Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing contest! The Long Ride Home!

To celebrate the publication of Kari Lynn Dell's debut novel THE LONG RIDE HOME we are holding a writing contest!

I love this book with all my heart. And I've loved Kari's writing since I met her, way back in 2002 I think. Or maybe 2003. Anyway, forever ago in agent years!

Lucky winner (or winners!) will receive a copy of THE LONG RIDE HOME as a prize. I read this book in draft form some time back, and then the finished version just this week. I had to prop my eyes open with toothpicks the next morning because I could NOT put the book down and go to snoozerville at a proper hour.

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:


3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word.
Long/longer is ok. Long/lounge is not.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first and then post.

5. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

6. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

7. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

Contest opens: Saturday 4/11/15 at 10am

Contest closes: Sunday 4/12/15 at 10am

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?

NOT YET! Comments will open when contest opens.


Sorry, too late. Contest closed.


S.D.King said...

In the dense mist, Della stamped her hooves and snorted at Neptune, harnessed with her. The rivalry would end today. Each horse long believed itself to be the favorite, but today’s choice would tell. Rider, the beloved, would have to choose.

The pair pranced regally, the caisson draped in black. Through the fog an indistinct image of Rider sat up through the caisson, then stood. Rider’s outline mingled with the fog. He leaped to the back of Neptune. An ethereal stallion appeared, its powerful body tense. Rider patted the ghostly flank, then snapped the reins, riding home to the heavens.

kregger said...

“Go ride the baloney pony!”

“That was uncalled for,” said Marcus, peering over his Dell laptop. “Let’s keep the new ap copy on topic.”

“They’re promoting processed horseflesh.”

“I know…” he said, waving his hand. “They feel it’s a niche market and want to exploit horsey hotdogs.”

“S’long, Trigger…goodbye, Hi-ho Silver…hello equine-puree. What’s next, Fido fricassee?”

Marcus rolled his eyes. “And it’s Pony Baloney™, you idiot, not some sophomoric or pornographic euphemism.”

“Sez you,” I smirked.

“We fix this and we get paid.” He swallowed hard. “If not, I’m…

“I know.” I winked. “And the stallion you rode in on.”

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Mama’s madness hibernates. She even sings “The Farmer in the Dell,” as she waves Paulie and me out to play.

But the dragon lurks, its yellow eyes gleaming at me from behind Mama’s blue ones.

Inside our tree house – our home away from home – I pull the rope ladder up after us. Paulie plays cowboy, rides an imaginary horse.

Mama carries a red can, shouts, “Farmer in Hell! Burn in Hell!” Our tree drowns in gasoline.

I look down. Mama looks up. Long tongues of flame sear the space between us, speaking a language I can never understand.

Kitty said...

I was raised in Miss Bessie's Basin Street bordello. I'd tag along with Sweet William while Mama was upstairs conductin' business. I'd sit on the horsehair settee in the parlour while William played the piano. We'd play checkers. Miss Bessie would make gumbo.

One day Grandma came with the sheriff and took me away, she said to save me from wickedness. "Satan lives there." I said I didn't know any Mr. Satan. It was a long ride to Grandma's. I cried the whole way.

I lived with Grandma for eleven years and wanted for nothing, but it was never home.

Mia Siegert said...

The Longwood Valley gorge was as beautiful as it was treacherous. Brent lived on the slope of the dell, constantly fearing the day when the soil would finally give and everything would be gone.

He’d ride down one of its eroding trails to work then pray it’d be light enough for his horse to sense the way back home. Sometimes his horse would spook, sensing something--a bear, coyote. But animals didn’t scare Brent. He’d stare down any predator any day over what would happen when the earth would finally give and he would fall.

ashland said...

There's no place like home, there's no place like home.

Though I click my ruby reds, there's no magical transportation.

Stuck in this nightmare, sold snake oil by a traveling salesman.

A long way from Kansas, further from sanity.

Tricked by a blonde witch, sold into slavery as payment for my pride, my vanity.

(Though they're hardly horses of a different color.)

He rubs my lips and leads me to his emerald bordello.

I lick my ruby reds as I pay for my transgression.

My eyes glaze over and I fall back into bed, dreaming.

There's no place like home...

Colin Smith said...

Danny crashed onto his bed, physically drained from the long bus ride, and emotionally spent from the rehab center.

It was always hard visiting Sandra, especially when he knew she was there because of him.

That summer, when she met Danny, she was full of hometown innocence. They walked the beach, held hands. Then school started. Danny became the tough guy, and Sandra traded cotton for leather.

Only she didn't stop. They graduated, Danny to a garage, and Sandra to a life of sex, cocaine, then horse.

Danny turned his Rydell High class ring.

Summer dreams ripped at the seams.

Linda Shantz said...

