CRLC Challenge; Mud

The Carrot Ranch October 14, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that embraces the mud. What is the mud, real or metaphor? How does it transform a character or place? What happens? Go where the prompt leads! EXTENDED DEADLINE Respond by October 26, 2021. Charli’s post this week is an invitation to embrace the suck (and support) that is NaNoWriMo. I don’t know about that, but these four flashes came pretty quickly, once I allowed Nick out of the pen. Still just playing though, with no plot or premise. Nick is a lesser character but one who has worked with Marge for years at the dealership and has had bit parts in this sorta series. Ilene we first met in “Stumped”.

Slip Sliding

“Marge, Nick’s here! Does he have to stay?”

“I was here first Ilene.”

“How can that be? You just got here.”

“I mean I was here, you know, in this town, working and hanging out with Marge and Nard and Lloyd, well before you showed up.”

“I know why I don’t like you Nick, but I can’t figure out why you don’t like me.”

“Forget about it. Tell me how you lost your leg.”

“Who said it’s lost?”

“Come on, what happened?”

“Mud wrestling gone bad.”

“What? Really? How’s that happen?”

“Alligator.”

“Really?”

“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”

XXX

“You two stop your bickering or you’re both going home.”

“Yes Marge. Ok, Ilene, what are you drinking? I’m getting a round.”

“Mudslide, please and thank you.”

“Whoo! Mudslides? Those can be a slippery slope.”

“Naw, they’re nutritious and delicious.”

Nick put aside his beer as well as his animosity and drank mudslides along with Ilene.

“Ilene, you do lean you know,” he slurred. “Tell me again how you lost your leg.”

“Mudslide.”

“What?!” Nick slammed his drink down on the bar, looked down at his legs.

“Torrential rains, slippery slope— wipeout.”

“Really?”

“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”

XXX

“Seriously, Ilene. What happened to your leg?”

“Enjoying these mudslides Nick? It’s a change from your usual beer diet.”

“They’re definitely delicious and nutritious. And I ain’t feeling any pain. But you’re avoiding the question. What happened to your leg?”

“I’m answering the question. See, you will feel pain. Tomorrow. No, stay the course, Nick, it’s too late now. You’re on that slippery slope. See, I once had such a headache from drinking mudslides I wished for anything to make it go away. The Devil appeared, traded my leg for the headache.”

“Really?”

“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”

XXX

Marge and Ernest helped Nick and Ilene out of the bar and into Ernest’s truck with Nick arguing that he could walk home. 

“It’s raining Dumb-ass. The way you’re flopping all over the place you’d end up face down in a mud puddle. Get in.”

“Yes Marge.” 

“Jeez. You’re never like this on beer. Whatever prompted you to drink mudslides?”

“He saw that’s what the cool kids drink,” said Ilene. “Thought it might give him a leg up.”

“Hey! What happened—”

“No more.”

“— to Lloyd tonight?”

“Oh. Lloyd’s looking for my leg.”

“Really?”

“Just pulling your leg.”

CRLC Challenge; Across the Water

Down East

When her husband left she was most concerned about retrieving the boat. 

She hasn’t run the boat for years now, has her groceries delivered dockside every other Thursday. Told Jeb she’d understand him being late because of rough weather, but if he ever showed up early or out of the blue she’d tan him. 

She’d be polite when he delivered, just; said ‘thank you’ then ‘have a good one’; his signal to go. Jeb didn’t even cut the engine.

Was Jeb of course that found her, sprawled on her rocky shores as if still looking beseechingly across the water.

The Carrot Ranch September 30, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the phrase, “across the water.” It can be any body of water distant or close. Who (or what) is crossing the water and why? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by October 5, 2021.

CRLC Challenge; Author’s Chair (another one)

These ones are grateful for their shelters, are proud of what they have built, though their houses are not as warm as our nush wetus. Even Bradford’s home is not as comfortable as Swany’s was in Cornhill. But like Swany, he has a chair and a small table where he marks on big leaves they call paper. Bradford reaches for his bible as Standish reaches for his musket.

I want this magic, these marks the English make and interpret. When I am sachem, Bradford will be obliged to share the secret of marking leaves. I will know this power.

Here’s another one for the Carrot Ranch September 23, 2021, prompt to, in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about an author’s chair. It can belong to any author. Where is it located and why? Does it have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

Yes, this is another 99 from the viewpoint of Tisquantum, also known as Squanto. While the literature indicates Tisquantum did aspire to depose Massasoit and become sachem, I am only speculating for the sake of flash fiction that he may have aspired to learn to read and write. But he quickly became fluent in spoken English and was shrewd enough that he might have seen some advantage in written language to himself. For more on this historical figure, check out the pilot of the Saddle Up Saloon’s ‘Author’s Chair’.

CRLC Challenge; Author’s Chair

Over at Carrot Ranch the September 23, 2021, prompt is to, in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about an author’s chair. It can belong to any author. Where is it located and why? Does it have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 28, 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.

The Gift

“My surprise is this secondhand chair?”

“Overused and underappreciated.”

“No, Dear, it’s a nice chair; used but—”

“I wasn’t talking about the chair.” 

“What inspired you to get me this chair, of all things?”

“It’s an author’s chair.”

“So, it’s valuable?”

“Priceless.”

“Belonged to somebody famous, a well-known writer?”

“Not yet. But someday. Is it comfortable?” 

“Very. A good fit. Tell me though, what makes this an author’s chair?”

“Your butt.”

“My butt?”

“It’s time. I’ll fix up the boys’ old bedroom. Your new commute will be from the coffee pot to this chair.” 

“To this author’s chair.”

