Zip; SixSentenceStory

Zippery Slope

“Bill, do you know where our daughter is?”

“Of course, she’s in the backyard working on her mathematics project— she set up a zipline. Oh, relax, Liz, it’s for her Destiny Doll; all morning she’s been sending poor Destiny zipping down from the tree fort and collecting data and then is going to graph the results. What?”

“Bill, Marlie is climbing to the top of the tree with a coil of rope.”

“Oh no— that’s why she asked if it was okay for her to do higher level math!”

I wasn’t thrilled with Denise’s Six Sentence Story prompt word, “zip”, but Marlie returned with her Destiny Doll to give me six sentences, so I was able to zip a story out. Then I got to thinking more about the word zip, and have to admit it has enough applications that there’s no excuse to have zip for a Six. The word had its beginnings in the mid 19th century and was “imitative”, which is easier to spell than onomatopoeia. Did you know that zip is code for zone improvement plan? Did you know that, (according to Wikipedia anyway), Whitcomb L. Judson invented the clasp-lock fastener in 1893 and the zipper began being used for clothing in 1925? And if you have ever wondered how Denise does come up with the prompt word, zip over to this interview from 2019 to find out about word selection and more from our venerable host.

CRLC Challenge; Lifesavers

The “CRLC” in the headings for my responses to the Carrot Ranch prompts stands for Carrot Ranch Literary Community. The Carrot Ranch Literary Community is a place where people freely and safely practice literary art 99 words at a time, a place to learn and grow as a writer. This week we are challenged by the community’s leader, Charli Mills, to write about lifesavers, and though the Coast Guard and their predecessors were implicated, as ever, we go where the prompt leads.

Into the Storm

Through rain pelted windows Marlie’s tree fort hove into view. Marlie read, curled up with Daisy on the couch.

“Remember when she used to sail in weather like this, captaining a mighty ship?”

“Remember when she made Tommy walk the plank?”

“Do you miss Tommy, Liz?”

“For better or worse, I do. I miss our opportunity to give Tommy a respite from his family. The great unmasked… What’s Marlie researching now, Bill?”


“The candy? Or health care workers?”

“Life savers— nascent Coast Guard.”

Putting her book aside Marlie donned her foul weather gear. She had to go out.


“Who will rescue us, Bill?”

“What? Are we a wreck?” He crowded into the window seat. Beyond the steamy window, Marlie braved the high seas to pluck Destiny from the surf.

“Not us. Us. /U/ /S/. Of A?”

“Oh. Ship of fools. Headed for the rocks.”

“We’ve been commandeered by pirates, with a fool spinning the helm. I’m scared Bill.”

“Me too.”

“Oh! Marlie! You’ve returned.”

“Mom? Dad?”

“We’re huddled in our lifeboat, Marlie. Get in.”

Marli climbed in with her parents and assessed their circumstances. “It’s going to be rough. But we’ll make it. All storms peter out.”

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.



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

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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.



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.”


Spots; CRLC Challenge

square-template53The May 28, 2020, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using two words that contradict. Examples include champagne and hard-rock; rosemary and sewage; duck down and firecrackers; sleep and square-dancing. Use one of these or make up your own. Go where the prompt leads!

Here is another scene featuring Marlie, who seems to have finally gotten her dog.

Spots, D. Avery

Marlie held up a pebble-eyed, twig-lipped marshmallow. “He’s got hard-rock eyes set in a puffy white face.”

“Who? Mr. Marshmallow?”

“Tommy’s father.” Marlie thrust the skewered marshmallow into the flames. “He was at the fence with Tommy. He said Daisy was so ugly she was almost cute. Daisy wouldn’t go to them. Tommy called her stupid. His dad said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

“And leopards can’t change their spots.”


Marlie’s parents watched with her as the pebble-eyed marshmallow face browned, then blistered black, finally oozed onto the coals, flaring and spluttering before it disappeared.

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?”

At Right Angles #SixSentenceStories

“Tommy, lay your G.I. Joe flat on the counter like this- that’s a straight angle; now sitting up straight like this- 90 degrees or a right angle; bent forward- acute; and leaned back- that’s an obtuse angle.”

“Like my daddy in his recliner chair- he’s obtuse! What’s so funny, Liz?”

“Marlie, I bet Tommy would rather play outside, maybe that’s enough math for today.”

“Yeah, Marlie, let’s go back to the dirt pile, besides my daddy says girls aren’t that good at math.”

“Go, before I get an acute headache.”


six sentence story copy

Here once again are Marlie and her Destiny Doll, recurring characters in Six Sentence Stories and 99 word flashes for Carrot Ranch. This week Denise gives us the word “angle” to use as we wish as long as it’s presented in six sentences exactly. Go to GirlieOnTheEdge for the link up.