Meme’s Wishbone

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

April 14, 2020

Clarice was getting to the end of the roast chicken. It lasted quite a bit longer when it only served one. Well, with a bit here and there to the cat, Bisou. The cat was quarantined as well, since Clarice no longer let him out to roam the night, fearful of the unseen menace he might bring home. So, she reasoned, a bit of chicken now and then was deserved.

As she stared at the bones, she missed her little grandson, Charlie. Normally, when they reached the chicken’s bones, she and Charlie would save out the wishbone for an after dinner wish. But they hadn’t seen each other in over a month. She usually watched him on Wednesdays and Fridays after school. Of course, they’d FaceTimed so knew he was doing well, his chipper demeanor intact as he waved at the camera, “Bonjour Meme!”. Too bad you couldn’t zoom a wishbone!

They had a whole routine for those wishbones. First, they’d stand a few feet apart. Then they’d bow ceremoniously toward each other, initiating their ritual. They’d each grasp a flat end of the springy bone. Solemnly she’d announce, “May the victor’s wish be granted,” they’d bow their heads, make their wishes, and then lock their gazes, counting aloud, “one, two, three” and give a mighty yank to the small bone until it snapped in two. Charlie would laugh and laugh as he held the larger piece. His excitement contagious as he announced what he wished for, always the same. “I wished for ice cream dessert, Meme! So now we get to have some!”

Clarice knew her wish today. Too bad it was so hard to train a cat. Bisou would gobble that wishbone, not even pausing to make a wish. Silly cat. Life is so much better with wishes.


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

April 13, 2020

He could barely see over the counter, but he stood on tiptoe, “Excuse me, I’d like to pick up some masks.”

“Could you please elaborate. We have many kinds of masks here, some of them quite elaborate.”

“I called this morning and you said you had doctor’s masks. So, I’d like 25 masks, please.”

Marilyn looked over the counter at the young boy. He couldn’t be more than ten years old. “Is your Mom with you, honey?”

“No Ma’am. She’s a doctor and she says she can’t come home because there aren’t enough masks. That’s why I called.”

Marilyn sighed, this would break her heart. “Honey we’re a costume store. We don’t sell the kind of masks your Mom needs.”

A Wish Fulfilled

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

April 12, 2020

As Easter Sunday dawned clear and bright, the air was scented with Springtime’s blossoms. The world was in lockdown. The pious bowed in prayer. As Elise considered the magnolia blooms outside her window, she imagined that as each flower opened to the sun a wish came true. This one brought a chocolate bunny. That one, a perfect ham. That one, clinging precariously to the branch, desperately trying not to tumble to the earth, was a prayer for a grandmother’s recovery from the virus.

Anchor’s Away

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

April 11, 2020

Anchored below, the now familiar navy medical ship had been a fixture in the harbor since mid-March. From her attic apartment window, Erin watched as helicopters and smaller boats ferried back and forth. Today, the great vessel was pulling up anchor and heading out to a new port. The city had successfully flattened the curve, new cases had declined and local hospitals could once again handle their patient loads. It was time for the hospital ship to move to a new city struggling through its peak. Erin was hopeful and sad to see the ship heading out of the harbor.

Springtime’s Bounty

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

April 10, 2020

“Ok Sloths, up and at ‘em. The rain is gone and the sun is finally out. Time to go see how all you hard work paid off.”

Reluctantly, the kids rallied, lured by the specter of sunshine. They’d worked hard last Fall to plant their gardens. Now it was time to see what bounty nature had in store.

First up was Peter’s garden under the apple tree. He’d been captivated by grape hyacinths and had planted hundreds beneath the tree. Now, the tree full of delicate white blossoms reigned over a sea of purple blue spires. He laughed when he saw the surprise he’d planted. Randomly placed white tulips stood sentinel above the blue. Stunning.

Next they visited Katie’s bed along the garage wall. She’d opted for edibles. The glossy green serrated leaves spread out along the floor of the garden, dotted with white flowers that would soon yield her favorite Summer treat, lusciously sweet red strawberries.

Dad’s lilac hedges were heavy with clusters of purple and white. The heat of the day warmed the blooms, scenting the air with their heavenly aroma.

