The Measure of a Man’s Best Friend

The Greyhound halted. This was where $200 took James. He disembarked, shouldered his prison-issued backpack, and read the station’s name: Kum & Go.

“Here to rob it?”

James swung to see a man by a pickup; opened his mouth, then shut it. The man had no legs. The truck had a dog.

-But not just any dog. “Buttercup!”

The yellow lab hurtled out and licked him, desisting at her master’s call. James had trained her in prison, as a service animal for a wounded soldier.

James looked up, and both men saw each other -clearly- for the first time.

©2022 Chel Owens

Oh my goodness, Charli! Don’t ever make me do that, again! -I mean, This was written in response to Charli’s prompt at Carrot Ranch:

May 16, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about when a newly released prisoner meets the disabled veteran who adopted the puppy the prisoner trained behind bars. The prompt is based on the short story I wrote for Marsha Ingrao’s Story Chat. Yes, rewrite my story in your words, 99, no more, no less. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by May 21, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form [on the site]. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts in social media.

In Which Amelie Believes, and Disappears #99Word Stories

Scritchy scratchy wax on wall, she thought. No matter. It was the shape she needed right.

*Sniff* a hand ‘cross red nose and puffy eyes. *Stomp stomp stomp* she heard those hobnailed boots but they .stopped. off the other way.

She breathed and scritched and scratched, the purple crayon unwilling to give its wax without a fight.

“There,” she said, and loved the circle she’d formed from the bit of crayon abandoned in the hallway.

“I’m Amelie, and I believe.”

Stuttering hand reached to the middle of the circle. Pushed. And disappeared, where *stomp stomp stomp* can’t find her.

©2022 Chel Owens

Photo by Kamaji Ogino on Pexels.com

For Carrot Ranch’s prompt this week:

March 28, 2022, prompt: 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!

  1. Submit by April 2, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form [on the site]. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts in social media.

AnXieTY #99Word Stories

tHE groCERy StOre ClerK ScoWled tHE Woman HONKeD NO ONE caMe to BooK gROUp but ThEY SAID they DidN’t hAte Me I boUGht tHe pineaPple laMP he SAid hE LIKed TheN he PrOmIseD hE lOveD me AS he FLiRTed So i GuESS it’S tRUe BuT wHAt is tRue i ASkeD mY cOUNselOR wHO says THIS IS ALL NEGATIVE THOUGHT PATTERNS buT am I ReAlLy NegAtIve OR arE You ALL DElusiOnaL gUess i’ll GO To bEd sInce It’S 3 a.m. AgaIn

ZzZZzzZzzzzzzz

What a lovely, new day. Hello Clerk, Woman, Neighbors, Pineapple lamp, Honey, Counselor. What shall we tackle today?

©2022 Chel Owens

Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels.com

You open the door to mental health and you get strange things, Charli. If the rest of you want to join in, click here. The prompt is:

February 7, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes anxiety. Who has anxiety or what is the source? Is there conflict? How can you use anxiety to further a story? Go where the prompt leads!

Forty-Niners Folk Song #99Word Stories

I’ll tell ya ’bout the year we seen
A thousand-thousand chasing dreams
They sought for El Dorado’s prize
‘Neath California’s azure skies
Mining-mining
All day long
Forty-niners
Sing this song
Ned left his wife and their love-nest
Left their new babe to go out West
He ain’t found gold, but don’t you fret
He’s learned to dig and drink and bet
Digging-digging
All day long
Forty-niners
Sing this song
Jim found some dust away down there
He spent it all on golden hair
Next day, Jim panned and found some more
He went right back to that ol’ h-ore…
(Final chorus, past the word count)
Panning-panning
All day long
Forty-niners
Sing this song

©2022 Chel Owens

Sung ’round mining towns for Carrot Ranch’s prompt this week: January 31, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the ’49ers.” Who or what are they? What is the significance of the number? Do you follow the Gold Rush history or venture into new territory? Go where the prompt leads!

Annabell(s)

Annabell Wilkins toddled everywhere Mommy did; at least, she tried to.

“No, Annie,” Mom stopped her. “No mud.”

“No, Annie. Not the hay bales.”

“No, Annie! Yucky!”

Annabell Goatkins had a similar problem. Wherever she toddled, Mommy Goatkins nudged her back around.

“No, Annie!” Mom bleated, “No pail!”

“No, Annie. Not the cows!”

“No, Annie! Yucky!”

The unfortunate kids wandered the yard in a crazy zig-zag, landing behind the barn with a bump! They sat and stared at each other, big-eyed and curious.

“Annabell!” Both mothers called -but only when they heard, “No, Annie!” did Annabell(s) know to come.

©2021 Chel Owens

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Written for Carrot Ranch’s weekly prompt:

December 2, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the littlest Christmas goat. Who does the goat belong to? What is happening? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 7, 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.

Grandpa’s Tool Shed #flashfiction — Norah Colvin

My good friend, Norah, shared this sweet short fiction piece:

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into the story? What kind of tools? Go where the prompt leads! Charli, of course wrote about writer’s tools and provided a multitude of links […]

Grandpa’s Tool Shed #flashfiction — Norah Colvin

The Valley of Spirit

They’d warned her about Old Adavndo Valley. Locals, etched in lines of wisdom’s dust, shook their heads slowly. Raised a hand. Or a crooked finger.

“Don’t,” they said, “Disturb the dead.”

She brushed them off. Turned away.

“An’ don’,” they added, “Film nothin’ ’bout yourself…”

But she was Alda Evenfeld, two-times winner of the Fergus Film Festival. No age-worn, brain-worn superstitions stood against book-worn, theatre-worn critics.

Still, fans later reflected, what a tragic coincidence. Late opening night; neighbors, drawn in moonlight, found the shell of Ms. Evenfeld. Exactly as her film’s protagonist lay. With the same scare-worn, dusty face.

Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash

©2021 Chel Owens

Written for Carrot Ranch’s prompt this week:

November 4, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a film festival. It can be a small-town indie fest or the Festival de Cannes or anything in between. Who is in the story? An audience-goer, filmmaker, actress, or something unexpected? Through in some popcorn for fun. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 9, 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.

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.

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.