The Tradewater

Across the water is a country of luxury. My family loads our keelboat with goods and drags a raft of timber behind us. Across the river we float, trickling down to the exotic city where we trade.

Our family trades logs for some silk, corn for new shoes, and furs for sugar. We sell the raft to lighten the load back upriver.

I ask Pa, “Why do they trade their riches for our poor goods?”

Pa pushes the keel. “They live in a desert. To them, we’re the rich ones, but we’re all rich once we’ve shared our treasures.”

This was written for this week’s Carrot Ranch Challenge, “Across the Water.” Rivers often serve as borders, even if they also serve as connectors between us all. Today, which is World Communion Sunday in my tradition, I wanted to look at that combination in this 99 word flash.

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Rainbow Cat and Cheeser the Mouse

Cheeser the Mouse followed his nose. He peeked around a tree.

A cat’s claws tapped on a pot filled with cheddar. “Hello there, little mouse.” His voice cooed, attractive. “Come, ingratiate me. Do a dance and call me Rainbow. Perhaps I’ll give you this cheese.”

The smell of the cheddar was irresistible for a field mouse. Cheeser stepped out and danced a jig. “Is that good enough, Rainbow?”

Rainbow, while sitting on the pot of cheese, snatched up Cheeser and ate him. “Good show indeed, Cheeser – and at the other end of this Rainbow, you’ll get your cheddar gold.”

This was written with inspiration from the Carrot Ranch prompt “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a cat named Rainbow on an outdoor adventure.” I also wrote, a while back, another story about a different Cheeser the Mouse and a cat named Chaircat Mao. The combination of ideas brought me to write this little ditty.

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The Hermit

“You’re so boring, pops. You only sit there and meditate.” The young man pounded his fist on a simple table, rattling a knife, bread, and cup of butter.

The elder took the knife and buttered a piece. “There are many ways to glory.”

He growled, pulled on his cloak, and left.


The young man returned to the chapel, this time much grayer. His hands were manicured, his wallet full, his clothes fine. He brushed his hand against the rough-hewn table.

He crushed the land’s deed in his hands. He’d sacrificed a quiet glory, but what for he couldn’t tell.

This was written for the Carrot Ranch’s most recent flash fiction challenge, “rethinks the hero.” One of my Sunday school lesson series (back in the before times) was on contemplative life and meditation, and there we talked about the criticism that being entirely contemplative kept one from helping the world or other people. At the same time, contemplation isn’t terribly valued in a pretty cataphatic society. I wanted to play on that here.

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Good News on the Radio

David wrote nervously at his desk. He scribbled numbers and added them to prepare other people’s taxes. The radio played in the background, droning out music and ads from a tinny speaker while David waited.

When the news came on he fiddled with a key on his ring. Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, U2 spy planes: one day they’d go too far, and the red trigger would be pushed.

David was prepared. Years of food, fluorescent lighting to grow plants underground, a generator, barrels and barrels of diesel. Just give the word, radio, and he’d leave accounting forever.

This post was inspired by the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge for September 10th: radio. I’m fascinated with preppers even though I’m not a very good one myself, and I love Cold War stories. So here you have it – a dastardly combo!

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First Flight – #CarrotRanch

It was our land which had the wind, the sand, the beach. It was here they assembled the pieces, here they first revved the engine, here they first left land. Here mankind first leapt to the heavens during 26 seconds that shrank the earth. Only five witnesses saw the first moments of mankind’s destiny, a destiny riding upon muslin, and aluminum engine.

Arise, children of Earth! Fly upon wings of intelligence and daring, upon the backs of bloody lessons learned! From a colony lost to the sky found, the Carolina coast is there.

Oh, and Ohio can suck it.

This was written for the obvious trap of a prompt from the Carrot Ranch, first flight. I’m from North Carolina, so how could I resist? My damn license plates say “First in Flight”, and the flight was conducted here. Screw you, Dayton, it was here we flew first. Not only that, but Sherman was from Ohio. Ohio is North Carolina’s natural enemy. End of rant.

Cadillacs and Crocodiles

car vehicle classic american

The little lady showed up at the pump riding a hot-red Cadillac convertible with ostrich leather seats. She put out the cigarette in her ash tray and told me with pouty, vermilion lips, “Fill ‘er up.” She got out and, with her crocodile-skin purse, went into the store.

While she perused the candy shelf and soda fountain, I pumped in the liquid at 10 cents a gallon lamented my paltry pay. Rich people, getting richer off the backs of us poor. I’d like to kick people like her down a couple pegs.

And she’d left her keys in the ignition.

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This was written for the May 28th Carrot Ranch prompt, opposites. I chose Cadillacs and Crocodiles which, beyond starting with C, can come together as representatives of luxury (though alligator would have been better).

