Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge #99Words ‘Return to Alaska’

This 99-word flash fiction piece was written in response to Charli Mills’ weekly challenge at Carrot Ranch. Thanks Charli for the prompt!

February 25, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word frozen. It can be descriptive, character focused, action driven. Go out onto the ice and find a frozen story. Go where the prompt leads! Respond by March 2, 2021. Rules & Guidelines.

Return to Alaska

“Hi, my name’s Suzie. I’ll be looking after you this morning.” I smiled at the pretty hostess.  

She showed me some images on her screen. “Where would you like to go today, Maggie?”

I needed to return to the cabin where I had left my unfinished manuscript.

“A beach, the mountains, a lake, or…”

“I want to go back to Alaska.”

Suzie pushed my wheelchair into the viewing room. “Why are you always so keen on Alaska’s frozen landscape?”

“I have to finish my novel.”

Suzie squeezed my limp hand and slid on the 3D glasses. “Alaska it is.”

  *****

I wrote a stream of consciousness post inspired by the word ‘Frosty’ on Saturday, The post included a short story, improvised in two parts, on Friday night before going to bed I wrote the beginning and on Saturday morning I wrote the end of the story. No editing, no thinking, just improvised writing. Here is the post.

I usually take hours to write my posts, but stream-of-consciousness frees me from the constraints of a ‘well-crafted’ text. I literally wrote it in less than half an hour and amazingly, it is the post with the most likes in all February!

What does that tell me? Perhaps I spend too much time on my other posts and make them worse with so much preparation and editing?

Anyway, as this week’s Carrot Ranch prompt was ‘frozen’, which is pretty similar to ‘frosty’, I decided to use the same basic story idea and rewrite it with more careful editing and reducing it to 99 words.

Here’s the original stream-of-consciousness story with no editing: (Except ProWritingAid, which does the spelling and punctuation automatically as I write, which is a lifesaver!)

Frosty

I would love to stay at a log cabin, like the ones you see in films, in distant places like Canada and Alaska, sit by the window and write whatever comes to mind, drinking cups of tea and hot chocolate, by the fireplace, and eating hot soup with crusty bread (maybe I am hungry?).

I’d write a story about a writer who was in search of inspiration. She rented a cabin in the snowy countryside in the Alaskan wild, where she found a diary in the bedside table drawer, left behind by a previous occupant who had also come to write a book.

She opened the first page and read:

Once upon a time a writer needed solitude to write her novel, so she rented a cabin and found a diary written by a previous occupant. It started with Once upon a time…

She wrote the first chapter, and then she left.

She returned every year to find her diary in the same place. She wrote a new chapter each year.

(And now I’m going to bed, because it’s one o’clock in the morning. Tomorrow morning I’ll reread my post and write the end of the story.

Hi! I’m Back. Here’s Part II).

“Good morning, Maggie.”

Maggie turned to the pretty young girl and smiled.

“Where would you like to go today?” the nice girl said, showing her images on a screen. “There’s a beach, the mountains, a thick wood, or…”

“I want to go back to Alaska.”

“If you’re sure?” Maggie nodded enthusiastically.

The girl pushed Maggie’s wheelchair into the viewing room. “Why are you always so keen on frosty Alaska?”

Maggie’s eyes shone. “I have to finish my novel.”

The young girl caressed Maggie’s wrinkled hand, put on her 3D glasses and said, “Alaska it is.”

****

Well, what do you think?

Have I improved the story with tighter editing, or not?

 

Carrot Ranch Special Collection #FlashFiction Challenge #99Words ‘The River of Life’ #Poem

This 99-word poem was written in response to Charli Mills’ Special collection Challenge at Carrot Ranch. 

January 28, 2021, Special Collection Challenge prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about life as a river of consciousness. Think about the possibilities of the prompt. Go where the prompt leads! Respond by February 11, 2021.

The 99-word entries to this Carrot Ranch Special Collection Challenge will be presented to Sue Vincent on February 17. If you want to take part and be included in this special collection, respond using the form HERE.

The River of Life

The river trickles from its source,
Weak like a baby’s tears,
It slides across the earth,
First a stream which later grows,
Flowing carefree along the river bed,
Like a young girl, searching for love,
It carries reeds and pebbles and fish,
There are times it meanders lazily,
Other times it cascades with fury,
Or desire,
Later it grows, like a pregnant mother,
Carrying boats and bodies, too,
It battles with mud and pollution,
But always pushes forward,
Along a one way course,
There is no return,
It flows straight ahead,
Determined to reach its destination,  
The unchartered sea.
 *****

 

 

 

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge #99Words ‘Wish upon a star’

This 99-word flash fiction piece was written in response to Charli Mills’ weekly challenge at Carrot Ranch. Thanks Charli for the prompt!

