Rebuked Again #sixsentencestory

six sentence story copyLast week for Six Sentence Stories  readers were left with an unresolved situation, with two brothers’ safety in question. This week the prompt is “noise” and we pick up right where we left off back in the primitive dimly lit deer camp. The link for Six Sentence Stories opens Wednesday and is brought to you by Denise of GirlieOntheEdge


Besides the wheezy breath of the fire in the potbellied stove, the only noise was the clicking of the safety, on-off, on-off, over and over, the brothers keeping track as they eased out of their sleeping bags, put feet on the floor, faced Aaron sitting up on his bunk, tinged by the orange glow that crept from the stove.

“How about we play a game, how about you tell me which one of you gets a bullet in the head, ‘cause I’ve decided only one person’s going to die tonight, but you have to choose— which one of you lives, which one of you dies.”

Harry spoke first, told Aaron to just stop, put the rifle down, they could talk this out, but when Aaron persisted Harry said just as calmly that he would take the bullet as long as his brother lived, but then Bill argued, “No, Aaron, if that’s the only way, then shoot me, but let my brother go, promise me that you’ll let my brother go.”

“Here’s another way, what if I’m in the mix now, huh, still only one of us get’s shot, now who do you choose to die —easy— me, right?” and again the click of the safety, on, and click, off, as the dim wavering light from the stove licked at the muzzle now tucked under Aaron’s chin, glimmered at a ghost white hand feeling it’s way down the forestock, searching for the trigger.

“No,” Bill spoke softly, “If it’s that way, Aaron, I still choose me; go ahead, shoot me instead, then let my brother take you home.”

Aaron turned his head in surprise, the muzzle now pointing away in the pause of disbelief, the rifle falling heavily to the floor when Harry tackled him then held him tight; sobbed and stuttered apologies as Bill got a lantern lit with a shaking match.



USS Vermont A not so funny thing happened on my way to this post.

This post was going to be a sharing of news I got last November that my books were to be in the library of the USS Vermont, a Virginia-class attack submarine due to be commissioned April 18 in Groton, Connecticut. I wanted to share that because, no matter what you think of submarines, that’s kind of cool to think of this unique placing of these books and the special people who might just, for lack of other entertainments, read them. That was my thinking a few months ago anyway; cool, what a neat opportunity. Since then I have fumbled with false starts of this post. What should the point of it be really?

I can only hope that the books donated by Vermont authors brings some pleasure and connection to the sailors sequestered leagues beneath the sea for months at a time; I wondered at the life of a submariner, surreal to me. I became increasingly humbled by the fact of the service and commitment of this boat’s crew, got derailed by thinking about the unusual and dangerous situation they would willingly enter. I couldn’t imagine what that experience must be like; I knew I would never want to find out for myself.

I spoke with a former principal who had served in the navy on a submarine before he became an educator. Decades later he says still not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about that time; that there is no feeling like the final closing of the hatch, knowing you’d be submerged for months on end. It was that comment about the closing of the hatch that struck me most from my conversation with this former naval officer. It seemed eerie, and, again, hard for me to imagine. That conversation was a few weeks ago.

The not so funny thing that happened on my way to this post is that I can now better imagine that closing of the hatch. We all can. As the executive orders from the governor were issued, as I said goodbye to friends and colleagues and we retreated to our respective homes, I could more easily imagine the grim metallic finality of a closed hatch, of leaving the light and air of the known world.

As we shelter at home we do have light and air and internet. But even so, we are going to places and depths we had never imagined ourselves. Just as when I was fumbling earlier to write about the USS Vermont, I again recall Robert Macfarlane’s Underlands in which he speaks of how darkness might be a medium of vision, and that descent may be a movement towards revelation rather than deprivation. We can only hope that in these dark times we dig deep and emerge not overwhelmed by what we’ve lost, but as better humans for what we’ve learned and gained for knowing darkness and loss from our own isolated “underland”. Into the underland, Macfarlane says, we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save. We are facing fears and uncertainties, including fears of human traits that we abhor. But we also can exhibit and can expect to encounter the human traits of kindness and generosity that humanity is capable of. We can aspire and inspire, even from our time in the dark.

I’m still fumbling with this post. So much has changed since I put it on my to-do list. I can only assume that the USS Vermont will launch, though surely not as planned. Perhaps the crew has been, or will be, quarantined prior to setting out and closing the hatch. I will wonder and worry about those people, just as I now wonder and worry about all of us and our neighbors the world over. My naval officer turned educator friend said what made his time below bearable was the crew; the fact that they had work to do and that they all relied on one another helped them to focus and endure. We are a crew, all together as we shelter in place.

The hatch has been shut. We await its opening, and can only imagine what will be brought up from the depths and what will be left below.

Taking Charge CRLC Challenge

square-template9-1.pngThe Carrot Ranch March 26, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge. Who is this character, and what situation calls for their action? It can be playful or serious, fantastical, or realistic. Go where the prompt leads!

