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

Young Will for Prezident (Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest #1)

They say Young Will came tearin’ into this here world like a bolt a thunder. His mama woulda agreed; ‘ceptin’ she’d add that he were more like bulls through china once his legs growed and ‘e started runnin’.

And run Will did! He just about run everyplace -walls notwithstandin’.

No; nothing or nobody stood in his way. I reckon that’s why ‘e didn’t ‘llow somethin’ as teensy as impossible to slow ‘im. When ‘e heard anyone could be prezident, he went right home and ‘nnounced he were next.

That’s why, on ‘nauguration day, his mama was the least surprized.

—–

Type and entered for Carrot Ranch‘s first Rodeo Contest: tall tale.

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Ellie’s End: My Winning Entry

Last year, I helped judge one of the contests for Carrot Ranch. Reading through the entrants taught me two things:

  1. People don’t read instructions very well.
  2. More people ought to enter!

I therefore challenged myself to enter all of the contests Charli posed for 2019. Imagine my surprise when she posted one of my stories as a finalist. I thought I’d place in all of them!

In all seriousness, entering contests is difficult and subjective and …wait. You all know this because of my Terrible Poetry thingie every week. Charli knows. A superhuman in her own right, she posted a spot-on description of writing, contests, revisions, and letdown.

Read it.

Oh, and here is my ONE entry that ‘won.’ I’ll schedule one contest entry for each of the following days, now that we’re allowed to.

—–

Ellie prided herself on her independence. Nothing, no one could affect her -certainly not internet whispers or radio station warnings.

She left for work with her earbuds in. She returned to her lonely apartment in the same way. She never listened to the wind, the silenced birds, nor the ever-increasing beeping of impending doom.

In fact, one might say that Ellie was the least prepared for the aliens when they came. No matter -hers was a quick and painless death, immediately decomposing in the stomach of Earth’s attackers. It was those silly survivalists who dragged out humanity’s inevitable demise.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

That Awkward First Date

“So, whaddya like to do?” Dumb! Why did you ask that?

“Um, well, I like reading.” Crap! Now he’s going to think I sit at home and knit.

“Oh. Reading.” And probably knitting.

Say something; say something. “So, what do you like to do?”

“Me?” Think of something impressive. “Uh; not much. Mostly I …” Impressive! “I …like movies.”

“Oh.”

She’s not impressed.

“I …I like movies, too.” Like everybody does “What’s a favorite?”

Say it. You’ve bombed the date anyway. “Actually; Big Trouble in Little China.

What?? “No way. Me, too!”

“No way!”

“Way.”

“So… wanna go get Chinese?”

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Enacted for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week: Romance

November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 26, 2019. Use the comment section [on Charli’s site] 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: Lily Banse

©2019 Chelsea Owens

A Confusing Session

“Storm windows.”

“Sorry; what?”

“That’s it. That’s what I live behind!”

Matt Burdsall, PhD, moved from his leaning-forward mirrored-glasses scrutinization into a leaning-back mirrored-glasses scrutinization.

“Your glasses made me think of it.”

Dr. Burdsall attempted to keep his expression neutral. This new patient, Holly Runner, was a curious one. First, she’d explained Social Anxiety as, “Party Aversion,” then she’d said her Passive-Aggressive mother had, “Tangled Trauma.” He’d needed his daughter to explain that Tangled was a film…

Now storm windows. *Ahem* “How so?”

“Well!” Holly sounded excited. “Whenever bad things -storms- come up, I block them! Ta-da! Storm windows!”

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Written for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt, (you guessed it) storm windows.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

3 Things Challenge: The Wife Stands Alone

Di of Pensitivity has a three word challenge! The words are: self, assaulted, hedgerow.

—–

High winds and slanting rain meant the perfect day for working. Grimwin looked up into the blurriness and felt his lips and cheeks tighten into a grin.

“No pesky sunshine today, self.”

Self smiled as well.

He grabbed at an expectant satchel lumped near the front hole; startled, it *eeeped* as he lifted it. Fortunately, the satchel also enjoyed dismal weather. If it’d had olfactory pockets, its beaten leather would have inhaled deeply at the worm-puddle scents that assaulted it from without the tunnel.

Instead, only Grimwin sucked a musty lungful and scampered to the surface. His still-grinning head popped up within the damp and wilting hedgerow.

“EEEEEEEK!” screeched the farmer’s wife.

Grimwin had enough time to wonder why in the Underworld that sturdy human was gardening today, of all days, when a solid, metallic *thunk!* sent gremlin and satchel back down to a silent dark.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Never Forget the Soap

“It happened again.”

“What?”

“The door.”

….?

“The door of the laundry room.”

….

*Sigh* “It hit me on the way out again.”

“Oh…” “Well…” “It’s just a door.”

“It doesn’t hit me every time.”

“Huh.”

“I’m serious!”

“I know! -Look, maybe you’re just jumping to conclusions.”

….

“Like, you know, that… say, air currents from a different door or whatever sometimes close that one.”

“On me.”

“…Yeah.”

“Never on you.”

“…Yeah.”

“Never on anyone else.”

“Yeah!”

“And only when I start a load at midnight.”

“Yeah! -wait; why are you starting laundry at -”

“And only when I can also hear whispering…”

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Inspired by my own laundry room experiences for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: someone unremembered.

September 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone unremembered. Is it a momentary lapse or a loss in time? Play with the tone — make it funny, moving, or eerie. Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by October 1, 2019. Use the comment section below 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.

The Flash Fiction CONTESTS start after this, so check them out beginning October 3!!!

 

Photo Credit: Ryoji Hayasaka

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Sweetest Interlude

She felt him: fluttering rolls across her belly, monitor heartbeats strong and loud. What will you be like? she wondered, pausing life to grow another.

She chased him: rolling, crawling, walking, running; breaking, laughing, climbing high. When will you slow down? she wondered, curtailing career to care for child.

She watched him: growing taller, speaking deeper; leaving parents for teenage crowds. When will you grow up? she wondered, forgoing sleep for curfew calls.

She hugged him: leaving nest to start his own; walking tall beside his wife. When will you come back? she wondered, looking round at what remained.

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Raised and cared for Carrot Ranch‘s writing prompt: an interlude.

September 19, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an interlude. It can be a pause between two key moments, the pause between acts in a play, an intermission, or a temporary amusement Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by September 24, 2019. Use the comment section below 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: Katrina Knapp

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Stupidity of the Sexes

“What, Isla? What did I do?” Peter stared into her eyes; if his were not close to tears themselves, they at least reflected hers.

Isla sniffed. She felt the lines of wet on her face, the dryness of her lips, the misery of her soul. Surely, she thought bitterly, He knows what he did.

Peter felt clueless. All I said was that people never forget their first girlfriend, he mused, Just because Stella said, “Hi…” He looked at Isla’s splotchy face. Maybe a comforting smile would help.

Isla burst into fresh tears. “I -I -I -gave you my heart!

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Conversationally considered for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week: The Greatest Gift.

September 12, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by September 17, 2019. Use the comment section below 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:
Ksenia Makagonova

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens