Crying Rock D’Verse Prosery

“Yeah, right, a talking rock. What, with a Biblical message or something? Like if we hide our faces we’ll get turned into a pillar of salt? Come on.”

“Shut-up. Listen, there it is again.”

Pat remained skeptical, Chris was visibly alarmed, Kelly cautiously curious.

“Right? Swear to God, it does sound as if that big rock there is speaking to us.”

“The Rock cries out to us today,” Pat mocked, “You may stand upon me, but do not hide your face.” Pouring the last of his water on the ground he crumpled the plastic bottle and bounced it off the rock.

“Knock it off. This is too weird. I’m getting out of here.”

“Wait up. But I’m so bad, ooh, I’m hiding my face.”

And then Pat was silent, a shamefaced stone statue.

People of this hallowed Earth, face your selves! There’s no hiding!

 

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It’s Prosery time again at D’Verse  Pub for Poets. Using the line, “the Rock cries out to us today, You may stand upon me; But do not hide your face”, from Maya Angelou’s On the Pulse of Morning, we are challenged to write a prose piece of no more than 144 words (excluding title). Thank you Frank J. Tassone for hosting and providing the prompt. I wrenched the line into a flash, but with apologies to Maya Angelou and her beautiful poem.

Anew WWP # 140

wk-140-anew.jpg Did you know that Sammi Cox  hosts a weekly prompt where both the word and the word count change? This week the word is anew and the word count is 31. You can count on a fun challenge at the Weekend Writing Prompt and respond in poetry or prose.

 

“Anew.”

“Bless you.”

“No. The prompt word. Anew.”

“I knew the prompt word too. Last week it was devour.”

“I know. This one’s anew.”

“Bless you.”

“Maybe we should begin anew.”

Standing

“Staff members shouldn’t join student anti’s, Ms. Higginbottom.”

“Anti’s. My dad, a member of the NRA, called protesters that, Mr. Mathy.”

Mr. Massey the math teacher looked at Ilene, unsure of her lisp and her tone.

“But this is not my father’s NRA. Not by a long shot.”

“You give up one constitutional right, the rest are vulnerable.”

Incredulous, Ilene finally spoke. “Look at the reciprocals; not what they’re against but what they are for; that’s what pro-test means, testifying for a cause.”

“And what are these children standing for Ms.Higginbottom?”

“Life, Mr. Massey. They want to live.”

                                                                                  The Carrot Ranch   copy-of-working-template-for-ff-challenges23.pngJanuary 16, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a protest story. It can be about a protest, or you can investigate the word and expand the idea. Who is protesting, where, and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Below is the 229 word first draft. I’m thinking I like the pared down stories better, getting the point across in 99 words. What do you think?

 

“It isn’t appropriate for a staff member to join in with the kids in this so-called protest they have planned, Ms. Higginbottom.”

“No? And why is that, Mr. Mathy?”

Mr. Massey the math teacher looked at Ilene, unsure of her lisp and her tone.

“I mean, I get it, they might be what my dad called ‘a bunch of anti’s’.”

“Yes, exactly,” Mr. Massey assented. “Always against one thing then another thing.”

“But this is the first protest these students have ever staged. It must be important to them. What is it they’re against, Mr. Mathy?”

“Guns. The NRA.”

“My dad was a member of the NRA. We had guns.”

Mr. Massey looked relieved. “So you do get it.”

“I get that this is not my father’s NRA. Not by a long shot. I stand with the kids. How could I not?”

“How can you encourage them to be against our rights to bear arms, to be able to defend ourselves. You give one right away, they all are vulnerable.”

Ilene stared at the khaki and oxford clad man, incredulous. “Look at it this way,” she finally said. “Look at the reciprocals; not what the students are against but what they are for; that’s what pro-test means, testifying for a cause.”

“And what are these children standing for Ms. Higginbottom?”

“Their lives, Mr. Massey, they just want to live.”

