Demonstrating

six sentence story copy.jpgIt’s time once again, (okay, a day early this week), for the Six Sentence Story link up. This week the prompt word is “television“. Thanks once again to Denise at GirlieOntheEdge  for hosting.

The first line of the first story was my first initial take, though initially I had the second story sort of in mind. Then I wrote the first story and posted it. Done. Then I thought, why not pursue the first idea with a second story. That’s my story. Take two.

***

Full View

“It was the first war that was viewed at home on television,” she explained, her hand on her husband’s knee, looking at him while addressing the grandchildren. “It was just awful seeing the footage, seeing the appalling happenings over there and the horrible events here in the states.”

“Granma, what was so horrible about people here protesting for peace, speaking out against the killing?”

“Men like your grandfather deserved a better homecoming than the one they got, they deserved a country more grateful and thankful for their service.”

“Ha, listen to her go on, like she’s forgetting how she met your ol’ Granpa.”

They both grew silent as they remembered how their friends and families had protested the relationship that blossomed between the returned soldier and the outspoken young woman who had demonstrated so passionately against the war he’d been called to serve in.

***

Unblinking

“The first Iraq War, with the first Bush president… your grandfather was over there and I was here, watching those scuds and night raids and fires on the television.”

Her granddaughter listened, rapt, but her grandson was wrapped up in his phone, playing a scaled down version of his favorite video game, still sulking that he was trapped in a house that didn’t have gaming devices.

“I’ve seen some of that old footage, it’s not very realistic,” the boy offered, obviously listening after all.

“How can you say that, you idiot, it was actual television footage, filmed live for goodness sake. Granma, I don’t understand how the world could see a war on their televisions, right in their own homes, and continue to have wars after seeing that.”

Unblinking, her grandson snorted derisively at his sister’s naïve comment, not once looking up from his phone, his thumbs clicking wildly.

***

 

 

C.E.

They approached warily. The car had been gutted, no longer habitable. She spied a scrap of paper stuck to the floor. The glove box yielded another and a stub of pencil.

“That’ll make good tinder.”

“No. It’s mine.”

He shrugged. They trudged on until dusk.

He coaxed a fire from his bow drill while she sharpened the pencil against a rock. The scrap of paper was a fragile promise in her shaking hands.

“Write already.”

She wanted to. It’d been so long. She’d start with the date.

It felt like fall. Was it November? The year she knew- 2023.

***

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The Carrot Ranch November 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses scraps. It can be scraps of dried flowers, paper, metal, fabric, food — any kind of scraps you can think of. Then write a story about those scraps and why they matter or what they make. Go where the prompt leads you. Respond by November 20, 2018.

 

Ode

Ode

There.

Taste it

just sip

resonant smoke slips

pungent portal

ancient past

charcoal drawings smudged ash

peat smoke

evokes bogs

extrications

petrified logs

artifacts

mummifications

leathered fingers grasp

amber

glass

chimney glows

smooth ember

sweet fire

slow burn

warms.

There.

Whiskey.

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It’s Open Link Night #232 at d’Verse Pub for poets. Just a poem, that’s all they ask. Go to the pub to savor fine verse. 

Tour of Duty

Saturday afternoons, when Marge steeled herself for a visit to her mother in The Home, were easier now that Ernest went with her, but still difficult despite seeing more of her mother because of Ilene sometimes including her on their walks.

Holding hands, Ernest and Marge made their way to Betty Small’s room, both dreading the pain of the awkwardness and accusations that were sure to come, but what they hadn’t anticipated was that Marge’s mother might have another visitor, but there was Nard, sitting and chatting away with a smiling Betty Small.

“Leonard, what a surprise.”

“Gee, Marge, what a surprise for you to finally respect me enough to use my given name, but please, call me Billy, I just thought I’d cheer up my fiancé, she seemed sad to see me go last time, thinks I’ll never return.”

“OMG, Leonard… I’ve always called you Nard because it suits a peckerhead, but…”

“Agreed, I am a wicked peckerhead, but just now, and maybe for the first time ever, I’m making a young woman happy.”

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Denise’s prompt for Six Sentence Stories this week is “agreed”.  The link up is open on Thursday. This SSS is a continuation of a flurry of Carrot Ranch responses that have continued to tell the tale of Ernest& Marge and their friends and family. This one follows BFF’s. Join the Six Sentence Story gang with your own take that includes the word “agreed”. 

