Prompt: batch | Word Count: 180 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 9, 2020

The group text read: “I’ve got a line on some yeast. Who wants some?”



“Me!” And so on down the line. We all want some. Even those of us who have never baked or used yeast in our whole lives. We want it! Really, really want it. Because, you know, you can’t get it anywhere. Plus, we’re bored. So damn bored. That we’ll even try our hand at baking.

I mean it’s not like we’re crazy or anything. We’re not making our own sourdough starter from scratch. As if. Way too much attention to detail, that one. But yeast. You bet. Bring it!

Now, yeast in hand, what to make? That recipe uses a yeast cake. I have little grains. So nope. I know. Let’s go basic. I’ll make a batch of bread. How hard can it be. Folks have been baking bread forever. Bread it is. Old school. In the oven. No machines here.

Some flour. Some salt. Some water. Sugar. Oil. Mix. Knead.

A tad later …

Um …

Not sure what happened. There. Are. No. Words. None.

Shadow of the Mountain

Prompt: Ash | Word Count: 150 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 8, 2020

I live in the shadow of the mountain. Occasionally it is an active mountain—a volcano, in fact. I live in the ring of fire. My grandmother was fond of the aphorism, “from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success.” So when the mountain grows hot and angry, puffing smoke and ash, there are those who would tout my grandmother’s words and never see that the disaster could be their lives in ashes, the roses left for others to claim.

Because I’m also a big believer in the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” So you don’t stand in the shadow of an erupting volcano. And you don’t skip wearing a mask or blithely congregate with others while a virus runs rampant and expect your life will be untouched and rosy. You stand up and do the right thing for yourself, for your community, for the world.

Stuff & No sense

Prompt: Nonsense | Word Count: 250 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 7, 2020

Chelsea was confused. There were so many mixed messages.

“Do Not, under any circumstances, wear a mask. They are needed on the frontlines.”

BUT “Everyone must mask up to go out, it’s mandatory.” Good luck finding one now, she thought.

“Ok? In that case,” she thought, “I’ll just go for a walk.”

“Good idea. It’s good for mental health. BUT not at the park. They’re all closed. And not where there are people.”

“So, just stay home, then? Um, I really, need a haircut, how about that?”

“Nope, sorry not allowed. BUT it’s ok for your dog to get a haircut.”

“So you’re saying I can’t use a lawn service to cut my grass?”

“True, BUT you can buy grass and toke it. So there’s that.”

“Maybe I should garden, nurseries are open. They are essential.”

“Great idea. BUT you can’t go in. Plus, speaking of essential, you’re not. BUT your have to work like you are. From home. No, we won’t reimburse internet fees.”

“I get it that I need to care of the vulnerable, and be sure they get what they need.”

BUT, “don’t go anywhere near them.”

“So I hear I should maintain my sanity by nature bathing.”

“BUT not in any national, federal, state or local areas. So basically your garden.”

“About that. See above.”

“The one thing I know for sure is that I must always wash my hands in hot water for at least two verses of happy birthday.”

“Or at least one, anyway.”

Do You Take This Man?

Prompt: fitted | Word Count: 120 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 6, 2020

Maggie had been expertly fitted for her wedding gown. She’d planned every last detail of a lovely Springtime wedding. But forces beyond her control made her planning for naught. So she had to decide: was the wedding or the marriage more important? Was it about joining her life with Derrick’s or waiting who knew how long to throw her dream wedding? Faced with such a stark choice, the answer was obvious. They could throw a party sometime in the future, but the time to start their life together was now. So, with just her immediate family in her parent’s living room, she was married by a preacher over zoom. On social media, their happy smiles complimented her perfectly-fitted gown.


Prompt: tart | Word Count: 200 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 5, 2020

Casey’s lockdown goal was to perfect her baking. In the previous seven weeks, she’d been able to nail bread and cakes. She could make a crispy or soft cookie. She turned her attention to fruit. Yeast was scarce so today her focus was a classic French tarte tatin. The difficult part was the homemade puff pastry. She made a lean dough of flour, salt and water. She pounded and pounded the butter and layered it again and again, chilling as necessary to keep it cold. Then she wrapped the butter block in the dough and rolled and turned over and over to create the flaky layers. She peeled and quartered the tart, crisp apples, then sautéed them in butter with sugar, cinnamon, and just a touch of nutmeg until they caramelized a deep, syrupy brown. She used an apple disk for the center, then arranged the quarters in a ringed pattern. She layered the pastry atop the apples in the skillet and baked everything to a lovely golden brown. When she was ready to serve, she turned the tart out of the pan, fruit side up with the caramel syrup dripping down and served the slices with thick heavy cream.


