Earth In Mind; CRLC Challenge

Earth In Mind,   D. Avery

“Sofie! Marlie! There must be 100 candles on that cake!”

“There are Mommy! That’s how Sofie does it, for when she gets to be 100 years old. But we’ll only light nine of them today.”

Marlie held her Destiny doll up so she could see Sofie’s birthday cake shouldering its phalanxes of candles. “What do you think, Destiny?”

When the doll responded it was in the deep round voice of Madame Destiny, the prophetess. “Light all the candles.”

Liz’s eyes sought help from her husband and Sofie’s mother who walked in just as the decree was issued.

“Brilliant idea!”


“Bill! That’s absolutely dangerous!”

“Not on the patio.”

“Toni, are you sure you want this man homeschooling your daughter along with my wild child?”

“You should have seen the math your girls did today with those hundred candles. It’s all play to them. Guided play.”

“Guided play… sounds like a good way to learn, Bill. And, honestly, I’d like to learn what Madame Destiny has in mind. Let’s light a hundred candles!”

With each candle they lit the two girls wished another hundred birthdays for Mother Earth.

“10,00 more! She’ll be old, Mommy, but we’ll take care of her.”


square-template46The May 21, 2020, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about 100 candles. What do they light, and why? Think about contrast or symbolism. Are the candles large, small, or stars in the night? Go where the prompt leads!  

With a slight nod to last week’s ‘absolute danger’ prompt, this week I was led again by Marlie and her friend Sofie. With all five working at home now, the two families are QEFs (quarantined exclusive friends) so can safely celebrate Sofie’s birthday together as well as continuing the homeschooling arrangement. 

It’s A ThreeFer; #WWP, #CRLC, #SSS

It has been a very busy week and I truly thought I might not manage to respond to my usual weekly prompts. The usual excuses– busy with work, generally distracted, wrestling with all the emotions one encounters whilst conducting one’s self  through a pandemic; finding writing to be a frivolous pastime one moment, a necessity the next, or at least, another distraction. It took three prompts to push my pen this week. Denise at GirlieOntheEdge put “gulf” out there last Wednesday for a Six Sentence Story; Charli at Carrot Ranch, on May 7,  prompted us to: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to nourish. The characters can nourish or be nourished. What else can be nourished? A tree? A setting? Does the sunset nourish the soul? Go where the prompt leads!”  And yesterday Sammi Cox prompted us to write about “home” in 114 words for her Weekend Writing Prompt, #156. 

Marlie’s story continues. You might have seen the most recent episode HERE. The first two flashes presented are teased out of a longer combined story to make the word counts while focusing on the respective prompts. The Six Sentence Story at the end continues and concludes the scene(s) with Tommy. 


wk-156-home.jpg            “Tommy, don’t climb the fence! You still have to stay at your house.”

“Says you. My daddy and me been all over the place.”

“You wore masks?”

“Daddy says only muzzims and wimps wear masks. We went shopping for our big party this afternoon. Come over, Marlie.”


“Why not? Your mommy?

Marlie fell silent at the sting of Tommy’s tone.

“Come on, Marlie. I’ve missed playing with you.”

“I’ve missed playing with you Tommy. But I’ll stay at home. Because of science, not my mommy.

“My daddy says scientists don’t know nothing.”

“Goodbye Tommy.”

Marlie stumbled past the dirt pile, the tree fort, went inside to use a tissue and wash her hands.

### ###

square-template40.png“Tommy, don’t climb the fence! You still have to stay at your house.”

“Nu-uh. My daddy and me been shopping for our party this afternoon.”

“I had a party with my mom and dad too.”

“No, we’re having a real party, with daddy’s friends. There’ll be tons of good food— kool-aid, cheese puffs.”

“Yuck! That’s not good food! It’s not nourishing.”

“Who says, your mommy?


“Scientists don’t know nothing. You coming over? I’ve missed playing with you.”

“Goodbye Tommy.”

