Flash Fiction: Paint

This week’s flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch was to write a story that involved paint.

This is what I wrote first:

I know it is hormones and heat causing my apathy but it is still scary.  
Scary to sit and not be able to think of a single thing one wants to do.  
Scary not knowing when one is going to get one’s self back again. 
 
Frustrating to desperately need sleep,  
going to bed knowing you aren’t going to get it. 
Frustrating knowing for a fact that one is going to be awakened
at least three times with bursts of heat.

Satisfying to look at the blank page of the sketchbook
and add a slash of color. 
Mindlessly?
Or
Mindfully?

This is not fiction. This is therapy. So often I find myself using the writing prompt to express my current mental state. This isn’t a bad thing but not my goal. So I tried a second time.

“Dream House”

She felt like Myrna Loy in “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House” as she recited paint colors to the contractor. 

“I am still figuring out my office”, she confessed.  It felt terribly important to get the color exactly right in the room she would spend the most time in.  

Since she couldn’t even narrow down a color family she was going by name now. She wanted something literary like ‘Writer’s Retreat’ or ‘Chapter and Verse’. 

She flipped through the paint chips and read ‘All Your Dreams’. The palest of pinks, more of a rosy cream.  Her future in paint.

I thought this was better but still has too much me in it. I’ll continue to work on that when I get back. I will miss the next two or three weeks as I will be on vacation and then having surgery.

P.S. I don’t know if those are real paint color names, I made them up. If I had more words I would have had the kitchen painted ‘Buttercup Yellow’, the hall bath ‘Tidal Blue’ and the master “Glacier Gray’. Turns out I like making up paint names. And I have a spot to use that skill in my novel!!

In the meantime enjoy your summer and have a safe and Happy 4th of July!

Flash Fiction: Waiting

This week’s theme for Carrot Ranch’s 99 word flash fiction is about having to wait. I am in the throes of waiting. Waiting to go on our vacation, waiting to have my surgery, waiting for relief from some horrendous hot flashes. Then I’ll be waiting for school to start and my training for the census bureau. So, yes, I have plenty of material to work with for the theme of waiting.

But this week I wanted to focus on the word fiction in my writing. I wanted to make something completely up. I wanted the wait to be a positive experience. So that is where I went with the prompt!

“Mental Health Day”

At the beginning of the year Jennifer impulsively penciled in a mental health day on her calendar. Now the day was here and she wanted a spontaneous adventure.  

She drove two hours west and found a small town on the coast. She sat outdoors at a quaint café, opened the menu, closed her eyes and lightly ran her finger over the plastic sheet. Strawberry and cream cheese crepe appeared under her finger.  Perfect!

She sat back, the sun warming her face, noticing an Artist Co-Op across the road.  Stop two she thought as she waited patiently for her crepe.

Flash Fiction: Many Hands

My surgery is just over a month away. I keep telling myself not to start stressing over it yet, to wait until the week of my hysterectomy. But…I have never had surgery before. The only time I have been in the hospital was to have my son and that was in Montana. A much smaller, friendlier city than where I am now.

Despite my admonishments to myself, once in awhile I start to wonder exactly what it is going to be like. I have to be there at 5:30am and I picture myself shivering with cold and fatigue and wandering around lost in a huge hospital. I have a terrible sense of direction under the best of circumstances and it would be foolish to think I am just going to waltz in the correct door and find my way without any issues. That isn’t how my life goes.

Oddly enough in my imagination I never get past the point of trying to find the admissions desk. I suppose wondering about the rest of the day will come later.

Today I am writing out my fears in this week’s flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch. The theme is about the works of many hands. There will be many people involved in my surgery, the list has already begun with the scheduling and insurance work done. I am thinking I want to try and keep count of people the day of. I am curious as to how many people I will actually interact with that day. It may also be a good distraction from my fears.

All that said, I hope this tale remains fictional! I had to make it a two-parter, my worries couldn’t be contained in a mere 99 words. I needed to see it through to the end, couldn’t leave myself stranded in an empty hallway.

“First Time Surgery”

PART I

First I couldn’t find the right entrance:

Emergency?  No.

Staff Only?  No.

A kindly passerby asks if I need help.

Yes.

The admission’s clerk hands over a stack of paperwork.  

“Take the elevators on your left to the 4thfloor and follow the blue signs.”

I turn around and take the elevators to the right (that are now on my left.)

Fourth floor, I see only orange and yellow signs.

I stand in the middle of the hallway bewildered.

Lost again. No help in sight. I shiver.

How many people does it take to help me find outpatient surgery?

PART II

A young woman touches my arm.  Do you need help?

Yes.

Go down this hall to the end, take a right and go across the walkway and follow the blue signs.

I see blue and green signs.  What color was I supposed to follow?

I am panicking, flustered, aware of the ticking clock.

A man in scrubs stops.  All my fears come bubbling out.

I cry and babble.  He takes my arm and leads me to the check-in desk.

A nurse looks up and nods to the man in scrubs and hands me a tissue, “You’ll be fine ma’am”.

Flash Fiction: A Big Splash

This week’s 99 word flash fiction entry for Carrot Ranch.

“The Dream”

Jan worked on her novel off and on for years, decades. Long off periods: moves, jobs, babies, cancer. But she never totally gave up. She wrote and edited, wrote and edited some more.  On her 65thbirthday she decided it was finished. 

Jan left the book sitting on her desk, printed and bound by the local UPS store.  Her granddaughter found it, read it and self-published it on Kindle. Turns out it made a big splash in the mystery genre.  Meryl Streep played her heroine in the movie adaptation.

