2 from the Brink of Exhaustion

working-template-for-ff-challenges13.pngThe Carrot Ranch April 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can you make art of exhaustion? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by April 30, 2019.

As I sometimes do, I am posting two stories for one prompt. As often happens, one is light, the other dark. One features that recurring farm family, the other is, as they say, ripped from the headlines. I do not watch or even read much news anymore;  it is too exhausting. When I worked long hours doing physical labor outdoors I sure slept well, a good healthy tired. My work now sometimes leaves me emotionally exhausted but I don’t sleep so well. We all need to attend to what drains us and what rejuvenates and fulfills us. Exhausted means there’s nothing left, and that’s a hard place to be. Look out for your self and one another. 



“I know she’s old but just two days ago she was walking and talking and taking meals with us. You try talking to her.”


“Come in child, sit. I’m old it’s true but I see and I hear. Come, talk with me but do not talk to me of getting out of bed, of eating food. I tell you, I am done.”

“Why? Why are you giving up on life?”

“I’ve seen enough. I’ve seen too much. When I was a child. And now in this country. At Passover no less. I’m tired of the hate. I’m exhausted.”


Making Hay

“Hey. I’ve got dinner warmed in the oven. You’ve been haying since before sun-up till after sunset. You must be exhausted.”

“No, just tired.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Hmm. Well, this is good work that matters. It had to be done, especially with the rain forecast. Luciene helped us then I helped him. Our cows are provided for and our families. I’m sore and tired but it feels good. Especially coming into this kitchen seeing you, knowing our Hope’s asleep upstairs, safe and sound.”

“Hmm. Are you too tired? For more good work?”

“Heck no. Never too tired for you.”




The light may have poured out of the moon or it may have seeped from a secret spring.

As astonished as the seer, this light pools in trusting eyes.

It sparkles as an echo of blue sound, reverberates from deep-water memory like whale song. Through summer scented leaves the light whispers remembrances of long ago, a blanket of wonder woven of warm sun and soft rain.

This light is a beating heart, a golden pulse. It may have spilled from the moon, or maybe the light spills forth from you.


six sentence story copy.jpg


Here are Six Sentences though not much of a story. Read more Sixes and leave Six Sentences of your own at GirlieOntheEdge’s blog. Prompt word this week: “memory”.

Rising; Quadrille #78/dVerse


eggs sawed open from inside

shoots shouldering through the soil

emerging from the darkness

rising requires work

curled buds unfurling

pages unfold; leaves

proclaim to know the secrets

kept by dormant roots

darkness imagines colors

mysteries made visible

striving to the light

rooted, rising



dverselogo.jpgMerrill is pulling the pints at d’Verse Pub today, and entreats us to, “Arise, dVerse Poets! Join in the quadrille fun: Write a poem, of any style in 44 words, not including the title. Include the word or derivative of the word, ‘rise’.”

had already written lines six through ten as a tanka so kept going with lines of 7 or 5 syllables, ending with four syllables for the Quadrille word count. It’s called haiquadrikinda. (Kidding; it’s called recycling and repurposing) 


“It’s the beginnin’ a the end, Pal.”

“Now what’s troublin’ ya, Kid?”

“Our writer. Likely gonna fergit all about us. As yer wont to remind me, we’re fictional characters, Pal. If she don’t write us we don’t exist.”

Wont, Kid, really? Stay in character. What’s goin’ on?”

“That dang D. Avery. Ya know she’s the featured haiku writer at Pure Haiku for the theme of emergence. Why not me Pal? I kin haiku…

Crusted cow patties

Snow cheeked fields; brown tears spring forth

Winter’s passing marked.”

“Really, Kid? Cow patties? This is why we git left at the Ranch.”



“Well, I jist hope our writer don’t git too big fer her britches is all.”

“Uh, she kinda is Kid, but thet’s more ta do with her bad habits as anythin’.”

“I’m still worried she’s gonna fergit us. Ya know she’s gonna be in the next Serious Flash Fiction Anthology. And she’s gittin’ a piece a writin’ published in the Santa Barbara Literary Journal.”

“We’re in the SBLitJo?!”

“Not us, Pal. That girl Marlie and her Destiny doll. ‘Jist go where the prompt leads’. Hmmf. This’ll lead ta trouble.”

“Only thing troubled is you Kid. Jist say congratulations.”



These two, Kid and Pal, are usually restricted to their own Ranch Yarn page or can be found around Carrot Ranch. I apologize and will try to round them up. I do encourage you to visit Pure Haiku if you haven’t already to read the fine contributions to Freya’s Emergence theme. I am thrilled to be the Featured Haiku Writer for this theme and to have my work published at Pure Haiku all this week. 


prompt-chomp.pngCharli Mills has this thing she calls the ultimate flash fiction challenge, or Tuff. This isn’t it. But that’s because I didn’t check, and my final piece here is 495 words, not the recommended 599. And now I don’t feel like fiddling anymore, so 495 it is. Actually there’s a longer piece over 850 words that did get improved upon from this exercise and that’s the point. 

