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.
I didn’t participate in this week’s 99 word flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch. The topic didn’t grab me. But I still felt like writing something and realized I hadn’t done a paint chip poem in awhile. I chose grays and a touch of blue in honor of actually having winter this year. Rain today and tomorrow, maybe even a little snow mixed in, how exciting!
Without further ado here is my poem. The paint chip words are bolded:
No blue suede shoes today
I thought looking out the window
The wild blue yonder
hidden by a steely gray mass of
I was loath to leave my cozy castle
for the harsh outside world
but bills must be paid
I headed to my skyscraper office
happy to not see the scary gargoyle on the corner
hidden from view
by the torrents of rain falling from the sky
With no warning
the icy rain
changed to snow
and the whole outlook of my day changed
I lingered on the sidewalk glad to be caught out in the
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.
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.
Remember how I had a plan for the month of March? The first half of the month went really well as I wrote in my mid-month update. But after that things rather fell apart.
I had finished a very rough first draft but I was at a crossroads. My characters had built their own lives and the short story idea wasn’t working out with the plot lines very well. I loved the plot that had developed but now I didn’t know how to make it work as a series of interconnected short stories. So I dithered a bit and finally took a day off to consider the situation: novel or short stories?
While dithering about the writing was going on family life was intruding upon my writing time. And then physical issues butted in and I confess: I gave up. For now.
The good news is I loved doing the writing. In the near future I plan to keep experimenting until I find a writing plan that works for my life, right now.
What did I learn?
Writing everyday is not for me. Weekends were especially difficult. I am a parent and parenting often takes precedence over everything else.
Having a spreadsheet “yelling” at me that I was behind on my word count was not helpful. I do much better with goals of completing scenes.
But I do like the idea of seeing my word count progress divided up by writing session. So I am making my own spreadsheet that I can adapt to my writing style/goals.
Writing while walking on the treadmill was very helpful, really kept me focused. (I am walking as I write this!)
Since March ended up being about a lot more than writing let’s talk thyroid and menopause and allergies. Yes the triple headed monster has re-emerged. The first half of the month I did some excellent healthy eating, I was sleeping well and I felt like I had my allergies under control with the right combination of meds.
And then poof! Total exhaustion, short tempered and eating everything in sight. I went straight from my period to PMS to having another period ten days later. So peri-menopause? Of which I can do nothing about. Or thyroid?
As luck would have it my prescription is due for renewal so I got my thyroid level checked this week and it is higher but still in the “normal” range. But looking at my results on-line and looking at levels from the past five years I noticed (again) the pattern of how my TSH is always higher in the spring. So the doctor is renewing my meds at the same dosage but I will be secretly (don’t tell my doctor!) upping my dosage for the next two months or so during allergy season. (My prescription is filled via mail order and somehow I have ended up with an extra bottle. I have no idea how.) And we will see if I feel better in the next week or so. If I don’t feel better I guess that means it is menopause and you will find me on the couch in stretchy pants eating junk food.
As for the allergies my meds seem to be working pretty well. My only issue is a bit of post nasal drip which leaves me with a bit of a sore throat some days. I can live with that.
Not the March I had imagined for myself, but life is like that. It was a good experiment though.
I have written every day but one and my word count is a bit behind but not alarmingly so. It was a little bit tough getting started but I have to admit I am pretty proud of myself for not being totally de-railed by distractions beyond my control. (I have two parent teacher conferences scheduled for this week and I keep practicing the tactful and calm logic I am going to present as to why collaborative learning in core subjects is not in my son’s best interest. And a second distraction has to do with dealing with my poor body’s tramp toward menopause. Sigh.) I have remembered to be kind to myself though and it is really paying off. The writing itself has been a joy. My stories have taken a surprising turn and I love how I started down one path and then found a whole different plot line developing.
I took some pictures to cheer up, well the whole rest of the country which seems to be experiencing extreme cold, sleet, snow and blizzards. What perfect writing weather! 🙂
(If you look on the left side of the first photo above, the featured photo, you can see the start of two teeny green oranges!)
Buds on my lemon tree.
The weather has turned from winter to spring to summer in the last two weeks. Temps are now reaching the low 90’s and the smell of citrus blossoms are perfuming the air.
This year I decided to keep an index card on my nightstand. On this card I write two sentences for each month. Sometimes it is my own thought or something I stumble on in a book. It could be a quote or just one word.
The purpose of these sentences is to remind me of how I want to live my life, who I want to be, what is important. I review it each night before sleep, sometimes again in the morning or whenever I feel the need to regain some focus.
In March when I watched Peyton Manning give his retirement speech one thing he said really stuck with me:
“Life is not shrinking for me; it’s morphing into a whole new world of possibilities.”
I LOVE this idea and I hope it is true for all of us!
My military life is way behind me and motherhood is being revamped with small child in school all day and becoming more independent all the time. I find myself wondering in which direction my life is going to go next. A whole world of possibilities await!