The Stepmother Speaks

The following 99 word story is another riff on the Hansel and Gretel flashes I wrote in response to the “candy kitchen” prompt from Carrot Ranch. While it is where the prompt led, it does not feature a candy kitchen. But the stepmother wanted to be heard.


We’re both still so hungry but I don’t send him hunting in the woods. Not yet. 

I thought I had married a strong man, one who would provide for me, but look at him. He sits and stares, dumbly kneading the boy’s bag of white pebbles, sounding like rattling bones to my ear.  

‘They had to be sent away’ I remind him. ‘There isn’t enough.’

He saw their mother in their eyes, I know. And now they’re gone he still doesn’t look at me, for he’s seen me and knows I’ll never be enough.

We’re both still so hungry.   

CRLC Challenge; Candy Kitchen

The prompt from Carrot Ranch this week is to, in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a candy kitchen. In addition to seaside saltwater taffy stores, Hansel and Gretel came to mind.

Taking It In

When the bread crumbs disappeared, Hansel and Gretel had no choice but to press on. And why follow a trail back to where they were unwanted? Hungering for a loving home, hungering for a mother, hungering also in their tight bellies, they were not wary when they found the candy house. Surely the smiling crone was kindly and sweet.

But the bone littered kitchen was the grisly heart of this house. Hansel was a caged bird, his heart drumming fear. 

Gretel would never forget. To this day she recalls that crone as she bakes bread for her own children.

You know what Gretel did, how she tricked the witch and finally pushed her into her own hot oven, saving Hansel from being baked and eaten.


Nibbling on candy in that greasy kitchen, they planned their next move.

“We can’t go back Gretel. She’s turned father against us.”

But Gretel, standing tall in the face of what she had done, told Hansel they would return. “We have food and treasures from the old crone. We’ll be let in.”

Even before seeing the treasure their father welcomed them back and begged their forgiveness. He told them their stepmother, sweating feverishly and gasping for breath, had died.

The children grew. Gretel became a strong and gentle woman, ever wary of what a person might be capable of.

Any genre will do. Go where the prompt leads! Respond by November 2, 2021.

Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Rochelle Wisoff-Fields!

Artist and author Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is interviewed at the Saddle Up Saloon.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“Hey Kid. I see ya got a innerview with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields this week. I ‘member her from ourfirst art showat the Saloon.”

“That’s right Pal, an’ thesecond art showin’too. Oh, here she is now. Howdy Rochelle!”

“Hello Kid, hello Pal.”

“Rochelle, many of us know you from yer blog where ya host and write fer Friday Fictioneers. But yer also a visual artist. When did ya first idennify as ‘artist’?”

“Kid, I can’t remember a time I didn’t identify as an artist. You might say I was born with a purple crayon clenched in my fist. Some of my earliest childhood memories include those of my Sunday school classmates fighting over my drawings.

My mother was slightly less enamored with my earliest works, saying she could never find a blank piece of paper because ‘Rochelle scribbled on every sheet.’”

“So which came first, the visual art…

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CRLC Challenge; Mud

The Carrot Ranch October 14, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that embraces the mud. What is the mud, real or metaphor? How does it transform a character or place? What happens? Go where the prompt leads! EXTENDED DEADLINE Respond by October 26, 2021. Charli’s post this week is an invitation to embrace the suck (and support) that is NaNoWriMo. I don’t know about that, but these four flashes came pretty quickly, once I allowed Nick out of the pen. Still just playing though, with no plot or premise. Nick is a lesser character but one who has worked with Marge for years at the dealership and has had bit parts in this sorta series. Ilene we first met in “Stumped”.

Slip Sliding

“Marge, Nick’s here! Does he have to stay?”

“I was here first Ilene.”

“How can that be? You just got here.”

“I mean I was here, you know, in this town, working and hanging out with Marge and Nard and Lloyd, well before you showed up.”

“I know why I don’t like you Nick, but I can’t figure out why you don’t like me.”

“Forget about it. Tell me how you lost your leg.”

“Who said it’s lost?”

“Come on, what happened?”

“Mud wrestling gone bad.”

“What? Really? How’s that happen?”



“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”


“You two stop your bickering or you’re both going home.”

“Yes Marge. Ok, Ilene, what are you drinking? I’m getting a round.”

“Mudslide, please and thank you.”

“Whoo! Mudslides? Those can be a slippery slope.”

“Naw, they’re nutritious and delicious.”

Nick put aside his beer as well as his animosity and drank mudslides along with Ilene.

“Ilene, you do lean you know,” he slurred. “Tell me again how you lost your leg.”


“What?!” Nick slammed his drink down on the bar, looked down at his legs.

“Torrential rains, slippery slope— wipeout.”


“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”


“Seriously, Ilene. What happened to your leg?”

“Enjoying these mudslides Nick? It’s a change from your usual beer diet.”

“They’re definitely delicious and nutritious. And I ain’t feeling any pain. But you’re avoiding the question. What happened to your leg?”

“I’m answering the question. See, you will feel pain. Tomorrow. No, stay the course, Nick, it’s too late now. You’re on that slippery slope. See, I once had such a headache from drinking mudslides I wished for anything to make it go away. The Devil appeared, traded my leg for the headache.”


