Up a Creek

Once again, it’s time for Friday Fictioneers. (Yes, I’m posting a day later than usual, but at least I’m posting again.) For those unfamiliar with this challenge, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our intrepid leader, posts a photo prompt each Wednesday. You can play along or read the 100-word stories by other writers here. This week’s photo is a rerun courtesy of Madison Woods, Rochelle’s predecessor.

2016 04 22 Madison Woods

Copyright Madison Woods

Up a Creek

“Last one to the crick is a rotten egg.”

The three girls ran like miniature cyclones down the embankment.

Sharon took the lead. Linda and Millie sprinted behind.

“Owww! Help!” Sharon tripped, falling into a barbed-wire fence.

Millie started to laugh. Linda joined in.

Little Ralphie appeared at the top of the hill, hollering as loudly as Sharon. “Hush up! You goin’ to scare the cows.”

Millie laughed harder.

Sharon pulled free from the fence, ripping her jeans.

Linda blanched. “We got worse problems than scared cows.”

Silence fell as the others looked up to see Grandpa’s bull charging toward them.


Author’s note: This week’s story is a partially true retelling of an incident that happened on my great grandparents farm. Names of the four children (who happen to be my mom and three of her cousins) have not been changed to protect the innocent or the guilty.

Farm-Fresh Fragrances

It’s that time of week again–time for Friday Fictioneers on a Wednesday morning! This week our photo prompt is courtesy of Ted Strutz (who’s a pretty cool guy that you should get to know), and by the week’s end it will inspire scores of original 100-word stories. My story this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

2016 03 25 Ted T

Copyright Ted Strutz

Farm-Fresh Fragrances

“You tellin’ me your shit don’t stink?”

Dana knew better than to roll her eyes.

“Only person ‘round here who can get away with that is your mother. That’s why I married her. Now, go back and do it right.”

Dana went back to weeding the garden, grumbling. Then she caught sight of an old commode behind the tool shed.

Early in the morning on Mother’s Day, Dana wrangled the commode into position in the front yard. Petunias cascaded from the tank and bowl. “Stinky shit makes darn good fertilizer.”

Seeing her gift, Mom laughed. “Well, the flowers are beautiful.”

The Unlikely Protector of Midgard

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for March 13. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from the inimitable Sandra Crook, who can write a heartwarming tale and also whip up a helping of horror that will chill you like the stump in this photo. (Which direction will she choose this week, I wonder?)

My piece this week weighs in at 99 words.

Copyright Sandra Crook

Copyright Sandra Crook

The Unlikely Protector of Midgard

No one ever listened to Nadia, so she made a habit of talking to the cows as she milked them. She told Bossie and Jo stories of fire and ice and how time began. When she tired of the old tales, she created fresh ones—yarns about Asgard, Alfheim and Jotunheim, about Ygdrasil and Mimir.

In the pre-dawn darkness, a figure often hid, shrouded in shadow, and listened. Captivated by the stories, Nidhogge would forget to gnaw the roots of Ygdrasil.

The girl’s kindness colored every vignette, and throughout the winter, her narratives made the universe a safer place.


Are you interested in Norse mythology? I have a few friends who follow the old Norse traditions, and this photo just begged me to write about those ancient legends.

Particular About Predators

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for December 26. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from Bjorn Rudberg, a fine fellow that all of you should take the time to meet.  My piece this week weighs in at 105 words, just slightly over the limit, but I think you’ll all forgive me in the spirit of Christmas charity.

Copyright Bjorn Rudberg

Copyright Bjorn Rudberg

Particular About Predators

Dottie hated descending the stairs into the cellar on Grandma’s farm. Snakes lived down there. When she complained, Grandma said, “Those are just little ol’ black snakes. They’re afraid of you. Leave them alone. They eat rats.” Dottie didn’t like rats, and she knew better than to sass Grandma. Instead, she avoided the cellar.

One morning, Dottie and Grandma were collecting eggs when they saw a black snake slither into a nest box. Instantly, Grandma grabbed the snake and gave its neck a twist. Its head popped off, and Grandma tossed the carcass out of the chicken coop. “Can’t have that thief stealing my eggs.”

Author’s note: The story this week takes us back to my great grandmother’s farm. We were there last week with a fictionalized story set in the Dust Bowl. This story brings us into the late 1950s and early 1960s when several double cousins (including my mom and her cousin Sharon) spent some of the best days of their lives on the farm. This story is a collage of sorts based on two different memories. My mom specifically remembers Grandma being protective of black snakes because they hunted the rats that caused problems on the farm. Sharon remembers Grandma snapping the head off a black snake for sucking eggs in the chicken coop. I believe it is fair to assess that Grandma appreciated all life–as long as that life stayed where it belonged.

Bane of the Little Osage

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for December 19. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from Douglas McIlroy.  My piece this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

Copyright Douglas McIlroy

Copyright Douglas McIlroy

Bane of the Little Osage

Alice’s shoulders slumped as she looked out the window of the farmhouse to see another black blizzard on the horizon. She remembered how the elders of her tribe had warned of such times. Men like her handsome, blond husband had laughed. Prairie grass couldn’t be harvested for money. They declared war on the land, tried to domesticate it, planted acres of wheat. Then the drought came.

