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Sue Spitulnik

Writing, Sewing, Travel, and Thoughts

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#99WordStories

Choir Practice is Uplifting

Wednesday lunchtime, Michael said to Tessa, “I made a mistake when we talked about my sabbatical?”

“You did? I’m enjoying you being home more. You aren’t going cross country for a speaking engagement, are you?”

He chuckled. “No. But somehow, the church youth choir got left out of the conversation.”

Tessa looked at him in mock horror, then laughed. “You silly man, guiding those kids renews our optimistic outlook each week, especially when one of them has a personal breakthrough to come tell you about. I never thought of that changing.”

“I should have known that’s what you’d say.”

Written in response to Charli Mills January 23, 2023, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that is optimistic. Feel free to explore optimism in all its forms, from a positive mindset to toxic positivity. Is it a heartfelt story or a devious one? So much wiggle room for the optimistic writer. Go where the prompt leads!

The Moral Injury of War

The Band of Brothers was finishing a practice session at the No Thanks when two young women arrived. They purchased beers and went to the back corner, darkest booth like they were regulars. Soon, Kurt joined them.

They sat in the shadows long enough to have a second round that Mac delivered. At the bar, Katie asked who they were.

Mac explained, “We met them on Thanksgiving eve. Their MOS was the same as Kurt’s, but a generation later. They are discussing how to deal with things I hope you never experience nor volunteer for.”

“I won’t volunteer, Grandpa.”

Note: MOS stands for Military Occupation Speciality Code. In past episodes, it was revealed Kurt was an army sniper. Currently, there are less than 100 women in the Army that could be assigned the same job, but women are gradually becoming part of the front lines. It’s also a fact that only 10% of the troops deployed to the front experience combat. Others are mechanics, cooks, vehicle drivers, medics, etc.

In this episode, Mac doesn’t want his granddaughter to enlist in the military as service is often a generational family occurrence.

Bad Dog

Tessa was babysitting Emma and when Lexi arrived to pick her up, she found the toddle sitting on the porch pouting. Emma said, “Wanna go home. Jester’s mean.”

Lexi went inside and asked what the dog had done.

“We were watching a rabbit in the yard, then Jester saw it too and asked to go out. Without thinking, I opened the door, and he chased the rabbit into the field.”

“That’s all? She’s acting like it was more than that.”

“I explained he didn’t hurt it, but that didn’t help.”

“If it were a squirrel, she would have laughed.”

Michael Needs a Break

Tessa noticed that Michael’s morning routine was taking longer than usual. “Honey, do you feel all right?”

Michael gave her a funny look from where he sat on the bed. “Why do you ask?”

“You act tired and are moving slower.”

“I didn’t think it showed,” he said. “Maybe a type of sabbatical is what I need. Keep up with DC and the band only. That would leave more time for us, and guarantee I would be home when Lexi has her baby.”

Tessa sat beside him and took his hand, “That’s a fantastic idea. I’d love it.”

Written in response to Charli Mills January 2, 2023, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a sabbatical. Who needs one or has had one? What kind of tension could a rest create? Where can a break take your story? Go where the prompt leads!

The No Thanks Needed’s Mission

At 3:00 am Thanksgiving morning, Mac, Thad, and Michael wiped the table where they had been sitting with the lady vets. They learned two of them were combat survivors. Mac sighed audibly and said, “Ladies in a war zone. I’m glad they’re not my monkeys and not my circus.”

Michael laughed. “They are your monkeys, and this is your circus, especially on Thanksgiving eve. And now they know it’s safe to congregate here and talk freely. We may see more of them.”

Mac smiled. “Providing a safe place to talk proudly about being a service member is our mission.”

Note: The No Thanks Needed is a bar owned by Vietnam Veteran Colm McCarthy. Thad is his son, and Michael leader of the house band. They, too are vets. On Thanksgiving eve, they hold a veterans-only turkey dinner with the food provided by the band members’ families.

Written in response to Charli Mills November 28, 2022, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the saying, “not my monkeys, not my circus”. What is the situation that would spawn that aphorism? Have fun with setting and characters! Go where the prompt leads!

The Ladies Come To Dinner

Mac was accustomed to having veterans he had never met show up for the night before Thanksgiving buffet, but he wasn’t used to having female veterans attend. Thad heard him say, “Oh my,” when a group of seven women came in.

Michael welcomed the new guests, told them to enjoy the meal and camaraderie, then went to Mac. “I verified they’re vets. Do we need to change anything?”

Mac replied, “No, you and I will sit with them so we can get to know them. I need to accept lady soldiers more than anyone.”

Thad said, “Count me in.”

Mac is a Vietnam vet who owns the “No Thanks” bar. Thad is his veteran son and Michael is a veteran friend. The bar hosts a veterans-only free dinner the evening before Thanksgiving every year.

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