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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

He’ll Walk for Emma

Tessa leaned close to Lexi to ask, “How did you get Michael to wear his legs for the baptism?”

“Reality, Mom. I simply told him I was afraid Emma wasn’t safe being perched in his lap while he was using his arms to wheel his chair and I wanted her grandfather to carry her forward when it was time for the ceremony.”

“That will be your crown of glory for years to come my daughter. Next time I think he should walk instead of ride, I’ll get you to convince him.”

“Not my doing, Mom. Give Emma the credit.”

Written in response to Charli Mills July 30, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the phrase “her crowning glory.” (Thanks to Anne Goodwin for the prompt idea.) It can be in the traditional sense of a woman’s hair or applied to any idea of a best attribute. What happens if you play with the meaning or gender? Go where the prompt leads!

She’s Using Her Own Name

Why do we have a name? It’s for identity, recognition, branding, and a connection to others.

Names are funny things. Some people love theirs, and won’t change even when they marry. Some can’t wait to change and others go to court to change what their parents gave them to hide a religion, nationality, or a drug hazed choice.

TV stars often change to a “stage name” so it’s easy to say and remember. Judy Garland has a ring to it, but her real name Frances Ethel Gumm doesn’t. John Wayne’s name was recorded as Marion Robert, or Marion Michael Morrison, sources don’t agree, and Kirk Douglas’s birth name was Issur Danielovitch Demsky. It’s hard to imagine either one of those HE-men being called the name on their birth certificates. Parents must be forgiven, one never knows to what heights or what paths a child will traverse and/or grow into.

Writers sometimes use a pen name for anonymity, or maybe a woman uses a man’s name to hide the fact she’s female. I hope that reason has become less prevalent, but about three years ago I heard a man say he wouldn’t read anything written by a woman. I couldn’t believe my ears. I have also heard some authors who have too many books published start using a second name.

Some people like me have a very common name to start with so search out a new name to be known by when they write. And, in today’s world, some think it is safer to be known by a pseudonym so you aren’t stalked. I don’t think I’ll ever get famous enough for that to happen, nor am I good enough eye-candy. My husband advised I shouldn’t use his last name as it’s easy to misspell and difficult to pronounce correctly. I agreed with him so I started using the pen name Susan Sleggs. Sleggs is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name but when you Google it, one often ends up on a web site called Susan’s Legs. I think you can guess that is not a PG website.

Recently while talking to my writing mentor she mentioned I seemed to be having trouble “carrying” my pen name because Susan Sleggs wasn’t real. I had a light bulb moment realizing my writing is of me, my life, good decisions and bad, situations I had no control over but had power over me and most of all from my growth as a person. So the tough decision has been made. I will be writing under my own name from now on, and be proud of it. Sue Spitulnik is me, an ever-changing person with an expansive puddle of experiences to create all sorts of emotional characters from. I write what I know and research the rest, including pig wrestling at a state fair.

Teamwork Rewards – flash fiction

The youth choir’s annual adopt-a-highway clean-up day dawned sunny and warm. Michael whistled while he inventoried coolers of iced water and boxes of sweet-smelling homemade cookies. He loved escorting the teens. There was a freedom of expression while they were outside working together that didn’t happen at choir practice. Last year they discussed the ills of littering and not showing respect for the natural beauty of their area. Gaylan had written a serious but comical essay about it that ended up in the school newspaper. Today Tessa planned to point out wildflowers and weeds that could be used medicinally.

Written in response to Charli Mills July 23, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to show what it is to protect nature around us. It can be set in any era or told in any genre. You can fictionalize a true story or completely make it up. Go where the prompt leads!

Stifled Opinion – flash fiction

His driver looked at him, “Sarge, can I ask a question?”

Michael was seething after leaving the meeting with the Afghan leader, but he answered, “Of course.”

“I never hear you bad-mouth that guy. All of us think he’s a maniac. How do you keep your cool?”

“First off, I’m in his country. It’s my place to show respect regardless. Second, it would be wrong to create a hell-storm when we’re here trying to obtain peace. Third, it would anger me if they talked against our leaders.”

“I admire you, boss.”

“Just so you know, I am screaming inside.”

Written in response to Charli Mills July 16, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that expresses the phrase, “scream inside your heart.” Who is involved and why is the scream contained? Go where the prompt leads!

Monreal Dorb = Ronald Brome – flash fiction

When The Band of Brothers finished a set at the No Thanks, Michael wheeled to a booth to chat with Ronald Brome who sat with his laptop open. “What ‘cha workin’ on? Your fingers and head were keeping beat to the music.”

“Been spammin’ a website called Carrot Ranch.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Why? Because I can. I got in 574 hits during your set. They’ll think I’m a bot, but haha, I’m not.

“You should use your skills for something productive.”

“Government taught me how, then turned me loose. They’re lucky I’m not messin’ with their files.”   

Written in response to Charli Mills July 9, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes that answers the question, who is Monreal Dorb. You can imagine the life of this fictitious person in any era or circumstance. Is there cause and effect at play? Go where the prompt leads!

The Baby’s Nickname – flash fiction

A month after Lexi and Adam, Tessa’s daughter and son-in-law, were settled in their new house, Emma got baptized with families present. Michael’s youth choir sang two children’s dedication songs and Adam’s parents were thrilled to see how he was accepted into the close-knit group. At the luncheon, Lexi tolerated her grandmother’s proprietorship over the baby just so long then retrieved her so Adam’s family could cuddle her too. Adam’s grandfather beamed at her and said, “So this is the new blossom that made our family grow.” And that’s how the pink-cheeked infant came to be called Emma Blossom.

Written in response to Charli Mills July 2, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the word blossom. You can use the word as a noun or a verb, or even as a name. How does it fit into your story? Go where the prompt leads!