His first horse was a tough one. Dell took the colt out to the field in the dark each morning, before the main track opened, and each morning he wondered if he’d make it home in one piece. The colt balked and propped and spun the whole way out, regularly trying to run off with him – and often did. He had to be crazy, doing this for a measly fifteen bucks a head. But he was fifty-five, and all he knew how to do was ride horses. Before long, it might kill him, but for now, it paid the bills.

Beth said...

Kate stared at her Dell computer monitor. There must have been a mistake! She punched refresh, but the homepage still showed the same thing: she was going to die today.

In the ten long years of the Human Containment Program, the government had slaughtered thousands. They claimed to target those with terminal illnesses, but Kate was "healthy as a horse," as her grandfather said.

Why her? Was it that Tweet? Was it a capital crime to deride the governor?

She fondled her knife. They were coming for her. She would lose, but she wouldn't make it easy.

Cindy Griffin said...

The two riders met on horseback under a full moon. She was ready to elope against all arguments her parents had given her about marrying him. They said he wasn’t the kind of man for her. They were wrong.
“You ready? It’s a long ride home from this dell.” The loving look he offered assured her he was the one.
“Let’s go, before I change my mind.”
“I promise you will never be sorry. I’ll spend my life loving you.”
“I know or I would not have come.”
After pulling her close for a steamy kiss, they rode away.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

When I found Dell, he was barely breathing. Skin and bones he had that wide eyed, scared and on-alert look the abused have. He slept during the long ride home and whimpered when I walked him inside. I fed him and gave him my warmest blanket. He used to be strong as a horse, but now he’s old, wanders and loses his way. Finally, for the last time, I locked him in the storm-cellar and walked away. Never again would I rescue the man who raped my mother; the bastard who, from that horrific act, made me his daughter.

Amanda Capper said...

The horse munched grass for a while then turned back to the cow. “I guess being ridden is better than being eaten, but I can’t believe nobody at home ever tried to ride you.”

“Other than Bubba you mean.” Cow jerked her head toward the bull at the far end of the dell.

Horse’s face was longer than ever. “Yeah, well at least you get some.”

“True. What they did to you,” cow shook her head, “heartless.”

Horse’s head drooped lower. “I’ll never know passion.”

Cow turned as Bubba lumbered up. “Lucky you.”

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

She dances. “You’re coming to my concert, right mama?”
“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from you.”

She clings. “You won’t be gone long?”
“Though leprechauns may enchant me in the dells, I’ll ride the rainbow back to you.”

She sings. “Mama’s home!”
“As a lioness with her pride, I roar my joyful return to you.”

She rests. Silent. Shrouded.
“Though the phial pleads to stay full, I empty it, forever to be with you.”

Lance said...

Buttonweazer. Buttonweazer.
How’s your query?
Write something weirder.
Write something scary.

Write it on a Mac,
Maybe use a Dell.
Ride a horse to heaven.
Ride it down to hell.

Write something short.
Don’t make it long,
Don’t write a tort.
Write it as a song.

Edit it. Edit it.
Edit it some more.
Cut it and shape it.
Cut it to the core.

You don’t need a title,
You don’t need a home.
The Shark has no bridle,
You can’t send a tome.

Anonymous said...

"I'll bring him home, little mama," I said. Then Dell and I rode off to war. She lost the baby while we were dealing death at Chicamauga. He was determined to go home to her, but I convinced him to stay. He'd be alive today if I'd let him. When he fell, she wrote and made me promise to bring him home. Like a fool, I did. Now I'm making that long ride home with his horse trailing behind that lead coffin. She'll have a husband to mourn, but be damned if I know whose he is.

Jenny Chou said...

The screaming girls in Caroline’s bookshop waited for Dell O’Shea, the long-legged, ripped and chiseled author of "Stormriders". Winged horses were the new werewolves. As the first tour stop, Hometown Books scored a coup.

Three publicists hustled Dell into Caroline’s tiny office. He collapsed into the chair, knocking ARCs to the floor.

“Can’t do this.” Dell buttoned his gaping shirt. “I’ll throw up on someone’s shoes.”

The terror in Dell’s eyes reminded Caroline of facing the banker and asking for another business loan. Her heart galloped.

A scared-to-death writer.

Hundreds of customers.

The chance to turn a profit!

Or not.

Joy Meehan said...

Fifteen minutes on, and still Janey sat; straddling her surfboard like a rancher on a horse. The ocean's rhythm soothed and comforted from below as taunts and ridicule echoed in her ears.

Being a girl wouldn't prevent her from riding the Big Blue. She had skill. Today, she'd show them all.

Finally, stretching out and paddling, Janey jumped. A dehydrated sprout being watered by ocean gods. Within minutes huge waves were arcing above as she ducked and dove below, steering with long, powerful legs and a peaceful heart. Her private watery dell.

In this perfectly pure moment, Janey was home.

Jackie Batston said...