Finally, Mom’s roses. They were in bud and the branches were leafing. There were weeks yet before her prize winning flowers would grace the bushes. Still the promise was evident even this early in the season.

As they all stood surveying the garden they’d worked so hard to plant, they agreed that maybe it wasn’t so bad to shelter in place after all. At least for now.

Attic Memories

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

April 9, 2020

Confined at home, Sandra had worked her way through the house. The attic was the target for the day’s cleaning efforts. She pushed the door open and climbed the mostly unused ladder. As she lifted the lid on an old trunk, her grandmother’s flapper dresses caught her imagination. Near the bottom were the old records. She spun them on the vintage record player and sank into a reverie. She imagined her grandmother, in her heyday, whirling across the dance floor in the arms of her soon to be husband as the big band crooned forth. The beginning of a family.

The Upside

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

April 8, 2020

“Let’s be honest. The situation is hard on you I’m sure, but the news is not all bad,” Kimmy said, “this is fascinating. Seismic activity has materially decreased as we all shelter in place. That means scientists can get a more accurate picture of the movements of Mother Nature.”

Her son, James, home from school and miserable because he missed his friends and the interaction of classes at school just harrumphed. His normally sunny demeanor was decidedly in the dumps.

“Ah c’mon, buddy. You were all about the environment and climate change during the run up to the primaries. Where’s that passion gone?” Kimmy was bound and determined to shake her son for his malaise.

“Just leave me be, please, Mom.”

Several hours later, Kimmy took another run at James, “the Australian forest are healing, there’s new growth everywhere.” She proffered a link to an article highlighting the renewal happening down under.


Twenty minutes later, she followed up, “James, please stop pouting. Look at this, pollution levels are down significantly all over the world. And not just air pollution, but also noise levels. It’s even impacting the oceans. The whales have noticed.” She handed over a news clipping.

“Okay, okay Mom. I get it there’s definitely an upside if you look for it. I’m just not in the mood to look I guess.”

“That’s so unlike you, honey. Honestly, you’re usually so positive.”

She waited another hour and was just about to offer another tidbit, when James came to find her, “Mom, you gotta see this, the ozone layer is actually healing. We may have another shot at fixing climate change before it’s too late.”

Kimmy smiled. That was her son! Always finding an upside. If she was honest that’s one of the things she most loved about James.

Taste Test

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

April 7, 2020

Sheltering at home and missing cooking together with her friends for their dinner get togethers, Sadie initiated a challenge: a virtual doughnut bake off. Six of her baking buddies agreed. That Tuesday afternoon, they each poured a glass of wine and joined a zoom call to cook “together,” each working with their own recipe. They mixed and swirled the flour and sugar, the yeast and eggs. Then popped their doughnut batter in the oven or dropped them in hot sizzling oil. They mixed sugars, and frostings and glazes, all while chatting away.

When finished, they wrapped up a dozen doughnuts apiece. Sadie picked the parcels up from their front porches, and delivered them to the local senior center. The judges — a very appreciative group of over eighty-somethings — tasted and tested. In the end they were unanimous. It was a tie. There’d need to be a second round bake-off.

Disruption’s Gifts

Prompt: The Gift | Word Count: 200 words exactly | Genre: flash fiction

April 6, 2020

Marni decided to take stock. Enough of this petty self-pity. It was time to buck up. So she decided to look for the gifts in this new way of life.

The gift of time, to peruse the things she’d dreamed of but never found time focus on. Learning a new language, practicing and appreciating art, playing and exploring music. She finally kept a gratitude journal.

The gift of connection. She reached beyond the confines of isolation with technology to connect with family and friends with whom connection had languished. Chat, zoom, FaceTime and catch up for the first time in years.

She worked to tidy and clean. She sorted and donated. Made her space anew.

She found ways to help and moved beyond her fear to open her heart to those she could help. She made masks — she discovered that there are patterns for all skill levels. She mowed her neighbor’s lawn, then planted a row of bright-faced pansies. She earmarked some money to donate to those in need.

On that day when she walked back into her fully communal life, she could say she’d made her life richer, recognizing and appreciating the gifts of this disruption.

