Another interesting prompt from Carrot Ranch that I put my own spin on.
“The Inhuman Hutch”
The four foot square box made of metal had a thick wavy pane of glass on one side. The POWs called it the hutch. The Major broiled inside for twenty-seven days and shivered through twenty-seven nights.
The enemy was sure a man of his rank knew plenty about troop movements or upcoming military operations. But he didn’t know anything, though he often wished he did so he could misdirect the enemy.
He was just a payroll officer caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. A mere mortal given the opportunity to demonstrate his inordinate strength of mind.
The prompt this week from Carrot Ranch is “By Design”. My goal was to paint as vivid a picture as I could of “real” winter. Not the sort of chilly, once in awhile gray winter weather we get here in the desert southwest. So how did I do?
“Painting a Picture”
The landscape was encased in ice, trees frozen in mid-motion. Snow gleamed pure white, too cold even for the stars to twinkle. The cold poked and prodded, looking for a way into the snug cottage. All was still.
Inside the fire crackled and popped from the newly added pine log before settling down to give a steady heat. The flames danced to a happy song only they could hear.
I breathed in slow and deep, holding for a beat at the top. By design peace flowed through me. By Mother Nature’s design sleep settled over the great wintry outdoors.
In October Carrot Ranch sponsored four flash fiction contests. In keeping with my creative courage theme for 2019 I entered three of them. My goal was to finish in the top ten at least once so I could get a critique from Charli. And to my profound joy I did finish in the top ten for the TUFF Beans entry. Yeah me! (To read my TUFF Beans entry click on the Carrot Ranch link above.)
Of course the funny thing is this was my least favorite entry! Today I will share my other two entries.
Three Act Story
I think my mistake here was not getting the reader more invested in the main character. But I loved the somewhat ambiguous ending, even I am not sure who killed who!
Jamie drives in the final tent stake with a satisfying thwack and carefully places the hammer onto a nearby stump. She hurriedly builds a fire. A nearby howl has Jamie tossing another branch onto the meager flames.
The howling is getting louder. She moves closer to the fire, freezing as she hears rustling in the bushes. “Don’t look behind you, something may be there” is her last thought as four heavy paws land on her back.
Animal fur, chunks of torn flesh and a bloody hammer litter the campsite. The seasoned state trooper retches while photographing the grisly scene.
Modern Tall Tales
For this entry I don’t think I got the modern twist part. Oops. But I had a lot of fun writing this. Growing up I did walk to elementary school up a pretty steep one-way road and cross a busy four lane road and just exaggerated from there. Bats were also prevalent in our neighborhood and every summer one would get in the house and my father would put on his motorcycle helmet and use a fishing net to get it out. I also remember Hurricane Agnes. So I had a nice little trip down memory lane. 🙂
When I was a kid I had to walk to school. I left in the pitch dark, wearing a helmet to keep swooping bats out of my hair. I had to walk up Ailsa Avenue, which was so steep it was one-way downhill because cars couldn’t make it to the top.
Then I had to cross a six-lane highway, without a crossing guard!
And it didn’t matter what the weather was like. Even during Hurricane Agnes I had to walk to school.
So I think you can walk a block to the bus stop on this sunny, 70° morning.
The prompt for this week from Carrot Ranch is to write about a gnome. I am drowning in Christmas right now: cards, baking, potlucks wrapping… I opted to go with the flow and not fight it. I figure if I could tie Key Lime Pie to the holidays how hard could a gnome be? 🙂 A little research revealed some interesting bits and pieces about gnomes so maybe this letter could be considered historical fiction!
My name is Terrence and I am a gnome working as a guard in a diamond mine. While I know this work is important it is not my true passion. What I really love to do is make toys and ornaments. I love glitter!
I have heard there are gnomes who make sleigh bells and I would be happy to do that if there was an opening available.
I believe I can be an asset to your North Pole operation and will be ready for pickup on Christmas Eve if you will have me.
True story: I had the idea for my flash fiction in my head, if not written down on Thursday night. On Friday we celebrated St. Nicholas Day and I bought a mint Oreo ice cream pie as a special dessert. When my son went to get it out of the freezer he was all excited because he thought it was key lime! Now mint chocolate chip is his favorite ice cream and I was rather surprised that he wanted key lime. Of course he still enjoyed the mint pie but I marveled at the coincidence.
I thought about changing my story but decided I am happy with my fictional version. Plus, who has time to do things twice this time of year! And I confess to plagiarizing the end of the last sentence from Dr. Seuss. I do love me some “Grinch”.