Reaching Six sentence story time

six sentence story
While I would never question the authority of our host Denise regarding Six Sentence Stories, I would bend the rules. The following is a 12 pack, which for the math challenged is two groups of six sentences. I justify this by including last week’s word, “epic”, as if that makes up for my missing last week. This week’s word is “reach”, to be included in a six sentence story, no more, no less… Go to GirlieOntheEdge to play.
These characters you may recall. Episodes emerge haphazardly. Some are somewhat sequenced on the Ernest & Marge page.    

 

Reaching

Ilene and Lloyd joined the others for the briefing in Ernest’s singlewide where Nard reported that in all his years with Marge, he’d seen her cranky, but never in a mood, never like this.

“She’s in her she-shed,” Ernest updated, “Again; says she’s working on her sculptures but then nothing happens, no hammering, no welding— hell, she doesn’t even drink beer out there.”

The three men watched Ilene make her way down the trailer steps, the globed porch light a miniature moon sending her shadow lurching ahead of her on her epic trek across the Zen garden to the unlit she-shed, clutching a beer in each hand, just in case.

Ilene approached the she-shed with a bold caution, chattered loudly to herald her arrival, lest she startle Marge, spoke out loud, ‘Okay, I’m opening the door now’ as she slid the pocket door into its wall.

“No shit, Ilene, I can see that and how else would you invade my personal private she-shed space but through that door.”

“Jeezus, Marge, where in hell’s the light switch, there, now what’s going on, why are you being a cave bear, your clan misses you.”

Despite the warnings, Ilene was shocked to find Marge sitting in the dark, her welders mask pulled low over her face.

“Marge, what’s going on, you aren’t still being a jittery bride to be are you?”

Marge’s responses to Ilene’s questions were rendered even more monotone through her welders mask, which she, a known non-hugger, kept on as she endured the hug Ilene insisted on giving her.

Because of their size difference the hug was at first awkward for both of them, but Ilene turned her head, some of her piled hair twisting up under the welders mask and tickling Marge’s chin, but Ilene held on, pressed into her friend, reached around her as far as she could and squeezed her as tight as she could, told her she was enveloping her with love, told Marge she’d squeeze all the doubt right out of her; Ilene did not let go of her friend, not until Marge ripped a loud fart.

Then the two separated, laughed until they cried, Marge at last removing her welders mask so she could wipe her eyes; then the two drank Ilene’s beers in amicable silence, before she suggested they go back inside; “Ernest has more.”

“I know,” and Marge left her mask behind, led the way back to the steps under the pagoda style awning, returned to Ernest without a doubt.

Carrying Wives

prompt-chomp  The challenge from Carrot Ranch this week is to write a story about a carried wife, in 99 words, no more, no less. (Something to do with the Finnish history up there in Charli’s Copper Country.)

I relied on New England history to meet this challenge. All along the Massachusetts coast, Cape, and islands, place names reveal the historical importance of alewives, or river herring. The first 99 is the voice of Squanto, returned from an earlier prompt.

I also relied on Marge for a response and for a third brought back Fannie Hooe  from a past Ranch challenge.

Carrying On

Those first springs the bony fish were welcome food and they ate them gratefully. They used them to feed the hills of corn as I showed them to do.
Then, we all went to the rivers in the spring, carried full baskets of alewives to our families, our fields. They saw how it was, and early on these ones that came to Patuxet did not allow blocking the rivers as some English would do.
More ships came, carrying seeds, cattle, and swine. They soon forgot how the alewives carried them. The course of our streams are altered and muddied.

***

Missed Fit

“What do you mean, that bruise on your cheek is from Ernest?”
“Relax, Ilene, he was just messing around, said we should train for our wedding night. He tried to carry me into the bedroom but didn’t turn enough. Banged my ankle on the other side of the doorway.”
“Jeezus, Marge.”
“Oh, it gets worse. He dropped me when his back gave out. He couldn’t move.”
“Shit. What’d you do?”
“What do you think? I got myself up then I picked Ernest up and carried him into the bedroom. And there he lies, helpless.”
“That’s a helluva preview Marge.”