As I said in my first response to this week’s Carrot Ranch challenge, I’m not sure if this answers the prompt but it’s where it led and it got some work done for some characters who wanted me to write their story. Here is that boy who lost his friend Jimmy and who just made a friend, Jamie.

99 words:

“Do you get picked on?”

“What do you think? Two moms? My style?” She twirled a finger in the long snarly part of her hair.

“You could change your style.”

“I could.” Jamie stroked my hair, “Long hair would look good on you.”

When I chickened out on one of Jimmy’s stunts he’d call me Girlie.

I knew I’d be following Jamie to edges and dangers unkown, knew I’d man up in ways that only this wild girl would appreciate. School wasn’t going to be much easier, but it would be some easier. I’d no longer be sitting alone.


59 words:

“Do they bother you?”

She twirled a finger in the long snarly part of her hair.

I knew I’d be following Jamie to edges and dangers unkown, knew I’d man up in ways that only this wild girl would appreciate. School wasn’t going to be much easier, but it would be some easier. I’d no longer be sitting alone.


9 words:

Exploring unknown edges, not having to face school alone.


495 words:

“So you don’t have a mom, and Jimmy didn’t have a dad. Guess what, Augie Doggie?”

When she’d asked my name she also asked what Jimmy had called me. I told her how he’d mostly called me Gus, so she said she was going to call me Augie. Nobody had ever called me anything but Gus or August.


“I never had a father, but I have two moms.”

“But you don’t, your’e not…”

“Why do you want to know?” she asked, looking right at me with an unflinching twinkle in her eye. And then I did pretend to look at a book, I got real busy looking at that book but all I saw was Jamie in her wild checked dress that clashed with her brightly patterned leggings with her small patch of long and unruly hair on the right side of her head, the rest buzzed spiky.

“Do other kids give you a hard time?”

There was that look, so intense, so forgiving. “What do you think? Two moms. My style.” She twirled a finger in the long snarly part of her hair.

“You could change your hair.”

“I could, Auggie, and people could change their attitudes. I have. Changed my hair. Sometimes I wear my hair all long, sometimes I wear it all short. Sometimes I dress like you’re dressed, sometimes like this. I’ve been mistaken for a boy and usually I don’t bother to correct people. One time when I was at a new school I went for weeks as a boy.”

“Wow, why?”

“Why not? Some things were easier, but some things were harder. Boys rank on one another. Actually girls do too. Now I just try to be myself.”

“Is that hard or easy?”

“It’d be the easiest thing in the world except for other people. People can be very unkind, Augie.”

“You know,” Jamie continued, “Long hair would look good on you. Maybe just a patch of buzz on one side. Exact opposite of mine.”

“That’d be weird.” We both smiled.

I’d been thinking of Jimmy and talking about Jimmy all day it seemed. I missed him, but it didn’t hurt as much now. Jimmy’d always helped me get along in the world, showed me how to be cool and be tough. Jimmy used to say sometimes that I acted like a girl, but he was just teasing me like a best friend can. Jimmy was my friend even though when he played hookey I backed out; I would never dive off the highest platform at Mill Pond; and when Jimmy and I would go to the quarry, I’d always stayed well away from the edge.

I knew I’d be following this wild girl to edges and dangers unkown, knew I’d man up in ways that maybe only she would appreciate. School wasn’t going to be much easier, but it would be some easier. I’d no longer be sitting alone.

I wished I could tell Jimmy about Jamie.




Carrot Ranch April 18, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about gender. It can be fixed or fluid. Explore the topic on your own terms and open your mind to possibilities and understanding. Go where the prompt leads!


working-template-for-ff-challenges11.pngSo this is the Carrot Ranch April 18, 2019 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about gender. It can be fixed or fluid. Explore the topic on your own terms and open your mind to possibilities and understanding. Go where the prompt leads!

While all the  non-binary gender terms and options that are now acknowledged and explored can be confusing to many, isn’t it all as simple as being yourself? I don’t know if  this flash answers the prompt. It’s just Ernest and Marge being who they are and doing what they do. This scene comes after Marge (recently engaged) and Nard (recently come out) ended up drinking together in  Misspoke and Miss Placed.


Marge drew the blanket closer, nuzzling Ernest, snuggled cozy together on the couch. She could smell bacon and coffee and hear Ernest in the kitchen.

Marge sat upright. Ernest was in the kitchen.

“Nard! Ernest? What’s going on?”