“Just One Yes”
“Can I go to Johnney’s house?” “No, I don’t have time to take you.”
“Can I have computer time?” “No, you have math homework.”
“Can I have a snack?” “No, dinner is in less than an hour.”
“Can we have key lime pie on Christmas Eve?” “What? No, we always have pecan pie. It’s tradition.”
All the nos of the day echoed in my head.
“Wait! Yes. Yes we can have key lime pie on Christmas Eve. I love that idea.”
I looked at my son’s beaming smile and just like that my heart didn’t feel quite so tight.
This week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch was “winner”. I started with one idea and then tried a few others. I felt like my first idea didn’t really capture what Charli was looking for but I couldn’t seem to let it go! After quite a bit of tweaking this is the end result. Closer to Charli’s intent I think.
Winter was descending, short cold days followed by long cold nights. Distraction was needed. No, not distraction… learning. Yes! This was valuable time that needed to be used thoughtfully. Much growth could happen in the cold with a little encouragement.
So many topics beckon, but let’s be real, nothing that involves leaving the warmth of home will happen. And yes, there it was, an on-line art class. Collage: cutting and gluing bright bits of paper. Abstract flowers and cats. Back to kindergarten and my simplest self. Growing from the roots. My heart lit with joy, I had a winner.
I have to admit I loved this week’s prompt of romance from Carrot Ranch. I surprised myself with how much fun I had writing this! I am enjoying experimenting with different types of writing. After my first draft I wondered what it would be like to write a dialog between two people but only have one person be verbal. This is what I came up with:
“Your boyfriend and my wife, who would have thought it,” said Kris. “You really caught them in flagrante delicto?”
“You don’t seem too upset. So what are you going to do now?”
“What about Thanksgiving?”
“How about coming home with me to Chicago?”
I looked at Kris quizzically.
Kris gazed at me as he lightly touched the back of my hand. “Are you seriously going to continue to ignore the spark between us?”
I blushed. No. No reason to now, I thought as I leaned over and softly kissed him on the lips.
The Kris in the story may or may not be a certain 3rd baseman for the Chicago Cubs. And yes, I may or may not be way too old for him but that is the beauty of fantasy, ANYTHING can happen!
It’s been awhile since I have done a flash fiction post from Carrot Ranch. In October they ran some judged challenges and I did enter a few but they don’t want us to post our entries until after the winners are announced the end of November. So I will have extra flash fiction entries in December to post!
I think Charli was looking for something a little more original than what I came up with but I am pleased that at least it is all fiction. Seems like most of my flash fiction ideas start with at least a kernel of truth. So, without further ado…
Gray clouds scurried across the sky as the wind knocked the last of the red maple leaves off the tree. I stepped back and looked up at the house. “Only two storm windows left, I’ll go get them,” I said.
“Nope. That was the last one,” Grandma replied.
“What about the window on the landing and your south bedroom window?” I asked.
“I don’t like to shut up the house completely. A body needs to be able to breath fresh air year round. The house likes a little air too.
I realized with a start that I haven’t written a post in awhile. I have been too busy living my life! Does this mean my blogging days are done? Probably not but I wouldn’t be surprised to find my blog changing again.
No flash fiction because Carrot Ranch is running contests this month. I have entered two of them so far and they don’t want us to publish our entries until late November after the winners are announced. My goal is to finish in the top ten so I can get a critique from Charli who will be practicing on the top ten for her writing class.
This month I have made it a goal to clean or de-clutter one area in my home six days a week. I am picking areas that don’t get cleaned on a regular basis so I am doing odd drawers and nooks and crannies. I have done both refrigerators and I have to say every time I look in the kitchen fridge now I feel nothing but joy. I can’t believe how many expired and almost empty condiments I had!
I am also practicing some self-care and doing a 21 day on-line retreat called “Magical Mindfulness” created by Jools Sinclair. There have been some interesting bits and I am curating a few practices that will hopefully turn long term.
Finally there was the big autumn camping trip. I did a photo Friday of it but sadly it wasn’t that great of a trip because I was sick. 😞 I had been looking forward to this trip for months and the weather was beautiful but all I wanted to do was nap! I had been sick for two weeks and thought for sure I was going to get better.
After we got back I went to the doctor and found out that I have a virus, most likely two different one’s back-to-back considering how long I have been sick. For seven days I have to eat a bland, light diet to give my gut a chance to heal and drink emergence-C everyday to help the virus go on it’s way. Hopefully all will be well by Halloween.