***

Fair Game

“Okay, Great Aunt Fannie, here we are at Heikinpäivä. Is your interest in the Wife Carrying contest because you were carried off?”
“Horse pucks! That’s what they say. I wasn’t ever carried off. Have always stood my ground. I’ve been known to get carried away a time or two, but that’s another story.”
“What do you think of this wife carrying contest?”
“Once a year, what the hell? I see it as a symbolic gesture of reciprocation.”
“What do you mean, Aunt Fannie?”
“Women-folk carry their men all year long. Without making a sporting event about all they bear.”

***

Hutch Hidings

copy-of-working-template-for-ff-challenges17.pngHeir Looms

Her hutch, passed down through many generations, has survived fire and flood. She used to keep her better china in it. Then pretty knickknacks and collectibles, her treasures, things she thought her children or grandchildren might want after she’s gone.

Framed photographs now line the shelves of the hutch, all in order— all her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren— first-born to last-born.

The photos bring tears. So many grandchildren gone already, leaving their young children, some addicts at birth, having to live with their grandparents— her own aging children. Will any survive to take her hutch? Who will curate its treasures?

***

The Carrot Ranch January 2, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something found in a hutch. It can be any kind of hutch — a box for critters or a chest for dishes. Go where the prompt leads!

Here’s two more:

***

Unassailable

His brother was adamant that they did not, would not ever, like their stepdad. When asked why, his reasoning was unassailable.

“Because, that’s why.”

Now his brother stretched tiptoed, his fingers groping the highest shelf of the dusty hutch that their stepdad had brought up from the barn, his motivation that they’d been told to stay out of it.

“He’s hiding something.”

A loud snap and howls of pain precipitated an evacuation of mice through the open hutch doors.

“That jerk!”

He decided, with or without his brother, he’d help his stepdad fix up the hutch for their mom.

***

His brother, dramatically icing his fingers, still sulked and scowled even though their stepdad allowed he should have mentioned why he didn’t want the boys in the hutch, even admitted he himself couldn’t bear the thought of scurrying mice. The man seemed relieved but squeamish hearing how the boys had tilted the hutch, shaking and banging it, the dog eagerly involved in the eviction of the mice.

His brother stayed back, but he happily went to the barn with their stepdad to bring out another hutch.

rwr-1This hutch would be his! What would he choose, a rabbit or hens?

***

A Hero’s Journey Begins

Once upon a time, just about eighteen years ago, a child was born, the first and only of close friends, and while I am in fact neither his aunt nor godmother, I have been referred to as both. In the boy’s fourth grade year I was referred to as Mrs. Avery as I was his teacher in a class I remember well, a class that loved to learn and that delighted in the fairy tales read to them.

Now the boy is a young man in his last year of high school. Writing the essay that I share here (in italics) was a part of his preparations for going out into the world.

 

Everyone has topics that they can completely immerse themselves in. For some it’s sports; for others, acting and singing.

 

I used the timeless-placeless introduction that I did because I feel like this young man’s essay might connect to recurring ideas and themes that have been part of an unfinished conversation around here, repeated in patches but not concluded, like a familiar tale at the edge of recall.

 

The topics of most interest to me are sciences, video games, and different types of fiction, whether it be a book, anime, movie, or show. For each of these topics, there are many reasons why I can become lost in them.

 

I skipped the middle part of the story, the part where the boy somehow went from being the newest baby I’ve ever seen or held to a walking talking young adult with opinions and knowledge. In the eighteen years in which he managed to grow up I somehow managed to avoid video games, watch few movies, and I am not real clear on what anime is. It was a bit of a ‘yeah duh’ moment for me to see a broader definition of fiction.

