Category Archives: Writing

Mum Selfie #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a mom selfie — a story that creates an image of a mom. No one mom looks alike or fits a maternal mold. Who is she? Go where the prompt leads!

Mothering

She paused in the shopping mall, one arm cradling her week-old infant, the other hand her breast as she gently positioned it enabling the infant to suckle. So engrossed was she in her newborn that the world of passing shoppers and nearby café chatter was non-existent. Her face radiated love, peace and joy, the child’s adoration, contentment and bliss. Serenity. I smiled as I passed, captivated in the moment, drawn into the circle of life and love, both envying and admiring her confidence and lack of inhibition in a situation won for her by generations of mothers before her.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Extraction, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Extraction #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about extraction. What is being extracted and from where? Is it an idea? How does genre change the perspective (sci-fi versus romance)? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Conversation Extraction

Marcia’s eyes met Henry’s across the room. He looked as unenthralled and uncomfortable as she was. He raised an eyebrow. Her mouth twitched, part smile. She extracted herself from the conversation. He did the same. They met by the kitchen door.

“Haven’t seen you at one of these shindigs before,” he said.

“First time.”

“Enjoying it?”

“Better now. That conversation was more boring than a tooth extraction.”

“What were they discussing?”

“Teeth extractions. They’re all dentists.”

“What about you?”

“Teacher. You?”

“Dentist.”

“Oh.” She reddened, then smiled. “You should join that conversation.”

“You should join mine. They’re all teachers.”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Up and Away, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Up and Away #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “up and away.” You can imagine a story from the photo of hot air balloons, a flying superhero, a natural wonder, or any other direction your inspiration goes. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Up and Away

April placed a coin onto his palm.

“What will I make for you?”

“A magic balloon, please.”

He scanned her face, searched deep within her eyes, read her every wish.

“A magic balloon,” he said, selecting a dark blue.

He stretched it this way and that, then blew. As the balloon filled, the blue lightened and brightened. It shed sparkles that glistened in the sunlight. He knotted the end, held it out, then twisted and twirled and pulled it into a star.

He wound the ribbon around April’s wrist. “Up and away!” he whispered, as April was whisked aloft.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Never Ending can be read at the Carrot Ranch here. Sadly, I didn’t get to join in with that prompt due to a (brief and mild) tussle with covid.

Water Falls #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writes to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, water falls. Where is the water coming from? How does it shape a story? Who does it involve? Go where the prompt leads!

Any creative ideas for incorporating ‘water falls’ into a story dried up and I was left with this piece very much a BOTS (based on a true story) about a weather event that occurred along the east coast of Australia earlier this year. It was devastating for many, and many still suffering the aftereffects are homeless.

Water Falls

The water fell, gently at first then obstinately, in unrelenting torrents, like uncontainable tears from a sky in mourning. A ‘rain bomb’, they said, a ‘one in one hundred years event’. It swelled the rivers and flooded the lands mercilessly, taking lives and homes and destroying livelihoods. Water from dams filled beyond capacity cascaded over spillways, intensifying the deluge. A supercharged natural event not experienced before, never expected again. When the sky opened just a few years later, crying those same mournful tears of loss and destruction, surely the denials would cease.  As indisputable that water falls, they didn’t.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch, including mine,can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to explain “baby ducks ate my lunch.” How did that happen? Who is the protagonist? Where did the baby ducks come from? Go where the prompt leads!

My first thought was of the oft-quoted excuse for failing to complete homework: the dog ate my homework, but I decided to go with a more plausible situation with excited children feeding ducks at the park. I hope you enjoy it.

Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch

A wail fractured the picture-perfect ‘Freedom Day’, the first outing since lockdown began aeons ago.

Father’s mind wandered like the lonely cloud contrasted against the vivid sky, contemplating nothing—no lessons, no video calls, no demands for something to eat or do. Mother absentmindedly stroked his hair as she inhaled the freshness of the sunshine and the scent of nearby gardenias. The children entertained themselves—what luxury—feeding ducks with days-old bread.

The wail amplified, like an approaching train, finally demanding Father’s and Mother’s attention. “What’s wrong?”

“Baby ducks ate my lunch,” wailed the younger. The older one shrugged.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Disappearance, including mine,can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

The Disappearing Trick

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charlie Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about disappearance. It can be an event, act, or subtle theme. Who or what disappears? Does it fade or explode? Can it be explained or experienced? Go where the prompt leads!

My story includes the same characters that appeared in my previous story Change is Coming. I hope you enjoy it.

The Disappearing Trick

Jamie tore open his gifts—a book from Pauline, a soccer ball from Mum and, from Grandma and Grandpa, a magic set.

“Look, Rabbit,” said Jamie. “I can make things disappear.”

Everyone smiled.

Jamie prepared his performance.

“For my first trick, I will make Rabbit disappear. Everyone, close your eyes. Abba. Dabba. Caboo! Open your eyes. Look. Rabbit disappeared.”

The family clapped.

“Where’s Rabbit?” asked Pauline.

“For my next trick, I will pull Rabbit out of the hat. Abba. Dabba. Caboo!”

Everyone cheered.

“I wish it was that easy to disappear,” Mum whispered.

“We’ll help,” said Grandma and Grandpa.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Ready for a Change can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Change is Coming #99WordStories

When I read Charli’s prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to reflect the theme, “ready for a change.” Who is ready and why? How does the change unfold? What happened to initiate the change? Go where the prompt leads! I immediately thought of this Cat Stevens song.

As a young adult, I loved Cat Stevens’s songs and their messages of hope for better days. As an older adult, I still do. We could certainly do with some changes around the world at the moment.

