#SixSentenceStories; Range

The word from Denise at GirlieontheEdge is “range” to be used in six sentences exactly. This Six Sentence Story began here two weeks ago with Verge. I followed “On the Verge” with two 99-word stories (Walking the Line) and then again with another pair of 99-word stories the following week. (Balancing Acts). I’m not sure I want to pursue this or the direction it takes here, but I do know this is all I have for SSS right now and am grateful to these characters for showing up to play.

What’s Cooking? by D. Avery

“You sure are at home on the range,” Bob remarked to Daddy.

“Hate to correct you, Boss, but this isn’t a range, it’s a griddle, and right beside it is a grill, and since Katie claims this is all a circus, I guess that makes me a grease monkey.”

 “Not my circus, not my monkey,” Katie the waitress chimed, but she smiled as she said it. “Coming through,” she warned as she squeezed by Daddy carrying a stack of plates behind the counter, “Doing the diner dance.”

“Let’s go somewhere tonight where there’s more room for us to dance.”

Bob laughed, said he’d never seen Katie speechless before, said he hoped Daddy wasn’t cooking up trouble just when things were going so well.

#99Word Stories; “Not my circus, not my monkeys”

The November 28, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the saying, “not my monkeys, not my circus”. What is the situation that would spawn that aphorism? Have fun with setting and characters! Go where the prompt leads! Submit at Carrot Ranch by December 3, 2022. 

Here is another pair of 99 word stories that continue the “Oh my” pair from last week that continued a Six Sentence Story, On the Verge. These flashes do not answer the question of who the woman is that is housing the father and daughter but is where this prompt led. Besides, I still don’t know.

Balancing Acts by D. Avery

In the casinos I always stayed close to Daddy and stayed out of his way, not interrupting or interfering with his work at the slot machines or roulette table. In the diner there wasn’t room for me behind the counter by the grill where he worked, plus daddy said it was dangerous. When the waitress came in and saw me sitting on a counter stool, she rolled her eyes. “Really?”

“Really,” the owner said.

The waitress tied her apron and sighed, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” Whatever that means.

“That’s right the owner said. “I run this zoo.”

XXX

It sure seemed like it was that waitress that ran the diner. She was everywhere at once, which made staying out of her way hard. Every time she walked around me or told me to move out of a regular’s spot she’d sigh. “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

She was never still. If she wasn’t tending to customers or clearing tables she was rolling silverware in a napkin, just so. When she got busy with customers again, I stood on a bucket and rolled silverware, just like I’d seen her do.

“Clever monkey!”

I smiled back at her.

Carrot Ranch is undergoing technical difficulties so we can’t yet read the “Oh my” collection from last week. But there’s always the Ranch Yarns with Kid and Pal’s responses HERE. And you could always check out the Saddle up Saloon. Read Sherri Matthew’s article, For Queen and Country, or go to the Cowsino to try a fun writing prompt brought to you by Kid and Pal.

#99Word Stories; “Oh, my.”

The November 21, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “Oh, my.” It can be used in storytelling or dialog. What is the cause for such a response? Have fun with this one! Go where the prompt leads! Submit at Carrot Ranch by November 26, 2022. 

Here is a pair of 99 word stories that continue a Six Sentence Story, On the Verge.

Walking the Line by D. Avery

Daddy liked cooking and was good at it. Working the line, he wore the same expression as when he was on the verge in the casinos. The owner was so glad to have him that he let me stay in the diner while Daddy worked. It was warm, and we got food.

When he got his paycheck at the end of the week Daddy swung me.

“Cashout, Peanut.”

But Daddy didn’t cash his check. Instead he showed it to the lady that answered his knock at the door.

“Oh my,” she said. “You did it.”

“You bet I did.”

XXX

I held onto Daddy as we stood on the stoop of the lady’s small house. Finally, she invited him in. Finally, she noticed me.

“Oh, my! How you’ve grown!”

I clung to Daddy even tighter.

“You were just a baby.”

“Daddy,” I whispered. “Is she my mother?”

He knelt down. “No Peanut, but she mothered you.”

“Sometimes, Penelope,” the lady said, “You cut your losses. Sometimes you take a gamble. I did both with your daddy. And I promised if he quit gambling, you both could stay here. Would you like to see your bedroom?”

My bedroom? Oh my!

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete Lies” collection from last week. And there’s always the Ranch Yarns with Kid and Pal’s responses HERE.

#99Word Stories; Lie

The November 7, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a lie. What is the lie? It can be subtle or blatant. Who tells the lie and why? Is it an unreliable narrator? Go where the prompt leads! Submit at Carrot Ranch by November 19, 2022.

After writing this story in my head I finally typed it out and it came to 141 words, which I have included here. Then I pared it down to 99 words for submission at Carrot Ranch. Which do you prefer?

