#99Word Stories; Well’s Gone Dry

The May 23, 2022, story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to explain “baby ducks ate my lunch.” write a story using the phrase “well’s gone dry.” Is it a real well or a metaphorical well? Why is it dry? What is the consequence and to whom? Go where the prompt leads! Submit at Carrot Ranch by May 28, 2022.

My response is a Double Ennead, a syllabic poetry form created by Colleen Cheseboro. A Double Ennead usually doesn’t rhyme but I played with a rhyme scheme.

Well’s Gone Dry by D. Avery      

in wind-stormed time of drought

nothing shines but rust

silt and sand swirled colors of the silent muse

faded promise wrung out

sunbaked bone and dust

in hard times, hard to trust

to shake fear and doubt

to beseech again and again be refused

one must do as one must

seeding one’s own clouds

with faith of rooting sprouts

breaking through the crust 

dream of green catching glistening drops of dew

if muse gasps, one must shout

wake up dreams long hushed

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

#99Word Stories; Baby Ducks

The April 4, 2022, story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to explain “baby ducks ate my lunch.” How did that happen? Who is the protagonist? Where did the baby ducks come from? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by April 9, 2022.

Learning Curve by D. Avery

“You’re keeping that Pickett boy after school? Don’t waste your time. Picketts are lazy liars. He actually says that a goat eats his homework.”

“It’s plausible,” said Mrs. K. “His family does raise animals.”

“You mean they live in a pigsty. And today in the cafeteria he wouldn’t eat, just sat there, said he usually brings lunch from home but that baby ducks ate it. Baby ducks!”

Mrs. K sighed as her colleague left. Then she went to her snack drawer, more concerned with what the ducks ate than what the goat ate, whether there were ducks or not.

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

#99Word Stories; Disappearances

The March 28, 2022, story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less),write a story about disappearance. It can be an event, act, or subtle theme. Who or what disappears? Does it fade or explode? Can it be explained or experienced? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by April 2, 2022 at Carrot Ranch.

Some of you may remember these characters:

Disappearing Acts by D. Avery

“Hope, you’ve been a while with your chickens this morning.”

“You won’t believe it. Hattie’s eggs are gone.”

“She’s sitting them.”

“Not anymore. Every single egg Hattie was sitting on has disappeared!”

“Hope, is this an April Fools’ joke?”

“I had nothing to do with the disappearing eggs.”

“Did a fox get them?”

“No, no fox.

“Huh. I wonder. Hattie must be upset.”

“She seems pretty happy they’re gone.”

“Okay, take me to the henhouse, show me these disappeared eggs.”

“Daddy! How can I show you something that’s disappeared? But I can show you something that has appeared. Chicks!”

XXX

“Why, look. Hattie’s already got them out scratching in the yard. They’ve forgotten all about those egg shells they’ve left behind.”

“The chicks will disappear too. Their downy feathers will disappear. But pinfeathers will appear, then real feathers. Even their shrill little peeps will disappear, replaced by clucking like Hattie’s.”

“You’re right Hope. Their spindly little legs will grow scaled and sturdy. Their wings will fill out and they’ll fly. Just like you.”

“Daddy!

“Daddy, remember when Hattie was a spunky little chick? Now she’s a spunky mother hen.”

“Yup. Disappearances, new appearances, and constants. Just like you.”

“Daddy!”

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

#99Word Stories; Free Pies

The March 14, 2022, prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less),write a story about free pie. What kind of pie and freedom? Who is involved with pies? How is it free? Go where the prompt leads!Submit at Carrot Ranch by March 19, 2022.

Sisters In Arms by D. Avery

“Remember our playhouse?”

“Hiding from our brothers?”

She moved some loose bricks. “We made a stone oven.”

“Yes! We’d make the most fantastic stews!”

“Shh.” She traced her friend’s thin raised cheekbone. “Our brothers might hear you.”

“One time they threw rocks, trapping us inside.”

“But we had mud pies. Traded pies for freedom.”

Outside, the Russian artillery continued to pound and pummel the neighborhood.

“I would eat one of those pies now. Let’s gather some ingredients, make a stew.”

But there was nothing in their small shelter, just a sliver of hope, which they shared to the last.

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

#99Word Stories; Robotic Writer

The March 7, 2022, prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a robotic writer. Is it an analogy or a battery-operated i-writer? Is it possible? What will happen if robots write? Go where the prompt leads! Submit at Carrot Ranch by March 12, 2022.

i-Cant by D. Avery

“Writing’s done! Let’s play!” 

“I can’t. My write-AH® is messed up.” 

“Mine works great. Even auto-publishes through Kindle. Maybe its batteries?”

“All that thing does is recharge its batteries, still no writing. Just hangs out in its dock. If I want it to write it just vacuums or brews coffee instead. I turned those functions off, double checked the writing program, pushed go. Later I hear ‘Help!’ The write-AH® is just twirling in place, says, ‘I’m stuck.’ Didn’t write anything.”

“That is messed up. So just do it the old way. It’s just 99 words.”

“I can’t. I’m stuck.”

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

#99Word Stories; Farm Life 2

Here is a second response to the Carrot Ranch February 28, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write about the farm life. Where is the farm and who are the farmers? What are they farming and why? How is the farm life? Go where the prompt leads!

Few dairy farmers keep a bull anymore. The can in the story refers to the container of liquid nitrogen for transporting seminal fluids.

Hard Day’s Night by D. Avery

Twenty-four hours never seems enough for a day on a dairy farm.