The dell was as she remembered it. Except for the horse, sleek, saddled and alone.
She laid him down tenderly.
The earth under the dogwood tree was soft. She dug with her bare hands, until the hole was long enough for him.
The horse waited expectantly.
Afterwards she knelt by the mound. She didn’t cry. Tears are for ordinary losses. Instead she allowed the memories to flash across her mind in endless succession.
‘I cannot take you home,’ she told the horse. ‘He was my home. But the road is there and we can ride together wherever it takes us’.

Christina Seine said...

First time I see him’s in a cab. Driver has this photo tacked up – kid with big eyes, on a horse; cute.

Second time’s at Costco. Screensaver on a Dell laptop. Different outfit, at a beach somewhere, but it’s him alright. Those eyes.

I ride the subway home. He’s sitting with a lady in a blue coat. Staring at me. She gets off, but the kid stays.

Sure I’m spooked.

Then tonight: page three of the paper, there he is: 25-year anniversary of a homicide. Cold case. CABBIE KILLS KID. They never caught the guy.

Sleep’s a long time coming.

Anonymous said...

“Sixteen sodium atom’s walk into a bar – followed by Batman,” he says with a long smile.

I don’t get his joke. His horselaugh doesn’t improve it.

“Jinni says you’re a biochemist?” I ask. He wipes grease from his lips with a crimson paper napkin.

He’s the kind of guy who picks a place for the napkins. Because red is fancy.

“Mhmm,” he swallowed. “Never fathomed you’d like a chemist, Adelle?” he winked.

Bold. And not the good kind. My iridescent spoon shimmers.

“How long you known Jinni?” he tried.

“Sodium. I get it – Na.”

And I awkwardly hummed the tune.

Karen McCoy said...

Damned stable lights switched on by themselves again. Third time this week.

One of O’Dell’s jokes? I hoped so.

I pulled a coat over my nightshirt, and left home to investigate.

Horses grunted upon my arrival, expecting to be fed. But the light switch was a higher priority--and a long way off.

Before I could find it, everything went dark.

A screech. Clopping of hooves. Then silence.

Pride forgotten, I crouched down. Shivered.

The lights came on again, and my horse, Rembrandt, nudged the switch with his nose.





french sojourn said...

I musta been about eight at the time. I remember the ride home from the lawyer’s office. Dad stopped at the hardware store and bought some rope, bout a dozen foot long.

Driving home, he was singing, and crying;

“Hi ho the dairy-oh
The farmer in the dell.
The farmer takes a wife,
to fill his life with strife,
Hi ho the dairy-oh.”

Uncle Ben was a real horse’s ass, why he got drunk at the wake. He shouted at my mom.

“You Bitch, so he found you swinging alone, so it only made sense you found him swinging alone.”

Alex Ivey said...

Bran touched the kettle with the back of his hand having learned long ago that a ride to Ellsworth with burns on his palms would be painful. He'd taken it from the pantry and would have to answer for it when and if he got home after killing Dell for riding his son into an embankment three weeks ago.

It was ready. He was ready. Cup in hand he kicked dirt on the fire and then mounted his horse, Raleigh. He left the kettle on the glowing coals and rode on, sipping the thick bitterness from a tin cup.

Gerald Porter said...

“Now that we’re here, Pia, we have to act like the people on this planet.” Dellopedia was ten long hours away. They couldn’t use their velocipedes to do the survey. they had to ride these things called horses.
“Did we have to assume human form for this job, Tambo? I don’t know what to do with these things called legs. One on each side of the horse, right?”
“No, I’ve told you, Pia, you have chosen to wear a long skirt, you ride with both legs on one side.”
“Can’t. I want to go home.”

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...


“May I speak with Madame ARghCKgonoli–gee–ghi.”

Pause… “What are you selling?”

“Do you have a longing to attend CarkCoonvention? A limo will receive you at the entrance to the pit, take you to your five star cave, complete with kale bed, vomment bucket and a bottle of Glenmorangie. Your address is: Via Giordano della Robbia?”

“Where did you get my home address?”

“From the horse’s mouth at rodeo school in Weathersland.”

“Are you taking me for a ride?”

“It’s a convention not a ride.”

“Can I still go if my manuscript isn’t finished?”



Donnaeve said...

Dellwood Acres top child psychiatrist, Dr. Grate, glared at the young boy, “You ride him, you don’t converse with him. Keep that up and it’ll be a long time before you go home.”

The horse in the stall tossed its head.

Dr. Grate persisted, “Say it. Horses don’t talk.”

The boy, as usual, refused to speak directly to the doctor.

A voice came from the stall, “Of course, of course!”

Dr. Grate spun around, “Who said that?”

The boy, his face brightening, whispered, “See?”

Outside the barn, Doctor Grate’s assistant high-fived himself. His secret Mr. Ed routine worked every time.

Alden Webb said...

I’m digging the new Dell 2356 Starhopper. Its porschite hull is more durable than the older models, and I’m really kicking it, meteors and space junk be damned. My steel horse.