January 21, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that rephrases “light at the end of the tunnel.” Think of how the cliche replacement communicates a hopeful ending and aligns with your character or story. Go where the prompt leads!

Wish Upon a Star

We were trapped.
Heavy snow covered the city, jamming doors and roads.
Soon it would reach our windows and block our view of the static sea.
“Mum, why did the moon disappear?”
Thirty, twelve-hour days had passed since the moon exploded and vanished.
 “I want to go home.”
Asteroids were crashing all over the planet, causing tidal waves and earthquakes.   
Archie pointed to the gigantic stars lighting up the sky. “I wish one of them would come and be our moon!”
“Who needs a moon when hundreds of stars are shining brighter than ever?” I said, hugging my son.
 *****

Well, that’s where ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ took me.

In this case, mother and son are hoping a gigantic star will take over the Moon’s vital role as the Earth’s satellite so they can recover their lives, but the outcome is uncertain, in spite of the brightness of the light or the stars.

I haven’t taken part in this challenge for over a year, in fact, I haven’t written much flash fiction in the same amount of time.

I enjoy the challenge of writing flash fiction, and I think it’s helped me improve my writing as I explained in this post, so I’ll be gradually getting back into the routine.

Hope you’re having a creative Monday!

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge #99Words #SixSentenceStory ‘Sorrowful Interlude’

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Sorrowful Interlude

Ruby welcomed her unfailing, weekly customer, handing him his usual two dozen daisies. Ralf nodded, smiled and limped towards the cemetery, carrying a cane and their favourite flowers.

He shook his head, reading the familiar inscriptions; Jane, beloved daughter of Ralf and Ada Grimmer, 10th August 1980 – 23rd September, 1999, and Ada, beloved wife and mother, 5th May 1950 – 23rd September, 1999.

He arranged the flowers, knelt and told them about his week, before saying his usual farewell, “Goodbye for today.”

Ralf refused to believe their separation was definite. “We’ll meet again soon, after this sorrowful interlude,” he whispered.

****************

Sorry it’s a little sad, but that’s where the two prompts took me.

Ralf refuses to believe that death is anything but a brief, albeit sorrowful interlude, between this world and the next.

We’re all certainly going in the same direction. Nobody leaves this Earth without dying first, whether we meet again is an option which some refuse to believe and others refuse to deny…

I’m taking part in the Carrot Ranch weekly challenge with ‘Interlude’. I’m afraid it’s been a while since I took part in this challenge, so this post is the end of that interlude!

I’m also taking part in the weekly ‘Six sentence story‘, with this week’s word prompt, ‘regret’. It’s my first time taking part, I think.

The two words merged as Ralf’s story popped into my mind. My mind’s elusive and impulsive creativity will never cease to amaze me!

Hope you’re having a creative Monday!

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction #99Words ‘The Guest Room’

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to write a story about gender issues. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

The Guest Room

‘Alice, Billy’ll have to stay in the guest room, tonight.’
‘Mum, we’ll be up late, finishing our project.’
‘You can’t sleep together, not since…’ She nods towards Alice’s waist, ‘you were ill.’
Billy frowned. Alice didn’t look unwell.
‘It’s not contagious.’
‘You’re not a little girl anymore.’
Billy’s eyes widened. He stared at Alice. She looked the same to him.
‘So, you’re going to punish Billy because of me?’
‘Everything’s different now, Alice.’
‘Billy’s afraid of the dark. I’m grown up, so I’ll look after him, won’t I Billy?’
Billy’s jaw dropped and he nodded. Alice was always right.

***

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction #99Words ‘Cup Cakes, Lawns, and True Love’

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to write a story about valentine. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Cup Cakes, Lawns and Real Love…

“I don’t want anyone to say you’re a thief, Billy.”

“You stole my heart, why can’t I steal a tiny cup cake?”

Alice rolled her eyes.

“I promise to pay it back with my first wages.”

“We’re only twelve, it’ll take years!”

“Please accept my gift, Alice.”

“Only if you pay for it.”

“How?”

“Let’s visit my granny.”

“I don’t want her money.”

Alice laughed. “Granny’ll make you work for it.”

Billy’s eyes lit up. “I’ll mow her lawn for a whole year! And I’ll see you every day!”

“I’d like that much better than a fancy cup cake.”

****

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘My Mother’s Cottage’ #99Words #SundayBlogShare

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to write a story about variations in property values. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

My Mother’s Cottage

I wished I hadn’t inherited the beautiful, but run down cottage from my eccentric yet inspirational mother. I’d have preferred to hear her reading extracts from her bestselling novels, but she finally succumbed to a long illness and donated everything else to Cancer Relief.   

