Here Lies

This is where the August 22, 2019 Carrot Ranch prompt led me. I can’t remember if I published the first segment at the virtual campfire or if I just shared it around the real fire. I wrote it in July after Charli Mills and I were shown a simple stone marker beyond the bounds of a cemetery, a marginalized remembrance of a baby whose name and brief history are unknown. I incorporated my impressions and speculations into my serial flashes on Hope and her family then and have now added another flash in response to this prompt. copy-of-working-template-for-ff-challenges4.png 

Go to Carrot Ranch to leave your 99 words (no more, no less) about “old world charm. It can be nostalgic or irreverent. You can invent an ‘old world’, return to migrant roots or recall ancient times. Go where the prompt leads you!”

***

Hope felt pride and belonging here, enjoyed seeing her last name on the neatly arranged stones, many flagged, indicating service as far back as the Revolution.

“Mom?”

Hope’s mom stood at the edge of the woods, still and silent. Hope went down the slope and joined her.

“Mom?”

Her eyes glistened. She placed one of her earrings on the tiny stone before walking with Hope toward the road.

“Who was she?”

“I don’t know Hope. Just a gypsy baby, abandoned they say, over a hundred years ago.”

Winding back through the family plots, Hope’s pride clouded over with questions.

*****

“A gypsy baby? I didn’t know we had gypsies in Vermont. I thought gypsies were from long ago and far away, like Italy, or Romania, somewhere like that. Why is there a gypsy baby in our cemetery?”

Her mom stopped and turned, silently stared back down the slope at the isolated marker. Her long black hair veiled her face.

“Mom?”

“Yes, Hope, ‘gypsy’ does sound Old World; European; maybe sounds more charming than other words they might have used for impoverished dark skinned people wandering homeless in their own homelands.” She sniffed. “Christianity’s an Old World idea too.”

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Sweet Jam

copy-of-working-template-for-ff-challenges.pngDue to too much fun with friends and family I am very late, maybe too late in responding to
the August 15, 2019, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99
words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sweet jam. It can take you to the kitchen or the smokey room of a back-alley bar. What makes it sweet? Go where the prompt leads you! 

This double 99 is from an as yet unwritten road trip episode where Marge helps Ilene sort through her dead mother’s house. See the complete set of incomplete and likely out of sequence vignettes of Marge, Ernest, et al on their page HERE. Yep, it’s a work in progress.

Harvest 

“Pull in this driveway here, Marge, this is the place.”

Marge and Ilene climbed stiffly from the truck and stretched, taking in the weather worn clapboard house. Two gangly apple trees stood guard in the unmown lawn. Ilene investigated the blackberry bushes that grew where the unkempt meadow met the woods.

“Marge! They’re ripe!” She made her way back to Marge and faced her mother’s house.

“Well, Marge, I’m supposed to get what I want from the place before leaving matters to the lawyers and realtors. And what I want is to make blackberry jam like my mother did.”

***

Marge and Ilene, scratched from the blackberry brambles, fingers stained purple, now stood over large pots of steaming, bubbling blackberry ooze.

“I don’t know, Ilene, I haven’t done this since my father died. He and I always made jam together.”

“We’ve got this, Marge.” She stirred, carefully eyed the drip from the wooden spoon. “I always enjoyed helping my mom with jamming but knew it meant the beginning of school. Used to feel like we were putting summer in a jar, to be savored later.”

“She’d be proud you’re back in school Ilene.”

Ilene blinked. “It’s ready Marge. Pour.”

#Tanka Tuesday “Song Lines”

Song Lines

Birds cast song lines towards eastern hills

exalt among effulgent leaves

celebrating golden dawn

Exhorting me to rise

emerge from sleep’s shade

step forth, wings stretched

Cast my voice

skyward;

fly.

 

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This is my nonet in response to Colleen’s weekly syllabic poetry challenge, a challenge I rise to but rarely. This week the prompt words are light & dark, but one must use synonyms only.   