BFF’s

It’s Marge and Ilene with some backstory for the Thanksgiving dinner episode entitled Wielding and Yielding.

***

“Fine! Go on without me, Ilene, you and Betty enjoy your walk.”

“Marge, what’s wrong?”

“Not a thing, go ahead, go be my mother’s old dead friend Ida, I’ll walk on my own without my live friend Ilene. You two have fun.”

“Marge you’re jealous.”

“She always thinks you’re Ida, but I never know who she’ll think I am, just that it’s usually someone she didn’t like.”

“I’m sorry, Marge. Maybe I like doing things with Betty because I miss my own mother.”

“Well, I miss my own mother too, Ilene, the one that answered to Mom, not Betty.”

Wielding and Yielding

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It was Ilene’s idea to include Marge’s senile mother for Thanksgiving.

“Everyone just be whoever she thinks you are. It’ll be fine.”

Fortunately she thought Marge and Ernest were her parents. Marge would wield some power.

“Betty, I think you know everyone.”

“I see Ida brought George.”

Marge smirked. Lloyd was to be her mother’s best friend’s brother; Ilene would have to keep her hands off him.

“Look who’s here.”

Nard spilled his beer when Betty Small embraced him. “Billy! You got leave!”

Marge grinned. “Yes, your fiancé.”

She could have asked Betty to mash the potatoes but didn’t.

***

“Make room on the couch for Betty and Billy,” Marge commanded. “Let them get caught up.” She laughed at Nard’s desperation as he helped her mother to the couch.

“I’m your father?”

“No. Billy didn’t make it back.”

“Oh.”

“She never loved my father as much.”

“Oh.”

When everyone in the crowded single-wide had a full plate Nard, holding Mrs. Small’s hand, spoke.

“Thanks Lord for these friends and all this food. Lord, I’m grateful for Betty, love of my life… I’ll come home,” he promised.

After a moment of astounded silence Ernest coughed ‘amen’ and everyone dug in.

***

“Marge, Ernest- epic. Good food.”

“Thank you Lloyd. I sure do miss my mother’s mashed potatoes though. These are just ok. She did something that made hers….”

“Epic?”

“Yeah, Lloyd, epic. I wish I knew what it was.”

“Marge, these are fine. A little garlic and rosemary wouldn’t of hurt either.”

“Mom?!”

But Marge’s mom was already Betty again, mooning over Nard. Nard’s uniform was just his cleanest Dickies from the dealership, but he was soldiering on in his role.

Leaning against Ernest, Marge smiled gratefully. “My mother hasn’t called me by name in two years.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, Marge.”

***

prompt-chomp.png The Carrot Ranch November 8, 2018, prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pairs mashed potatoes with a superpower. It can be in any circumstance, funny or poignant. Go where the prompt leads.” Go to Carrot Ranch to read Charli’s powerful post, to enjoy more powerful potato stories from the ranch hands, or to submit your own. 

I was led to write three 99 word responses. Then I was led to write another 99 words, BFF that might clarify these episodes. If you like these characters, read more at the Ernest & Marge page

 

Star of the Show

At Carrot Ranch the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo is winding down and the regular weekly prompts have resumed. This week Charli’s November 1, 2018, prompt is to, “in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a festival of lights. It can be any holiday, event or moment. Express the hope of light over darkness. Or use it to highlight injustice. Go where the prompt leads.”

The prompt led me back to some characters that I haven’t heard from in a long while, back to the fold. I think I needed this family, needed to return to the comfort of their simpler time and place. Writers are fortunate; we can create gentler settings and kinder characters and happier endings if we choose. But that’s art, always Imitative; that’s not the real work. Our Work as humans is to try and write our own lives through our choices and the characters we surround ourselves with. Our free will is our candle. Choose kind. Be the Light.

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Star of the Show

Hope made her guess. When her mother had incorrectly guessed Mary, Joseph, wise man, sheep, donkey, cow, inn keeper, and even baby Jesus, Hope finally told her what part she had in the Christmas pageant.

“It was my idea, Mommy! I got them to let me do my idea!”

“What, Hope? What role can possibly be left?”

Hope smiled broadly, her eyes radiating her pleasure. “The star! I’m going to be up on a ladder behind the stable dressed up like the star!”

“Do you have lines to memorize?”

“Nope. I just have to shine.”

“Oh, Hope, you do. You’re a natural.”

“Yup, our Hope is the star of the pageant. You girls get your boots on, let’s go snowshoeing.”

