Lines Cut

working-template-for-ff-challenges20.pngCharli’s post that primes her May 3rd prompt at Carrot Ranch this week is upbeat and hopeful with the promise and excitement of spring. But a word like “line” has so many meanings, can lead in so many directions. Here are 99 words (no more, no less) using a line in the story. 


 Lines Cut

I said I’d drop her a line and left; for adventure, for independence, for life.

I traveled, knew the hypnotic spell of the white line binding the highway’s edge, don’t cross it. I pulsed to the marcato beat of white lines cut on a sad square of mirror, don’t look. Learned to cook with a crucible spoon, quick and easy recipe scratched in welted purple lines on my skin, don’t ask.

My life is a tangled broken web, doesn’t hold fast. She tossed a lifeline but I cut it into pieces to knot around my arm, no going back.


1969_chevrolet_el_camino-pic-49513-1600x1200.jpgEarnest’s old El Camino had never shone so brightly as when Marge washed and waxed it, but he was finally ready to put it out by the road for sale, for it didn’t fit him anymore, and besides maybe he needed to spend his time and money on other things.

He and Marge were just walking away from having placed the sign in the windshield when a pickup, piloted by a big haired wiry little woman, ripped to a stop in the gravel yard in front of the shop. The driver’s side door swung open and Ilene Higginbottom swung out with it, dropping precariously from the height of her pickup truck, talking at Marge and extending a hand even before landing right in front of her on mismatched feet, “Ilene.”

“Yes, I see that”, replied Marge, shaking her hand, “What can we do for you?”

“You have something I want.”

“You’ll have to be more specific.”

“That El Camino; I need a truck that fits like a car, I am having too much trouble climbing in and out of this tank since my separation.”

“Your separation?” Earnest puzzled how Ilene Higginbottom’s status, single or otherwise, impacted vehicle entry, no matter the size of the truck.

“Yeah, since being separated from my leg, I have trouble stepping up.” Both Ilene and Marge guffawed loudly while Earnest blanched and stammered out the possibility of a trade.

They came to terms, sealing the deal with a beer, the women in the lawn chairs, Earnest roosting on a stack of used tires, facing them but unable to keep up with Ilene’s rapid fire prattle, and thinking his own thoughts anyway.

Earnest was thinking that he was glad to trade an El Camino that no longer fit for a truck that was roomy, sturdy and practical. He marveled at how everything in his life was turning out just right. If only Ilene would go home soon, but she and Marge seemed to be having a good time. Earnest smiled and caught Marge’s eye as one of the young robins took advantage of the puddle that remained from the car washing. Ilene, amazingly, paused in her talking to watch it too. She looked at the two of them, Earnest and Marge, who were exchanging glances and remarking on the bird like proud parents. Then Ilene Higginbottom looked right at Earnest, long enough to make him turn colors, before stating, “Earnest, you have a good thing here, you and Marge seem to be a good fit.”

She stood and thanked them both for the beer. “I’ll be off, I got what I wanted.”


From their series; Earnest Biggs and Marge Small



Over at dVerse Pub for Poets Bjorn is pouring and has told us all to take a hike. He would have us write a haibun inspired by that venerable pastime of contemplatives, walking. I walked this way:


They say time marches on, inexorably forward, can’t stop its hands or its steady feet. They are wrong, and not because sometimes time drags its feet, other times runs, hops, skips, even dances forward. Time is no different than you or I, out for a stroll, this way or that way, walking in circles.

walking in circles

all who wander are not lost

simply on their way

One day, time and a poet went for a walk. They agreed it would be a leisurely pace, no marching; but what direction would they take? They drew straws and time drew short so they went with the poet’s preference. They went wherever sights and sounds and scents led, which was back, back to remembered times and places. They wandered through memories and meandered in reveries. These they recognized as landmarks, so were not disoriented as they circled back to present where they walked without moving, talked without speaking.

taking a first step

getting out of one’s own way

feet lift off the ground


Born to Be Magic Carpet Pusher Lawdy Mama

six sentence story.jpg

Until Denise shuts me off, I am once again doing a twelve-pack for Six Sentence Story time and am once again featuring Earnest and Marge. Go to Denise’s GirlieOntheEdgeBlog to see more Six Sentence Stories or to link your own. The prompt word this week is “track”.     ***


Born to Be Magic Carpet Pusher Lawdy Mama

“Bring the El Camino over by the hose, Earnest, and I’ll help you wash it, we’ll get her all shiny and ship shape again, get her ready for sale.”

