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.
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!
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. 🙃
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.”
“You know, that thing I am always weeding and watering.”
“But that’s just vegetables!”
“So? You like vegetables.”
“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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.