TToT – You Have GOT to be Kidding Me.

I’m definitely still in recovery mode here.

A little background: Zilla, the Hub, and I all went down hard with the dreaded flu the Friday before Valentine’s Day. (Yes, the actual flu.) (Yes, I had a flu shot. We all had flu shots.) Both of them are back up and running and have been for quite some time. The Hub with his Immune System of Steel was ready to go back to work by Monday already but I nagged persuaded him to stay out one more day until he was a full 24 hours past the fever. Zilla was feeling human again by Thursday of that week and returned to school that Friday. Then we had a nice long weekend during which everyone should have been able to drink tea and rest some more, catch up on work, and get back to regular life.

Not so much the case for me. My flu, naturally, morphed into bronchitis. (Everything I get morphs into bronchitis. If you know me even a little bit, you know this is true.) Then I lost my voice because of all the coughing and wheezing and bronchitis-ing. I am certain my Husband enjoyed this phase, although he insists he loves hearing the sound of my voice. (If I were my husband I’d be mildly grateful for the silence, but OK, Hon, whatever you say.) Anyway, I’ve spent the last week (again) battling the bronchitis and fatigue and coughing till you pee yourself and all that other great stuff. (TMI?)

This weekend, I was starting to feel a bit more human. My voice was starting to recover. I wanted to clean my filthy, germy house. If you know me even a little bit you know that I never want to clean my house, so you can deduct that either A) it was that filthy and germy that even I can’t stand it or B) I was just that fed up with being sick. Truth is it was C) Both A and B.

Anyway, after the requisite argument about whether the Hub has a bad attitude about Saturday cleaning marathons or I’m misinterpreting his “thinking mode” while he’s “planning how to accomplish things” as bad attitude, we got to work and managed to whip the place into reasonably clean and healthy shape. We cleaned bathrooms – even the tubs (which seriously seems like a waste of time to me, but whatever). We cleaned floors. We cleaned counter tops. We even have clean window tracks – you know the part at the bottom where all the icky black winter gunk collects? Yeah. That. We had some. Gone. And we even had plenty of time to sit and play an extended game of Heroscape with Zilla.

But I digress.

Yesterday I woke up feeling like hammered shit. Again. I decided I just overdid it with the cleaning. (See why I avoid this as often as possible? It’s detrimental to your body.) I managed to pull it together and make it to the last Mass of the morning with Zilla, but felt awful all the way through. When we got home, I kept on feeling lousy. By Zilla’s bedtime, I was done for – completely exhausted, achy, and generally miserable. I went to bed early after a typical conversation with my mom in which she insists I need to see a doctor and I insist that there is absolutely no point because really, what’s the doctor going to do? Tell me I have RA and I’m recovering from the flu and bronchitis and I way overdid it on the cleaning? She does not need my $20 copay that bad. I need that $20. For cough drops and stuff.

Today I still feel pretty much like shit but more like regular shit than the hammered version. Still exhausted and fatigued, still achy and feeling sort of mildly chill-ish and flu-like, lots of sneezing and nose blowing, and mildly nauseous. But no fever, no coughing, no wheezing. And lots of irritation. Truly all I could think today was, “Seriously? Still sick? Or again sick? You have GOT to be F**king kidding me!

Doctor’s office is open until 8 tonight. No, I did not make an appointment. For what? So she can tell me I probably have a new version of the creeping crud? Or that I have a stomach virus? Either way she gets $20 bucks and I get sent home with the “just has to run its course” diagnosis. When I talk to my mom tonight, she’ll give me grief for not going. But I promise if I develop even half a degree of fever or don’t feel any better by morning, I’ll call and go tomorrow. Really.

So that’s life here. Where’s the thankfulness in all of this? (Finally, you’re thinking…I know.) I actually have a bunch.

I am extremely thankful – which I’ve said before – that at no point did any of us develop pneumonia or become sick enough to end up in the hospital.

I’m thankful for the Hub’s Immune System of Steel and that Zilla appears to have inherited that little genetic trick from him. They are both up and running at full capacity. In general, they don’t get very sick very often. One of us in the house with a lousy immune system is plenty, thank you, so I’m very glad they both have a hardy one.