I also encourage you to backtrack over to Carrot Ranch to read Charli’s posts that prompt her prompts. You’ll be glad you did.

Taking Charge

She cracked the front door, her face a bruised sunrise. “I walk into doors,” she offered. “I’m learning though, either shut them tight or open them wide.”

“I would like to speak with the man of the house.”

Over her shoulder, thin pale legs scampered up the stairs. She blocked the rest of the view into the home.

“He’s not here.”

“When shall I call again?”

The woman paused, straightened. “He had to go away.”

“When will he return?”

“He couldn’t say. Now, do you want to talk to the man of the house or to who’s in charge?”

Now I Can See d’Verse Poetics

“Barn’s burnt down, now I can see the moon.”                                                                       Mizuta Masahide


I’ve always loved that Zen zinger. Mish serves it as inspiration for Tuesday Poetics at d’Verse Pub for Poets.  I went from sight to sound in the form of five “American Sentences”, 17 syllable sentences in one line.


We could never say what the falling tree in the forest sounded like.

It was we who did not marvel as whispering grass reclaimed asphalt.

From our point of view couldn’t see that the World would go on without us.

The World is not indifferent, but must represent the greater good.

Who will hear the warbling testaments that this spring is far from silent?

Saddle Up Saloon; Bar None

The Saddle Up Saloon is open and serving one and all. Come say howdy ta Kid & Pal.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community


“Shorty, I git goin’ where the prompt leads, but I ain’t ‘zactly comfterble bein’ led blindfolded by anyone, even you. Where ya takin’ us?”

“Pal, it’s sech a great surprise! Wait till ya see it!”

“Well, Shorty, how kin we see it if’n ya got us wearin’ our bandanas over our eyes?”

“Yer short on patience Kid. Okay, whoa. Stop. Lift yer blindfolds, both a ya.”

“Wow! A waterin’ hole! Yeehaw!”

“The Saddle Up Saloon? How long’s this been here?”

“It’s brand new!”

“This saloon is on the ranch?”

“Just over the line.”

“Over the line? Thought it were a free range ranch, unbounded.”

“It is indeed, Pal, but I figgered it might be best if this establishment be set back some, in case you an’ Kid go over the line. Give us all some elbow room.”

“Ya think Kid an’ me’s gonna be here all the time, bendin’ our…

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One Question #SixSentenceStories

“Damn it all, what do you mean you can’t come in, I’m telling you, set those supplies down and get in here and stay awhile, what in the hell has gotten into you?”

Sighing, he did as ordered, stepping gingerly, as if that made any difference, sat on the far end of the tired sofa; from that distance sat with his great-uncle who faced the sea-salted window of his old cottage as he always had, before and after losing his sight, listened while the blind old man continued, “Look at it, the chop has begun, she’s restless; we’re in for a right good blow, we are.”

The younger man didn’t argue, for there was a restless expectation in the air, but what it was could not be divined from the placid water, sparkling with sunshine.

“Been through many a blow, Boy, many a blow, and I can tell you, this is going to be a big one, a mighty big one.”

He watched the robin scouting the crocus filled lawn, muffled a cough, then asked if he wanted him to put the shutters up but the old man just turned his rheumy eyes to him and whispered hoarsely, “No, Boy, no, I just want you to answer me one question, if you can. What kind of a storm is this?”


six sentence story


The link is open at GirlieOnTheEdge‘s blog for sharing stories told in six sentences. The prompt word is “QUESTION“. 

Feed Your Head CRLC Challenge

Leaning against the chimney, he put in his earbuds, listened to Jefferson Airplane while polishing his pocket watch. Unless the girl tripping around below suddenly became quite tall she would never think to look for him here. And anyway, she was much more interested in the March Hare, mad as he was. But it mightn’t be till May that the March Hare be less raving mad.
Yes, it was much the most interesting. The chessmen, all white too, were maddest of all, falling about in no direction.
Smiling, the rabbit flung his pocket watch into the endless blue sky.


square-template2.pngIt’s time again for the post and prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch. Many of us in the states are in our first week of distancing or quarantine, but in many ways it has been a social week. We read, we write, we correspond through all the means at our disposal. Don’t isolate socially, only physically. If you’re looking for something interactive to do, try the Carrot Ranch March 19, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof. Or many rabbits. Why are they there? Explain the unexpected, go into any genre. Go where the prompt leads!

