Sundown Stroll

Humidity cushioned their sunset movements. Emiline sensed it, always, in the dense Jamaican air.

“I feel like something’s pressing on my arms and legs,” Mark said, though with a smile.

Emiline answered with her own, with a light hand pulling wisps of beach-blown blonde from her eyes. Their aimless ambling soon led them within the resort gardens.

Each breathed deeply in. Clusters of pinkish blossoms blushed boldly against darker green. Snow-white Oleander winked from wall bushes. Their gaze drew skyward to admire a riot of orange.

“Nature’s bouquet,” she whispered. Speechless, he followed her through a tropic twilight.

20180617_084737

20180617_084656

20180617_084847.jpg

Carrot Ranch Writing Prompt

Warrior Women

Youth, untried, stands blinking into the equatorial sun. It shuffles awkward spears; tilts dented shields.

Two thousand feet nervously stamp the earth.

Their leader looks upon his neophyte army. “What say ye, my sons; will ye go against them to battle?”

Two thousand of them have never fought. Two thousand just left home. Two thousand eager voices cry, “Our God is with us! Let us go!”

Thus they march, thus they go, thus they draw their spears. The enemy, surprised, falls beneath their untrained arms.

The leader, awed, counts two thousand. “How came ye by your courage?”

“Our mothers.”

Two Thousand Warriors

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

Strange Room, Strange Bed

james-stamler-153583-unsplash

I don’t know what was up with the world this morning.

I was enjoying one of my favorite dreams: the one where I’m all alone on an island and my dishes and laundry disappear when dirty, and magically reappear all clean.

Instead of a blue-sky island dissolving to the usual wake-up call of pattering feet and yelling children, however, a far-off rooster’s crow drew me back. Hesitantly, I opened my eyes. A low, dark ceiling loomed above me, supporting a broken, swinging fan. Where did that come from? I wondered. I’d never owned a fan in my life, nevermind attaching one to my ceiling.

In my usual calm fashion, I sat up and looked around the room like a panicked rabbit. This isn’t my room. This isn’t my bed.

A shadowy object in the corner was the only other piece of furniture besides the strange bed beneath me. Gingerly, I slid off the dark covers and walked a barefoot tread across a dusty wood floor to investigate.

It was a vanity. I think. Given that ceiling fans were considered a luxury, I’d certainly never seen a vanity in person. The low desklike part, spindly stool, and oblong mirror fit some mental idea from my subconscious of its identity.

After such profound musings, I did the logical thing and sat before it. I glanced in the mirror, and inadvertently proved the stool to be more sound than it first appeared.

It fell to the floor as I rapidly fell off of it, causing echoing clatters of wood-on-wood in the tiny room. I warily approached the mirror again. It reflected the exact shock I felt, but the similarities ended there. Someone else’s disjointed, enlarged nose and blood-encrusted lips stared back at me from widened eyes -widened, bruise-circled eyes. Some other girl’s bumpy, hair-shorn head felt suddenly cold; then had the hand I raised caress it to be certain of its authenticity.

Just as I began to hope this new person was also prone to fainting, I heard the sound of carefree singing from somewhere beyond the wall I faced. Besides the off-key tune, I realized a regular, even tread of footsteps. Each noise seemed associated with the other and both drew nearer by the second.

Assuming nothing worse than a tone-deaf singer lay beneath the bed, I scurried over to it and quickly scampered into the clouds of dust and dirt it hid under its mattress. None too soon: a creaking sound and spreading triangle of light announced The Singer’s entry. Fortunately, he/she/it had stopped his/her/its identifying noise.

Right when I realized the obviousness of my hiding place, a weight pushed down on the bed and a large, green, ferocious, upside-down face leered directly in front of my view. Just before I released the loudest scream this side of Kentucky, the monster asked, “What are you doing under there?”

This Old House

Their school year had already begun when he looked around their 10-year-old house and said, “How about we move?”

His wife glanced up from grading homework, glasses perched down her nose. Eyebrows raised, lips pursed, she said, “Okay.”

And that was how they ended up in front of the 1917 farmhouse in a town of 257 people. Only the wind spoke, with an occasional canine interjection.

“It’s about half our current mortgage,” she noted, as they surveyed almost an acre of yard.

“It may need some work,” he observed, peeking around a musty, boarded-up section.

“It’s perfect,” they said, completely smitten.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

Line Prompt

cristian-newman-271203-unsplash

“Oh, Gustavo! I love you so. Tell me you love me in return.” She batted her long, dark eyelashes.

“Felicia,” he passionately answered, “How can I not? You are heaven to my Earth!”

Sighing, she succumbed to his embrace. He kissed her deeply, tasting a forbidden passion. They pulled apart, then… turn to the author.

Gustavo clears his throat. “Line?”

“What?” The author asks, startled. She looks down at her fingers, poised over the keyboard. “Oh. Sorry, guys. I got caught up in the moment.”

“How about:” Gustavo and Felicia became lost, for a moment, in each other’s eyes…

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

The Smallest Fish Story

char-585705_1920

I caught it -I did; my first fish! I’ll tell you how I did it:

First, all dressed, I ran to the pond. I found a pole, just laying there, and hooks and bait and such. I picked it up and swished it ’round, and -before it even hit the water- something wriggled at its end.

I brought it close and THERE! A flapping, fidgeting fish was hooked. He was a ‘beaut: all sparkly rainbows and twisting, flailing life.

