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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

Butterfly Rock Garden

In the springtime, the Homefront Warrior’s group worked quickly under the threat of rain to arrange rocks and then plant seedlings and bulbs for a memorial garden.

Now it was a sunny, blue-sky August day and they gathered for a picnic near their handiwork. One woman who had little knowledge of plants stood admiring the various colored blossoms with a puzzled look on her face.

Tessa noticed. “What has you perplexed?”

“Why did we plant weeds in with the flowers?”

“If you mean the milkweed, it’s the only thing a monarch butterfly will eat. Look, here comes one now.”

Written in response to Charli Mills January 7, 2021 prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the contrasting prompts butterfly and stones. The two can be used in any way in your story. Go where the prompt leads!

Military Pranksters

Michael and Tessa were watching TV when Michael started chuckling after seeing a shoe commercial. Tessa was puzzled. “What’s funny?”

“Nothing. It reminded me of a Thanksgiving eve discussion between the vets about gentlemen’s clubs around the globe.”

“And?”

“Seems almost everyone there had been to or knew about one called Stilettos in Washington state.”

“Why?”

“The old-timers on the post made sure to encourage new guys to attend the extravagant midnight show.”

“Why?”

“It was performed by transvestites and some of the guys never caught on. It was a perpetual fun prank.”

Tessa harrumphed. “Soldiers and their pranks.”

Written in response to Charli Mills December 17, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stilettos. Who will wear them and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Some Dreams Fulfilled

Becca, Michael’s sister, knocked and let herself in. She saw him sitting on the floor by Emma’s toys but there was no baby and his wheelchair wasn’t in sight. “I have baptism pictures.”

“Thankfully it’s you!”

“Why, have you been monkey scooting around the house again?”

“Yeah, it makes Emma laugh. Whoever dreamed my long arms would be used for such a thing. “

“Maybe the same dreamer that pictured you holding a grandchild in Tessa’s family pictures. Can you believe her ex didn’t show up?”

His eyes twinkled. “Two out of three parts of that dream ain’t bad.”

Written in response to Charli Mills December 10, 2020, prompt at Carrot Rach Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something a character never dreamed would happen. The situation can be fortuitous, funny, or disappointing. Go where the prompt leads!

New Family Traditions

The Monday after Thanksgiving Michael and Tessa received a beautiful Christmas arrangement from Tessa’s mother. They each raised their eyebrows, skeptical of Jenny’s intentions.  

Inside the thank you card she had written, “I had no idea cooking for two days for other people could be gratifying. I hated eating leftovers on Thanksgiving, but gathering our family together with Michael’s on Saturday was the best celebration of thanks I have ever attended. Let this be our new tradition. Love, Mom.”

A tear ran down Tessa’s cheek. “She’s coming around isn’t she?”

Michael eyes watered. “Wait till I show my parents.”

Note: “cooking for two days for other people” refers to last week’s flash that mentioned the band members families preparing the dinner served at the No Thanks.

Written in response to Charli Mills December 3, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes family traditions. It can be related to any holiday or situation. How does the tradition impact the story or change the character? Go where the prompt leads!

Feeding the Soul – flash fiction

The night before Thanksgiving the No Thanks Needed welcomed military members only. The Band of Brothers served turkey and fixin’s, prepared by their families, to any service person who came through the door. After the meal, Mac announced, “Being thankful for family and friends goes without saying, but if you ever fought in a warzone, hot running water, and a flushable toilet are right up there on the list.” The crowd cheered with understanding and others shouted; food, clean clothes, life, the brotherhood. Service-related stories were shared openly until the wee hours of the morning in the comfortable safe-haven.

Note: The No Thanks Needed is a fictional Vietnam Veteran owned bar. The Band of Brothers is the house band, all veterans, one of which is Michael, main character of my serial flash fiction pieces.

Written in response to Charli Mills November 19, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that glorifies a toilet. Capture the marvel and status and love for a contraption we’d rather not mention. Go where the prompt leads!

Breakfasting Alone – flash fiction

Tessa palmed the purplish avocado to slice through the leathery covering. When the sharp blade hit the pit, she turned the fruit in a circle to pair the complete skin. After putting down the knife she used both hands to twist the avocado into two pieces. Then she slid the tines of a fork between the protruding pit and green meat and flicked the pit into the sink. Using a spoon she scooped the green meat out of both halves, mashed it, then slathered it onto pieces of buttery hot toast. This was her secret indulgence when Michael traveled.

Written in response to Charli Mills November 12 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story includes avocado toast. How can this be a story or a prop to a story? Use your senses and imagination. Go where the prompt leads!

Overcoming Obstacles – flash fiction

Michael sat on the floor of the rehab room facing a young woman, wheelchairs beside both of them. Her leg stumps matched his. He said, “How did you pass the boot camp obstacle course? You appear too short to defeat the rock wall.”