Captain My Captain

Prompt: foundation | Word Count: 200 words exactly | Genre: fiction

April 5, 2020

The foundation of military command and control is rigid chain of command that tolerates no dissent outside established channels. We all knew it, and we all expected that our country and our superiors would make the best decisions. We do our duty to country and expect that, in return, humane decisions will be made on our behalf.

We man a very key nuclear aircraft carrier, but it is peacetime. When two soldiers returned from shore, they brought the virus with them. It spread like wildfire in the 5,000 man vessel. We didn’t know what to do. Into the chasm of leadership stepped the humanity of our Captain. On our behalf, he broke protocol and pled with his superiors to allow the ship’s crew to be slimmed to the bare essentials to save lives on board, our lives.

Yet, he was disregarded. We were to be sacrificed. Why? Then he lost his job, for doing his job, to my way of thinking. He was looking out for his unit, protecting his men. Now he is a quarantined victim of the very virus he sought to protect us from. He’s been discharged for his humanity. He will always have our greatest esteem.

Lucy Speaks

Prompt: Doodle | Word Count: 85 words exactly | Genre: fiction

April 4, 2020

I’m Lucy the doodle. Others may be unhappy with our new reality, but it’s actually working great for me. You’re all here all the time. That means lots of pets, lots of treats. I don’t get left alone when you go to work or school. Plus, walks! Lots of walks. Everyone takes me out. I’m rather tired actually. But in a good way. Even though you are going stir-crazy, I’m happy. Maybe you’ll get used to it and we can keep it up! Woof!

Ah! Spring!

Prompt: Trees | Word Count: 150 words exactly | Genre: fiction

April 3, 2020

It’s Spring outside. I know this by the trees. They’re in full blossom, and their gentle scent perfumes the warm breeze. Even in lockdown I’m permitted to walk the dog or work in my garden. After I do these things, breaking only a brief sweat, I decide a nap is in order. I set up the hammock and sit with my foot dangling over the side, pushing off the ground with my toe to swing to and fro. The pale pink cherry petals flutter down, blanketing the lawn in lacy finery. Overhead, the white blooms of the dogwood filter the sunshine to a dappled light. I drift off, enjoying the largess of time in these uncertain times. I’m grateful for this carefree moment, an artifact of a simpler life under springtime’s pleasantly blue sky. Finding joy in this peace before returning to the hectic, harried existence in the world beyond.

A New Hope

Prompt: Hope | Word Count: 500 words exactly | Genre: fiction

April 2, 2020

It was Day Forty of our confinement. Sequestered in our home, my family unused to being cooped up together, was beginning to fray around the edges. There wasn’t enough space. Our usual activities had been curtailed. Online classes dragged. Teleworking lost its appeal. We were bored, losing patience with our situation and with each other.

We were ripping through videos at an astounding pace. We’d already run through all the new Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming series we could agree on as a family. Each time we tuned into to watch, snark abounded and tempers flared. And that’s when we hit upon the thing that gave us all hope. Naturally, it started on May 4, 2020. My youngest son suggested it. “You know, today is May the Fourth. There’s really only one possible choice.” Our inner geeks rose to the challenge immediately.

We would watch the Star Wars saga from start to finish. But from what start to what finish? Our heated debate over the order in which to watch the movies lasted over an hour. Luke order or Anakin order? The older among us ultimately prevailed and we elected to watch all ten movies in release order. There was a rare consensus to skip the animated Clone Wars and the TV series and stick to the major movie releases. We started with Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, and decided to sort out when to watch Rogue One in a later debate.

Dum de dum dum, Dum de dum dum …. The John Williams score grabs our attention as words scroll across the screen: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …” For the next two hours we’re glued to the screen, pulled into Luke Skywalker’s intergalactic adventure. We’ve all seen it before, so we can speak the lines right along with the cast.

