Seeing the Elephant

“That was my Uncle Robert’s musket. He leaned it there in the corner when he got back from the war.”

At the time I was too young to have the questions I wish I had asked, that I come back to wondering about decades later. One of 35,000 Vermonters who had gone to see the elephant, surely her beloved uncle told her stories of adventure and strange sights, but maybe didn’t talk about the battles. Maybe he was as silent as the sentinel musket that he had returned with to the family home but would never take up again.

 

Robert was practically running now.

He would have missed sugar season, but his father would appreciate his help with spring planting. His father wouldn’t ask him, as the man on the train had, about the Battle of the Wilderness.

Soon he’d be eating Ma’s cooking, would tousle the hair of his baby brother, six now, teach him everything there was to know, would have him driving the team, set him up with his own team of oxen. Robert ached to again work the farm, to mesh with the seasons.

Almost home; soon he would set this damn musket down.

 

Written for Carrot Ranch November 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use the word mesh in a story. Mesh is both an object and a verb, which you can freely explore. You can play with its sound, too. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by November 21, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published November 22). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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No Haven #writephoto

 

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“Mommy, look at the sky, it’s so pretty. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight, right Mommy? Tomorrow is gonna be a great day for our trip.”

She grabbed up her little girl, held her close, told her yes, yes, it was going to be the best day ever, a wonderful trip.

“You’re crying, Mommy. Is it because the sky is so beautiful?”

“Yes, darling, that’s it, and you are so beautiful, and we’re going to have such a great time.”

It was not quite noon on a summer day. Just that morning they had listened to the birds’ sunrise songs, had watched them disappearing in and out of the thick green-leaved canopy of the trees. Now in the black silence, she just held onto her child, so tightly she could feel and hear her breathing, feel her heart beating against her own. Then sound returned, a rumbling buzz followed by a crushing roar that pushed the purple and orange sky roiling ahead of it, a massive thundering wave of color and noise that nobody heard.

***

Written for Sue Vincent’s November 16th Thursday Photo Prompt.

Hang Time

It was the hang-time of late fall, after leaves and before snow, and out on the playground where the real schooling happened, mastery was measured in marbles, and Rex’s ragged bag was always full. At morning recess Rex would reach barehanded into the iced over marble holes to remove the ice, expertly auger the holes smooth and sloped just so with the heel of his tattered Converses, then he’d call the shots, maybe boots and shoots, hitsies, no toesies… but he always called keepsies. There was no shame in losing to Rex, and sometimes a kid might even win a couple of rounds, but then would be obliged to accept the challenge of playing puresies or boulders, a higher stakes game they were certain to lose.

Though Rex was not in the habit of gratuitously punching anyone, he would give anyone who suggested that he had a dog’s name five good reasons not to make that mistake twice, for everyone that was anyone, that is anyone from here, knew better, knew that Rex meant king, and the king of the playground was always respected.

Most of the legends about Rex were true, including that he never cried, not once, not ever in all of school not even in kindergarten. So out of respect everyone stayed away, rushed to the swings or the slide on the Mondays after visitation, the mornings Rex’s eyes watered in the cold air as he stood alone, his marble bag heavy in the pocket of his thin jacket.

 

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This six sentence story written for  Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “marble”. 

Wintry Walk

Under winter’s marbled evening sky begin walking; keep going though snow is now falling, is rapidly covering your tracks.

Go to know the cold that winter brings, and to know also the dark; walk into the night and feel the sting and smart of the cold on your face and hands, then the dull ache of it creeping in all your limbs.

Go further; go till you no longer feel even the dull ache, go until you are numb to the cold.

Walk that far.

Then, shrouded with snow, stumbling in the dark, sinking and flailing through drifts, find your way back; return.

Only now can you know what it is you want from the warm glow of light in a window.

 

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This six sentence story written for  Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “marble”. 

Flash Fire

 

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PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

She set the pages right in the flames of the burner, hoping to silence the voices, the quiet ones as well as the loud ones. Then, exhausted, she stumbled to the couch, trusting the fire to consume what she had fed it. Fire, though, it might start on one thing, nibbling at first, then gulping greedily, but then might move on, leaving untouched tidbits and strewn crumbs behind.

The firemen would discover her lifeless form on the couch, in the kitchen a melted pill bottle and enough charred remnants of her writing that a small voice could yet be heard.

 

Written in response to Friday Fictioneers, November 17. 100 words.

 

Spaces

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“She’s terrified of small spaces, didn’t you know? That’s why she moved.”

