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.
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.
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.
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.
This week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch immediately made me think of a campfire. My favorite time of year to go camping is in the fall. I suppose this is rather a riff on a “Good Things” post. I closed my eyes and imagined my family sitting around a campfire up at Aspen Campground on the Mogollon Rim. (Alas, the photo is actually from a spring trip to the Grand Canyon, the best I could do.)
Autumn Camping Joys
Achingly blue skies
Trees full of red and yellow leaves
Crunching leaves underfoot
Legs pleasantly aching after a long hike
Sizzling hot dogs over the fire
Laughter as yet another marshmallow bursts into flame
Smoke scented air drifting up
Hands stretched toward the warmth
Ghosts stories making you glance over your shoulder
Eminence: a person of high rank or position or a lofty place
Here is this week’s entry for Carrot Ranch. There just may be a touch of fantasy in this scenario!
I dragged myself into the kitchen and apathetically checked the fridge. Spouse and small child would be home soon and looking for dinner. That was part of my “job”, cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping. I could feel the surge of pre-menopause hormones coloring my brain. I wasn’t even hungry, why should I cook dinner? I checked the freezer. The emergency frozen pizza had already been eaten this week. I started to cry and told myself, “enough”. The eminences would have to fend for themselves this once. I retreated to the couch and a movie. “Double Indemnity” suited me perfectly.
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?
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.