 

#SixSentenceStory Cracking the Code

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On Sunday Denise revealed this week’s Six Sentence Story prompt word: “CODE”. Come Thursday she will, via her blog, GirlieOntheEdge, open up the link for sharing stories told in six sentences, no more, no less. Here I pick up from a recent episode featuring a recurring character, Telling.

 

Cracking the Code

Sofie and Marlie played while their moms had coffee and got caught up, for they all saw less of each other since Marlie started home schooling with her dad.

“Maybe I should just leave Sofie off here mornings instead of school; she’s been having a tough time in second grade, I thought it was because she was missing Marlie even though Marlie’s in first grade, but after that conference I think it’s more. Her teacher was talking in code- ‘decodes with multiple strategies, strong comprehension, reads above grade level norms’- telling me what I’ve always known about Sofie and her love of reading, but then she went into all Sofie’s problems with encoding; ‘inconsistent application of phonetic strategies, resistant to employing graphic organizers, minimal and stilted prose with assigned tasks’- finally came out and just said it- Sofie sucks at writing.”

“She did not say that I hope, and my gosh, Sofie writes beautifully, always has.”

“Well, Sofie is now convinced that writing means perfect spelling and a set number of sentences forced into cookie cutter paragraphs, and she no longer comes home excited about her day at school and she hates to write.”

As the girls galloped by, expertly lassoing wild mustangs for the ranch they’d started in the living room, one mom told the other that she thought her work at home husband might have room for one more student.

Fare Thee Well

She perched in the back, said “I have to go.”

“Yes, but where to?”

She only shrugged and pointed so the cab driver continued south on the boulevard.

As they came along the park she chirped, “Here!” and he pulled to a stop, turned in his seat but she said she didn’t have the fare and hoped he would accept a song. Before he could protest, her singing filled the cab, filled him till he wept, unarticulated memories and longings staggering in his mind, words of gratitude and wonder stumbling in his throat.

She’d already flown away, the cab door left open.

*****

I am a little late in joining Denise and the gang at Six Sentence Stories this week, where the prompt word is ‘fare’ to be used in exactly six sentences. I managed to combine that with Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt using the word ‘song’. Click Here to go to GirlieOntheEdge  to join in the Six Sentence challenge.  Click HERE to join Sammi’s challenge.

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Pomme de Terre

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Once again, here’s the August 8, 2019, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a poisoned apple. Let’s explore dark myth. Deconstruct the original or invent something new. Negotiate the shadows, shed light, but go where the prompt leads you!

I already got a double from Marge & Ernest, but now Marlie wants to play. You may remember this girl from previous prompts. The 99 word version is at Carrot Ranch. This version is 147 words. Go to the Ranch to see more responses to this juicy prompt. Go to the Ranch Yarn page to see how Kid and Pal responded.

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Telling

“Oh, here you are after all.”

“Ever after.”

Marlie’s mom stood on the ladder to the tree fort. “I didn’t see you up here. Why are you lying like that?”

“I’m Snow White. I’m dead.”

“Oh dear.”

“Don’t worry. It’s only for a while.”

“Until a prince happens along?”

“That’s how Tommy’s mom tells it.”

“Hmm. Didn’t know she knew much about princes. Is there another way to tell it?”

Marlie unclasped her hands and sat up. “Well, Sofie’s mom says the apple was yellow, not red. And it wasn’t poison, it was the apple of wisdom that the mother shared with her daughters.”

“What else? Was there a prince?”

“No princes, just farmers and craftsmen. They have to be useful and polite. Oh, and Snow White is really called Eartha Brown.”

“Marlie, now that you’ve come back to life do you want to have Sofie over?”

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Apples and Oranges

Well here’s the August 8, 2019, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a poisoned apple. Let’s explore dark myth. Deconstruct the original or invent something new. Negotiate the shadows, shed light, but go where the prompt leads you!

Once again, Charli’s post that precedes the prompt was brilliant. Beautiful words about the power of words. Somehow there is always hope glimmering like gold dust over there at Carrot Ranch, despite the wicked happenings in the world. Charli shared these words from Toni Morrison:

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge – even wisdom. Like art.”