Day 345, and I’m getting close. Longriders they call us. One more checkpoint, then the colonies. If I make it through with my contraband, I’ll earn enough to get back. Pick up another load, then two more years on the circuit. It’s not much of a life, but it’s better than being a colonist. Those poor bastards are never going to see home again.

Shea said...

"I loved Billy Tompkins. We horsed around a bit, but never all the way.” She sighed.

I pushed a stone with my toe, tipping it over the ridge.

“Momma said knowing you’re in love takes a long time, but I knew.”

The stone gained speed, tumbling into the dell.

“I told her I wished he loved me back. She laughed. She said, ‘In the end, beggars never appreciate the ride’. Didn’t understand that.”

An echo of a splash reached us; the rock had found its home.

She lunged at my mouth, kissing me hard. “You’re such a good listener.”


Tim Casey said...

People are cruel, just because Dell had kind of a long face I mean a really long face in fact, they called her horse face or snidely asked.
“Oh why the long face Dell?” They’d ask and giggle and pat her on the head.
Dell stayed at home frightened and filled with anxiety everyday. That all changed when she went for her first ride, there she found herself euphoric with smells of wonder, they filled her nostrils that day, the sun warmed her dappled hair, and the cool grass felt marvelous under her hoofs.

Keira Drake said...

“Accentuate,” came the word from the sour-faced proctor, a woman who had already demonstrated a considerable variety of sour faces. “Acc-en-tu-ate.”

Rosie’s chin rose a fraction of an inch. She liked being the dark horse. No one expected the girl from Greenwater Dell to win. Kids from Greenwater were supposed to be stupid.

“Accentuate,” Rosie echoed. “A-C-C-E-N-T-U-A-T-E. Accentuate.”

A murmur rose up from the crowd as the word was reviewed, checked again, and approved. There was a sprinkling of awkward applause, but Rosie’s parents whooped and hollered.

Rosie smiled. It would be a long ride home, and a triumphant one.

KariV said...

The days when I could ride for hours are long gone. I remember them well; the memories are as vivid as a movie. Life was simpler then. Waking early, doing schoolwork, messing around on Dad’s old Dell laptop — just waiting until it was time to take the horses out.

Blanket, saddle, bit, bridle. Benny was the worst, blowing his stomach out to make the saddle loose. He was wild too. Bucking and shying. He didn’t like riders, but I could control him.

The days when I could ride are long gone. They are a world away, as is my home.

Lilac Shoshani said...

It was a long ride home. The horse was getting tired.

Racing through a dell, the scent of blossoming flowers washed my nostrils. Freedom was never closer.

"Catch him," suddenly someone cried out. I heard the barking hounds.

If they catch me, they'll kill me.

There was a tunnel on my left side. I turned left abruptly.

Then, I spotted her. "This way," her lips moved. I heard no sound.

They said that she was evil. "She'll take your soul if you follow her."

But all I saw was a teenager, like me, with freckles.

I followed her.

Anonymous said...

The stars their ship passed were beginning to look familiar. She pointed to the cluster they'd come from. "See? Back home, we call that Sagittarius."

Her son frowned. "What's a Sagittarius?"

"A half-man, half-horse."

"A horse like in the stories?" The stories had been her memories of life back home, long ago, before she'd been taken. "If it's a horse, can I ride it?"

She pointed to the small star that people out here called 'small dark valley' or Little Dell. "When we get there, I'll teach you to ride a horse." Her husband would never find them on Earth.

Geoff Le Pard said...

Cruz stood back. The remodelling had worked perfectly. It had taken a long time, each brick, each joist requiring care. He allowed himself a small glow of pride.
He spent a few hours installing the furniture - the table his mother left him when she left; the horsehair sofa from his grandmother when his father disappeared; the bed in which his beloved Natalie had died.
He waited for Maisie to appear, as usual skipping - their secret, her daily cookie.
When he bolted the steel doors, designed to muffle her scream he whispered to the cold metal. ‘Quiet. You’re home now.’

Amy Schaefer said...

Darla jolted awake like she had been unhorsed. She shuffled to the window and scowled. Damn neighbors and their strident yodelling. Waking an old woman in the dead of night.

Those hooligans needed a good scare, and no mistake. She fumbled her box of shotgun shells; they scattered with a sound like hail.

The door flew open. “Mama,” said Cliff. “I know the singalongs get rowdy, but this is summer camp. You can’t shoot buckshot at homesick nine-year-olds.”

She played contrite as he tucked the covers around her chin.

Then, alone in the dark, Darla grabbed the shell he’d missed.

Richard Sturgis said...

I left the bordello as the sun cast long shadows over a road muddied by rain and horse piss. I didn’t regret using the brothel’s services, but I felt for Betsy tied to the hitching post.

She whinnied, tugging at her harness.

“I know, I know,” I patted her.

Once astride Betsy, I caught the whiff of putrescence. Body odor. Rotting teeth. One had followed me back home.

