May 14 Flash Fiction Response

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

May 16, 2014

Due to the technical difficulty known as “not enough time,” I didn’t write my own twisted flash when I posted the May 14 prompt. So I’m posting a stand-alone response today.

My flash is based on the May 14, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that begins with a twist. How did the character get there? Are there more twists? It’s up to you.

This story is based on conversational inspiration. Let me explain. Socks came up in a Twitter conversation and I started thinking about the role of mothers as family laundress. But the idea led me to think of a twist–what if Mama’s boy had to wash his own socks? And why?

If it seems that I have Civil War and western history oozing out of my flash writing, it’s a reflection of my love of genealogy and collecting family histories. One day I might write westerns or historical fiction. But for now, the genre is a favorite  because it’s different from my longer prose which is commercial and climate fiction.

(Thanks, Anne!)

SocksSocks by Charli Mills

Yesterday bullets buzzed my ears like summer honey-bees. No longer do I farm Papa’s land. I’m a Union soldier. Today, my life is socks. Precious wool socks. I was issued one pair.

Silence shrouds camp, though fires crackle outside our dog-tents. I pretend the smell of boiling socks is coffee brewing; a commodity we lost before winning this bloody ridge. In bare feet I wring water out of each sock. Mama would have bashed socks heartily on the rocks along Greene Creek, as if waging her own war. Hers was against dirt.

I no longer know what mine’s about.


If you want to submit your own flash, do so in the comments for May 14: Flash Fiction Challenge. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, May 20 to be included in the compilation. 

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  1. Norah

    A sad reality – fighting for something unknown. You have captured the futility of it all. Socks and coffee.

    • Charli Mills

      My family fought on both sides of that war and here I am four generations removed from the event, still trying to understand what they couldn’t either. How socks stirred that up, not sure but my mind works in odd associative ways. Now, about that coffee…I am longing for a cup!

      • Norah

        Odd associative ways – you and me both! Hope you enjoyed the coffee!

  2. Annecdotist

    Thought I’d already commented but it hasn’t shown up:
    Great piece, Charli – I love the way that you’ve used the everyday things to explore the issues. And chuffed that my silly tweets have inspired it.

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes I think there is a WordPress vortex for comments…your comments did get me thinking about mothers and socks!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome, Ellen! Thanks for the pingbacks and inclusion in your blog post. Really nice blog that you have. I discovered it through Lisa’s challenge which has had a hand in scooping up a great group of writers who are up to these challenges. Your 99 words built and effective character, tension and gave me goose bumps!

  3. ellen911

    Aw, thanks, Charli! It was so fun. You and Lisa have me hooked. And it’s seriously helping my writing. I love you guys. You are so creative! This is what I need to help me out. Glad to have connected with all of you online. xo

    • Charli Mills

      I think this infusion is giving us all a shot in the arm! It’s why I like to write (and read)–the chance to connect. Sharing ideas and inspiration helps each of dig a little deeper into our own creativity. I’m so glad we’ve connected, too!

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