#SixSentenceStory; Filter

It’s Six Sentence Story time again, in which we are given a prompt word and the challenge to write a story in six sentences, no more, no less. Sometimes, while the end marks may only number six, the sentences get stretched, the syntax strained, semi-colons and conjunctions pushed to their limits, as in the following. Regardless, here’s Ernest and Marge, actually working in Ernest’s two bay garage. Thank you Denise for the prompt and the link up.

Unfiltered

“Mrs. Blanchard, what a surprise, that is, well, I thought, since that last time, that is, well, I thought you only went to Henry’s now for your auto repair needs.”

Sensing Ernest’s discomfort, Marge shut the hood of the car she’d been working on, stepped forward, and extended her oil stained hand to the infamous Hildegard Blanchard.

“Hello, I’m Marge Small; I can have a look at your car for you Mrs. Blanchard,” but the infamous Hildegard Blanchard just stared at the extended oil stained hand, then looked Marge up and down, and snorted “Small?” before turning back to Ernest.

“Henry has become simply impossible, like all the others, Mr. Biggs, but tell me,” she said, hitching her chin towards Marge, “are you really this desperate now, or is this some sort of equal opportunity employment scheme?” which caused Ernest’s eyes to grow even wider as he watched Marge over the infamous Hildegard Blanchard’s shoulder but to his surprise Marge just shrugged and said again that she’d be happy to let Mrs. Blanchard know what was wrong with her car, so Ernest assured Mrs. Blanchard that Marge Small, in addition to being his fiancée, was a top notch mechanic and diagnostician.  

The infamous Hildegard Blanchard snorted again but led Marge to the parked vehicle that blocked the open garage bay door, and after wondering aloud how someone like Marge could land a man when she clearly had never even heard of a manicure, she explained that while she couldn’t say what was wrong with her car, she was certain it wasn’t running properly but that none of the auto shops could be bothered to look at it, let alone fix it for her.

Even wide-eyed hand-wringing Ernest seemed surprised by Marge’s immediate and incisive diagnosis, when she said, “I can tell you right now, without even lifting the hood, Mrs. Blanchard, if you had a filter this car would be running smooth as silk,” so he asked Marge what kind of filter she thought the car needed, but she clarified; “I’m talking about Mrs. Blanchard, Ernest, the car’s needing a tune up is just a symptom of her problem.”

CRLC Challenge; Butterfly & Stone

I’ll tell you the January 7 prompt from Charli at Carrot Ranch, but as always it’s a real fine post that goes with it, worth clicking on over there. Okay, the prompt is, “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the contrasting prompts butterfly and stones. The two can be used in any way in your story. Go where the prompt leads!” Though butterflies are the more obvious symbol of reflective change, both butterflies and stones go through transformations. In my first response I revisited the Dillard essay entitled “Teaching a Stone To Talk”. In my second, I took advantage of the setting offered by this prompt and used it to visit with Marge and Ernest. You may recall that the gang built a Zen garden and a pagoda style she-shed for this couple to encourage their nuptials. (If you go to their page to catch up, you might want to scroll all the way down to “Archway”.) Either way, there’s more to this scene.

Learning

In “Teaching A Stone To Talk” Annie Dillard states that we’ve desecrated the groves and sacred places, “have moved from pantheism to pan-atheism”, and so “Nature’s silence is its one remark”; “The silence is all there is” and this silence is our own doing.

I wonder; who are we then, to presume to teach a stone to talk? We need to learn to listen!

It isn’t easy work; it requires great attention and practice. But the stone has much to say about patience, endurance, and transformation.

Look. A butterfly lands whisper-winged on a lichen-cloaked stone. Watch and learn. Listen.


Emergence

“I’m glad it’s Nard in there, Ilene.”

“Really?”

“I’m glad you’re here with me. See Marge’s plants with all those butterflies on them? That’s my stomach.”

“Oh, Ernest. It’s all good. She’ll be out soon.”

From the stoop of the singlewide, Ernest looked across the river of stones of the Zen garden to the closed pocket door of the she-shed, while Ilene studied the butterflies adorning the buddleia and echinacea.

“Blue! Limenitis…? Ernest, have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”

Ernest was looking at Marge, finally emerging from the pagoda styled shed in a blue dress.

“No, not ever.”   

Limenitis arthemis astyanax

Change; SixSentenceStory

The Pickup

“Jeezus, Ernest, are we sure about this?”

“Well, we’ve been taking Vinny to school, and to the diner, and fishing; we get involved with him and his mother at holidays; we’ve met with Social Services and been approved to be foster parents— yeah, we’re sure. Aren’t we?”

“Yes, of course we are, Ernest, because Vinny needs us; it’s just I never dreamed that with all the interventions and scrutiny, his mother wouldn’t get her shit together for that boy.”

“Guess she couldn’t manage that, Marge, so we’re up, and yeah, I’m scared. A live-in teenager— huge change for us.”

***

“When Ilene was barking orders for both of us to come get Vinny, did she happen to mention how the three of us were going to fit into your truck, Ernest?”

“We’ll fit, won’t we Vinny, like three peas in a pod. Let me just lift the console up and we’ll give peas a chance.”

Marge and Ernest couldn’t see Vinny’s slight smile in the dim dashboard glow of the truck cab and were startled from their own musings when he said he had a peas full feeling now that they had come for him.