 

In both video games and the different forms of fiction, there are often times where the reality of a make-believe world seems brighter than the reality of our current world. This can be because the world created is either in a better position than the real world, or the main character(s) have actual power to change the world for the better. This attracts me to be lost in them as most individuals in real life don’t seem to have the power to change the world, and those that do seem powerful have no real interest in changing it for the better.  

 

What is this real world our young hero is going out into? Many people read to escape but this explanation is… sad. And perhaps it is of interest to writers. Is the conversation I am trying to link his thoughts to the one about genre and audience— why we read and write, who we write for? This young man reads a lot. Will he take a literary path? No, Auntie D. already knows, his interests are in science and engineering.

 

The major reason why science interests me is because I believe it is the bridge to achieving things that were once thought only to be possible in fiction; it can also give people the power and opportunity they need to make a change.

 

Our hero goes on to discuss the “iconic movies of the 1970’s”, “composed of visions of greater space travel and adventures” and how the fictions preceded the “great advancements… in the last few decades”. This has been true of science fiction since before Jules Verne, but, in the words of our hero, “Accomplishments such as these fascinate me.” He is using fiction not just as escape from the real world, but as a possible solution to its problems. His scientific adventures will be informed by his reading, by the stories that fuel imagination.

 

There is also the possibility that in the future when there is a larger pool of scientific knowledge, video games and fictional sources may be wells for many great inventions. The extreme number of science fiction forms could be an inspiration to people to attempt and create something from one of these sources.

 

Our young hero’s ideas are not unlike those of Antonio Muñoz Molina when he says,

“Memoirs and books of history teach us everything about the roads taken; only through sheer imagination can we explore the roads not taken and therefore understand that fate is not inevitable and that almost anything in our lives and in history might have turned out otherwise, can be different from now on.”                                                                                                                      (“On The Experience of Fiction”, The Hudson Review.)

 

Beyond possible uses that video games may present in the future, the main reason I enjoy them is the variety of things I can do and experience in them. I can challenge myself, build things, and let my creative side take over, be a character that is based on my own self and do things I never could, take part in an amazing story, or work together with others to accomplish a shared goal. In “The Witcher III” I get to experience a rich story, take part in whatever role I choose, and play through the game with the many different styles of fighting. They also allow me to have the chance to lead my team to victory or accept responsibility for my team’s defeat.

 

Ah, ha! The recurring conversation was regarding plotting and story structure, from MFA student Charli Mill’s posts at Carrot Ranch. Our hero is back to explaining fiction and its appeal, and it seems it is stories and the story structure itself that provides some escape and comfort even as it provides potential solutions to real world problems. And while there’s more than one way to plot a story, and different terms given the different elements, a basic and recognizable structure is the “story spine” of the fairy tale. The magic or power available through video games is also available to children through fairy tales. They put themselves into the story and despite witches and wolves, and other encounters, survive unscathed. They might have even learned something, which is good because they are growing up and will soon go out into the world, to encounter real life.

 

As for works of fiction, some of the most interesting to me are those that mirror the complexity of real life, in which there is no clear hero and villain, no clear good and evil. In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, for example, there are many characters that all exist in the same moral gray area, yet each are shaped differently by their experiences.

 

“Fiction gives us models of understanding, patterns for gaining insight into the confusion of reality. In order to understand our environment, we require not only reliable knowledge of how things are, of what has actually happened, but also to figure out how things might be and even how they might have been.”                                                   (Antonio Muñoz Molina)

 

Characters in great works of fiction, regardless of the medium, possess the power to make a difference. This inspires me, not because they live in an ideal world, but that they attempt to make the world as ideal as they can.

 

And so the boy grew to be a fine young man who would pursue the sciences, seeking truth through fiction, armed with stories that provide empathy, inspiration, and hope, a hero on a journey who will use his powers for good and will do his village proud as he makes his way in the world and makes the world a better place.