Arnold’s wife was perfectly capable of showing the AI man to the cows in estrus while he finished ditching and fencing the back-forty pasture. He was grateful that his wife was such a good farm hand. He hoped he wouldn’t be too tired for her at day’s end again.

Arnold chuckled thinking about the witty artificial insemination man; ‘The can dew man’.

Forty weeks later, calving kept Arnold from being with his wife in the delivery room.

A sudden realization had Arnold moaning louder than the cow.

XXX

When finally Arnold left the barn he gathered his thoughts in the cool night air. The ‘man with the can’ joked that AI stood for artificial intelligence, but he’d been real smart with the wives of overworked farmers, hadn’t he? People often commented that local farm kids all looked alike but then laughed it off as coincidence. 

The AI man. Promised efficiency and improved stock. ‘I get the job done— no bull!’ 

Arnold sighed. He wouldn’t confront his wife. Together they would raise the baby well; he’d love it as his own. 

Arnold would also be raising a bull.

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

#99Word Stories; Farm Life

I’m coming in last minute with a response to the Carrot Ranch February 28, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write about the farm life. Where is the farm and who are the farmers? What are they farming and why? How is the farm life? Go where the prompt leads!

Animal Husbandry by D. Avery

“I don’t think I could be a farmer.”

“I like growing food for the community.” 

“I know, but look at them, milling about in their pens. Don’t you get attached? I know we all need the food, but it must be hard having to butcher them.”

“You get used to it. You just treat them well until that time. All they know is that they are well cared for.” 

“Hard to believe this species used to run wild.” 

“And now humans are farmed. If we hadn’t taken over this planet and domesticated them, the species wouldn’t even have survived.”

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

#SixSentenceStories & #99Words; I’d rather be mundane

The February 21 Carrot Ranch 99-word challenge is to, in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “I’d rather be…” The prompt word from Six Sentence Stories this week is “mundane”, to be used in six and only six sentences. Submit through Saturday for both prompts. The link opens tomorrow at six for Six Sentence Stories. (coincidence?) Both of these lil stories qualify for the Carrot Ranch prompt, but only the first one is a Six. But the second one came first and led to the first which was second and is a six, as well as a 99. 10-4?

Slow Burn by D. Avery

There was work here, but my daughters would rather be working in the city. They worked in the creamery for a little while before leaving, always complained, said the work was boring, mundane. 

Said the same about farm chores, and that, as far as I’m concerned, is blasphemy. 

You find the patterns, the rhythm of any task, do it well and mindfully, you bring that work to a higher level; your work raises you up! That’s how you get your wood cut and stacked, that’s what keeps your fire burning. 

I’m sad my daughters never learned to appreciate that.

My daughters! Would stomp their feet and rail that they’d rather be anywhere but here. And they went, as soon as they could. 

When they visit they plead with me to move away too, live closer to them. I can stomp my feet too! I remind them I was born here. They say they were too. Like I don’t know that!

And they harp on me about my wood stove! At least modernize, they urge. 

No. I don’t do much anymore, but I keep the fire going. For the day they know they’d rather be home than anywhere else.

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete Zipper Collection from last week’s challenge.

#99Word Stories; Zipper

The February 14, 2022, Carrot Ranch Literary Community prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about zippers. What are the zippers for? What challenges do they present to the story? Go where the prompt leads! Respond at Carrot Ranch by February 19; published next Wednesday at Carrot Ranch.

As always, Kid and Pal have also reacted to the prompt, which you will find corralled at their Ranch Yarns page. They’d be glad to have you drop by.

Open Heart by D. Avery

Little fingers tickled where they brushed white chest hairs.

“Gramps, what’s this zipper?”

“On my memory chest? It keeps them from spilling out.”

“Memories? Memories are up here.” The child tapped the side of his head.

There? No! That’s for times tables and state capitals and things you don’t really need to remember. Memories are kept close to the heart, never to be forgotten.”

“Zip!” The child ran his finger down the length of the scar. The old man pulled out memories, sharing stories until, sleepily, the boy zipped him back up, with another memory added to his chest.

Be sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete Anxiety Collection from last week’s challenge.

#99Word Stories; Anxiety

The February 7, 2022, Carrot Ranch Literary Community prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes anxiety. Who has anxiety or what is the source? Is there conflict? How can you use anxiety to further a story? Go where the prompt leads! Respond at Carrot Ranch by February 12; published next Wednesday at Carrot Ranch.

I am in with two unrelated flashes. I also have responded with Ranch Yarns.

Re-entry by D. Avery

“Breathe,” she reminded herself going through the gate.

The woman watched her approach, accusing eyes penetrating her, scanning her bag, evaluating.

Just one bag?

Breathe. Just answer the questions. Stay calm.

What’s the nature of your visit? How long do you intend to stay?

She’d already made these declarations. Why another grilling?

She stammered out her responses, lightheaded with anxiety. Why was it always this way? Why couldn’t she handle herself better by now?

A man appeared beside the woman with the accusing eyes.

“Everything okay here?”

They both looked at him. Her anxiety subsided.

“Yeah Dad. Everything’s okay.”

Faith by D. Avery

Grinning, he stamped snow off his boots.

“You’re something else,” he exclaimed.

She looked at him, uncomprehending.

“You made snow angels!”

She smiled weakly, petting the dog. Here’s an angel, she thought.

She wouldn’t tell him that with fogged glasses she’d lost her bearings in the pitch black; that she’d fallen in the deep snow then flailed wildly, panicked, trapped in a whirling vortex of anxiety; that even after regaining her footing, she’d still felt completely lost until barking directed her to the house, stumbling and sobbing with relief.

She would let him believe she’d intentionally made snow angels.