Carrot Ranch · writing


I wrote this for the July 25th Flash Fiction Challenge

Rita tucked her hair behind her ears, sipped her coffee and turned ‘The Times’ to read below the fold.

Mark,” she asked her husband, “if you could do, or be anything for one day; what would you do or be?”

I don’t know, dear but it would probably involve sex or food. Why?”

I’d want to be queen.”

Queen for a day? Like that old television show?” Mark looked up at her.

Uh huh,” she said, “and, I freed a genie from an old lava lamp at Goodson’s Antique’s yesterday. My day is Sunday.”

The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase “for one day.” The words single out a special occurrence. What is the emotion and vibe, where does it take place and why? Go where the prompt leads!

OLWG · writing

OLWG#112- Once Upon an Us

 Written for OLWG#112

Darla was a sailor. A slender girl, who stood just over five feet tall, a Gunners Mate on a warship that was known for inflicting damage when damage needed to be inflicted. The days at sea can flow into one another, you are busy every day and there is often little to distinguish them or set them apart, mark them as special. As such, she completely missed her21st birthday. It came and went without registering in her psyche.

Darla refrained from going out clubbing with her older friends, she only bought beer on base, not in the liquor stores on the beach. She also neglected to renew her driver’s license but as she was active duty military, she didn’t have to anyway. She carried her military ID.

She was in port for her twenty-second birthday though and she planned to go into town with friends. She looked forward to going to Hākari to have a big plate of fish and a bottomless basket of sourdough rolls. She was going to order one of those craft beers from town that you couldn’t get on base. She thought it might be something light, maybe a little bit fruity. Her current roommates, Amy and Elaine, had shown keen interest when Darla mentioned that she might like to go dancing after dinner.

Her mind skipped immediately and maybe a touch guiltily to Ben, her on-again / off-again beau from back home. Ben worked on his daddy’s farm. He was a sure thing when she needed someone to talk to or spend the evening with. Her romance with Ben didn’t stop her from going out with other guys, or from doing the occasional cowboy when she wanted to mix it up a bit. But, it was comfortable knowing that he was there.

She got off work early and picked up her mail on the way to the barracks. She had a new flowered sundress that she planned to wear. She bought it last weekend at a boutique downtown. It was made of some kind of slinky material that felt like nothing next to her skin. It had been expensive, but remember, she thought she was turning twenty-one; you only turn twenty-one once.

In her room, she laid her new dress out on the bunk and hurried to take a shower before Elaine got back. Elaine worked in the radio centre and usually got back a few minutes before Amy, who worked in the periscope shop on the sub-base.

She finished a quick shower and shampoo, wrapped herself in a towel, shaved her legs, just in case, and left the head to sit on her bunk and read her mail. There was a letter from Ben. She thought about setting it aside and reading it tomorrow. She didn’t want to be thinking about Ben if she got lucky with another man tonight. She wrestled with her emotions and finally succumbed, slit the letter open and started to read the words in Ben’s familiar scrawl.


I don't know how to break this to you so I reckon it's best if I just come 
right out and say it. I know we both made some promises before you 
went away and I know that we aren't exclusive but I am planning on 
getting married in June. 

I met Nora a couple of months back and we are in love. She's only 
ten years older than me and her family owns a big spread closer in to 
the city. Nora's an only child. Her mama's been gone for quite a few 
years now and her daddy's getting poorly. She doesn't know what to 
do with a big farm so her daddy's been pushing her to find a man 
who does. She found me, I found her and well, the rest is history. 

I probably won't be writing much any more.


As she finished reading, the door flew open, Amy and Elaine walked in together. Darla stuffed the letter under her pillow.

“Hey girls,” she said, “Do you guys have your hearts set on dinner and dancing tonight?”

The roommates smiled and shrugged in stereo.

“Whatcha got in mind, Darla?” one of them asked. Darla thought it might have been Elaine who asked, but didn’t particularly care.

Darla’s turn to shrug, “How would you feel about going over to the Marine base and picking a fight with some jarheads.”

“I’m always down for a bit of head bashin’,” Amy grinned in anticipation and showed the gap between her two front teeth.