Crystal #sixsentencestory

Beryl had a habit of picking up any rock that interested him, though he didn’t really know much about them; he did know this one he’d just pocketed was common quartz but it was the sparkling facets that intrigued him, that easily convinced him that this was a special rock, a crystal in fact.

When a robber leapt out of the bushes demanding all the money he had, Beryl, having none, reached in his pocket for the one valuable he did have, but the sunlight striking the crystal caused the robber to see glinting steel, a weapon perhaps, so the robber went quickly away, empty handed, and Beryl continued safely down the road.

Beryl was very hungry when he reached town and he tortured his growling stomach further by reading the menu posted outside a tavern frequented by high rollers and gamblers, one of whom was sure he saw the sparkle of silver and gold in Beryl’s hand and so invited Beryl to join him for dinner, thinking to win back the cost of the meal and more after, but all the gambler got in return was a story and a close up look at the broken quartz rock that had shone like money.

The gambler was a good sport and laughed at his own folly; Beryl thanked him for dinner and went on his way, pausing in the lee of a great wall, wondering where he might find a warm safe spot to spend the night. The princess looking down from the tower above saw a flash from the crystal that Beryl held and saw it to be from a ring, brought to her by the prince she had been expecting, so she informed her father that another suitor had arrived whereupon Beryl was ushered into the castle, first taken to the royal wizard, whose job it was to scrutinize and validate unknown princes, for there had been many charlatans and commoners trying to win royal favor and the hand of the princess.

The wizard knew less about rocks than Beryl did, or maybe more, for when Beryl showed him all that he had to offer, the chunk of quartz, the wizard declared it a powerful crystal and coveted it for himself; in exchange for it he offered Beryl an ornate solid gold ring set with rubies, an offer Beryl accepted, for he saw that the intricate ring was suited to the princess’ delicate hand and might even warm her heart.

 

six sentence story copyIt’s that time again! Denise has opened the gates to the Six Sentence Story link up. You are allotted six sentences to tell a tale (or poem or what have you) that uses the word “crystal”. Join as both writer and reader for some of the most fun you can have without rousing suspicious scrutiny from the neighbors. 

 

Crimson and Clover

On this last day of the year I am able to share that I have a 101 Word flash fiction story featured at FlashFiction Magazine’s 101 Word Short Stories. I hope you might click on over to read “Crimson.  It’s like rolling in clover to have one’s work accepted; 2019 saw me more published and public with my writing and readings and I hope I am on a roll for 2020.

I want to thank everyone who comes by ShiftnShake to read and comment on my stories and poetry. I truly appreciate you and your support. I hope the best for you all and success in your own endeavors.

Write on, and have a peaceful and productive New Year.

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Crystal Visions

six sentence story copy Earthly rains brought further space exploration to a halt, so after lunch Marlie removed Destiny’s space suit, which was made of the same aluminum foil that had transformed her into a microphone when the spacecraft had been a stage. Now both Marlie and Destiny donned white robes before solemnly going underneath the dining room table, which was draped with a white bedspread. Destiny sat stiffly propped against a table leg colonnade, her unblinking eyes staring at the puresie boulder marble that Marlie had gotten off Tommy.

“What do you see in your crystal ball, oh Madame Destiny?”

Shaking his head and chuckling at his daughter’s active imagination, Bill went to report what he’d overheard from underneath the dining room table, but his jaw dropped at his wife’s reaction.

“Bill, I have no idea why she would say that, I haven’t said anything to anyone, I want to be absolutely sure, but yes I was going to tell you tonight— I think I might be pregnant.”

***   ***   ***

Marlie is on a roll! This six sentence story follows the December 29th post which followed the December 28th post which had Marlie, along with her Destiny Doll, using her tree fort as a space ship. On December 21st Marlie and her friend Sofie used the tree fort as a stage to present their research and projects, using Destiny Doll as a microphone. This week’s word from Denise at GirlieontheEdge is “crystal”. The linkup opens Wednesday. You’ve plenty of time to write six sentences and join the fun.