If only Jan had lived to see her wonderful success.

P.S. Maybe this is my dream. That means I have 13 more years to finish my novel. Whew, plenty of time yet. 🙃

Flash Fiction (Strawberries and Mint)

I almost skipped this week’s Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge. Strawberries and mint? I thought I had nothing to say on that subject. And then an image of a door slamming and a teenager walking in came to mind, and the story wrote itself.

One of the things I love about these weekly challenges is the opportunity to practice different aspects of writing. I am a newbie so I need practice in many areas. Last week in “Pining for Ice” I made an extra effort to show, not tell. This week I found myself practicing dialog. And I feel I need to point out that the title seems integral to the story.

“SAID NO CHILD EVER”

“Mom, there’s nothing to eat.”
 
“Sure there is.”
 
“I can’t find any chips, mac and cheese or lunch meat.”
 
“Try the garden.”
 
“The garden?”
 
“You know, that thing I am always weeding and watering.”
 
“But that’s just vegetables!”
 
“So?  You like vegetables.”
 
 Door slams.
 
“What did you find?”
 
“Spinach and strawberries and green onions!  I’m gonna make that salad you made last week. Where’s the recipe for the dressing?”
 
“This cookbook.”
 
“This is so good, do you want some?  I made extra.”
 
“Thanks. What’s that in your water?”
 
“Mint.  Quite refreshing in this heat.  Want some for your water?
 

Flash Fiction: Without Ice

Carrot Ranch’s 99 word challenge this week was to write a story without ice.

“Pining for Ice”

I was separated from my unit, deployed to a critical spot at a forward operating base.

I worked sixteen-hour shifts catching sleep when I could.  The a/c worked just enough to take the edge off the heat. Couldn’t even get a cool shower.

As I ate the peanut butter and crackers in my MRE I looked at the picture my unit had sent. I glanced at their smiling faces gathered around a table in a chow hall but my gaze lingered on the ice filled glasses of sweet tea in front of them as I chugged my lukewarm water.

May Madness: Maple

Once again I am using one post to do double duty. (Remember? Lacking Motivation.) This weeks 99 word prompt from Carrot Ranch involved searching for trees, or at least one tree. So here you go.

“The Red Maple”

She bought the house in winter and didn’t realize the tree in the backyard was dead until spring.  She had it removed at the end of the summer and told herself she didn’t want to rake leaves anyway.

As the year progressed she thought the yard looked naked and found she missed raking leaves.

In the spring she wandered around the nursery feeling overwhelmed until she saw a six-foot tall red maple.  Her tree.

She took her home and named her ‘Betty’.

Thirty years later her heart still contracted with joy as she raked up Betty’s jewel colored leaves.  

We’ll just pretend this is a maple tree, okay?

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Menopause

I am cheating today as this is also my entry for Carrot Ranch’s weekly flash fiction topic. This week’s 99 word topic is about growing older. And did you really think I would go the whole month of “M” words May and not address menopause? Silly reader. 🙃 At least I am able to look at menopause with a sense of humor right now.

Menopause

A woman spends the latter half of her life in three phases:

Perimenopause – Characterized by so many different symptoms you are sure you are losing your mind. Coping mechanism is eating brownies while hiding in the pantry. You long to live alone in a mountain cabin.

Menopause – This phase has many false starts.   Six months without a period and then you get surprised by your ‘friend’.  Still eating brownies, you now wake up in the middle of the night and have to endure  hours thinking about brownies.  

Post-menopausal –  The sun comes out again and you live happily ever after.

Flash Fiction (Exhaustion)

I had my idea for Carrot Ranch’s 99 word flash fiction topic right away but couldn’t quite get it right. I tried four different versions before settling on this one. Still not sure it conveys what I am trying to say. But I will be kind to myself this week and just go with it.

“The 36 Hour Day”

Last night’s game had gone thirteen innings followed by a long flight across the country.  A 5:00p first pitch the next day left no time for a nap. 

The radio announcer found himself giving an involuntary snort of laughter over the airwaves. An unexpected foul ball in the booth started the infectious chuckling.  The announcers couldn’t look at each other for fear of bursts of mirth escaping.  Their words came out strangled with laughter.

Punch drunk with exhaustion the radio announcers lost it in the seventh inning.  Baffled listeners were confused, not recognizing sleep deprivation when they heard it.

Flash Fiction (Beggars Can’t Be Choosers)

I am not sure if I was inspired to write this from the photo of a cute Westie-ish dog on Carrot Ranch or my spouse who always says “no beggin’ dogs at the table”. (While Charli’s topic was meant to have a more serious bent on choices I felt the need for humor this week. So I chose light-hearted and fun. Charli is right, having a choice is always a good thing.) Either way my wonderful dog Sherlock is the star in this week’s 99 word entry for Carrot Ranch. (Sorry for the slightly blurry picture. I was too tired to set up “the shoot” again and most likely wouldn’t have done any better anyway. My subjects were not particularly cooperative!)

“No Beggin’ Dogs at the Table”

I couldn’t catch the rabbit no matter how fast I ran.  Darn, I was hungry.  My twitching paws woke me up and I looked at the clock but I had never learned to tell people time.  My stomach gurgled. I yawned and stretched and then trotted through the house sniffing for small child.  Ah, he was at the kitchen table.  He smelt of peanut butter and yogurt.  I licked his foot but found nothing tasty there.  I was impatient but settled on the floor under his feet where food was sure to be dropped.  I hoped it was bacon.