Flash Fiction: The Greatest Gift

The prompt from Carrot Ranch for this week is “The Greatest Gift”. I had lots of ideas come to mind but they all felt trite, too obvious. I started thinking about how it is not just the story but the way it is told. I have not had much luck getting ideas out of my brain and into words on paper. Often times there is a disconnect somewhere. I suspect much of my problem is simply the need to spend more time, more rewrites, more work on the task. I need to get my “10,000 hours” in.

Still not perfect but after multiple edits and changes I got closer to getting the picture in my head translated into words. I am glad I will have next week to try again!

“Time, Heart and Head”

She was 83, too old to be living alone said her grandchildren.  Her house was worth a fortune they said.  

“It’s my home, not a house,” she groused. “Fine, when the Cubs win the World Series I’ll move.”

 She spent her 92nd summer as always, listening to the Cubs on the radio.  She was tired, worn out; it had been a hard year. In her head she knew it was time to move.

Finally, game seven of the World Series. Tie score. Rain delay ends at last. Her heart races, knows: it is time for the Cubs to win.

Fly the W!

Flash Fiction: True Grit

Here is my attempt for this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch. And yes, hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim is something I think about doing.

“TRUE GRIT”

I stare at the steep path up the canyon wall and breathe deep.  “I can do this.  One step at a time.  Nice and easy,” I tell myself.

“Think about how happy you will be at the top,” I continue with my pep talk.  “How many people can say they have hiked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon? You chose to do this.  So what if you are 55 years old.  You are in shape for this.  Eat some granola and keep moving.”

“You okay back there?” the guide yells.  “Yup, gritting it out just fine,” I reply.

Flash Fiction: A Sweet Jam

I almost skipped this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch. I had no ideas, zip, zero. My brain was empty.

I completed my training and officially started work this week. I think I made a mistake. The work is easy enough and I actually like all the walking, but the heat is killing me. I am re-thinking my hours and promised myself to stick it out to the end of the week. It is supposed to cool down Friday and Saturday and I’ll see if it is enough to make it bearable. And if it is still too hot for me I will resign.

So I found myself thinking a lot about weather and finally figured out an idea for the prompt.

“Hello Spring”

Sophia walked into the kitchen and wondered where spring was.  Fat snowflakes swirled outside the window, carpeting the grass and mounding on empty flowerpots. 

“This would be pretty if it was December,” Sophia told Mother Nature, “but here in May you are just being cruel.”

She put the kettle on and popped an English muffin into the toaster.  “Guess I’ll just have to make my own spring,” she said, moving a vase of tulips to the table.  She opened her last jar of homemade strawberry jam and breathed in the sweet berry scent.  “Take that Mother Nature,” she crowed.

February 2019

I could go for some snow right now!

Flash Fiction: Poison Apple

I stopped listening to the news some years ago. I got tired of not being given just the facts and being allowed to interpret them for myself. I got tired of the news sensationalizing brutal events. I listen to my local classical music station in the morning. I listen to the news from NPR they broadcast at 0800 just to see if anything really big has happened in the world. Most mornings I am disappointed to hear them start off with something negative about the President. I find it hard to believe this is the most important thing to happen in the whole entire world in the last 24 hours.

I stay out of politics and though I believe everyone is entitled to voice their opinion I am never happy to hear diatribes. I have very strong feelings about many things, most of which I keep to myself. I also believe in respecting the office of the President. I didn’t love all my Commander-In-Chiefs but I certainly respect the office, and the power and responsibility that entails. So I was tempted to skip this week’s 99 word prompt but…

Here is my response to the prompt from Carrot Ranch:

“How to Un-poison the Apple”

The morning sun wakes me and I know I should be grateful for the possibilities of this new day.  It stretches out before me, empty and endless.

I drink my tea. Do I dare turn on the radio? What are the chances of hearing good news? No, I will not poison my brain first thing in the morning.

Instead I bake chocolate chip cookies.  I make sandwiches. I count out ten bottles of water. Then I fill ten sack lunches.

I spend my morning seeking out the homeless and giving them lunch – sandwiches, cookies and one crisp, sweet apple.

Flash Fiction: Rock Star

So the pictures have nothing to do with the story, I just happened to recently take some pictures of rocks. How’s that for serendipity? So here is my response to Carrot Ranch’s 99 word prompt this week.

“Karaoke is not Your Friend”

Lisa’s friends nudged her and told her it was her turn. She gulped down the rest of her drink and as she stood up the floor tilted underneath her. She gently touched people’s shoulders for balance as she made her way to the stage.

She belted out “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.  “I sound just like Pat Benatar,” she thought.  She finished to a thunderous ovation, people laughing and clapping.  “I am a rock star!” she yelled as she left the stage.  She continued to feel that way, at least until she saw the video the next day. 

This is the rock Lisa crawled under the next day!

Flash Fiction: For One Day

I have to confess I am having a tough time mentally getting back into my normal routine after vacation and surgery downtime. To be honest I am not sure I want to go back to my old routine. But I do think these writing challenges are good for me. I need to keep practicing if I am ever going to improve and learn and grow. I love the story of the baby loon that inspired this week’s flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch. I rather wish I was sitting on a cabin porch by a lake right now!

Here is this week’s entry.

FOR ONE DAY

Kate lies in bed listening to the quiet. The boys are off on a fishing trip.  Laundry and groceries flit across her mind.  And then, what if for one day she did only what she wanted to do? She breathes deep, does she dare? 

In the shower she contemplates and discards options.  Then the answer arrives.

She throws her journal, sketchbook and pencils in her backpack.  She stops at the cute corner café she always wanted to try and requests a box lunch: “Surprise me,” she says. She heads toward the river, hiking until she finds solitude. Tranquility. Herself.

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. 🙃