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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

Wasn’t It Just a Year Ago

I used to carry a full laundry basket down the cellar stairs, and empty-handed race the dog back up. Now I turn backward, hold the rail, and thump the basket down one step at a time. The dog is long gone, and I let the kitten run ahead.

The yard work didn’t use to be a chore because my knees didn’t argue, and my back didn’t ache. I miss the tidy flower beds. Thankfully the annuals still bloom.

My mind thinks the same, except it sleeps more. How many years ago you ask. Why it only seems like one.

****

A thought about the passage of time.

A Year of Changes

The warm breeze fluttered Tessa’s short brown curly hair. Her blue-green eyes shown love as she gazed down at her sleepy granddaughter. While rocking her, she talked in a soothing tone. “I wasn’t sure moving back to my roots was a good plan. I never thought your Mama would choose to come live here too, and not a single person could have convinced me your real grandpa would ignore you. Now here we are, living with Grandpa Michael. He loves us both even if we are pudgy. What a year full of changes it has been. We’re lucky ladies.”

Note: A regular reader wanted to know what Tessa looks like.

Written in response to Charli Mills March 18, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that takes place a year later. It can be any year. Explore the past year or another significant passing of time to a character. Go where the prompt leads!

Announcing the WINNERS of the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

When the Rodeo came to town, Rough Writers from around the world answered the call. You came, you sat in the saddle, you rode the bull, and you joined the parade.

Most important, you were inspired by our wonderful friend, Sue Vincent. Sue has been battling terminal cancer, and we’re thrilled that she is around to see the winners (though I admit I cheated and let her know the top winner a little early). Participants were allowed and encouraged to donate to help Sue and her family, but we believe the photo she provided as the prompt was worthy of any prize. Her photo prompted 63 wonderful 99 word stories and 99 syllable poems; if the average picture is worth 1,000 words, then we can be certain her prompt is way above average!

The Sue Vincent Rodeo Challenge Prompt

When speaking with Sue following the contest, we learned that…

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Hidden Guilt

The battered senior prom picture Michael sequesters in his wallet comes to light when he suffers alone. Staring at it, he remembers; standing tall on legs, twirling Tessa in her sparkly white dress, donning the crown of the elected high school king in love with the queen. He burrows it back into its cave and looks to the sky; his faith is his strength. He prays to be free from the guilt for the wheelchair he uses, the job he can no longer do, and not being thankful enough. He is driven to hide the pain while helping others.

Written in response to Charli Mills March 11, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about deep wishes. Where is the deep — in the sky, the ground, or outer space? What kind of wishes reside there for whom and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Tessa’s Lament

My ex didn’t need me

He made that perfectly clear

Home I came to help the folks

But in reality, they help me

My children are grown

The oldest chose to move here

Closeness she desires

And a grandmother for Emma

But they would be fine without me

I thought Michael needed a helpmate

But he’s so damn self-sufficient

He helps others in need

The Homefront Warriors welcomed me

But I’m just another voice

And set of understanding ears

PTSD? for a military wife

Nah. Someone please help me

Rejoice in being wanted

Compared to being needed

Written in response to Charli Mills March 11, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about deep wishes. Where is the deep — in the sky, the ground, or outer space? What kind of wishes reside there for whom and why? Go where the prompt leads!

A Filipino Treat

Tessa looked at the shopping list with skepticism. She asked Michael, “What are you going to make?”

“A dessert that I was introduced to while in the Philippines. It’s a thin tapioca pudding made with coconut milk. Then rice balls, sliced plantains, boiled sweet potato nuggets, and chopped figs are added.”

“Sounds labor-intensive.”

“It is. You have to prepare all the add-ins first.”

“You’ll sure dirty a lot of pans.”

“Correct. That’s why I’m making it when Lexi and Adam will be here to help with eating and clean up. I promise everyone will love it, especially Emma Blossom.”