The hag’s skewed shadow swallowed me as she pointed a gnarled finger. The curse barely passed her lips when I pulled the trigger and ringed her shadow with a rose-colored halo.

White Gardenia said...

“Howdy. M’name’s Homer. Your Craigslist ad says yer hirin’ a rodeo rider that does tricks.”

“That’s right. You’re experienced?”

Hell, I can last longer than most dudes.”

“How long’s your list of tricks?”

“Extensive. I know how to handle a rope.”

Rope? Can you elaborate?”

“After I climb on, I grab the rope so I can stay on for as long as possible – till I get bucked off.”

“Interesting. Are you hung like a horse?”

“What the–– I thought your ad was for a rodeo.”

“Our company name is Rodeo Riders – as in ‘Ro-day-oh’ Drive. We’re a bordello.” [click] “Hello???

Phyllis E said...

“Dell got their publicity release all wrong,” Homer exclaimed to his agent, the famous Query Shark. “The title of my epic poem is The Odyssey, not The Oddity.” He took a deep breath, sighed, then shrugged. “I suppose we could consider a different publishing house for the sequel.”

The Shark nodded, then thought for a moment. “I’ll check with Longfellow’s publisher. They never horse around.”

DocMac said...

Adella’s assistant collided with her and he exclaimed, “Doc! You’re back. That horse is foaling and she needs help.”

“Why didn’t you call me?” She futilely searched her pockets for her phone. “We’ve got to get that baby out.”

He steadied the mare’s head as Adella reached inside her. One tiny hoof was where it should be, the other hidden underneath.

Freeing the stuck hoof, she pulled. “C’mon, Mama. Push!”

The foal fell headlong into Adella’s arms and they tumbled to the ground. Patting the foal’s neck, she said, “That was a tough ride wasn’t it? But now you’re home.”

David Claude McCoy said...

Dell glared through the pickup’s open window, watching as the dozer approached the old homestead. More than a dozen trucks, belonging to the gas company, were on site as well as the local news team and a handful of county officials.

Beaming with pride, the mayor cut the symbolic ribbon they’d tied to the porch posts, the same ones Dell had painted last spring, and the same ones his great-grandfather had put up when he’d built the house.

“Rot in hell!” yelled Dell, spinning out of the gravel drive.

“Horseshit and sour grapes,” the mayor whispered to the company rep.

Steve Forti said...

“I don’t believe you.”

“The spirits do not lie.”

Lydia yanked the sweater off the table, unconvinced by the display of psychometry. “Maybe not, but you do.”

The gypsy woman sighed. “I only say what I see.”

“And you see a bordello?”

“Aye. And your husband, astride a buxom lady, shouting “Yee haw! Giddyup horsey!””

Lydia bristled. Matt and his stupid cowboy fantasies.

“I also see an elongated –“

“Enough.” Dejected, she rose to leave.

“You know, dearie. I also sell potions.” She waved at a row of dark bottles. “Deadly potions.”

Lydia paused, then reached for her wallet.

John Frain said...

I enter the stables to check the horses before the sixth at Aqueduct. Everyone rides a system -- to the bank or bankruptcy.

DelliverMeFromEvil looks frightful. Quick way to lose twenty bucks. Next gate over, Receptionariat stands glum.

"Why the long face?" I can't resist.

"Just got rejected. Agent said I'm too cliché."

"Talking animal," I say. "She may have a point."

"She's a shark," the filly snorts. "And she talks."

I lean in. "Cliché or not, I gotta bring home the bacon. You gonna win the sixth?"

Her muzzle reveals a wry smile. "Neigh."

I'll avoid her like the plague.

Dena Pawling said...

They met by Casa Della Tires.

“Wanna drag?” she teased, longing to show this cheeky young upstart the real meaning of racing.

“Your horses are the carousel variety,” he taunted with smooth arrogance.

“Says you.” She zipped away.

He chased after her at full power, enjoying the ride, the straight road, and the view of her bumper.

“You make this too easy,” he lied, straining through exhaustion as he eased up beside her.

Sally winked at him and gunned for home. “Amateur.”

McQueen blinked at the swirling dust. “Piston cup gotta be easier than that woman.”

W.R. Gingell said...

I pour coffee dregs down the drain, my thoughts far away. I've wanted a horse for the longest time. I smile at my reflection in the kettle as I rinse out the mug and mix another. Instant coffee, but grandad loves it. I pour out, dreaming of the wind in my hair as I ride bareback through the dell.

Grandad has said no- that I'm spoiled.

Well, that's all right now. The poison has worked quickly. When I get home from school the police will most likely be here.

I shall buy my horse when the inheritance comes through.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

The car tires hummed a strident refrain, ‘She’s seeing someone else, she’s seeing someone else.’ How ironic, now that gay marriage was legal. It felt like a knife to the heart.

In the backseat, the kids were zonked out after a frenetic day at the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari Waterpark. I focused on the freeway, steeling my nerves as I drove home.

