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Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

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short stories and poetry

Pine Prompt By Design

As always, I recommend you hone your craft with the prompts at https://girlieontheedge1.wordpress.com/2019/12/22/sundays-six-sentence-story-word-prompt-87/ and https://carrotranch.com/2019/12/26/december-26-flash-fiction/

My interpretations were seasonally inspired. Of course, I’m hoping your holidays are bright and beautiful despite all the crazy aspects of life. And may 2020 be brilliant by design!

 

Pine

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

For Candice, the holidays inspired false nostalgia, an overwhelming persistence of glorified remembrance tinsel-wrapped and tied with a glittering, aggrandize bow. She’d long for the days when childhood wonder replaced cynicism in even the most stoic of hearts. Evergreens glistened with lights bright enough to chase away winter’s bite, feasts piled on every table so none felt hunger’s gnaw, and families gathered to nibble away misunderstandings until all that remained was peaceful appreciation.

As she gathered and bound fragrant spruce and holly, she ignored the blood drawn by their prickles and sucked away their stings. When the glorious day dawned, wrapping paper floating like shrapnel and ash to canvas faces scornful of gifts and gift-givers, conversations devolved into arguments, and the news displayed anything but peace on earth – as it had every year of Candace’s life.

By the next November, however, the cycle renewed, and her feverish desire for Rockwellian perfection replaced hurt-filled memories, and she’d pine for what might never be.

 

 

 

Private Toast 

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Karen decided New Year’s resolutions needn’t fail. 2020 could offer “vision,” and she’d craft herself into an ideal. As confetti drifted into her champagne and couples kissed through “Auld Lang Syne,” she visualized a successful self. 

Next year, she’d work harder toward her goals. New job. New home. New pant size. New romance. 

Before she tipped alcohol from her fluted glass as an anticipatory congratulation, she studied the pattern floating atop. Bits of colored tissue created images, and much like a tea leaf reader of old, she knew them by design. 

With a smile, Karen swallowed her private toast.

 

 

Carrot Ranch 99 Words, 6 Sentence Contributions, and Happy Holidays!

My Prompt Pals are at it again. They offer the gifts of inspiration all year long, too, not only during the holidays!

https://carrotranch.com/2019/12/20/december-19-flash-fiction-challenge/https://carrotranch.com  hosts an “Open Mic Night”, and my 99 word response is below,

and

my 6 sentence contributions this week for the prompt of “Pine” and “In the Nick of Time” follow. You should check out this adorable take on the 6 Sentence prompt and get details on how to participate in the challenges at https://girlieontheedge1.wordpress.com/2019/12/19/in-the-nick-of-time-its-a-6/

Happy Holidays to you all, and a very blessed 2020!

 

Open Mic Winner

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Christmas Eve, we host the annual Open Mic Contest. Acclaimed poets drip seasonally-affected despair. Freshmen giggle and blush through limericks or rondels. Some folks sing.

But then he hopped onto stage. He tilted his seasoned face to see me, standing no taller than my knee. I couldn’t adjust the mic low enough, so I brought up a chair. He leapt up with the grace of a falling feather. Jingly bells upon his costume tinkled like children’s laughter.

I don’t remember his whole recitation, only the end:

“Man in red, or green, white, or brown

Giving heart beating cheer

If only mankind listened.”

 

(*I’ve written a longer version of this little tale, simply because I loved the idea of a holiday visitor taking an artistic break from his duties.)

 

 

Saved by the Ball

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

It clattered down the aisle like an inebriated bridegroom. She feared it might, indeed, tumble into the gutter and ruin her chances. She was out of her league, a single girl in a room filled with couples. Her only chance staggered and meandered, with clattering disregard for its target. 

If only it would stay on track, pick off even a solitary pin, she’d help her team, but if she rolled another gutter ball, she’d be cut from the team. Her vision clouded and she swallowed around a huge lump of gratitude when, at the end of the lane, just in the nick of time, the ball curved and claimed a corner of the bowling pins.

 

Mistress of Christmas

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

No presents rested beneath the tree. No balsamic scent perfumed the air. 

