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Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

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Carrot Ranch

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.

Koala Kingdom

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com challenged everyone to use a Koala in a Kingdom in a 99 word story. This is how I interpreted the prompt. What do you think?

 

Koala Kingdom

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Beth retreated into her imaginings where her stuffed koala reigned and she served as his loyal subject.

There, nobody ridiculed her childish ways or belittled her stuttered speech. There, she read beautifully, and the court gathered from miles away to hear her recitations. They applauded and admired instead of laughed and tormented. 

Beth labored over tongue placement to produce the correct sounds, to please her liege. She calmed her voicebox and sing-songed to get by difficult passages and emulate her dream self.

Beth’s mother listened from the doorway as Beth’s articulation improved with each session in the Koala Kingdom.

 

Oh, Marshmallows!

In many of her essays, Charli Mills shares the struggles she and her husband experience at the VA. This week is no exception. 

Despite the challenges she faces, she always encourages her fellow writers and readers. This week, she asked at https://carrotranch.com for 99 word stories about paint, which brought to mind this little story. I hope you’ll enjoy it and visit the ranch to read the other stories.

 

Oh, Marshmallows!

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Polish remover seeped through the cotton ball, chilling Ava before she swiped it across Mrs. Birdseye’s fingernails. The old lady smiled vacantly. “How much will this cost, Sweetie?”

Ava patted the resident’s hand. “I’m a volunteer, Mrs. Birdseye. You don’t pay me.” Ava indicated the polishes displayed in front of her manicure kit. “What color do you like? Pink matches your sweater.”

Mrs. Birdseye reached her trembling, unoccupied hand toward the bottles, upsetting them. Her eyes widened. “Marshmallows!”  

“Quaint cuss word,” thought Ava as she retrieved the bottles. 

“No, Mrs. Birdseye!” An aide brushed by. “Those aren’t marshmallows. Don’t eat the cotton balls!”

 

 

Faith

Charli Mills from https://carrotranch.com asked us to write a 99 word story about waiting. This is what sprang to my mind.

 

Faith

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

We waited together for the results. Kinda gross, really, staring at a plastic stick I’d peed on, but in the end, a plus told us. A baby! My tears drenched his shoulder as we embraced.

 

Anxious, we held hands at the obstetrician’s to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Quick as a bunny, it raced away with our hearts. 

 

At the ultrasound, we watched her suck her thumb and chose her name. Faith. We painted the nursery, anxious to meet this precious child.

 

But one day, I bled. I rushed for help, but no amount of waiting brought back our Faith.

Charity’s Childhood

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com asked anyone interested to write about gender in 99 words. No more. No less. 

Here’s my take. What do you think?

 

Charity’s Childhood

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Charity played football while wearing her tutu and tiara. Her Barbies explored sunken treasures, donned armor, and battled evil warlords. She named her bike Ragnarok and imagined charging into battle every time she pedalled, yet she stopped to admire flowers, searched for fairies in mushroom rings, and danced like Shirley Temple.

Deeana broke from a group of gossiping classmates, manicured hands on her designer jeans. “Charity, why do you think boys like you because you can hit a baseball?”

 

Charity’s nostrils flared like a wolf scenting prey or a doe ready to flee. “Why do you hate me because I do?”

Even if Flawed

Charli Mills at https:carrotranch.com asked ranchers and guests to use “chisel” in a 99 word story. Here’s my result. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

 

Even if Flawed

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Michelangelo saw the angel in marble and carved until he set it free. The world admires him. For hundreds of years, people have clamored for a mere glimpse of his work.

 

I’ve studied, learned every technique.

 

My teachers whisper appreciation of my creations, yet I’m poised with a chisel, too petrified to begin. I touch smooth, unblemished stone so flawless it glows.

 

Yet I imagine my inadequacies disrupting its natural perfection.

 

The master’s words return then, and an angel’s wings pound beneath the placid surface.

 

Art must be freed, and even if flawed.

 

I place the chisel and swing.

Silent as a Mouse

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com issued her weekly challenge. “Write a story in 99 words involving a mouse.” This is what the prompt brought to mind, though this is considerably more than 99 words. I posted an abbreviated version at Carrot Ranch, but I’ll give the longer version here, to fill in some of the gaps in the story.

I hope you enjoy this little look at a parental failing.

 

Silent as a Mouse

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

We northerners stared open-mouthed at exotic blooms spelling the words, “Welcome to the Magic Kingdom.” Tears glistened in my eyes. As a “World of Disney” fan, I’d dreamed of bringing the kids here before I even had children. However, life didn’t deal me a strong financial hand or a head for business acumen, so hope of stepping foot in this Happiest Place on Earth was out of reach.

Except it wasn’t.

My daughter, Bear, endured much, and our pediatrician recommended her to Make-a-Wish’s attention.

Make-a Wish sent a charming young lady to interview Bear. Unprompted, my little girl exclaimed that she wanted to be a princess. Her consultant clapped. “There’s no better place to be a princess than Walt Disney World!” She made arrangements for us to stay at their charming Give Kids the World Village and visit all of the WDW parks.

However, there was a fly in the ointment. Costumed characters terrified Bear. I read the promotional materials and discovered what I hoped would calm her. I pointed to a page. “Look, they don’t talk.”

“Are you sure?” She wondered.

I triumphantly bumped the travel book with the back of my hand. “Absolutely. Says so right here in the official visitors’ guide.”

So, in the balmy south, just outside the tunnel to Main Street USA, we waited to meet the ambassadors of Mr. Disney’s amazing vision, Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Consoled by the “no talking” discovery, Bear reluctantly approached her favorite cartoon, Minnie Mouse.

Minnie moved.

Bear screamed.

We turned to flee when the dear costumed actress forgot her training and reassured, “It’s okay, honey!” Minnie covered her perpetually smiling mouth with over-large white mittens, but the damage was done.

I wondered if little Bear would ever trust me again.

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Luckily, somehow, she does.

Heart Healthy

Heart Healthy

written as a Valentine in 99 words for Charli Mills’ epic https://carrotranch.com

by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Joelle gave up on Valentine’s romance long ago.

 

In grade school, when everyone exchanged cards, her lace-covered shoebox remained empty. As she grew, hers was the only locker devoid of tissue-paper flowers, and in college, no vases of flowers perfumed her dorm.

 

However, she refused to wallow. She didn’t tune to romantic movies, hum love songs, or read bodice-rippers.

 

Instead, she jogged. The world blurred into a sepia sunset as slush squelched beneath her trainers. She ran toward true heart-healthiness.

 

When she stopped for a smoothie at the local shoppe, she never dreamed she’s lose her cynicism concerning love.

exercise hobby jog jogger
Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Help

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com issued her newest challenge (write a story in 99 words about sea mist) while bringing a bit of information to her readers.

The US Veteran Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1). You can also text 838255, or open access help for those hard of hearing (and most combat veterans suffer hearing loss) 1-800-799-4889.

To participate, Respond by February 5, 2019.

 

Help

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Mist floated above the water, ghostly aspirations undulating as the river swelled and dipped like lovers’ sighs. Transient by nature, it fettered fine tendrils around Erin’s poetic heart.

 

She plopped to the moist ground and beckoned the cloud. Perhaps within its obscuring she could find clarity.

 

Waves lapped the shore with the steadiness of a heartbeat. Erin’s own inner workings joined the pace as though engaging a dance. Delicate as dew, fog surrounded her until all she could see was the problem at hand.

 

Thoughts thick with worry, she stared into a luminous blank and surrendered.

 

“I need help.”  

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