That night, alone with her in the kitchen, my heart pattered like a mad hatter. “Sheila, let’s quit this horse—”

She knelt on her knees, tears of longing in her eyes, and a small box on her palm.

abc said...

The older one loved horses. She collected figurines and spent hours with them on her bedroom floor. Gave them names (Dell, Misty, Casper) and pretended she was a cowgirl on some expansive ranch far away from the Chicago suburbs.

“Where are there ranches, Mom?”

“Wyoming, I guess.”

The oldest makes plans to someday move to Wyoming while the younger one plans to take a train ride to the city and never come back home. She wears her hair impossibly long and writes letters to dead musicians. I don't know how to love her, but I love her most.

Simon Dowling said...

Dell Horse punched me square in the face. He sure hit hard for a small fella. I licked the inside of my mouth and squared up to him.

“What the hell man?”

“Sarah came home crying last night, told me you tried to give her the long ride.”

My cheeks turned a shade of guilt. I knew I had no chance in a fist fight, so I tried to run. But Dell was too quick. He pushed me over, and gave me the biggest wedgie of my life.

“How’s that for a long ride?” He scoffed, before fleeing the scene.

Tricia Quinnies said...

Re-opening the Kiel Lake Supper Club had been an essential dream for Dell. Her current home was above the bar and restaurant that closed its doors in the 80’s. Under renovation all summer long, the club was due to make a vintage comeback. Dell might have enjoyed the ride of launching her 1st business, had she been able to sleep. The noise from the workmen and machinery went late into the summer nights—drowning out crickets. Her contractor Dave was a horse’s patoot, but like it or not, he wanted to see her family’s watering hole open by August.

Timothy Lowe said...

The bride threw up in her hands.

"It was a horse pill," the bride's mother whispered to an aunt.

"I can marry whomever I choose," she spat, wiping puke from her lips.

Not true. They'd found her yodelling in an alley the night before, drunk as a skunk. The pill had sobered her but made her sick.

"You belong with me," the groom said. He was a ratty little man in a monkey suit. He was also the only one who knew her sister's whereabouts.

"Shall we begin?" said the priest.

The bride swallowed her bile. She took his hand.

Rob Scragg said...

His face looks like it’s been modelled from clay by a child in pottery class, and not a particularly gifted one at that. With a nose like a journeyman boxer, and teeth that put a racehorse to shame, he reminds me of a Picasso painting – a far cry from the spurious dating profile mugshot.

I turn away before he sees me. I hide my face and walk past the bar. Take the coward’s way out, and call a cab.

It’ll be a long, lonely ride home, but infinitely preferable to a night of forced laughter and fake smiles.

Calorie Bombshell said...

Bride-to-be Ursula Langston Cordially Requests Your Presence.

Hand-delivered on linen paper. Name rings a bell but I can’t place her. Former co-worker? Googled address. Beverly Hills. “No gifts, please.” Classy.

I’m here. Gorgeous home. Which one’s Ursula? Face is familiar. Mannequin smile. But from where?
Headlong dash to buffet table. Mortadella and provolone pinwheels. Mouth stings of horseradish. Deathly allergic. Spit it out. Throat swelling. Mouths move as I stumble.

Remember now? Tenth grade. Ursula’s sister, Becca. Suicide. You tormented her. All of us.

I’ll tell them sorry. Beg their forgiveness. If I can just make it. to. the. door.

Nicole Payne said...

I was his bride. Pledged heart, body and soul. All that I had.
But he longed for another. That homewrecking hag.

She moaned. He grunted. They mated like a horse.
As he slammed into her without an ounce of remorse.

Tears stained my cheeks when she saddled him astride.
I watched from a distance as he enjoyed the joyride.

I saw his face. The happiness and lust.
I don’t remember what happened. It was all just too much.

I guess I pulled the trigger and threw them in the dell.
As I prayed beyond anything, I’d see them in hell.

Michael Seese said...

It had been a long day. Paul felt like talking anyway.

"Cordelle sure worked you over today," he said to Violet, buckled in the back seat, eyes closed.

"The first time she threw you, I wondered if you'd get back on that stupid horse. The second time..." He took a deep breath. "I called home. Mom's meeting us there, OK?"

Violet didn't answer. And she never would. Paul didn't need to talk to his daughter. But pretending that his 15-year-old "baby" would wake up again was all that kept him between the lines on the long ride to the hospital.

Tonja Tomblin said...

Heat scorches his neck, and he mops at it with a sweat soaked bandanna. It was a hard ride to Dell’s Hollow, and he longs for a warm meal, hot bath, and comfortable bed. His mouth waters as he imagines the fixings Anna would’ve had waiting for him at home.