For the entire following day we all spouted out the movies most memorable lines whenever and wherever we could work them into our daily grind. When served runny eggs for breakfast, junior parroted Han Solo, “I got a bad feeling about this.” When Mom asked Dad to reach a book on the top shelf, he obliged and quoted Princess Leia, “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” When the news played the latest virus statistics, Mom uttered a mechanically-accented “ We’re doomed,” C-3PO style. When the chore list was divvied up along with stern instructions on how to carry out new sanitizing requirements, the kids groaned, then cried in unison, “I find your lack of faith disturbing,” in their best Vader voices. So on and so forth throughout the day.

As we watched the rest of the saga together as a family over the next two weeks, we found a new levity infused our captivity. Each and every time bad news threatened, we echoed Leia’s plea, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope!” In this way, we laughed and joked through the remainder of our shelter in place lockdown.

The Homecoming

Prompt: Ivory | Word Count: 100 words exactly | Genre: fiction

April 1, 2020

Carefully, Moira positioned the ivory comb in her sparse hair, then nodded her approval to her reflection. Harold gave her this comb for their wedding, 63 year ago. She’d always loved it. Once, it set off her chestnut locks. Now, it matched her greying white.

Today, Harold would release from quarantine. He’d been caught abroad at lockdown. His short two-day trip stretched to a month as he scrambled for flights and then isolated for two weeks to confirm he was healthy. Tonight he’d be back in her arms after their long separation. They could wait the rest out together.

Witness Kindness

Prompt: The Most Beautiful | Word Count: 250 words exactly | Genre: fiction

March 31, 2020

The most beautiful thing in these crazy times can be found in the way human ingenuity manifests in the small ways. Everywhere, as city after city locks down, communities — local and virtual — rise to the occasion.


Arvid, a neighborhood teen works his way down the block, dropping off supplies for his elderly neighbors.

Karen leads a zoom yoga class with all her regulars.

Henry posts on facebook, offering his tax preparation services for free to healthcare workers.

Helen phones in an order of thirty pizzas to be delivered to workers slogging through the pandemic at her local hospital, at no cost to them.

Selena uses her new found time to finally build and plant the garden boxes she’s always wanted. This Summer she’ll finally have enough squash, beans and lettuces to donate to the local food bank.

Myron records himself playing the trombone. His audition tape lands him a coveted spot in the local orchestra.

Susan reads classic novels and uploads the recordings for seniors to listen to at a nearby home.

Justin, home from college, mows the grass for his neighbors. His brother, Cyril, plants spring bulbs along the sidewalk. The blooms brighten up the whole street.

Tracy runs zoom computer support services, troubleshooting for people struggling to use technology they’re using for the first time.

Orin tutors students for their online Spanish class. They all improve and stay Spanish pals, meeting weekly to keep their skills sharp.

These acts of local beauty restore faith in one another.

Through the Looking Glass

Prompt: Gentle | Word Count: 300 words exactly | Genre: fiction

March 30, 2020

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

—Dylan Thomas

Four weeks into isolation, through a screen positioned next to the bed, he watched his mother fight. She was propped up on pillows, facing the computer. The matriarch’s dark loneliness absorbed her son’s voice as he read aloud the Dylan Thomas’ poem that had become their rallying cry these past dragging weeks. Mother’s battle with sickness had begun long before this virus crept into their realm of the world. Now, though, with her compromised immunity, the battle was a lonely one, and his daily reading with her connected her to family and the world.

He’d set up the computer near her bed three months ago when he’d been in town to bring her home after her final chemotherapy treatment. He wanted her to be able to check her email from bed. The doctor had said her lungs were clear and her recovery looked promising. Then just as she seemed to be returning to a new normality, the order to shelter in place had issued. They were trapped apart in their distant neighborhoods.

She’d been so disheartened that she all but gave up, loneliness overtaking her will to fight. Finding new ways to connect, while staying apart, was so important that he taught her to video chat. He was determined that she would triumph. Three times a day he read aloud to her. In this way, he gently coaxed her recovery forward day by day. In the morning, excerpts from the news. Midday, on his lunch hour he read her the next chapter in a novel. Then at night some poetry, always ending with the words of Dylan Thomas to fortify her resolve through the night.

So far, this virtual connection was working.

The Big Alone

Prompt: Frida | Word Count: 150 words exactly | Genre: fiction

March 29, 2020

6:52. Frida looks out her front window. The sun rises over the pines, rosy and ripe. Showtime.