I watched him gape-mouthed struggling, when I heard a shout, “Hey, kid! That’s mine!” and had to come back home.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

Cooking With Mum

Cookbook

Unlike many people raised these days, my mother (who forbade us from calling her the formal title of “mother”) stayed home to raise us, made dinner every night, and frequently baked extra treats or tried new recipes. We are requested to name a location and generation for this prompt; so I’ll say that I was “cooking with Mum” when we lived in Ridgecrest, CA and for most of my childhood outside of Salt Lake City, Utah (both in the United States). I consider myself both a Generation X and Y member.

I was always encouraged to help my mom in the kitchen. Perhaps, at my earliest memories, this was more of a “help,” than actual assistance, but I never recall her pushing me away or telling me not to bother her.

In fact, I know this was the norm even from toddling age. I remember reading over a cookbook in her collection compiled and printed by my first preschool teacher. As a child, I remember finding the page with the recipe I’d submitted: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, and thinking of how they were my favorite to make with her. I would have been three years old when it was printed.

My mom loves to try new things, and that was reflected in her cooking and baking. (That’s another thing -I never knew the two were separate classifications till recently because we did both, in equal measures.) She had cookbooks, yes -but also folders and a terribly-messy plastic container full of magazine clippings of myriad recipes.

My parents always insisted on us hand-making Mother’s or Father’s Day presents. In keeping with that tradition, my sister and I decided to tackle THE BOX of recipes one year. We were newlywed adults at the time, and probably could have gotten away with bending the rules due to age -but thought it would be great to finally have them all organized.

It. Took. Hours.

Days.

There is no way I would be able to complete such a task now, with my own family and a large house to maintain. We clipped recipes joined at the page, photocopied the backsides, and typed up handwritten ones with dubious titles and barely-legible handwriting. Then, we organized them by categories and alphabetized them and completely burned out at the idea of typing up tables of contents.

A surprising upside to this venture was that I made copies of my childhood favorites for my personal recipe collection. I’m smart, though; mine are kept in an expandable folder thing. I even have a couple of copies of my mother’s mother’s recipe cards (remember cards?!).

Another traditional activity associated with Mom and cooking was Christmas cookies. This is a bit of a baking/cooking crossover because most of the recipes were baked. I’m not going to classify something like Rice Krispies Treats as baking, however, and we frequently made a no-bake Corn Flake Kisses cookie that is similar to those gooey cereal bars.

Just before Christmas every year that I can remember, we would mix and bake at least four varieties of cookies or bars. Besides helping, our job as children was to deliver finished plates to all the neighbors. Each plate had several samples of each of the four or so varieties of baked/cooked goodies. Some neighbors reciprocated; though most did not hand-make their gifts to us.

This was an activity much like childbirth: I didn’t appreciate how much work my mother went through till I did it myself.

I have tried to continue this Christmas tradition. I even get my boys involved; they sincerely love cooking and baking with me as I did with my mom. However, I cannot get through the holiday event without shaving a recipe or two from my agenda and/or screaming in frustration at some thing that invariably delays production.

I only remember loving all the cookies and making it all happen with my mom, so hopefully that’s what my own kids are retaining.

Perhaps my mom found the tenacity to persevere because desserts have always been her favorite to make. She even bought a cookbook titled The All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book. Truth be told, it ended up being one of those that you leaf through, decide you’d better not make anything inside, and stick back on the shelf.

Cookbook Fat

The picture I included waaaay up at the top is an image of my Betty Crocker cookbook, turned to the page on how to make pancakes. I can’t remember where my red cookbook came from, but I do know I thought it imperative that I own one. This is because the main source of recipes for us growing up was my mother’s red Betty Crocker cookbook.

Every time we wanted to make pancakes, we’d pull the book down and let it fall open on the counter. It was always on the page we wanted, through years of training. That, and there was enough spilled and splattered pancake batter to weight them down. We could barely make out the ingredients, so it was a good thing we knew the recipe so well.

In looking over my own well-loved page, I can’t help but feel proud to have inadvertently continued that tradition in my own family. We may not be quite as blotched-out as my mom’s pancake recipe, but we’re getting there.

 

Thanks to Irene A Waters over at Reflections and Nightmares for the writing prompt: Cooking with Mum.

Into the Woods

geran-de-klerk-263475-unsplash

Silent sunlight dances down,
Caressing leaves and pine bough dreams;
Shaking, shading, singing, sighing –
Can you hear the moss-bent trees?

Fae or fauna tickle trailing, talking tendrils;
Tree-trunk tales.
Minstrels swear to sensing magic
As they tiptoe mossy trails.

Blundering, we mention silence;
Eagerly, we rush the woods.
Picking flora, chasing fauna,
Errantly, like child-hoods.

Hush! The tree Ent spirits moan,
Their dormant tree-guard watch awaked.
See and feel and breathe the spirit
Of the stretching woods remaked.

Will you walk with careful footfalls
Down along the forest floor?
Will you whisper wistful wond’rings,
Questioning their strange folklore?

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction
unsplash-logoGeran de Klerk

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na: Bad Date!

troy-nikolic-210975-unsplash

“Good morning, sir.”

“Eeeuurrrgh. Alfred?”

“You seem out of sorts. There is, however, a pressing issue which may require your attention.”

“Errr -what? Attention?” Sploosh! ….”Why am I wet?”

“Well, sir, the cave seems to be experiencing an excess amount of water.”

“It’s a cave, Alfred. It has water. …Probably not this much.”

“Precisely, sir.”

“We’ve got to get out! What happened?”

“Do you recall that female companion you entertained last week?

“…No.”

“Saturday?”

…..

“Charity dinner?”

“The blonde?”

“Precisely, sir!”

“Well?”

“I believe, after the young lady stayed the night, that she left the faucet running.”

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction
unsplash-logoTroy Nikolic