will last forever, but magic is not a miracle, though they do happen too.”

Just then a flock of ducks flew overhead, and the girl and the young man thought they might as well go in the direction the ducks pointed. And they did.

 

Still in Flight

Part two of Flight

The king was angry, very angry with the sorrel-maned girl who had freed the great bird. The king was quite unused to being defied, of having anything taken from him, even things he had no right to.

“Throw her into the bird’s stall”, he commanded. “Melt the key in the forge.”

The thin morning light that slanted through the barred window illuminated her tear as it dropped. Remembering the bird, the brave and stoic bird, she reached for the white quill pinned in her hair. Her tears would be her ink. No sooner had she dipped the nib into her own teardrop than she was transformed. As a small white bird she was able to flit through the window of the stall door. Unsteady with her wings, she perched on a shelf in the stable, uncertain of what to do next.

“The spell will wear off soon. Fly down from the shelf.”

She fluttered to the straw strewn floor and sure enough, as soon as she did, she was herself again, a girl holding a white feather, facing a sorrel horse that spoke to her over the half door of his stall. “Good timing”, he said.

“But shouldn’t the magic of the quill last forever?”

“The magic does last forever”, replied the horse, “but do you really want to be a bird forever? You’re too young yet. You don’t get out so easily. But I can help you with the next part of your journey.”

As the kingdom was just beginning to rouse and attend each to their roles, the horse carried the girl rapidly away, she clinging to his mane, her own sorrel hair winging behind her. Finally the horse stopped in a wooded glade and they rested. Only now did the girl ask how it was that a horse could speak.

“Every creature speaks.”

“You know what I mean. I know horses, and I have never known one to speak in human language.”

“I need to tell you that I can carry you no farther.”

“I can’t thank you enough for carrying me this far, Horse. If only I could repay your kindness in helping me get away from the king.”

“Tell me, Girl, if you could, would you carry me?”

“Why of course I would, Horse.” And she meant it. And then before her startled eyes the horse was a man.

“I was under a spell”, he explained.

“Oh, no, you’re not a prince, are you?”, she asked, for he was handsome and strong, and stranger things had happened already.

“Ha! No not I. I was a soldier once, in service to the king. When I became injured he no longer found me useful. I was loyal, and thought that he would think kindly of those who had battled for him. I suggested that he, who has so much, instruct his royal physicians and magicians to take care of the soldiers, even those who no longer rode to battle. He had his magician turn me into a horse to silence me. Until you came with the white feather I was unable to speak.”

“I am glad you are not a prince. The king may not have use for a brave soldier, but I do.” Together they continued they knew not where, she clutching the white feather, he clutching her hand.

Falling Up

On the other side of the window, five stories up, snow fell, snow flew, snow blew in all directions, absolutely silent; inside this room they were all figures in a snow-globe. Her bedroom had transformed into her hospice room, crowded and cluttered with medical apparatus, myriad pills, and an inevitable yet still uncertain end; none of them had been here before. While the other figures did laundry, bandage prep, medication checks, she slept, some one always beside her, holding her hand, ready to comfort her when she returned to unsettled wakefulness. The ventilator pulsed time.

When the snow did stop, the night became clear and cold, the sky sparkling like a field of sunlit snow, so many stars that to stare up at them was like being in a snow-globe, mesmerizing and oddly comforting. Through a lens of tears one figure thought she saw a falling star, falling up, so bright, so distant.

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Written for Ivy’s Six Sentence Story prompt at Uncharted.

 

This week’s cue is STAR.

A Wresting Hymn

So Sammi Cox’s  Weekend Writing Prompt #34 was to write either a Happy Christmas or a Horror Christmas story in 250 words, or write a poem using the title or the first line of a Christmas carol. I have desecrated a Christmas hymn and written a horror poem, inspired by so many recent headlines. 

 

God! Rest, you hairy “gentlemen”. Keep your hands away.

We are in the workplace and anywhere we want, these days.

Remember, your mother’s a woman too, think what she would say.

Women are not playthings or toys

Playthings or toys

Women are not playthings or toys

 

You might choke on your excuses, they’re sounding pretty lame.

And don’t you blame the victim for bringing down your name.

What happened to your decency, haven’t you any shame?

Women are not playthings or toys

Playthings or toys

Women are not playthings or toys

 

Hypocritical Christians, sinning in God’s sight.

Will there ever be a time when men will do what’s right?

When women won’t be fearful, won’t need take back the night?

