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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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family

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!

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!

Setting the Wedding Date

On a hot summer day at Tessa’s parents when the combined family Thanksgiving was mentioned, Michael and Tessa gave each other a knowing look as if they were blushing but weren’t.  Michael cleared his throat to garner attention. “Would there be any objections if we invited friends also and asked everyone to get dressed up?”

He got a lot of ‘what do you mean’ stares.

“Tessa and I were thinking the occasion would be ideal for our wedding.”

The answer came in a cacophony of positive sounds and exclamations. Satisfied, they left to recreate the scene at Michael’s parents.

Written in response to Charli Mills January 14, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about dressing up. It can be a child or another character. Be playful or go where the prompt leads!

Some Dreams Fulfilled

Becca, Michael’s sister, knocked and let herself in. She saw him sitting on the floor by Emma’s toys but there was no baby and his wheelchair wasn’t in sight. “I have baptism pictures.”

“Thankfully it’s you!”

“Why, have you been monkey scooting around the house again?”

“Yeah, it makes Emma laugh. Whoever dreamed my long arms would be used for such a thing. “

“Maybe the same dreamer that pictured you holding a grandchild in Tessa’s family pictures. Can you believe her ex didn’t show up?”

His eyes twinkled. “Two out of three parts of that dream ain’t bad.”

Written in response to Charli Mills December 10, 2020, prompt at Carrot Rach Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something a character never dreamed would happen. The situation can be fortuitous, funny, or disappointing. Go where the prompt leads!

Karma

At their party, Michael heard Tessa’s mother make another snide comment about how many snacks Tessa had eaten. He wheeled over to Jenny and got right in her face. “Do you remember saying ‘My house, my rules’ when we were growing up?”

“So long ago. But yes, I do.”

“Well, this is my house and my rules. Your negative comments about Tessa’s eating are not welcome here.”

Jenny shot up out of her chair, “Well! Then neither am I. Don, take me home.”

“You can take the car.” Her husband handed her the keys and opened the front door.

Written in response to Charli Mills September 24, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking. It can feature crunchy snacks or creamy one. Who is snacking on what and why? How can you make this a story? 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!

The Baby’s Nickname – flash fiction

A month after Lexi and Adam, Tessa’s daughter and son-in-law, were settled in their new house, Emma got baptized with families present. Michael’s youth choir sang two children’s dedication songs and Adam’s parents were thrilled to see how he was accepted into the close-knit group. At the luncheon, Lexi tolerated her grandmother’s proprietorship over the baby just so long then retrieved her so Adam’s family could cuddle her too. Adam’s grandfather beamed at her and said, “So this is the new blossom that made our family grow.” And that’s how the pink-cheeked infant came to be called Emma Blossom.

Written in response to Charli Mills July 2, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the word blossom. You can use the word as a noun or a verb, or even as a name. How does it fit into your story? Go where the prompt leads!

Now I’m Living

I was a single military man

A lady here and there

Living the life

I thought of you

Even on the day I met the bomb

I lost my driver

I lost my legs

What’s the point in living

You wouldn’t want me

I met a fierce lady

She taught me to walk

I called her Clarice

She wasn’t you

I went back home

And by God, you did too

Twenty five years later

We’re together again

Today we held baby Emma

Her parents are moving to be near

Now I know why I have life

Four generations’ll do

Written in response to Charli Mills June 25, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story with the phrase, “I got life.” It can be told from any point of view. What meaning does it lend to your story? Go where the prompt leads!

Why Tessa is Divorced – flash fiction

Tessa loaded the last of her personal items into the car then went back inside the house they had shared at Ft. Riley, Kansas, for the last six years. She did a walk-through remembering the good times with her children and how lonely she had been with her husband gone so much. When she locked the front door for the last time she could hear his words, “I’m done carrying you.” She felt she had carried the family without his help and knew she couldn’t stay after finding out his last three deployments had been at his own request.

 

Written in response to Charli Mills January 9, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife. Why is she being carried? Who is carrying? Pick a genre if you’d like and craft a memorable character. Go where the prompt leads!

Do We Take Her for Granted

“Doesn’t your sister-in-law usually bring you a key-lime pie on your birthday?”

“Yes. She must’ve forgotten.”

“After doing it for more than ten years, probably not. Should we call and ask if everything is all right?”

“Don’t interfere.”

“She’s always doing something for us and your family. I hate to admit, I don’t even remember her kids’ names. That’s awful.”

“Then you call her.”

***

“She did forget because her kids have been having medical problems. She was so happy I inquired and said she was sorry. Maybe we’re the ones who are wrong for not paying more attention.”

 

Written in response to Charli Mills December 5, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a key lime pie. How can you use it in a story? Is it about the pie? Or about characters making, eating, or otherwise engaging with one? Go where the prompt leads!

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