They hadn’t noticed him enter the kitchen, still in his boots, still dressed for outdoors.

“What? Now? It’s so dark out.”

“Maybe I have a surprise for you.”

“Ok. Let’s go, Hope. I’d rather tramp after him in the snow and dark than have to go through guessing again.”

He led them behind the house and up to the top of the meadow where the sugar woods began. Lights from neighboring farms and houses twinkled from the rolling hills that framed the frozen lake that was now an empty blackness in the moonless dark.

Below them they could see the glow from their own kitchen window.

Suddenly the cupola of their high barn lit up, beaming out over the bare trees and snow covered fields. The beams reached across to where they stood in the snowy meadow.

“Daddy! You put a star in the cupola for Christmas!”

“Think I’ll leave it throughout the long dark winter, Hope. We’ll shine our light every night.”

***

 

Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury

Here it is, the final Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo contest. Check it out and ride. Also, the Bonus Rodeo: Old Time Radio contest continues. Air your talent!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

A Flash Fiction contest by D. Avery
Co Judges: Bonnie Sheila and the Amazing Educator

THE CONTEST

Sometimes fear, respect, and awe are the braids of one rope. Sometimes that one rope is all a buckaroo has to hang onto. Your flash should never let go of that rope.

Think of a dangerous situation that people willingly engage in. It need not be heroic with a heroic outcome for it is ill-advised to sit down on a bull or to run with them charging down the same narrow street. But people do. Why? Explore the motivation for the character; how did they come to be in this situation?

A high scoring bull rider stays on an athletic bucking spinning bull for eight seconds after exploding out of the chute. They are dance partners, with a grace that is gritty and brutal. The rider holds that braided rope for dear life…

View original post 568 more words

Plugged

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This Six Sentence Story, hosted by Denise of  GirlieOnTheEdge, is a continuation of an earlier Six Sentence story entitled “Crunch“. Do go to GirlieOntheEdge’s Blog to read the other stories and to link up and enter your own. The prompt word this week is “up”. 

 

When our mom finally rose from her seat to take a break from her bedside vigil, I expected my brother’s trickery to be revealed by a crooked smile.

“Ok, she’s gone, you can knock it off now; you got me. Just say something already, tell me how you won the match because I’m such a dumbass.” I sat up in my chair in the corner of the cramped hospital room, watchful for any sign of deception, but his waxen face remained inscrutable and still, attached yet separate from the steady heaving drone of the respirator.

Mom returned and told me that decisions would have to be made and that she didn’t have the strength to make them, that I would have to be the one to tell the doctors when to remove the tubes and wires. While she wept inconsolably I pleaded with my brother to just get up, told him he’d won; he’d won again.

The Fire Escape

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Here is my final recycled 297 word response to the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo’s TUFF Contest prompts, this one “scars from climbing” posted on September 1st. To see the  winners  of the TUFF competition go to Carrot RanchCatch up  on this month’s weekly rodeo contests .

 

 

“Shouldn’t you be heading home? It’s a school night.”

The bartender was only half joking. Dan the Man was starting to get into form, transforming from mild mannered English teacher into righteous undiscovered literary genius.

“Take this bottle here,” he said. “A perfect metaphor, is it not? A container. Holding the distillations and fermentations of dreamers and schemers alike. Now watch.”

He swilled the contents, draining the bottle.

“The action is in the bottleneck, all that lovely liquid swirling, backing up on itself, wanting to be free, rushing to escape.”

All of Dan’s swilling gave him the confidence to extend his metaphor in an inappropriate direction, causing another patron some discomfort.

“Go home Dan.”

Complying, Dan left the bar and navigated the walk to his apartment building. Dan the Man though, was not quite ready to turn in, school night or not. On this half-moonlit night he would climb the fire escape to his apartment, where he would have another beer outside his third story window, a place Dan imagined to be inhabited by his muse.

He managed the leap up to catch the first platform, scraping his palms on the rusty metal, banging his knee as he pulled himself up. When further in the ascent he stumbled, his hand coming down on the jagged edge of a bottleneck, Dan sobered up enough to laugh at the irony and enough to feel badly about his behavior in the bar. He clambered through his window, dripping blood to the sink where he washed up. That gash would leave a scar. What story would he tell about this wounding tomorrow?

Maybe he’d stumbled onto his novel; a sad tale about a wanna be who was nobody, a pitiful character destined to bear the scars from climbing and getting nowhere.