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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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CarrotRanchLiterary

Jester the Hero

Humans! Geesh! Last week that cute baby tried to twist my ear off. It hurt. A quiet growl escaped. The big people went ballistic, and the baby cried. I heard the words: chain, pound, and vet.

This week I growled and barked in that active kid’s face. She screamed and cried in anger. Her grandmother grabbed her and calmed her. Others praised and petted me, called me a hero dog, and even gave me a raw hamburger patty for supper. I guess it had to do with the fact I kept the little one from climbing up the stairs.

Written in response to Charli Mills April 8, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that “rethinks the hero.” Define the hero, comparing or contrasting to the classic definition. Break the mold. What happens to the hero in the cave? Is it epic or everyday? Is there resistance or acceptance? Go where the prompt leads!

Dedicated to Trabs

I was your friend

I felt close to you

I knew you hurt inside

But didn’t know how deep

I wish I’d understood

We , your co-workers

And your peers

Tried to help by talking

You pushed us away

Saying you were okay

You gained more weight

When already large

You drank more

Already having a problem

We watched, very aware

It troubled us to see you

Stuck in your own way

Unable to break free

From the fears

That controlled you

Now you are gone

Such a swift passage

We believe you’re free

from the pain you suffered

Written in response to Charli Mills April 1 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a swift passage. You can take inspiration from any source. Who is going where and why. What makes it swift? Go where the prompt leads!

Music For All Occasions

When Katie arrived at the No Thanks to stock before opening, she was surprised to see all the band member’s cars except Mac’s. When she stepped onto the macadam she could feel the thump of a bass and hear muffled sounds of a heavy metal band. Strange! She went inside, and recognized Tyrell’s cousins playing the extra guitars. Michael was pounding on the piano like it was an enemy. When the song ended she looked their way. “What gives?”

Her father grinned. “Just an escape. Playing out our anger at how the VA can screw things up so easily.”

Written in response to Charli Mills March 25 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write an escape. It can be daring or subtle. Who is escaping from what and why? Go where the prompt leads! 

Spring On the Farm

Notice the outside temp

Turn off the furnace

Lift up the windows, let the fresh air blow through

Hear the geese honking by

Snow banks all but gone

The fat sheep are lambing

Kid goats bound about

Spindly leg foals stick close to their mama’s side

Pollywogs will soon be

Swimming in the pond

The robins have returned

Goldfinches yellow

The rooster struts around his harem of hens

The calves bleat loneliness

Tis spring on the farm

A Year of Changes

The warm breeze fluttered Tessa’s short brown curly hair. Her blue-green eyes shown love as she gazed down at her sleepy granddaughter. While rocking her, she talked in a soothing tone. “I wasn’t sure moving back to my roots was a good plan. I never thought your Mama would choose to come live here too, and not a single person could have convinced me your real grandpa would ignore you. Now here we are, living with Grandpa Michael. He loves us both even if we are pudgy. What a year full of changes it has been. We’re lucky ladies.”

Note: A regular reader wanted to know what Tessa looks like.

Written in response to Charli Mills March 18, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that takes place a year later. It can be any year. Explore the past year or another significant passing of time to a character. Go where the prompt leads!

Hidden Guilt

The battered senior prom picture Michael sequesters in his wallet comes to light when he suffers alone. Staring at it, he remembers; standing tall on legs, twirling Tessa in her sparkly white dress, donning the crown of the elected high school king in love with the queen. He burrows it back into its cave and looks to the sky; his faith is his strength. He prays to be free from the guilt for the wheelchair he uses, the job he can no longer do, and not being thankful enough. He is driven to hide the pain while helping others.

Written in response to Charli Mills March 11, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about deep wishes. Where is the deep — in the sky, the ground, or outer space? What kind of wishes reside there for whom and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Tessa’s Lament

My ex didn’t need me

He made that perfectly clear

Home I came to help the folks

But in reality, they help me

My children are grown

The oldest chose to move here

Closeness she desires

And a grandmother for Emma

But they would be fine without me

I thought Michael needed a helpmate

But he’s so damn self-sufficient

He helps others in need

The Homefront Warriors welcomed me

But I’m just another voice

And set of understanding ears

PTSD? for a military wife

Nah. Someone please help me

Rejoice in being wanted

Compared to being needed

Written in response to Charli Mills March 11, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about deep wishes. Where is the deep — in the sky, the ground, or outer space? What kind of wishes reside there for whom and why? Go where the prompt leads!

A Filipino Treat

Tessa looked at the shopping list with skepticism. She asked Michael, “What are you going to make?”

“A dessert that I was introduced to while in the Philippines. It’s a thin tapioca pudding made with coconut milk. Then rice balls, sliced plantains, boiled sweet potato nuggets, and chopped figs are added.”

“Sounds labor-intensive.”

“It is. You have to prepare all the add-ins first.”

“You’ll sure dirty a lot of pans.”

“Correct. That’s why I’m making it when Lexi and Adam will be here to help with eating and clean up. I promise everyone will love it, especially Emma Blossom.”

Written in response to Charli Mills March 4, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes sweet potatoes. It can be part of a recipe, meal, or used as a nickname. Where do sweet potatoes take you? The grocery store? The garden? Mars? Go where the prompt leads!

Frozen Emotions

When Mac recognized the handwriting on the package, he froze. His body motionless, his mind raced back almost 50 years to visualize the young Vietnamese woman who had given him a son. “Colm McCarthy and descendants;” why was it addressed such?

Later, with the family assembled, Mac’s wife, Nan, opened the package. She handed envelopes to the three generations, Mac, Thad, and Katie, then read a note aloud. “My husband has died. I would like permission to visit.”

No one reacted.

Finally, Nancy said, “Thad, her situation was forced. I think it’s a good idea.”

Thad wasn’t so sure.

Written in response to Charli Mills February 25 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word frozen. It can be descriptive, character focused, action driven. Go out onto the ice and find a frozen story. Go where the prompt leads!

The Harsh Truth

Over coffee, Lexi said, “Mom, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad you left Dad. You’re happy now. Would you mind sharing what gave you the guts to make the move?”

Tessa looked away, remembering, then smiled at her oldest daughter. “I overheard a conversation between the wives of your father’s higher-ups. One wondered to the other if I knew your father’s continual unaccompanied tours were by request. I was shocked at first then soon decided I had been at the right place at the right time to learn the truth.”

“That’s harsh.”

“It was, but beneficial.”

Written in response to D. Avery’s February 18, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story where a character is in the right place at the right time. It may be cause for celebration! Go where the prompt leads!

Remembering Alone

I wake way too early

Age defies long sleeps

Morning light glows over the small frozen pond

Trees and weeds glistening

I see from my room

Memories of thick ice

I long for my youth

When healthy muscles gladly shoveled away

Creating smooth patches

Enticing skate blades

Swishing among others

Speed, spills and laughter

Hearing happy sounds that no longer exist

Alone to remember

Silent tears falling

Out of the Mouths of Babes

At a church dinner, a precocious girl about three appeared at Michael’s side. She looked over the wheelchair then patted his longest leg stump. With total innocence, she asked, “Why don’t you grow new legs like Pinocchio grew a new nose?”

Michael laughed, “Pinocchio didn’t lose his nose like I lost my legs. The nose he had grew longer. A man can’t grow new legs.”

“Why don’t you wear those fake ones I’ve seen you walk on?”

“Because they aren’t good substitutions for my real ones. They make sores on my stumps.”

“Oh. Will you give me a ride?”

Written in response to D. Avery’s February 4, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a substitution. How might a character or situation be impacted by a stand-in? Bonus points for fairy tale elements. Go where the prompt leads.

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