I am thankful that my mom nags the crap out of me about seeing a doctor when I’m sick. She’s a call the doctor right away person. I’m all about knowing symptoms and knowing my body and handling it at home whenever possible. It’s a simple generational difference thing, I’m sure. But I’m mighty glad that Mom is alive and well and therefore around to bug me about whether or not I need to see a doctor. It’s a good thing.

I am thankful for the most amazing donuts on the planet from the most amazing bakery on the planet. We had our faschnauts a few days early since I happened to find the exact ones I wanted from the amazing bakery at our farmer’s market on Saturday. Win.

I am thankful for beautiful sunsets that light the sky on fire.

I am rather pleased with the cleanliness of the house after our Get The Germs Out binge on Saturday. It feels good to have the house back in the realm of clean at least, even if it’s not uncluttered. That’s a project for another day. And my horrible messy office? Forget it. I can’t even.

And despite my extended recovery phase this last week, we still managed to eat regular cooked-at-home food and not resort to takeout. Well, except for on game night, but pizza just goes with game night. We had spaghetti and meatballs one night, tacos and Spanish rice at one point, seven-layer burritos another night, Mexican ablondigas soup yesterday (I’m sensing a theme), and tonight it’s homemade Reuben and Rachel sandwiches – affectionately known here as “Dad sandwiches” because they’re the Hub’s favorite. The soup was really delicious – check it out over at The Lemon Bowl. Great recipes there!

A little update: Tonight’s “Dad Sandwiches.” So good.

Speaking of food, it’s time to get dinner on the table so I’m out. See you here for TToT next week. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you that I’m healthy as a horse and have been up dancing the Fandango every day.

No idea where that came from. Clearly, I need to get well and get out of the house.

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Join us over at the Ten Things of Thankful blog to link up your own pile of thankfulness. Link’s still open until Tuesday evening!

Click on the image below and follow the link to the blog.

Ten Things of Thankful

Six Sentence Stories – Losing Ground

Jack padded barefoot into the kitchen, still wearing the jeans and flannel shirt he had on three days ago, and poured himself a second cup of steaming motivation – or what he hoped would be, at least. He took a long slug of the black stuff, letting it burn his throat as it slid down, warming him from the inside but failing to take away the chill left by her absence.

A drag on a cigarette is probably what I need, he thought as he looked out the window over the sink, or a good stiff drink to start the day – hair of the dog and all. But Jack wasn’t a smoker or a drinker; never could get the hang of the damn things and besides, he was too focused on his long-range plans to give in to any kind of addiction, not even her.

The image reflected in the window told a different story, though, as the man in the dirty shirt stared back at Jack with bloodshot eyes, yawned as he ran a hand through his hair, then scratched at the growth on his face that threatened to become a beard. “Jesus,” Jack said out loud, as he realized for the second time in as many months just how far down the hole he had fallen and how desperately he needed her back.

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Want to know more about Jack? Read the beginning of his story, “The Lie” here

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Each week, the lovely and talented Ivy Walker hosts a link-up challenging writers to spin a tale in six sentences – no more, no less. 

This week’s cue is SECOND.

Click on the link right here to link your own post and read more Six Sentence Stories from some wonderful storytellers.

 

TToT – Complications

I don’t even know why I call these posts ten things of thankful anymore – I’ve long since given up listing or counting anything.

I suppose it’s because that’s how it began and it’s how we continue to identify with one another. This is a great little group we have here and that comfortable identity is a good thing. You know what you’re in for when you see a Ten Things of Thankful post – goodness, gratitude, camaraderie, and a focus on what is positive in life, despite how bleak things may seem sometimes.

I guess that’s what I’m doing today – finding what’s positive in the midst of the bleak.

For example, I clearly spoke too soon last week when I said I was feeling better and pulling out of the flu. Ha! I went backwards from there ending up with horrible bronchitis as a result of the initial bout of the flu. This is what they mean when they say “flu-related complications.” And I can tell you that it kind of sucks.

So what is there to be thankful for? Well, I’m pretty thankful it’s bronchitis and not pneumonia. That would be way worse. At least with bronchitis I know the drill. I can’t say I’m enjoying the drill and I’m really kind of tired of dealing with it. But yeah, it could be worse.