“You mean I was too short!” She stopped. He waited. “Another recruit  showed me the trick.”

“How long in hospital?”

“Six months.”

“That’s lost time, but if you’ll master getting into your chair from the floor they’ll let you learn to use legs back home.”

“Nobody told me that.”

“I just did.”

“Show me how. Please.”

Written in response to Charli Mills November 5, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about lost time. You can write a realistic scenario or something speculative. How does lost time impact the character of your story? Bonus points if you include a 1982 brown rubber watch Go where the prompt leads!

Muddy Water Memories – flash fiction

The band was packing their instruments when a young man approached Mac. He stuck an old photo of two men, one supporting the other, in a muddy rice paddy apparently in Vietnam in front of him. “I’m wondering if that’s you on the left?”

Mac stared at the photo…”Billy Metott.”

“My grandfather. He says you saved his life that day. I wanted to tell you he’s doin’ well and say thank you.”

“How did you find me?”

“I’m attending college near here. He saw the bar’s name  when he passed by and thought it must be you.”

“I’ll be.”

(Part two)

Mac handed the picture back, wiped the tears from his eyes, and finally looked at the young man. “The truth about that day is nobody lived without the help of a buddy. Why didn’t Billy stop in?”

“Fear he was wrong. Memories.”

“That I understand. Your name?”

“Colm, after my father.”

When the band members heard the name, their curiosity peaked. They heard Mac say, “Sorry about the name. I’d like to get together with your grandfather. Maybe we can save each other from some future bad dreams.”

“He’ll agree to that. I’ll let him know.”

“Thank you, Colm.”

Written in response to Charli Mills October 30, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about life savers on any body of water. It can be a formal Coast Guard, historical or contemporary. It could be an individual who unexpectedly takes on the role. Go where the prompt leads!

Emma Won’t Tell

Tessa and Lexi were sitting on the far side of the bonfire so could see Michael cuddling Emma Blossom through the bay window. He laid his forehead against hers and his lips were moving. Had they been able to hear him…”My sweet baby girl who wants to hear a spooky story, I live one. I can feel feet I don’t have. My driver’s ghost keeps me company way too often and the tea kettle whistling or light flashes can cause me to drench my clothes with sweat in seconds. Your Grandma knows, and I don’t think you’ll tell anyone.”

Note: Michael is a 100 % disabled vet who lost his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. Tessa is his significant other and Lexi is her daughter.

Written in response to Charli Mills October 22, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a spooky tale told around a campfire. It doesn’t have to include the campfire; it can be the tale. Go where the prompt leads!

Unused Kid Gloves – flash fiction

Tessa called Michael’s sister. “I got my divorce papers today and when I put them away in the hutch drawer I noticed a pair of exquisite men’s goat skin gloves I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t want to ask Michael about them just in case…”

Becca’s laugh stopped Tessa’s comment. “I gave those to him thinking he would wear them while learning to wheel his chair. He informed me he didn’t want prissy hands with no calluses and I never saw them again. I am flattered he kept them. If they’re in that drawer, I wouldn’t mention finding them.”

Written in response to Charli Mills October 8, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes kid gloves. A prop in the hands of a character should further the story. Why the gloves? Who is that in the photo, and did he steal Kids’ gloves (of the Kid and Pal duo)? Consider different uses of the phrase, too. Go where the prompt leads!

Taking Control – flash fiction

Katie’s eyes went wide when she saw Kid and Pal standing at the No Thanks bar. “Howdy guys. What brings you here, and, how’d you get so dusty?”

“We’re on hiatus from our Saloon and gettin’ pulled every which way. One writer’s got us drinkin’, one ridin’ the range and another sittin’ at a campfire, so we rode over for a busman’s holiday. Sorry ’bout the dust.”

“Don’t care ’bout the dirt. Couldn’t be better timing! If you’ll tend bar, I’ll go see my students dance at the Irish Festival.”

“We’d love to.”

“Can’t thank you enough.”

“Have fun.”

Written in response to Charli Mills October 1, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that happens on the dusty trail. It can take place anywhere. Who is your character, where are they going, and why? Bonus points if they meet up with Kid and Pal from D. Avery’s Ranch Yarns and Saddle Up Saloon (they hit the trail so TUFF could take over the saloon). Go where the prompt leads!

Karma

At their party, Michael heard Tessa’s mother make another snide comment about how many snacks Tessa had eaten. He wheeled over to Jenny and got right in her face. “Do you remember saying ‘My house, my rules’ when we were growing up?”

“So long ago. But yes, I do.”

“Well, this is my house and my rules. Your negative comments about Tessa’s eating are not welcome here.”

Jenny shot up out of her chair, “Well! Then neither am I. Don, take me home.”

“You can take the car.” Her husband handed her the keys and opened the front door.

Written in response to Charli Mills September 24, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking. It can feature crunchy snacks or creamy one. Who is snacking on what and why? How can you make this a story? Go where the prompt leads!

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