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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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friends

Safer To Eat At Home – flash fiction

 Eight year old Becky came home from school to see her mother had liver and onions ready to prepare for supper. She sought permission to go play with best friend Arlene and bolted out the door. Together the two girls hatched a plan then went to Arlene’s mother to ask if Becky could eat dinner with them. They were triumphant until they sat down to lima beans and fried Spam. Arlene’s mother, seeing Becky’s face said, “Beggars can’t be choosers. Eat up.”

Later, outside, Becky said, “Lima beans are yuckier than liver. Do you think they called each other?”

 

Written in response to Charli Mills April 11, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers.” You can play with the words, alter them or interpret them without using the phrase. Give it any slant you want — show what it means or add to its  meaning. Go where the prompt leads!

Standing In Respect – flash fiction

The funeral home parking lot was full of cars which hid the numerous motorcycles stashed in the back corner, but their large American flags flapping in the wind gave them away. I had to go look; The Patriot Guard was in presence. To enter the building I had to pass between the colonnade of men, standing at attention, on duty protecting a fellow veteran, a fellow biker and a friend. The haunted look in their eyes wasn’t for the current grief, it was from a long ago senseless war. I know, they were my friends too. Damn Viet Nam.

In response to Charli Mills January 17, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades. It can be natural, architectural, or a metaphor. Take a stroll and go where the prompt leads.

Papa’s Bar – 297 word flash

When I was sixteen my Dad came home from deployment and announced he was going to retire at 20 and open a bar near the base. He wanted to convert an old house, keep the back yard and turn the front yard into parking. I remember Mom looking at him for a long moment before saying, “That’s a hard life and zoning could be a problem for that type of location. Will you ever be home in the evening?” For the next six months, once a week, we had a meal in a bar so he could check the competition.

I don’t remember if there were zoning problems when he found his old house. He had contractors gut the first floor and turn it into a homey, inviting space with long bar and commercial kitchen. The upstairs they opened up into a big family room, with dining area and even a double bed. They named the bar “Papa’s” which I thought was ridiculous. I didn’t know at the time my children would be the one’s eating in that family room and playing in the back yard if they wanted to see Papa when we came to visit.

Years later when my father died we got the following note in the mail:

To Papa’s family, The first time I entered Papa’s Papa introduced himself, asked my name and never forgot it. When I was homesick, that’s where I went, not to drink, but to chat with Papa about life and the military. He did the same for all who entered. He might not have been home with you, but he was there for us. I hope you know he served until the end. Thanks for sharing him.

My wife and I now run Papa’s. She knows everyone’s name.

 

Written in response to the prompt, papa’s bar, for Carrot Ranch Literary rodeo.

Inspirations

I saw a written question on Facebook last week that has had me thinking ever since. The question was; who inspired you in 2017? More than one name came immediately to mind. I must put my husband first because he regularly makes the comment, “If you want to do it and it will help you attain a goal, then spend the money (for a class or a service.)” His giving me the freedom to expand my horizons has opened so many new doors for me. Continue reading “Inspirations”

Thinking of Mom

47 years ago on this date, my mother passed away at home with my father by her side.  She had been sick so long we had started praying for what was best for her instead of asking for her to get better. I was in the upstairs bathroom and could hear my father through the open register to the kitchen below when he called the local funeral home director. It was about five in the morning. He said, “Gene, this is George, I hate to ruin your first day of deer season, but I need you to come pick up my wife.” Continue reading “Thinking of Mom”

Enjoy the Fresh Air

No this isn’t going to be a recollection about how I walked more than a mile to school, in the snow, uphill both ways…… I’m sure you have heard your grandparents or parents tell that tale a time or two. I lived seven miles from my school (K-12 all in the same sprawling building) and had to ride the bus every day. It was a treat for me when I would stay overnight with a friend in the town my school was in and we could walk home. I don’t remember the distance, but I do know it took of forever, not because it was so far, but because we were talking, looking at flowers, petting dogs, and goofing off. It was fun especially after sitting still all day in class. I never did that very well, still don’t. Continue reading “Enjoy the Fresh Air”

Look Out For Each Other

With the recent hurricanes affecting the U. S. we have seen wonderful examples of good neighbors on the news. Too bad it takes a catastrophe to makes us aware that human empathy is still present in our crazy world of division.  Continue reading “Look Out For Each Other”

Grief Can Do That To You

Today is National Grouch Day. Sesame Street has Oscar the Grouch and he is constantly complaining, about something; anything. He’s a glass-half-empty kind of fellow. The picture above shows a definitely unhappy child: maybe he’s hungry; he didn’t get to have a new toy; he doesn’t know when he’ll see his Mom again because she left in her military uniform; or his father is crying and he’s never seen him do that after talking on his cell.  The reason for the tears: he just found out his favorite uncle died.

