This week’s challenge from Carrot Ranch gave me the shivers!
*There may or may not have been an incident in a sandy location where a certain briefer may or may not have sat in the office with her feet up on a chair because she saw mice running around. Just sayin’.
“Guys listen up. This is the pre-mission briefing for flight 7044.”
She went quickly but thoroughly over the slides. Tanker crews liked fast and funny. No jokes today though, this was a new mission and she needed to keep their focus.
To the great surprise of the pilots she suddenly stopped in mid-sentence and jumped onto a chair. The entire room silently watched a mouse scamper across the floor and under the canvas wall.
The Lieutenant climbed down and resumed briefing the astonished pilots, picking right back up in the middle of her sentence. She had their full attention.
The 28 February 99 word flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch was back up or backup.
The Wrong Path
She could not believe she was watching yet another lame Christmas movie about time travel. Just once she wished the woman would choose the glamorous life she gave up for marriage and kids. No one in their right mind picked a lazy husband and bratty children over a successful career and spotless apartment.
If she could back up her life she knew the exact time she would return to. Where she had made that first critical mistake that led down the wrong path to her current life.
She looked out the immaculate window of her high-rise condo and sighed.
To be honest this week’s 99 word flash fiction for Carrot Ranch isn’t totally fictional. To a certain degree these are both real events that I experienced.
Part I: ‘For Sale’ (True Love)
‘For Sale’. The sign had been in front of the colonial with the lovely porch for months. This cold February morning there was a second sign: ‘Open House’.
She walked slowly through the entire house: gleaming woodwork, an eat-in kitchen with a bay window looking over the backyard, a claw foot tub. It was too perfect. Her heart shouted she was home.
She felt herself start to tremble as she took the flyer from the real estate agent and glanced at the price. “I’ll take it” she heard herself say as her head chimed in to match her heart.
Part II: ‘Stop Sign’ (Also True Love)
One balmy evening I sat on my front porch watching the fireflies appear in the gloaming. A woman ran the stop sign at the corner and hit another car. A low impact crash: crumpled metal and shattered plastic bits but no one hurt.
She must have lived nearby, her husband arrived quickly. The first thing he did was ask if she was hurt. She started to cry and said, “I am so stupid.” Her husband replied, “I know you are but I need to know you are okay first.” I laughed softly in the growing darkness. Well, wouldn’t you?
From the 99 word flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch.
Everyday for fifty-two years she went for a morning walk. No matter the season or the weather. Three miles. First alone, then with her partner, now alone again.
She loved all the weather she encountered, it made her feel alive. This morning a soft gray sea mist spilled over onto the beach, curling her white hair.
She tried not to play favorites, enjoying what each day gave her but secretly she liked the fog the best. Maybe because it was the rarest. Maybe because it softened the day. Or maybe because it obscured the fact that she was alone.
From the 24 January 99 word challenge at Carrot Ranch.
Shards of a Life
The line of soldiers walked slowly, cautiously, testing each step. The IED detonated anyway, shattering the Sergeant’s leg and leaving him mercifully unconscious.
Thousands of miles away a phone rang. The love of his life found her heart shattered by words as easily as his leg by explosives.
Months passed. Months filled with hospitals and surgeries. A leg put together with pins and rods. A person put back together with therapy and exercise. A heart held together with patience and hope. A couple linked together by the past.
Their bodies may have been shattered but their love remained whole.
Last fall I started participating in Carrot Ranch’s 99 word flash fiction challenges. Not all of them but more than I realized looking back. Now on to the next step, posting them here as well. Creative Courage!
This week’s theme (17 January) is colonnades (an evenly spaced row of columns); natural, architectural or metaphorical.
She put the lawn chair all the way back and stared straight up. It felt scary, a thrill in the pit of her stomach. The trees towered so far above her, swaying at the top with the clouds holding on to keep them from veering too far. She looked at the thick trunks of the redwoods, sure the movement at the top would topple them. How did the trunks stay so straight? She wondered what would happen if a branch came crashing down. Would she be able to move away, or watch mesmerized as the clouds let it go?
My word for last year was “unhurried” and I loved it. Having a simple, one word reminder staring at me from various spots in my office really made a difference. So I decided I wanted to pick a word for this year.
Last November I read this article at Carrot Ranch and the words creative courage really stuck in my head. As soon as I started thinking about possibilities for this year’s word I knew right away “creative courage” was it. I dithered a bit though, are you allowed to borrow your word from someone else’s website? Am I stealing someone else’s dream? No, the idea came from someone else and Carrot Ranch wrote about it. I think I am good. I feel like the words found me. (And it is too late to change them anyway. We bonded instantly!)
I am already trying out my creative courage, not just in writing but in other artistic endeavors which I will write about soon. In writing I have been entering some of Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction challenges. Now I need to start posting those entries on my blog. The best part is even if my entry sucks they are only 99 words so won’t waste much of your time!
I actually got an honorable mention for one of my entries, now I have to figure out how to post my badge here. I guess I should link to the entry too? So here it is. I am having enough trouble formatting my posts with this new editor who knows how long it will take me to figure out the badge thing! But I am cultivating my creative courage and will persevere.
I decided to enter a 99 word Flash Fiction Challenge at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community just for fun!
This is the November First challenge: Write a story about a festival of lights. Here is my go at it:
Every December the family went to the huge light display in Winterhaven. Mom complained about the crowds, the kids complained about the cold and Dad complained about the cost. But it was a family tradition. This year Mom said she just couldn’t face it and Dad didn’t want to pay so they didn’t go.
On Christmas Eve, once it got dark, Mom said, “Everyone get your coats on, we have a hole in our holiday that needs to be filled”. They walked through their still, silent neighborhood, savoring all the small light displays, happy to continue their family tradition.