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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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family

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!

Day 6 – Rt. 66 trip

Staying with family in a private home certainly has its perks. I made my own coffee this morning and added 2% milk bought especially for my visit. The rest of the day I have been pampered, to the point Lisa did our laundry. Thank you!

For four months after we started planning our trip, Bob was adamant he would do no work while traveling. Two weeks before we left, he told me he would be bringing his computer. This morning he spent about an hour on a conference call with other members of the construction team at Home Leasing and a client, mostly listening to the others, but then making an informed comment. The client’s response was, “Give us a minute.” Silence ensued for about five minutes. When they came back on the line, they agreed his idea was an out-of-the-box excellent suggestion. He claimed later this wasn’t a vacation day for him, except he’s been pampered the rest of the day too.

With Larry driving, we finally went to breakfast at County Bob’s in St. James, MO. We had a chuckle about the name. I put that photo on my Facebook page under the name Sue Carmichael Spitulnik. I had pork chop and eggs again. I have been trying to remember the first time I had that combination and why I like it so well. Haven’t come up with the memory yet.

From there we went further north to Meramec Caverns in Stanton, MO. The Land the caverns are on has been privately owned through four generations. Neither Bob nor I had ever been in a cave before. We got our feet wet spelunking in a well-lit, very safe, cave that has a 50 feet wide and 20 feet tall opening and is over 16 miles long in its entirety. We went in about half a mile, down 332 feet and had our mouths open in awe the whole time. The cave was used by the Union forces during the Civil War as an ammunition factory because they could extract salt-peter, potassium nitrate, from the dolomite stone to make gunpowder. The Confederate soldiers, Jesse James among them, destroyed the factory during the war. Ten years later, in 1874, he and Frank used the cave as a hide-out after robbing a train because it is large enough to hide a whole gang, their horses, and supplies completely from view. It also has a river for water and “side rooms” for privacy or storage. The stalactites (hanging from the top of the cave) and stalagmites (sticking up from the mud) were beautiful as they had such varied shapes and sizes, and some were millions of years old. The experience was well worth the money and they give a military and veterans discount if you can prove your status.

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Frank and Jesse James statues outside Meramec Caverns

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Stalactites in Meramec Cavern

On the way to the Caverns we saw a license plate that said Cherokee Nation. Where we are from in New York state we have Native American reservations who belong to the Iroquois Nation, but we have never heard of a special plate for them. We are speculating the car belonged to a political representative of the nation and has a special plate like members of the House of Representatives and Congress have. But, that is only a guess.

Larry drove Rt. 66 on the way back to Rolla and made tourist stops for us. We drove through Cuba that has lots of murals on the outside of buildings, then on to Fanning to stop at The US 66 Outpost to see the Giant Rocking Chair. The gift shop there is a must. There were hundreds of flavors of pop; we call it soda in New York. Some of the flavors were Barf, Dog Drool, Birthday Cake, and normal ones like cherry cream, grape, and different colas. We bought some socks with silly sayings to give as gifts. Many other things caught our eye, but we resisted knowing we still have 19 more days of travel.

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Mural on side of Fanning Outpost in Cuba, MO. Murals line the route.

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At Fanning Outpost

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Merchandise bag worth keeping

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Another funny bathroom sign. Expect to see more.

Our “lunch” stop was at Soda & Scoops in Rolla. This home-made ice cream shop was opened by a couple so their daughter who has Downs Syndrome would have a pleasant place to work. We met the daughter and saw the Mom. I will be talking about the bourbon spiked espresso ice cream with chocolate chunks for a long time. Its name was Exhausted Parent. To keep the ice cream from dripping out of the bottom of the waffle cone, a Hershey’s Kiss was put upside down in the point. The ice cream is made in Madison, Wisconsin. It will be my goal to find another store that carries it.

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Soda and Scoops menu in the store. Below – a unique table for children.

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We spent the early evening looking at before and after pictures of the house Larry and Lisa have been remodeling for the last three years and then Larry cooked steaks outside for us for dinner. It was a very relaxing day.

It’s a Trust Issue – flash fiction

A month before my wedding, Gran advised, “You will discover marrying into a large family can have its pitfalls.”

“I already feel like I belong.”

“Let’s hope that lasts.”

Years later I remembered those words when a member of my husband’s family stated, “No in-law would know the family history we are discussing.”

I replied aloud, “I take umbrage with that,” and was ignored, so I left the room.

A few days later I received an e-mail from the speaker. “I was out of line. Sorry.”

The words felt like swallowing sweet jam, with a hint of invisible mold.

 

Written in response to Charli Mills August 15, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sweet jam. It can take you to the kitchen or the smokey room of a back-alley bar. What makes it sweet? Go where the prompt leads you!

 

The Dirty Apron — flash fiction

My adult son came up beside me and dipped a spoon into the spaghetti sauce I was stirring. “Be careful, the boiling bubbles can pop and splash.”

“I know Mom. I learned that when I was about seven.” He looked at the front of my apron. “Don’t you think you should wash that thing?”

“No.” I pointed to different splashes. “This is gravy from Thanksgiving. This is fudge from Christmas and this is the last time I made sauce.”

“It needs a bath.”

My grandson hugged my legs. “No Daddy, it won’t smell like Grandma if she washes it.”

In response to Charli Mills June 6, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that makes a big splash. It can be fluid, or you can play with the idiom (to make a big splash is to do or say something that becomes unforgettable). Go where the prompt leads!

Bonding Over Fabric – flash fiction

Lillian leaned on her cane and perused the only two shelves of fabric she had left. She needed four complimentary ones to make the project she had in mind. After trying many combinations she exhausted her options so limped to her chair and eased herself into the worn seat. After a little nap, she called her granddaughter. “Would you have time to take me shopping.”

“I can on Friday.”

When they returned from their excursion, Sally said, “My youngest starts school in September. Could we schedule time to sew together?”

Lillian’s misty eyed response was, “Of course my dear.”

 

In response to Charli Mills April 25, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can you make art of exhaustion? Go where the prompt leads!

Is There Beer in Heaven Part III

     The inevitable has happened. We buried my brother-in-law last Friday. It wasn’t even a week ago and it seems like so much more time has passed. Maybe it’s because Christmas happened and I didn’t think about it for a couple of days. I’m not sure, but it has me thinking a lot about time.

   You know how it always takes longer to get someplace by car than it does to get back home. I don’t know if it’s the anticipation that it makes it feel like it takes longer, or your desire has been satisfied for making the trip, so getting home is just something you have to do. This happens to me even when I know the route I am taking, like to my sisters, a different one, three hours away or when my girlfriends and I are going on a quilt shop trip. Continue reading “Is There Beer in Heaven Part III”

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