CRLC Challenge; Feathers

July 8, 2021, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features feathers. It can be a single feather or more. Where did the feather come from? Does it hold meaning to the character or story? Go where the prompt leads!

This prompt made me think of past prompts where I featured feathers in those responses. So first there’s this:

Rhymes in 99

A first feather from a first flash
A poet’s page fluttering from ash

Once upon another time, a magic feather quill
A heroine true to her path, one she travels still

Another tale of transformation, turtle becoming crane
No longer pining, shedding shell for feathered wings

Many birds have tracked across these pages
Blue herons, common loons, sashaying chickens, noisy ravens

Here at Carrot Ranch I first began to write
Here took up quill and with that quill took flight

Now it’s a matter of when and not whether
I’ll come up with a flash again featuring a feather.

At the last minute, there’s this, a fresh response after all, another blast from the past, with Marge and her pals Lloyd and Ilene and there’s more allusions to former prompts and I get bonus carrots at Carrot Ranch for getting a unicorn in:

Goodwill Hatching

“Okay, I’m here. With truck. Goodwill? What’s up?”
“It’s epic, Marge.”
Brightly colored clothing spilled and tumbled out of boxes and bags that lined Ilene’s walkway.
“What’s epic, Lloyd?”
“Ilene’s molting!”
“Yes! I’m divesting myself of my plumage! It’s simple earth tone tunics and leggings for me from here on out.”
“Don’t you mean legging? Really, Ilene? No more Toucan Sam outfits? Bet Fruit Loops here put you up to this. You going to cut your big hair too?”
“No! That’s my crowning glory!”
“At least keep this pink feather boa, Ilene. And what’s this?”
“My unicorn headband.”

CRLC Challenge; Old Photograph

The Carrot Ranch July 1, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the old photograph.” What is captivating about it? Where did it come from? How does it incite a story? Go where the prompt leads!

My first draft was 170 words and showed more the mother’s being stuck and the impact of the family dynamics on the mc. I enjoyed the challenge of whittling and hope the 99 words work.

Arrested Development

There was he and his brother, practically twins, astride their motorcycles, grinning widely. Ten years ago. Same old pictures; did any of them smile anymore?

“Will you ever update these photos?”

She ignored the edge in his voice. 

 “Your brother misses you.”

“Right.” But he went to his room.

“Hey, Bro. How about a picture of the two of us?”

The selfie showed his own face fuller but much the same, his hair thinning at the temples. His brother’s skin was tight and shiny, his open eyes vacant and unseeing. The breathing tube showed, the feeding tube did not.

CRLC Challenge; Rainbow cat

At the Carrot Ranch Literary Community the June 24, 2021, prompt is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a cat named Rainbow on an outdoor adventure. Rainbow is any cat of any identification. What would draw a cat outside? Go where the prompt leads! Yes, Charli has given a Rainbow cat prompt before. I was going to continue the story I wrote then but then went with this. You have until June 29 to respond with your cat story, in 99 words, no more no less.


Inside it’s all boil, bubble, toil and trouble. “Get out of the way, cat!” When the mother one holds the door for her, the cat darts out. Blinking in the morning sunshine, she is joined by the little one. She arches her head under the small palm then leads the way. They have their own matters to attend to.

The meadow is a galaxy starred with clover, each a universe of wonder. Dew dampened leaves spin green into sparkling gold; a rainbow appears in the form of a hummingbird.

Cat and child purr, enchanted by the magic of morning.

#SixSentenceStory; Season

I have finally returned with a Six Sentence Story. Or two. This one here really makes more sense after this other first one THERE, posted a couple days ago. This one here is a retell that considers the traditional tale of Little Red Cape as a day/night myth and even a solstice myth. Thank you Denise for the prompt, “season”.

Turn, Turn, Turn

“Come in, come in, Red, I’ve been expecting you; that mother of yours, she always worries, doesn’t she, sends you way out here with her basket of food, but we know what to do, don’t we?”

Red did know; she was to take the basket of food into the woods and leave it there for the wolf’s family, for the wolf had given himself to the huntsman so that Red and her grandmother could line their red capes with his sable fur.

Her grandmother turned her cape this way and that and it was clear that the red outer side was becoming thin and frayed, the inside soft and downy as the night, “Like your cape, my dear, but yours will be like new in the morning, mine not until spring.”

When Red returned from leaving the food in the woods it had been a very long day for her and she turned her cape so that the black wolf fur showed, then her grandmother tucked her in, crooning ‘Goodnight Little Light, sleep tight until the morn’. 

Red’s grandmother didn’t mind that her own outer cape would continue to lose its luster until in six moons she too would reverse it to its shiny black inside, for as she often said, to everything there is a season.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #137

Where He Might Find Her

He always knew where he might find her, but always left her alone to enjoy the restorative peace and quiet of her favorite spot.

“Nobody there bothers me with their jabbering,” she’d quip.

But one day he went to the bench; one day he sat among the stones; one day he jabbered away, lamented aloud that she had been the first to go. But as the sun rose higher he fell silent. He felt soothed.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. And that day, and for the rest of his days, he came to enjoy the peace and quiet of her favorite spot.

This 101 word story is in response to the above photo provided by Crispina Kemp and her weekly Creative Challenge. She’ll tell you— it’s open to all—just for FUN, FUN, FUN!

d’Verse Haibun Monday & SixSentenceStory; Solstice & Season


You know that there are many versions of traditional fairy tales and that over time they have become less grim. Even as the Brothers Grimm were collecting traditional tales some were being recast as tales of morality, and that has become so ingrained I bet we all have an opinion on what Red Riding Hood should or shouldn’t have done regarding shortcuts through the woods and talking to strangers, let alone the scarlet sin of her attire.

