Summary: My responses to the February Challenge, Hop Sing’s Fortune Cookies – to write a 100 word drabble from a prompt for each of the days during Chinese New Year – Feb. 5-19.
Word Count : 1650
Feb. 5 – The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.
The Christmas dance was the talk of the town for months.
“You know Adam, I’m sure glad we asked our dates early.”
“Yeah, I wish Hoss could have found a girl but each one he asked was already taken.”
Half way through the evening, after their dates grew tired of the dance, the brothers wondered where Hoss was. They needn’t have worried.
On the last dance, Hoss escorted a most beautiful girl to the dance floor. The couple floated around the room. He was the only one of the three to have a girl on his arm after the dance.
Feb. 6 – Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.
Little Joe’s blood ran cold as the robber grabbed Adam from behind. Impatient to go from fourteen to twenty, he was proud to receive his own pistol rig. He now felt more like a man, like his big brothers, but now he froze with indecision. Hop Sing’s words rang in his ears – be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still – as he felt his the gun in his hand. A loud noise, smoke and the robber writhing in pain. Adam gently removed the gun from Joe’s shaking hands. “Thanks, Joe. You saved my life.”
Feb. 7 – Fear is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.
The pain in his backside told him more than he wanted to know. He glanced back at the men trying to control the wild stallion. Fear gripped him as he caught the wide, fearful eyes of the horse. Rising stiffly he knew he had to try gain. If you don’t get back in the saddle, you never will. One more look at the beast confirmed it was also true for the horse. He’d have to conquer his own fears but he was the only one to help the horse conquer its fears of man.
“Set him up one more time.”
Feb. 8 – Don’t pursue happiness; create it.
His heart was dark, dragging him down. He wondered if he’d ever smile again; if he could ever leave the pain behind. Leaning on the rail, watching the river drift by, he felt a gentle nudge. Glancing sideways a glint in her eye was all it took. She grabbed his hand, nearly dragging him down to the water’s edge and began tugging at her boots while encouraging him to do the same. Shocked by the suddenness of her actions, he began to laugh. She smiled, thrilled to hear his warm chuckle once again, a little sunshine on a dark day.
Feb. 9 – He who throws mud loses ground.
Adam heard Joe’s words of praise fill the saloon as Joe held up a jigger of whiskey.
“Yeah, he’s the best brother ever. He taught me to bust broncs, and to shoot real good.”
Adam leaned on the bar, listening with a tinge of pride.
“We make a great hunting team too. Well, except that one time when he shot me instead of the wolf.” Gasps sounded. “But, you can see it turned out ok.”
Joe saw a dark form leave the saloon. Running out he shouted, “Adam! I’m sorry. Please…’’
With a pained expression, Adam rode away.
Feb. 10 – A person who won’t read has no advantage over a person who can’t read.
“Aw leave me alone Adam. I told you I won’t read anymore. This Shakespeare stuff has no meaning out here on the ranch. It won’t help me learn to take care of cattle or buy horses.”
Little Joe threw the book down and ran outside.
Later Adam found the book and Joe missing. He overheard Joe in the bunkhouse reading Shakespeare to the men.
After dinner a contrite Joe approached Adam.
“Old Charley told me he never learned to read and got cheated a lot of times ‘cause of that. I figured I could help them to learn with me.”
Feb. 11 – All things are difficult before they are easy.
Ben sidled up to his eldest along the corral fence. “Another sleepless night son?”
Adam dipped his head and smirked. He shifted his position against the rail and draped his arms across the rough wood.
“Not really anything new. Nobody got any sleep actually. Anna Grace wouldn’t sleep more than an hour or so, which kept Ana up. Then the noise awoke Aaron.” Adam laced his fingers together. “Pa, I just don’t recall the other children being this difficult.”
Ben released a chuckle. “How quickly we forget those times with a newborn. Don’t worry, it’ll get easier, son. I promise.”
Feb. 12 – A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why ships are built.
“Mind if I join you, Pa?”
The clock struck two in the morning as Joe brushed by the blue chair, choosing to sit on the low table instead. It had been a busy day, heck a busy week. Joe knew his father wouldn’t be able to sleep anytime soon.