“You two kept drinking. When you passed out together the love-hate relationship was in love gear so I only had to spread one blanket. Don’t worry, I have pictures for insurance.”

“Mmm. Morning Mommy.”

“Morning Nard. Breakfast’s ready.”

“Ernest. And after I slept with your fiancée. You’ll make someone a fine husband one day.”

“I intend too, Nard. When she’s ready.”

Denise Farley, How D’ya Do?

IMG_2270.jpgHere we are, the third Friday of the month, time once again to meet a blogger who prompts others to write. Denise Farley is the current helmsman for the Six Sentence Story ship, a fun prompt that I have participated off and on with for about two years. It is my pleasure to present Denise here.

Denise, how d’ya do?

Hey, D. Avery. Thank you for having me at your blog today and hello everyone! My name is Denise Farley author at, creator of, GirlieOnTheEdge. Originally from Rhode Island, I presently live in Northern VA, in the D.C. metro area. Despite its name, the Edge is a laid-back place, housing an eclectic mix of posts, music, and musings. Search back through the archives and you’ll see there’s a little bit of everything. I’m huge into music so there’s no lack of music videos. It’s also the weekly meetup spot for the Six Sentence Story blog hop.

What other social media do you use?

Ya got me! I’m not very adept at the social media thing. GirlieOnTheEdge is my main gig and I share it, and other writers’ posts, on the FB and Twitter (you can reach me at Denise Farley @GirlieOnTheEdge) and on Pinterest. Why Pinterest? I can’t tell you but back in the day it seemed the thing to do. Since hosting the SSS and “getting out of the house a lot more”, I’ve picked up a few things. Blows my mind, the power that is social media. I’ll be looking to broaden my social horizons very soon.

Describe the Six Sentence Story challenge. How/when did you come to be the host of this challenge?

The Six Sentence Story challenge is a weekly writing prompt in which the writer is tasked with using a designated prompt word in a story, poem, or excerpt from a work in progress, anything of a creative nature. The hook is that it be written in exactly 6 sentences. No more. No less. Six Sentence Stories was originally the brainchild of Josie Two Shoes. Some years back Zoe, of Uncharted, assumed the mantle of hosting from Josie and when Zoe made the decision to relinquish her hosting duties, she passed the torch to me, officially on March 11, 2018. I can’t believe it’s already been a year!

Has it? Congratulations on your year! Denise, how do you determine the prompt word every week?

Lately, it’s whenever a word pops into my head that “feels” right. Ideally, a word that has multiple meanings, that can be used in different contexts. Believe it or not, I’d experienced a bit of angst for a short time about choosing a “good” prompt word, I mean, how difficult can it be, right? But for some reason I was all up in my head thinking, “oh man, this is a sucky word, what if no one likes it”. Kinda silly I know. Last winter I decided I’d better snap out of it. When did this (aspect of hosting) stop being fun?! So for a couple of weeks I’d find arbitrary, fun and silly ways to come up with the prompt word like I’d pull out 6 magazines and lay them side by side. I’d close my eyes, open each magazine and, with eyes still closed, lay my finger on the page. I’d open my eyes and whatever word my finger had landed I wrote that word on a little piece of paper and put it into a paper bag. Shake, shake, shake, and presto! Like pulling a rabbit out of my hat… out came the week’s prompt word.

You also participate as a writer every week. What other writing do you do?

Not enough. Six Sentence Stories has been my main writing lately. There’s a novella screaming at me for more attention. I’ve used some excerpts from it for a couple of 6’s recently. Every now and again, I’ll write some poetry. (Poetry has been in my coffer for many a year, kind of the mainstay of my youth) It’s been some time, but I enjoyed participating in a couple of collaborative serial writing projects. Truth be told, I’m finding my way back to writing more content at Girlie. I’ve missed it.

What is necessary to your writing process?

Quiet. While there have been occasions I’ve been inspired to write creatively with music playing in the background, most of the time I prefer a quiet atmosphere. And, I prefer to write in the bedroom.

What have you enjoyed the most hosting and participating in the SSS challenge?

I love the interaction and community of other writers, discovering new blogs, reading such a varied assortment of storylines and poetry and words each week. I really enjoy what I call the choreographic aspect of hosting the SSS. I love searching for quotes by writers. On an unconscious level, I think I look for quotes that somehow coincide with or complement the prompt word. I totally enjoy the challenge of trying to get people excited about participating each week! Most of all, I love that writing a Six Sentence Story each week challenges me as a writer to be a better writer. A simple investment with a huge return.

How long have you been blogging? Is there more about the name of your blog that you’d like to share?