Although the mistress of the house had everything arranged, from presents wrapped and hidden in closets to scented candles in need of a light, none of the wonders of Christmas morning brought joy that year, for the mother languished in a sterile hospital bed. 

“Please,” she begged the staff, “tell my husband to light the advent wreath,” but they smiled with incomprehension and smoothed her hair from her fallen and anguished face. 

“Will she recover from the stroke?” her husband asked as their children’s shock-widened eyes reflected concern.

When she did, theirs was the happiest, though latest, holiday celebration ever.

 

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Thank you all for stopping by, for reading, and for interacting. Sometimes, I feel like I’m writing in a vacuum, so any time I hear from you, it lifts my spirits and inspires my weary brain. See, you’re muses. Did you know?

Happy holidays!

6 Sentences, 1 Story

Through a friend, D. Avery (https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/)  at Carrot Ranch, (Check out the newest 99 word challenge there! The story must somehow involve Key Lime Pie. https://carrotranch.com/2019/12/06/december-5-flash-fiction-challenge/ I’ve added my B.O.T. 99 word story below, with names changed to protect the guilty.),  I found this charming prompt site. https://girlieontheedge1.wordpress.com/2019/12/04/its-six-sentence-story-thursday-link-up-84/.

The challenge there is to write a story in 6 sentences. This is mine. What do you think?

 

Lesson in Electric Lighting

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

The string of red and green lights flickered, blinked, and died in his hands. His jaw clenched as he lifted his sigh toward the ceiling, biting back a tyrade of temper for the sake of the youngster at his feet. He removed and replaced each bulb until they flickered, blinked, illuminated, and he strung them around the top of the tree. 

The sleepy tot asked, “Why’d they do that, Grandpa?” 

“These old-fashioned lights are all we had when I was a kid. The trick’s to find and replaced the burnt out bulb and complete the circuit so they can light up again.”

(To complete the story, I’d add one further sentence: He thought, “If only I could find the burnt out bit inside me, too.”)

 

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Sampling 

(99 words)

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Kiesha’s mouth dropped. “Were you hungry, honey?”

Barney shrugged. “It benefited a good cause, and the pies’re from my favorite shop.”

“Yes, but what’re we going to do with all these?”

Barney swallowed a piece of peach and shrugged. “Eat them.”

Kiesha glared, dwarfed by a stack of boxes. “They’ll grow stale before we can eat them all.” She squinted at the boxes. “Why don’t we take some to the shelter?”

Barney plated a piece of lime pie. He spoke around a bite. “Sure.”

“Barney, how’re we taking these to the shelter now? You’ve taken a piece from each!”

Sins of the Fae

Chasity Nicole and Debbie Manber Kupfer put together a new addition to the “Sins” anthology series, and I’m jazzed. Sins of the Fae? Heck yes!

The Sins series began with “Sins of the Past,” and my short story’s setting was Tudor England, where two gruesome characters developed a fondness for “Princess pudding.” That same duo visited in my addition to “Sins of the Future,” but in my story in “Sins of the Gods,” readers might develop sympathy for an ancient Greek monster.

This latest in the series brings together such talented writers as Jen Ponce, Don Miskal, Cara Fox, Fiona Skye, Misha Burnett, Miracle Austin, and Pat Jackson, and I’m honored to have a story included. (Mine’s called Karam’s Crystal, a retelling of an old story wherein a mother realizes the importance of her child.)

Sins of the Fae is available through Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

*If you read it, please give it a review. 🙂

Season of Secrets available on Audible!

I’m overjoyed to announce Season of Secrets is now available on Audible featuring the voice talents of Megan L. Hysell.

https://www.audible.com/pd/Season-of-Secrets-Audiobook/B07ZG7HWXY?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-169129&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_169129_rh_us&fbclid=IwAR2VcwzXDhE-r0Zr2G9Vgxjq7NRn32Lc6cQSCGn4Fvfxp1JY2JtSRPjIp7k

 

Halloween Writing Contest Entry

https://mathiseverywhere439319476.wordpress.com/2019/09/30/kidlit-fall-writing-frenzy/ is hosting an intriguing Halloween writing contest. Write a 200 word poem or story based on a photographic prompt. I chose Image 8 as my inspiration.

I hope you’ll enjoy this not-so-innocent trick.

