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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

Woo Hoo -An Honorable Mention

Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury

FIRST PLACE: Contested Contingent by Jules Paige

SECOND PLACE: To the Rescue by Anne Goodwin

THIRD PLACE: Goodbye Fall by Ritu Bhathal

HON MEN: Chasing the Past by Sascha Darlington; Addressing the Animated Alarm by Jules Paige; and He Had Kind Eyes by Susan Sleggs (story is at bottom)

***ENTRIES***

Contested Contingent by Jules Paige

They are silent soldiers. A rare unified army. Commanded by a queen to seek the supplies to survive. Instinctual training leads them through dense foliage to the structures of giants. With all the unseasonable torrential rains their homes have become flooded. Yet they expect no outside relief. They are a self-sufficient bunch.

Mother has not seen the arrival of the invaders. In her nightgown, robe and slippers she ventures into the morning light of the kitchen and… draws a blood curdling scream. Father rushes to her aide. His bravery unsurpassed, he calms Mother and calls the local ant exterminator.

🐎🐎🐎

To the Rescue by Anne Goodwin

Cold cruel enough to cut the breath from me. Waves roar loud enough to drown out other sounds. It took a fool to dive in after her. It’ll take a hero to ferry her to shore.

Hair and beard turn to icicles. Arms to cartwheels, legs to flippers, brain to military command. Kick harder! Plough faster! Fight off lakebed vegetation, fear and fatigue!

I’ve almost reached her when a tether takes my ankle. I yank it back. It reins me in. I’m swallowing water when I grab her wrist. How will history judge me: a hero or a fool?

🐎🐎🐎

Goodbye Fall by Ritu Bhathal

Below me flowed water, fast and furious.

I tightened my grip on the pot.

“All ready?” The instructor checked my harnesses.

I gulped.

But I nodded. I needed to do this.

Launching myself, as instructed, I fell, headfirst, feeling the air zoom past me.

The elastic went taut and I bounced up and down several times.

My heart was in my mouth.

As I came to a stop, I looked at the pot, still in my hands.

Loosening its lid and allowing the contents to fall into the water, I whispered “Goodbye Jake,” before slowly being pulled back up.

🐎🐎🐎

Chasing the Past by Sascha Darlington

Blake’s ultimatum: “Stop storm chasing or I’ll leave.”

The first fat drop of rain hits the windshield as I pull onto Rafferty Road. Forget Blake. Focus.

The hail throttles me awake. The tornado falls out of the sky, barrels toward me. Momentarily, I’m awed by the intensity, the blackness, the harsh windy sound of the twisting, family-killing creature.

“Stupid!” I jerk the Suburban’s wheel, bounce over the median, then turn right onto a dirt road. I’m nearly standing on the gas pedal. The rearview shows only blackness. Debris shatters the back window.

If I survive, I’ll never storm-chase again.

🐎🐎🐎

Processing the Results by JulesPaige

Sylvia tries to remember to breath. All she can think of is that this is his fault. Well she did sort of consent, and at the time it was a rip roaring heck of a time. What a ride!

Now though, Sylvia feels like an elephant with duck feet. She wants to trumpet wildly, OK just plain scream. They keep telling her that it’ll all be worth it. But she can see her mother snickering, just wanting to outright guffaw like a bellowing jackass.

Hal stuffs more ice chips between Sylvia’s parched lips. Says she’ll be one great mother!

🐎🐎🐎

He Had Kind Eyes by Susan Sleggs

The bartender told the tarted up woman, “There’s a rule; the boss gets first dibs on any strange and then they share?”

She stayed, sipping whiskey a little too fast. The Harleys roared in.

The group entered. The noise level tripled. They eyed her until she ordered another. A man smelling of leather, and aftershave paid; took proprietorship. Soon walked her out.

In the quiet night, he said, “Your perfume smells like fear. What do you want?”

Tears formed. “To prove I’m not a mouse.”

He kissed her like no other had. “Go home. You proved it to me.”

 

 

 

 

Is There Beer in Heaven Part II

            In part one I talked about the fact if each human came up with their description of heaven, none of them would be the same and very few people I know think streets of gold and floating on clouds playing harps was a human thing to want to do. Now I have another question or should I say observation.

            We hear people say they expect to be with their loved ones in heaven, or see a best friend again. I agree. In fact, as my mother took her last breaths my father heard her say more than once, “I am coming.” He guessed she was talking to her mother, or perhaps the daughter they buried nineteen years before. My husband buried his daughter fifteen years ago when she was 27 after a vehicle accident. So here’s the question; when we meet our loved ones in heaven will a toddler know his/her aged parent? Will a 27-year-old recognize a father that may be 85 when the last time she saw him he was 55? Will she age? Continue reading “Is There Beer in Heaven Part II”

Body Graffiti – flash fiction

The ballet dancer lay motionless on the stage allowing the music to draw me in. After a few bars he raised into a standing position with undulations I couldn’t imagine a body being able to accomplish. The music quickened and he leaped along with the beat then twisted and rolled across the stage as it slowed. His torso and legs were waxed bare, and his leggings matched the color of his skin. His perfected physique was a delight to view in so many different positions. Alas, he cheated himself because the dark blue body graffiti distracted my mind’s eye.

