Ted and Trudy

Ted and Trudy had been married forever; four years, in fact. Each still said he or she was in love. Still, each found himself or herself dreading the drive home after work.

Their marriage counselor tried. “What you need is to find and speak each other’s love language,” she said.

Ted and Trudy tried.

Physical intimacy didn’t touch on the issue. Spending quality time together made the evening drag on and on. Neither received gifts presently. Words of affirmation didn’t speak to either of them. And we won’t even mention how self-absorbed each became when performing acts of service.

It wasn’t until Ted finally snapped and complained about it all that Trudy felt an unexpected spark.

“Ooooh. Say that again, Ted,” she cooed.

Ted blinked. “Uhhh… the counselor’s charging way too much for something that’s not working?”

“Yes, Ted! Yes! What else isn’t working?”

“Uhh…” he thought for a minute. “That plumber we hired this morning was late, incompetent, and left a mess.”

Trudy sat up and perked up. “What else??”

“No one knows how to drive anymore?” He was starting to get excited as well.

“Yes! Yes!”

“Whenever I go shopping, I can’t ever find a good clerk! How difficult is it to know where the polos are?”

“Ohhh, Ted.” She drew right up to him. “What else?”

“The governor’s an idiot and this country’s being run by imbeciles!”

“YYYYYESSSSS!”

…..

Their counselor was surprised to see them practically bouncing at their next (and last) appointment.

“We did it!” Trudy gushed. “We found our love language!”

“Oh?” the counselor asked, intrigued. “Which is it?”

Ted and Trudy looked at each other, smiled; then, in unison, answered, “Complaining!”

©2021 Chel Owens

Kelly’s Shopping Trip

Kelly was claustrophobic.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

Of course, she didn’t know that. She didn’t even know what claustrophobic meant.

Not-very-blissfully unaware, she simply avoided the subway, most alleyways, rooms without two exits, corners, small grocery stores, compact cars, buses, airplanes, and -for her entire life- the game of Hide and Seek.

It was when Kelly mentioned how even seeing skinny jeans made her hyperventilate that a sales clerk clued her in. “Skinny jeans make everyone short of breath,” he explained, “Especially those wearing them.”

Kelly smiled in relief, purchased a muumuu, and walked the five miles home to her open floor plan house. She felt happy.

©2021 Chel Owens

Priorities, Priorities.

It didn’t matter anymore.

That shipment of designer-label makeup and brushes Maggie saved and saved for, finally sitting in its box on her porch.

Those Mike sneakers Joe wasted his entire paycheck on.

The brand-new, glistening, powerful Lawn Steere tractor (and attachments) Lori drove home from the shop just yesterday. Parked in the outbuilding of her late grandfather’s estate.

Steve’s collection of bottle caps.

Ada’s books. Oh, how she loved books.

Even Clair’s six pack of beer, alone on the dusty counter.

None of that mattered, anymore, as Maggie, Joe, Lori, Steve, Ada, Clair, and every sentient being watched-heard-felt-breathed Methuselah’s Comet break through the atmosphere. And silence all of Earth.

©2021 Chel Owens

An Unnatural Glade

Var paused. This opening felt different.

The echo of his soot-crusted boots ceased. His kerchiefed breathing slowed. As charred branches, brittle pine boughs, and scorched roots recovered from his recent passing; he realized he was not alone.

Furthermore, Var could not be the only living thing in this unliving world.

There! Ash-strewn sunlight touched a new, green bud. And, there! A lonely peppered moth took flight. Oh, there! Buzzing annoyance nipped a sunburned ear.

But, there! -Most of all, there! In this unnatural glade amidst a smoldering hell of war’s aftermath, he heard an ancient sound: sweet, whistling birdsong.

©2021 Chel Owens

Photo by Jack Bulmer on Pexels.com

Written for an early morning, and for Carrot Ranch’s prompt:

May 27, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tiny flying insects. Think about how the insects shape the scene or add to the action. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 1, 2021. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Story of Witches Tree

Only Stella knew why the branches of Witches Tree wound painfully in and out. Only she had seen the feuding families agree on their quick, dark deed: to stop the naïve union of the young lovers, one from each tribe.

Silent unless called upon by Gaia, Stella had watched the lovers be slaughtered and their hearts buried. Apart. Trees sprung from the hearts in gnarled twists, reaching -forever reaching- to meet.

Decades later, Stella still heard speculations; the witches cursed the forest, witches were the forest, or some children ate a magic mushroom and turned to wood -which was also because of witches.

Her leaves sighed in the wind as she saw the unmet loneliness, even now, of lovers long ago. Sometimes people, she knew, were worse than witches.

© Chel Owens

In response to CalmKate’s prompt, “Bent.”

Would I Not Do Some Great Thing?

New-spring mud gripped his ankles, bringing Naaman’s mind to thoughts of bondage rather than freedom. What sort of healing could he find here, at the lowest bank of the river? What sort of fool did that holy man think him to be?

A gesture distracted his thoughts. His wife’s maid dropped her gaze at his stare. Remaining bowed, she once again lifted a hand toward his feet. Her head tilted.

“Would I not do some great thing?” he hissed to himself. Drawing deep within the soul he’d long forgotten resided in his sickly shell, Naaman willed himself to believe.

