Flash Fiction Challenge: Matchmaker

cowboy boots - by KS BrooksThey called old Pete Forrester’s hay barn “the matchmaker.” Legend was, if you spent the night in the barn, you’d meet your lady love the very next day.

I admit I scoffed at the notion, but country living can be lonely. I guess I figured I didn’t have nothing to lose and I wasn’t getting any younger.

One night, I sneaked over to old Pete’s place, nary believing anything would come of it…

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

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12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Matchmaker”

  1. After the ex left me in the lurch with a six month old, ten years ago , and seein’ as I had no luck where the fairer sex was concerned, I figured what the heck. Truth is, in a town this size, t’weren’t any females interested in taking on a bitter cowboy and his nearly eleven year old, and Lord knows, we both needed more than each other. I was lonely for the softness a woman could put in a man’s life and Jake needed to know it existed, so that night when he was at a birthday sleepover, I made my decision. Feeling downright foolish, after midnight, I found myself holed up like a fugitive in Forrester’s old hay barn. Slipping into my sleeping bag, I turned off the lantern, letting my eyes adjust to the dark. The full moon and occasional cloud left odd shadows in the unfamiliar space, and I let my mind wander to the possibilities of a home with feminine laughter, the smell of apple pie baking, and the giggles of Jake with brothers and sisters. I woke up to a rustling noise and daylight, but before I could get out of the sleeping bag, a large dog was washing my face with its slobbery tongue.

    “Truman? Get back here boy.” Pete Forrester loomed large in the doorway, looking for the dog. “Baby girl’ll never forgive me if I lose you her first day back in town. Truman?”

    Janie’s back? Damn my luck.

  2. I joined the Navy and traveled the world during my two tours. But now I’m home and ready to settle down. I looked next door toward Pete Forrester’s farm. Legend has it that if you spend the night in his hay barn, you’ll find your true love the very next day.

    I’ve never believed in what you can’t see, like ghosts or old wives tales. But I’d had enough of single life and decided to give it a shot. After all, I’d eaten unidentified meat on a wooden skewer in Korea and slept on a two-foot-wide cot suspended between missiles. I figured one night in the hay might be worth a bet. I tossed and turned, then woke to straw poking my back. Hope and doubts clouded my thoughts.

    Later that day, when Bobbi Sue’s car over heated by my mailbox, I noticed how cute she looked in those red cowgirl boots. She sure grew up right while I was gone. Then she pulled her boots off to run barefoot in the meadow by my house. I looked at the boots leaning against that old wagon wheel, and then tore after Bobbi Sue quickly catching her.

    On our first anniversary, we moseyed over to old Forrester’s barn. On the way, we passed Bobbi Sue’s dancing boots where they’ve been put out to pasture, as flower pots decorating the spot I was standing when I fell in love. Her touch. That night, we started a family, and a new legend.

  3. I woke the next morning, hay in my hair and a crick in my neck, smelling of horse. Throwing off the wool Army blanket I’d used to stay warm, I rose, stretched, and snuck out the barn door before Old Pete could catch me.

    A quick shower and change of clothes later, I climbed into my dusty pickup truck and headed to Rita’s Diner for breakfast – a cup of her very strong coffee, two eggs scrambled hard, two sausage links, and two pancakes with plenty of maple syrup.

    A woman I’d not seen in Rita’s before was talking to Hal, the cook, through the serving window when I walked in. She was obviously a new hire. I figured she was Valerie’s replacement. Val had finally had her baby the Friday before.

    The new waitress, her name tag had “Wendy” written on it in black Sharpie marker, walked over to the rack of white ceramic coffee mugs by the coffee machine, pulled out a mug, filled it, and brought it to me.

    “Hal says you like your coffee black, Mister…” Wendy said, making it a question.

    “Names Josh Drayden, and yes, I take my coffee black,” I replied as I took the mug. “You must be the girl Rita hired to replace Valerie.”

    “That’s why I’m wearing the apron,” Wendy replied. “You’re really on the ball, Josh.”

    I laughed, and glanced at her left hand. No ring.

    “Guess that’s why I’m Sheriff,” I told her. “It’s mighty nice to meet you.”

  4. Billy had gone down on one knee in the middle of the dance floor. The whole place had cheered when he placed the tiny sparkler on Rose’s finger. That circlet of promise had almost matched the sparkle in her eyes as she showed her parents.

    She’d known, even before the police knocked on their door. He’d stood at the end of her bed, his smile sad and tender. “I’ll come for you.”