 

In response to Charli Mills December 6, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about graffiti. It can be an artist, art or the medium itself. Get out your can of spray paint and go where the prompt leads you.

 

December 6: Flash Fiction Challenge

Some “Things” Can’t Be Replaced

“They lost everything in a fire.”

“But they’re all right, right?”

“Depends on how you look at it.”

This could be a conversation between two people discussing any victim of the recent fire that destroyed Paradise, CA, in a quick, intensely hot swoosh. My high school English teacher, her husband and their daughter and son-in-law are some of the victims. Yes, they escaped physically unharmed, but what about emotionally. Imagine the fear and feelings of helplessness they experienced at the time and now they are living in temporary digs wondering how long it will take to rebuild or even if they can. And what about their things, all gone. Things can be replaced, or can they. Continue reading “Some “Things” Can’t Be Replaced”

Is There Beer in Heaven?

       What is your impression of heaven? Do you believe heaven has streets paved of gold; that there will be tranquility for all and maybe a few angels still in need of their wings as depicted in books and movies.

      I remember when I was young my parents discussing their different desires if heaven were indeed a place they would find “heavenly.” My father wanted unlimited fishing holes, well inhabited hunting grounds and an ongoing poker game. My mother wanted all her children with her, but no meals to prepare or laundry to do, and she pictured a forest nearby where they could play and learn together. She also wanted an unlimited source of craft supplies so she could continue to be creative and busy. Continue reading “Is There Beer in Heaven?”

It’s the Dogs Fault – flash fiction

“Damn it! I knew your dog didn’t like my moving in. My clothes from vacation are now scraps on the laundry room floor.”

“I warned you to keep that door closed.”

 “Well I forgot.”

He handed her the bills from his wallet. “Go shopping. I don’t want to lose you or the dog.”

She gave half the money back then kissed him. “Partly my fault.”

He stuffed the pieces into a garbage bag.

At Christmas he gave her a quilt his mother had made from the scraps. Its origin was told to family members with much adoration and laughter.

 

In response to Charli Mills November 15, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses scraps. It can be scraps of dried flowers, paper, metal, fabric, food — any kind of scraps you can think of. Then write a story about those scraps and why they matter or what they make. Go where the prompt leads you.

Scraps of Ideas

A writing class after retirement seemed like a good idea, but the first assignment, write a short story about anything, left me paralyzed. I went to my husband for help and he reminded me of the scraps of paper in my bedside table that I had written bits of dreams down on. We read them aloud and found a few that I could combine into one story. I had my outline. My first assignment garnered an A and whenever I needed another subject I went back to my scraps for inspiration. They turned out to be unexpected treasure trove.

In response to Charli Mills November 15, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses scraps. It can be scraps of dried flowers, paper, metal, fabric, food — any kind of scraps you can think of. Then write a story about those scraps and why they matter or what they make. Go where the prompt leads you.

Getting Rid of Dillon – 297 word flash

My caller ID said Sally. “Howdy. What’s up?”

“Are you busy later? I need you to do me a huge favor.”

“I’m not and what can I do?”

“That stuffed shirt mother likes is taking me to the park after church to prove he can commune with nature. I want you to take Duke and Duchess there, let them play in the water and when they hear my voice they’ll come running and shake cool water and maybe a little mud all over us.”

“He’s good looking and has money; why not give him a chance?”

“I have. He only talks about his education, his job, and his money. Boring! And, he doesn’t like animals. I can’t tolerate him.”

“Got it. What time?”

“11:30 and if this works I’ll even pay for the dogs next grooming.”

“Now there’s a deal.”

                                                           * 

As Sally got ready for church she purposely picked an outfit she thought Dillon wouldn’t care for, slipped into scruffy flats and added a gaudy necklace then let her barely curly hair hang instead of spending time making it straight and smooth. The look on Dillon’s face when he saw her told her she had achieved her goal. He was wearing a charcoal gray Armani suit and alligator shoes. During the sermon he didn’t sit so his hip touched hers. What a relief!

Later at the park Sally acted as silly as she dared and sure enough when the dogs heard her laugh they came running, stopped abruptly by her legs and shook. Dillon stood horrified, looking down at his soiled clothes. Sally said, “What can I say. I told you I was a dog magnet.” She patted the dogs and gave a thumbs up sign to their owner.

Dillon took her home for the last time.

