The Usual; SixSentenceStory

Through the diner window Deborah watched the truck pull up, watched the familiar dismount, the tail end of an unfiltered Camel hitting the ground just prior to the vibram soles of greasy steel-toed work boots. She watched the bold long-legged approach across the parking lot, liking all 200 brawny pounds of what she saw. Already she had in the usual order, had it pinned on the line even before the purple-cabbed Peterbuilt had ceased squealing and hissing to a stop. Every two weeks, the same, though every two weeks the banter became increasingly serious, became conversation, and questions, increasingly potent.

This time Deborah was nervous like never before and glanced around, glad to see there were only two customers in the place, both distracted with their phones, not even looking up when the third driver strode in, beaming at the sight of her.

“Ellen, my bag is in the back; this time I will go with you.”

The prompt word is “filter“, the rules are to write a story in six sentences. The link up is HERE, thanks to our host Denise of GirlieOntheEdge. Author Anne Goodwin reminds us in a recent article that February is  LGBT+ History Month and can be acknowledged and celebrated through literature. Maybe that’s why this story went where it did. I just had the first line, then decided to reassign those boots.

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.

Distance; SixSentenceStory

The Six Sentence Story prompt word from Denise this week is “distance”. The task is to use that word in exactly six sentences (or stanzas, or lines) The link is open through tomorrow (the second day of 2021!) so head over to read more and to leave six sentences of your own.

Shepherding

The townspeople might have found it funny, but did not, that the one man who did not attend church services was the man with the least distance to travel, for Mr. Wolff’s farm was just next door to the church.

When they desired to build a newer larger church, Mr. Wolff gave them a generous amount for the old structure.

The townspeople might have found it funny, but did not, that Mr. Wolff then used the old church to shelter his flock of sheep. 

They were not amused when he used the signboard in front of the old church:

When you find your humor, God will find you.

The townspeople, realizing that it was not easy for him to be good, prayed for Mr. Wolff.

Mr. Wolff whistled a merry tune and went about his work.

Horizon; SixSentenceStory

It’s Wednesday, Denise‘s day to open the linkup for another Six Sentence Story gathering. This week’s word is “horizon”. These six sentences are being used to continue two 99 word stories of a young man who lives and works on his father’s ranch.

At the Table

“You know, Tom,” his dad said, catching him in a yawn across the dinner table, “You sure have been pushing yourself the last couple weeks.”

Tom looked at the hired hand, a young man called Prince, as he told his dad that he worked so hard because he wanted to wear himself out, wanted to be too tired to think or feel at the end of the day. Then he faced his father. “And if I do give in to what I’m thinking and feeling, least you’ll know I can work, that I ain’t soft.”

Liza drawled, “There’s trouble on the horizon,” her eyes darting around the table looking to see it, but her father and brother were both looking down, both suddenly busy with the food on their plates.

“My father hasn’t spoken to me in over five years,” Prince said.

Tom’s father paused, coughed, looked at Tom when he said, “That’s too bad, Prince; he should want to know that his son puts in a day’s work would make any man proud.”

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.

Menu Deux; SixSentenceStory

Today’s Special by D. Avery

She and the older woman continued to sit together on the bench well after they’d distributed all the birdseed.

“Some people say to let the birds forage on their own, say not to feed the birds, makes them too dependent, but I say it’s okay because I do know these birds; we’re connected.”

“I think it’s possible you’re also connected to a squirrel or two.”

Laughing, the older woman pushed herself up from the bench; she rose too, and asked if she might want to join her somewhere for lunch.

“Oh, I know just the place, a little diner not too far from here, don’t even ask to see the menu, just order the special. It’s not always what you thought you wanted but then it’s always just what you need.”


Here is a continuation of my first “menu” story, prompted by Six Sentence Story host Denise at  GirlieOntheEdge.

Menu; SixSentenceStory

She sat on the end of the bench, phone in hand, absentmindedly scanning and searching— for what? Looking up she noticed that everyone walking by had their heads bent; texting, reading, nodding and talking out loud as they passed by unseeing.

What did app even stand for, appetite? With the sudden realization that the endless menu bar offered nothing for her hunger she pocketed her phone and stood, scattering birds, birds that, like the older woman feeding them at the other end of the bench, she hadn’t even seen until then.

“That’s okay,” the woman consoled her as she sat down again, “They’ll come right back, just give them some of this.” Taking the proffered birdseed from the older woman, their smiles conveyed far more than any beams between distant satellites and cell towers.


The word from Denise this week, to be used in exactly six sentences, is “menu”. I also give a conciliatory nod to last week’s word, “beam”. Go to GirlieOntheEdge to leave your Six Sentence Story. It’s a lot of fun with no adverse side effects. Except one might lead to another. I just posted a sequel to this Six.

Toilet Triple; CRLC & SixSentenceStory

The November 19, 2020, prompt from Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch is to “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that glorifies a toilet. Capture the marvel and status and love for a contraption we’d rather not mention. Go where the prompt leads!

