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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

The Respected Counselor

Michael rolled into the No Thanks, went straight to Mac, and said, “I heard Dr. John is going to open an antique shop next door. That true?”

“Tis.”

“I didn’t know he was an antique guy.”

“When he asked to rent the building he said he wasn’t, but his wife is. He’s retiring from the VA but wants to stay available. They plan to turn the big back room into a kitchen so folks can drop in for a cup of coffee and a chat. A new way to office, he called it.”

Michael nodded approval. “Sounds like him.”

Written in response to Charli Mills June 10, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a new way to office. Has the office changed? Can we return to normal after big changes or time away? Go where the prompt leads!

Not an Ordinary Day

Katie got bad vibes, but she carded and served the group. One female pointed to the picture of Mac’s friend wearing his Medal of Honor and said, “Look, the highest grade dog collar a person can earn in this stupid country.”

Katie stammered. “Wha…t?”

“I see military folks as dogs on leashes, totally controlled.”

Mac appeared from nowhere. “I see you as ignorant, immature, and lacking common sense considering all the dogs in here, except me, served by choice and are off-leash. I suggest you drink up and get out!”

Experiencing palpable raised hackles, they gulped drinks and skedaddled.

Written in response to Charli Mills June 3, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads!

A Day For Remembering

The annual Memorial Day pig roast at the No Thanks was an event Michael looked forward to and dreaded. It was no live band day, so he couldn’t hide behind his instrument, singing words not his own. Often, family members remained outside, and the veterans retreated to the purposely darkened indoors to reminisce about those they had fought with and lost.

Thankfully he knew the secret to defuse a too-heavy conversation; swat his arm and say, “Damn mosquitoes.” The discussion would quickly become animated about the size of flying insects in specific war zones before returning to painful memories.  

Written in response to Charli Mills May 27, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tiny flying insects. Think about how the insects shape the scene or add to the action. Go where the prompt leads!

Selective Forgetfulness

When Tessa and her mother arrived at Lexi’s country home, they found her and Emma outside, sitting in the baby’s wading pool, sans clothing.

Lexi said, “Hi. I got some garden planted but then Emma woke up. When I brought her out here she kept crawling toward the pool. I was sweaty, so we both got in.”

Tessa smiled. “I can see that.”

Jenny was shocked. “I heard them talking about Gardening Naked Day on the radio this morning, but I didn’t think anyone would do it.”

Tessa responded. “Mom, should I bring up Woodstock stories.”

“That was different!”

Written in response to Charli Mills May 20, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about naked gardening. Is it the veggies or the gardener who is naked? Go where the prompt leads!

A Family Gathering

The men sat in front of the TV at Michael’s parents watching a baseball game they weren’t interested in, but at least it was a sports event. They were having trouble staying awake.

The women were in the kitchen. Two were doing dishes. Someone was holding a sleeping cat, another was making a list of foods to bring to the next gathering, and they were all talking. Nonstop! There was rarely a quiet moment.

During a commercial, one man got the others’ attention. “What do they find to talk about? Sounds like a bunch of hens.” They all shrugged.

Written in response to Charli Mills May 6, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about party hens. Who are these chickens and why do they party? Go where the prompt leads!

Same Words, Different Thoughts

It’s interesting how song lyrics can elicit different thoughts in different people.

 Thad played the melody to “Hit the Road Jack” on the piano and sang the words as if trying to perfect the phrasing.

 Mac remembered being ushered out of his pregnant Vietnamese girlfriend’s house by her unrelenting angry father and said, “Son, the band will NOT be singing that song.”

Michael added, “I don’t care to sing that either. It brings up painful memories.”

Tessa kept her good memory to herself. She had enjoyed a look of shock from her ex when she said it to him.   

Written in response to Charli Mills April 29, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “hit the road, Jack.” You can interpret the phrase any way you like — road trip, goodbye, or story. Go where the prompt leads!

Roots – flash fiction

The hot day had Tessa itching to return to the park of her youth. She drove the streets admiring the colorful flowers in bloom, realizing the town had grown while she was away. She parked in the same space she used years ago, wondering if the forest trail that beckoned was still in use. Finding it even wider than she remembered, she took off her shoes in order to feel the warm packed earth underfoot. While walking, she imagined the day her granddaughter would be big enough to step over the same roots and share the experience with her.

Written in response to Charli Mills April 22, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads!

Money or Time

Three Sundays in a row Lexi found a gift bag for Emma on the front porch. In exasperation she called her mother. “I appreciate Grandma’s generosity but she’s buying Emma newborn stuff that she’s too big for. And I don’t get the surprise factor bit.”

Tessa sighed. “I guess mother is trying to make up for not spoiling you as a baby. She means well.”

“I figured, but it’s a waste. I’ll invite her to lunch. I can tell her we would rather have her visit.”

“An invitation to babysit would send her over the moon.”

“Right. Got it.”

Written in response to Charli Mills April 15, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads!

Jester the Hero

Humans! Geesh! Last week that cute baby tried to twist my ear off. It hurt. A quiet growl escaped. The big people went ballistic, and the baby cried. I heard the words: chain, pound, and vet.

This week I growled and barked in that active kid’s face. She screamed and cried in anger. Her grandmother grabbed her and calmed her. Others praised and petted me, called me a hero dog, and even gave me a raw hamburger patty for supper. I guess it had to do with the fact I kept the little one from climbing up the stairs.

Written in response to Charli Mills April 8, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that “rethinks the hero.” Define the hero, comparing or contrasting to the classic definition. Break the mold. What happens to the hero in the cave? Is it epic or everyday? Is there resistance or acceptance? Go where the prompt leads!

Dedicated to Trabs

I was your friend

I felt close to you

I knew you hurt inside

But didn’t know how deep

I wish I’d understood

We , your co-workers

And your peers

Tried to help by talking

You pushed us away

Saying you were okay

You gained more weight

When already large

You drank more

Already having a problem

We watched, very aware

It troubled us to see you

Stuck in your own way

Unable to break free

From the fears

That controlled you

Now you are gone

Such a swift passage

We believe you’re free

from the pain you suffered

Written in response to Charli Mills April 1 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a swift passage. You can take inspiration from any source. Who is going where and why. What makes it swift? Go where the prompt leads!

Music For All Occasions

When Katie arrived at the No Thanks to stock before opening, she was surprised to see all the band member’s cars except Mac’s. When she stepped onto the macadam she could feel the thump of a bass and hear muffled sounds of a heavy metal band. Strange! She went inside, and recognized Tyrell’s cousins playing the extra guitars. Michael was pounding on the piano like it was an enemy. When the song ended she looked their way. “What gives?”

Her father grinned. “Just an escape. Playing out our anger at how the VA can screw things up so easily.”

Written in response to Charli Mills March 25 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write an escape. It can be daring or subtle. Who is escaping from what and why? Go where the prompt leads! 

Spring On the Farm

Notice the outside temp

Turn off the furnace

Lift up the windows, let the fresh air blow through

Hear the geese honking by

Snow banks all but gone

The fat sheep are lambing

Kid goats bound about

Spindly leg foals stick close to their mama’s side

Pollywogs will soon be

Swimming in the pond

The robins have returned

Goldfinches yellow

The rooster struts around his harem of hens

The calves bleat loneliness

Tis spring on the farm

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