7:38. The paper lands on the porch. Guess it’s essential, she thinks.

8:42. Bob walks his old pooch down the block to the empty lot.

9:10. Elsa pushes a stroller by, pink clad feet kicking up into the air.

10:56. Maria drives past in her yellow VW bug, waving.

Noon. Frida sips soup, gazing at Kelvin the cat as he strides by.

2:37. Amazon delivers her box. Inside, a puzzle for tonight.

3:22. Mike slips down the alley, unaware he’s observed. Smoking’s bad, Frida tsk-tsk.

4:42. Maria’s yellow bug returns, no wave this time. What’s wrong?

5:33. Clouds gather, wind whips. Daffodils bend.

6:16. More soup. Empty sidewalks stare back at Frida.

7:33. The last rays disappear into another night alone

My Generation

Prompt: The 9th Letter | Word Count: 250 words exactly | Genre: fiction 

March 28, 2020

Whether you’re a boomer or a millennial, you’ve doubtlessly been dubbed the “me generation”. A self-absorbed focus earned the moniker. “I” this and “I” that. Me, me, me. But in this time of crisis, those “I’s” are turning resolutely to “we.”

An example? How’s this:

Leaders around the world called for people to “isolate”.

At first, the ninth letter dominates. “I” don’t have to worry, “I’m” young. “I’m” invincible. “I’ll” be ok. Beaches crowded. Restaurants full. Handshakes. Parties.  

The counter: This isn’t about you! This is about everyone else. Well, maybe just a bit about you. But mostly it’s about them. It’s about letter twenty-one. 

The result: beaches empty. Aisles vacate. Streets untrafficked. Millennials move home. Boomers once again sandwiched between parents and grown children. 

Instead, you turn to your technology and computers and create a social experience for everyone. 

You gather in virtual zoom rooms with your instruments and strike up the band. Concerts played virtually, together. 

You post YouTube videos of hilariously complex Rube Goldberg contraptions. Entertainment redefined. 

You start a Facebook group offering to help members of your community by locating and delivering the necessities they need. 

You start a chalk drawing on the sidewalk and your neighbors each continue it until the street swims in color. 

Soon it’s clear that spreading alongside the virus is a new sense of community. Even in our separateness, the “I” and the “U” join into we. Togetherness apart is the new world order. 


Prompt: The Offer | Word Count: 500 words exactly | Genre: fiction

March 27, 2020

Caroline was overwhelmed, working full time and running a household that had grown overnight from two to include their two college boys and her aging parents. Their house hadn’t been this full for long time. She was cooking, cleaning and keeping things moving.

Caroline dreaded going to the grocery store in the best of moments. Now, however, she worried about picking up the virus along with her groceries. Still, they had to eat, so she had to shop. She’d worked it all out for maximum efficiency and minimum exposure. She had her list, her wipes, and had timed it when she thought the shelves would be loaded, but the aisles empty. Thus armed, she stepped out of the car.

As she headed for the supermarket entrance, she noticed the older couple hunched together in their car. They waved a Kleenex at her through the windshield to flag her down. She’d read about older couples, especially vulnerable to the virus, who were afraid to go out. Could this be one of them? Even though she didn’t feel like she had time, she couldn’t walk away.

“How can I help?” Caroline offered as she approached the car.

“We’ve been waiting for hours,” the grandfatherly gentleman said. “I’m Gerald, and this is Mamie. You look trustworthy. We were hoping you could get a few things for us. We need our prescriptions and a few groceries.” He proffered an envelope.

Inside was their prescription insurance card, a short list of basic supplies — milk, bread, soup — and three crisp twenties. “You can keep the change.”

“I’d be happy to help you,” Caroline said eyeing the short list. “Are you sure you don’t need more than this?”

“That’s all for now. Our pension check comes next week. We don’t eat much these days. Mamie can do without her ice cream at night.”

Once in the store, Caroline made quick work of her list and theirs. Their small collection of food contrasted so sharply with the cart she’d filled for herself, that she added eggs, fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and ice cream, along with a rare canister of wipes she’d been lucky to find.