Younger Cousin (141) by D. Avery

The first lie was mine, on that long ago night. ‘It’ll be fun.’ 

We lied about her age to get in. We’d agreed to stick together but the crowd swallowed us up and we were separated. I was worried sick about her and when I finally found her, I was sick. Then she tended to me! Said it was okay, said everything would be alright.

She never would talk about what happened. She started living her life as if it didn’t matter, said she was in control. Said I could mind my own business, she was a good mom to her kids, each with a different father and not one dad. When she started using she said she could handle it.

‘Please,’ I begged, ‘Stop.’

‘Why?’ she asked.

‘Because I love you.’

‘You’re a liar,’ she said. ‘You never loved me.’


Younger Cousin (99) by D. Avery

The first lie was mine. ‘It’ll be fun.’ 

We lied about her age to get in. The crowd swallowed us up and we were separated. I was worried sick about her and when I finally found her, I was sick. She said she was okay, said she’d be alright.

She started living life as if it didn’t matter. Said she was in control. Said I could mind my own business, she was a good mom. When she started using heroin, she said she could handle it.

‘Stop,’ I begged.

“Why?’

‘Because I love you.’

‘You’re a liar,’ she said.

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Squeaky” collection from last week. And there’s always the Ranch Yarns with Kid and Pal’s responses HERE.

#99Word Stories; Squeak

The November 7, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something squeaky. What is squeaky and why? How does it move the story or disrupt a character? Listen, write, and go where the prompt leads!  I’m squeaking in late with this response that continues these 99 word stories.

Long Silences by D. Avery

The red convertible sat quiet in the driveway, the top still up.

On the return trip home, he’d told stories from their shared past; sometimes ones she’d forgotten or some appended with an insight she hadn’t considered before. Talking wore him out so his narratives would be followed by long silences, though silence had its own percussions; his raspy inhalations punctuated by the squeak of the portable oxygen tank.

She hadn’t told any stories, didn’t talk over his whistling breathing, even though the sound grated on her.

Now she was surprised at how haunted she felt by its absence.

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Wheels keep On Turning” collection from last week and the “Bones” collection from the week before that. And there’s always the Ranch Yarns with Kid and Pal’s responses HERE.

#99Word Stories; Bones

The October 24, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about bones. It can be any genre or tone. Is it spooky, irreverant, poignant? Go where the prompt leads! Submit at Carrot Ranch by October 29, 2022.

You might remember a double I wrote for the January 23, 2021 prompt, which was “Light At the End Of the Tunnel“. This response features those characters.

Something More by D. Avery

A corncob pipe rolls on the dash as the boat plunges and heaves, plunges and heaves through the chop.

At the helm of Skipper’s boat, it’s more than chill headwinds bringing tears to my eyes.

A solid sure boat. Skipper built it himself.

“Boats— just skin and bones. And something more,” Skipper would say, twinkling.

Skipper’s light has gone out.

I idle the engine.

“Ashes to ashes.”

I dump his remains into the waves. Then his corncob pipe. I watch pipe and ash and bone bob and sink before steering towards shore with a following sea.

“Fair winds, Skipper.”

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “I See the Light In You” collection from last week. And there’s always the Ranch Yarns with Kid and Pal’s responses HERE.

#99 Word Stories; “I see the light in you”

The October 17, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that references “I see the light in you.” You can use the phrase or demonstrate it in a story. Who is shining and why? Who is observing or reacting? What is the setting? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by October 22, 2022.

An Encounter by D. Avery

She searched her reflection in the bathroom mirror, looked deep into her own eyes. She didn’t like what she saw. Still…

‘Aanii,’ the old woman had said. ‘I see the light in you.’ What a strange way to greet someone, someone you don’t even know.

“I don’t see it,” she said to her reflection, her sad eyes staring darkly back at her. But she couldn’t forget the twinkle in the old woman’s soft gaze.

She had seen a light in her.

That was something.

She put the pills back in the vial, put the vial back in the cabinet.

The last two Carrot Ranch Literary Community prompts, “tea”, then “water”, were great prompts and got great responses. See these collections of 99 word stories HERE and HERE.

#99Word Stories, Broken Arm?

The September 26, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: Write a story about a broken arm. What happened? Is there a cause and effect because of the broken arm? Was the injury faked? Why? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by October 1, 2022.

In her post Charli shares this note:

Would you fake a broken arm for me? (based on a robin protecting another from potential danger at the cat farm) -- birdsers vs. cat lovers -- robin humping for worms or insects
<line>
The Isolation of a Lone Gunman
<line>
Find Your Happy Place as a Beauty Regime -- thrift store top -- earrings

Yes, a challenge. Here is a three part response, each 99 words. If you want to know the story you’ll have to go to the Cowsino  and look for it down in the comments. And be sure to try your luck with that separate story spine writing challenge while you’re there.