    That was so long ago. She married George, a good man, four years later. She loved him and he her. They raised three great kids together. The kids gave her five grandchildren, whom she adored. George died four years ago. She missed him but overall was content with her life.

    Just yesterday the eldest granddaughter, Katie, came home elated, her shining eyes almost matched by the sparkling ring on the finger she held out for Grandma to see.

    Perhaps that’s what made her do it. Perhaps not.

    The old dance barn stood derelict, now. Rose didn’t know she left the door open. It didn’t matter. Billy waited there, limned in warm light. He stretched his hand to her and she reached to take it. “I knew you’d come.”

    When they found her next morning the sun that shone through the open door glinted off the tiny ring on her outstretched hand.

    “She looks so happy, blissful even.”

    “They say you’ll meet your true love if you spend the night here.”

    “Guess it’s true.”

  5. Now old Pete’s hay barn, that is a sight to see. The outside could use a coat of paint or two. And inside, well, the inside has seen much better days.

    I set up a bunk in some hay up on the overhang. Cozy and warm, I hoped the rats had a place of their own. I snuggled in my own little nest and pulled a blanket over for warmth. I musta dozed off.

    A ruckus scared me outta my wits. Not sure I can even describe the ruckus proper, but it was something fierce. I peered over the edge of the overhang to see a sight on the floor below. There in the center of the barn, why, I saw a big pot and girls dancing around it. They was naked as they day they was born.

    Now what that means, I can’t say for sure that I know. But they didn’t bother with me so I watched their dancing till I fell asleep again. I woke up early the next day and wiped the sleep from my eyes.

    I felt a bit itchy, not hivey but itchy all the same. To my dismay I found myself naked under my blanket. My clothes were nowhere to be seen neither. But for all that, it wasn’t even the strangest part.

    During the night I gained a companion. She stretched and yawned and wrapped her arms around me. But when she opened her eyes. That was the end for me.

  6. …except an unfortunate misstep into a pile of fresh manure while sneaking across the pasture. How had I become so desperate to brave a minefield of cow droppings to find a bride?? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or both.

    I know I wouldn’t be the first bachelor who’s put the legend to the test, but I shuddered at the thought of being discovered. Gossip flows like a flooded creek in this farm town. Smirks and snickers would be my reward for taking leave of my senses! I determined then and there, dodging cow patties, I’d leave town before I’d have the gumption to face the ridicule of neighbors.

    In fact, that must be how it worked—a fella gets so lonely and heartsick that he’ll do anything, yea, even sleep in a cold, smelly barn. Then—once his endeavor is found out—it always is in a town like this—he can’t bear the humiliation and skips town for somewhere geography will outdistance his bruised reputation. But just when he’s given up hope and resigned himself to a life of perpetual bachelorhood—from out of the ashes, as it were—his bride-to-be appears on this new leg of life’s journey.

    Next morning, before sunup, I skulked back home feeling silly and unchanged. But there, sitting on my porch with bright expectant eyes, was a stray pup. And as sure as that silly legend was looking down and laughing at me, the pup was a female!

  7. Plenty Ears raced into camp leaving behind fresh dust clouds. “Grandfather! A man in town says he can make Little Wolf and Cooing Dove’s hearts burn with fire. He says he is matchmaker. Come, we tell all that One Who Burns Hearts is come.”

    Grandfather annoyed said, “Sit son, hear truth spoken. In wasicula ektra (whiteman’s world) there are people who make small fire-starter sticks. Some believe they can make people fall in love. Both are called matchmakers. But…”

    “Grandfather! I’ve seen these fire-matches. You say wasiçius also make such sticks to burn hearts! Goodness! Matchmaker wants to eat hearts of my brothers and sisters! Everyone needs to know of this heart-eating spirit.”

    Grandfather shook his head knowing Plenty Ears often jumped to conclusions based on limited knowledge then tells it as truth to all he meets. He forgets match has many meanings. His is a confused mind. Worse he tells others his misguided conclusions before he seeks whole truth.

    Grandfather grew stern-faced serious, “Listen to me, else soon you’ll be WoglakeWicakesni (Speaks Untruthfully).”

    “But, Grandfather, I must sound an alarm we’re in danger. This time I know truth.”

    Before any further damage could be done Grandfather lifted his voice so others in the tribe heard, “From now on Plenty Ears is known as WoglakeWicakesni.”

    Many moons passed before Speaks Untruthfully learned to seek truth and speak honorably. Now he could begin to earn a new name.

