I participated once before in the A to Z Challenge and while I found it fun, it was a challenge as I waited until the last minute to start. You really have to do at least some homework ahead of time and be organized. So this year I am ready! I am using my joy list as my theme. A little over a year ago I started a Joy List in my BUJO conveniently arranged alphabetically. In January I started writing posts. Somewhere along the way I decided each entry should be 53 words long. Yes, I totally borrowed this idea from Carrot Ranch and I went with 53 because that is my age.
In February I built the posts adding pictures along the way. In early March the A to Z badges became available and I was able to finalize and schedule the posts, finishing just before starting another round of census work.
I mostly used my own photos but for a few entries it was easier and made more sense to use the free WordPress photos.
I confess I almost skipped this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch. I am not interested in a bunch of diatribes against our leadership. The only thing I am really interested in these days are chocolate and an uninterrupted nights sleep.
But then I decided I can continue to be me, write something lighter, more on the fun side and not read the rest.
Time for my every ten-minutes check on the family. Dad was still staring morosely at a blank television screen. My boy was fixated on a screen and clicking on a mouse. I don’t know why he called it that, it sure wasn’t a mouse. Mom was wiping down the kitchen counter for the eighth time, no sign of her cooking bacon. Darn. I decided it was time to take charge. I grabbed my leash from its hook and started barking and jumping around. “Great idea Sherlock,” said Mom and she yelled out “time for a family walk, right now!”
Let’s face it, in many homes pets rule the roost! (The pictures are of the the same dog, different hairstyles, he likes to mix it up 🙂 )
When I first read the prompt of rabbits on the roof from Carrot Ranch I thought I would skip it. I just couldn’t imagine rabbits on a roof. Plus I was still trying to wrap my head around all the changes in my world. But then I read the Brambly Hedge (by Jill Barklem) Story for Spring to my son and suddenly I had a picture of a rabbit family living on the roof of a New York City skyscraper. Being rabbits it was a large family. I could see rows of dollhouse-like homes and shops. In one corner was a park complete with a duck pond and swings. Another corner had vegetable garden allotments.
Every time I found myself thinking something was unrealistic or impossible in real life I made myself stop thinking. This is their story.
Unbeknownst to the humans below a family of rabbits lived on the 94thfloor (aka the roof). The first spring-like day they decided to go on a picnic. The aunts got busy making egg salad sandwiches and carrot cookies while the uncles dug out the picnic baskets. The cousins gathered quilts and Frisbees and badminton sets.
They headed to the park and set up under a tree whose leaves were still buds and basked in the warm sunshine. They enjoyed the good food, pleasant company and fine spring weather. The simple things in life are the best they agreed.
The prompt from Carrot Ranch this week was tapping. The first thing I thought of was the playing of TAPS. Most people associate the melancholy bugle notes with funerals but I have been stationed on bases where they were played at 10:00p each night to signify the end of the day or the start of quiet hours. I liked hearing it.
Once again practicing my show don’t tell skills. The military is famous (or maybe infamous!) for it’s work hard, play hard mentality. Something I experienced a lot during deployments. These days I find myself thinking a day is really good if I have a nice mix of work, play and relaxation. Hopefully I reflected that a bit in this story.
I lay in bed, drowsy, waiting for my cue to sleep. It had been a good day, one that I thought of as well balanced. I worked hard all day diagnosing and fixing a rudder issue on my F-16 and then beat the boss’s team in a volleyball match. The chow hall had my favorite version of mystery meat for dinner. I spent the evening cleaning my boots and watching the latest episode of “Breaking Bad”.
Now the moon shown down and cool air rippled through the window.
And then I heard it, taps, the signal for lights out.
This week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch is to write about a Clarice, real or fictional. The over all post was pretty heavy and serious so of course my response is to write something insanely silly. That’s just how I roll. I wrote my 99 words late at night when I couldn’t sleep after a long, frustrating day of census training. And you don’t have to tell me, I already know I am not a poet but I love the fact that I can write a poem anyway!
‘Clarice the Polka Dot Bowed Reindeer‘
Clarice begged him not to go-
Look at all that wind and snow!
But Rudolph was not afraid,
So Clarice said fine, have it your way.
Clarice knew Rudolph would soon run into trouble
So she got ready to leave on the double.
With grace and ease she tromped through the snow,
Without a doubt she knew just where to go.
And when Rudolph ran into trouble,
Just as she knew he would,
Clarice was there to do what she could.
She saved the day in the ice and snow
‘cause Clarice was one helluva reindeer
don’t you know!
I loved this week’s prompt of the open road from Carrot Ranch. I have to confess this is a bit of a real life fantasy, though I know I would never abandon my son. But I have thought about writing a story about a mother who simply disappears one morning. I always imagine more sinister reasons than simply taking off though!
I found myself asking a series of questions that might trigger a sudden road trip and then wondered if I could write a whole 99 word flash fiction in questions. And then I did it, except for the very deliberate last line. No answers here though.
