TUFF is a contest where the story goes through a first draft of 99 words, a parsing down to 59 words, a butchering down to 9 words, then a revisit to 99 words again.
Jacqueline studied the tiny, harmless beans in her palm. Was it her imagination that they glowed, or did she need a hand-washing as much as Mama always said?
“I tell ye,” the old peddler said, “They’s magic!”
Magic or no, she couldn’t keep staring. Jacqueline pocketed her treasures. Yanking at Bessie’s rope, she headed on to the butcher’s.
Mama wouldn’t be impressed by anything short of a month of food, Jacqueline knew. She shrugged to herself. At least she’d haggled the peddler down to a tongue and brisket. Who knows what mama would’ve said about losing a whole cow?
Jacqueline studied the beans. They rested against her dirty palm, seeming to glow.
“They’s magic,” the peddler insisted.
Mama wouldn’t agree, any more than she would to strangers or dirty hands. Jacqueline sighed, pulled at Bessie’s rope, and headed on to the butcher’s.
At least she’d haggled down to a brisket. Mama’d never agree to losing a whole cow.
Jacqueline wondered if beans were magic enough for Mama.
99 Words, Final
Jacqueline studied the beans in her dirty palm. Was the peddler right? Were the beans glowing? Maybe Mama was the honest one, and all she needed was a good hand-washing.
“I’m telling ye,” the old peddler insisted, “They’s magic.”
Magic or no, she couldn’t stand around staring. Jacqueline pocketed her dubious treasures and took up Bessie’s rope. Mama wouldn’t be impressed by anything if they were late for the butcher’s.
Jacqueline shrugged to herself. At least she’d talked the peddler down to a tongue and a brisket. Who knows what Mama would have said about losing a whole cow?
Typed and entered for Carrot Ranch’s TUFF Rodeo competition: Beans.
©2019 Chelsea Owens