Earnest opened the driver’s side door, carefully lowered and levered himself into the seat, the fuzzy dice swaying and swinging from the rearview as the El Camino rocked with his effort. Three turns of the key got the motor running; the Steppenwolf tape that was in the dashboard 8-track player squeaked to life playing four hits all at once.

“Marge, I’m stuck.”

“Oh, Earnest, I know, it’s your car; you don’t have to sell it if you’re unsure; we can take the sign off and put it back under the carport.”

“No, I’m stuck, the steering wheel is too tight- I need help getting out.”


After a knee scraping head banging backbreaking extrication, Marge drove the El Camino to where Earnest busied himself untangling the hose and finding buckets and sponges.

Heaving herself heavily but unassisted from the vehicle Marge took charge of the washing.

“Earnest, you just sit and recover, look you scraped your forehead getting out of that thing, just get me a chamois is all, a real one, you can’t wash a car without a chamois cloth, and then you just sit and let me show you how it’s done.”

Earnest did as Marge instructed; after producing the chamois cloth he sat in his lawn chair and watched her work, noticed that she didn’t miss a spot, noticed that her foremost parts were darkened damp from leaning to reach all of the roof and hood. He was in awe at the care and respect she showed the El Camino, ever mindful of scratches and streaks, and was suddenly surprised with wondering if she would be this way with children; their children.

When Marge playfully accused Earnest of checking her out and having a one track mind, Earnest didn’t deny it, only now he marveled at where this track could lead.



The reel deal at Carrot Ranch this week is to, in 99 words (no more, no less) write a fish tale. It can be about fishing from any angle, about those who fish, or what might be caught. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by May 1, 2018.                                                                                          This is not 99 words. To see Marge and Earnest fish in only 99 words click HERE. To see all the Marge and Earnest episodes, click on their page.



“Earnest, let’s go fishing, catch some perch for our dinner.”

“Oh, Marge, I don’t fish, I don’t have a pole or anything.”

“What? Earnest, I had no idea, you poor thing, well you can use one of mine, I’ll show you all you need to know.”

The second thing Earnest needed to know, according to Marge, was how to cast. She had him use a lure because the first thing he needed to know, baiting a hook, was impossibly hindered by his sausage-like digits and, as he discovered, was incompatible with his delicate constitution.

Neither Marge nor Earnest wished to wet their feet in the icy cold water of early spring, but with a long stick they managed to retrieve the pole that Earnest inadvertently cast into the pond. Eventually the pole remained in Earnest’s hands more consistently and only the lure flew about in all directions, at times even smacking down on the water.

“Earnest, you stay here and practice your casting and reeling, I’m gonna try my luck further down.” Moving away she could hear the click of his bail being opened, the whip of the pole tip. Expecting to hear the lure hit the water, she instead felt a sting. The weight of the lure and the velocity of Earnest’s cast ensured that the treble hook pierced right through her pants and had a good purchase in her ample cheek.

Later that evening Marge stood rather than sat at the counter as she and Earnest ate their fish dinner, take-out from the diner after a trip to the ER. Earnest continued to mumble apologies and concerns even though Marge was already joking about Earnest being a pain in her ass.

Later in the week Marge caught fresh perch while Earnest watched. He was hooked on Marge but had all he needed to know about fishing.


It’s Monday, so as you might have gathered, it’s quadrille time at the d’Verse Pub for Poets. Our challenge? Include the word “gather” or a form of the word in the body of a 44 word poem. Go by the pub to say hello to our host Lillian, to read more responses to this prompt, or to add your poem to the mix. 



rake them up

into a flimsy heap

piled like promises

you will not keep


let them be taken

on wild winds

swirling skittering

clattering din


try to contain them

or let them scatter

unruly thoughts

you cannot gather

mold into words

that somehow matter.



At Carrot Ranch this week, Charli says, “I’m connected to the past and future, to the Lake working-template-for-ff-challenges13.pngSuperior pines not yet free of snow, to the wilderness I’ve seen and not seen, to forests on distant shores. For a time of healing, I’m going to imagine forest bathing.”   Wilderness does connect us with past and future, and to our selves. It is our sacred duty to preserve and protect wilderness for future generations. In turn the wilderness will preserve and protect us.                                                                                             The April 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about forest bathing. You can use the Japanese term, Shinrin Yoku, or you can make up your own ideas about the phrase. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by April 24, 2018. 