But today of all days I picked up the Museum of Modern Art’s (New York) reprint of Three Young Rats and Other Rhymes with drawings by Alexander Calder, and in his introduction, James Johnson Sweeney introduced me to the idea that Little Red Riding Hood ‘has probably grown out of a myth of sunset and sunrise’ and that ‘the wolf is a very natural personification of the night’; the version where the huntsman retrieves Red and her grandmother from the wolf’s dark belly makes sense with this idea and jibes with other traditional tales.

Grandma was in a weakened state, but her granddaughter lingered and picked flowers… this is a summer solstice tale, with Lil’ Red representing day and Grandma representing season, the wolf patient and confident with them both. I wonder if in even earlier versions the wolf was less maligned, punished less severely for his necessary and natural role in consuming day.

Grandma, you know too

reflected light in dark eyes

Cloaks grown heavy shed  

hung without shame at dusk’s door

borne again at dawn; his yawn

So yes this is a mashup. If you want to count and count the tanka as a sentence, there are six sentences here for Denise at GirlieOntheEdge‘s SixSentenceStory prompt (season) and thank you Frank J. Tassone for the prompt from D’Verse pub for poets (solstice). I also cut the prose down that this would fit, in 99 words, the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge prompt, also “solstice” this week.

(99 Words)

We are all familiar with the tale of Red Riding Hood. Now consider it as a solstice tale.

Grandma’s weakened and wan, but her granddaughter lingers and picks flowers… This is a summer solstice tale, with Lil’ Red representing day and Grandma representing season, the patient and confident wolf personifying night.

I wonder if in even earlier versions the wolf was less maligned, less punished for his necessary and natural role in consuming day.

Grandma, you know too—  

Reflected light in dark eyes;

your thinning cloak

shed without shame

hung at dusk’s door;

borne again at dawn;  

His yawn.

CRLC Challenge; Solstice

Marlie, well actually her mother and her neighbor, are back for this CRLC prompt. As I mentioned in this post most of my recurring characters stayed out of our reality, but Marlie et al did step up over a year ago now and become somewhat current. The Carrot Ranch Literary Community June 18, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a solstice. What is the era and setting? Use the solstice as a celebration, metaphor, or talking point. Go where the prompt leads! To see what sort of thing Marlie might be researching on solstices try this.

Home Schooled

“Tommy! It’s been a long time.”

“Do I still gotta wear a mask?”

“Two out of three rule; outside, distanced, masked. We’re outside and distanced. Shall I get Marlie? She’s preparing for her summer solstice presentation.”

“My daddy says the solstice is stuperstition.”

“Well, there are myths and rituals celebrating this astronomical event that might be considered superstitious… tonight’s Marlie’s Midsummer Eve bonfire. Come and you can learn all about it.”

“Astrology vents! My daddy says the solstice and astrology’s made up by witches.”

“Tommy. It’s been a long time. Are your parents vaccinated? Three out of four rule…”

CRLC Challenge; Office

The Carrot Ranch, June 10, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a new way to office. Has the office changed? Can we return to normal after big changes or time away? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 15, 2021. Use the comment section to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

High Rise

The little kitchen table was still flanked by three mismatched chairs. ‘For Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear’ he used to say.

He imagined his daughter, all grown up now, sitting in a fancy leather swivel chair in a high-rise office building overlooking the city. Or he imagined she might even be in a director’s chair in one of the studios— more likely, creative as she was.

He made trips to the city. He couldn’t imagine her hunkered on a sidewalk.

But he looked. And worried that after all these years he wouldn’t even recognize his Baby Bear.

CRLC Challenge; Naked Gardening

The May 20, 2021, Carrot Ranch prompt is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about naked gardening. Is it the veggies or the gardener who is naked? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by May 25, 2021. Use the comment section at Carrot Ranch to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.


“I’m too fat!” 

She didn’t think so, though it was hard to tell through Amanda’s bulky clothes.

“Amanda, it’s your choice, but remember, part of World Naked Gardening Day for us has always been about being comfortable with our own bodies, of celebrating the naturalness of them.”

Maybe Amanda also craved the normalcy that the unusual family tradition offered because she eventually did join them.

How had she not noticed?

Keeping a brave face through the planting, trying not to stare at the sharp collarbone and raised ribs, she determined to call their physician regarding anorexia that very day.

#SixSentenceStories; Rivalry

Fraternal Rivalry

Over the counter of his farm and hardware store Bill Goodman chatted as he rang up Rob Cross’s purchases, “Yeah, my brother’s having a heck of a sale at his truck dealership, and he told me that your brother drove off in one of the fanciest models on the lot.”

When Don Cross brought some paperwork into the dealership Mark Goodman mentioned how his brother Bill had noted that Don’s brother had one of the best yard and gardens in town, “But why shouldn’t he, with that new tractor and all that good grass seed and compost, right?”

Later, each in a shiny new truck loaded with goods, the Cross brothers drove past the diner, grim faced and headed in opposite directions.

At the diner counter, the two Goodman brothers contested, as usual, over who would pick up the lunch tab, both laughing and smiling as the waitress reminded them of whose turn it was. Both Bill and Mark tipped her well, as usual, and knowing protest was futile she just laughed with them and said again that she couldn’t say which one of them had the nicest smile.

“We can’t say either,” they chimed, “It’s our greatest rivalry.”

It’s time again for a story (or poem, or what have you) told in exactly Six Sentences (or lines or stanzas, or what have you). Hosted by Denise at GirlieontheEdge, the prompt this week is “rivalry”. Swing by to read more and to leave your own response.