Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black


Charli Mills

A Holiday Drabble

This week, Charli Mills at issued a new challenge. “Not my monkeys. Not my circus.” The 99 word story I wrote is my interpretation. What do you think?

They’re All Our Monkeys

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

The weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break are educational blackouts in the elementary years. Even children who otherwise excel become as erratic as kernels in a hot pot. 

We teachers try to siphon some of the palpable excitement into thematic units and a holiday open house.

My students bring a visual representation of their family’s holiday celebrations. Inclusive. Concise. 

The new teacher grew ambitious. Her students created borax crystal snowflakes. Which led to paper cutout flakes. Which led to safety scissor fencing. 

Sometimes, I wish I could just say, “Not my monkeys,” but we teachers have each other’s backs.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Charli Mills devoted this week’s essay and 99 word prompt to an absolute necessity – clean water. She shared the vision of a group of concerned people called Water Walkers. Please take the time to read her insightful essay here:

In answer to her prompt, I’ve written two 99 word works. The first is a fantasy that I believe could be brought to reality. The second is a sad reality.


A story told in 99 words

By Kerry E.B. Black

Born into a winter when the three rivers froze solid, the pretty little Aquarius charmed all who dove into her ice storm eyes. As she grew, so did her charms, from honey-wheat hair and reedy figure to tinkling voice and buoyant cheer. To have her as part of any team meant success. From trouble shooting to efficient enacting of a plan, she waded through issues to bail out even the worst situation. 

Lovely Aquarius, with water lilies and marigolds threaded through her beachy waves, donned a new mantle, ‘clean water’ her battle cry. Her leadership swelled awareness and resources.


Weight of Water

A true story told in 99 words

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

She walked over a mile each way to collect water, the liquid of life. Two handmade buckets slung from a yoke weighed on her neck and shoulders, but she bore the burden proudly. She knew the value of her cargo. With drought a looming adversary for all of Africa, she felt herself lucky. 

The source of the water shortage mattered less than the fact of it. Who cared about government mismanagement, climate change, little money for infrastructure and support, or corruption when dying of thirst? 

Worse, she heard by 2050, more than 5 billion people may face water scarcity.


I hope you enjoyed my wishful words – or at the least found something in them to ponder.

I live in a city surrounded by water. Three rivers are fed by smaller tributaries and streams. Creeks overflow during periods of heavy rain, and flooding is often an issue hereabouts. However, I can’t imagine drinking the water flowing into the mighty Mississippi without treatment. How blessed are we to have access to such a necessity? How weighty to consider the many people around the world facing water scarcity.

In our beautiful world, over a million people die every year because they don’t have access to clean water. We all need to listen to our waterbearers, because we need to correct this problem. I know many intelligent people. I believe if you focus some of your impressive intellects on the issue of the lack of clean water, the problem would be corrected within a short time – maybe before another million people die.

A new 99 Word Story

Charli at Carrot Ranch issued a new 99 word story challenge. Muddy tires! Below is my take on the prompt. Why not try your hand at it, too? Follow the link above, and let me know so I can cheer your successful completion of the challenge.

Driving Lesson

A story told in 99 words 

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Mia chewed her lip, shoulders tight enough to snug her ears. Heart pounding, gaze darting everywhere. Good speed. Not too close to the white. Not too near the double yellow with its onrushing traffic.

“You’ve got this.” Her mother depressed an imaginary brake on the passenger’s side. Her white knuckles belied a different story than her calm voice. “Stay in your lane.” Tone shift. “Back on the road!”

“You’re making me nervous!” 

The car veered further.

“Pull over.” 

While her mother checked for damage, Mia fought tears. 

Her mother pulled Mia into a hug. “Just muddy tires. Try again.”

99 buoyant words

Charli Mills issued a new challenge at Write of balloons on a bumper.

Here’s my take on the prompt. Please let me know where I can read yours.


Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Tailgating grew in popularity as the Steelers won football games. Stout-hearted fans arrived hours prior to kickoff with increasingly elaborate spreads served from the back of their vehicles. With parking at a premium, finding tailgate parties proved difficult at times. To become easier for invited guests to find, the Toggart family hung black and gold helium balloons from their bumper. However, many fellow tailgaters noticed the increased visibility the balloons provided, and they began employing the same technique. Soon, all of the bumpers outside of Three Rivers Stadium boasted sparking, helium-filled mylar balloons, a sea of black and gold.

