CRLC Challenge; Her Crowning Glory

square-template89.pngHere ‘s the July 30, 2020, prompt from Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the phrase “her crowning glory.” (Thanks to Anne Goodwin for the prompt idea.) It can be in the traditional sense of a woman’s hair or applied to any idea of a best attribute. What happens if you play with the meaning or gender? Go where the prompt leads!

I allowed the prompt to go pretty wild. Kid and Pal took three 99-word segments to resolve their conundrum. See that at the Ranch or HERE. Then there is the following strange tale. 

Never Mind   by D. Avery

Never mind what exactly the boys said, the gestures they made. It was rude. It was disrespectful. And how they waited for her response, grinning, still taunting. Who would treat an elder this way?

She calmly unpinned her gray bun, shook loose her long hair. She stood tall, her hair now a high wind whipping and lashing the cowering boys. She watched, impassive, her hair now a frenzied torrential rain that pelted the whimpering boys.

Then she brushed her hair, now a golden sun, a dazzling halo. And she wound it back into a gray bun, her crowning glory.

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CRLC Challenge; Protecting Nature

“If we allow ourselves to believe that nature, to be true, must also be wild, then our very presence in nature represents its fall. The place where we are is a place where nature is not… We thereby leave ourselves little hope of discovering what an ethical, sustainable, honorable human place in nature might actually look like.”                                                          William Cronon- (from Uncommon Ground, Towards Reinventing Nature)

square-template86.pngAt Carrot Ranch this week the July 23 prompt has been (the week is almost past!) to “write a story to show what it is to protect nature around us”. This shouldn’t have been such a tough prompt, but here I am, past the deadline and with no real story. Then a rare visit from common birds as I sat out on my deck prompted these 99 words:

Privileged,   D. Avery

They swept through like a squall, igniting the canopy, alighting on branches that swayed and bent under their weight, climbed tree trunks like woodpeckers. The actual woodpeckers stopped their work and watched, astounded at this swarm of grackles. The surprised robin watched their feeding frenzy from an uppermost perch of a slender maple before flying off. I bore witness. What appears as pillage must surely be feeding on insects invisible to my eye.

Some people say grackles are useless. Others tell me these trees block the view.

I don’t listen. I know a good thing when I see it.

###

I had already been reminded of an earlier prompt and a fictional story I’d written, Neighbors, when the bird world in front of me erupted with the arrival of the grackles. I was glad to be present for something that was not at all extraordinary for its naturalness; not extraordinary, though I’ve never before seen so many grackles in my bit of yard, have never seen them feeding in the treetops as they did. It was extraordinary enough to stoke my sense of wonder, as Rachel Carson would say. If you want to serve nature, maintain and spread a sense of wonder and respect for all your neighbors, fauna and flora. See it and celebrate it wherever you might be.

CRLC Challenge; Scream Inside Your Heart (#2)

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Okay, one more for the Carrot Ranch challenge:the July 16, 2020, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary Community: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that expresses the phrase, “scream inside your heart.” Who is involved and why is the scream contained? Go where the prompt leads! 

Makeup           D. Avery

Mother is a proper lady. Me too. We always dress nice. And we never raise our voices.
Mother wears makeup and lipstick that makes her even more pretty. I’m too young for that makeup. Sometimes Mother uses makeup that covers where her skin is blue and yellow. I told her once that makeup makes me angry. What he does. She said shush, never mind.
I was sad then. Shush, don’t make a scene, she said.
Today I got to use that covering makeup. I’m scared. I scream inside my heart, so quietly no one sees my heart is breaking.

CRLC Challenge; Scream Inside Your Heart

square-template82.pngUneventful Flight       by D. Avery

After an uneventful flight she’d taken a cab direct to the hospital, carrying only a hastily packed shoulder bag. The nurse’s smile of compassion and encouragement was like that of the flight attendant who had misinterpreted her obvious anxiety for a fear of flying. “You’re fine,” she’d assured her, “Everything’s okay.”

Now the nurse was telling her that he was stable, that there’d be more surgeries; warned her what to expect. “You’ll do fine. He’ll recognize his mother’s voice.”

Taking a deep breath, she went in; spoke soothing words, even over the echoes of the scream inside her heart.

 

These 99 words of fiction were written in response to the July 16, 2020, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary Community: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that expresses the phrase, “scream inside your heart.” Who is involved and why is the scream contained? Go where the prompt leads! 

Head over to the Ranch to read, write, and play.rwr-1

Spamming; CRLC Challenge

square-template79.pngActually, the July 9, 2020 prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary Community this week is to, “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that answers the question, who is Monreal Dorb. You can imagine the life of this fictitious person in any era or circumstance. Is there cause and effect at play? Go where the prompt leads!” Spamming comes up in Charli’s post. So does gardening, little critters, and writing craft. All leading me to the following response.

