#SixSentenceStories; Range

The word from Denise at GirlieontheEdge is “range” to be used in six sentences exactly. This Six Sentence Story began here two weeks ago with Verge. I followed “On the Verge” with two 99-word stories (Walking the Line) and then again with another pair of 99-word stories the following week. (Balancing Acts). I’m not sure I want to pursue this or the direction it takes here, but I do know this is all I have for SSS right now and am grateful to these characters for showing up to play.

What’s Cooking? by D. Avery

“You sure are at home on the range,” Bob remarked to Daddy.

“Hate to correct you, Boss, but this isn’t a range, it’s a griddle, and right beside it is a grill, and since Katie claims this is all a circus, I guess that makes me a grease monkey.”

 “Not my circus, not my monkey,” Katie the waitress chimed, but she smiled as she said it. “Coming through,” she warned as she squeezed by Daddy carrying a stack of plates behind the counter, “Doing the diner dance.”

“Let’s go somewhere tonight where there’s more room for us to dance.”

Bob laughed, said he’d never seen Katie speechless before, said he hoped Daddy wasn’t cooking up trouble just when things were going so well.

#SixSentenceStories; Verge

A Six Sentence Story is a story told in six sentences, no more, no less. This weekly writing challenge is hosted by Denise at GirlieOntheEdge. The current challenge word is “verge”. The linkup is open through Saturday. Go there to leave six sentences and to read the work of the other Sixarians.

On the Verge by D. Avery

I didn’t bother asking Daddy if he thought we might get a room, or even if we would be eating today; I knew the answer would be, ‘Not now, Peanut, I’m on the verge’ but he never said if it was the verge of winning big or losing big and his face never gave anything away, he always wore the same perplexed smile at either outcome.

The verge could last for hours, his fortune going up and down like that carousel horse I rode once, with Daddy seeming both near and distant and I would lean in close then, listening to his tactics and theories for beating the glaring gluttonous machines at their game, not sure if he was teaching me or just talking to himself as he constantly strategized to keep his ride going, switching machines, switching bets, trying to build his total way up before cashing out and I would know if he’d spring for a hotel room or if we’d be sleeping in the car again.

This night he was down more than he was up and I was wondering if it had gotten cold out since we parked the car, when a man came over and watched Daddy play, standing too close and holding a wad of cash right out in his hand, which Daddy always says is asking for trouble.

I couldn’t hear what the man said to Daddy, but they looked at me, then the cash, and then Daddy pulled me away fast with an expression I had never seen before.  

He cashed out before we left, muttering that it was barely gas money so the cashier said ‘Better luck next time’, but Daddy informed him that there was not going to be a next time.

And we haven’t been to a casino since, but all Daddy will say is that he’d seen how much he had to lose and would never gamble again.

#SixSentenceStories; Branch

A Six Sentence Story is a story told in six sentences. This writing challenge is a weekly event, but my muse has been ornery lately. But here is a response for the current challenge, with the prompt word “branch”. Thank you Denise at GirlieOntheEdge for hosting SixSentenceStories. Post your own HERE or just go there to read more Sixes.

Broken Branch by D. Avery

“Here, now, my darling, my dove, let’s not fight, I am extending the olive branch.”

And there it was, his usual peace offering in a chilled thin stemmed glass, skewered olives balanced on the rim, trailing an oily sheen in the dirty vodka martini that never failed to smother her smoldering anger.

“I wasn’t fighting, I only was trying to get you to listen,” and she knew this was true, again, and that again she wasn’t heard.

But again, his answer was to make drinks and usually she would put aside her anger, would succumb to another bleary armistice, would forget what it was she even wanted to say.

But not this time, this time she would not accept the terms of the truce, this time she’d say one thing, if only to hear it herself.

“No, I’m going to a meeting,” and she stepped, boldly, shakily, out the door.

#SixSentenceStories; Band

It’s time once again for a Six Sentence Story. I apologize for the following, I won’t duet again, but this is the story that came to me for the prompt word “band”. Thank you Denise at GirlieOntheEdge for hosting SixSentenceStories. Post your own HERE or just go there to read more Sixes.

Keeping Time by D. Avery

When Four-fingered Freida told Five-fingered Joe she wanted to join his five-piece band, Joe laughed and said, ‘What for, we’ve already got five five-fingered five-string pickers. Not to pick on you’, he remarked offhandedly, ‘but you’ve only got four fingers and a four-string’, for Joe’s band was a banjo band, five-string only.

