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Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

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short stories and poetry

May 18: Flash Fiction Challenge

The newest challenge issued by Carrot Ranch – write 99 words about or displaying wisdom. The head Buckaroo, Charli Mills, shared some big news. She has an approaching birthday, and http://carrotranch.com has been nominated for a Bloggers Bash Award. Great nominations! Vote, if you’re inclined.

Carrot Ranch Communications

May 18 Flash Fiction Challenge Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsJulia McCanles, the wizened old woman in the photo, grew so old as to regenerate new teeth. We know this miracle of age through a quirky newspaper report. Perhaps she lost molars and made room for impacted wisdom teeth. Maybe she really did grow new ones, though unlikely. Her shawl is clustered with crocheted pompoms, which says she had the wisdom to not give a wit what she wore, but dressed as she pleased regardless of teeth.

When I am old and gray, I, too will wear crocheted pompoms. Not purple, though. Turquoise.

Like all of us on the journey of life, I hope to indeed grow wise, gray and toothful. I’m making good headway, turning half a century old on Sunday, May 21. It finally sounds like I’ve achieved a dignified age, one that makes others pause. 50 sounds serious.

A few years ago I lied a few years…

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Old Skills

Charli Mills and https://carrotranch.com issued another writing challenge.

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a wise story. It can be about wisdom, expressing wisdom or advice for turning 50! It can be a wise-cracking story, too. Go where wisdom leads you. Respond by May 23, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published May 24). All writers are welcome!

Carrot Ranch encourages its contributors. I’ve “met” some amazing people there. I do hope my fellow writers will stop by and give the challenges a try. I enjoy the resulting stories and hope you will, too.

Follows is an imagined bit of bitter-sweet.

singer sewing-machine

Old Skills

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Aunt Amaryllis gripped the table. Veins rose from translucent skin, yet her voice remained sure. “Remember, control the material.”

Kirsten fed silk into the machine, but it snagged.

Aunt Amaryllis’ perfume accompanied her nearness. “Slow and steady. Even pressure on the foot. Gentle guidance here.” The cloth flowed with her direction, stitches marching along the seam. She handed Kirsten a seam ripper. “This tool’s your friend.”

Kirsten groaned but removed the snag. She pressed and sewed.

Aunt Amaryllis smiled at the complete the garment. “What a fine wedding gown!”

“I wish you’d be there.”

Aunt Amaryllis dabbed Kirsten’s tears. “I will, in spirit.”

Blue Ribbon

The 99 word challenge issued by Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com inspired a second trading story.

David attended the same riding school as my daughter, though in a class for older kids. The kids aged out as they reached adulthood, so during David and his friend Jenny’s last year, the competition was a bit stiff, though for some, competition’s not as important as friendship.

Blue Ribbon

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

blue-ribbon[1]

Carla felt honored to judge the annual Riding for the Handicapped competition. She marked the scores on her clip board. The announcer began with the honorable mentions and proceeded to the overall winner, David. Volunteers pinned the blue ribbon to his riding habit. He clapped along with the audience.

Jenny, the rider to David’s left, pulled her yellow second-place from her chest and sobbed.

David reached over. “What’s wrong?”

“I wanted the blue.”

David patted her arm. “We’ll trade.”

Carla interceded. “No, David, you won. That’s yours.”
“I know, but it is making her sad. Besides, I like yellow.”

Sick Day Sacrifice

Charli Mills and the good folks at https://carrotranch.com challenged all interested to write a 99 word story about trading. Follows is my offering. Best of all, it is loosely based on a true situation. (I was proud of my son.) What do you think?

pokemon_cards

Sick Day Sacrifice

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Matthew protested when his mom said, “No school. You’re sick.”

“But Nate’s bringing his cards today so we can trade.”

“You’ll trade when you’re better. Rest.”

Later, Mom brought the phone. “Are you feeling up to talking with Nate?”

Matthew grabbed the phone. “’sup, Nate?”

A strange silence, then, “They took ‘em.”

“Who took what?”

“My cards. Kids took all ‘sept 8.”