 

Canned Goods             by D. Avery

“Live around here?”
Wary, but staying planted in the paltry shade of the parking lot tree. “Around.” The constant circuit of shelters and flophouses; what her mother had called ‘da orbit’.
“What’s your name?”
Wondering why that matters. Eyeing cases of canned goods in the cart. Hunger always a dull ache pacing a wire cage but add today’s heat, she’s weak kneed from it. Named for a city her mother’d always tried to return to, she pronounces her first name the way she, with her missing front teeth, had. “Monreal. Monreal Dorb.” Finally is given a can of Spam.

A Blossoming Scene; CRLC & SixSentenceStories

A little late with a Six Sentence Story where the word prompt is “line“, but have combined that with the Carrot Ranch Literary Community July 2, 2020, prompt to “in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the word blossom.The idea of lining bees came, then I realized the characters suited for that would be that Vermont farm family. First I wrote it as it came without counting sentences or words; it was 298 words. I then reconstructed and deleted to meet these prompts. After all that I feel they are each some sort of draft, and highly recommend the exercise.

six sentence story copy(Six Sentences; 217 words)

“I’ll be staying right here until this truck runs right again, so you two go line bees without me.”

He understood he was not to go with them but he watched as they stepped into the uncropped clover that aproned the barn where, as if moved by a gentle breeze, the purple blossoms, held aloft on trifoliate flagged stems, nodded and swayed with the weight of honeybees.

“We start right here, Hope,” she said, “We watch these bees load up with pollen, see which direction they go when they are done gathering; we follow.”

When Hope said “They buzz like sunshine, Mommy,” he knew it was true, that sunshine could be heard and felt as a buzz and hum, pulsating with life and promise; he heard it now and knew it was more than the bees on the clover, more than the tin of the shed roof beginning to ping as it warmed in the sun. He followed with his eyes as mother and daughter made their way across the meadow towards the hardwoods and though they used no compass or bee box he wouldn’t be surprised if they found the hive. He heard their laughter, a buzzing hum like sunshine and knew that even if they didn’t locate the hive, none of them would be disappointed.

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Three 99-word sections of the same story:

“Hope, have you ever lined bees?”

From under the truck hood he noted how her French Canadian accent was more pronounced with these sorts of questions, questions that might be asked of a much older person that she was working on getting to know, not of her own daughter. Like Hope, he also recognized it as an invitation, and he turned his head from his work to see the girl’s smile.

“I’ll be staying right here until this truck runs right again, so you two go line bees without me.” He understood he was not to go with them.

***

As if moved by a gentle breeze, the purple blossoms nodded and swayed under working honeybees.

“We start here, Hope. We watch these bees load up with pollen. Then we follow.”

“They buzz like sunshine, Mommy.” When Hope said that he knew it was true, that sunshine could be heard and felt, not just as heat but as a buzz and hum, pulsating with life and promise; he heard it now and knew it was more than the bees on the clover, more than the tin of the shed roof beginning to ping as it warmed in the sun.

***

He followed with his eyes as mother and daughter made their way across the meadow towards the hardwoods. Though they used no compass or bee box he wouldn’t be surprised if they found the hive. The pair paused. Though too far to see he knew they were at another patch of clover blossom, that they were again observing the bees, recalibrating their line. Looking across to where his wife and daughter crouched together he felt as much as heard their laughter, a buzzing hum like sunshine. Even if they didn’t locate the hive, none of them would be disappointed.

******

square-template12.pngOne 99-word version of the story:

As if moved by a gentle breeze, the purple blossoms nodded and swayed under working honeybees.

“They buzz like sunshine, Mommy.”

“We’ll follow when they take off with their pollen.”

Mother and daughter set across the meadow towards the hardwoods. Though they used no compass or bee box he wouldn’t be surprised if they found the hive. He saw his wife and daughter crouched at what must be another patch of clover. Well out of hearing range, he felt their laughter, a buzzing hum like sunshine. Even if they didn’t locate the hive, none of them would be disappointed.

******

Deep Waters CRLC Challenge

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Overlapping by D. Avery

She was eighty years my senior, I the youngest child of her youngest child’s oldest child. From the 20 years our lives overlapped I have only a handful of memories, recalled like sepia snapshots. But if I examine any one of those snapshot memories of us together, somewhere in the frame, in distinct shiny color, is her queen conch shell.th Me trying to fathom the spindrift shell, she saying put it to your ear, smiling as ageless ocean washes over me in a rushing tide; us, swimming easily, floating in timeless deep waters that muffle all but that moment.

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The Carrot Ranch June 11, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about deep waters. It can be literal or metaphorical. Think of a place and person and situation. Explore. Bathe. Renew. Go where the prompt leads!

I’m late this week as I thought a different story was headed my way, but the above memory is where the prompt led. Then I got a surprise visit from two characters that haven’t been around much lately, but who have their own page, The Fold

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Emerging by D. Avery

He and Hope followed the brook through the softwoods to his favorite fishing spot. But when Hope saw the clear deep pool she was no longer interested in catching trout. She became a trout, flashing sleek and slippery through the water.

Hope stood briefly, a little girl again. Then she knelt beneath the surface, remained curled up on the gravel bottom. He held his own breath until finally Hope unfolded, emerging at last from the cold water. Solemnly she disclosed that she’d been a rock for ten million years.

“There’s magic here, Daddy.”

