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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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Flash Fiction

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

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”

Parade of Food – flash fiction

The buffet in the, new to us, Bed and Breakfast was a wonderful surprise. There was a virtual parade of international foods. We couldn’t name some of the fresh fruit and the egg casserole had a spice we couldn’t distinguish. Both were delicious. We tarried longer than the other guests so we could ask our hostess about the strange exotic flavors. She told us she had asked her international guests over the years for spice and recipe suggestions then incorporated them into her breakfast preparations. Her goal was to please any discerning pallet from anywhere on earth. She succeeded.

In response to Charli Mills September 20, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a parade of nations. It can be literal, or it can be a phrase that you use to describe a situation. Explore what it could be. Go where the prompt leads.

September 20: Flash Fiction Challenge

Too Bad It’s True – flash fiction

Dear Diary, They say pasta is a comfort food. I’m choosing to believe that and plan to make a serving every Saturday from here to forever because it seems I end up at one hospital or another on Sunday. A few months ago I sat with my sister while she and her husband decided whether kidney dialysis was worth the extra time on earth for him. Two weeks ago it was my daughter fighting sepsis (she won) and this Sunday it was my son with a smashed shoulder. The wine is gone tonight, the yummy red sauce pasta awaits.

In response to Charli Mills September 13, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads.

My Peaceful Workspace – flash fiction

If someone asked where I would like to have an epic quilting space, I would answer, on a bluff overlooking the Oregon coast, or high in a sky scraper with lots of windows to admire the scenery day and night, or perhaps on Flathead Lake in Montana to view the mountains and water. But let’s be logical about this; if I’m sewing I’m not looking at a view. I think I’ll keep the 600 square feet in the basement of my current home. Peace resides there and my cats keep me company. Besides I’m usually working in my pajamas.

In response to Charli Mills September 6, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an epic workplace. It can be real or imagined. Go where the prompt leads.

September 6: Flash Fiction Challenge

A Lesson in Trust – flash fiction

My grandson’s dentist appointment was after school which meant dealing with rush-hour traffic. While sitting on the overpass waiting for the light so I could turn onto the expressway ramp, I could look down to gauge the usual traffic bottleneck. Bad news. Traffic was completely stopped. I said, “We’re going for a little ride to avoid the expressway.”

“Ok.”

I wound my way around side streets going north and west.

I heard from the backseat, “I have no idea where we are!”

After two more turns he saw familiar buildings. “You weren’t lost after all Grandma?  I was worried.”

In response to Charli Mills August 30, 2018, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a bottleneck. You can be literal or use the term to describe congestion. Go where the prompt leads.

August 30: Flash Fiction Challenge

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