Prompt: Modern | Word Count: 85 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 4, 2020

Our first winter away, we sit in our mid-century modern rental waiting out our confinement. Dad is hospitalized. The bright colors that had once seemed quirky and cheerful are a constant reminder that we are trapped away, unable to get home. We substitute long walks on the closed golf course, stand in long lines for groceries, feeling unconnected to this borrowed community. So we venture out, asking how to assist, the reply is a terse and pointed, “Go home Snowbird!” If only we could.

A Prayer for Change

Prompt: calibrate | Word Count: 150 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 3, 2020

Remember when peace, love and kindness were virtues? When divisiveness was folly?

Envision existence where we recreate the world we want.

Come friends, it’s time for us all to traverse the contours of the global plane of interconnected life.

And take a journey to a reality, where we are aware of and support one another.

Let us use this moment of isolation to join together to beat this, our common menace.

It’s time! Let our best humanity flourish in common cause, for the common good.

Be brave! Step boldly into a new life. Dare yourself to change.

Radically alter long-held prejudice to stifle ignorance,

Assumptions jettisoned in service of science and knowledge.

Truth must triumph—a renewed mandate that will show us how best to recalibrate life together.

Enjoy each other and savor the simple things with the unstinting gratitude that cherishes every life as the wonder it is.

Six to Nine

Prompt: six to nine | Word Count: 200 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 2, 2020

The hardest hours were from 6 pm to 9 am. Oh, and weekends, too. That was when the true meaning of social isolation sank into Macy’s bones. All alone. Fixing a solitary dinner and watching the tube or reading had seemed a luxurious indulgence back in March. Now, nothing appealed to her. She’d caught up on the backlog of shows she’d meant to watch. Her usually groaning bookshelf of ‘to read’ volumes was standing bare.

From 9 am to 6 pm she was busy with work and calls and video meetings. She caught up with colleagues, lunched virtually with friends and ran her few errands. But as dusk arrived contact with others waned. Her friends were busy with their families, cooking, homework, bedtime routines. Occasionally there would be a catch call with friends, but those barely put a dent in the long lonely hours.

In an effort to forestall insanity, she began writing. She filled her nights and weekends with fictional character dreamed up for her own entertainment. Nightly she wrote her stories spinning fantastical yarns of pure escapism. When the stay home order lifted, and she resumed socializing she had a manuscript ready for polishing, titled Six to Nine.

Snippets in Purple

Prompt: Purple | Word Count: 120 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

May 1, 2020

Still isolated, we look for beauty in small things. Today, noticing purple:

Hyacinths and hydrangeas blooming under sunlit skies

Plump grapes glistening with rinse water

A child’s metallic violet bike abandoned beside the sidewalk

Purple-gloved hands, administering care

The WiFi signal promising connection to others

Iris and lilacs scenting the warming breeze

A paint-tipped brush rendering pansies on canvas

Blinking Twitch logo on my son’s mobile

A daughter’s ombré hairstyle, nails to match

The hoax of an ultraviolet cure, gone viral

States wavering between political beliefs once unshakeable

Looming mountains reflected in the deep evening sky

Purple-stained lips from drinking more wine

Lavender bath salts calming the day away

The leading edge of another night in quarantine

Ole Amiga!

Prompt: June | Word Count: 300 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 30, 2020

It still a month before her namesake birthday month and June despaired that she would not have the fiftieth birthday celebration she’d been planning for nearly a year. It was meant to be a big party, with all her friends dancing to live music, enjoying her favorite margaritas and Mexican food. She’d secretly wondered if she’d had been born a month too late, as Cinco de Mayo was her favorite holiday.

Even as she’d watched several other communities cautiously exit lockdown, she could that requirements of self-distancing, masks, and limited size gatherings that the party was not to be. She cancelled all her plans and resigned herself to celebrating with just her family. Sure enough as June began, shelter in place was still the order of the day. Though some additional work was permitted, gatherings were still forbidden.

Her friends rallied as best they could. On her birthday, they drove by with hats and blowers and large happy birthday signs in a huge caravan parade.

