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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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family

Seeking Peace

The two men sat on a strategically placed bench shaded by a majestic maple. Each leaned forward with their elbows on their knees, looking down or gazing up at a pink marble headstone, remembering. The older one wore a Vietnam Veteran ball cap. The younger one, an Afghanistan. His prosthetic legs shouted disabled veteran. They took turns talking, just above whispers. They could hear each other, but certainly, no one else would have been able to. Ending the conversation, the older touched the younger’s arm, “My daughter died doing what she wanted.” Michael cried, releasing unfounded but real guilt.

Written in response to Charli Mills October 7, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes whispers. It can be beautiful or creepy and any genre. Where are the whispers, who are they from, and what do they say if they say anything at all. Go where the prompt leads!

Across the Water

Who is it

            Looking across the water

The fisherman searches for a set of concentric circles

            Showing him the fish

The boater gauges the choppiness

            Whether he’s in for a rough ride or not

The new skier enjoys smooth glass      

            It’s easier to maneuver behind the boat

The child jumps in delighted and unafraid

            Not caring about the temperature

The skin diver goes below the surface

            Enjoying the beauty and quiet

The bird takes advantage of the bugs 

            Hovering at dawn and dusk

The Vietnam veteran stares at the surface

            Remembering bamboo straws that allowed submerged enemies to breath

Written in response to Charli Mills September 30, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story uses the phrase, “across the water.” It can be any body of water distant or close. Who (or what) is crossing the water and why? 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!

Something Old, Something New

Becca asked Tessa, “Is there any chance you still have your sparkly white prom dress from high school?”

“It’s probably in a closet at my parents. Why?”

“Michael frequently mentions how you looked in that dress, and he’s carried the picture all these years.”

“Really? You must realize there’s no way it’ll fit.”

“But I’ll bet we could use the skirt fabric layers to make a new bodice, even with sleeves if you want, and add a different skirt. Michael would be thrilled.”

“Won’t it be too formal?”

“Not if I design it right,” she said, sketching her visualization.

Written in response to Charli Mills September 2, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to the theme, “not everyone fits a prom dress.” You can take inspiration from Ellis Delaney’s song, the photo, or any spark of imagination. Who doesn’t fit and why? What is the tone? You can set the genre. Go where the prompt leads!

Note: Becca is Michael’s sister.

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!

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!

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!

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!

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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