Last week I ignored the time limit. This week I did it again.

The prompts were:

  1. it’s a circus out there
  2. on her 22nd birthday
  3. don’t send any more letters

Carrot Ranch · writing

Fascinating Stories From Science – I

I wrote this for the July 11th Flash Fiction Challenge

Scientists from the Kingdom of Australia are reporting that the marsupial species known as Thylarctos plummetus, commonly called ‘dropbears,’ and previously believed extinct, are thriving in the forested regions of eastern and southern Australia. The Australian Museum describes these creatures as “predatory marsupials related to koalas.”

Little is known about dropbears, to date, as they have only recently been rediscovered. Preliminary research indicates that they seldom prey on Australians. This may be caused by the marsupial’s uncanny ability to recognize Australian accents, or they may be repelled by the scent and taste of Vegemite, common in the Australian diet.

Note: My gratitude goes to the Australian Museum, in Sydney for their inspiration and assistance in researching this article.

The prompt: “My kingdom for a koala!” In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom. You can create a character out of Norah’s koala and give it a Vermont adventure. Or you can make up a story however you want! Can you pull off a BOTS (based on a true story)? Go where the prompt leads!


OLWG · writing

OLWG#111- Being Neighborly

 Written for OLWG#111

I remember when Ruben Billigmeier and his wife, Christine moved into our apartment block on the south side. It was only the two of them but they took a large three bedroom – two bath place, upstairs overlooking the pool in the centre courtyard. Margie, the kids and I had the corner place two doors down.
They were an attractive couple. Ruben had a thatch of blonde hair and wore a moustache. Christine was tall and lean with curly red hair that hung down to the middle of her back and a spray of freckles tossed across her button nose.
Ruben and I would leave for work at about the same time most days. I’d drive off in my twenty-year-old compact and he’d leave in his brand new Chrysler sedan. Over the course of a month or so I learned that he worked at the zipper factory as some kind of manager in the production area.
Margie said that Christine stayed at home and inside most of the time. She would go down to the pool for at least an hour every day though. She’d sit on a chaise, in the sun to read her magazines and work on her tan.
People, usually women who looked like housewives, would come and knock on their door. Margie would let the visitors in and they would stay anywhere between five and fifteen minutes before leaving. Sometimes they’d leave with a small paper bag in hand or cradled at their elbows. Margie thought that Christine might be selling drugs over there and decided to do some investigation, on her own. She started going down to the pool when she’d see Christine there.
They started with idle chatter. They’d talk about the weather or something else inconsequential. Margie avoided discussing religion and politics. Eventually, they became pool buddies. Margie would invite Christine up to our apartment occasionally for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, but Christine always declined. That is, she would always decline until that one day in early August when she surprised Margie and agreed.
I think I’d like that,” she said. They went upstairs and between the two of them consumed a bottle and a half of Chardonnay. This got to be a regular event with the two friends, who’d get together at our house about once a week and share a few drinks. Chardonnay was Margie’s favourite so that was primarily what they drank.
After a month or so of these informal get-togethers, Christine invited Margie up to her and Ruben’s place. Margie, of course, accepted. This was what she had been angling for. She wanted to see what went on at the Billigmeier’s.
As they made their way up the staircase and along the upper landing Christine said, “I don’t have any wine, Margie, but I have something just as good, or better. You game?”
“Sure,” Margie laughed, “Long as it won’t make me go blind!”
Christine led her friend to the dining table, laughed, and disappeared into the back of the house. When she returned she had a clear glass bottle that looked like it would hold about a litre of the golden liquid that was in it. There was a cork in the top and no label. She sat the bottle on the table, grabbed a couple of small mason jars from the sideboard and splashed a couple of fingers worth from the bottle to the jars.
Margie took a glass and sniffed it. It smelled earthy but flammable at the same time. Christine took a small sip from her glass and smiled. Margie followed suit and felt the drink warm her all the way down. It tasted like magic.
“Damn, Christine, this is wonderful.”
“Thanks, I make it myself, but don’t tell anybody.” She pointed through the door to the kitchen where a wooden sign hung. The sign read “Whisky for Sale – Good Whisky for Sale” in hand done black letters on a Redwood board.
“I thought you were selling drugs.”
“Nope, what I’m selling is better than drugs. I sell it by the bottle, I sell it by the jar, or I sell it by the shot. We couldn’t afford to live here on Ruben’s salary alone.”