In response to the prompt “cool water” from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Literary

 

Becoming a Pet – 297 word flash

I’m a washed up show dog; a Papillon by breed and until recently I was a male, now I’m an it. They said taking away my manhood will make me a better house pet. I’m not yet sure what that is. I have lived in crates and have been hauled from one place to another to be made a spectacle of in front of a lot of people. I’ve been washed and combed so many times I lost count and now my owner says I need a forever home because even though the judges liked me I never won a big show. My owner has put me in the visiting room in our kennel barn a few times with strangers but they left and I stayed. I heard my owner say the chemistry wasn’t right. Today the stranger was different. He’s a tall skinny man and he picked me up the right way, supporting my legs against his chest. I licked his chin hello. He tasted a little funny but when I heard the pfsst of a can being opened on the long drive home I found out why. The liquid had a strong bitter smell instead of a sweet syrupy one. After a few of those he got silly. I was glad we were in the back seat. When we arrived at the place he called my new home there were two other Papillons for me to play with. They were allowed to bark so I did too. It had rained so we ran through the puddles and didn’t get scolded. I guess this is what being a pet is all about. I ran over to the man, stood up against his leg and barked my thanks for bringing me home and turning me into pet.

Written in response to Charli Mills prompt – long ride home

Ranch Romances – 297 word flash

The three ruling hens sat atop their shed. Claudia, a Rhode Island Red, said, “I don’t know why we can’t have more than one rooster. I could use a little more romance.”

Matilda, a Bantam, scoffed, “Honey, that’s not romance, that’s that dang rooster pushin’ us around when he wants somethin’. Besides the rancher don’t care if our eggs are fertilized or not and two roosters would mean fightin’ between ’em.”

Beatrice, the Barred Plymouth Rock, replied, “Be glad we got us one rooster, the poor donkey over there thinks the llama is going to show ‘im some lovin’. Friendship yeah, but that’s it.”

Claudia answered, “Talk about unromantic, the horses and cows get a long gloved arm to make ’em pregnant, got nothin’ to do with romance at all; it’s got to do with blood lines and makin’ the rancher more money.”

Beatrice clucked, “Speakin’ of the rancher, he could use some romance. He’s been kinda’ crabby since his kids won’t help run the place and his wife ran off with that guy who shoed the horses.”

Matilda expounded, “I told ya that would happen first time the farrier jumped out of his truck and the missus got a good look at him, even at their age.”

Claudia speculated, “I heard the rancher talkin’ with the vet about some carrot ranch. Is that a new place nearby?”

Beatrice answered, “Na, that’s a place he sends his writin’ to.”

Matilda asked, “What-a-ya mean sends?”

Beatrice explained, “On the silver thing he calls a lap-top. He does his writin’ sittin’ on the porch, then hits the submit button with a big smile.”

Matilda looked thoughtful. “Well maybe those writers should all get together in one place. I’ll bet one or two of ’em would find some real romance.”

In response to prompt; ranch romance from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Literary

Papa’s Bar – 297 word flash

When I was sixteen my Dad came home from deployment and announced he was going to retire at 20 and open a bar near the base. He wanted to convert an old house, keep the back yard and turn the front yard into parking. I remember Mom looking at him for a long moment before saying, “That’s a hard life and zoning could be a problem for that type of location. Will you ever be home in the evening?” For the next six months, once a week, we had a meal in a bar so he could check the competition.

I don’t remember if there were zoning problems when he found his old house. He had contractors gut the first floor and turn it into a homey, inviting space with long bar and commercial kitchen. The upstairs they opened up into a big family room, with dining area and even a double bed. They named the bar “Papa’s” which I thought was ridiculous. I didn’t know at the time my children would be the one’s eating in that family room and playing in the back yard if they wanted to see Papa when we came to visit.

Years later when my father died we got the following note in the mail:

To Papa’s family, The first time I entered Papa’s Papa introduced himself, asked my name and never forgot it. When I was homesick, that’s where I went, not to drink, but to chat with Papa about life and the military. He did the same for all who entered. He might not have been home with you, but he was there for us. I hope you know he served until the end. Thanks for sharing him.

My wife and I now run Papa’s. She knows everyone’s name.

 

Written in response to the prompt, papa’s bar, for Carrot Ranch Literary rodeo.

Second Chances -297 word flash

            As soon as Clay got in the house he went straight to his wheelchair, dropped his trousers and took off his prosthetic legs. “In my Army uniform, I stood during our wedding ceremony but I hope you understand if I don’t wear either again.”

            “Thank you for doing that. I’m beginning to get it,” Tessa said opening an unexpected gift from her mother. She revealed an intricate wood carving of a person struggling to claw his way up a crevice toward the light.

             “Does that mean something?” Continue reading “Second Chances -297 word flash”

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