Marlie stumbled past the dirt pile, the tree fort, went inside to use a tissue and wash her hands.

### ###

six sentence story copy            Liz suspected it had to do with the widening gulf between their family and Tommy’s, but so far hadn’t guessed correctly at the exact cause of Marlie’s grief. Through Marlie’s hiccupping sobs she was able to determine that she had seen Tommy at the fence. She missed being able to come and go, and play with Tommy at the dirt pile and the tree fort, but it wasn’t that; and it wasn’t because Marlie knew she wasn’t able to go to the large gathering Tommy’s family was having; Tommy had said mean words, and Marlie didn’t think she could ever be Tommy’s friend again, but it wasn’t that either.

“Then what is it, Marlie, why are you so upset?” Liz asked, brushing tear dampened bangs away from the girl’s face.

“I’m worried about Tommy, and even all his daddy’s friends; don’t they know they could die?”

Liz quickly tucked her daughter’s sobbing face under her chin to hide from Marlie her own tears, held her tight while she waited to catch her own breath enough to tell Marlie that it would be okay, that everything would be all right.

### ###

Longings CRLC Challenge

square-template37A second post for the current Carrot Ranch 99 word challenge, which is to “write a story that features long boards. They can be used in any way you imagine, including a name for sporting equipment. How are they used and who is using them? Go where the prompt leads!”

I was led to write more of Marlie and her family’s story in three 99 word segments. These episodes resolve the situation created here when Marlie’s Destiny Doll foresaw a pregnancy. That story was continued here when Marlie saw herself getting a dog. The family’s present circumstances make this a good time to get a dog.



“Is there room on your longboard for me?”

“Sure Mommy.”

Mother and daughter paddled idly in the backyard while Marlie’s dad augered postholes. “So tell me about the fence.”

“It’s split rail ‘cause that’s the easiest, but then we have to put wire mesh on it so Daisy doesn’t get out. She’ll have to stay at home too. These planks will be for a vegetable garden. I’m going to grow carrots for me and Daisy.”

“Are you bored, Marlie?”

“I miss my friends… See those two posts by Tommy’s trail? Daddy’s making a gate there for Tommy. For after.”


Liz hopped off the longboard and splashed through the grass to stand with her husband when he finally lay the auger down.

“Who would have ever augured all this, Bill?”

“What? That I’m putting up a fence before Tommy’s grumpy father?”

Grumpy? Pfft. No. You know. I used to get a little jealous of you and Marlie working from home all day. Guess what?”

“I know; you are desperate to get away from us and our messy projects.” He smeared her cheeks with his dirty thumbs before kissing her.

“Only for eight hours. I’m not such a horrid mother.”


“Liz, you are a wonderful mother. Exhibit A,” and he spun her so she could see Marlie, the longboard now a balance beam. She surprised him by turning back and sobbing into his chest.

“It was easier when I could go to work, Bill, but now I think about the miscarriage every day.”

“Daddy, why are you and Mommy crying?”

“Because Marlie, a while ago we thought we were going to have a baby. But we’re not.”

“I thought that too, that we’d have a baby.” Marlie looked at them shrewdly. “But we are still getting a dog, right?”

Longboard CRLC Challenge

Board Games

He skated into the park on the longest longboard any of us had ever seen; stood nonchalantly mid-deck, told us his name was TuKu.

He held everyone’s attention as his due, reveling in the anticipatory silence as we clutched our boards, shuffled in our Vans. Like a patient teacher, TuKu waited for Sammi to follow suit, but Sammi just kept rocking in place, tip to tail.

“Catch me, Not-So-Ku,” she said, and was instantly on the rail, landing after a double kickflip. We breathed, grinned. Nothing had changed.

“Come on,” we invited TuKu, and followed Sammi best we could.


square-template37.pngMeanwhile, back at the ranch… The April 30, 2020, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features long boards. They can be used in any way you imagine, including a name for sporting equipment. How are they used and who is using them? Go where the prompt leads!

