On this last day of the year I am able to share that I have a 101 Word flash fiction story featured at FlashFiction Magazine’s 101 Word Short Stories. I hope you might click on over to read “Crimson“. It’s like rolling in clover to have one’s work accepted; 2019 saw me more published and public with my writing and readings and I hope I am on a roll for 2020.
I want to thank everyone who comes by ShiftnShake to read and comment on my stories and poetry. I truly appreciate you and your support. I hope the best for you all and success in your own endeavors.
Write on, and have a peaceful and productive New Year.
Earthly rains brought further space exploration to a halt, so after lunch Marlie removed Destiny’s space suit, which was made of the same aluminum foil that had transformed her into a microphone when the spacecraft had been a stage. Now both Marlie and Destiny donned white robes before solemnly going underneath the dining room table, which was draped with a white bedspread. Destiny sat stiffly propped against a table leg colonnade, her unblinking eyes staring at the puresie boulder marble that Marlie had gotten off Tommy.
“What do you see in your crystal ball, oh Madame Destiny?”
Shaking his head and chuckling at his daughter’s active imagination, Bill went to report what he’d overheard from underneath the dining room table, but his jaw dropped at his wife’s reaction.
“Bill, I have no idea why she would say that, I haven’t said anything to anyone, I want to be absolutely sure, but yes I was going to tell you tonight— I think I might be pregnant.”
*** *** ***
Marlie is on a roll! This six sentence story follows the December 29th post which followed the December 28th post which had Marlie, along with her Destiny Doll, using her tree fort as a space ship. On December 21st Marlie and her friend Sofie used the tree fort as a stage to present their research and projects, using Destiny Doll as a microphone. This week’s word from Denise at GirlieontheEdge is “crystal”. The linkup opens Wednesday. You’ve plenty of time to write six sentences and join the fun.
As sometimes happens, there’s more. The following is a follow up to Lifting Off in two parts. The first is 41 words for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #137, prompt word “complex”. The second part is 99 more words for the Carrot Ranch December 26 challenge “by design”.
“Why not? By design, shoe laces, now repurposed to function as sturdy binocular straps.”
“Camo duct tape, egg carton bridge; these new binoculars
“You just say that because you’re a simple woman and easy to please.”
“Look who’s back from her space adventures. Marlie! How was reentry?”
Already peeling out of her space suit, Marlie said it had gotten hot, but she and Destiny had faith in their capsule.
“Thank goodness you made it. Welcome home! Tell us all about it over lunch. I’ve never gone to space, not even when I was six.”
“Untruth! We’ve been to the moon.”
“Bill, let Marlie talk.”
“I went through the whole solar system; I saw all the planets and comets and asteroids.”
“What was the most amazing thing you saw?”
“A planet designed for me— Earth!”
“Why do you still use those toilet-paper roll binoculars to watch Marlie?”
Liz continued to focus on Marlie playing in the tree fort. “They help me remain objective. Keep my distance.”
“And why do you need to do that?”
Now she let the paper binoculars hang by their yarn strap around her neck as she answered her husband. “Because that unplanned offspring of ours couldn’t be more perfect by design. I don’t ever want to get in her way.”
“She’s going places alright. Mars. She’s in her spaceship.”
Marlie beckoned them. “Come to the launch! It’s time for take-off!”
*** *** ***
“Space travel! That explains the snow suit and hockey helmet.”
The crowd quieted as the astronaut communicated with Mission Control. The countdown began. The tree fort shuddered and roared. At liftoff Liz looked for reassurance in her husband’s embrace. When she turned back to see the capsule hurtling beyond the atmosphere her binoculars were crushed. She shielded her eyes with her hand and watched her daughter soaring over them, searching new adventures in far-flung worlds of her own imagination.
“Don’t worry,” her husband said. “Lunch is waiting. She’ll come back to refuel. Come on, I’ll make you new binoculars.”
*** *** ***
The Carrot Ranch December 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the phrase by design. It can be used in any manner — a label, a mantra, a story. Go where the prompt leads!
It’s take two for me and this week’s SixSentenceStory prompt, “pine”. Go to GirlieOnTheEdge to leave a story in six sentences exactly, or just to read others’ stories.
The stand of pine in addition to the hardwoods and the old hayfield had been the selling point; the land had all that they needed to build their own house. The house was long finished now, though the pine flooring that she’d wanted was only upstairs, as he’d convinced her to go with more durable hardwood on the downstairs floors, the pine wainscoting a compromise.
Over the years they’d walk to the pine grove together, sometimes to select the tree that would provide the lumber for a special project, like the crib they built for their babies, now all grown and gone.
He breathed deeply, was reminded of when this sweet pine smell would cling to them both along with the needles that stuck to their rumpled clothing. The memories still brought a smile; a smile and a knot that caught in his throat as he carefully walked among the towering conifers, looking for the special one that he would cut for her. Her dying wish was that he make a pine box for her, then bury her here among the roots, with the pine boughs yet whispering overhead.
