How the Cookie Crumbles

Life in the fast and slow lanes after SIXTY-FIVE

#BlogBattle – Week 25

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Check out the originator of this challenge at

#BlogBattle

The rules are easy:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story,put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

~ * ~

This week’s prompt:  Legumes

Genre: General Fiction

Tonight’s Canning

What a life!

“You all can finish up. I’m going to start supper.” With one swipe of a sleeved forearm, Annie wiped perspiration from her brow and shut off the tractor.

She had done it all during her younger days, and thrived on the heat, an aching back and sore muscles. Nowadays, ten hours at a stretch were too long—heck, even eight hours were too much. The extra padding she carried now might have something to do with her discomfort, but then shouldn’t the fact she was now shorter and closer to the ground make up for it?

Weary to the bone, she trudged towards the house. Wide-brimmed hat cast off, she swatted the air to disperse the thicker dust off her face. “You’ve been a stinker today,” she said to the sun. In answer it sagged like an orange-yellow egg yolk down a white-washed, gleaming wall. “This old sack of bones needs a bath and a tall glass of lemonade.” An old border collie raised her head from the floor of the wrap-around veranda, barked once and lowered her muzzle again, eyes hazy but attentive.

“Been a trying day in the shade has it dog?” Annie laughed at her wit, a coarse sandpaper sound, and slapped a knee with her straw hat. Hauling on the wood railing, she hoisted her squat frame up the steps, stopping to pet the old dog. Pepper took this as an invitation. “Come in then. The water in your bowl will be cooler inside.”

With a sigh, she scanned the basket-cluttered counter of legumes: soybeans, butter beans, regular bush beans, all awaiting canning before she laid head to pillow. Pepper swayed on arthritic hips, shuffling towards the tempting water bowl, but slurped with energy and gusto. The old stone farmhouse was cool inside, and shielded its inhabitants from the relentless sun, but not when the oven was on. “Go to it, old girl. I’m going to cool myself.”

* * *

Annie returned clean and refreshed. Sleeves pushed up, she made no unnecessary movements. She had deposited three whopping chickens in the oven on slow heat after lunch. Their doneness fragrant in the air, she smiled and relaxed. Potatoes and carrots peeled, she husked fresh field corn and readied a deep pot. Soon elbow deep in beans and pulses while supper cooked, she hummed a tuneless ditty. The dog snored and passed wind beneath the wooden table. Steam swirled over the stove from the enamel water bath canner. Annie wiped her drenched brow and overheated face with a fresh towel. Dishes and cutlery in a plastic crate, she then set the table outside beneath the maple where the temperature had dropped as the sun dipped lower. Where is everybody? I’m starving.

As if in answer, ten workers—three of them teenage girls—plus her husband and two sons straggled across the yard. Though they had running water in the house, all heads and necks dripped water from the handy water pump around the corner to the house. “What’s to eat, woman?” Her silver-haired husband grinned and exchanged a one-two boxing maneuver with his adult son. The younger of the boys punched his father’s arm and raced to the table where he didn’t sit, but hovered.

The men whistled and hooted and picked their spots, but younger son and the girls followed Annie into the kitchen for the food.

“You all enjoy. I need to finish tonight’s canning. Lots more needs doing tomorrow.”

“Annie. At least take time to eat.” Her husband caught her arm as she swept past. “You need a break. For me?”

“In a minute, okay? The jars need to come out of the bath. I have more two short batches tonight.” She patted his shoulder and proceeded towards the veranda swinging her hips like a much younger woman. Whoops and howls followed in her wake.

Pepper had slipped outside unnoticed. No longer capable of taking the stairs, she poked her snout between the porch’s railings whining for attention from the diners. “Don’t worry, precious. I haven’t forgotten you.” Annie leaned over with effort to pat the black head. “Hold on, girl.” The door slapped behind her. The relaxed comradery around the outside dinner table continued. Someone had plugged in the lanterns against the diminishing light.  “You want pies, come and get them when you’re ready.”

The dog fed and sprawled on the porch outside, Annie focused on her work. She continued to remove the processed jars. The next batch was ready for blanching and freezing this time. Perspiration dripped into her eyes. The tongs for lifting required more concentration now. Her required reach seemed higher and felt heavier with each jar she removed. She swiped a hand across her forehead. Three more jars to go. Her arms leaden and wrists straining, Annie struggled, determined to finish.

A spine-chilling scream quashed the joviality outside. The tinkle of shattered glass. A loose chair sent crashing. The scream other-worldly, never-ending. A heavy thud…

Father and sons tore up the stairs.

The dog howled as if scalded.