Women are not playthings or toys

Playthings or toys

Women are not playthings or toys

 

Everyone’s behavior is a choice they choose.

No means no, it always has, accept when you’re refused.

Choose to behave rightly, stop the misogynist abuse.

Women are not playthings or toys

Playthings or toys

Women are not playthings or toys.

Flight

Carrot Ranch, Decembeworking-template-for-ff-challenges20.pngr 21, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but one that has an ability to be emotive. Humor, drama, irony — go wherever the white flowers lead.Respond by December 26, 2017 (Happy Boxing Day!) to be included in the compilation (published December 27). All writers are welcome! Rules are here. Except I am breaking the Ranch rules  this week and presenting 375 words. 

Once upon a time there was a king who had everything necessary and much that was imaginable and who always wanted more. He had a great many servants, among them a girl who tended to the horses in the royal stable.

One day she was surprised to find that the king’s men had captured a large bird, which was kept in a locked stall in the stable. It fell to her to look after this strange creature.

She observed that every day it pulled its own feathers to make a writing quill, and every day drew its own blood to use as ink, that every day it might write its own story.

“Oh, Bird, doesn’t that hurt?”

“Yes, it hurts.”

“Then, why?”

“Because”, the bird squawked, “At this time, in this place, I have no song.”

And the girl could not get the bird to eat or drink and could not get it to stop pulling its own feathers and drawing its own blood. She could not get it to stop writing. And she could not bear the pain of its silence. She stole the king’s key and unlocked the stall door. “Go”, she urged it, “While you still have feathers enough to escape.” The bird thanked her and took flight and as it did, its written words took feathered form, and took flight, and became a great wheeling flock of birds, each one a purposeful song that filled the sky and filled the girl’s heart with joy.

The great bird circled back and landed in front of the girl. Already, with its words singing in the treetops it looked replenished, its feathers grown back in. “You did a brave thing, for the king will be very angry with you. How can I repay you? Name it.”

“Oh no”, said the girl. “You have brought birdsong back to the kingdom. That is all I need.”

“Take this.” The bird pulled a white feather and handed it to the girl. “With this quill your words will sing and your spirit will soar. And yes”, the bird said as it flew away, “There will be pain.” The girl held the quill like a white flower; she held it like a sword; she held it as the key to her own escape.

 

Part two: Still in Flight

 

Solstice Pantoum

via Prompted Poetry

Solstice Pantoum

 A perfect Christmas morning

Snow has fallen like forgiveness in the night

The day dawns bright and clear, sparkles with promise

Winter has just begun

 

Snow has fallen like forgiveness in the night

Light returning, the darkest day is past

Winter has just begun

Turning our faces to the light, we recognize a gift

 

Light returning, the darkest day is past

The day dawns bright and clear, sparkles with promise

Turning our faces to the light, we recognize a gift

A perfect Christmas morning

 

Written in response to ‘Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’, ‘Saturday Mix’,#LuckyDip; a pantoum about the holidays. 

Based

This week, in a well-braided post that includes wry humor as well as rye whiskey, Charli Mills would have us tell a universal tale specific to a region. I wish I could follow the suggestion that there be humor and uniqueness. Instead the prompt led to a BOTS of sorts (Based On True Stories):

I wish I could write a story, maybe funny, but charming too, about the place I am from, where rugged people work and play surrounded by beauty.

I wish, for your sake, that it’s only in this place that people’s homes get burned over drug deal disputes; only in this place do innocent people get killed on the interstate by zombies speeding north with powder and pills to sell; only in this place are parents losing children, are children losing parents, are people blind to the beauty that surrounds them.

But it’s everywhere.

I wish this were a story.

 

Carrot Ranch, December 14, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “only in…” It can be used to tell a story about a profession, a place or situation. Go were the prompt leads you.  rwr-1.pngRespond by December 19, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published December 20). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Mists – #writephoto

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Meet them at the windbreak he’d been told, just before dawn. They’d be waiting there in the line of trees with a wagon, just don’t be late.

He couldn’t take the road of course, had to swing down around the swamp, then through the woods, in the dark. He had gotten turned around, had to do some calculating to come out to the fields, those endless fields. He came out all right, but at the wrong side of the field, the wrong windbreak.

His hopes hung thin as the morning mist as the hounds tuned up, tolling like bells.

 

Twofer; written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt and for Zoe’s Six Sentence Story prompt, cue word “tune”. 

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