I was lucky to see Cat Stevens in concert in 1972, which must have been about the same time as this video was recorded. It was amazing. So much wisdom. Sadly, we don’t seem to be any closer to the vision of these lyrics 50 years later.

‘Don’t you feel the day is coming

And it won’t be too soon

When the people of the world

Can all live in one room’

It took me a while to get past the Cat Stevens musical memory lane, but this is where I ended up. I hope you like it.

Change is coming

‘Get up,’ Pauline whispered.

He rubbed his eyes. ‘Why?’

‘Shh! He’s here.’

He trembled. ‘Take Rabbit?’

Out they crept, sliding against the wall to the door. A shout from downstairs. They froze. Pauline turned the knob. Quietly. Quietly. She pushed the door. Gently. Gently. Then cool air. Silent toes pattered down the stairs. Across the grass they ran and ran. All three, hand-in-hand. Pauline in front. Rabbit behind.

Finally, they banged on a door. ‘Grandpa! Grandpa! He’s come.’

Grandpa was in the doorway, ushering them into Grandma’s arms, picking up the phone.

‘Hush,’ said Grandma. ‘Everything will be alright.’

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Free Pie can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

The Last Piece of Pie

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about free pie. What kind of pie and freedom? Who is involved with pies? How is it free? Go where the prompt leads!

Charli wrote about free edible pie that was available at College in honour of Pi Day. Of course, my mind went somewhere else.

I thought about the pieces of pie we try our best to collect as we travel around and around the Trivial Pursuit board, hoping that when we get a question for a piece of pie, we’ll get one we can answer correctly.

The most difficult is the final question, when the tray is filled with every flavour of pie and the other players decide which question will be the most difficult to answer. This family allowed each player to choose one free piece of pie at the beginning of the game in order to speed it along. I hope you enjoy the story.

The Last Piece of Pie

Josie wished they’d hurry. It was past her bedtime.

“Blue’s the hardest,” said Adam.

“Maybe for you, but she got it before,” said Bridget.

“She got them all, dur.”

“What was her free one? Anyone notice?” said Dirk.

“Yellow,” said Ellen. “Definitely.”

“Here’s your question, Grandma,” said Dirk.

Josie’s eyes were closed. Her mouth was open. A gentle snore rumbled out.

“Is the right answer,” said Adam. Everyone giggled.

Josie snorted awake. “What did you decide?”

“It’s okay, Grandma. We declared you the winner.”

Win or lose didn’t matter in the pursuit of happiness. It was all rather trivial.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Robotic Writers can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Robotic Writer #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a robotic writer. Is it an analogy or a battery-operated i-writer? Is it possible? What will happen if robots write? Go where the prompt leads!

This is where the prompt took me — a whole lot of mashed-up similes trying to express the various moods of my writing process. I hope it makes some kind of sense and isn’t all gibberish.

Robotic Writer

When ideas stalled and deadlines loomed, her determined digits thumped the keys, pausing after each stroke, like a robotic writer waiting for the next line of code.

When ideas jostled like unruly children vying for attention, never still enough to focus, she pummelled keys like lightning strikes then backspaced like rowboats in the storm.

When ideas flowed as if channelled from another source, her fingers tap-danced like spring raindrops in a puddle with a magpie chorus joining in.

When the final key was pressed and words were read, with scrunched-up nose, she hit delete and binned the robotic gobbledygook.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Farm Life can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

The Grass is Greener #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write about the farm life. Where is the farm and who are the farmers? What are they farming and why? How is the farm life? Go where the prompt leads!

Mum and Dad were both country people and for the first six years of my life, I lived on a farm. It was a small crops farm. Dad grew beans, cabbages, pineapples, and I’m not sure what else. We had chickens. Of that, I am sure. When I went to collect the eggs one day, there was a red-bellied black snake curled up around the eggs. I ran to get Mum who came running back with a rake. By the time she got there, the snake was gone. Thankfully.

This is me (20 mths) and my sister (4½) in front of the pineapple crop. © Norah Colvin

Mum and Dad also tried to keep a cow for milking but without success. One cow knocked down the fence; another climbed under; and a third jumped over. They gave up on keeping cows after that. (I’ve written about those cows twice before: here and here.)

Not long after that, Dad sold the farm and we moved to suburban life by the beach. My siblings and I spent long days in the water, on the sand or climbing the red cliffs after which the area got its name. The school holidays dragged with nothing much to do, even if there were plenty of books to read, which was my favourite thing to do. So, an invitation to holiday with cousins on a property (cattle and sheep station) in the country was a joy. Interestingly, my cousins loved their holidays at the beach. My responses to Charli’s prompt are based on those thoughts but are definitely not true to life. Not my life and not back then. Regardless, I hope you enjoy.

The Grass is Greener I

Holidays with her cousins on the farm were the best. Days stretched from dawn to dusk with unbounded fun the cousins called chores: milking cows, feeding chickens, collecting eggs, riding horses and, sometimes, zooming around paddocks on quad bikes to muster sheep. Her cousins were never told what to do. They’d decide. ‘C’mon, we’ll milk the cows,’ they’d say. Or ‘On your bike. Let’s muster some sheep.’ So many fun things to do. At home, Annabelle’s chores dragged. The more she procrastinated, the longer they took. The days were interminable. ‘I wish there was something to do,’ she’d say.

The Grass is Greener II

Holidays with cousin Annabelle in the city were the best with something different to do every single day: watching movies at the cinema, slurping milkshakes in the mall, bowling balls at ten pins, splashing in the council pool. The stores were stocked with treasures they’d never imagined and deciding how to expand the value of their hard-earned saved-up dollars was challenging. One day a bus trip, the next a ferry ride on the river, zooming along streets on motorised scooters or joining a Segway tour; they couldn’t decide which was more fun. Anything sure beat their day-long country chores.

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