Written in response to Charli Mills March 4, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes sweet potatoes. It can be part of a recipe, meal, or used as a nickname. Where do sweet potatoes take you? The grocery store? The garden? Mars? Go where the prompt leads!

Frozen Emotions

When Mac recognized the handwriting on the package, he froze. His body motionless, his mind raced back almost 50 years to visualize the young Vietnamese woman who had given him a son. “Colm McCarthy and descendants;” why was it addressed such?

Later, with the family assembled, Mac’s wife, Nan, opened the package. She handed envelopes to the three generations, Mac, Thad, and Katie, then read a note aloud. “My husband has died. I would like permission to visit.”

No one reacted.

Finally, Nancy said, “Thad, her situation was forced. I think it’s a good idea.”

Thad wasn’t so sure.

Written in response to Charli Mills February 25 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word frozen. It can be descriptive, character focused, action driven. Go out onto the ice and find a frozen story. Go where the prompt leads!

The Harsh Truth

Over coffee, Lexi said, “Mom, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad you left Dad. You’re happy now. Would you mind sharing what gave you the guts to make the move?”

Tessa looked away, remembering, then smiled at her oldest daughter. “I overheard a conversation between the wives of your father’s higher-ups. One wondered to the other if I knew your father’s continual unaccompanied tours were by request. I was shocked at first then soon decided I had been at the right place at the right time to learn the truth.”

“That’s harsh.”

“It was, but beneficial.”

Written in response to D. Avery’s February 18, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story where a character is in the right place at the right time. It may be cause for celebration! Go where the prompt leads!

Special Sue Vincent Collection

Many great stories written to honor Sue Vincent. Enjoy.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Stories in this collection honor fellow writer, Sue Vincent who has impacted the lives of many around the world through her stories and prompts. Life is a river of consciousness where writers dip their quills. Sue has provided us access.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

Dust of Life by FloridaBorne

We gather the dust of life, floating inside a watery womb.

We burst into a world too cold, light too bright, sounds too harsh, searching for sustenance.

Held in soft arms, comforted by a lullaby, we forget that once we floated in God’s arms, listening to…

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Remembering Alone

I wake way too early

Age defies long sleeps

Morning light glows over the small frozen pond

Trees and weeds glistening

I see from my room

Memories of thick ice

I long for my youth

When healthy muscles gladly shoveled away

Creating smooth patches

Enticing skate blades

Swishing among others

Speed, spills and laughter

Hearing happy sounds that no longer exist

Alone to remember

Silent tears falling

Out of the Mouths of Babes

At a church dinner, a precocious girl about three appeared at Michael’s side. She looked over the wheelchair then patted his longest leg stump. With total innocence, she asked, “Why don’t you grow new legs like Pinocchio grew a new nose?”

Michael laughed, “Pinocchio didn’t lose his nose like I lost my legs. The nose he had grew longer. A man can’t grow new legs.”

“Why don’t you wear those fake ones I’ve seen you walk on?”

“Because they aren’t good substitutions for my real ones. They make sores on my stumps.”

“Oh. Will you give me a ride?”

Written in response to D. Avery’s February 4, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a substitution. How might a character or situation be impacted by a stand-in? Bonus points for fairy tale elements. Go where the prompt leads.

The inconvenient walking dead…  #COVID #cancer #carers

Take a minute to get to know Sue Vincent and why there is a Rodeo happening in her honor.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

image of cartoon angry bird injured Artwork by deviantART artist Scooterek

I am not a happy bunny, more of an angry bird, and I am going to say so, regardless of how much subtle and not-so-subtle pressure has been applied in various areas to encourage us all to be nice, obedient, quiet bunnies. Given the short space of time I apparently have left to live, my right to freedom of speech is one I feel I should exercise…and even the government encourages us to exercise, after all…

Some of you know the background to what I want to highlight and I apologise for repeating myself. For those who are not regular readers… let me fill you in on the story so far… and if I tell it in some detail, it is because unless you have been or know a carer, you are probably unaware of all that entails. And because, even here, I cannot give…

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