Saddle Up Saloon; the Band Plays On

I have a by-line at the Carrot Ranch Saloon. Thank you to Jim Deascher for the wheelchair demonstration.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Saddle Up Saloon

Co-written by Susan Sleggs, Veteran Stories columnist here at Carrot Ranch and contributor to the Rochester Veterans Writing Group book, United in Service, United in Sacrifice.

“Kid! Are you up there in thet Poet-Tree? Git down from there!”

“Yer barkin’ up the write tree, Pal, but leave me alone. I’m a settin’ up here workin’ on ma standup material. We gotta have some kinda ennertainment  fer the folks this week.” 

“Yep, thet’s whut I wanted ta talk ta ya about. Kid, ya ever noticed they’s a lot a vets aroun’ here?”

“Duh, Pal, the Ranch is jist down the road. A course they’s vets aroun’. Like if one a the hosses gits sick. The vets come from the hoss-pital. Oh, gotta write that down.”

“No, Kid, vets.”

“Right, the doctors that come check on the cattle, give ‘em their im-moo-nizations. See what I did there? Oh, I…

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Now I’m Living

I was a single military man

A lady here and there

Living the life

I thought of you

Even on the day I met the bomb

I lost my driver

I lost my legs

What’s the point in living

You wouldn’t want me

I met a fierce lady

She taught me to walk

I called her Clarice

She wasn’t you

I went back home

And by God, you did too

Twenty five years later

We’re together again

Today we held baby Emma

Her parents are moving to be near

Now I know why I have life

Four generations’ll do

Written in response to Charli Mills June 25, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story with the phrase, “I got life.” It can be told from any point of view. What meaning does it lend to your story? Go where the prompt leads!

Meeting the Granddaughter – flash fiction

Michael said, “I’m sorry. I need to stop at the next rest stop.”

Tessa reached for his hand, gave him a sideways glance, and asked, “Are you all right? I can feel you shaking. Besides, we just stopped.”

“Believe me, I know. I don’t know if I’m excited to meet your granddaughter, or scared, but I need to go again.”

Tessa laughed aloud. “I thought only women had nervous bladders.”

“Don’t pick on me,” he laughed. “I haven’t held a baby since I was in high school and I want this to go well.”

“You’ll be a fine Grandpa.”

Written in response to Charli Mills June 18, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes good vibrations. What is unfolding? Is someone giving off or receiving the feeling? Where is the story situated? Gather some good vibes and go where the prompt leads!

Saddle Up Saloon; Art Showin’

Meet some of the ladies I write with each week. We do more than writing.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Saddle Up Saloon

“Wow, Lit Kit Libation Slingin’ Librarian and new bartender at the Saddle Up Saloon, this art show is happening!”

“Really Kid? I can tell there’s no word limit here. Just call me Lit Kit already. But yes, the bar is busy.”

“Yep, Lit Kit, there’s sure  a mess a folks here ta show an’ see visual art work.”

“Heehee. Some a them make Shorty look tall. Look, there’s Ann Edall Robson. An’ who’s that sippin’ a tall glass a Sauvignon Blanc?”

“You two don’t get out much, do you? That’s author-illustrator Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. And she’s been the lead buccaneer captaining Friday Fictioneers for the past eight years. Look, I have to tend the bar. Go talk to Rochelle, she’s interesting.”

“Howdy ma’am. Welcome ta the Saddle Up. I’m Pal, this here’s Kid.”

“Yer a author-illustrator? Soun’s like a chicken-egg conundrum. Which comes first?”

“Kid!”

“It’s okay, Pal, it’s a…

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Famous Classmates – BOTS

Michael and Tessa gazed at the Wall of Fame in their high school. Tessa asked, “Did you see Phillip Sheppard when he was on the TV show Survivor?”

“I did, and his pink underpants didn’t surprise my Aunt Sue a bit. She said he was thee character in her class. I wonder how much ribbing his brother James took as the Rochester Police Chief at the time. He probably felt like he was wading in deep water.”

“And Bill T. Jones was her student instructor in choir. Who knew at the time these three African-American students would become famous.”

 

Bill T. Kennedy

Bill T. Jones the night he received Kennedy Center Honor  –   2010

CheifJ.Sheppard

Cheif James Sheppard when in office

Note: I ate lunch with Bill T. Jones and other friends every day when I was in eighth grade at Wayland-Cohocton Central School. He is now a world-renowned modern dance choreographer and Kennedy Center Honors recipient. James and Phillip Sheppard were younger than me. I had the opportunity to have lunch with Phillip after his second appearance on Survivor. What a fun guy to hang out with.  And no, we had no clue while in high school these classmates would become household names.

Written in response to Charli Mills June 11, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story deep waters. It can be literal or metaphorical. Think of a place and person and situation. Explore. Bathe. Renew. Go where the prompt leads!

Will There Ever Be Justice For All – flash

Michael sat with his fellow bandmates discussing the Pledge of Allegiance. He asked, “Have you ever thought about that last line, ‘Justice for All’?

Colm McCarthy, first-generation Irish -American who served in Vietnam, said, “Only when I get mad about how hard it is to get an appointment at the VA.”

Colm’s son, Thad, a Vietnamese-American who served in Granada, gave a disgusted grunt. “Try being a 50-50 and see how you are treated by others.”

Tyrell, the band’s African-American drummer, and Iraq veteran asked, “Are we talking about justice or equality.”

Michael responded, “I don’t believe they’re separable.”

 

Note: A 50/50 was the term used to describe a Vietnamese child that was half American.

 

Written in response to Charli Mills June 4, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about justice for all. It does not have to take place in America. Injustice exists anywhere. What is the story behind justice for all? Go where the prompt leads!

 

 

 

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