The End

What are pulses?

http://www.pulsecanada.com/food-health/what-is-a-pulse

~ * ~

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

60 thoughts on “#BlogBattle – Week 25

  1. Great story but I never like it when an animal gets hurt. Poor old Annie. I hated reading that. Why not one of the young vibrant kids instead of the poor old dog. I’m too tender hearted, I know. But a good story. Excellent color and details. I just got through with 15 qts. Of tomatoes myself.

    Like

  2. A brilliant piece Tess.. Beautifully written.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice to see you back Tess. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Brilliant short story from Tess Karlinski as part of Blog Battle week 25.. really brings home the hardships of farming the land.. thanks Tess

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A great story, well thought for the theme and the words,, I could only enjoy it. well done and nice to see you, well read your work again, cos’ I don’t actually see you do I? he says smiling at his poor attempt of humour.

    Like

  6. Welcome back 🙂 with a brilliant and well written story.

    Like

  7. Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs: and commented:
    Looks fun. Think I’ll have to print this off and study it – Brian dead today

    Like

  8. Great story! So glad to see you back. 🙂

    Like

  9. Oh Tess, it is so good to read you again. This was wonderfully done! The details vibrant and perfectly executed. The ending, well perfectly drawn.

    Like

  10. Wonderful story, You have not lost your touch I see!

    Like

  11. You are back and in fine form!! This is an excellent piece. ❤

    Like

  12. YOU’RE BACK!!! Do you see my bouncing around down here in Southern California? I hope your break was wonderful. I hope you’ll blog about what you did while not writing.

    Another excellent story. It reminds me why I’ve missed you.

    Like

    • Nice to be back…for a little bit and thank you for the wonderful welcome, Jacqui. You’re always so kind. ❤
      Let's say my break had me running off my feet and then keeping me on my toes. Must post a today. Hard getting back in the swing of things. ❤ ❤ ❤

      Like

  13. How was your well deserved time off 😀 It’s so wonderful to see you back.

    Like

  14. Poor Annie. Heart attack, maybe?

    Welcome back, Tess! Missed you over the summer. 🙂

    Like

  15. Tess you have not lost your touch. Not at all. I seem to be in a fatalistic mood, and this story makes me think maybe you are too. Sending you sunshine super hugs!

    Like

  16. Welcome back Tess! As if you never left I’m right back on the edge of my seat. Such suspense and my pulse was racing.

    Like

  17. My dear Tess I’m so pleased to see you and read you, it’s just great to have you back! Now I’m confused because I thought it was Annie that had collapsed but Kanzen said it was Pepper. Either way a sad but brilliant tale told to perfection ❤

    Like

    • Nice to be back, Gilly. Thank you. I’m worn out already. Need to put up a post about the summer, but too busy here reading and commenting. Sheesh. 😀
      I better look at that. I’d hoped the last line would be an identifier. Sigh.

      Like

  18. Pepper got underfoot? Regardless, great story, Tess. 🙂

    Like

  19. Enjoyed the story. left us in a bit of a quandary. Was is Anne or Pepper? If Anne it was really bad. If Pepper at least the howl means it is still with us.

    Like

  20. Wow. Love this. I mean, the writing, not poor Annie. It’s always just “one more thing” or “almost finished”. Aw, sweet dog — pets are so sensitive and in tune with their owners. ❤ Beautifully done.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Oh, no! Chilling, Tess. Not going to spill the beans, are you?

    Like

  22. Awesome come back, Tess…got chills and can’t wait for more… 🙂

    Like

  23. This is a wonderful piece of writing, it built up a wonderful picture of poor hard working Annie.

    Like

  24. Pingback: #Free-For-All Friday #27 | Edwina's Episodes

    • Edwina, you’re a doll. ❤ Thank you. I'm still popping in and out and will till later in the month. Big doings Saturday: my eight-year-old granddaughter's birthday. It's going to be too stinking hot to celebrate outside, so I have to get ready to receive her guests at my place. Gosh. That's tomorrow! Better get to it. 😀

      Like

  25. Oh, what a place to end! You really captured the eel of the farm and the work. I could really see it and feel it. Nice to see you back. 🙂

    Like

  26. 🙂 Tess is back!!….and…with a cliffhanger. I felt like I was the one working on the farm, was tempted to swipe my forearm across my forehead. I could picture this whole story, well done!!

    Like

  27. So nice to have you back! Lovely story, Tess! 🙂

    Like

  28. Tess is back! I’m happy you’re back. 🙂 Sorry I’m late reading this; I was away on a trip at the time.

    Like

    • I love your enthusiasm! Thanks so much. I’ll be absent again getting ready to fly away Friday, but only for two weeks. Sounds like lots of rain in Newfoundland. Heck,we had a deluge the past two days and now I’m ‘paying’ for more? Ugh.
      Anyway, how was YOUR trip? I need blow by blow accounts as I’m, you know, slowing down. 😀 😀 😀 In some peoples’ minds. *shakes head* 😀 -D

      Liked by 1 person

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