He spurs on his horse, not wanting to be anywhere around when the sheriff returns. As he tops the hill, he takes one last look at the town. The flames of Dell’s Hollow reach their fiery fingers toward the sky. Anna can finally rest in peace.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Trotting by on his horse, looking irresistibly handsome, he asked if I’d like a ride. How could I say no, I’d dreamt and fantasized this exact moment. The new jeans I wore, fitting like a second skin, had been bought with him in mind, and subtly, I modelled them for him, leaning over, tucking the cuffs into my boots. When we reached the barn he dismounted, then grabbing my elbow he helped me off the gelding, sliding me down against his body. Our eyes locked, and he kissed me; a long, loving, sensuous kiss. I felt like I was home.

Craig said...

If wishes were horses I would not have been half a world away. Garuda tried her best. The big silver bird loved her too but the ride was too long to be less than half a day even with a ballistic trajectory.

All that was left was yellow crime scene tape and a blood stain. Home was just a house now. The world compressed down into a dell. Even though we had a wet winter it was dry. I didn’t even have a river to skate away on.

Sam Hawke said...

They say loss shapes you. Well it sure as shit didn’t shape me; I ain’t got no shape, not anymore. It’s the rest of the world in the wrong mould, missing a piece so nothing fits right.

See her in homely girls and pretty ones, hell, in shadows of violins, horses along the horizon. The holes she left.

Adelle’s the wrong shape too – grasping, ugly in her desperation. She doesn’t get it. I ain’t trying to heal. I’m searching. Searching for the override switch, the one that’ll reset it all. Hope I find it soon, though. It’s starting to hurt.

Lucky A said...

I looked across the Dell where I had called home. The place was nothing more than cinders. I spurred my horse, River, but he needed no encouragement. He knew the way. He has always known the way. When my father followed these men out west after they killed my sister, he followed. When my mother followed these men out west after they killed my father, he followed. Now that my mother is dead, I know, he knows where to go. It’s going to be a long, hard ride. But we’ve been preparing for it since the day I was born.

Nadine said...

“He’s been gone a long time.” She held her handkerchief. “I think he’s met someone else. I heard he was seen in the woods with a girl.”
“Don’t think about that. You’re better off without him.”
She stood up. “Maybe he needs a ride back. I should go get him.”
“I wouldn’t bother if I were you.”
“He’s not coming home. He doesn’t love you.”
She glared at me. “Screw you and the horse you rode in on.”
“That’s just the thing,” I said. “He did. I was the girl in the dell.”

Andrew Douglass said...

Kerse tied his horse to a tree rising crookedly in the dell. It had been a long ride, yet the sun had barely lifted the blushing veil of dew. He collected several lovely orange fruits from among the tree's oval leaves, turning each between his fingers with a contemplative air before placing it in his small sack. From the seeds of these fruits he would brew a special tea for his true love, a man who had proven false. It would be a bitter homecoming, for this would be a tea not divine but strychnine.

B C Yanto said...

A family of dark bay horses birthed a gray-haired colt. Despite his difference, he was his mother’s foal. His brothers and sisters lashed out. He attracted predators to their wooded dell. Mom shoved him. “You endanger us. Ride away!” She towered.

He galloped. Between every pine, animals spat and nipped his flank. Villains smelled his adrenaline.

He stumbled beside a human. She fed him an apple that spilled juice down his chin. She caressed his bitten coat. “Come home with me.” His head lifted. At long last, he heartened. Somebody wanted him. He was happy.

Megan V said...

Charlie came home all spittle and sweat.

“Sandwich,” he grunted.

“Whe-whe-where you b-been?” I stammered.

I was stupid. Real stupid. Hadn’t his bloodshot eyes been answer enough? Hadn’t the perfume?

“You were at that b-b-bordello w-wer-eren’t you?”

“So what if I was?” Chest puffed out, my man’s lips locked onto mine in the armpit of kisses, the long hot slobber of weed. I pulled back.

“I c-can’t do this no more Charlie. I’m your b-b-bride, not your whore.”

I raised my arms, ready for the grass to knock me on my ass. Instead, Charlie’s horse-powered punch knocked me dead.

AE said...

The day had barely begun and her clothes were already coated in black. She had hoped they would have been able to catch a ride out here, but no one came anymore. She sighed and brushed off the fragments of burnt wood and soot as best she could before standing. Her eyes turned down to the little girl as she played quietly nearby with her worn out plastic horse.

“Come on, Beth. It’s time to go home,” she said, waiting for the tiny hand to slip into hers.

“Wait, I didn’t hear dells,” came the sweet voice.

“Bells, sweetie. Buh-bells,” she replied, stealing a glance behind her, but turning quickly to smile down at the beaming blue eyes. “They aren’t going to ring anymore, remember?”

“They always ring when we come. Always.”

Mr. D said...

It wasn’t a difficult decision and he didn’t take long to make it. Lieutenant Bromhead slid off his horse and saluted. Lieutenant Chard was in command and the four thousand Zulus coming their way were his concern. Never mind the Zulus were coming to kill them. Never mind they had but fifty defenders. And never mind it was an eight hour ride to Helpmakaar where the rest of their battalion was stationed. The Zulus would arrive in minutes, and once they rose from the dell they’d be full in view. Bromhead sighed. It was a long way home to England.

