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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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Flash Fiction

Gender-proof Names – flash fiction

The proud parents of toddler twins, a boy and a girl, couldn’t wait for Christmas morning to see which child picked which “rocking horse.” Without hesitation, Taylor went to the black and white motorcycle shaped one and Devin went to the golden pony. The parents smiled.

Years later the gender argument arose when the twins got their driver permits. Taylor asked, “Dad, in this day and age do we really have to mark the Female or Male box on this application?”

He answered, “It’s only good for statistics these days, each of you pick one, but make them different.”

In response to Charli Mills April 18, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about gender. It can be fixed or fluid. Explore the topic on your own terms and open your mind to possibilities and understanding. Go where the prompt leads!

Safer To Eat At Home – flash fiction

 Eight year old Becky came home from school to see her mother had liver and onions ready to prepare for supper. She sought permission to go play with best friend Arlene and bolted out the door. Together the two girls hatched a plan then went to Arlene’s mother to ask if Becky could eat dinner with them. They were triumphant until they sat down to lima beans and fried Spam. Arlene’s mother, seeing Becky’s face said, “Beggars can’t be choosers. Eat up.”

Later, outside, Becky said, “Lima beans are yuckier than liver. Do you think they called each other?”

 

Written in response to Charli Mills April 11, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers.” You can play with the words, alter them or interpret them without using the phrase. Give it any slant you want — show what it means or add to its  meaning. Go where the prompt leads!

Making Notification

The Army officer stopped the fleet car in front of the brick house at 217 Maple Avenue. As they looked at the house, he said to the Chaplain sitting with him, “I hate doing these notifications. All the family has to do is see us walking up the sidewalk and they know what they’re going to hear.”

“True, but these days they can hold on to the fact their child volunteered and had wanted to serve their country.”

“Doesn’t make losing one any easier, especially when I have to admit friendly fire  was the cause. And they always ask.”

 

In response to Charli Mills April 4, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fire. It can be a flame that burns or a light that inspires. Follow the flames and go where the prompt leads!

Two Meanings – flash fiction

“Look at all those eminences in the back yard.”

“What are you talking about? Speak English.”

“If you did crossword puzzles like I do, you would know I was referring to all the little mounds of dirt.”

“Oh, yes. We have a mole problem.”

“And if your furry, four legged friend lounging in the sun over there knew she was a cat instead acting like a feline eminence, she might go outside and kill the moles.”

“She’s an indoor cat and I don’t think it’s funny  that you used the same word with its opposite meaning.”

“Glad you noticed.”

 

In response to Charli Mills March 26, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence. It’s a rich word full of different meanings. Explore how it sounds or how you might play with it. Go where the prompt leads!

Water Is Life – flash fiction

Ezra sat waiting for his wife to come home from the field hospital. He had fed their children, bacon, biscuits slathered with butter and wild berry jam, and fresh cow’s milk for supper. The garden wasn’t yet producing vegetables, but it would in a few weeks. Keeping it weed free was something he could manage even with his wounds. When Louise finally arrived on horseback, he offered her dinner.

“No,” she said. “Just water. Cold, fresh and clear water.”

Their eldest ran to fetch a bucket of water from the stream, careful not to muddy it while doing so.

In response to Charli Mills March 21, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a bucket of water. What is the condition of the water and what is the bucket for? Drop deep into the well and draw from where the prompt leads!

 

Those Beaks Are Made For Eating

Outside my window suet feeders for woodpeckers hang on the crabapple tree. They are chained because climbing critters like to steel them. The little Downy Woodpecker feeds with the tiniest beak, the size of a push pin, but it’s the fiercest of the bunch. The Hairy is next in size and its beak resembles a small nail. The Red-bellied sports a picture hanging nail and the Flicker’s beak is long and sleek, like a sharp needle. The extra large Pileated Woodpecker has a huge beak in comparison. It looks like two chisels on a hinge. He takes big bites. pileated2

 

In response to Charli Mills March 14, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a chisel. Use chisel as a noun or a verb. Think about what might be chiseled, who is chiseling. Be the chisel. Go where the prompt leads!

Meanings Change

“My mouse isn’t here,” my son lamented

“He better not be running loose.”

“I’m talking about my computer mouse, not Whiskers.”

“That’s a relief. Where could it be?”

“Probably at school. I used my laptop to work on an assignment about archaic words. I had a lot of windows open looking for examples.”

“Windows used to let air in, not information. Come to think of it, RAM, byte, virus, web, boot, spam, and cookies have all taken on new meanings in this techie age.”

“You’re a genius. I’ll write my report on those words and easily get an A.”

 In response to Charli Mills March 7, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a mouse. It can be real, imagined, electronic or whiskered. Go where the prompt leads!

Back – Ups – flash fiction

Mom says, “Honey, before you go back upstairs, don’t forget to back-up your work. Oh, I think hear a back-up alarm. I hope that’s not an ambulance coming for Mr. Backus next door.”

Dad asks, “Has he been sick?”

“His wife told me his innards get backed up and he has trouble going.”

“That’s a crappy subject. All this talk about back-up reminds me I need to call and have the septic tank emptied.”

Son groans, “One more mention of back-up, my lunch might come back up.”

Mom grins. “I’ll back up if you need to get past me.”

 

In response to Charli Mills February 28, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have a backup, just go where the prompt leads!

The Ultimate Gift

When I started my new job the end of January, I asked, “Will we have a Valentine’s Day party?”

My boss gave me an incredulous look. “We have open house every Valentine’s Day, but please, don’t call it a party. Our donor families are rarely in a party mood.”

“Oh. Right.”

When I opened the top drawer of my desk, a note waited;

Be mindful that in the heart transplant unit a donor just had the worst day of their life and the lucky recipient is having the best and sometimes we get to meet both sets of families.

 

In response to Charli Mills February 14, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!

Not a Brag – A Reality — flash fiction

          On the Riverside Hotel lobby wall there was a big, bold sign; Our bartender Carlton is the best in the US. We took our luggage to the room, freshened up and went to the lounge; curious. With our first order Carlton asked our names and hometown and didn’t forget. He asked other guests the same then introduced everyone to everyone else. We had a fun evening with what felt like old friends. We left an exorbitant tip, sad we couldn’t stay another night. We still talk about Carlton, wonder how much money he makes, and if he’s still there.

In response to Charli Mills February 7, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sign. It can be a posted sign, a universal sign, a wonder. Go where the prompt leads.

He Never Left Us

We called the seaside motel to book a room.

They said we’re closed for a private function.

Yes, we said, the funeral of the owner.

You know that? You may have a free room.

In a local diner dressed in our best we were asked,

Are you here for Dick’s funeral?

Our friend was very well liked.

His companies employed half the town.

A church so full, people stood.

Back at the motel well after dark.

The sea mist rose.

The fog horn sounded.

We knew Dick was still with us.

The horn will always be his loving voice.

 

Written in response to Charli Mills January 31, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does it create an environment for a story? It can set the stage or take the stage. Go where the prompt leads.

Broken – flash fiction

The vinyl discs were from his high school and college days. When he left her for another woman she smashed them against the edge of their marble counter. Shards flew. She eyed the mess with a childish glee, feeling she had destroyed something of him as he had destroyed their life together. She slept well that night. The next day she purchased a shiny new bucket and filled it with every shard she could locate then left it by the turntable with a note; “Here is your record collection, in the condition you have left my heart and life.”

In response to Charli Mills January 24, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads.

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