Check out the originator of this challenge at
The rules are easy:
- 1000 words max
- fictional tale (or true if you really want)
- PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
- 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
- Go for the entertainment value!
- State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
- Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
- 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)
- Have fun!
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This week’s prompt: Legumes
Genre: General Fiction
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.
What are pulses?
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© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.
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