“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”


Marge and Ernest helped Nick and Ilene out of the bar and into Ernest’s truck with Nick arguing that he could walk home. 

“It’s raining Dumb-ass. The way you’re flopping all over the place you’d end up face down in a mud puddle. Get in.”

“Yes Marge.” 

“Jeez. You’re never like this on beer. Whatever prompted you to drink mudslides?”

“He saw that’s what the cool kids drink,” said Ilene. “Thought it might give him a leg up.”

“Hey! What happened—”

“No more.”

“— to Lloyd tonight?”

“Oh. Lloyd’s looking for my leg.”


“Just pulling your leg.”

#SixSentenceStory; Video

The living history museum, with its docents in period costume and its primitive houses and technologies, left the family in a reflective mood. 

“It’s hard to believe people lived like that Dad, I mean, it doesn’t seem like very much fun. And think about the health conditions!”

“That’s the way it was back then. We did keep some of their sustainable technologies, but much had to go if our species was to survive.”

They rode their bikes back to their modern community with its cool tree lined streets, its composting toilets and organic kitchen gardens, grateful to not have the debilitating video games and other electronics that had made living in the 21st century such a challenge.

The word from Denise, honorable host of Six Sentence Stories, is “video”. Use the word within six sentences, no more, no less. Write, read, comment, repeat.

CRLC Challenge; Whisper


My people are few in number. These English built over their bones, grew their crops in our fields. 

Now these English at Patuxet have, for the first time, plenty of food and are sharing their harvest and the fowl they got with the Pokanokets, who roast deer and heat pottages. Both Bradford and Massasoit need me to interpret. Massasoit’s people number twice the English. All are fed and entertained. It is a good time for Massasoit and Bradford.

Wind whispers in the dry cornstalks. Red leaves rustle and drop. These sounds come to my ear in my own language.

This is yet another of my Tisquantum (Squanto) tellings which I talked about while in the Saddle Up Saloon’s Author’s Chair . This scene from the mythologized “First Thanksgiving” seems fitting for Indigenous People’s Day, and meets the October 7, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch.

The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes whispers. It can be beautiful or creepy and any genre. Where are the whispers, who are they from, and what do they say if they say anything at all. Go where the prompt leads!

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Chel Owens would have you know that anyone, yes, anyone, can poem. Click over to the Saddle Up Saloon for her suggestions and savory example. Try it! You can do it!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Whew! Welcome to Anyone Can Poem, the time when we scare away the I-can’t-coyotes and embrace the I-will-wallabies.

Yes, our rodeo has wallabies.

Thank you to all the amazing poets who responded to my challenge to murder their children -erm, to remove their unnecessary or superfluous words.

Now, after taking out extra adverbs, adjectives, and grandiose language; we will spend this month filling our poetry with the best words.

How do you choose the best words? Easy.

  1. Decide what your poem (or, intended poem) is about. What moment do you want to capture; what feeling do you want the reader to feel; what action do you want to encapsulate?
  2. Which form (metered, rhymed, free verse, specific syllable count) do you feel works best with your theme?
  3. Take time to free-write descriptors, actions, feelings, colors -WHATEVER about the poetic moment.
  4. Pick your favorites from Step 3. Form phrases. Make it…

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#SixSentenceStory; Fountain

“Yes,” the hiker agreed, “This is very good water, I’ve only once tasted better, in fact it was somewhere up in these hills.”

The man was of an indeterminable age and very fit; I had the feeling he could hike all day without stopping but he sat with me where I rested by the stream and told me about a remarkable experience.

“I was certainly lost, thirsty and exhausted from clambering up and down steep ravines, when finally I came upon a flat wooded area and at its center was a fountain of sorts, smooth limestone in the shape of a nautilus such that water spiraled up and spilled out the top in the center, a continuous flow though it seemed to defy gravity. 

“I cupped my hands and drank the sweetest, purest water you can imagine before resting with my head against the fountain, quickly succumbing to sleep. When I awakened there was no fountain, no water, and though the path out became clear from that vantage point, I have never been able to find that spot again in subsequent hikes.”

He shook his head as if in wonder of his own story, and when I suggested maybe it had been a dream, he said at first he thought so too, but that it’s been over two hundred years since he drank from that fountain.

I’m in with a Six! The SixSentenceStory prompt this week is fountain. Thank you Denise at GirlieOntheEdge for hosting. Click on over to read more Sixes and to leave six sentences of your own.

CRLC Challenge; Across the Water

Down East

When her husband left she was most concerned about retrieving the boat. 

She hasn’t run the boat for years now, has her groceries delivered dockside every other Thursday. Told Jeb she’d understand him being late because of rough weather, but if he ever showed up early or out of the blue she’d tan him. 

She’d be polite when he delivered, just; said ‘thank you’ then ‘have a good one’; his signal to go. Jeb didn’t even cut the engine.

Was Jeb of course that found her, sprawled on her rocky shores as if still looking beseechingly across the water.

The Carrot Ranch September 30, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the phrase, “across the water.” It can be any body of water distant or close. Who (or what) is crossing the water and why? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by October 5, 2021.