As I pulled out of the school parking lot I wondered what would happen if I turned left at the light instead of right? If I hopped on the interstate and just kept going north? How far away would I be before anyone realized I was gone? Would my family really miss me? Where would I go? Who would I be if I started my life over? What could I do if I lived my life only for myself? As I approached the light I dithered, right lane…or left lane? I smiled to myself as I made the turn.
I am not thrilled with this week’s entry for Carrot Ranch. I feel like I need a lot more words in order to show not tell and I got frustrated and decided to go with “good enough” for this week. (Which it is not but there you have it.)
Rhonda really is the name of our postal person. We have one of those group mailboxes at the end of the street which I hate but which is typical for this area. And on Christmas night someone really did pry open the back of the mailboxes. They could only reach three or four boxes, one of which was mine. I was shocked and hoped they maybe got a credit card bill and were going to pay it for me! Most likely they didn’t get any mail at all as we had collected our mail on Christmas Eve and of course no mail was delivered Christmas Day and the damage was spotted on the 26th.
The post office took care of the situation surprisingly quickly and a new (and much nicer) mailbox was in place by the end of the week. When I went to pick up my new key I asked what they thought the thieves were looking for…drugs. And ironically my thyroid meds showed up the next day.
Rhonda stood in the windy monsoon rain and stared at the back of the mailbox in dismay. Twenty-three years on the job and she was still shocked every time she encountered mail theft. Her own sense of integrity was so innate that she could never quite believe people would steal mail.
She tried to remember what she had delivered the day before knowing the thief was most likely looking for drugs.
With a sigh she called her supervisor and then carefully stowed the current mail back in the truck before removing all the remaining mail from the damaged box.
I skipped the last two prompts from Carrot Ranch, one didn’t interest me enough and one felt more controversial than I wanted to to participate in. (With the current political climate I have been avoiding all news, so much of it isn’t true or it isn’t news! I felt like writing about a protest would be opening a can of worms. Wait, did I just protest against writing about protests? Jeez.) It hasn’t helped that I have been sick for more than a week too.
But this week’s prompt was different, a GIF showing a park bench throughout a 24 hour period. It was interesting. I just wish I could have stopped the animation to study scenes more closely. I went with upbeat, something I feel the world needs more of at the moment.
0600 Empty Park Bench
What a lovely morning! The sun feels good after that chilly night. I am enjoying this fragment of quiet tranquility, possibly the last one of the day. I am really glad no one threw up on me during the night. I wonder if anyone will need consoling today? Will I witness moments of great joy? I hope some kids come and play near me; I love the sound of their laughter. It would be nice if someone ate lunch here, the smell of chicken soup would be wonderful. I guess I’ll know soon enough what visitors today will bring.
Another interesting prompt from Carrot Ranch that I put my own spin on.
“The Inhuman Hutch”
The four foot square box made of metal had a thick wavy pane of glass on one side. The POWs called it the hutch. The Major broiled inside for twenty-seven days and shivered through twenty-seven nights.
The enemy was sure a man of his rank knew plenty about troop movements or upcoming military operations. But he didn’t know anything, though he often wished he did so he could misdirect the enemy.
He was just a payroll officer caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. A mere mortal given the opportunity to demonstrate his inordinate strength of mind.
In October Carrot Ranch sponsored four flash fiction contests. In keeping with my creative courage theme for 2019 I entered three of them. My goal was to finish in the top ten at least once so I could get a critique from Charli. And to my profound joy I did finish in the top ten for the TUFF Beans entry. Yeah me! (To read my TUFF Beans entry click on the Carrot Ranch link above.)
Of course the funny thing is this was my least favorite entry! Today I will share my other two entries.
Three Act Story
I think my mistake here was not getting the reader more invested in the main character. But I loved the somewhat ambiguous ending, even I am not sure who killed who!
Jamie drives in the final tent stake with a satisfying thwack and carefully places the hammer onto a nearby stump. She hurriedly builds a fire. A nearby howl has Jamie tossing another branch onto the meager flames.
The howling is getting louder. She moves closer to the fire, freezing as she hears rustling in the bushes. “Don’t look behind you, something may be there” is her last thought as four heavy paws land on her back.
Animal fur, chunks of torn flesh and a bloody hammer litter the campsite. The seasoned state trooper retches while photographing the grisly scene.
Modern Tall Tales
For this entry I don’t think I got the modern twist part. Oops. But I had a lot of fun writing this. Growing up I did walk to elementary school up a pretty steep one-way road and cross a busy four lane road and just exaggerated from there. Bats were also prevalent in our neighborhood and every summer one would get in the house and my father would put on his motorcycle helmet and use a fishing net to get it out. I also remember Hurricane Agnes. So I had a nice little trip down memory lane. 🙂
When I was a kid I had to walk to school. I left in the pitch dark, wearing a helmet to keep swooping bats out of my hair. I had to walk up Ailsa Avenue, which was so steep it was one-way downhill because cars couldn’t make it to the top.
Then I had to cross a six-lane highway, without a crossing guard!
And it didn’t matter what the weather was like. Even during Hurricane Agnes I had to walk to school.
So I think you can walk a block to the bus stop on this sunny, 70° morning.