Here’s a second take on the prompt, just something weird that came to me. 


The old wooden skis had hung on the wall ever since I could remember. I’ll never forget how Granpa’s eyes twinkled like stars on a winter’s night as he proclaimed they just needed fresh klister, already warming in a crucible. Smiling through his snow-white beard, Granpa spread and scraped molten wax onto the bases of the skis, rubbed it smooth with the heels of his wizened hands. He told me he had waited his whole life to make these longboards sing.

I held the door. Then SWISH! Granpa was kicking up fresh powder, carving tracks along the Milky Way.

Returning CRLC Challenge

square-template28Though a response to the Carrot Ranch April 16, 2020, prompt to write a story about something crazy in 99 words (no more, no less), it is also a follow up to two Six Sentence Stories, Rebuked, and Rebuked Again. You might want to read those first. 


“Guess we’ll pack up,” said Bill.

Of course hunting was off. Aaron noticed they’d removed the bolt from his rifle. “You guys must think I’m nuts.”

Harry spoke. “Dad’ll know what to do.”

Always Dad; not my dad, or our dad. Dad. But theirs. Not Aaron’s.

“Guys, let’s go sledding down Bear Hill. Like that time.” He saw the brothers both smile at remembering a long ago weekend at this camp with their dad. And with him. Aaron remembered having a crazy idea then that he could be their brother too, could say the word dad capitalized, fully formed.

Crazy Shift CRLC Challenge

farcow5.gifHorn Blowin

“Shorty’s on ‘bout uni-corns agin. “

“Shorty’s crazy ‘bout uni-corns.”

“I ’member the second uni-corn prompt, February 22, 2018. Was you ‘roun fer the first, June 4, 2014?”

“Course I was ‘roun the Ranch. Jist didn’t know it yet. Kin tell ya thet was Shorty’s 100th Carrot Ranch post ‘an her 14th 99 word challenge. If’n ya read thet post you’ll see how steady she’s been all these years. ‘Ceptin’ fer the uni-corn thing. She suggested, ‘snap the halters off our inner unicorns’. Hmmf.”

“Well, Pal, it don’t git more free range ‘an that. Mebbe uni-corns ain’t so crazy.”

square-template28.pngAt Carrot Ranch, the April 16, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something crazy. Laugh like crazy, show the setting of stir-crazy or go off the rails on a crazy train. Have fun with the word and the situation, but go where the prompt leads! (Respond by April 21) 

The prompt seems to be working for my yahoo characters better than for me. So indulge them if you will for four sequenced Ranch Yarns, each 99 words, no more, no less..

Crazy Shift           (Like Craft Cider, Comes in a 4-Pac)

“Aw, shift, Kid, what’re ya up to?”

“Been thinkin’, Pal.”


“Thinkin’ Head Quarters should reflect the Ranch an’ vice versa. I’m fixin’ on how ta fix hosses inta uni-corns. Ya’d think it’d be an easy thing ta git toilet paper tubes…”

“Kid, ya cain’t jist braid tubes onta the forelock an’ call thet a horn. Ya gotta look it the hoss’s genes.”

“Yer stir crazy. Hosses don’t wear jeans. Oh! Genes. Reckon I could start by s’lectin’ the hosses got stars on their foreheads.”

“Blazes no, Kid. Ya gotta look fer the ones got stars in their eyes.”


“Gonna send Pepe back up ta HQ, ta utilize his connections ta the universities. Thinkin’ there’s some nerds with time on their hands could do some genetic engineerin’ fer this uni-corn project.”

“Kid, they’s all workin’ on more practical things than horned hosses. Anyways, Pepe’s out there scratchin’ his head, eyein’ the groun.’”

“Huh… Pepe!”

“Keed, look. Dees ees not farfennugen.”

“No, too big. Are they skittles?”

“Dees ees too beeg to be Skeetles. Ees size of horse poop, but colors of da rainbow. Keed… dees ees unicorn excrement!”

