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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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99wordchallenge

A Family Meltdown

Katie didn’t try to hide her anger or tears. “Does she think she can swoop in here and be welcomed? I don’t care if she is my blood grandmother. She’s never sent me so much as a hello.”

Thad empathized with his daughter. “I’m not any more comfortable with meeting her than you are, but your grandfather and Nan say it will benefit us to reconnect.”

“How can Grandma be so positive?”

“She says you’ll understand better after you’ve had children.”

“I’m also worried about this woman’s reappearance upsetting Grandpa?”

“I’m sure his loyalty to Nan will prevent problems.”

Written in response to Charli Mills July 15, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word meltdown. You can use it to describe an event or emotional reaction. You can create a new meaning or explore the word origin. You can Go where the prompt leads!

Ruffled Feathers

Tessa stomped into the house and slammed the door behind her. “Mom makes me so mad.”

“I guess she ruffled your feathers again. About what now?” Michael asked.

“I explained to her that the base and medical benefits I lost when I got divorced, I would get back when we get married. Instead of looking at it as a positive, she reminded me I wouldn’t be able to take her to the Officer’s Club for dinner.”

“Her and her status hang up. I’ll tell her that the NCO Club food is better because there are more NCOs than Officers.”

Written in response to Charli Mills July 8, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features feathers. It can be a single feather or more. Where did the feather come from? Does it hold meaning to the character or story? Go where the prompt leads!

Rainbow Gets a New Home

Michael wheeled through the library talking to a fellow meeting attendee. The resident cat, Rainbow, on hearing Michael’s voice appeared from behind the counter and jumped into his lap.

The woman working chuckled. “I guess he’s going to your meeting too.”

Michael grinned. “We’ve made friends since I’ve been coming in regularly. In fact, I haven’t seen him with any children lately. “

“No. He’s getting older and not as tolerant. Want to adopt him?”

“Really? Tessa would be thrilled, but the dog might not be.”

“They’ll adjust.”

Michael cuddled him. “Rainbow, you want to go home with me?”

Written in response to Charli Mills June 24, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a cat named Rainbow on an outdoor adventure. Rainbow is any cat of any identification. What would draw a cat outside? Go where the prompt leads!

Summer Dream

Michael was telling Dr. John about a recurring nightmare. “The important ladies in my life are dancing around a fire like you’d see on the summer solstice, but my wheelchair’s in the fire.”

“Are they celebrating its destruction? Perhaps suggesting you give it up?”

“I hate the prosthetic legs.”

“Why?”

“When I’m in the chair, people look me in the eye and notice my upper body physic. When I wear the prosthetics, that’s all they see. I’m more than a pair of metal legs; and, I’m band mascot.

“So it’s not about comfort. It’s about recognition?”

“I don’t know.”

Written in response to Charli Mills June 18, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a solstice. What is the era and setting? Use the solstice as a celebration, metaphor, or talking point. Go where the prompt leads!

The Respected Counselor

Michael rolled into the No Thanks, went straight to Mac, and said, “I heard Dr. John is going to open an antique shop next door. That true?”

“Tis.”

“I didn’t know he was an antique guy.”

“When he asked to rent the building he said he wasn’t, but his wife is. He’s retiring from the VA but wants to stay available. They plan to turn the big back room into a kitchen so folks can drop in for a cup of coffee and a chat. A new way to office, he called it.”

Michael nodded approval. “Sounds like him.”

Written in response to Charli Mills June 10, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a new way to office. Has the office changed? Can we return to normal after big changes or time away? Go where the prompt leads!

Not an Ordinary Day

Katie got bad vibes, but she carded and served the group. One female pointed to the picture of Mac’s friend wearing his Medal of Honor and said, “Look, the highest grade dog collar a person can earn in this stupid country.”

Katie stammered. “Wha…t?”

“I see military folks as dogs on leashes, totally controlled.”

