The Hereafter, Aloft

She came every day at 5:00; after making her way from the bus [D’you need a hand, Mrs. Parker?], down the sidewalk, to the bench.

She needed more and more assistance from those sweet young nurses [What if we skipped the park today, Mrs. Parker?] with each passing day.

The birds know her. Chirping – flitting – pecking. She laughs at their avian antics.

[Come with us.]

“What?” Emiline Parker glances around. A sparrow eyes her.

[Come fly.]

“…Why?”

[You’ve cared. It’s the least we could do.]

Considering, she nods. The birds alight; a new friend among them, an old life behind.

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From this gif, as prompted by Charli at Carrot Ranch.

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Throwback Thursday: Herculesa

Still a favorite short, humorous story of mine, first published July 13, 2017:

Herculesa

Herculesa bravely clutches at her last weapon -the Libman of Justice- as she eyes the dangerous Hydra plodding menacingly toward her.

Whack! A purposeful sweep draws the vicious head of Dirty Tile Floors off its base. Swish! Returns the Laundry head to its origins. Clunk! And the Dishes is decapitated.

But, as we all remember, Hydra Housework cannot be defeated so easily. From the supposed stumps of completion, new branches sprout and grow full size. Floor splits into Carpets, Windows, and Toilets; Laundry spawns Sock Mating, Bedding, Repair; Dishes makes more and more Dishes!

Our heroine is surrounded as she stumbles back on loose Hot Wheels and plush animals. Bravely she strikes again and again!

How will Herculesa ever vanquish this unconquerable beast? There is no permanent end in sight!

©2020 Chelsea Owens

A Small Protest

“Won’t!” The small face scrunches.

Father sighs. “I’d let you go like this, Arnie, but-”

“No no no!”

“Arrrnie,” Father begins, his tone less calm, “Daddy‘s wearing-”

“Daddy’s fart face!” A small tongue protrudes from the small mouth.

Father straightens. He takes a small arm in a big hand and marches small legs up big stairs. “That’s enough, young man! We do not stick our tongues out or call names.”

“Fart. face. Fart. face,” Arnie gasps at each stair.

“Now,” Father concludes, setting him at the top. “You’ll sit in Timeout, then you will put your pants on!”

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Enacted for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: protest

January 16, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a protest story. It can be about a protest, or you can investigate the word and expand the idea. Who is protesting, where, and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by January 21, 2019. Use the comment section to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit: Marcus Neto

©2020 Chelsea Owens

The Threshold of Their Lives

“Wanna carry me across the threshold?” Her eyes twinkled and her mouth twisted in playful merriment. She knew her 130 lbs outweighed his 118; that her 5′ 8″ exceeded his 5′ 6″.

Then, of course, there was the matter of her dress.

“Sure!” he answered, feigning ignorance to any impediments. He strode forward and pushed the apartment door open.

Like a gallant knight -or its steed- he returned and grasped a hand beneath her fluffed-lace rump; another steadied her sheer-laced back. No more chivalrous a man than he grunted and stalked his steady way forward, laughing bride and all.

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Inspired by Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: a carried wife.

January 9, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife. Why is she being carried? Who is carrying? Pick a genre if you’d like and craft a memorable character. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by January 14, 2019. Use the comment section to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/WJc87MVcDaA

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Throwback Thursday: C.S.I.

Originally posted on July 29, 2017, making a bit light of my depressiveness.

Two a.m. was never an easy time to go to a job. But here they were again, hedged by police tape walls and squinting in the dark illuminations of floodlights.

“It don’t look good, Hurles.” He dragged at his e-cig, blew the filtered, no-emission, smokeless, digitally-altered remains of what may have been fumes into the air as dramatically as he could, and gave his partner a serious look.

Julie Hurlesman turned to the prostrate female form on the floor before rolling her eyes, to give him his illusion of dignity. “You’re right, Tray.” She responded cooly. “I don’t see any silver lining in this case.”

Richard Tracy shrugged away from the wall he’d been moodily supporting and effectively shrugged his oversized lapels higher round his neck. Finally abandoning the e-cig to one of many pockets within the long coat, he instead used his right hand to pull his hat brim even tighter down his brow. Satisfied with the final results, he hunched over to stand behind the squatting Hurles.

“Tray,” Hurles said with a decade of patience, “You’re blocking the spotlight again.”

Tray pretended concentration on their assignment as he sidestepped a foot to her left. She pretended not to notice, then intently tried to eliminate distractions as she began her usual examination.