Stark, by D. Avery

Serena stopped often to breathe deeply, filling her lungs, her heart, her soul with the spruce incensed air. She loved walking this familiar path among the trees, but quickened her pace as she approached the high mountain meadow, delighting as always in the waving grass, the colorful wildflowers nodding the way to the small crystalline lake cupped by the snowcapped mountain peaks. Serena drank it in. The guide suggested other experiences, but Serena always chose to return here.

“Serena, time’s up. Remove the apparatus and step out of the capsule.”

Sighing, Serena left the virtual wilderness, returned to reality.

They’re Back

six sentence story.jpgEarnest and Marge, two characters hatched through responses to Six Sentence Stories are back this week; the prompt word is “hatch”. You are encouraged to write your own six sentence story that uses some form of hatch and add it to the link through Denise’s GirlieOnTheEdge’s Blog. If you are not familiar with Earnest and Marge, click on their page.  It’s okay that I broke the rules again this week and did a twelve-pack. I’m not driving.


Seemed like every time Earnest tried to do for Marge he was done for.

“Earnest”, did you notice that bird’s nest in the rafters? El Camino’s gettin’ shit on.”

“I’ll move it.”

“I figured.”

Earnest had hoisted the ladder and climbed most of the way up before Marge told him she’d figured he’d move the El Camino, not the nest.

The mother robin became used to Earnest and Marge sitting quietly in their lawn chairs in the late afternoon, enjoying their beer as she sat the nest, then after the eggs hatched, marveling at her deliveries of squirming meals.

They were both there when one by one the fledglings perched at the edge of the crowded nest before falling away into a first fluttery flight, landing bewildered in a nearby tree, past where the El Camino was parked uncovered, away from bird splatterings, but now dull and dust pocked.

“Look Earnest, the young ones’ chests are speckled, kind of like the El Camino is now.” When Marge wondered aloud where she might point her lawn chair now that the robin family was all done with the nest Earnest immediately retrieved the ladder, anxious to sanitize the carport and return the El Camino to its spot.

Earnest had hoisted the ladder and climbed most of the way up before Marge shared that the mama robin would likely reuse the nest for her next year’s brood.

Earnest came down empty handed and put the ladder away while Marge got them both another beer.


Seasonal Work


The steady snowfall creates a classic Christmas card scene.

“No!” Myrtle retorts, “Christmas cards don’t have sap buckets hangin’ off the trees. This isn’t even a damn Easter card, that was two weeks ago!”

Her husband, whose hobbies have only been enhanced by nature’s disregard for the calendar, takes a swig of his drink. Without taking his eyes from the TV, he shares his recurring thought that Myrtle might be going batty.

“Hey,” he goads, “Does summer fall on a weekend this year?”

“I’m leaving this bat cave.” He doesn’t look up when Myrtle trudges out to her garden.


prompt-chomp.pngGo to Carrot Ranch to learn about protecting bats. While that is a serious matter, some of the responses are a light hearted take on bats and battiness. The persistent winter weather has some folks going batty, so when I was sent this meme I used it along with Charli’s April 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bat. You can use an association to the winged, cave-dwelling critter, or you can explore the word for other meanings. Bonus points for including a bat cave. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by April 17, 2018.


Rite of Passage

Though gray and overcast, it was a warm morning, the temperatures above freezing; Toby would be anxious but comfortable, waiting for him over the ridge at the edge of the hardwoods, hoping for deer to cross his path.

Milton paused, leaning on a tree as he caught his breath, smiling at how he had caught his grandson’s buck fever, the boy’s excitement for his first opening day of deer season palpable and contagious.

It had been a fine morning, with his daughter, also infected by her son’s joy, making them a big breakfast before sending them off to the woods, Toby proudly carrying a double barrel 16 gauge, the gun that she had been holding for the boy since his father died seven years ago.

Shaking his head, Milton started off again, refocused so as not to think of his daughter’s pain, of his own pain at having had to be both father and mother to her when his wife died and now in the role of both grandfather and father to Toby since the death of his son-in-law, a fine man who he sorely missed.

Milton shifted his deer rifle to both hands, listening intently as he squinted into the stand of balsam and hemlock where he detected movement, and there, a patch of brown in the brush; quick aim, squeeze the trigger, BANG!; dropped with one shot.

As he approached the downed deer, the first thing Milton noticed was metal, twin barrels lying on the mossy ground; the second thing an orange hat sticking out of a jacket pocket, and then he went blank but cried over and over, “Wake up, Toby, wake up!” even while he kept wondering if this were a horrible nightmare that he might please, please, wake up from.


six sentence story.jpg


It’s another six sentence story, prompted by Denise at GirlieOnTheEdge. This week’s prompt word is “wake”.