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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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.

Standing In Respect – flash fiction

The funeral home parking lot was full of cars which hid the numerous motorcycles stashed in the back corner, but their large American flags flapping in the wind gave them away. I had to go look; The Patriot Guard was in presence. To enter the building I had to pass between the colonnade of men, standing at attention, on duty protecting a fellow veteran, a fellow biker and a friend. The haunted look in their eyes wasn’t for the current grief, it was from a long ago senseless war. I know, they were my friends too. Damn Viet Nam.

In response to Charli Mills January 17, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades. It can be natural, architectural, or a metaphor. Take a stroll and go where the prompt leads.

A Positive Outlook – flash fiction

“Grandma, when I bring in each box it sounds like you are saying ‘mint.’ Do you need a throat lozenge?”

“No. I’m saying enrichment over and over to convince myself this move is a good thing.”

“Mom said it was your idea to give up your house. I don’t understand.”

“I have found an unexpected enrichment whenever I have done something new. I know some pleasure or fulfillment will come from living here, but right now the newness is frightening so I am repeating a positive mantra. It keeps me looking ahead.”

“Sounds like it would help me too.”

In response to Charli Mills January 10, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment. Use many of its different manifestations or explore reasons why it matters to the character. Go where the prompt leads.

Now She Could Move On

Dr. Stephanie Davidson, still limping slightly, came out of the courthouse feeling free and relaxed. Her happiness radiated onto the people she passed. Her divorce from the man who had hired a killer to make her disappear was finalized and both men were serving long jail terms. Thankfully there were no news cameras or questions as a divorce hearing was nothing compared to the attempted murder trials the year before. The police officer that had saved her life when the attempt had been made waited for her. He gazed at her with adoration and said, “No looking back sweetheart.”

In response to Charli Mills January 3, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphorical reflection or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Who is looking back, and why? Go where the prompt leads.

Is There Beer in Heaven Part III

     The inevitable has happened. We buried my brother-in-law last Friday. It wasn’t even a week ago and it seems like so much more time has passed. Maybe it’s because Christmas happened and I didn’t think about it for a couple of days. I’m not sure, but it has me thinking a lot about time.

   You know how it always takes longer to get someplace by car than it does to get back home. I don’t know if it’s the anticipation that it makes it feel like it takes longer, or your desire has been satisfied for making the trip, so getting home is just something you have to do. This happens to me even when I know the route I am taking, like to my sisters, a different one, three hours away or when my girlfriends and I are going on a quilt shop trip. Continue reading “Is There Beer in Heaven Part III”

The Family Secret – flash fiction

From the time Cora Kingston attended the one room school house she had eyes for no other than John Yendow, a boy four years older. At home Cora’s mother would rail the girl that he was unacceptable. As Cora grew older her mother tried to pair her with unknowns from out of town but Cora refused. After typhoid took both her mother and John, Cora finally accepted another and moved far away. Years later she returned to erect a tombstone for her true love. If only he had been Jewish like her mother. The best kept secret in town.

 

In response to Charli Mills December 13, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Cora Kingston. You can answer any of the questions history obscures or completely make up a Cora Kingston story. Go where the prompt (and the name) leads you.

Woo Hoo -An Honorable Mention

Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury

FIRST PLACE: Contested Contingent by Jules Paige

SECOND PLACE: To the Rescue by Anne Goodwin

THIRD PLACE: Goodbye Fall by Ritu Bhathal

HON MEN: Chasing the Past by Sascha Darlington; Addressing the Animated Alarm by Jules Paige; and He Had Kind Eyes by Susan Sleggs (story is at bottom)

***ENTRIES***

Contested Contingent by Jules Paige

They are silent soldiers. A rare unified army. Commanded by a queen to seek the supplies to survive. Instinctual training leads them through dense foliage to the structures of giants. With all the unseasonable torrential rains their homes have become flooded. Yet they expect no outside relief. They are a self-sufficient bunch.

Mother has not seen the arrival of the invaders. In her nightgown, robe and slippers she ventures into the morning light of the kitchen and… draws a blood curdling scream. Father rushes to her aide. His bravery unsurpassed, he calms Mother and calls the local ant exterminator.

🐎🐎🐎

To the Rescue by Anne Goodwin

Cold cruel enough to cut the breath from me. Waves roar loud enough to drown out other sounds. It took a fool to dive in after her. It’ll take a hero to ferry her to shore.

Hair and beard turn to icicles. Arms to cartwheels, legs to flippers, brain to military command. Kick harder! Plough faster! Fight off lakebed vegetation, fear and fatigue!