Shop Therapy by D. Avery

“It’s shop therapy day,” my sister said, “We’re going to the thrift store.”

Maybe because it was chilly and gray out, my sister gravitated towards a colorful cloak. But another woman, eyeing the racks like a cat, tail twitching, snatched it up first. “Early bird gets the worm,’ she said.

After a quick detour through bedding I appeared with my arm wrapped and hanging in a sling. “She wants the cloak for me. Because of my broken arm.”

The appeal did not work. “Eh. She looks like a lone gunman in that cloak,” I said. “Let’s look at earrings.”

XXX

“I’m relieved you paid for it, but I’d rather you’d left it.” Over the steaming mug of tea my sister’s eyes said she thought I was crazy for still wearing my improvised sling.

“Why? You make things up.” I squeezed another honey packet into my tea. “Maybe when you’re a famous author we can shop somewhere besides the thrift store. Go to a real tea shop and not this diner.”

“Never! That stuff has stories! And diners… OMG, maybe she is a lone gunman. It’s the cloak clutcher and she definitely has something underneath it. Shit, here she comes.”

XXX

“Your arm really is broken? Here, take the cloak. I’m finished with it anyway.”

The woman removed the cloak, handing it to me. She deftly tucked an elegant China teapot on the seat next to my sister then sat down, shielding it from view. She sat across from me, her cat eyes flashing a challenge.

“Wrap your teapot in this.” I undid my sling and passed it to her. “But the cloak is for my sister. I’d do anything for her. Except steal.”

“I bet you would too steal, if you had to.”

My sister sat up, sniffing a story.

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch’s Cowsino to read the conclusion to this story and to hang out reading and writing for a while.

#99Word Stories, Mud On the Tires & #Six Sentence Stories, Knot

The September 19, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about mud on the tires. The tires can be from any conveyance or serve as an analogy. How did they get muddy and why? What impact does mud on the tires have on the story (plot) or characters (motivation)? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by September 24, 2022.

I continue to continue the story of the red convertible begun with the Red Convertible, then Swimmingly, and last week’s Balloons On a Bumper. I am adding a Six Sentence episode as well. Go to Denise’s GirlieOntheEdge to link up your Six Sentence Story and to read those of others.

Back Tracking by D. Avery

“Relax, it’s not a spider.”

Her husband’s voice startled her more than the string that brushed her face. She switched on the light, illuminating the motel cabin, a stringed balloon at the ceiling, her husband sitting up in the armchair, the portable oxygen tank in his lap.

“I put the top up on the convertible.”

“And stole a balloon.

“Just before this downpour.”

He was wheezing and didn’t argue when she gave him morphine drops.

“It came on fast.”

“It’s just rain,” she said. “What’s a little mud on our tires?”

He smiled wanly. “We should head home tomorrow.”   

Tangled by D. Avery

Still sleepless in the thin gray light of the drizzly dawn, she read the words on the heart shaped balloon that turned in a draft, Just tied showing, then the Knot, to and fro.

How often had she felt just tied; tied and tired, bound by duty, her attachment held by worn threads of habit? If she picked at the knot of their marriage, would pulling at one line cause it to tighten upon itself even more, or would the knot unravel before her like neat map lines? A tangled nest of heart strings, she mused.

“It’s been a good ride,” he rasped, reaching for her hand. Because of the knot in her throat, she only squeezed his hand back in silent agreement, then got up to pack the red convertible for the journey home.

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Balloons On A Bumper” collection from last week. And there’s always the Ranch Yarns with Kid and Pal’s responses HERE.

#99Word Stories; Balloons On a Bumper

The September 12, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about balloons on a bumper. Is it a spectacle, an occasion, an eccentricity? Why are the balloons there? Who is involved? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by September 17, 2022.

I find I am led to continue the story of the red convertible.

First, Red Convertible. Second, Swimmingly.

Down the Road by D. Avery

“Should we warn them?”

The giggling newlyweds disappeared into a motel cabin.

“They wouldn’t believe us.” Wheeling his oxygen tank, she followed him into their own cabin before unloading the remaining luggage and supplies from the convertible.

Preparing dinner in the small kitchenette while he dozed, she wondered at all that smiling bride hadn’t been told.

That night she dreamed she was popping the balloons that were tied to the honeymooners’ bumper, one by one. She awoke to rain drops bursting on the cabin’s tin roof. She sighed, realizing she hadn’t put the top up on the red convertible.

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Swimmingly” collection from last week. And there’s always the Ranch Yarns with Kid and Pal’s responses HERE.