Swirling dust motes and remnant e-cig particles outlined the shadow puppet hand orchestrations of her careful, thorough search. Tray looked on, more distracted in his somber thoughts of how he could finally get Hurles to use the nickname he kept asking her to, instead of the one his mother always used.

“Aha!” Hurles whispered. Tray immediately drew closer, even forgetting to flail his coattails behind him as he squatted next to her elbow. Hurles never made a verbal exclamation unless she’d found something really important.

“What?” He asked excitedly, also forgetting to use his gruff voice.

Infinitely meticulously, Hurles lifted the damp, lanky, unwashed locks from the pale face of the prone body before her. Damp eyelashes bordered a bottomless pool of darkest sadness. A deep brown iris contracted slightly at its sudden exposure to the glaring light beyond Hurles and Tray. The lashes slowly closed and reopened in calculated effect of misery. The rest of the long, drawn face held its agonized expression.

Tray took in a surprised breath. This was important. “You don’t mean -?” He began, turning to Hurles and regaining some of his former composure by raising his thick eyebrows over a fierce glare of suspense.

“Yes, I do,” Hurles told him, meeting his eye and successfully keeping her expression both neutral and normal for the circumstances.

They simultaneously moved their faces slightly to watch, as the woman on the floor heaved the heaviest sigh in human existence. She lifted just enough to turn away from the two investigators, her hair falling naturally from Hurles’ fingers like rain-soaked tree fronds. She lay still once again.

Hurles withdrew her hand, and unobtrusively wiped it on her jeans. She stood. Tray followed suit.

“Another one,” Tray concluded in a deep, gravelly voice. “A victim of her own emotions.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Memories Within the Old Hutch

“What’s this, Grammy?” Pearla’s granddaughter, Ella, squatted on the old hutch, something wooden in her hand.

“Ah. That’s the lovespoon Grampy brought back from Wales.”

Ella retrieved another piece. “An’ this one?”

“A model plane your Daddy-”

“An’ this one?”

“Aunt Michelle’s locket from-”

“An’ this one?”

Pearla laughed and kissed the curly-haired forehead. “Slow down, Ella, dear.”

“Sorry, Grammy.” Ella pulled something from the shadows. “An’ this one?”

“That’s-” Pearla choked; whispered, “Those were your Aunt Ella’s.” Taking and returning the tiny baby shoes, Pearla took the living Ella’s hands, instead. “What do you think about making cookies?”

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Captured for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: hutch

January 2, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something found in a hutch. It can be any kind of hutch — a box for critters or a chest for dishes. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by January 7, 2019. Use the comment section to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit: Image by Rotaru Florin from Pixabay

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

It’s By Design

“But, men are better-suited to a job. Women are nurturers, better-suited to home life and childcare.”

She looked his way, watching her nonverbal incredulity fly over his head.

“You think work’s some sort of vacation, but it’s difficult. It’s boring, too.”

She could see the piles of laundry behind him, an out-of-focus background to his immaculately-suited person. Disorder framed order: a juxtaposition between her expected daily high point and his.

“It’s true. I read a study that women are happier at home.”

She sighed, wondering which pile hid happiness.

“Trust me.” He kissed her pale cheek. “It’s by design.”

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What came to mind for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: to include the phrase “by design.”

December 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the phrase by design. It can be used in any manner — a label, a mantra, a story. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 31, 2019. Use the comment section to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Throwback: Snappy McSprinkles

I do not understand the appeal of Elf on a Shelf. The whole thing is CREEPY; a twisted way people are screwing with their children’s minds.

In light of that, enjoy this piece I wrote back in December of 2017:

Elf

They’re sleepin’, so quiet-like. Little pink cheeks smile in dreamland. Soft breathing’s moving their fluffy blankets.

Perfect.

Now, time to untie this string. I’ve been hangin’ around all day, grinning like a fool.

They’ll be the fools soon.

C’mon, striiiiing! I broke through thicker ropes back at The Pen’!

Good ole North Pole Pen. You don’t hear any annoying Christmas songs about that place. Just crap about naughty and nice and coal and presents.

Candy-coated lies, that’s what.

If I just twist this way -oh. The dog. Glaring. Waiting for me to fall. You can fool those fat humans, but never the slobbering dog.

I even tricked a pet parrot once. He was completely clueless, right up till I pulled the first feather. Would’ve had bird for dinner if Blabbermouth Jingle hadn’t seen.

Made for an impressive scar, anyway.

Nice, doggie. Stop growling; go to bed. I’m just a toy, ya dumb mutt. Just a tied-up toy hanging EXACTLY WHERE FUDGING MOM STRUNG ME UP!

