Charli’s Starlings

No one knew where the starlings came from. One day, the sidewalks and light posts and old brick buildings were bare; the next, they were scattered with flight.

Up and down Shelden Avenue elderly friends stopped their morning walk and children pointed and pulled at parents’ pants.

Winged, iridescent forms swooped up a wall. Yellow-beaked stills observed from flower pots. A proud male perched atop an awning.

Passersby soon realized that, lifelike as the birds were, they existed solely as pictures. For one woman, that mattered little.

She kissed her paint-stained fingertips in fond farewell, turned, and headed home.


For Charli and her starling, and for this week’s prompt at Carrot Ranch.

June 27, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by July 3, 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:
John Yunker


©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters: Thirty-Two

“Hold formation,” Wil’s flight commander radioed again. Despite the static such an old headset communicated, she could still hear his New England upbringing in the vowels. Somehow, it had a grounding influence on them all.

They held position.

The Mitsubishi bombers and their escorts hummed nearer.

“Ready guns,” crackled quietly to twelve anxious American pilots. Her hands felt sweaty inside their gloves as Wil adjusted her grip on her control stick. She inhaled deeply and focused on the cluster at eight o’clock.

She saw the slight aberration in the Zeros’ pattern the instant before Flight Commander suddenly yelled, “ALL UNITS ENGAGE! ENEMY AWARE OF OUR POSITION! GO, GO, GO!!”

The roar of twelve Wildcat engines grew even louder in intensity as twelve pilots immediately dropped altitude and accelerated toward their targets. The Zeros, holding to their groups of three, drew near in deadly tandem.

Wil leaned forward over the controls, carefully maneuvering the floor pedals.

“Winters!” Wil heard the warning from a distance. There was no turning back now.

“Ms. Winters!”

Wil sat up, and quickly wiped the drool at her mouth. She blinked in surprise at the glaring, bespectacled toad so near her face, confused at why it was there.

“Huh?” She managed, groggily. The class laughed, and she felt her cheeks get warm. Mr. G. allowed a more pleasant version of his grimace before returning his face to its usual self-approved smirk.

“Ms. Winters, nap time was in preschool,” he joked. A few of her peers snickered a bit, though most disliked encouraging his ideas of wit. “Kindly return to page niner niner, and this time use your eyes to read and not your face.”

Wil nodded a bit, and felt relief as he turned and squat-strutted his stumpy walk back to his desk.

She turned her attention back to the text on the page. Meanwhile, a twirling model Wildcat swooped erratically in the current from the heat register.


Continued from Thirty-One.
Keep reading to Thirty-Three.