I ignored the time limit this week as I was interrupted several times during the course of writing. The prompts were:

  1. whisky for sale
  2. a button nose
  3. When entrusted with a secret…

OLWG · writing

OLWG#110- Imogene’s Splintered Obsession

 Written for OLWG#110

Imogene stood in line with the other kids to see Santa. She’d done this every year for the last twenty-one years.
The boy behind her, maybe five years old – maybe seven, poked her butt, she turned, “My name is Curtis,” he wiped his nose with his sleeve, “Are you waiting to see Santa?” he asked her.
She nodded her head and faced forward again, clutching her list, anxiously waiting her turn.
He tugged on her sleeve, “Is that your list?”
She nodded again, saying nothing.
He poked her again, “I’m asking for a Big Wheel and a baby sister.”
“That’s nice,” she said.
“What are you asking for?”
“Mind your own business,” Imogene snapped, and the boy recoiled.
When it was Imogene’s turn she tugged on her skirt and perched on Santa’s knee.
“Well, Merry Christmas, young lady.”
They went through the standard shit that Santa did every year… What’s your name? Have you been good? Blah, blah blah.
Imogene politely answered his questions and waited for the important one.
“What can I get you for Christmas this year?”
She opened her list, “a boyfriend,” and proceeded to go through the checklist on said boyfriend. How tall he should be, his name, and facial features. She knew the length and colour of hair, the type of car he drove, how much money he should have. He must have a sense of humour, she itemized her list and when she finished she folded it back up, rolled it, and clenched it tightly in her hand. She looked at Mr Claus.
Santa cleared his throat and said, “I don’t know, Imogene. This close to the holidays this might be a tough order. You haven’t given me a lot of time. I’ll do my best though. Is that OK?”
Imogene nodded her head and hopped down. Curtis called her from his spot in the line.
“Hey girl!” he hollered, “You know that’s not even the real Santa Claus.”
“Is so…” Imogene took the bait.
“Is not…” Curtis yelled back
“Is so…”
“Is not…”
“Is so…” Imogene yelled at Curtis one last time, spun on her heel and marched smartly out of the mall.
Curtis turned to the younger kid behind him in line. That kid was drooling red candy on his chin and the front of his shirt.
“I hate that girl,” Curtis told the kid.
“Hape dat grrl,” the kid echoed and a crimson bubble appeared at the corner of his mouth.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. he lives only in her mind
  2. is so…
  3. this close to the holidays

Carrot Ranch · writing

John Kohtala and the Barsotti Kids

I wrote this for the July 4th Flash Fiction Challenge

John Kohtala would wake every day before sunrise, do his chores on the farm near Chassell at the south end of Portage Lake. He’d then walk twenty-one miles (uphill, both ways) to attend Calumet Middle School on Fifth Street in what is now the Ace Hardware Store. It was there, he became fast friends with the Barsotti children; Peter, Arthur, and Gemma and became interested in theatre.

One day, after school, the kids were hanging out at the Barsotti’s Candy store when Gemma suggested that they put on a play.

“Hey,” piped in John, “My dad has a barn…”

The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using your choice of microhistory from Keweenaw National Historic Park. Be historical, funny, or flagrantly fictional. Choose a character, time, place, or event. Be as creative as you want in telling the story (for those doing serials, how can you meld this into your own storyline?). Go where the prompt leads!

Note: I co-opted two of the microhistories for my flash. I had fun with this one. No disrespect intended.

OLWG · writing

OLWG#109- Glenavon

 Written for OLWG#109

My apologies to all who read this. I was writing fast and I’ve probably massacred the attempts at the Gaelic. Anything unrealistic, any unfortunate mistakes contained in the story are mine and mine alone.