I’m definitely thankful that the Hub and Zilla are back to normal. The worst thing they have going on is some residual coughing and maybe some residual fatigue. Nothing horrible. So that’s positive.

And they have both been more than helpful and patient with me while I’m still getting my butt kicked by this thing. It’s comforting to know that they can (pretty much) fend for themselves and not leave the house in (too much) disarray while I’m on limited duty.

I am thankful that I work from home and don’t have a boss pressuring me to go back to work sooner than I am really able. I’ve been there before and it’s awful. This way I can take care of me and still not get too far behind on things I need to accomplish.

Speaking of being at home, I’m thankful for the long weekend we’re having. Granted, we have all been inside recuperating while it’s a lovely and unusual 60 degrees out in February, but we’ve had the windows open and have been able to enjoy some extra time to get well. Zilla is catching up on missed school work and I love that I have a kid I don’t need to nag about getting the work done. And since the Hub works at the school, he’s off as well.

The only down side to all of that is, well, normally on  Monday I have the place blissfully and silently to myself. I work and put my week in motion. The Rottens sleep like crazy. But on a Monday holiday? Not so much. Still, the blessing is that we are all able to be home together. Not everyone has that opportunity.

I’m glad I got a bit of writing in this week that made it to the blog, even though it wasn’t much. I also got some writing done offline and got some helpful feedback on a couple of things I’ve written lately. I’ve also had a bunch of time to read so maybe I’ll finally finish the way overdue library book that’s been sitting here in my house forever. That’s all good.

And truly I love our new “extended hours” here at Ten Things of Thankful. Having the link-up open through Tuesday is so helpful for me. Rather than rush to get in before my weekend explodes or trying to cram in before the link closes on Sunday evening is proving to be a very good thing. Now I can do my Monday morning reflective TToT the way I really like to without feeling like I missed the party all weekend.

Oh! And I am thankful for new life. Two different cousins welcomed new baby girls over the course of the last ten days. Everyone is happy and healthy.

Life goes on…

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Join us for Ten Things of Thankful each week at our new home. Just follow the link in the image below to the new Ten Things of Thankful blog

Connect with us in our Facebook group, too at Ten Things of Thankful

Ten Things of Thankful

Finding Your Peace

I’ve noticed a trend.

It’s nothing earth-shattering or headline-prompting like you’re probably thinking. The trend at the moment is simply that I, despite all good intentions to the contrary, have managed to miss hitting Kristi’s Finish the Sentence Friday link-up deadline for three weeks running. The reasons are varied, but the end result is the same.

There’s an upside to that scenario, though. As I look at my unfinished drafts, I realize the last few topics are connected. We’ve written (well, some people have…not me) about how to relax, about self care, and about what to do when we’re upset. The underlying theme seems to be how to deal with whatever ails us. And now this weekend, Kristi asks us to consider what brings us peace.

 

I am not very good at relaxing. Anyone who knows me will see how true that is. Even when I appear to be relaxing – reading a book, playing a game, watching a movie, even sleeping – I find it difficult to truly relax. I remember someone telling me when I was twelve years old that it’s easy to relax; just turn off your mind and think of nothing.

I don’t know how to do that. I’ve tried for more than 30 years and the concept still eludes me.

It’s not for want of desire. It’s just that ADHD will do that to a girl. One of my particular symptoms is that my mind is “on” constantly. It’s a blessing and a curse, really. It’s what allows me to remember every detail for every person in this house and work on a piece of writing in the back of my mind at the same time I pick up Zilla at school or make dinner. But it’s also the thing that keeps me awake at night doing all the thinking…

And when I’m awake at night is usually the time when my worries and fears come to the surface. It’s at night when that witching hour occurs, the time when everyone else is asleep and the only thing to distract you is late night horror flicks or sitcom reruns. It’s at night when everything else is quiet that those worries and fears break through the surface and whisper in my ear.

Like anyone, I have many things that upset or worry me; I have many things that frighten me. And I’m willing to be that you have at least some of those same concerns – our children, our spouses, our parents, how dirty the house is, paying the bills, paying for college, keeping the cat or dog from crapping on the rug, the headlines, the hatred, the world…

It’s pretty hard not to spiral into a constant state of frenzied unending stress.