With a poison apple prompt it is easy to be led to evil stepmothers and other sinners and sins originating from apples. Bad apples… The latin root ‘mal’ means bad, as in malevolent. The latin for apples is Malus domestica. There is something rotten in our House, but I believe apples are all good. As in so many aspects of religions, goddess worship and women’s wisdom, including the symbolism of apples, got appropriated and corrupted to serve a patriarchal worldview. This has not served Mother Earth well. 

In response to the prompt I left it to Marge’s friend Lloyd to shed some light on the myths of apples.

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Ilene pulled her El Camino in front of the garage. “Lloyd, I went by your place.” She tossed him an apple.

“I’d wipe that silly grin off your face, Lloyd. It’s probably poisoned.”

“Nard, Nard, ye of too much Christian faith. Apples are from the Goddesses’ tree of eternal life. It’s good magic.”

“Beer, Ilene?”

“No, Marge, just here looking for Lloyd.”

Lloyd cut the apple, revealing the five-pointed star inside. He bit into one half while holding the other for Ilene to bite into.

For no apparent reason Ernest went as red as the apple the couple shared.

***

Fruition

“Jeez. Ilene, you old crone, just take your boy-toy and go, please. Bob for apples somewhere else.”

“Nard, Nard. You only compliment my consort. For the apple is alpha-omega, the Virgin Kore within the mature Earth Mother. It represents the heart of transformation. You bet we’re leaving.”

Nard made gagging noises as Lloyd spilled into Ilene’s El Camino. Gravel flew before the wheels chirped onto the highway. Nard turned to Marge for support. But she and Ernest had slipped away through the she-shed. Only Kristof remained, holding an apple.

“We should go now too, Lenny, apple of my eye.”

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Back to the Garden

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The Carrot Ranch prompt for August 1, 2019: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock star. You can feature a central character or write about  feeling like a rock star. Go where the prompt leads! I was led to add to my July 31st Six Sentence Story, Face Time, and to give a nod to Joni Mitchell’s song, Woodstock.

 

Back to the Garden

Without their devices, his children complained they had nothing to look at. “Look up,” he said.

They did. On a cloudless night his children looked up and saw a summer sky.

“Look at all the stars! What’s that big one there?”

“That’s a planet, one of the wanderers. Mars, fourth rock from the sun.”

“That one’s moving right across.”

“Satellite.”

Lying on their sleeping bags they identified what constellations they could. They had more fun inventing their own.

“Dad, look! A shooting star! Make a wish.”

“I already have,” he said. “You are stardust,” he whispered. “You are golden.”

 

Face Time

He thought he’d told the stories about when his father took him and his siblings on camping trips well but when he looked expectantly in the rearview all he saw was his children’s bent heads, each intent on a device.

They had badgered and begged for those devices and as a divorced father who wanted to maintain contact with his children he of course acquiesced and bought them, but contact remained old-fashioned negotiation via his ex’s landline, his old number, and bordered on bribery and coercion; this ended up a costly trip, but he was confident the payoffs would be immeasurable, once the kids got into it.

“Hey, when we get to the campground I have a present for you.” That got their attention.

When they got to the campground he collected all their phones and ipads and locked them in the trunk, then welcomed them to the present.

“Ah, Dad, get real.”

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It’s that time again! This week Denise of GirlieOntheEdge gives us the word “pad” to work into a Six Sentence Story. Click on over to read more and to leave your own creation in six sentences. Just six.  

 

Superior

On this day Lady Lake is calm, her waves a soothing song, a gentle caress. On this day raging storms and surging ice are as distant as the hazy horizon. On the sun warmed rocks that pave the beach, I pick seven from among the millions and millions of smooth stones to build a small cairn. The stones, the seven and the millions, indulge me, and with them I laugh at myself, at this ridiculously human endeavor. I listen for the ancient stories of these water-worn stones. My labors won’t last but this cairn might stand for a day.

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It’s a mashup! Denise at Six Sentence Stories has presented “wave” and Charli at Carrot Ranch has provided “for a day”. Charli also gave me the day of the cairn on the shores of her lake. 

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