Instinctively, she knew they wouldn’t want her charity, so when she returned to the car she didn’t mention the extras she’d added. Instead she made an offer, “I was hoping you would give me you phone number and address. That way, I can pick some things up for your when I go to the store next time and have one of my sons drop them by for you.”

For the next seven weeks, that is exactly what they did. Mamie dictated their list and one of Caroline’s sons delivered the groceries, along with an extra treat or two. In return, Mamie tutored Caroline’s oldest son in German over the phone. When the quarantine lifted, Gerald and Mamie were healthy. Her son got an A in German. A friendship that lasted many years had been born in the parking lot of the local supermarket.

The Pitch

Prompt: Pitch | Word Count: 200 words exactly | Genre: fiction 

March 26, 2020

Trent looked around the modern lobby of the Gates Foundation. This is my shot to save my business, he thought.

“Mr. Holt? They’re ready,” the efficient receptionist ushered Trent into a conference room.

Bill and Melinda Gates sat at the table. Holy Crap! Steeling his nerves, he nodded a six-foot greeting to his potential benefactors.

“Don’t be nervous,” offered Melinda, “We’re excited to hear your pitch.”

“Thanks. I got the idea from Elon Musk making ventilators. I manufacture costumes in Seattle with three staff who depend on their jobs. Since only essential businesses can continue, I want to turn to making medical masks, but I can’t afford to pay my folks without any revenue. My suppliers can provide materials, but I was hoping for a Foundation grant to assist with payroll, since the masks would be donated. I’ll cover the other costs. I’d need about 150K to run for two months.” 

Bill asked, “Do you have machines and space to employ additional staff?” 

“I can support seven people.”

“Okay, let’s do it. We’ll fund you at 200K per month, throughout the lockdown.”

“Thank you both!”

“Thank you, Mr. Holt for pitching in. We’re all in this together.”

Shattered Illusions

Prompt: Shattered | Word Count: 150 words exactly | Genre: fiction 

March 25, 2020

All she had wanted to do was help. She’d been as careful as she knew how to be. She was sure she’d do more good than harm. Absolutely positive. People needed exercise. She kept her studio spotless. She’d thought she’d been careful enough. She washed her hands and kept her distance. Spaced the mats 6 feet apart. Disinfected often. And yet. It hadn’t been enough. Going on carefully as usual had landed her in her bed. As her fever spiked and her cough intensified, she finally realized that careful wasn’t enough. The Recommended isolation was the only answer. How many people had she infected with her careful carefree approach? She survived the illness only to watch those she most loved succumb. The trajectory was traceable. She’d failed to do what she’d most wanted. She’d made matters worse. She couldn’t fathom why she ever thought she knew better than everyone else?

New Normal

Prompt: Orchid | Word Count: 300 words exactly | Genre: fiction 

Mar 24, 2020

He’d sent her an orchid. It meant the world to her. Each day she watered it, fed it special food, which would be harder to find with all this craziness in the world. Supplies were erratic, on expected things, sometimes on more unusual items. She assumed the flower food would eventually be in short supply when the manufacturer no longer produced and stockpiles ran low. She dreaded that day. Orchids were so persnickety. 

So were people. She’d begged her son to come home. But he had refused, saying he would be as fine there as with her, stubbornly refusing her need. He liked his routines, his space. She worried. She called. Wash your hands. Her heart hurt  being separated. Every time she looked at the orchid he sent her she felt comforted believing if it thrived, so did he.

Over time she learned new skills, which at her age was quite an accomplishment. She learned to use Zoom, What’s App, and FaceTime to stay connected and to see her boy. This eased her unease. She learned to meditate and find solace in the new quiet she cultivated in her mind. She traveled virtually to places she’d always wanted to go, Carnegie Hall, the Louvre, and others. 

Social media alerted her to neighbors that needed help. She grabbed her sanitizer and made a point to help at least one person each day. She wanted to do more. So she sewed masks. She delivered supplies. She felt useful. 

Amidst the world’s great tragedy, she found a way to make peace with her son’s choices. She found her own resilience. She found purpose in helping those near her. The orchid he gave her blossomed as she learned to release her worry to the wind and trust her instincts. She found a new normal.