I’ve almost reached her when a tether takes my ankle. I yank it back. It reins me in. I’m swallowing water when I grab her wrist. How will history judge me: a hero or a fool?

🐎🐎🐎

Goodbye Fall by Ritu Bhathal

Below me flowed water, fast and furious.

I tightened my grip on the pot.

“All ready?” The instructor checked my harnesses.

I gulped.

But I nodded. I needed to do this.

Launching myself, as instructed, I fell, headfirst, feeling the air zoom past me.

The elastic went taut and I bounced up and down several times.

My heart was in my mouth.

As I came to a stop, I looked at the pot, still in my hands.

Loosening its lid and allowing the contents to fall into the water, I whispered “Goodbye Jake,” before slowly being pulled back up.

🐎🐎🐎

Chasing the Past by Sascha Darlington

Blake’s ultimatum: “Stop storm chasing or I’ll leave.”

The first fat drop of rain hits the windshield as I pull onto Rafferty Road. Forget Blake. Focus.

The hail throttles me awake. The tornado falls out of the sky, barrels toward me. Momentarily, I’m awed by the intensity, the blackness, the harsh windy sound of the twisting, family-killing creature.

“Stupid!” I jerk the Suburban’s wheel, bounce over the median, then turn right onto a dirt road. I’m nearly standing on the gas pedal. The rearview shows only blackness. Debris shatters the back window.

If I survive, I’ll never storm-chase again.

🐎🐎🐎

Processing the Results by JulesPaige

Sylvia tries to remember to breath. All she can think of is that this is his fault. Well she did sort of consent, and at the time it was a rip roaring heck of a time. What a ride!

Now though, Sylvia feels like an elephant with duck feet. She wants to trumpet wildly, OK just plain scream. They keep telling her that it’ll all be worth it. But she can see her mother snickering, just wanting to outright guffaw like a bellowing jackass.

Hal stuffs more ice chips between Sylvia’s parched lips. Says she’ll be one great mother!

🐎🐎🐎

He Had Kind Eyes by Susan Sleggs

The bartender told the tarted up woman, “There’s a rule; the boss gets first dibs on any strange and then they share?”

She stayed, sipping whiskey a little too fast. The Harleys roared in.

The group entered. The noise level tripled. They eyed her until she ordered another. A man smelling of leather, and aftershave paid; took proprietorship. Soon walked her out.

In the quiet night, he said, “Your perfume smells like fear. What do you want?”

Tears formed. “To prove I’m not a mouse.”

He kissed her like no other had. “Go home. You proved it to me.”

 

 

 

 

Is There Beer in Heaven Part II

            In part one I talked about the fact if each human came up with their description of heaven, none of them would be the same and very few people I know think streets of gold and floating on clouds playing harps was a human thing to want to do. Now I have another question or should I say observation.

            We hear people say they expect to be with their loved ones in heaven, or see a best friend again. I agree. In fact, as my mother took her last breaths my father heard her say more than once, “I am coming.” He guessed she was talking to her mother, or perhaps the daughter they buried nineteen years before. My husband buried his daughter fifteen years ago when she was 27 after a vehicle accident. So here’s the question; when we meet our loved ones in heaven will a toddler know his/her aged parent? Will a 27-year-old recognize a father that may be 85 when the last time she saw him he was 55? Will she age? Continue reading “Is There Beer in Heaven Part II”

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

Some “Things” Can’t Be Replaced

“They lost everything in a fire.”

“But they’re all right, right?”

“Depends on how you look at it.”

This could be a conversation between two people discussing any victim of the recent fire that destroyed Paradise, CA, in a quick, intensely hot swoosh. My high school English teacher, her husband and their daughter and son-in-law are some of the victims. Yes, they escaped physically unharmed, but what about emotionally. Imagine the fear and feelings of helplessness they experienced at the time and now they are living in temporary digs wondering how long it will take to rebuild or even if they can. And what about their things, all gone. Things can be replaced, or can they. Continue reading “Some “Things” Can’t Be Replaced”

Is There Beer in Heaven?

       What is your impression of heaven? Do you believe heaven has streets paved of gold; that there will be tranquility for all and maybe a few angels still in need of their wings as depicted in books and movies.

      I remember when I was young my parents discussing their different desires if heaven were indeed a place they would find “heavenly.” My father wanted unlimited fishing holes, well inhabited hunting grounds and an ongoing poker game. My mother wanted all her children with her, but no meals to prepare or laundry to do, and she pictured a forest nearby where they could play and learn together. She also wanted an unlimited source of craft supplies so she could continue to be creative and busy. Continue reading “Is There Beer in Heaven?”

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