The word I heard from Denise this week was “pine”. Here I am just having a little fun. I’m sure you know what Dorothy Parker had to say about horticulture. There’s nothing much to think about with this Six except to consider hopping over to GirlieOnTheEdge and submitting a Six Sentence Story of your own, just six, no more no less.
Pining for Perfection
“What do you mean, you don’t have any pine— there must be dozens here.”
“M’am, a pine is an evergreen, but evergreens aren’t all pines; I carry fir— balsam mostly, Fraser fir, some Douglas fir.”
The woman clutched at her fur stole, looking around, still skeptical, until her face lit up; “That one, I want that… fir over there, or even this little one here with the red berries.”
“Sorry M’am, those are part of the landscaping, planted, not for sale, and anyway that’s a spruce and this one’s a yew, in other words, Taxus.”
“You are taxing my patience, as I didn’t come here for horticulture lessons— all I want to know is, do you have the perfect Christmas tree for me?”
“Oh, yes M’am, I most certainly do, we’ll find you a Fraser that looks like that spruce, and M’am… happy Holly days!”
The December 19, 2019,Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features an open mic night. Take a character backstage, on stage or into the deep woods. Go where the prompt leads! Perhaps you recall Marlie and her Destiny doll? Joined by her friend Sofie for homeschooling, the pair has been researching migration. Their culminating activity became interactive for this Carrot Ranch prompt.
There was the butterfly garden, sod house, annotated maps, essays, and mock journals. Marlie and Sofie decided to share their migration research with an audience. That’s when Marlie became a stage manager as well as a key performer, for many of the invited family friends wanted to share a song or poem inspired by the topic. That’s why Marlie wrapped her Destiny doll in tinfoil until just the spiky hair on the top of her shorn head showed.
“You’ve got this.” Marlie handed Destiny to the nervous adults who climbed to the treefort stage. “Just speak into the microphone.”
The word for the Six Sentence Story prompt this week is “exchange”, which may or may not lead to some holiday themed stories. I was trying to whittle this story anyway and found the constraints of six sentences exactly to be helpful in my attempts. Yep, only six sentences and use some form of “exchange”. The link opens Wednesday, when Denise of GirlieOntheEdge opens the gate. Six Sentences is fun and has been decriminalized in most states.
The first year of “Christmas Village Weekend”, she was among a number of people that were actually paid to mingle and be merry, to walk around promulgating Christmas spirit, engaging people and exchanging holiday pleasantries. At the beginning of that weekend she thought she could tell who might be an actor like her and who was really there for the festivities, but the actors were sworn to secrecy about their role, even now in the second year when it was determined their services were no longer needed.
She went back to Christmas Village anyway, where she found there were even more vendors and entertainments lining the pedestrian only streets than the first year, even more bustling throngs of holiday revelers. She found herself searching the crowd for a man she had seen the year before, an older bearded man in red plaid who had seemed inexplicably jovial. Suspecting him of being a hired actor like her, she’d joked with him that she believed, but his laughter had seemed heartfelt and real, something she couldn’t forget.
He must have remembered her too because when she saw him he asked her if she still believed and she said yes; and she smiled, because there he was and if he was real, then maybe she was too.
Ilene Higginbottom was not lying when she told the principal that not all the teachers had posted attendance yet, and because that was true she held off on posting the official daily attendance for the middle school where she worked in the front office.
“Well, I’ll be checking later, Ms. Higginbottom, because our friend Vinny has just about used up all his pass go cards— if he doesn’t start showing up regularly I’ll have to file on him soon.”
Ilene made two calls of her own and in no time Ernest Biggs was following orders and was pulling over in his truck to pick up a scrawny mop haired boy who, also following orders, was ready and waiting out on the cracked sidewalk in front of a dilapidated row house, ready, Ernest felt, not just because of Ilene’s demands, and certainly not because he was eager for school, but because he did not want anyone knocking on the door of that house. Vinny quickly hopped in and when Ernest spoke to him Vinny sat up straighter, as if in emulation of the tall man that Ms. Higginbottom had sent, and hoped that his own cracking voice would someday sound deep yet soft spoken like this man’s. Still Vinny appreciated that he didn’t fill the cab with chatter, just drove, acting like he couldn’t hear his empty stomach rumbling loud from the passenger’s seat.
Then that voice was on a cell phone telling Ms. Higginbottom that while he got that this Vinny needed to be delivered and could not be absent, he was going to have to be more late because they were going to stop off at the diner and have some breakfast on their way to school and Vinny heard Ms. Higginbottom saying ok but eat fast, she’d mark him tardy and give his second period teacher a heads up.
Denise has opened the link for Six Sentence Stories! The word this week is “absent“. Once again, some of my favorite characters have come by to help me meet the SSS challenge. This week we see more of the boy who helped Ilene get the Administrative Assistant job at the middle school in the February 22 SSS. He might be The Artist from a doubled up Carrot Ranch prompt last December. More recently he got a name in an October SSS, Character Building. I am thinking there’s yet more to this story.