But that’s no way to live. It wreaks havoc on our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. It colors the way we see others and the way we interact with one another. You want to know what I think is really wrong with the world right now? Everybody is stressed out and pissed off and we don’t know what to do with ourselves so we take it out on everything and everyone around us. It’s so much easier to scream about why we’re angry than to shout about why we’re glad, isn’t it?

When I’m upset about something, my Husband always tells me, “Hon, you gotta find some Zen about this.”

He’s usually right.

As a society, we have become so conditioned to living in a state of stress. We are told daily by all manner of input what to worry about, what to fear, and whom to blame for our lot in life. We have been taught to focus on what’s wrong, rather than what’s right. And if you ask me, we have become far too separated from the things that enable us to find peace – things like rest and prayer and meditation. We have become far too likely to rely on things like God and Nature for solace. And I don’t wonder how or when we lost that – just look through history and literature over the ages; the answers are clear.

What I wonder is why we allowed it to happen. How is it possible that we have allowed ourselves to stray so far from the essential act of simply being human? Why is it acceptable to so many of us to hold only our beliefs as true and to condemn and criticize anyone else who thinks differently? We are so focused on proving our differences that we have lost sight of our similarities.

So back to my Husband and the Zen thing. Perhaps what we all need is to find some Zen, to stop screaming about everything that’s wrong and how angry we are about it and just focus on finding some peace – about the world, about the news, about our partners and kids, and about the pile of laundry in the corner.

No, it might not solve anything right now. Yes, some may see it as inaction or passivity. So what. And for each one of us, that small act of finding some peace will look different. Maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s a cup of tea, or maybe it’s engaging in meditation or prayer, maybe it’s writing or listening to music, maybe it’s a bowl of noodles. It doesn’t matter. Go hit Google and you’ll find any number of ways to “find your Zen.” Pick one you like. But do it.

Start with you and start with now. Stop hollering about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket and start finding ways to be in your world and to help and heal it. Maybe things will start to look a little less impossible and a little more clear. Remember that you can bang two rocks together until one breaks, or you can let water rush over them until they wear smooth. Your choice.

Allow for the possibility of the power of the human spirit.

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This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.

This week’s sentence is “I find peace from…” or close enough.

Finish the Sentence Friday is a link-up where writers and bloggers come together to share themselves with a particular sentence. If you’d like to stay ahead of future sentences and participate, join our Facebook group

Six Sentence Stories – Beneath the Surface

She stretched herself out and waited to feel herself floating, noticing the fading light and the chill of the light breeze skipping across her skin.

She began to sink slowly, the breeze and all sound disappeared as the surface broke, then closed again overhead.

Darkness grew ever closer, rushing up from below to meet her even as she could still see the light above slipping further and further away. Her arms felt light at her sides and her hair floated in delicate tentacles in the space around her head while fragments of scenes from her memory drifted through her mind.

The images passed by and disappeared with the waning light. No longer able to reach the conscious world, she stopped trying, then turned over and welcomed the dark.

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Each week, the lovely and talented Ivy Walker hosts a link-up challenging writers to spin a tale in six sentences – no more, no less. 

This week’s cue is SINK.

Click on the link right here to link your own post and read more Six Sentence Stories from some wonderful storytellers.

The Bakery

The smell was exactly the same as it was forty years ago – the doughy comfort of freshly-baked bread and crescent rolls mingled with the sugary sweetness of coffee cake, shoo-fly pie, and the best cream or jelly-filled doughnuts ever made.

Instantly transported through time, I was seven years old standing with my cousin, noses pressed up against the glass of the display case where they showed a birthday cake with a menagerie of decoration options. The circus train at the edge of the cake passed by ballerinas and baseball players, a zoo’s worth of animals frozen in motion, laughing clown heads, tiny pink and blue baby bassinets, and a comparatively large bust of a graduate stuck smack in the middle of it all as if overseeing the celebration.