“Didja tell teacher?”

“What good’d that do?”

Matthew ignored his shaky legs and burning throat. He’d never had 800 cards like Nate, but he could sure share what he had with his best friend. No trades needed.

 

Consuming Compassion

Charli Mills and the good folks at https://carrotranch.com asked for 99 word stories about comfort food. Here’s my yummy take on the matter. What do you think?

Consuming Compassion                                                                                                                       Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Janie Higgins rarely got sick, yet Wednesday she woke from feverish dreams, shivering in the summer heat. She rolled into a ball and groaned.

Her mother nestled her beneath Great-Grandma Leslie’s quilt. “You’re not going to camp today, young lady.”

Jane whispered a protest, but her mother stroked her sweaty hair and hummed her to sleep.

When Jane woke, her mother presented a tray with creamed eggs on toast and steaming, honey-laden tea. She propped Jane up on pillows and read poetry to her.

“Yum, Mom.” One of six children, Jane consumed her mother’s attention and compassion with appreciation.

creamed eggs on toast with tea

Heal Me

Charli Mills and her Carrot Ranchers are at it again, this time challenging everyone to write a 99 word story including oil.

April 27: Flash Fiction Challenge

 

Heal Me

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Lily rubbed her hands together, warming the oil before smoothing it across her husband’s shoulders. With clever circles, her fingers eased stored tensions. He sighed. She kissed his ear and continued her ministrations. Spearmint and eucalyptus opened her sinuses. With closed eyes, she felt along taut muscles to the source of his discomfort. The feel of him imprinted upon her fingertips.

He twisted in the chair and folded her in an embrace. “How’d you do that?”

She blinked as though awakening from a trance. “Do what?”

His warmth radiated from him, and he breathed into her lips. “Heal me.”

Shoulder Massage

Ghawazee

From https://carrotranch.com, April 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a navel story. Respond by April 25, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published April 26). Mine follows. What do you think?

Ghawazee

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Dumbeks drummed a summons, and dancers stepped from hidden corners, bells tinkling with each movement. Tentative as deer approaching a clearing, the graceful women searched for authorities who declared dancing a crime. They hopped in time, their footfalls punctuating the rhythm. The beat quickened. Their skirts and veils eddied around lithe forms. They reached heaven-ward, exposing glimpses of navels whittled with exertion. Colorful tassels bounced from tribal belts, and tinny bells added to the magic of the dance.

A whistle warns, and they scatter, but for the length of a song, they re-created their heritage and defied the regime.

ghawazee by David Roberts

*image by David Roberts

Child Bride

Charli Mills issued a new 99 word challenge at http://www.carrotranch.com. Write about a ring. Here’s mine.

diamond wedding rings

Child Bride

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

It blurred in her vision, yellow gold devouring a too-thin finger. It weighted Shakti’s hand, tethered her to a place, a family, and an older man who didn’t regard her as more than property. She shook her hand, but the wedding ring clung like an infant to its mother’s breast.

Wild-eyed, she searched the room hung with wedding silks, praying for an escape that didn’t come.

Instead, her groom came to consummate the marriage. He lumbered atop her until she cried out in pain.

After, she scrubbed the sheets, marring the gold band denoting her new status as wife.

How Ellie’s Life Began

Write a creation myth in 99 words, Charli Mills said. My love of mythology crowded my thoughts, but instead I wrote something more personal, a microcosm of the universe encapsulated in one struggle. I hope it pleases you and the good folks at https://carrotranch.com

How Ellie’s Life Began

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Doreen’s life bled away on the gurney, seeping into sanitized linens. The doctor nestled a bundle of blankets against the cold. Doreen buried her face within, savoring the warmth, relishing the smell. Too young to die, yet passing with skill, Doreen’s tear-slicked vision blurred. Iron coated her palate, and dust clogged her throat. With trembling fingers, she peeled back a layer of blankets to reveal skin soft as a tulip. Here Doreen found immortality, here, in this tiny person whose eyes squeezed shut against the garish hospital and her mother’s death, this person whose birth brought about her death.

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