“My mother is not capable of changing, you know,” he continued, “but this time I didn’t do anything, didn’t leave, didn’t defend myself, just stood there and let her whale on me with whatever came to hand, and this time they couldn’t help her make excuses. No pain, no gain,” he sighed, and awkwardly but firmly Marge took his hand in hers as Ernest drove them home.


While our Six Sentence Story host, Denise, claims the rule is six sentences exactly, I have two sets of six here. The first is also 99 words exactly and uses the now expired December 10 challenge prompt from Carrot Ranch, “never dreamed”. I wrote two 99 word scenes that precede these but never posted them, though I did leave them in the comments at the Ranch. The second of those is also six sentences and includes “change“. Six Sentence readers will recognize Vinny as a student that Ilene Higginbottom looks out for at the school she works at as administrative assistant.

CRLC Challenge; Mice

square-template12Yikes, I almost didn’t make it for the latest Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s weekly flash fiction challenge, but Ilene Higginbottom insisted (finally) on the following. The prompt was to write a story of mice, in 99 words, no more no  less.

Caught Out  by D. Avery

“I’ve always been handy at catching them, but I end up feeling bad for them. They can be so cute.”

“Hi girls.” Though late in joining Ilene and Kristof, Marge jumped right into the conversation. “You can’t feel bad for them Ilene. They’re dirty, they get all through your stuff… there’s no living with them.”

Ilene’s brows went up, but she agreed with Marge. “Yes, I have definitely found that it is easier to live without them than learning to live with them.”

“Don’t be soft, Ilene. You have to kill them.”

“Marge, we’re talking about men, not mice.”

CRLC Challenge; Lemon Queens

square-templateThe August 27, 2020, Carrot Ranch prompt is still to, in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features Lemon Queens. This is a second response and it continues a Six Sentence Story which continued a 99 word story which I seem to have only posted in the comments at Carrot Ranch. Anyway Marge et al. now kayak and so she has fishing companions.

Hooks, Lines, and Sinkers            D. Avery

“Marge, look at the brown Ilene’s got on. Huge!”

“Another one?! I’m getting fed up with her beginner’s luck.”

“Well you’re not going to get fed up on your own fish today.”

“Shut up, Nard. Hey! Ilene, what’s that in that trout’s mouth?”

“My lure?”

“Your lure? But—”

“Marge, you assumed I was new to fishing.”

“But you insist fishing is just luck.”

“It is. And lucky me, I’ve got this lure I made myself. Two yellow spinners and a feathered hook. Lemon Queens I call this one.”

“But—”

“Here’s a purple version. Sour Grapes. Try it.”

Bending to Reason; #SixSentenceStory

six sentence story copyMore of a scene than a story this week, but in six sentences, per the rules of Six Sentence Stories, presented by Denise at GirlieOntheEdge. The prompt word is “bend” and you have through Saturday to participate.

Bending to Reason   by D. Avery

When Ilene and Lloyd got Marge and Ernest and the others into kayaking, it was a boon to everyone concerned; all agreed that while sitting in a kayak drinking beer wasn’t so different than sitting in a camp chair drinking beer, the view and the air was a refreshing change from Ernest’s two bay garage. With the interest in kayaking, Marge found it easier to get Ernest and her friends to go fishing with her and she enjoyed getting to new spots that had previously been inaccessible. Ernest, who had never taken to fishing, was content to paddle the Marge-Barge, a long double sit-on-top that accommodated his large frame, a cooler of beer, a cooler of snacks, and sometimes even a grill, but Lloyd sometimes brought a rod, as did Kristof, though both of them usually ended up just drifting and daydreaming. Marge could always count on Nard to fish seriously, and to both their surprise, increasingly, Ilene, though her insistence that fishing was largely a matter of luck rankled Marge who consistently out-fished them all, proof of her greater experience and superior skills.

This evening however, Marge’s skills were not in evidence and she snarled when Ilene again chirped in delighted surprise at her singing drag as yet another fish hooked on, putting an enviable bend in her new rod.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s just beginner’s luck is all it is, Ilene, just beginner’s luck.”

Ploughshares; #SixSentenceStory

six sentence story copy

The word from Denise at GirlieOntheEdge this week is “station”. The rules? Write a six sentence story with that word. The story? A slice of Ilene Higginbottom’s work life as a school administrative assistant. You may know Ilene as the friend of Marge and Ernest

Ploughshares,   D. Avery

This morning, when Mrs. Richards finally heaved herself away from the counter that stood between Ilene’s office space and the bustling hallway, sighing her usual ‘Time to man the battle stations’, Ilene called her back; she called her back and called her out.

“As a writing teacher, Mrs. Richards, you’ll understand me when I say you need to rethink your metaphors; just who is it that you are battling? These kids coming in the door are not our enemies, yet every day I deal with the casualties from your classroom. I suggest to you, if you are feeling so beleaguered and besieged, perhaps it’s time you retreat— surrender even.”

Mrs. Richards stormed off so didn’t see that Mr. Penny had overheard the exchange, didn’t hear Mr. Penny’s comment to his aide-de-camp that she might have just started a war. Though he hadn’t spoken of his discomfort in being the principal and having to pick a side, Ilene reminded him he was on the side of the children.