Then mysterious parcels appeared on her doorstep: a bag of tortilla chips, with salsa and guacamole were delivered with a note to please open at 6 pm. Next, all the fixings for a perfect margarita were dropped off. Around 5:45, a tray of her favorite tacos arrived with a card directing her to log onto a zoom call at 6 pm.

When she came downstairs her family greeted her wearing sombreros and handed her a freshly squeezed lime margarita. She joined the zoom call and was serenaded with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday by friends from around the world, including many she wouldn’t have seen otherwise. She promised a party to end all parties when gatherings could resume and signed off happier than she been in months at her special birthday celebration.

Platinum Treatment

Prompt: Platinum | Word Count: 120 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 29, 2020

“Candace, while I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it, you’re fortunate. We’ve discontinued most nonessential treatments to deal with the influx of Covid patients. We’re delaying new platinum chemotherapy treatments until we’re over the peak with the virus.”

“Does that mean I have to discontinue my platinum chemo treatments and start all over?”

“Actually because you are mid-course, you can continue. As I said, you’re fortunate. Some other hospitals have had to stop treatments midway for their patients.”

“Ok. Then what has changed?”

“Only the where. Given the high risk due to your suppressed immune system, we’ll need to come to you to administer the chemo.”

“At least with lockdown, only the nurse will see my hair fall out.”

Maxed Out

Prompt: Maxed | Word Count: 100 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 28, 2020

The message from their advisor was clear: in these trying times it is incumbent on all who can do so to make sure their charitable contributions are maxed out. As they stared at the long list of possibilities, they confronted their own biases as they tried to determine where best to contribute. Eventually they narrowed the list to the food bank, an organization that will oversee vaccinations when available, another for clean water. They donated online, no checks passing, and put in for corporate matches. Then they wrote a check supporting a change in political leaders. Times they are changing.

By Your Leaves

Prompt: Leaves | Word Count: 250 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 27, 2020

As the bright green leaves emerged on the trees and bushes, lockdown continued. Spring was in full swing. School was now online and all social interactions were virtual. She was supposed to have been out of her parent’s house pursuing her studies and working part time, getting on with her life.

Instead, she and her fellow workers were furloughed at first, but then their leaves became permanent, their jobs were gone and along with them their paychecks. The unemployment check leaves gaps in her budget unfulfilled by the stimulus payment. So she’s moved back home, where she is under her parent’s thumb unable to make decisions without so much as a by your leave. It leaves her frustrated. Her brothers are home too, making the house overly crowded. The table’s expanded by adding the leaves so the family could dine together. A chore chart resurfaced, where each person leaves their mark.

Officials are wrestling with how to lift restrictions and get back to work, school and everyday life. Until they have adequate testing and vaccines, there was no going back to normal. As she leaves through the pages of her book, swirling the leaves in her teacup, she resigns herself to the fact that here she must stay. Even though it leaves her cold, she does her part. Every time she leaves the house she sanitizes anything that others may have touched. She wears her mask, and gloves her hands. As for the future, she leaves it all to fate.

A Musical Comeback

Prompt: Sly | Word Count: 150 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 26, 2020

For over a month, she’d been buttoned down tight against the sly menace that was waging war on the world. Piqued and bored, she decided took action.

She stepped out onto her balcony, and set up a stool. As the sun began to set, she pulled her bow across the strings of her cello releasing the first rolling notes of Bach’s iconic Cello Suite No. 1. Curious her neighbors emerged from their self-isolation cocoons, humming along with the familiar, haunting cry of her instrument.

The next evening she opened her sliding door to the sound of her neighbor in the next building, paused from public theatrical performances, belting out the famous aria from Verdi’s Aida. Two nights later, the familiar strains of the opening from Hamilton was performed by housemates in a flat across the street. In this sly way musical performance made a comeback all down her block.

Deadly Hunch

Prompt: Hunch | Word Count: 45 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 25, 2020

His hunches in bunches he spouted aloud.

They’re based on bullshite he pulls from a cloud.

“Drink poison,” he offers, “a cure you can take.”

Beware! He’s a phony baloney, a cad and a fake.

Even his cronies are leery he’s a big Russian mistake.

The Merits of Fences

Prompt: Fence | Word Count: 200 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 24, 2020

Do you ever wonder how languages come to change? Old sayings take on new meaning. Like an old proverb, “good fences make good neighbors,” brought back into common usage by Frost’s poem. I suspect that after this pandemic, we might all have another interpretation of this old saw.