I do hope you go to Carrot Ranch to read about a virtual Author’s Chair that will be a regular feature at the Saddle Up Saloon beginning in October. This is an opportunity for you!

CRLC Challenge; Big Black Horse

The challenge from Carrot Ranch? In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a Big Black Horse. It can be a horse, a metaphor or an interpretation of KT Tunstall’s “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” Go where the prompt leads! Respond by September 21, 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. Here are two from me.

Fair Play

“These aren’t like Lucienne’s team of Morgans.”

“No, they’re not Hope.”

“And they’re not like the horses we saw at the pull this morning.”

“They most certainly are not. These are fancy riding horses.”

Hope studied the high stepping horses in their fancy tack. “That one Daddy. The big black horse.”

“She’s a beauty, alright. And big. Are you sure?”

“Yes Daddy.”

“Do you want help getting on?”

“I can do it Daddy.” Stepping into the high stirrup and swinging herself into the saddle, Hope rode round and round while her father watched from the edge of the carousel.

Medicine Horse

A shadow softened the sharp rays that pinned him to the sunbaked ground. He opened his eyes to see the soft nostrils that blew a cooling caress; saw an unshod hoof of the big black horse that nudged him until he struggled onto its back. 

‘What big black horse?’ the townsfolk asked. 

Recovered, he would avenge himself against the men who’d left him to die. But their horses, still saddled, a boot hanging in a stirrup, clattered into town ahead of the big black horse. 

‘What big black horse?’ the townsfolk asked, for there was no sign of it.

CRLC Challenge; Cooking Show & SixSentenceStory; Island

On Course

It was a marvel what she produced in such a short time and with so little space, just a narrow counter top and a butcher block kitchen island. 

She commandeered the small kitchen, flour clouding the roiling tempest of her activity. Then, while the oven did its transformative work she swabbed the surfaces and restored calm as she stowed the dishes and debris from her preparations. Snapping a table cloth over the butcher block, she displayed her confections. There was Black Forest cake, lava cake, and even rocky road ice cream. The butcher block was an enchanting desserted island. 

The September 9, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the cooking show. It can be any cooking show, real or imagined. Who is there? What happens? Make it fun or follow a disaster. Go where the prompt leads! Respond by September 14, 2021. Though the Six Sentence Story link up isn’t open until Wednesday, I needed the boost of this week’s prompt word ”island” to help me over the hurdle of Charli’s prompt. So, there it is, 99 words in six sentences.

CRLC Challenge; Prom Dress

Forgetting

A June night. Prom night. ‘A Night to Remember’. “You’re beautiful,” he said.

An August evening. “I’ll do the right thing,” he said. “I’m working full time… we can live with my mom.”

A September morning. She would have been at college. It was a small wedding.  

The baby came in March. “He’s perfect,” he said. “He looks just like his father,” his mother said. 

Another August evening. He held the sleeping baby while watching baseball with his mother.

“I’m going out,” she said. 

“Home run!” they shouted, waking the baby. 

She left her prom dress and son behind. 

September 2, 2021, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to the theme, “not everyone fits a prom dress.” You can take inspiration from Ellis Delaney’s song, the photo, or any spark of imagination. Who doesn’t fit and why? What is the tone? You can set the genre. Go where the prompt leads! Respond by September 7, 2021.

Picture Prompt #SaddleUpSaloon

The Unknown by D. Avery

The boss calls me Manuel, calls me Mexican. Manuel is not my name, Mexico is not the country I come from. I am Guatemalan. “What’s the difference?” he asks, but does not really want an answer. 

Hundreds of people come every day to this cemetery where I do this work. These people honor their soldiers. They are awed by the endless rows of headstones, each engraved with a name. 

My father, my mother, my brothers and sisters— they had names. My village had a name. 

The boss says I am lucky to have this job. I know that’s true.

There’s something different at The Saddle Up Saloon this week, a photo prompt for those of you wanting more writing inspiration. Post your story and leave a link over there in the comments. Also know that you, your books, and your characters could be featured as a Saddle Up Saloon guest. Contact me if you are interested in that fun opportunity.

CRLC Challenge; Stars in the Sand

Grandma says there are stars in the sand. 

A lot of people think Grandma’s crazy.

I think it’s crazy that I have to go to school where all I learn is to keep quiet and avoid bullies.

Come on, Grandma says when I get home, Let’s go star gazing, and heads down to the beach, hours before sunset.  

It’s not the right time, I say.

We can handle time she says, and we do. Wordless, we marvel at the glittering sand; we smooth it, sift it, lie in it.

You’re a star she says, and I know she’s right.

The challenge from Carrot Ranch this week is to write in 99 words (no more, no less), a story using the phrase, “stars in the sand.” Your story can be any genre (or poem) and can use realism or fantasy. It’s a dreamy prompt. Go where the it leads!

Respond by August 24, 2021. Use the comment section below 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.

CRLC Challenge; Cacophony

Summer of Love

The pair of geese that patrolled the yard were first to sound the alarm. Then his father’s hounds bugled from the kennels. The Jerseys lowed as they closed ranks across the pasture and filed toward the barn. Finally there came the sharp report of the screen door springing shut behind his mother, anxiously wringing her dish towel on the familiar porch, laughing and crying at his approach. 

These welcoming sounds began to quiet the shrieks and chants from the gauntlet he’d faced at the airport. But even as his mother refrained, ‘You’re really home’, doubts drummed like throbbing pain.

The Carrot Ranch 99 word challenge this week?

In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story, using cacophony. You can use the word or show discordant sound in action. How can you create literary cacophony with your words? This one might be of interest to poets as a literary device. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by August 17, 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.