To Hex With It

Be Bold (JULY)So, here’s the deal. Kid and Pal are fictional ranch hands who identify as real. (That’s been an ongoing issue.) Up till lately they have lived relatively quietly at Carrot Ranch and also have their own page here, if you want to catch up. Up till lately they were content to just comment on Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch  posts and prompts. I had thought to give them their own blog but failed miserably at setting up with the new and improved WordPress machinations. But as some of you have noticed, these two seem to have busted out anyway and are doing business here on my front page in addition to their regular chores at the Ranch. I am going to continue to use this Carrot Ranch banner when Kid and Pal have something going here, though these are not your regular Ranch Yarns. These are irregular times and while these two came up with a plan to remain times neutral at the Ranch, they will allude and intrude on current events here. And, as you can take the ranch hand off the ranch but can’t take the ranch from the hands, well, the following is in 99 words, no more no less.  

One more thing… if you’re looking for something to do, these two wouldn’t mind at all if you left a six foot comment, that is twelve syllables. They aren’t too fussy about accents.  


To Hex With It

“Pal, all yer time at the Poet Tree n’ ya got no poem? Not even a haiku?”

“Bless ya, Kid. An’ don’t fergit ta haiku inta yer elbow crook. Anyways, I’m thinkin’ if folks is gonna try poetry they should use iambic hexameter.”

“Really? I am a bit sick of six.”

“Stop draggin’ yer feet, Kid. Jist think of it as a 12 pack a syllables.”


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

“Don’t be a Dickens, Kid.”

Carry on, hearts be strong, share positivity

help, share, extend your care, show true humanity”



March 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

All Normal, See?

“Pal, you’re back from yer time at the Poet Tree. Got some lines that rhyme? Ya been out there fer four days.”

“Seems longer, mebbe ‘cause a spendin’ some time with you, tellin’ ya ta jist keep it t’gether. I ain’t come up with a poem, Kid, but I gotta plan fer us.”

“Plans is hopeful. What’re we ta do? Gather up supplies? Stay put? Keep our distance?”

“Shush Kid. We’ll do the z’act opposite. ‘Cause Ranch plans ain’t changed. So we’ll take advantage a our fictional status an jist keep ta our chores here. No more, no less.”


“Uh, Pal, what’re my chores again?”

“Jist shovel shift, Kid. Hope folks find ya more amusin’ than annoyin’. Figger folks got enough ta worry ‘bout. At the Ranch they kin come close, enjoy a tale or two ‘roun the fire. Yer ta stop yer whinin’. ’Member this is a refuge fer the real folks thet come by. They kin say what they gotta say, but all us fictional folks is jist gonna injoy our normalcy.”

“I see. Too bad.”

“Why’s thet?”

“I got a fictional six-pack a purell fer Frankie an’ a case a tp for Pepe.”

“No shift?”

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

First, the roof-bergs broke loose. Great hunks of condensed ice thicker than a doorstep slipped from the eaves, crashing onto the garage with such tremendous force that my neighbor ran to the side of my house. I happened to be coming down the stairs at the moment and saw a flash of sun on ice before I felt the shock of vibrations that accompanied the blow. Spring wears heavy boots in the Keweenaw.

Next, came the tapping, drip-drip-drapping of water seeping from beneath the remaining bergs, ice sculptures, and packed drifts of geological snow layered storm by storm. A rapping, louder than water tapping, sounded at my door — ’tis a neighbor, nothing more. Cranky (as in Sew Cranky, not So Cranky) smiled and informed me that the maples no longer slumbered. Sap was flowing. Her husband came over and tapped our tree.

Now, this is no ordinary tree. It…

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Different Drum CRLC Challenge

square-template.pngThe Carrot Ranch March 12, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tapping. You can play with the sound, make it an action, or create something unexpected. Tap a story and go where the prompt leads!
I managed to get Civil War Veteran Robert to return, along with his young brother. You may remember them from earlier stories like THIS or  THIS.

Different Drum

Robert pitched the last of the hay up into the hayloft. “Just in time,” he smiled at Thomas. “Hear that?”

“Rain!” The much-needed rain began as an intermittent tapping then gathered strength, drumming the barn roof overhead.

“No, that’s not rain, Thomas. Listen.” He grabbed up a bucket and a couple wooden pegs. Thomas, shouldering a hayfork, marched to the drumbeat Robert tapped out, around and around the hay wagon until finally they stopped, exhilarated.

“A call to arms!”

Robert took the hayfork from his little brother, said gently, “No, Thomas. No. Listen. It’s the call to cease firing.”

****      ****     ****

OIP.z7_oYMMEvs9bhBOAFixAkADREqRobert and Thomas sat on overturned buckets, watching the rain.

“One of our drummer boys often worked with me in the field hospital.”

The beginning of a story made Thomas forget his disappointment with the ceasefire.

“This boy only ever talked about his mama’s chicken dumplings. One day he’s scarce, I figured maybe he run off even. But then I hear him drumming. Soft, taptaptap. ‘What’s that call?’ I asked him. Taptaptap. When I turn he’s not even holding his sticks. Yet still, taptaptap. ‘Call for dinner’. Tips his drum to show me the hen pecking from underneath, taptaptap.”