“You mean?”

“Oui! Dere ees a unicorn on Carrot Ranch!”


“Let’s hit the trail! Why, if we kin find this uni-corn we’ll… we’ll… uh, Pal, some hep here?”

“Hep yersef. Jist what will ya do if’n ya track down thet uni-corn?”

“Reckon I’d rope it.”

“Uh-huh. Then whut?”

“Well, guess I’d lead it back ta the Ranch. Corral it.”

“Uh-huh. Or git it inta a stall. Think it’d be happy, roped an’ corralled?”

“Not at first. But…”

“But what? You gonna tame it?”

“Yeah. Tame it an’ train it. Till it’s—”

“Docile as any old plug?”


“Some things cain’t never be undone, Kid.”

“I’ll leave it be.”


“Pal! I have foun’ the true power a uni-corns!”

“Shift! Kid I thought you was gonna leave thet animal alone!”

“I am, Pal. In fact Pepe an’ me been goin’ roun’ gatherin’ up any rainbow colored droppin’s so’s to protect it. I been takin’ the uni-corn manure out ta ma little off-shoot Poet Tree behind the Saddle Up Saloon. An’ that tree is growin’! I’ll be climbin’ out on a limb in no time.”

“Ya been outta yer tree fer a while. We kin all use some buckaroo-ku these days, Kid.”

“Okay, Pal.”

among friends

gathering rainbows

crazy shift



This essential establishment is OPEN! 



He hadn’t expected they’d get shot at for trying to land at the airport.

It’s not the virus, just cancer; her dying wish is to spend her last days at the cottage.

He flew low along the deserted shoreline, circled back into the wind. Resisting the compulsion to shield her face, he kept his hands clenched on the yoke, Nose up, come on, there it is, yeah!

Here we are, Dear, let’s just catch our breath before getting you settled in the cottage. I’ll unload the plane before the tide comes in, then together we shall enjoy the sunset, you and I.

****   ***   ****

six sentence story copyLanding             

Wondering what he would do now, he guided the Cessna in wide lazy circles, climbing higher and higher over the airport below, found her hand when she mumbled groggily, told her gently, Almost, Dear, we’re almost there.

Though he’d anticipated some trouble on the ground he had expected to at least be allowed to land, where he’d prevail upon their mercy. We’ve been quarantining, we don’t have that dreaded virus, he’d imagined himself explaining, it’s just cancer and her dying wish is to spend her last days at the cottage.

But the tower voice, terse and tense, had informed him that if he continued his approach he would be shot out of the sky, told him You’re not landing here, just go back where you came from.

Flying away from the airport, he descended, then flew low along the deserted shoreline, turned the plane one more time, into the wind that bent the dune grass, slowed the plane as much as he could, Nose up, nose up, come on, praying the wheels didn’t dig in or a wing drop and catapult them and now the prop flicked slowly, slowly round like the last bit of film off the reel and he flew that plane, hovered it, hands gripping the yoke when what he really wanted to do was shield her face and protect her, but he held on, Here we go, come on, there it is, yeah!

You slept through the landing, Dear, a couple of bumps, but not bad, I’ll just catch my breath before I carry you to the cottage and get you settled, unload the plane before the tide comes in; then we shall enjoy the sunset.

****   ***   ****

The first is 99 words and six sentences, the second six sentences and 280 words.    The 99 word challenge from Carrot Ranch was to include “shield your face” and the Six Sentence Story prompt from Denise at GirlieOnThe Edge is “circle”. 

Saddle Up Fer M’fundays

See that new widget just to the right? No, we don’t really look at the widgets, do we, and for all I know it looks totally different on your device. But my top widget is the graphic for the weekly Saddle Up Saloon feature at Carrot Ranch. If you click on that widget you will be transported to the Saloon archive page at Carrot Ranch. If you follow Charli Mill’s blog, or if you pay close attention around the blogosphere and surrounds, you will have noticed that Mondays are fun days at the ranch and that my Ranch Yarn mainstay characters, Kid and Pal, are running a saloon. Yep. Fiction is funner than facts and that’s the truth. New posts at the break of Monday, or midnight Sunday, your choice, but -ish either way.