My husband and I spent the last couple of days at the funeral of his cousin Jerry. The first of fifteen cousins in his generation we had to say good-by to. It can be frightening to think our age naturally puts us in line for it to happen more often and closer to home. The fear of the unknown date can cause you to get grouchy; the riled emotions and sadness can cause you to get grouchy; trying to find a funeral home in a big, unfamiliar city can cause you to get grouchy; and so can the noise being made by other guests in the hotel you are trying to sleep in.  It’s an emotional time for everyone involved, especially for the spouse left behind that has to figure out what the “new normal” is going to be.

Jerry had been sick for a long time. Sometimes you couldn’t even tell there was cancer in his system; other times, you didn’t think he would last another week. So when the end finally came, it was not a surprise. How much it hurts was a surprise. We all said it was a blessing he was no longer in pain. We added, he wasn’t here long enough to suit us.

I’ve been to far too many funerals already. I’ll share with you that both of my parents funerals were like a party week. The relatives came, the neighbors, the friends. People we hadn’t seen in a long time made contact with calls, cards, and flowers. It was festive. The pain set in afterwards when the house was quiet, and the company disappeared. Then the mind asks, “What just happened?”

Jerry’s funeral was like that. Cousins converged on Baltimore from Chicago, Boston, Knoxville, TN, Rochester, NY, and Miami. Friends came from next door, Washington, DC and Maine. We laughed about some memories and cried over others. We hugged each other; we said I love you. One of the family members didn’t speak to me and it really hurt my feelings. I thought he was mad at me, but then I found out he didn’t talk to hardly anyone. Grief can do that to you when you aren’t ready to face it yet.

I know this isn’t my usual type post, and there are lots of other reasons to be a grouch, but this reason is on my mind. The National Day of calendar suggests spending time with a grouch on this day and give them a reason to smile or pass them one of your own. It may help them be less of a grouch, and just maybe help them to heal from the pain of loss.

 

 

National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day

When I first saw the picture for this day I wondered why they used orange slices.  Duh!  Orange is one of those words that has no rhyme.  There are a few others, but for as many words as there are, very few.  I’ll list some of them: arugula, beige, blitzed, chaos, circle, circus, fiend, film, gulf, kiln, midst, month, music, pint, purple, rhythm, silver, siren, toilet, width, woman.

It seems we could make a really interesting sentence using a whole bunch of those words strung together.  Have fun trying.  I tried to think if maybe we used an Irish brogue or southern drawl we come up with some words that sounded like they rhymed.  I gave up, not having either a brogue or a drawl.

So let’s look at the (NOR REASON) part of this day.  I hope you don’t mind my going off on a tangent.  I am currently reading a book that has so many words I have never seen before, mostly verbs, that I am questioning the writer’s goal.  I read to be entertained, not to take a vocabulary class.  My husband and I looked up one of the words last night and couldn’t come close to understanding why the author thought it was the right word to use in the context of his sentence.  I was glad it wasn’t just me that didn’t get it!

I have had the occasion to enjoy meals with  doctors, lawyers, and professors.  I have had people from those same professions in my quilting classes, and I have never met anyone that uses the big words they know while in general conversation.  They talk like anyone else does when around the table with friends.  So, why do authors do that, and why do their agents and publishers think it is all right?  Maybe I should be more open minded and enjoy the opportunity to learn, but it takes me out of the rhythm of the story.

I have often been told I write like I talk and I’m proud of that.  As you can see from my blogs, no big words here, just down home memories.  Many years ago I can remember using; the car was purple and going as slow as maple syruple…. I wonder what the context of the conversation was.

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