My neighbor’s fence is a physical demarcation of our permissible paths. Six feet from our hedges, we wave and greet each other. Never closer, because “you never know what goes on in another’s house.” This saying also takes a twisted turn in these uncertain times. These days that could be risky indeed. They could , knowingly or unknowingly, carry a menace right up to the property line. Or you could. Best to mask up and stay safely on your side of the fence.

When the ambulance pulls up next door, the fence becomes a barrier blocking compassion as medics carry out a loaded stretcher. Every instinct to comfort must be rejiggered to comply with the mandates of our time. More than anything I wish the fences to be gone. I wish to know the story in my neighbor’s home. I wish I could move close enough to help without raising concern and suspicion.

Day 54

Prompt: Fifty-Four | Word Count: 120 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 23, 2020

Fifty-four days into the lockdown, folks had settled into new routines. After nearly two months, their initial optimism for a rapid return to “normal” had given way. Now, they hoped only that leaders chart a path through the pandemic that would leave them standing, if not wholly unscathed. The public was unaware as the day began that Day 54 would change everything.

The day dawned bright, rain clouds nowhere in sight. By noon, they’d gathered ominously overhead. Small planes winged through the atmosphere seeding clouds with a new retardant derived from orchids. As it filtered to earth, the wind picked up, dispersing particles to work their magic, neutering the viral plague. Life resumed, with lessons learned and change afoot.

Orchid’s Fallout

Prompt: Vaccine | Word Count: 75 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 22, 2020

They followed every lead, regardless how obscure, to find a vaccine. Even so, nobody expected the answer to come from a writer. On March 24th, Rob Cleeton posited that a rare orchid found only in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan held the key. They checked it out so they could say they’d followed every lead. Imagine everyone’s shock when a compound from an Afghan orchid protected against the virus. Sadly, Rob must now contend with conspiracy theorists.

Mona Lisa Smile

Prompt: Secret | Word Count: 120 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 21, 2020

Zoe joined her two longtime friends on the zoom call to catch up. As she looked at Bethany she noticed how weary her friend appeared. Her hair was disheveled. She had a stain on the front of her sweatshirt. “Oh honey, what’s happened? You look like you could use a vacay.”

Bethany just shrugged, mumbling, “I’m fine. All this alone time gets to me, so this is just what I need.”

Their third friend joined the call and they both gasped. “Casey, you look radiant! What’s your secret?”

“Well … Brett and I haven’t spent this much time together, since our honeymoon. I guess this is the payoff.” Then she gave them her best Mona Lisa smile. Both friends grinned back.

Slithering By

Prompt: canopy | Word Count: 200 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 20, 2020

As the wet season peters along the Amazon river, Hester and Simon sun themselves lazily in the strengthening sun. They hang looped over the branches of a large rubber tree. Last year had been disastrous. They contemplate their fate as the dry season heads their way.

“Hessssster, ththere’sss one good thing coming from the humanssss sssstaying home.”

“What issss that, Ssssimon? Lesss pollution? Lesss pillaging of our lovely rubber treessss?”

“Yesss thossse are certainly plusssesss. But I wasss thinking of sssomething elssse. Jussst look around ussss. Lasssst year human recklesssssnessss and indifference ssstarted the firesss that desssstoyed vasssst tractsss of our Amazzzzonian home. We anacondassss ssssuffered unprecedented changesss, including loss of our food ssssources and habitat lossss.”

“Yesss, Sssimon. You ssspeak the honesssst truthth.”

“Look above ussss now, Hessssster. The canopy above isss leafing. The Amazzzzon is regenerating all around ussss. Assss thossse leavesss flourisssh, the canopy ssso esssssential to our rainforessst isss rebuilding. Ssssoon we will regain our ssshade.”

“It’sss ssso lovely. I think we won’t ssssee the tourissstsss thisss year. No noissssy boatsss. No carelessss trassssh in our lovely riverssss. Ssswimming issss ssso much more pleasssant now. The water issss ssso clear, though, that it makesss hunting challenging.”

Rock Fairy

Prompt: Elves | Word Count: 100 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 19, 2020

“Was it elves,” Grace wondered, “or fairies who left the little painted rocks scattered along the trail?

Each rock was painted differently. Some featured miniature landscapes. Some charmed with bouquets of wild flowers. Her favorites were the whimsical animal portraits, cleverly rendered on smooth river stones.

Everyone walked these days. It was the one of the few permissible reasons to leave the house. A week into shelter in place, the little rocks began appearing. Now, each day she looked for new additions as she passed along the wooded trail. Today, for the first time, she added one of her own.