Mac appeared from nowhere. “I see you as ignorant, immature, and lacking common sense considering all the dogs in here, except me, served by choice and are off-leash. I suggest you drink up and get out!”

Experiencing palpable raised hackles, they gulped drinks and skedaddled.

Written in response to Charli Mills June 3, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads!

A Day For Remembering

The annual Memorial Day pig roast at the No Thanks was an event Michael looked forward to and dreaded. It was no live band day, so he couldn’t hide behind his instrument, singing words not his own. Often, family members remained outside, and the veterans retreated to the purposely darkened indoors to reminisce about those they had fought with and lost.

Thankfully he knew the secret to defuse a too-heavy conversation; swat his arm and say, “Damn mosquitoes.” The discussion would quickly become animated about the size of flying insects in specific war zones before returning to painful memories.  

Written in response to Charli Mills May 27, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tiny flying insects. Think about how the insects shape the scene or add to the action. Go where the prompt leads!

Selective Forgetfulness

When Tessa and her mother arrived at Lexi’s country home, they found her and Emma outside, sitting in the baby’s wading pool, sans clothing.

Lexi said, “Hi. I got some garden planted but then Emma woke up. When I brought her out here she kept crawling toward the pool. I was sweaty, so we both got in.”

Tessa smiled. “I can see that.”

Jenny was shocked. “I heard them talking about Gardening Naked Day on the radio this morning, but I didn’t think anyone would do it.”

Tessa responded. “Mom, should I bring up Woodstock stories.”

“That was different!”

Written in response to Charli Mills May 20, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about naked gardening. Is it the veggies or the gardener who is naked? Go where the prompt leads!

A Family Gathering

The men sat in front of the TV at Michael’s parents watching a baseball game they weren’t interested in, but at least it was a sports event. They were having trouble staying awake.

The women were in the kitchen. Two were doing dishes. Someone was holding a sleeping cat, another was making a list of foods to bring to the next gathering, and they were all talking. Nonstop! There was rarely a quiet moment.

During a commercial, one man got the others’ attention. “What do they find to talk about? Sounds like a bunch of hens.” They all shrugged.

Written in response to Charli Mills May 6, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about party hens. Who are these chickens and why do they party? Go where the prompt leads!

Same Words, Different Thoughts

It’s interesting how song lyrics can elicit different thoughts in different people.

 Thad played the melody to “Hit the Road Jack” on the piano and sang the words as if trying to perfect the phrasing.

 Mac remembered being ushered out of his pregnant Vietnamese girlfriend’s house by her unrelenting angry father and said, “Son, the band will NOT be singing that song.”

Michael added, “I don’t care to sing that either. It brings up painful memories.”

Tessa kept her good memory to herself. She had enjoyed a look of shock from her ex when she said it to him.   

Written in response to Charli Mills April 29, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “hit the road, Jack.” You can interpret the phrase any way you like — road trip, goodbye, or story. Go where the prompt leads!

Roots – flash fiction

The hot day had Tessa itching to return to the park of her youth. She drove the streets admiring the colorful flowers in bloom, realizing the town had grown while she was away. She parked in the same space she used years ago, wondering if the forest trail that beckoned was still in use. Finding it even wider than she remembered, she took off her shoes in order to feel the warm packed earth underfoot. While walking, she imagined the day her granddaughter would be big enough to step over the same roots and share the experience with her.

Written in response to Charli Mills April 22, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads!

Money or Time

Three Sundays in a row Lexi found a gift bag for Emma on the front porch. In exasperation she called her mother. “I appreciate Grandma’s generosity but she’s buying Emma newborn stuff that she’s too big for. And I don’t get the surprise factor bit.”

Tessa sighed. “I guess mother is trying to make up for not spoiling you as a baby. She means well.”

“I figured, but it’s a waste. I’ll invite her to lunch. I can tell her we would rather have her visit.”

“An invitation to babysit would send her over the moon.”

“Right. Got it.”

Written in response to Charli Mills April 15, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads!

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