Ben noticed that Joe avoided the blue chair, but said nothing.
“Guess I’m not ready to sit there yet. You know Pa, it’s never been his way to stay in one place.”
“Yes, son, I know. He’s got too much to offer the world for us to keep him to ourselves.”
Feb. 13 – Fear is in a dark room where negatives are developed.
Grumbling in Chinese, Hop Sing followed the trail of muddy prints through the kitchen, into the dining room, across the great room.
Nine year old Little Joe shoved his grimy boots under his bed along with his filthy pants. Quickly donning clean clothes he released his breath. Hearing footsteps on the porch and “JOSEPH!” he slunk back into a dark corner of his room, his thoughts filled with all the atrocities his father was going to administer.
When the door opened Joe breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing his Chinese cook. Then again Pa’s punishments looked a lot better.
Feb. 14 – Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.
“Ben do you recall when we were courting and you said you wanted twenty children?”
“Yes, and you said you wanted one boy and one girl. Wait, no. I won’t risk your life for this. We’ll find another way, I promise.”
“But, Ben, don’t you see? This is what I’m trying to tell you. Our child is already growing and I truly want to give you a son. Please say you’re happy.”
“Shh, my love. Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”
“Oh Liz, when you say it that way I have to believe it. I love you.”
Feb. 15 – The wise man is the one that makes you think that he is dumb.
“You know, Candy, this is your fault that we’re pinned down.”
“Mine! I’m not the one who rode right at the rustlers.”
“They were supposed to run not start shooting at us!!”
“Hey they’re not shooting now. Uh-oh, here comes Adam.”
“Joe, tell him it was all part of the plan.”
“Now wipe that smirk off your face, Adam. It was all part of the plan to catch them.”
“Yeah we do something dumb like ride right at them, and well, it worked didn’t it? They didn’t steal the cattle.”
“Uh-huh. Where are your horses?”
Feb 16 – The usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness.
“I’ve got this, okay?”
“Sure, go ahead and try it again.”
Holding his temper Adam was at the end of his patience. He’d been teaching Joe all weekend how to do manage the books. The problem was Joe thought he knew the methods but he really didn’t.
Slamming the pencil down as the last set of numbers refused to add up Joe’s nostrils flared and his eyes threw green sparks. Adam waited patiently for the storm to subside.
“Okay, so I don’t have this. What am I doing wrong?”
Gentle smiles graced both faces as Adam calmly began to explain.
Feb. 17 – One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.
The stage came to a sudden halt at its final destination jostling the remaining two passengers. With quiet apologies and embarrassed smiles, the two righted themselves, preparing to exit.
The lady quickly disappeared into the crowd leaving the man behind to gather his bags. Heading to the hotel, he checked in and made his way to his room. After a bath and donning a fresh suit, the man glanced once more at the slip of paper on the dresser. The offer was tempting as they had enjoyed their travels so far. Nothing ventured… Smiling, Hoss stepped next door and knocked.
Feb. 18 – If you want the rainbow, you have to tolerate the rain.
The small family pushed on through rain and snow but Ben’s enthusiasm was giving out. In the settlement it took three days to receive the paper saying he had a spot of land another twenty-five miles away.
Climbing into the wagon Ben forced a smile. “We’ll have to wait another month to get to our land, son.”
“But Pa, we’re so close. We can make it. Please try?”
Adam’s desperate plea pushed him on. “Alright, for you and Hoss.”
Exhausted, the father and two sons crested the hill above the blue lake and beheld Heaven on earth. They were home.
Feb. 19 – Never forget that a half truth is a whole lie.
“You just couldn’t stand to see me happy with a beautiful woman. You wanted her for yourself. That’s betrayal Adam! An’ I can’t forgive that.”
“No Hoss. Her reputation was no good.”
“You kissed her!!”
“She kissed me! I didn’t know how far she’d go. She moved in before I could do anything.”
“No, we both know you hide things. Pa told us to never forget that a half truth is the same as a whole lie. Admit you’re lyin’ to me. You want Regan. Well you can’t have her!!”
Hoss landed a punch that damaged more than Adam’s face.