As the storm arrived, Alice held a wet handkerchief over her mouth. Even indoors she was not safe. The grit entered through every crevice. Alice closed her eyes and dreamed of escaping to California.

The facts behind this week’s story:

During the 1930s, an America already distressed by the Great Depression was plunged further into despair by a human-caused disaster. Over-farming the Great Plains created conditions for the Dust Bowl. I don’t know what my fourth great grandfather, the last Little Osage chief, John Horn, actually said about the habits of white farmers, but I am sure he would have warned against disregarding the earth. My story this week is a fictionalized account of a dust storm on the family farm where his great granddaughter, my great grandmother, lived with her pacifist husband, the son of a Ukrainian immigrant. In my story, names have been changed.


This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for July 11.

The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt.

Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create.

My piece this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

July 11

Copyright Kelly Sand


Jenny hadn’t planned on spending her evening in a ditch when she left the farmhouse to enjoy an afternoon of cloud watching. She settled into her favorite spot and began to read the stories in the sky. She didn’t mind the rain until the wind picked up.

The sky turned green. The wind stood still. Jenny scarcely had time to dive into the ditch before she heard the sound of a freight train bearing down. She looked up to see a twister racing toward her.

It jumped over the ditch. It didn’t jump over the only home she’d ever known.

The Web

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, by Fir0002

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, by Fir0002


I’m not 100% certain I care for this particular story. It was written in response to a LinkedIn prompt THE SPIDER’S WEB. Perhaps some of you will enjoy it or have ideas for its improvement.

The Web

“In the dawn, you will approach your destiny.”

Clair wasn’t certain how those words had entered her brain or even when. They seemed to have been whispered to her during the night, perhaps as she warmed her hands over the campfire or as she trudged home after an exhausting day on the ranch. Perhaps she had simply dreamed them, but they were enough to rouse her from slumber before the sun arose and to chase her back to the meadow fence where she could watch the sun rise.

Unbeknownst to Clair, those same words echoed through Ben’s mind that morning also. He, too, had no idea where they originated. He, too, awoke early and made his way to the fence, eager to see what dawn would bring.

Arriving at the fence at almost the same moment, the two greeted one another. Although Ben seemed happy to see her, Clair was slightly put off at his presence interrupting her morning reverie. They sat on the top rail as the sky grew lighter and the first rays of sun illuminated the meadow. The early morning silence was comforting as was the company. The spider’s web Clair had pointed out to Ben the evening before now glittered with dew drops. “Diamonds to drape around the neck of Mother Nature,” Ben remarked poetically.

Clair groaned aloud as her heart skipped a beat. He was such a— She caught herself mid thought. Where normally she would think “schmuck,” she found herself considering words like “romantic” and “gentleman.”

The sun rose. Responsibility called. The two parted without speaking their silent pact. They both knew they would return at dawn the next day.

Whistling a bright tune she had learned from Ben years ago, Clair returned to the farmhouse. Her daughter Willow met her in the kitchen and smiled. Recognizing the tune, Willow considered it a good omen. Her subliminal messages must be working.

The Whistling Woman

“Whistling women and cackling hens, both come to no good end.”—Folk wisdom  repeated to Catholic school girls and originated by someone who never knew Emma


Ollie leans back in the glider. He relaxes in the shade of the overgrown arbor, just outside the kitchen of the dilapidated farmhouse, and fondly remembers his late wife.

Emma, a Catholic native American, didn’t know Ollie ever heard her whistling in the kitchen as she baked bread or toiled over dishes. She always stopped abruptly when she heard him knocking the mud off his boots by the lean-to door. Her melodies became his guilty pleasure. After long days in the fields or tending livestock, he often stood for five or ten minutes, watching her work, listening to her cheerful whistle.

When the children came along, Emma became more guarded about whistling. Instead, she hummed lullabies to soothe them to sleep. Still, late in the afternoon when the boys were tending to their chores and their baby girl napped in her cradle, Ollie sometimes heard her whistle a refrain.

Ollie knew the folk wisdom that kept Emma from sharing her music. He thought it a shame but knew better than to let her know he listened. Emma was a strong woman. More than once he had seen her wring the necks of six chickens before breakfast and serve them for dinner at noon when the harvest crew piled into the dining room, ravenous from the morning’s labor.

Life on the farm was hard but good for Emma and Ollie. The children grew and married. One son bought a neighboring lot, built a house and stayed to help Ollie work the farm. The other three moved into nearby towns where they found work, but everyone came home to help with summer harvest and to visit on holidays. Grandkids were born, grew up, married and had children of their own. Emma and Ollie kept working their farm. With everyone out of the house, Emma began to whistle more freely when she thought she was home alone.


One year, dementia came to steal Emma’s music. Ollie no longer felt comfortable leaving her alone when he went to work in the fields. She became confused when she went to gather eggs from the hen house and got lost on her way to the pasture. Finally, the kids convinced Ollie to put her in a home where, in nine months, she faded completely away.

Ollie spits a mouthful of chaw into the rusty Folgers can by his feet. “I figger that was no good end,” he mumbles to himself. “Sure had a good run up to it though.” He gathers himself out of the glider and heads out to the field. He only works a small patch of the farm these days, leases the rest out. The grandkids want him to sell the old place, move to some retirement village. He has other plans. A good end will mean he goes out making hay.