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Sue Spitulnik

Writing, Sewing, Travel, and Thoughts

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family

Tessa’s Invitation

At the wedding, Doctor Stelzenmuller said, “Tessa, do you know Michael refused to try the prosthetic legs until he learned about your divorce. Then he acted like a ’49er on his way to the gold rush, racing to become proficient so he could get back home.”

Tessa laughed, embarrassed by the truth. “I’ve heard it was your hounding that made him accept them.”

“My efforts were a small factor. Please come along next time I invite him to D.C. Let my soldiers see that they can accomplish normalcy.”

“I’d love to. It would help me understand his achievements better.”

Note: Doctor Claire Stelzenmuller was Michael’s physical therapist while healing at Walter Reed Hospital. Her patients called her Clarice Alphabet because she didn’t accept no for an answer.

Written in response to Charli Mills January 31, 2022, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the ’49ers.”

Michael’s Wedding Vows to Tessa

When you went off to college without me, I wished you hadn’t. Then you married and had children. I wished it were with me.

I traveled the world, serving with the United States Army, continuing to wish for you.

Our lives unexpectedly turned upside down. Within that year, we found ourselves back home. Wounded, frightened, mature.

I changed my wishes to prayers. I needed His help to heal, trust and feel useful.

Finally, here we are, standing with family, in front of friends, believing we are where we belong. I pledge to love you always, my beautiful, accepting friend.

Note: Michael is a fictional Army veteran who lost both legs in an IED explosion in Iraq. He wears two prosthetic legs, different types, for different occasions. Tessa is his high school sweetheart. The characters have been my focus for two years at the Ranch and the prompt, “I made a wish,” led me to believe I should continue writing their story.

A Letter of Regret

To my son and granddaughter I will never get to know. It pains me to admit I have not aged well, so the travel time between our two countries is prohibitive. Though my heart desires to get reacquainted with my long-ago friend and meet my descendants, I fear the current trend of many flight cancelations has made me realize my hope to visit is unrealistic. Instead, may I ask you to send recent photos and letters about yourselves. I have included pictures of the familiar places in my life where I have imagined you sitting or walking with me.

Note: Thad’s biological mother lives in Vietnam. She hasn’t seen Thad since he was about six months old and has never met her granddaughter, Katie.

Written in response to Charli Mills November 25, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write about a canceled flight. Where was the flight headed? Who does it impact and why? How does a protagonist handle the situation? Go where the prompt leads!

Trouble Adjusting

During a Homefront Warriors gathering Tessa had been unusually quiet. Someone asked if she wanted to share what was troubling her.

“I’m embarrassed to admit, I’m having trouble adjusting to Michael not using his wheelchair. I know I should be thrilled he’s more mobile, but it seems with him walking everything happens faster. He’s busier now than before.”

Sally answered, “I’m hearing you say you wish he would make more time for you.”

“Perhaps that’s true.”

“I suggest you offer to join him in his activities or carry on keeping yourself busy like you had to in the past.”

Written in rsponse to Charli Mills November 11, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase “carry on.” It can be an expression of perseverance or behaving in a particular way. It can even be luggage you take when traveling. Go where the prompt leads!

Candy Making Day

Tessa’s mother had made homemade holiday treats for as long as Michael could remember. His mouth watered thinking about them. Recently his clunky wheelchair and inability to reach things kept him from helping during production. Not this year.

When Michael walked into the candy kitchen, Jenny did a double-take but didn’t comment as she smiled up at him. At the end of the day, they had made chocolate and maple-walnut fudge, peppermint patties, and peanut brittle.

Michael was beaming. “Guess I’ve been missing a lot by not standing.”

Jenny hugged his solid torso. “‘Bout time you figured that out.”

Written in response to Charli Mills October 28, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a candy kitchen. You can interpret the phrase creatively or stick to the traditional. Is it sweet? Ironic? Any genre will do. Go where the prompt leads!

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!

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