The display cake was long gone, but the rest was unchanged; the same tiles still shone on the walls and under our feet, the same glass cases offered the same baked goods of my childhood, and the same smells wrapped around me in a blanket of memory.

My daughter breathed deeply, taking in the smells and, I suspect, a taste of the history as we made our selections and I remembered aloud late Sunday suppers of baked goods and coffee or milk spent with family around my Grandparents’ table.

I was certain I saw my Grandfather standing there beside us just as alive as he was when he brought my cousin and me here…

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Each week, the lovely and talented Ivy Walker hosts a link-up challenging writers to spin a tale in six sentences – no more, no less. 

This week’s cue is BREAD.

Click on the link right here to link your own post and read more Six Sentence Stories from some wonderful storytellers.

 

 

Hello. It’s Been A While. (A Ten Things of Thankful Post)

It’s a good thing I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to post here more.

Somehow I got out of the habit of delivering any finished product to this page. It’s not for lack of ideas or inspiration; I have a ton of things drafted and scribbled in my notebooks. They somehow just don’t make it to the page. If a messy desk is a sign of genius, I should be producing a whole lot more brilliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s probably more that I got distracted (not that distraction is new for me). It goes without saying that the headlines of late have been pretty overwhelming and that has definitely affected my state of mind. I had to back way off of the Internet and social media. So if I seem absent…I am. On purpose. Let’s call it self-care.

I’ve also been distracted by my physical state lately. There is no question that for the last week I have been in the throes of an active RA flare with a whopper of an eczema flare thrown in for good measure. A result of stress associated with the news? Maybe. Hard to say. At any rate, I’ve been trying to focus on what my mind and body need to be more at peace. It’s only fair to say here how thankful I am that my Hub and Zilla have been more than understanding, even though I’ve been pretty horrid.

So what else has been going on…?

Well, I guess my biggest news is probably that I entered a writing competition. Yup, I did it. I just put up a post about that experience if you want to check that out. If not, then keep moving along…

I actually have been doing a bunch of writing, but so far most of it has been for my eyes only. What will become of these efforts is yet undetermined. But the writing feels good. I have started a ton of things to join my semi-usual link-ups – Six Sentence Stories, Finish the Sentence Friday, and Ten Things of Thankful. But despite those efforts, I haven’t managed to join. I plan to remedy that moving forward.

I’ve also been reading a lot more lately than I have in recent months. More self-care, I suppose. That feels amazing. I read three of Bradbury’s books in a row – Dandelion Wine (a re-read), Farewell Summer (stunning), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (completely creepy in an awesome way). Right now I’m working on finishing The Martian by Andy Weir (loved the movie – book is even better) and I have about five things queued up to hit next.

Absorbing others’ words has been good for my mind and my soul. I’ve joined a couple of writing challenges for 2017 and choosing books for those has been fun and also helped me continue to take advantage of the offerings at my public library. I’m doing a handful of reads for folks I know who have published their books and I’m thinking maybe I’ll review those here on the blog and introduce you to to their work. Stay tuned.

What else?

Thanks in part to the accountability factor provided by the Graviteers, I’ve managed to hit a weight loss goal (again) so I think it’s safe to say that I am steadily working toward my weight loss and health goals. I’ve been walking more regularly and upping my number of steps each day (insert eye roll). That feels good. Next stop: The Bowflex machine. I’m laughing just thinking about it, but sure enough one has joined the team in our basement next to the treadmill and I’m planning to get on there regularly. Weight-bearing exercise is important for women, especially as middle age creeps closer on the horizon. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Kidzilla is kicking butt and taking names with her school work and all related sub-topics. That little girl works so hard and loves learning so much. I love that she sees hard work has tangible rewards. And speaking of school, the Hub is back in school working on a new degree – one more step in this journey of career change that was forced upon us. He’s also doing a fantastic job and just a few weeks in is already ahead of his projected timeline for this term. I am so proud of both of them. Shameless gushing. <3

I’m happy to report I’ve found my groove again in the kitchen. I don’t know what happened, but I feel like I pulled away from cooking anything decent at home and we resorted to bring-home or go-to options far too often over the last several weeks. Granted, the holidays are a strange time and then we were all so sick during and right after Christmas and into January, so maybe that’s just it. But even with my flares lately I’ve been happily tossing pots and pans around in the kitchen again. We’ve tried some new things and I’ve gotten back in my habit of rolling leftover parts of one meal into the next.