The Saddle Up Saloon is a judgment free, pandemic-free zone, so come unmasked, ungloved, and hug at your own discretion. Come to relax and unwind or to rub elbows and be seen on the scene. And, you or your characters are welcome to be featured guests, artists, or to even work the bar.

Since the introduction of the Saddle Up Saloon both Chelsea Owens and Anne Goodwin  strode through those swinging doors. This week we are visited by fictional friends Ernest Biggs and Marge Small who, along with Kid and Pal, offer an opportunity for your own characters to step out and step up. Next week, April 20, Geoff Le Pard will unleash two of his mop-topped characters into the Saloon, that event already being touted as the latest British Invasion.

Anything is possible in the world of fiction, if you can imagine it. Check out the Saddle Up Saloon and email me at with Saloon in the subject line if you have an offer I shouldn’t refuse. Ideas welcome.

Disclaimer? Fictional characters Kid and Pal are in charge.

Anything you’ve said or printed may be used to promote you.


Open 24/7   Fresh Fun Served Ev’ry Monday


Resurrection CRLC Challenge

th.jpegCharli’s prompt to use the phrase ‘shield your face’ follows her post about shields in this ongoing pandemic. Responses will likely implicitly or explicitly reflect current events.

Anne Goodwin has written a few posts about the impact of the pandemic on our reading and writing as well as general outlook.

Maybe Charli and Anne’s debate on pessimism and denial continues their past discussions on the hero’s journey.

We are all in caves right now. The prompt led me underground. Dark yes, but consider that a daffodil’s emergence into the light depends on its time in the dark.

Happy Easter.

th-1.jpeg                    ***


The beauty that Narcissus wore like a mask caused such pain.

Would it have made a difference had the blind seer told Narcissus to shield his face?

It might have to those who loved him blindly. Enamored of his countenance but scorned by his narrow heart, Echo lost her self, could only voice others’ words.

Narcissus was most lost of all, never knowing himself, not even when he finally viewed his own likeness.

Unless Narcissus reflected at that shallow pool; maybe he did not perish of thirst and longing as is told. Dark and light mirror. Beauty refracts depths.



Demeter wondered should she have warned her daughter to shield her face, hide her beauty? But Hades was already smitten. As Persephone bent to pick a narcissus flower, the Earth split and the maiden was taken below.

As queen of the Underworld, Persephone enjoyed welcoming new arrivals. She was torn with desire for her mother’s green world and this dark world of Hades, her husband; she could not shield her sadness from him. Lips blood red from the pomegranate seeds, Persephone returned, bringing life and light up from the depths of the Earth. Each winter she renews her vows.




April 9, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that declares, shield your face. It can be a knight of old, a doctor, or a senior citizen. What is the circumstance? Who makes the declaration? Go where the prompt leads!

Taking Charge CRLC Challenge

square-template9-1.pngThe Carrot Ranch March 26, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge. Who is this character, and what situation calls for their action? It can be playful or serious, fantastical, or realistic. Go where the prompt leads!

I also encourage you to backtrack over to Carrot Ranch to read Charli’s posts that prompt her prompts. You’ll be glad you did.

Taking Charge

She cracked the front door, her face a bruised sunrise. “I walk into doors,” she offered. “I’m learning though, either shut them tight or open them wide.”

“I would like to speak with the man of the house.”

Over her shoulder, thin pale legs scampered up the stairs. She blocked the rest of the view into the home.

“He’s not here.”

“When shall I call again?”

The woman paused, straightened. “He had to go away.”

“When will he return?”

“He couldn’t say. Now, do you want to talk to the man of the house or to who’s in charge?”