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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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99words

Stories from the Author’s Chair

I went out of curiosity, to hear what the veterans wrote about their experiences.

Each author sat in the special chair to read a piece of his writing. An Army officer recounted delivering coffee in the dead of night to frightened young rookies in look-out towers. An Air Force pilot related seeing a plane crash, then having to walk around the wreckage to go fly his own mission. The Marine lowered his gaze, described the sounds, smells, and angst of the front line, and carrying his wounded buddy to the medical tent.

I wondered who had the worst nightmares.

Written in response to Charli Mills September 23, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about an author’s chair. It can belong to any author. Where is it located and why? Does it have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

The Magic of a Silly Brown Pup

When Michael started whistling the tune to “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree,” Jester went into action. He raced from his master to the door and back several times while Michael donned his prosthetic legs. Once outside, Michael sang his own words to the catchy tune. “You’re a too tall mutt with floppy long ears. You walk in the trees with me. Woo-hoo. Woo-hoo. My chair stays home, where many think it should be. Woo-hoo. You’re as much to me as any big black horse could be. Woo-hoo. My silly brown pup runs along with me. Woo-hoo. Woo-hoo.”

Written in response to Charli Mills September 16, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a Big Black Horse. It can be a horse, a metaphor or an interpretation of KT Tunstall’s “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” Go where the prompt leads!

A Hare-brained Idea

Normally Michael had other band members along when he drove the Veterans Music Van to the VA. Today he needed silence to brainstorm. The Irish Dancers needed money so they could attend a competition. How could he get enough people involved so it wouldn’t be a hardship on any wallet? His mind wandered to his stomach. He hadn’t eaten breakfast. Food! What if they had a cook-off? Each group he belonged to could make the same meal using their own recipes. Voting for favorite dishes could be done with dollars. Cooks would get ribbons, and the dancers the money.

Written in response to Charli Mills September 9, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the cooking show. It can be any cooking show, real or imagined. Who is there? What happens? Make it fun or follow a disaster. Go where the prompt leads!

Family Shenanigans

Who said a forty-something shouldn’t feel like an excited young bride? The ladies in Tessa’s family invited her friends for a personal wedding shower. Michael’s and her sister oohed and aahed as she opened each special gift, but they held one box in reserve to be the last presented. Finally, the most elaborate paper and bow lay on the floor. Tessa held up a life-size felted pink piglet with curly tail and sparkly silver wings for all to see. She didn’t understand the present.

The sisters exclaimed, “Michael swore he wouldn’t get married till pigs could fly!”

Everyone laughed. 

Written in response to Charli Mills August 26, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a flight of pigs. It can be farm or fantasy-related. The idea can be a tale, poem or memory. You can use the phrase as an expression. Go where the prompt leads!

Stars in the Sand

Sand and rocks, all the same color. Windy. The sand didn’t care whose clothing it sifted into; US troops in full battle gear, residents they were training, or the enemy they had trouble identifying.

Then came the explosion. Michael’s legs in a million pieces, splattered in every direction. His driver’s body torn apart. The identifiable parts gathered reverently to return home in a flag-covered casket.

The General visited the compound. His soldiers knew he would come. He had their respect. He cared about their well-being. His stars shone in the sun, the same color as the unforgiving relentless sand.

Written in response to Charli Mills August 19, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “stars in the sand.” Your story can be any genre (or poem) and can use realism or fantasy. It’s a dreamy prompt. Go where the it leads!

Laying in a Hospital Bed

An inward sucking noise

An outward swooshing

Over and Over

The ventilator keeps perfect time

The incessant beeping

When the IV bag is empty

“Someone” please turn it off

Where is everyone

Now a fall-alarm is blaring

My adrenalin rushes but

I hear no one running in response

Don’t they care

Too busy to answer call buttons

But I can hear them talking

How many people are working

Where is my friendly nurse

The meal-cart wheels squeak

Compartment doors slam

The tube prevents eating

My mind says I’m hungry

My God, it’s finally quiet

It’s peaceful

Am I dead

Written in response to Charli Mills August 13, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story, using cacophony. You can use the word or show discordant sound inaction. How can you create literary cacophony with your words? This one might be of interest to poets as a literary device. Go where the prompt leads!

Michael’s Motivational Speech at Walter Reed

Had I not been in a bomb blast, I would probably still be on active duty, stationed who knows where. Instead, I’m directing the teen choir in my hometown church, I’m singing lead in a veterans only band, I’m taking the healing power of music to multiple veterans’ facilities in a gifted van , I’m marrying for the first time, and I’ve immersed myself in family life. It took me a while to realize losing most of my legs had opened doors for me. The secret is to believe there is a specific, exciting purpose for the new you.

Written in response to Charli Mills August 5, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about an open door. It can be literal or metaphorical. What is behind the door? Who is seeking and why? As the writer, how will you manage the discovery? Go where the prompt leads!

Same Place, Different People

Tessa and her father talked about memorable family events while planting geraniums by his parents’ headstone.

Walking back to the car, Tessa said, “I thought I would know everyone in town when I moved back, but I don’t. Sadly I see many familiar names here.”

“You were gone over twenty-five years. Folks passed on, and lots of your generation moved away.”

“Funny, my life was always changing, and yet I expected my hometown not to. Sort’a naive.”

Her father nodded. “What’s that saying, children don’t age if you don’t witness it happening.”

“I guess that applies to hometowns too.”

Written in response to Charli Mills July 22, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a hometown. It can be your hometown or a fictional one. Who is there? When is it set? What is happening? Go where the prompt leads!

Butterfly Rock Garden

In the springtime, the Homefront Warrior’s group worked quickly under the threat of rain to arrange rocks and then plant seedlings and bulbs for a memorial garden.

Now it was a sunny, blue-sky August day and they gathered for a picnic near their handiwork. One woman who had little knowledge of plants stood admiring the various colored blossoms with a puzzled look on her face.

Tessa noticed. “What has you perplexed?”

“Why did we plant weeds in with the flowers?”

“If you mean the milkweed, it’s the only thing a monarch butterfly will eat. Look, here comes one now.”

Written in response to Charli Mills January 7, 2021 prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the contrasting prompts butterfly and stones. The two can be used in any way in your story. Go where the prompt leads!

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!

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