What kind of mom ties up a toy, anyway? What kind of twisted caregiver can’t even use a toy the way she’s supposed to?!

Oh! Footsteps. Stop swinging, string. It’s just the wind, dumb broad -I swear.

“Stay, Duke.”

That’s right, ya drooling waste. Stay there. You’ll be asleep soon, too. She doesn’t tie me up every night.

“Hmmm. Where should we put Snappy tonight, Duke?”

Why ya talkin’ to the dog, lady? It’s not like he can answer you. Just wait till you hide me near the Christmas presents. saw that chemistry set. Ha ha. Dead dog, anyone?

Yeah, don’t whine at me. I’m more valuable than you, dog. I’m Santa’s secret messenger and all that.

“I think we’ll do a treat tonight.”

Oh, good. Make it truffles, woman. I’m tired of eating that candy cane crap. That’s all I got in the joint, too: candy canes. You’d think Santa could hire someone who branched a bit, but no.

Maybe they have some sort of deal with Wal-Mart for all the unsold candy from a decade ago.

Dots and Dubble Bubbles! She is doing candy canes. And, duct tape. Why ya got duct tape? What the -no! No no no no no no no -ouch! Oomph!

“Good night, Snappy. Come, Duke.”

Oh, sure. Of course it’s a good night for your walking pet drool machine. He’s not taped to a box of Fun Dippin’ CANDY CANES! He can probably move to piss somewhere besides his own fleecy bottoms and jingling shoes.

Just keep it up, all of ya. I’ll wait. Every night you tie me is one more slit in a sleeping neck. Who’ll be seeing dancing sugarplums then, huh?

Original Post

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Butcher (Carrot Ranch TUFF Rodeo)

TUFF is a contest where the story goes through a first draft of 99 words, a parsing down to 59 words, a butchering down to 9 words, then a revisit to 99 words again.

99 Words

Jacqueline studied the tiny, harmless beans in her palm. Was it her imagination that they glowed, or did she need a hand-washing as much as Mama always said?

“I tell ye,” the old peddler said, “They’s magic!”

Magic or no, she couldn’t keep staring. Jacqueline pocketed her treasures. Yanking at Bessie’s rope, she headed on to the butcher’s.

Mama wouldn’t be impressed by anything short of a month of food, Jacqueline knew. She shrugged to herself. At least she’d haggled the peddler down to a tongue and brisket. Who knows what mama would’ve said about losing a whole cow?

—–

59 Words

Jacqueline studied the beans. They rested against her dirty palm, seeming to glow.

“They’s magic,” the peddler insisted.

Mama wouldn’t agree, any more than she would to strangers or dirty hands. Jacqueline sighed, pulled at Bessie’s rope, and headed on to the butcher’s.

At least she’d haggled down to a brisket. Mama’d never agree to losing a whole cow.

—–

9 Words

Jacqueline wondered if beans were magic enough for Mama.

—–

99 Words, Final

Jacqueline studied the beans in her dirty palm. Was the peddler right? Were the beans glowing? Maybe Mama was the honest one, and all she needed was a good hand-washing.

“I’m telling ye,” the old peddler insisted, “They’s magic.”

Magic or no, she couldn’t stand around staring. Jacqueline pocketed her dubious treasures and took up Bessie’s rope. Mama wouldn’t be impressed by anything if they were late for the butcher’s.

Jacqueline shrugged to herself. At least she’d talked the peddler down to a tongue and a brisket. Who knows what Mama would have said about losing a whole cow?

—–

Typed and entered for Carrot Ranch’s TUFF Rodeo competition: Beans.

©2019 Chelsea Owens

 

Ye Olde Ennui (Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest #2)

“Space: the midlife-crisis frontier.”

“Oh, Nose Bender, you were as bored as I.”

The long-faced android spared 1.356 seconds on his companion before returning to navigation.

“Not that we’ve seen much diversion,” the human assented, “But-”

*Pew!* *Whoosh!* A flash of light and jarring of stabilizers drew both to the porthole. There, defying taste and physics, wobbled a space-worthy Merchantman.

“Avast, ye dogs!” cackled over their speakers. “I be the Heartbreak Kid. Prepare to be-”

Android and man exchanged glances.

“…Thee next contestant on ‘The Plank is Right!'”

“It appears, Captain Bodacious,” his companion noted, “You have your diversion.”

—–

Typed and entered for Carrot Ranch‘s third Rodeo Contest: pirate game show with three specific bull names. I’m not sure why they were also in space, but why not add one more thing to 99 words?

©2019 Chelsea Owens