Can you tell a story in 99 words that incorporates the word “swimmingly?” That’s the latest prompt from Charli Mills at How will you interpret this prompt?

I’ve a number of writing projects on which I’m working, but recently, I’ve experienced some setbacks. Nothing major, but certainly stumbling blocks. Still, like the hero in my interpretation of the prompt, I will take my deep, cleansing breath, plant my feet on the correct path, and make what strides I can. For you, though, I’m hoping all is going SWIMMINGLY!

Sink Swimmingly

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

After a bracing breath, she marched into the bookstore, smiled at a harried man ten years her junior, and withdrew her book from her shoulder bag. “I think you’ll want my novel on your shelves.”

The shopkeep paged through the volume while she filled the near silence with her elevator pitch and nervous banter. 

He closed the book and slid it across the counter. “I don’t think it’ll sell. Sorry.”

Her heart leaden, she thanked him for his time. In the anonymity of her driver’s seat, she steeled herself for the next bookstore, picturing the interaction finally going swimmingly.

This week’s Carrot Ranch 99 word Prompt

Charli Mills posted another charming essay this week. I hope you’ll stop by and read it when you have the chance. This week’s challenge was to interpret the phrase ‘floppy as puppy ears.’ Mine is below. As ever, I love to hear your thoughts on it, and it’s great fun to read how you’ve interpreted the prompt. So please let me know so I can stop by and read what you’ve written.

The Return

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

in 99 words for a weekly prompt.

The librarian lowered her glasses and fixed the patron with her no-nonsense stare. 

The patron fidgeted beneath her scrutiny as he slid the books across the returns desk. “They’re on time.” He offered a wavering smile.

She sniffed, never breaking eye contact. “You know, Mr. Monroe, I distinctly remember including bookmarks when you checked these out.”

“Um, yeah. Did you need me to return them, too?”

“No, I need you to use them.” She flipped the cover of the top book and ran a finger along the pages’ upper corners. “Dog ears are darling on puppies – not library books.”

Photo by RODNAE Productions on


Charli Mills challenged everyone to use “remote” to create a 99 word story by the 6th.

Mine is below.

Bereft on a Beach

told in 99 words by Kerry E.B. Black

I walk along a lonely shore. Without even the screeches of gulls for company, I count a half-hearted breeze my only companion. Overcast skies meld into the steely sea, and the sense of the monochromatic drips with tears – mine and the clouds’ – to inhospitable gray sand. Waves slap and hiss, strikes from inner turmoil manifested. 

I step over the transparent blob of a beached jellyfish. Within its carcass pulses malignancy. Dull driftwood ornaments the shattered black shells crunching underfoot. Values of darkness manifest along the shore, speckled reflections of my own failure. 

I squint, searching for an understanding soul.

Remembering sweetness

Charli Mills shares a darling story of a little cherub and her own changing life this week for the Carrot Ranch 99 word challenge.

I’ve written my response below. What do you think? I hope you’ll tag me if you participate so I can read your 99 word story, too.

Cherry Wine

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

I sip cherry wine from a crystal goblet. 

Within its red swirls a summer spent on a picnic blanket at the edge of Lady’s Lake, dandelion fluff caught in our hair. Birds sang of hardships to come, but we didn’t heed, tangled in each other, legs entwined, hearts beating the same romance. Ants collected scraps as we tasted sweetness in each other. When summer storms threatened, we’d roll until the blanket enveloped us, its red and white checks deepening to burgundy and grey as rain soaked through. Nothing dulled our love. We lived on cherry wine and each other.

July 99 Word Story for

Charli Mills’s latest 99 word challenge presented the word “float.” This is my response. What do you think?

Should Not Float

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Mrs. Tigerio’s fifth grade science class sat cross-legged along the parking lot curb. All seven kids tracked something overhead.

“I really thought the evidence would prove she was too heavy.” Tom blinked, owl-like.

His best friend stroked his chin, searching in vain for the beginnings of beard stubble. “Seemed that way.”

Chrissie shaded her eyes with her hand. “Guess our computations were wrong.”

“Mercury’s denser,” Tom mused. “Who’d’ve thought?”

Everyone nodded. 

“So on Mars, we’d weigh least.”

Another chorus of silent nodding.

Chrissie worried. “How’re we getting her down?”

“She’ll reacclimate to earth’s gravitational pull,” Tom’s brow furrowed. “Eventually.”

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