Keep Writing

Prompt: Website | Word Count: 300 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 18, 2020

A website can be a transformative thing. Consider one out of South Africa. Stuck at home? No problem. Need to vent? Pick up your pen. This wonderful site daily solicits writers from around the world, some fledgling some not, to write on topics released into the ether with the smallest of word counts. The website extols, “Keep writing, keep commenting, you’ll be better, we promise.”

Each day of this pandemic confinement, we’re prompted. For nearly a month, the confined, the bored, and the frustrated have risen to this website’s challenge. Some pieces are thematic. Some write excerpts from larger works. Some of us write about our lives, or our relatives, or our dreams. Some pen their nightmares. Some reflect on the pandemic, some escape reality completely. All of us, each one, hones our craft, and support each other and give thanks for this wonderful space.

It started with Orchid, quite out of the blue. Then shattered expectations, only to pitch another offer, and after that, a fifth, the ninth letter. Then we wrote about Frida, whether she be gentle or the most beautiful. From ivory towers, or elsewhere, we hope our brief narratives hit the tiny word counts, exactly, as we plow through trees and doodles looking for the foundation of a story. We offer a gift of our words, or break for a doughnut. Our honesty pours into our stories. In vintage style, we spring forth to anchor the page. Magnificent magnolias rooted elaborate, yet diminutive tales of wishbones, sunshine and Africa. Teach us it did, this website, to draft creatively, but with precision.

We’re in this together. Currently, twenty-six days, five thousand, four hundred and forty words into this keep writing adventure, we’re inspired daily to write our way through the pandemic by the’s challenge.

A Teachable Moment

Prompt: Teach | Word Count: 150 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 17, 2020

“Argh,” Carolyn moaned exasperated. Her son Jonah cringed.

With school out indefinitely, they needed a new approach. “Let’s take a break. Why don’t you get a snack?”

She walked out to the back patio, firing up her Zen app. As she settled, legs crossed, palms up, thumb connected to forefinger, she breathed deeply and sank into the guided meditation, asking herself, “how do I want to show up right now?”

Sometime later she returned inside with a renewed sense of focus. She could do this! She settled at the kitchen table, purposefully setting aside her frustration and turning to welcome her son’s questions, despite his worried expression.

“Jonah, math was never my favorite subject either, but I think, we can get through your algebra worksheet. Let me teach you what I can and we’ll figure the rest out together. Okay?”

“Okay Mom, I’ll try.” And that’s just what they did.

Call of the Wild

Prompt: Africa | Word Count: 100 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 16, 2020

“That’s it,” Lena exclaimed, “even the best laid plans are bolluxed by this virus.”

“How’s that?” Duncan asked.

“Our Africa Safari is cancelled.”

“That can’t be a surprise.”

“I’m not surprised, but it’s official now.”

“I know you’re disappointed, but we’ll go another year. The elephants, giraffes, lions, and rhinos will still be there.”

“You’d think so, but I heard a tiger caught the virus.”

“In a zoo, from his handler. That doesn’t mean that wild African animals won’t be around if we go in a year or two.”

“I hope you’re right! I want to visit Africa one day.”

Sunshine on My Shoulders

Prompt: Sunshine | Word Count: 250 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 15, 2020

“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me Haaaappy,” Sarah belted out at the top of her lungs. “Sunshine almost always makes me High.” She giggled as she pranced around her yard using her shovel as a microphone. “Sunshine on the water looks so LOVELYYYYY.” Too bad there wasn’t any water nearby. But what evs. “If I had a wish that I could wish for you, I’d make a wish for sunshine full of style.” Or something like that. She set down her shovel and smiled at her handiwork. The alyssum border was finished. The petite white flowers edged the full length of the flower bed, and it looked gorgeous, if she did say so herself. Which was pretty much her only option these days. Talking, or singing, to herself.

She may be all on her own, but this was a definite perk to self isolation. Nobody could tell her she was off key, probably way off key. Nobody would put a damper on her good mood. She’d been in the garden all morning planting and soaking up the glorious springtime sunshine. As the sun warmed her shoulders, undoubtedly raising freckles, she’d crooned away. She was of the definite opinion that her plants liked it. She was also of the opinion that they were not the least bit critical if she got the words a little wrong or out of order. They just swayed back and forth in the breeze as if they heard the same song she heard in her head.