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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.