Sometimes it feels as if it was just yesterday. I launched my blog in 2009. Funny, when I decided I was going to publish a blog, the name seemed to be waiting in the wings, waving from behind the curtain. “Girlie” was a nickname given me by someone a very long time ago. “OnTheEdge” was just me. Always on or walking the edge of something…

What do you want for your blog?

I’d like to think that one day GirlieOnTheEdge might be the comfortable, off the beaten path coffee shop everyone’s heard about and stops into at least once. A place where everyone feels comfortable to hang out and share in creative exchanges, a place of identification and community, entertainment and perhaps a bit of enlightenment.

If you could go back, what is one thing you would have done differently regarding your blog?

Aside from a few things on the technical side, I don’t know that I would have done anything differently. Looking for a creative outlet, I created GirlieOnTheEdge pretty much on a self-dare, a way to step out of my comfort zone. No grand expectations. I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants and enjoying one heck of a ride. It’s been an amazing journey.

Describe or list any publications of yours.

Other than a poem published in a poetry anthology, oh about 30 years ago, no publications. Yet!!

Well, thank you Denise, for the weekly prompt and link up. Six Sentence Stories is a lot of fun. Thank you for visiting here at ShiftnShake.

Next up in the How D’Ya Do interview series is Sammi Cox on May 3rd.

April’s Fool; Open Link Night #241

dverselogo.jpgApril’s Fool

With a red winged brush

spring paints. Golden blooms

star yesterday’s snow.

Muddy canvas greens.

With birdsong hope and

bud-swell promises

all you need to know

you might never learn.

Always April comes.

Even to fools who

do not recognize

what they always need.


It is Open Link Night at D’Verse. I haven’t managed a poem here lately. This one I had started for the April Fool’s Day Haibun Monday but it turned into a quadrille with nowhere to go and then I got even busier. Go by the pub where Frank is serving and the villanelle challenge is still on.

Talking Points

six sentence story.jpgIt’s just six sentences. How hard could it be? Hard enough, maybe because a word like ‘point’ can lead off in so many directions. I bring nothing fresh, but have six sentences left over from the last prompt I responded to, entitled “Cool Types”. Thanks Denise for the prompt. Click over to GirlieOntheEdge to read more and link your own Six Sentence Story that includes the word “point”. 

Come by tomorrow for Denise’s interview here at ShiftnShake.


Jimmy always said crying wasn’t cool but I’d seen him cry once when he hammered his own thumb but his cursing made up for it and then we both got to cursing and laughing so hard we both had tears.

I saw Jimmy cry another time too, over his dad, and I think it must have been worse for Jimmy losing his dad than me losing my mom, actually, because I’ve always known she can’t ever come back, but all Jimmy knew was that his dad didn’t come back.

Not until Jimmy’s funeral anyway.

I always figured it was okay for Jimmy to cry now and again over that and my dad says there’s a big difference between crying and being a crybaby.

That’s a tough point to make to the guys in the cafeteria though, but Jamie seemed real interested in all this and for the first time since that awful day at the quarry I heard myself talking. I couldn’t talk to Jimmy anymore but I could tell my new friend about him.

Chosen People


Carrot Ranch: April 11, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers.” You can play with the words, alter them or interpret them without using the phrase. Give it any slant you want — show what it means or add to its  meaning. Go where the prompt leads!

I was led to a story I had read about as a child, and more recently read a great deal about when I got to spend a week at Deerfield, MA on a National Endowment for Humanities scholarship for a course called “Living at the Edge of Empire”, which explored how Queen Anne’s War played out in North America. Native American groups across New England, New York, and New France were making military and economic choices whose alliances impacted them culturally- their religion, economics, and politics. Among Native American groups it was common practice to replace lost family members with captives who would be adopted and taken in as their own. In the Raid on Deerfield in 1704, many from that English settlement were taken captive by Native Americans allied with New France. Most of these English captives were redeemed, ransoms paid to the French officials, or exchanged for prisoners held by the English. Eunice Williams, youngest daughter of Deerfield’s Puritan minister, John Williams, at the age of seven, was adopted almost immediately upon her arrival at the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) town in New France near Montreal. Her treatment on the harried route north after the raid would suggest that she was chosen to replace a lost child in Kahnawake. Despite many attempts by her father to redeem her, to return her to Deerfield, she refused, though she and her husband and children did visit Massachusetts in later years after her father’s death.  



When John Williams comes to Kahnawake I feel an old fear of being taken by force from people I love. My family, and even Governor Vaudreuil, say it is my choice. I am 16 and married, a Catholic woman of the Bear Clan, Marguerite Kanenstenhawi; I am no longer John Williams’ daughter Eunice. I no longer understand the English words he speaks, but I remember his contempt for the Jesuits and the Kanienkehaka people. Should I return to his New England I would be a captive. He pleads but I choose to remain with the family who chose me.