Anonymous said...

In a technicolor dell, I saw a white horse with wings. I got on top of him and coaxed, "Giddyap," and we flew across low yellow meadows and open dusty brown roads and clear orange plains and rich leafy green forests.

And after that long ride, we reached my pretty little dotty home by a quiet shiny blue lake. The door was open.

Then, I abruptly awakened and remembered I was locked in a black and white death row. I was so angry I could kill.

Gypmar said...

"Come on, Dell. Mom told us not to horse around."

He laughs at me. He always does.

"Whattsa matter--chicken?" Dell says, as he mashes his right foot down and then his left, pedaling his bicycle madly towards the narrowest point of the canyon.

I close my eyes and plug my ears, until I can't anymore.

I peek over the edge and see Dell's twisted body at rest on a bed of eucalyptus leaves. I swing my leg over my bike seat and get moving. It's going to be a long ride home.

Kandice said...

Dell, the intensive care nurse notorious for her soft touch, repositioned Sadie's broken limbs and hours-old fused spine among the pillows on her hospital bed.

Sadie gritted her teeth, and whispered, "I want home. My horse." Pain assaulted her, halting every movement, every breath. She stifled screams.

Dell wiped tears from Sadie's cheeks. "A few more days. Rest now."

Sadie gave in to the morphine and let darkness take over. She would learn soon enough. A long, fierce battle between her body, mind and spirit awaited her if she wanted to walk again, let alone ride another horse.

A Velez said...

She scrambles into the mill loft. The horse should be clear by now, she thinks. The children safe.

The loft is crammed with grain. No weapon. No escape. She shoves the barrels and they fall longwise like dominoes – flour explodes into air, denser than fog.

“It’s simple Della,” he emerges in the iridescence. “Sign over the homestead, you live.”

“No. I won’t.” And neither will you.

He raises the gun. A white apparition with a red, lying mouth.

He is already a ghost.

Flint to frizzen. A single spark. The glutted air ignites.

The explosion rages across the prairie.

Kate Outhwaite said...

The pain is excruciating. It rides across my chest and down my arm, folding me into darkness. The dogs have run headlong into the dell, barking at the distant horses but there is so little time and help is far away.

The earth is damp and soft against my cheek, the air scented with bluebells and wild garlic. But for the pain, I think there are worse ways to go and, for the first time in 50 years, I pray.

I pray, but not for me. I just ask that the dogs be found a good home, together.

Steve Wilkins said...

The splatter from a recently chewed dell apple interferes with the rest of the tissue in the empty cranial well. Blood is everywhere, the signs of a nearly botched operation. All he had was horse tranquilizers, unfounded theories, a wicked laugh, and lost morals. However the surgeon now possesses the thought's of another man, as they pulse and throb silently away. A bitter pill to swallow on the long ride home but no matter, he has another brain storming participant. The apple's core is thorwn into the head. The rest of the body will be given to the pigs for breakfast.

charles joseph said...

It was over with one shot, and before I knew it, the light in my friend’s eyes was gone and we were on our way back to Galveston. Dell was a sick old horse for sure, but he didn't deserve to die like that. So on the long ride home I couldn't even look at Daddy, because I hated him for what he'd done. That was twenty years ago, and I still remember watching Dell gnawing on bits of chaff in his paddock, but the day and the way he died is something I try my best to forget.

Jane Zimmermann said...

“What is this? Some kind of witch’s brew or homeopathic medicine?” The man shouted angrily. “You can’t really expect me to believe that toad legs and horsehairs will increase my bride’s longing for me!” He shook his head, picked up his cowboy hat and stomped out of the bordello “Damn women,” he muttered angrily under his breath.

Just Jan said...

The blizzard was fast approaching. No telling when we'd get into town again.

We drove to the back pasture where my beloved Della rested in her horse-sized grave. As we tossed dirt on top of her, I glanced at my husband. He wasn't a bad man, but the thought of spending another long winter together seemed suddenly unbearable. I uttered a plea of forgiveness and sent him into the hole with her.

Back home, I cleaned my shovel and honed my cover story. By the time the snow melted, I'd be considered a jilted bride--and he'd be embracing another female, just like I said.

Pharosian said...

"Howdy, ma'am," he said in perfect hayseed. He had that whole farmer-in-the-dell look going on, what with the overalls and straw hat.

"Let me show you where to bring the dining suite," I said, ushering him into my home.

He glanced around, presumably gauging dimensions. "Huh," he said, wiping his horsey face with a bandanna. "Never seen a chaise longue in a dining room before." He pronounced it "shayze lounge."

"It's 'shez long,' I said. I take pride in educating others.

"Smart lady." He nodded toward the wall. "So you know that Ver Meer is a fake?"

I stared.