It didn’t feel right to sell her home, but I couldn’t afford the maintenance, until I met Jason, who contacted me on Facebook. He was the first to offer to pay for spending a few hours in my mother’s study.  

Now we’re married, the cottage is fully booked for years and the value has tripled.

****

Exterior view of the Emily Dickinson Museum with Dickinson’s bedroom visible on the second floor.CreditGreg Miller for The New York Times

We all enjoy visiting an author’s House-Museum with all the other visitors and tourists, but what would it be like to spend a week, a day, or even an hour alone, in the same room where one of your favourite writers penned their novels? Imagine sitting on Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Daphne du Maurier, or Ruth Rendell’s chair, at their desk, in their study. Would it be inspirational, scary, or life changing?

I visited Emily Dickinson’s homestead in Amherst, on several occasions, the last one in 2007. It’s a beautiful house with a delightful garden. I peeked into her bedroom, where she cut herself off from the rest of the world writing her cryptic poems, rarely leaving its confines. Much has been written about her mental frailty, some scholars have suggested the possibility of agoraphobia.

The Dickinson Homestead was certainly atmospheric, and I can imagine that time alone, in her room, would prove inspiring, and it’s now possible to rent her room for private visits, by the hour.

I recently came across an article about Emily Dickinson’s Museum in the NYT by a reporter who had paid for the privilege of spending an hour, alone in her room. The idea of such a possibility inspired this week’s flash fiction.

If you are interested in ghost stories or paranormal events, the reporter narrates a very spooky experience in Miss Dickinson’s bedroom. Follow this link to read more about it.    

Emily Dickinson’s bedroom in the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass., with a replica of one of her famous white dresses.CreditGreg Miller for The New York Times

Which author’s house-museum’s have you visited?

Which is your favourite?

Would you enjoy spending time there alone?

****

This week I asked my older grandson to colour a picture of a cottage, while I wrote a story about one.

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘A Thousand Paper Cranes’ #99Words #SundayBlogShare

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to include ‘the charisma of cranes’ in the story. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Miss Martinelli’s Present

We’ve come to see Miss Martinelli,’ said Sally.

‘I’m afraid, my daughter isn’t receiving visitors,’ Mrs Martinelli said, wiping her eyes.

Sally pointed to a group of children holding a chain made of coloured paper. ‘We’ve brought her a present.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘Miss Martinelli is our art teacher. She taught us origami, so we’ve made a thousand paper cranes to decorate her room.’

‘How beautiful, but why?’

‘She told us about an ancient Japanese legend which says if you make a thousand paper cranes, the Gods will grant you a wish. We all wish her to come back.’

****

I’m afraid I know nothing about cranes, so I looked them up, and the ancient Japanese legend inspired this sentimental flash. I know there are great teachers out there and fabulous students too.

More about this legend here.

****

A summary of my conversation with my grandson who is very intrigued about these stories I have to write every Sunday!

‘So, granny, what’s our story about this week?’ My grandson asked me.

‘Cranes’ I replied and his face lit up.

‘Like the ones on my truck?’

He has various mechanical cranes, with and without trucks which he loves to play with.

‘No. A crane is also a type of bird.’

So I showed him some pictures on google images. We have lots of fun searching for information and pictures on google!

‘I know why he’s called a crane.’ Miguel nodded sagely.

“Really? Why?’ I asked him.

‘He stretches his neck, like a crane.’

I can’t fault his logic!

So here are two pictures I printed out for him to colour this week. The one below is his sister’s watercolour fish, painted a couple of weeks ago, but I love it.

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘Speed Dating’ #99Words #SundayBlogShare

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to include ‘a line’ in the story. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Speed Dating Lines

“You’re a writer?”

She nodded, expecting him to make an excuse and move away, instead he asked, “Could you write me an original pick up line?”

“I’m not helping you lie.”

“Are you kidding?” He said waving his arm around the crowded venue. “Everyone’s expecting me to pretend.”

“You’re right. It’s so sad.” She stood, “I shouldn’t have come.”

“Wait, could I borrow your pen and notebook?”

She hesitated then pushed them towards him.

“I’m tired of pretending,” he wrote.

“Just be yourself,” she wrote back.

“Could we both be ourselves somewhere quieter?” he wrote.

She drew a smiley.

*****

****

Unusual place for me, I know, but this is where Charli’s ‘lines’ brought me this week!

I’ve never been speed dating, having been (more or less!) happily married for over thirty years, but I’ve heard and read a lot about it, and I’m afraid many comments are negative. You all know by now that I’m an incurable romantic, so for this particular couple in my flash, it ended well, and might even be the start of something honest…

If you want to know more about speed dating, follow the link under the picture.

What’s your experience or thoughts on speed dating?

****