Muddled Priorities

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.

June 4, 2014

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionWriters understand the tug and pull of priorities…and procrastination…and a plethora of details that go into making a decision. Prioritizing is a part of our profession as much as a part of life in general.

And those decisions are only harder to make when we have muddled priorities that clash.

May 28, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a decision between two clashing priorities.

Future Seeker by Norah Colvin

“What do you seek?”

“Knowledge of the future.”

“That knowledge comes at a price.”

“I’m willing to pay.”

The eyes as deep as the ocean and dark as coal lifted from the shiny globe, contemplating the petitioner.

The globe’s soft glow in the dimness cast eerie shadows across the youthful face accentuating his desperate need.

One eyebrow raised, questioning. “It involves . . . a sacrifice?”

“I have more money than I could spend in a thousand lifetimes. Just tell me the price.”

The dark eyes flashed.

“Your life.”

He saw it all in a moment, and was gone.


Teamwork by Larry LaForge

“Don’t take afternoon classes during practice time.” Coach Greeley was emphatic.

They’ve got us on the easy track, guaranteeing good grades and positive publicity for the university. But easy won’t get me into medical school, and the science classes I need have afternoon labs.

The call home didn’t help. My parents understood but it’s what they didn’t say that got me.

Giving up my football scholarship will affect Erin and Michael. My younger siblings have college aspirations too. The folks are strapped.

“Sign here,” said the football aide, pointing to a line on the scholarship renewal form.

I did.


At the Fork by Paula Moyer

Jean stared at the quilt.

It was gorgous; the colors bounced and vibrated against each other. It was a glory to behold. She loved holding the fabric, pulling the needle back and forth, watching the separate pieces become a new whole.

And what about her book?

The next chapter was a doozy. She kept putting it off. It was the one that was the whole point of it all, the one about the early warning signs of abuse, how a lying, faithless lover showed his cards by accusing his innocent beloved of infidelity.


Temporary Flight or Complete Freedom? by Sarah Brentyn

Kim packed her nightgown and toothbrush next to her son’s tiny t-shirts and diaper cream. Everything fit in one suitcase. She sat on the bed and looked around at what had once been her dream home.

Looking up at the ceiling, beyond which her baby slept peacefully in his crib, Kim held her husband’s heart medication. She would have to wake her son from sleep. But then what? The hotel was booked but what to leave behind—a house or a body?

She walked to the bathroom, dumped the contents of the prescription bottle in the toilet, and flushed.


Art Mimics Life by Geoff Le Pard

She knew it would happen. Which of her babies to sacrifice?

He said it was only one night away, but she was on her own with her one year old and her latest papier-mâché sculpture. So much love invested in both.

She stared at the grass below. She could jump, but she could only hold one of her babies.

Smoke was already seeping inside. In desperation she turned to the kitchenette. It was now or never. She flung open the freezer door, yanked out the contents, kissed the delicate Madonna and placed it inside before running for the window…


Priorities by Irene A Waters

Momentarily she woke to the receding sounds of the wheelbarrow drifting back to sleep unperturbed. She woke late. “Jack!” Answered by silence she called again, a new edge in her voice. Hurrying to his room she found it empty. Now wide awake she dialed the police.

“Jack is missing. You have to find him.”

“Calm down. How long’s he been gone.”

“Sometime in the night. Quickly you have to come and start looking. I heard a wheelbarrow. You’ve got to help.”

“Perhaps, in twenty-four hours if he’s still missing we’ll file a report.”

“No you have to start now.”


Come to Cairo by Anne Goodwin

“I can’t go six months without seeing you,” says Simon. “Come out to Cairo. You can show me round.”

I don’t want to go six days without seeing him, but I can’t do what he asks. I’ve pleaded work commitments, fear of flying and pandering to my cat, but these are excuses, not reasons, and I’m running out of ways to say no. I’d love to be the woman he thinks I am, fearless and feisty, and untrammeled by the past.

It would tear me apart to go back there. I’ll lose the man I love if I don’t.


Overwhelming Expectations by Norah Colvin

The waters raged around her, pummeling her against the rocks, tossing her every which way, pushing her under and holding her there until she thought she must drown. She clawed at the rocks and grasped at the reeds, gasping for breath. The bank beckoned invitingly. The torrent sucked her back, playing ‘now you see her, now you don’t’ before swirling her back to bump inelegantly over the rocky shallows, dumping her battered body on the edge. She gulped the air begging respite and revival. Her choice: the safety of the sideline bank or back to navigate a journey through.


Medicinal Relief by Amber Prince

I stared at the cabinet pondering my decision. Do I grab the white box or the blue bottle?

Neither was desirable but what choice did have? I couldn’t take the pain much longer. I was in hell.

One of the two options that sat there staring back at me would ease my pain. Even possibly end it.

They taunted me.

I needed to pick one. The pills or liquid. I grabbed them both, one in each hand, like this would somehow help me.

A sneeze escaped sending me into a coughing frenzy.

Maybe I would just take them both.


Hobson’s Choice by Lisa Reiter

Linda had already decided, but she was trying to help him feel like it was the right choice. He struggled with a view of his future without her. The years they had shared were too precious to find compensation for.

But oh, how he had wanted Louise. It was a real need in him to play the virile man. Linda smiled kindly at him, but without pity. Her loss was far greater and they both knew it.

Louise was his future now. He needed to accept it graciously as his wife rejected chemo in favour of their daughter’s life.


Priorities by Ruchira Khanna

Alex was typing vigorously while keeping a keen eye on his phone. Messages were blaring at a Nano second, and this was making him flustered.

“I have to finish it before he arrives.” He uttered as he tapped his feet and rubbed his eyes while sitting up to regain composure over his disturbed mind.

Just then there was a message, and he could not control his tears, “Congrats you have a baby boy!”

He got excited and slammed his fist on the table, “Darn this bug, had to come now. It kept me away from witnessing my child’s birth.”


Dog Days by Geoff Le Pard

He stared at the letter in his hand; he had done it again. Got all the way from car to post box and forgotten to post it. He would forget himself one of these days.

Milton whined from the back; he had forgotten to walk the bloody dog, too.

Sighing to himself, Peter climbed out and made for the phone box. Halfway there he remembered he hadn’t wound the window down. Poor Milton, it was so hot.

He hesitated fractionally and then set off again. He would only be a few minutes.

The stroke, when it came, was huge.


Cobb’s Dilema by Charli Mills

Leroy twirled the rawhide rommel from the back of his buckskin gelding. He watched his brother standing along Rock Creek. Muddy waters slithered through the plains where two hundred head of red, shaggy shorthorns grazed.

“Cobb, you’ve got to decide,” Leroy said to his brother’s back.

Finally Cobb turned around. Leroy saw the war waging in his brother’s mind although a stranger might think Cobb was contemplating cows.

“Bring her to the ranch,” Cobb said.

“What about Sarah?”

“She stays!”

“Cobb, a man can’t have two women.”

“I asked you to bring the damn cattle, Leroy, not my wife.”


New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications.  All writers welcome!


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    • Sarah Brentyn

      Agreed. This is a fantastic collection! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for contributing!

  1. Norah

    Yes. Quite a variety again. You are really stimulating the writing juices.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a juicy dynamic with all the responses coming in!

      • Norah



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