Frieda, a chick with a lot of pluck, didn’t fret, and sure enough, she bumped into a guitarist. ‘Sorry’, he said, ‘I’m all thumbs’, and while that wasn’t exactly true, he did have an extra on each hand, which Freida didn’t find at all odd, and she told him how she came to be missing a thumb.

‘It’s the result of a digital error with a bandsaw.’

Six-string Sol didn’t mind, and in fact these two, picking and strumming, made beautiful music together, and that’s what counts.

#99Word Stories; Shame

The August 22, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: Write a story exploring shame as an emotion or theme. Consider how to use shame to drive a cause-and-effect story. How does it impact a character? Is there a change? Go where the prompt leads! Submit at Carrot Ranch by August 27, 2022.

This submission is the third in an unplanned trilogy. The first was for the “puppy ears” prompt; the second followed that as a 99-word Six Sentence Story. And now this.

Reimagined by D. Avery

This woman seems kind, look how she is with the children. Look at that garden! Go to them. It’ll be alright.

She clung to her imaginary friend. “No.”

I’ll go with you.

“I’m ashamed.”

Of me?

“No! Of me. Of my family. You know…”

I do know. I know that is your sorrow, but it is not your shame.

She sobbed then in the strong comforting arms of her imaginary friend. And when she opened her eyes, she was in the embrace of the woman, who told her she was safe now, everything was alright, she would be alright.

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

#SixSentenceStories; Beat

Denise, of GirlieontheEdge, is our host for Six Sentence Stories that feature the word “beat“.

This week’s Six Sentence Story follows a recent Carrot Ranch flash that was perhaps too ambiguous. So here is a next scene in six sentences, and 99 words just for fun.

Imagining More by D. Avery

After looking over her shoulder, she lifted the spruce bough and ducked into the secret glade.

You did come back, her imaginary friend exclaimed, and in the dark too. Tell me all about the big scrumptious dinner you had.

“There wasn’t anything left, my brothers beat me to it.”

Wincing as she unrolled the blanket she’d brought with her, she announced that she was never going back there.

I can’t imagine how we’ll feed you, but we’ll think of something tomorrow, she smiled, happy that for now her friend was safe, peering with her through branches at the stars.

#SixSentenceStories; Space

So many excuses for not writing, so many conditions I insist on, like needing time and space.

My time has been taken by many things this summer; I no sooner got back from a long strange trip than my father was hospitalized which meant a lot of coming and going, duties and distractions, but he is now home and resettled into his own space, albeit with new conditions and expectations, the new normal.

My dad got so he was in a good enough place that I dared travel again, enjoying the restorative space of open water and woods, a camping/kayaking week with a dear friend. Two and a half days of travel each way and worth it, sharing the ride with my husband who camped out at the Oshkosh air and space show. While out and about we mostly masked and mostly maintained the space of a cow’s length between us and strangers but mostly wasn’t enough.

Somehow, somewhere, my husband got Covid and now I seem to have it and with it, time and space, so this week I managed these six sentences and a double Six below.

Holding Space by D. Avery

Dear Jamie,

You said you’ll want to hear all about my visit with my grandparents, well I’ll get started now, plus letter writing is a means of escape (haha, it’s not so bad, well maybe Grandmother is).

Grandmother is one of those people who has to fill any silence with a swarm of words, sharp words that whine and threaten like hovering mosquitoes. And she’s filled all the space in their house with stuff, all kinds of just stuff, and lots of it, any flat surface is taken up, leaving very little room for me, so I usually hang out with Gramps in his shed workshop.

Gramps says the house is taking on a precarious topography, tells me she wasn’t always like this, then he went on about (are you ready for this?) my mother’s older brother dying in a swimming accident at the age of eight, I never knew that my mother had a brother but she would have been four then and I was five when she died of an aneurysm, so yeah. And my dad, well you know how talkative he is, haha, but Gramps was full of information and insights, like how Grandmother decided to resent my dad for taking my mother away and how she has trouble having me around because I look like their son, my uncle. He said she doesn’t want to love anyone anymore because it hurts too much, but then he looked right at me and said, ‘We have to, August, we have to keep loving, even through loss and pain, don’t ever forget that.”


Dear Jamie,

Well, it’s another day, and since I never got your letter into the mailbox, I’ll just add on to it.

I was out with Gramps again in his workshop today and out of the blue, or maybe he was continuing yesterday’s conversation, he said how sorry he was for me losing my good friend Jimmy on top of already losing my mother. He said my dad was a good man but was himself still hurting, said that he’d hoped Grandmother could be a better grandmother to me, since I didn’t have a mother for these tough times.