    As for the wasiçius Matchmaker, she encouraged numerous matches earning several buffalo robes.

  8. “This one’s a sceptic,” said Yenta.

    Clarence looked at the man curled up on the hay in Pete Forrester’s barn. “He’s here isn’t he?”

    “But he doesn’t believe.”

    “Yenta, look at him. All alone in a dilapidated barn. The man’s desperate for love. He needs our help.”

    Yenta pulled a pair of glasses from her carpet bag and scrutinized the sleeping man. He wore faded jeans and a Frank Sinatra t-shirt. Gray hairs dotted his head and a pair of red cowboy boots sat on the floor next to him. “I don’t know, Clarence. This one might be beyond us.”

    “Think of it as a challenge. Just last week you complained this job was too easy.”

    “All right. No need to kvetch. Who are we going to pair him with?”

    “Merry is about the same age.”

    “She’s a cup half-full girl. He’s half-empty. They’ll never agree on anything.”


    “With his vinegary attitude?”


    “Too explosive. He’d get buried alive.”

    “Fine. Ginger.”

    “Be serious, Clarence.”

    “I am. Lord knows he needs some spice.”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Where’s your sense of adventure, Yenta?”

    “I left it at the shtetl.”

    “And then you found me.”

    “So you always remind me.”


    “Okay. You work on him and I’ll go yell in Ginger’s ear.

    “I think you mean whisper.”

    “No, Ginger is a heavy sleeper. I’ll need to yell to get through to her subconscious.”

    “Well good luck, then.”

    Yenta rolled her eyes. “Ginger and Al, a match made in heaven.”

  9. “I can’t believe Mama done did this to me,” Cletus grumbled. He looked down at the gleaming chrome handcuffs which bound him to the wagon wheel in old Pete Forrester’s barn. He sighed.

    “I kin find my own woman. Women love me.” He nodded in finality.

    “This is just plum ridiculous.”

    Kicking his feet like a child throwing a tantrum only served to send hay flying everywhere. Cletus sneezed. “Dagnabit, Mama! Come back here! I don’t need no magic barn to get me a woman!”

    When Mama didn’t respond, a huge exhalation deflated his broad shoulders.

    “Hmph,” he snorted. “Cindy Sue wanted me just fine without no stupid barn. But her daddy wanted me to be a banker, and I ain’t no banker.”

    After scratching the golden stubble on his chin, he said, “And Betty Lou…” A crooked smile formed on his face. “She was some woman. But her daddy wanted me to be a farmer. And I just ain’t that good at growin’ things.”

    Cletus started squirming. “Dangit, Mama! This hay is itchin’ me right through my shirt!”

    Mama didn’t reply.

    Cletus pouted. “And Ginger Lee. Me and her got along perfect. But her daddy wanted me to be a rancher. And I ain’t that good with animals.”

    Just then, Cletus heard the cocking of a shotgun. “Will you shut the hell up?” Mama said from the shadows. “You’re botherin’ Old Man Forrester. You will spend all night in this here barn, and tomorrow, you’ll find yourself a woman…and a job.”

  10. I stretched out on the soft hay beneath the sky- light in the loft.
    Thousands of stars adorned the velvet sky and I flushed at my own foolishness. What was I thinking?
    Earlier, a sense of complete loneliness had overwhelmed me. Now, not only was I trespassing but maybe I was losing my marbles too.
    Hands clasped behind my head I closed my eyes and sighed. The hayloft and the heavens at midnight were having a cathartic effect on me.
    “Ouch!” A loud whisper below startled me. Peering over the edge I saw a woman silhouetted in the doorway.
    I sat up and held my breath as she began climbing the ladder, grumbling as she did so.
    When she scrambled onto the loft, a moonbeam revealed the most beautiful face I have ever seen. She saw me and her eyes widened.
    “Er…Hello” I breathed.
    “Hello. My car broke down and I fell over, twisted my ankle and ended up here…”
    “Oh…” I mumbled idiotically.
    “I hope you’re not a weirdo because I can totally kick your butt….”
    “No, no. I’m looking at the stars.”
    She cocked her head and regarded me for a moment with her expressive eyes before smiling,
    “May I join you?”
    I gestured for her to sit.
    We lay and gazed at the canopy of twinkling lights above.
    Two hours later we were holding hands and morning found us asleep in each other’s arms.

    Today is our fifth anniversary. We are celebrating in old Pete’s barn.

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