If you only read the above prompt and not Charli’s posts, you miss out on context, on what prompts her prompts. When she posted this latest 99-word challenge it was World Toilet Day . Should you click on this link you will see that:

World Toilet Day is a United Nations Observance that celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

That’s serious stuff.  In her post Charli asks, “Would humanity solve toileting issues if we mentioned it more in literature? How often does a novelist mention toilets in a book? Do you? Well, now is your chance to practice writing about toilets.” (You have until Tuesday, December 1 on this one)

I am certainly capable of potty humor, but, well, you know… should I? I do try to behave in mixed company. And this is serious. I was somewhat stopped up by this prompt. And then I wondered if potty humor is universal, or a sign of privilege.

The prompt certainly had me remembering innovative solutions and desperate measures seen and done while camping or traveling, but those were limited runs, so to speak, and again, camping and travel speak of an advantaged life overall.

I did finally get things moving and one flash followed another but then realized that each features a flush toilet within a special private room in a house— luxury and opulence!  This is not a universal experience by a long shot. Do check out World Toilet Day to learn more.

So, without further ado-do, here are three toilet tales that may or may not amuse, and that also reveal luxuries taken for granted. The third one I have also linked to Six Sentence Stories as “oasis” influenced this particular bathroom story.

Rumblings

Wally’s favorite room—his inner sanctum; throne room; library; oasis.

“Peace and quiet in return for my daily offering— priceless.”

After installing the colored motion lights in the bowl Wally became even more reverent. The ‘rumble seat’ became the porcelain oracle became his muse; a pad and pen were kept near the other scrolls.

I come to you more than time to pass

Show you the moon, my mirrored ass

Your waters soothe, shimmering votive candle

My sins absolved when I push the handle.

My poetry, people don’t care for it

To that matter, I don’t give a shit


Last Room Standing

“Really? I’m going to the bathroom!”

(A euphemism. She’d already gone to the bathroom, was now in the bathroom and sitting on the toilet using it for its intended purpose.)

Though originally she’d gone just to be away from him. Victor was getting carried away again. (Another euphemism; he was out of control yelling and screaming.) Not at her. Something on TV. Still. And now he wanted her to unlock the door?

“No!”

Victor yelled a lot but had difficulties communicating clearly. He never stated why she should let him in…

The tornado carried him away. (Not a euphemism.) 


Oasis Stasis

It was not a mirage, it was marriage, marriage all-inclusive, with children, pets, dishes, laundry, and working from home. It was enough to blur her vision and make her misty at times but there was an oasis, a peaceful place to recover, to take respite from the whirlwinds that swept through the house.

Gathering up clothes and other debris, flotsam wake of the twins, she paused and smiled at the picture book, Everybody Poops.  It had been a hit with her older children too.

She shuddered with a sudden realization. Potty-trained twins would mean increased competition for her oasis!


Oasis; SixSentenceStory

It’s Wednesday, or so I’m told, and that means that Denise of GirlieOntheEdge will be sharing the link for the Six Sentence Story blog hop.The word this week is “oasis”, the rules simple: six sentences to tell a tale.

Oasis by D. Avery

She couldn’t be certain when the guide had appeared, for time was an endless succession of broiling yellow sun and shivering silver stars, footprints filling with sand as soon as they were formed.

“The literature, as you should know,” she said again to the guide, “indicates that the oasis I seek should be just over there,” and she pointed to a formidable dune. “It also states that there one can have anything one wants, riches and luxuries beyond the imagination.”

They summited the dune but the oasis evaporated before their eyes, so they continued, on and on, until she beseeched the guide to just get her to some place where she could get a cool drink of water; that oasis also proved to be a mirage.

Finally, when after many more miles she told her guide that she wanted for nothing, that the sun, the stars, and the trackless sand were plenty, they stopped. Without hunger or thirst, she had arrived at the oasis.

CRLC Challenge; Lost Time

This week, November 5, 2020, the prompt from Carrot Ranch is to: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about lost time. You can write a realistic scenario or something speculative. How does lost time impact the character of your story? Bonus points if you include a 1982 brown rubber watch. Go where the prompt leads! My first take is just playing with the ennead syllabic form that Colleen Chesebro concocted for the 2nd Rodeo event at Carrot Ranch, except I went beyond 99 syllables until I also got to 99 words. The second take is a 99 word story that uses a setting and a character first seen in a Six Sentence Story not too long ago.

Lost Time

Give my watch back to me

Lost since ‘83

Relic of time— brown rubber band, hands that wind,

Never thought I would see

its face again; Sea

scratched, sand-blasted; etched, lined

not so unlike mine

Time-keeper losing faith; time come back to me

Covering sands march blind

measuring marked time

Not for the watch these tears

Thirty-seven years!

It’s the time that went (foolishly spent) I want   

In a flash, disappeared!

Suddenly I’m Here.

Another flash, lost time

No reason, low rhyme

Give me my watch, give me back the time it’s seen   

Worn trails, tracked storied lines

—99!


The Present

“Welcome to the What-You-Seek Boutique.”

She said she was just browsing, not really seeking anything.

“No?” The shopkeeper proffered a brown rubber banded watch.

“I had a watch like that once, but haven’t missed it. I don’t need it.”

“It’s still ticking. Look.”

She looked. The path around the watch face showed all she’d ever done, places she had been. The watch’s one hand pointed to Home, not a written word but a feeling of what Home meant to her and her alone.

“Home… but— what next?”

The shopkeeper smiled.  “There’s time. Take it. A present for you.”