 

I Got a Rock

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Gerta didn’t mean to poison children on Halloween.

 

She dressed in cellophane fairy wings and held her plastic jack-o-lantern bowl in hands trembling with excitement when trick-or-treaters arrived at her door. She returned their cheerful “thank you’s” as she closed the door to return to her paused holiday special. 

 

“Who would give that poor bald boy with the hole-infested sheets rocks,” she wondered sadly and she listened for the next round of candy mendicants. 

 

Gerta didn’t know an evil had infected her candy bowl, one that creeped through the wrappers and settled beside the dazzling crystals. An insidious powder had filtered every ill-intention of previous owners through the heavy oaken rafters of her ancient brownstone.

 

As darkness deepened and the time for tricks and treats ended, Gerta sighed. The Vince Guaraldi Trio punctuated Linus’ appeal for a sincere pumpkin patch. 

 

“Maybe next year,” Gerta reassured Linus, and perhaps herself. Maybe next year she’d have friends and host a party, or a beau to snuggle beneath her crocheted blanket.

 

She unwrapped the unclaimed candy and munched, licking sticky goodness from her fingertips, until despair choked her insides. As her intestines knotted within her, Gerta repeated her hopeless reassurance. “Maybe next year.”

Celebration

My dear readers, I’m afraid I’ve been a bit out of commission of late. I had an ulcer burst through my duodenum, (which I didn’t realize I even had one of those, so imagine my surprise when it was causing such trouble!). So I’ve been at the hospital under the not-so-gentle ministrations of laudanum. I found coherent thoughts a commodity, so I didn’t write for the last two weeks. (GASP) (However, I did have some Dali-like hallucinations and some vivid, wacky dreams…) 

However, Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com has a perfect prompt to get the creative juices flowing again. “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about old world charm. It can be nostalgic or irreverent. You can invent an “old world,” return to migrant roots or recall ancient times. Go where the prompt leads you!”

Below is my 99 word offering. Why don’t you participate, too? I’d love to see where the prompt leads you! (Let me know if you do, please.)

 

Celebration

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

With a pomp of woodwinds, the children joined the parade about town, welcoming everyone to join. Ribbons swirled from braids in the little girls’ hair. Embroidered flowers festooned hems and lines of traditional garb. Traditional foods perfumed the air, available for the sampling. The celebration swept everyone up with its joy. The world bloomed, the earth produced, and people created beauty to compliment nature. Peace, not protest. Harmony, not war. For the brief span of an afternoon, the community embraced the simplicity of existence. Unity in expression, inclusion of all. People paused to admire the beauty in one another.

Always a Rocker

Charli Mills and the good folks at https://carrotranch.com/2019/08/01/august-1-flash-fiction-challenge/ want 99 word stories using the prompt “a rock star.” 

 

Always a Rocker

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

A silvery line of drool punctuated the vacant expression that landed David in the locked down unit with nineteen other impaired individuals. Once he commanded a tour bus and bested the world’s stages. Now his wheelchair and a disease kept him captive. He stared into private abysses until the activities girl arrived. 

 

From her music player, drums drove a beat. Keyboards provided the backbone. Guitar wailed. 

 

David perked up. He recognized the song. His song. 

 

She sang. 

 

With an anemic voice, a mere ghost of his past, he performed.

 

The girl patted his shoulder and nodded. “Once a rocker.”

Words

This week, Charli Mills and the https://carrotranch.com gang wrangled 99 word stories interpreting the prompt “for one day.” Writing a story in 99 words is a challenge, indeed. This is mine. Its first incarnation was much longer, but to comply with the challenge, I pared down to the essence of the story. I’d love to know what you think of it.

 

Words 

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

A toddler plied her mother with questions at a check-out line as the mother stacked goods onto the conveyor. Another toddler sat in the next cart in line, limp-legged and watchful. “You have such a sweet baby,” the harried mother said to her line-neighbor. “Mine won’t shut up. I wish I could have silence for just one day.” She chuckled darkly and turned when the cashier asked, “Paper or plastic?” without noticing the grimace on the mother-behind-her’s face. 

 

That mother’s child was born mute, and how she longed to hear even one word from her child. Even just one.

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