Increasingly, quite ordinary situations brought on the terror. As her terrors grew her interpretation of small spaces expanded. Being jammed into the back seat of a car was bad, worse was enduring the press of public transportation. People. Any gathering of people became unbearable; even one or two friends became an encroachment. She needed space.

Inside spaces needed to be tidy and organized, ruthlessly uncluttered. She spent more time out of doors, walking, but even there began to feel hemmed in not just by other walkers and narrow paths, but even by trees and hills, hovering, encircling topographies.

She moved to North Dakota, into an old farmhouse with a big open porch overlooking miles and miles of prairie. She spent hours gazing at the flat expanse of wheat fields that surrounded her. But then she came to feel enclosed by this surrounding of wheat that whispered and swayed in the wind, and was grateful for the combines that came and left behind only silent stubble. This was soon covered by snow and she was driven indoors.

Here was where the real terror took hold. Alone and with no escape, would she again feel crowded, jostled and shoved by the doubts and fears that trolled her mind space, or would she find expansion there in her solitude?

The door was left open, receiving blowing snow that had already drifted onto the porch behind her. She disappeared into the unbroken, endless white of a prairie blizzard.

***

Prompt: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, First Line Friday, Short Fiction – November 10th, 2017  Your line for this week is: He’s terrified of small spaces, didn’t you know?” 

Baking Lessons

“Really, you think I don’t know what you’ve been doing?”

Sandra was becoming exasperated, didn’t know whom to turn to with this escalating problem.

“You better avoid the principal when you get to school, you’ll get busted.”

“So I’ll stay home, you can tell them I’m sick.”

“No, get going, you need to go to school and you have to give me a ride.”

At first she had taken her at her word, believed that she only smoked a little weed now and again, but lately Sandra’s mother, a high school English teacher, was getting baked even before school.

 

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This six sentence story written for  Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “baked”, just for fun. Other bloggers are doing it. It won’t lead to harder stories, besides I only write six sentence stories now and again. I can quit anytime. 

The Untold

The open porch was curtained by the rain that sheeted off the roof, drilling a trough underneath the eaves. Behind this curtain Hope rocked slightly, pushing against the floorboards with her toes, her father beside her in his chair. A third cane rocker sat empty.

“It’s a good porch”, he said, “Best part of this two-story house.”

“Yup”, agreed Hope. Recognizing the prelude, she looked forward to hearing his stories. Rain drummed the porch roof overhead.

A gust of wind suddenly rent the curtain, whipped them with cold rain, rocked the empty chair.

“Daddy, tell a story about Mommy.”

 

These recurring characters have their own page. For more of the told story click HERE.  Written for Carrot Ranch, November 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a chair on a porch. Why is it there, and what might it mean? Think about using it as a prop or the main thrust of your story. Respond by November 7, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published November 8). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #8

Charli Mills has presented a TUFF concluding challenge to an exciting first rodeo. You have a week to write for this one. Journey over to Carrot Ranch to test your mettle.
Stay tuned for announcement of contest winners, beginning November 7th.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

TUFF: The Ultimate Flash Fiction

by Charli Mills

What if I told you that writing flash fiction will get you to where you want to be? Would you scoff, or consider the possibility? Would you think I’m handing you a magic elixir? Ah, an elixir. Let’s pause a moment and talk about the hero’s journey.

If you answered the call to participate in the Flash Fiction Rodeo this past month, you answered the same call every hero hears: the one the hero reluctantly answers. We think of heroes as Thor or Wonder Woman. Yet, the hero’s journey calls to us all. Winnie the Pooh and Frodo and Mary Tyler Moore are all heroes. It’s about the path:

  1. The call: the opening scene in which the hero is called out of the ordinary world.
  2. The test: the story develops conflict through tests, challenges, temptations, allies and enemies.
  3. The cave

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God’s Gift

Ruth took great comfort at the arrival of the familiar midwife. “My Godsend has come for me”, she smiled up from her bed.

The last time she’d come for Ruth had been when her son was born, a difficult, dangerous birthing, but she had let Ruth return. Now she was again holding Ruth’s hand, was again asking her if she was ready, if it was time.

“It’s time. I was so afraid before, but I’m ready now.”

“We’re proud of how you used your gift, how you’ve lived generously and fearlessly.”

As her son and his grown children wept around her bed, Ruth was peacefully borne away.


The bulls have been released at Carrot Ranch. For the sixth rodeo event writers must write a fictional story that involves facing a challenge or fear in 107 words and eight sentences and must include the two words drawn as your prompt (you may change the order of the words and they do not need to be adjacent). There are extra prompt words available if you would like to head on over and try this challenge.

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