The solicitor, a man called Morgan, straightened the paper on the desk, and then picked it up between well manicured fingertips. He cleared his throat and began to read from my grandfather’s will, “I, Sachairi MacDiarmaid, being in good health and of sound mind, leave my home and land to my Granddaughter, Elspeth MacDiarmaid, with the condition that she make it her home and live there for the rest of her days. In the event that she is unwilling or unable to comply with these terms the house and property should be sold on the open market and the proceeds donated to the Caber Foundation for the Furtherance of Highland Games.

For my namesake and grandson, Zachary MacDiarmaid, I bequeath my collection of antique bottles some of which were left to me by my ‘Da. They’ve been in the family for generations. I don’t just mean the bottles displayed in the parlor but also the ones hidden beneath the stair. Some of them should be worth a bit by now. Finally I leave my dog, Islay, to Hamish, my neighbor of over forty years, who’s always wanted a good herd dog.”

The lawyer continued on with a lot of blather until finally he sat the paper back on the desk blotter and looked at my sister and I. “Do you have any questions for me?” he asked.

My sister shook her head, no; as did I.

Outside the office Elspeth and I hailed a cab to take us to Dey’s house. My sister began touring the outside. Walking around and noting the landscaping, the paint, the deferred maintenance; taking an inventory in her head. I went straight inside and made for the staircase. I never knew that there were bottles hidden there. I saw nothing but a couple boxes of books and  Dey’s Wellies, with his Mac draped over the top of them. I moved the boxes and discovered a panel in the wall. I called my sister.

I had to call Elspeth several times because she was back behind the shed. I got her inside and showed her the panel.

“Ever see this before?” I asked her.

“Never,” she said, “did you open it?”

“Not yet.”

We found that drawer, in the kitchen the one used to hold ‘all things’ and in it we found a screwdriver which we used to prise off the panel from the wall beneath the stair. We found two wooden boxes of equal size. I lifted the first one out and sat it behind me. The second seemed a bit heavier, but I removed it from the cubby as well then dragged them both out to the lounge. In the light we could see that the boxes were handmade of a tight grained white wood, now honeyed with age. The top of the heavy box was nailed down but the lighter box was not. I lifted the lid and saw that the inside was divided into 24 separate sections. Eleven of them were empty. Twelve of them contained bottles one of them had a piece of heavy paper rolled up inside.

First I lifted one of the bottles. It was pale green in colour and adorned with a hand lettered label. The label sported three golden stars for decoration and read:

Special Liqueur

Bottled by the Distillery

It was smaller than a normal whisky bottle. I reckoned that it held less than half a litre. I handed it to my sister and pulled out the rolled paper, which turned out to be a note the script was fading and hand lettered in an old style. I read it aloud to my sister.


Greetings Mr MacDiarmaid

You’ve found the family legacy. Forty-eight bottles of the finest 
whisky ever made and bottled in Ballindalloch. The idea is this –
Two of these bottles belong to you; to do with as you see fit. 
The remaining bottles are to be passed to the next male MacDiarmaid 
bearing the name of Zechariah. Make note of the dates and circumstance 
you use yer botuls.

1863 Zechariah MacDiarmaid      drank and shared with friends 
                                  on the occasion of me wedding
1876                            drank and shared with friends at the 
                                  wake of me wife
1890 Xackary MacDiarmaid        drank with me bràthair - 
                                  two botuls one night
1920 Sagairi MacDiarmaid        Shared with Elspeth Buchan
1920                            Shared with Elspeth MacDiarmaid 
                                  on our wedding nite
1934 Zechariah MacDiarmaid      Drank one
                                Sold one to Glendening £2
1945 Sagaire MacDiarmaid        End of the war- opened two at the local 
                                  shared with mates
1959 Sachairi MacDiarmaid       Drank one
                                Sold one at auction £500
1981 Sachairi MacDiarmaid       Drank one- alone
                                Sold one at auction £15,000

“1981,” I mused, “That had to be Dey. Wonder what a bottle’s worth now?”

Elspeth sat mute and shook her head. Finally she spoke, “I need to Google this stuff…” she crawled out from beneath the stair and wandered into the house.

That night we toasted Dey with the bottle we opened. The whisky was golden in colour. The taste was smooth, rich, earthy and wonderful.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. gnarly
  2. antique bottles
  3. flowers wilted and dogs panted in the shade