© Chel Owens

By Unknown author, Wikipedia

A slight change on a very old tale for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week:

April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 27, 2021. Use the comment section (at Carrot Ranch) to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Last Year

Daniel could reach the top of the doorway now. He’d always wanted to -ever since watching Dad swing one big, strong, long arm up and smack it in passing. Daniel watched that arm throughout his life, wondering at his dad’s strength and size.

Up until last year, that is. Up until the cancer.

“I did it today, Dad,” he whispered.

“What, Danny?” His mom raised her eyes from Dad’s headstone and fixed Daniel with a sad, confused gaze.

“Nothin,'” Daniel muttered, looking down. He wondered how long it’d be before he could smack the doorway without cheating. Without jumping.

©2021 Chel Owens

Image by MisersMillions from Pixabay

In response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week:

March 18, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that takes place a year later. It can be any year. Explore the past year or another significant passing of time to a character. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 23, 2021. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Misfire

Anticipation is tangible, even from flickering television to sunken sofa.

“Why don’t you ever talk to me, Jesse?”

Taught, strong limbs swing shadows across the track.

“All you do is watch those runners. You’re not a runner no more; you know that, right?”

Athletes stalk to their blocks; praying, kicking, crouching; poised. Waiting.

“I’m getting sick of it. Sick of it! D’ya hear me, Jesse?”

Set.

“You turn around right now, Jesse Wellesley, or ..or ..I’ll shoot!”

*POP*

“And that, officer, was when he grabbed the pistol from me and fired it into the couch. I ain’t seen him since.”

108

©2021 Chelsea Owens

100 Words, written for Deb’s 50 Word Prompt.

Image by Michaił Nowa from Pixabay

Monkeys, Happy Place, Iceland

In the few seconds between bedtime and actually getting to bed, I snuck over to my Reader’s Feed. And there, an epiphanous* idea appeared:

Why not write whatever pops into my head based on the three random words suggested at the top? Today’s prompt: Monkeys, Happy Place, Iceland.


“I say, Gorillford, this simply cannot stand.” Chimply scratched an errant flea.

His friend fixed him a bewildered look. “What’s that? Iceland’s moorings?”

Chimply sighed. “No, though that is distressing. Bad news, that, after so many years of stability. The country’ll be at Africa by summer. No, I was referring to this whole classification nonsense.”

Gorillford huffed, puffing up onto his thick knuckles.

“I know, I know. ‘Don’t you start’ -but you haven’t experienced the indignity, Gill! Everywhere I go, it’s, ‘Look at the monkey!’ ‘Mummy, may I have a monkey!’ I’ve… I’ve broken a bit; I’ve even considered saying, ‘Sod it’ and pasting a tail back there anyway….”

Gorillford had no reply. His beady eyes nearly popped from his leathery face. His jaw hung slack. A tail? That was far worse than living with mislabeling. He gathered his thoughts to attempt reasoning with his friend.

“You needn’t bother,” Chimply cut him off. “I know.” He sighed and then contemplatively peeled and ate a banana. “I know.”

This would take some thinking. Gorillford snapped his meaty fingers. “Chim.”

“Hm?”

“I’ve got it.”

“Hm?” Chimply retained a glum expression as he set the peel atop a fence post.

“I said, ‘I’ve got it.'” Leaning into the mesh between their enclosures, Gorillford grinned. “You’d rather we not be monkeys, yeah?”

Chimply didn’t even look over. “Obviously.”

“Well… given the rate at which these loony bipeds are going, do we really want to be known as apes?” Gorillford leaned back against a vine-twisted log in this, their happy place, allowing the import of his words to sink in.

It didn’t take long.

“My Gibbons! You’re right! Why, come to think of it, they’ve even used us as insults in some of their so-called ‘professional debates.’ If the orangutans aren’t safe, who is?”

“Precisely.”

They both sat, now in companionable silence. Only the clink or clunk of food pails interrupted a peaceful morning.

“Gill?”

“Hm?” The large ape monkey looked over at his smaller ape monkey friend.

“At least we’re not donkeys.”

“He.” Gorillford rolled his eyes and then rolled over to nap. “Ha.”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

©2021 Chel Owens

*Epiphanous is not a word.

The Cay-ote Killer (Kerry Black’s Contest for Carrot Ranch)

Swirled campfire gunsmoked ’round old Ernie’s head. His eyes shone in the firelight, two August moons ‘gainst a desert sky. “An’ that,” he whispered, “whers th’ last any cowboy heard o’ The Coyote Killer!”

“Wee-yoo!”

“Ah’ll be!”

The talk still swam ’round the camp like Loui’zana fireflies when a shadow fell ‘cross the nearest cactus; when a howl yipped ‘cross the open sky. “Aowhoooooo!”

Scramblin’ to horse, rock, cactus; no man dared admit what he clearly saw: a baying, skulkin’, fur-dressed man, jus’ like what Ernie’d said.

An,’ like’n old Ernie said, no man lived to tell it still.

Photo by Tomu00e1u0161 Malu00edk on Pexels.com

This’n was mah entry fer the contest what Colleen won. Hers were fantastic so’s I reckon I don’t feel so bad fer not even gettin’ an honorable mention. 😉

©2020 Chel Owens