We’ve had pinto bean tacos with cabbage slaw, oven-baked lime butter cod served with the leftover slaw, some awesome Mexican street corn as a side – that was delicious. We tried mujadara – lentils and brown rice with caramelized onions – which is a new favorite here. Red beans and rice are always warming and satisfying, Salisbury meatballs were a hit for my meatball-lover daughter. Up tonight is a basic roast chicken because I’m out of chicken broth and need to make some. So I’m out to get that little bugger in the oven. Besides, I think I’ve rambled on here quite long enough.

I haven’t counted or numbered, but I’m certain I have at least ten things in here. For these and for so many more…I am thankful.

I’ve missed chatting with all of you here. What’s new and exciting in your life? What have you been doing the last few weeks? How are your self care habits? Talk to me…

 

So I Did a Thing…

I did it.

I entered a short story writing competition. Yes. I. Did.

I’m not sure what I was thinking, exactly, other than maybe “why the hell not?” And so I did it. At the last possible second, of course, right up against the deadline. But anyone who knows me at all will not be surprised in the least. I’ve always claimed that I work better under pressure. (Whether that is true or not remains to be seen.)

So what was it like?

Excruciating.

Of course I drew the genre that I absolutely did not want – political satire. Yes, I’ve read it. Yes, I know what it is. Heck, I’ve even dragged students through it in my other life as a high school English teacher. No, I do not particularly enjoy reading it and no, I most assuredly did not want that to be my first foray into competition writing. But whatever. I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste the entry fee and submit nothing. Even if I get knocked out of the game right away, at least I did it.

The process of writing was…difficult. Seriously. Trying to fit my story into a neat little package of assigned genre/topic/character in 2500 words or less was no easy task. But I wasn’t completely intimidated – except by the satire genre. That just sucked.

I’ve been writing Six Sentence Stories and other short fiction – mostly to a prompt – for a number of months. I’d like to think the experience of doing that helped me to feel at least somewhat prepared to tackle this contest. I don’t think I really got nervous until I realized I was hyper-tinkering with some edits at 20 minutes out from deadline and started to get worried that I’d miss the deadline. I had to finish title and synopsis 1-2-6 and get that baby uploaded. I made it in with literally less than five minutes to spare. So if it stinks, too bad! It is what it is now…

And now we wait to hear the results of the first round. Until March 20th. (I know – forever.) In the meantime, I plan to do a whole lot more writing and hopefully some of it will actually make it onto the blog here.

What about you – have you ventured into the world of writing competitions? Share your experience with us here? I’d love to know your thoughts. 

 

My World at Night

I’ve never been good at sleeping.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble sleeping for one reason or another. Maybe it’s time to just admit I’m a lifelong insomniac. But whatever the cause, I often find myself awake at night when the rest of my immediate world is asleep.

I’d love to tell you something lovely and romantic like “I’m a writer; of course when I can’t sleep at night I get up and write all the things that swirl in my head.”

But that’s not true.

Well, sometimes it’s true. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I do have things swirling in my head that beg to be written down and won’t give me peace until I acquiesce to their urging. But other nights I can’t sleep because the words don’t come and I worry if they ever will.

Continue reading “My World at Night”

Reveille – A Six Sentence Story

There would be no battle today.

Try as he might to muster the troops, they were slow to form this morning and did not show face; they knew there was no real penalty for showing up late, aside from the steep one he would impose upon himself for failing to make them comply. But that was his problem, not theirs.

Minute after hour he coaxed, forced, and cajoled until finally they assembled, falling into haphazard ranks and files, letters becoming words, sentences, paragraphs, working in concert and flowing freely from his pen.

Still, they were in no condition for battle. The only battle fought today would be the one to save himself.

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Each week, the lovely and talented Ivy Walker hosts a link-up challenging writers to spin a tale in six sentences – no more, no less. 

This week’s cue is RANK.

Click on the link right here to link your own post and read more Six Sentence Stories from some wonderful storytellers.