“Yes, Hope. I see it too.”

****   ****   ****

Sojourners; CRLC Challenge

Sojourners, D. Avery

“I know you want to go too, Liz. But I’m going without a pass.”

“Pass? Oh…”

“I can’t explain it Liz, but I want to go this alone; stripped of my prestige and privilege, just me in my own skin, by my own self.”

“I’m afraid for you Toni.”

“That’s why I’m going to D.C.”

“Let me go with you. We’ll bring the girls’ capes. Crusade for justice. Together. For all.”

“Justice for all… all lives matter. But this is about black lives, about those who have never yet experienced justice. What matters is how black people are living.”

###

“I want to help.”

“Good. Help me fill my car with water and food for the protestors. And take good care of Sofie while I’m gone.”

“Bill can handle the girls…”

“Liz, I know you’re in this fight with me. Stay out of harm’s way.”

“I want to help.”

“You’re a lawyer. I need you here behind the lines. Besides, if you go with me we’ll both have to quarantine afterwards.”

“College roommates… hardworking professional women… Toni, I’ve only ever seen our similarities.”

“Color’s a difference we can’t ignore. Overcome? We can’t overcome. Not until there’s justice. For all.

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Another response to the Carrot Ranch  “Justice For All” challenge, this follows a Six Sentence Story “What’s Wrong” which followed “Destiny Dawning” which followed Spots, a previous CRLC challenge. Marlie and Sofie and their families are standing up and speaking out.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Wrong? #SixSentenceStories

six sentence story copy

The word from Denise this week is “passion”. Go to GirlieOntheEdge to add your impassioned six sentence story to the linky and to read others’. I am using the prompt to continue a Marlie thread from other recent prompts. Indulge me this double Six this week.

 

What’s Wrong, D. Avery

“Toni, Sofie, come in, Marlie’s in her room Sofie, and Toni, I have just two questions for you: patio or counter, tea or something stronger?”

“Patio, and I trust you and Tito to prepare an interesting tea.”

Liz garnished the drinks with passion-fruit and joined her friend out on the patio, where they sat in silence in the waning afternoon light. Finally Toni, squeezing Liz’s hand, sighed, “You always know just what to say, Liz, even at this time… with all this madness.”

“Thank you, but I haven’t said anything, Toni.”

“Exactly, Liz, and you won’t say anything as I bawl my eyes out right here, right now, won’t attempt comforting words or explanations or even apologies.”

###

Toni took up Liz’s pale hand again, examined it in her own. “I cry when I think about Sofie’s Great Northern Migration project, how she researched the story of my grandparents seeking a better life, of escaping oppression.”

“It’s so sad, so scary, Toni; I have nightmares— it is a nightmare.”

“When my Joe came home from Afghanistan he had nightmares; he was haunted by what he experienced there, but he went back, always a dutiful soldier, always passionate about serving his country. If he hadn’t gotten killed over there fighting for his country— for this country— I wonder would he have been killed here at the hands of this country? Because there’s still a wrong place, wrong time for those of us with the wrong color skin.”

Justice For All; CRLC Challenge

The June 4, 2020, prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about justice for all. It does not have to take place in America. Injustice exists anywhere. What is the story behind justice for all? Go where the prompt leads!

Injustice does exist anywhere, but the hard horrible historical and present fact is, injustice exists here. In my home country. It’s a hard truth, covered over for centuries by the thinning myths of the prevailing narratives. Solomon Burke sings, ‘If one of us is chained, none of us are free’. If one reads/hears that “us” as truly including all of us, everyone of us, the pluribus and not just this unum or that unum, there is yet some hope for all of us. There is only hope for any one of us if there can be justice for all.

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I encourage you to read Charli’s post.               In response to the Carrot Ranch challenge I present here two unrelated stories, each featuring familiar characters.                        There is also a related 99 word poem, Shutters

 

Flattening the Curve, D. Avery

The older woman slammed the loaded clip into her semiautomatic rifle. “This is for if they come by.” She tucked the handgun into her waistband. “This is if they come close.”

“Aunt Fannie!”

“What? I told you when you came here from college I was ready for anything this pandemic had to offer.” She chambered a round. “I don’t claim to be colorblind, but this rifle truly is. It delivers justice for all.”

“Auntie! You don’t have to be afraid of them.”

“Don’t I? We all do.”

“Black men aren’t inherently dangerous!”

“No shit. It’s white men I fear.”

###

 

Destiny Dawning, D. Avery

“What’s the matter, Mommy? It’s still dark.”

“Move over?”

Marlie lifted the covers and made room. “Did you have a nightmare?”

“Actually, Marlie, I did.”

“Don’t be afraid. Teddy? Or Destiny?”

Liz took the Destiny Doll, but what she really wanted— needed— was this, to just lie close with her little girl.

“Mommy, tomorrow can you make a cape for Destiny? And one for me and one for Sofie?”

“Sure. What color?”

“Every color!”

“Like a rainbow?”

“Rainbow colors, brown colors, black colors, tan colors— every color. We’re caped crusaders. Justice! For all!”

“Marlie, I’m feeling less afraid now.”