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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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She Likes Critters – flash fiction

Tessa asked, “Why did Gaylan’s Mom tell us to wear pants to the party?”

Michael hid a grin. “You’ll see.”

“Didn’t she raise mice in high school?”

“Yup. And she still likes critters.”

                        **

The huge patio at Gaylan’s was decorated like it belonged outside a bar-b-q joint. Oddly at one corner on the ground sat a pie-pan filled with peanuts, elsewhere there were pans of seeds and nearest the barn, there was an in-ground fake shallow “stream.” Tessa discovered when the humans partied, the chipmunks did too and weren’t beyond climbing a pant leg looking for a handout.

Written in response to Charli Mills September 17, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story of mice. It can feature any variety of the little critters in any situation. Are the the character or the inciting incident? Use any genre, including BOTS (based on a true story). Go where the prompt leads!

True Radio Memory

A phone call on a weeknight from my UPS driver son wasn’t a common thing. I asked, “What’s up?”

“Every place I made a delivery today the ladies were crying about some DJ dying. Who was he and were you crying too?”

“On my God, yes. Bill Coffey from WBEE dropped dead yesterday after the show. Terry and Billy told us this morning. We all cried together.”

“Did you ever meet this guy?”

“No, but I knew him well. Those DJ’s are my friends.”

“They don’t know you.”

“But I feel like I know them.”

“I don’t get it.”

Written in response to Charlie Mills September 10, 2020, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio. It can be from any station or era. What is heard? A song, announcement, ad? Think of how radion connects people and places. Go where the prompt leads!

Gale Force Winds

Tessa struggled against the wind to open the front door and once inside, the gale slammed it behind her. She heard no greeting. “Michael?”

The wind squealed through the house’s old window frames with such ferocity she feared they would break. She went from room to room calling, “Michael? Jester?” She saw Michael’s empty chair in the bedroom and discovered him in the closet cuddling the dog under a sleeping bag.

Tessa crouched down. “You two all right?”

“Yeah. Jester buried himself in here when the wind got bad so I joined him. I think we need new windows.”

Written in response to Charli Mills September 3, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about high winds. It can be on land, sea or in outer space. Who is facing the wind or protected from it? Go where the prompt leads!

Lemon Queens

When Michael rolled out of the church back door he saw Tessa standing at the far side of the parking lot dabbing her eyes. He went to her. “What’s upset you?”

“Look at Mrs. Staples’ house. It’s run down and her gardens have gone to weeds. Remember those tall yellow flowers called Lemon Queens? It wasn’t summer until they bloomed.”

“I’m afraid she’s gone into a home and her kids won’t sell the house while she’s alive, so it sits.”

“That’s awful. I’m going to visit her and share my memories. I wonder where I can buy lemon Queens.”

Written in response to Charli Mills August 27, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features Lemon Queens. Maybe it’s an ancient fairy tale or a modern brand name. What ideas seep into your imagination? Is there a character or place involved? Go where the prompt leads!

He’ll Walk for Emma

Tessa leaned close to Lexi to ask, “How did you get Michael to wear his legs for the baptism?”

“Reality, Mom. I simply told him I was afraid Emma wasn’t safe being perched in his lap while he was using his arms to wheel his chair and I wanted her grandfather to carry her forward when it was time for the ceremony.”

“That will be your crown of glory for years to come my daughter. Next time I think he should walk instead of ride, I’ll get you to convince him.”

“Not my doing, Mom. Give Emma the credit.”

Written in response to Charli Mills July 30, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the phrase “her crowning glory.” (Thanks to Anne Goodwin for the prompt idea.) It can be in the traditional sense of a woman’s hair or applied to any idea of a best attribute. What happens if you play with the meaning or gender? Go where the prompt leads!

She’s Using Her Own Name

Why do we have a name? It’s for identity, recognition, branding, and a connection to others.

Names are funny things. Some people love theirs, and won’t change even when they marry. Some can’t wait to change and others go to court to change what their parents gave them to hide a religion, nationality, or a drug hazed choice.

TV stars often change to a “stage name” so it’s easy to say and remember. Judy Garland has a ring to it, but her real name Frances Ethel Gumm doesn’t. John Wayne’s name was recorded as Marion Robert, or Marion Michael Morrison, sources don’t agree, and Kirk Douglas’s birth name was Issur Danielovitch Demsky. It’s hard to imagine either one of those HE-men being called the name on their birth certificates. Parents must be forgiven, one never knows to what heights or what paths a child will traverse and/or grow into.

Writers sometimes use a pen name for anonymity, or maybe a woman uses a man’s name to hide the fact she’s female. I hope that reason has become less prevalent, but about three years ago I heard a man say he wouldn’t read anything written by a woman. I couldn’t believe my ears. I have also heard some authors who have too many books published start using a second name.

Some people like me have a very common name to start with so search out a new name to be known by when they write. And, in today’s world, some think it is safer to be known by a pseudonym so you aren’t stalked. I don’t think I’ll ever get famous enough for that to happen, nor am I good enough eye-candy. My husband advised I shouldn’t use his last name as it’s easy to misspell and difficult to pronounce correctly. I agreed with him so I started using the pen name Susan Sleggs. Sleggs is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name but when you Google it, one often ends up on a web site called Susan’s Legs. I think you can guess that is not a PG website.

Recently while talking to my writing mentor she mentioned I seemed to be having trouble “carrying” my pen name because Susan Sleggs wasn’t real. I had a light bulb moment realizing my writing is of me, my life, good decisions and bad, situations I had no control over but had power over me and most of all from my growth as a person. So the tough decision has been made. I will be writing under my own name from now on, and be proud of it. Sue Spitulnik is me, an ever-changing person with an expansive puddle of experiences to create all sorts of emotional characters from. I write what I know and research the rest, including pig wrestling at a state fair.

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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