Thought I’d join in a prompt right now – don’t know how many I’ll get off in the near future, but this was good enough for now!

The Wood Miser

He had cut down the tree with a chainsaw, dragged it down the hill, and loaded it into the pile with all the rest. It was an oak of high grade – not quite a cherry, but good enough to slice into long boards and sell at a greater profit than the log alone.

The horses were already hitched in, so my son urged them to walk and turn the wheel. The bandsaw jiggled, and we loaded the log onto the carriage. A mighty heave of both man and horse shoved the log one step closer to a finished product.

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This was written for the Carrot Ranch prompt, long board. I’m descended from a bunch of loggers, and my grandfather had used a horse-driven sawmill long past the time when it was typically profitable in the US. But he sold high-quality wood, and he bred good draft horses (Percherons).

A Wood-Mizer, however, is a modern, portable sawmill for small-business loggers. My dad wanted a Wood-Mizer for so long, and I can’t even tell you how many hours of footage of watching people saw logs I have been forced to withstand. Yes, apparently you could at one time buy multi-hour-tapes of people sawing logs.

Rock Concert

artists audience band blue

We screamed at the stage, the speakers so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves. Through the smoky, cocaine-riddled haze, I spotted the Wilson sisters wailing on their guitars.

“Crazy on you-”

I sang in return, mind spinning, body sweating, blood pulsing, lips grinning. I wasn’t sure where all of my pants had gone, and my wallet was probably surfing through the opposite end of the crowd by now. But it had no money in it anyway, and I lived in such a small town the police didn’t need to see my ID when I got pulled.

“Crazy, crazy on you…”

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Do you like Heart? I like Heart.

Do you like concerts?

I’VE NEVER BEEN TO ONE. I had bought tickets to go to my first ever concert in August, but I like old music and, thus, listen to old artists who can’t be coming across the pond so willy-nilly in these dangerous times. So yes, I’m getting pretty bummed out that my chances of seeing Rod Stewart live before he dies are plummeting. So I’m taking out my anger by writing about concerts in the 70’s, whether or not the depiction is accurate.

Written for the Carrot Ranch prompt for April 16th, Crazy.

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Pees-ta

one cheese pizza

“What is this?” asked Papaw. He squinted his glaucoma-weakened eyes, inspecting the food.

“Pizza,” Mama responded. “It’s just bread, cheese, and sauce.”

Mamaw harrumphed then told someone invisible, “This woman’s crazy. I’ll die – it’s poison. Look at how fat she is; I won’t eat her food.”

“Pees-ta,” Papaw said. “Sounds foreign. I was in the war, and I don’t like foreign food-”

“Just eat it,” Daddy commanded. “You’ll get used to it.”

Papaw took a bite, grimaced, and pushed away his plate. “This is for damn Garlic Eaters. I’m not eating this foreign trash.”

Mamaw just cackled. “Poison!”

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I wrote this for the April 2nd Flash Fiction Challenge at the Carrot Ranch: Pizza.

This was based on a real-life event that happened in the late 90’s. My parents were silly and agreed to take my grandparents to Kentucky for a family reunion with my great-great-grand uncle’s branch of the family (they moved to Kentucky from North Carolina in the early 1900’s). At one stop along the way, my parents pulled us all over to a Pizza Hut, and my mom was surprised to find out my dad’s parents had never eaten Italian food before. I might have been, but I was still pretty young.

But think of it this way: IT WAS LIKE 1998 AND THESE TWO RED-BLOODED AMERICANS HAD NEVER TASTED PIZZA.

I still remember that event. “Pees-ta,” they called it. “Pees-ta,” they’d complain again, later in their lives when faced with the villainy of spaghetti with meatballs.

My Mamaw died this past December, but Papaw is still kickin’ around out there, driving despite being 97, nearly blind from glaucoma, and severely disliking Pizza.

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You Carried Me

purple crocus in bloom during daytime

You carried me.
I didn’t ask,
But then again,
I couldn’t speak.

You settled me
On soft, silken,
Pinkest pillow,
Kissed me tender.

My eyes were shut,
But I still knew
You adored me.
I cherished you.

I wanted to
Clean the sad pile
Of tissues at
Your well shod feet.

Did my urges
Disrespect your
Sadness and grief?
I allowed tears.

Upon your exit
Through sanctum’s door,
Someone shut my
Coffin’s wood lid.

When you returned,
You carried me
In my casket
To earthen home.

But my spirit
Carries you now
Until you come
To rest by me.

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This was written for the January 9th Carrot Ranch prompt. Sure, I took a long time getting to it, but it also took a long time to figure out what to write. Also it didn’t turn out to be a flash, but you know, I tried…

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