That’s when I told him I was doing okay because I have a new friend (you) and that you have two mothers and his eyebrows went up and he kept filing his mower blade and I told him how Mimi and Momo can even get Dad laughing and talking, told him how it feels like a family since that Thanksgiving dinner. Then Gramps smiled and wondered if maybe Mimi and Momo could make space at their table for him and Grandmother too.

I know I didn’t make her sound very nice, but, what do you think?


Augie you may remember from long ago Sixes (and 99 word stories). I thought I was finished with him and his friend Jamie but, to my surprise, they reappeared and insisted on getting some air time. This is how it turned out.

This week’s SixSentenceStory prompt word is “space“. Thank you to Denise of GirlieOntheEdge for hosting. Entrust her and her merry band of Sixers with your own Six Sentence Story through the linkup and be sure to read and comment on the other Sixers’ Sixes.

Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine

Flash fiction is short fiction, generally anywhere from fifty to fifteen hundred words, but if you come by ShiftnShake regularly you know that I most always write flash fiction of 99 words no more no less, or of six sentences that run between 99 and 500 words, more or less. I am grateful for the Carrot Ranch and Six Sentence Stories prompts and communities, for dragging stories out of me and encouraging my efforts. Occasionally a story that began as a response to these prompts gets another look from me, and even more occasionally, gets looked at for publication. A piece that is now titled “Remembrances” was first written to be a 99-word story, though I do remember having to pare the first draft down quite a bit to get it to 99 words. Minutes before the deadline of a  Flash Fiction Magazine contest, I built that story up again and submitted it.

Though shortlisted, it didn’t win, didn’t even place. And here’s why I like Flash Fiction Magazine : the feedback on the version I submitted to them was thorough, specific, professional, and spot on. They did say that, contest aside, should I be willing to revise what I’d submitted, they’d like to publish the story, so I did, guided by their feedback.

Today is the day that that revised story is published at their site. Yes, I’m hoping you go to Flash Fiction Magazine to read “Remembrances” and leave a comment there, and when you do, look around. They have a Free Book, newsletter, and Free Course  for those interested in learning more about flash fiction. They welcome more readers and writers!     

#SixSentenceStories; Exchange

This week two prompts led me back to a mystical shop that first appeared HERE as a Six Sentence Story. A month later the What-You-Seek Boutique was again featured as a setting for a Carrot Ranch prompt. The current Carrot Ranch prompt is to, in  99 words (no more, no less), write a story inspired by the idea, “for a day.” So here is one take in 99 words and six sentences.

Denise, of GirlieontheEdge, will open the link Wednesday at six for Six Sentence Stories that feature the word “exchange“.

The Exchange by D. Avery

“What you’re looking for is certainly here, but is it what you need?” The twinkle in the old man’s eyes turned sharp as he cautioned, “Consider the cost.”

“Someone or something from my past to spend a day with? — that’s a priceless gift.”

“To revisit what was for what might be,” he said, handing her an old mirror, “Giving up a present day, still charged with possibility— it’s a costly exchange.”

The mirror was identical to one she’d had as a little girl, the one that had once belonged to her grandmother. “The past is for reflection, not reliving.”

#SixSentenceStories; Labyrinth

At long last and maybe too late, I have six sentences in response to this week’s Six Sentence Story prompt, “labyrinth”. The prompt word put me in mind of walking labyrinths and also of the art of the Tohono O’odham. While inspired by the Tohono O’odham’s ‘Man in the Maze’ the following is not meant to be a retelling of their I’itoi or U’ki’ut’l stories, but is more of a walking meditation to help straighten out my tangled serpentine thoughts.

Do go to our hostess’ site, GirlieontheEdge, and read others’ labyrinthian tales of six sentences each.

The Path by D. Avery

She appeared then, appeared as a mountain revealed when the mists lift, appeared as a pebble revealed in a palm when a fist opens, and she smiled then, knowingly, knew your unspoken words: I have lost my way.

Her gentle laughter was dappled sunlight and there in her hands was an endless rope, woven with each experience you’ve ever had, braided from your stories, and she held the rope, her hands wide apart, wide as the mountain, wide as the world, that you might see how long is your path.

She laughed again, said A straight path, however long, can never lead to the center, and she snapped the rope, and it fell before you in a labyrinthian coil and you again set upon your way as the mists again descended.

This path is long and winding, with abrupt turns seeming to thwart progress. But you can see where you have been and you gain patience with each step; acceptance replaces expectancy as you journey on.

Then a step takes you to a tree cloaked mountain, to where a tossed pebble leaves ripples in the center of a sun dappled lake, and you know that it is all yours, that it is you, that even the gentle laughter you hear is your own.