Sue Spitulnik

Writing, Sewing, Travel, and Thoughts



Stars in the Sand

Sand and rocks, all the same color. Windy. The sand didn’t care whose clothing it sifted into; US troops in full battle gear, residents they were training, or the enemy they had trouble identifying.

Then came the explosion. Michael’s legs in a million pieces, splattered in every direction. His driver’s body torn apart. The identifiable parts gathered reverently to return home in a flag-covered casket.

The General visited the compound. His soldiers knew he would come. He had their respect. He cared about their well-being. His stars shone in the sun, the same color as the unforgiving relentless sand.

Written in response to Charli Mills August 19, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “stars in the sand.” Your story can be any genre (or poem) and can use realism or fantasy. It’s a dreamy prompt. Go where the it leads!

A Day For Remembering

The annual Memorial Day pig roast at the No Thanks was an event Michael looked forward to and dreaded. It was no live band day, so he couldn’t hide behind his instrument, singing words not his own. Often, family members remained outside, and the veterans retreated to the purposely darkened indoors to reminisce about those they had fought with and lost.

Thankfully he knew the secret to defuse a too-heavy conversation; swat his arm and say, “Damn mosquitoes.” The discussion would quickly become animated about the size of flying insects in specific war zones before returning to painful memories.  

Written in response to Charli Mills May 27, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tiny flying insects. Think about how the insects shape the scene or add to the action. Go where the prompt leads!

Water Is Life – flash fiction

Ezra sat waiting for his wife to come home from the field hospital. He had fed their children, bacon, biscuits slathered with butter and wild berry jam, and fresh cow’s milk for supper. The garden wasn’t yet producing vegetables, but it would in a few weeks. Keeping it weed free was something he could manage even with his wounds. When Louise finally arrived on horseback, he offered her dinner.

“No,” she said. “Just water. Cold, fresh and clear water.”

Their eldest ran to fetch a bucket of water from the stream, careful not to muddy it while doing so.

In response to Charli Mills March 21, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a bucket of water. What is the condition of the water and what is the bucket for? Drop deep into the well and draw from where the prompt leads!


A Bereft Duffle – Flash Fiction

My son returned from the war in person, but his mind never did. It took me years to understand why he refused to take off that dirty field jacket. I would beg him not to wear it. I even hid it once when he was in the shower and I don’t want to tell you the fight we had before I gave it back and he stormed out of the house to walk the streets, his mind encumbered with the scenes of war. The day I found him hanging, the coat was folded neatly on his full duffle bag.

In response to Charli Mills July 26, 2018, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale.

July 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

Too Many Suffer

It’s National PTSD Awareness Day. I had to study the picture to figure out what it was showing me. In case you need help, the background is camouflage, for a military uniform, and there is a tear running from the very healthy looking green eye.

I know a lot of people who suffer from PTSD, not all military. The men and women who have served in war zones and seen the effects of combat on the human body suffer, mostly in silence, trying to make sense of the senseless. Generally it is an invisible problem, so easy for someone else to say, “Well, he/she came home without a scratch.” There might not be any visible wound, but I can guarantee they have emotional ones. Some just deal with it better than others. A friend named Norm had the job of arming war head bombs during the Korean War. He never was in a war zone himself, but to this day he wonders if any of those bombs he loaded, killed anyone. It keeps him awake at night, even after all these years.

Another group who suffer from PTSD are parents who have buried children. The siblings of that child suffer also. I just read an article by Paula Stephens entitled “What I Wish More People Understood About Losing a Child”. She called the death of a child an “out-of-order death”. It’s unnatural. The pain never goes away and the child’s birthday and the day they became an angel are the toughest days of the year for the family. The power of the date is sometimes overwhelming. If you know anyone in this category mention to them the fact you remember something about their child. It helps them to know people haven’t forgotten their baby (no matter the age).

Sometimes even a stressful job can result in PTSD symptoms for those who did the job. Police officers, medical personnel, company heads, and anyone who has dealt with a traumatic situation are in that group. And their spouses and families suffer with them. It is proven that support groups can help people who deal with PTSD, but it is also a fact that too many people don’t look for a group because “they can handle it on their own”. I find that sad. I thinks it’s very helpful for a person to know they aren’t the only one who feels the way they do and they are still normal, maybe with a new definition of normal.

Pearl Harbor Day

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is observed across the nation this day in honor of all those who lost their lives serving this nation at Pearl Harbor.  There were more than 3,500 Americans who lost their lives or were wounded on that solemn day.

Think about that number for a minute. 3,500 Americans. That’s a lot of people!  Each one of those people had families, neighbors, school friends, and home-town acquaintances that were emotionally stunned by the loss. The fact the attack happened on our own soil also had a profound effect. No wonder most able-bodied young men, and women, signed up to fight for our country. The American populace understood why we needed to get involved.

I have the privilege of spending one morning a month with a WWII veteran in a writing group I belong to. He tells how a military member at that time had to earn points in order to be discharged from service, and he was one of the Americans that helped regain control of Rome for the allies. His history lessons are fascinating. He still wonders, 70 years later, why he was lucky enough to come home.

If you have young people in your life that think WWII happened on another planet, in another time, because it was soooo long ago, please take a minute today and share some of your, or your parents, memories of what happened after the Pearl Harbor attack. It was a time when national pride was fierce and respect for our nation and it’s government was a given. Maybe even add a bit about that’s why we stand and place our hand over our heart when the National Anthem is played. It’s a sign of respect, unification and loyalty.

Thank you to our veterans that keep us free.


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