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November 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionThe trouble with having one’s children spread out across the nation at Thanksgiving time is that they are all contacting me for recipes. Of course, the day before Thanksgiving is actually the one that requires the cooking muscle.

It started last night with brining the bird in Reisling, honey, Kosher salt and a mass of herbs, including juniper berries. Today I’ve baked two pumpkin pies, made a fresh batch of cranberry sauce with honey and apples from my tree, simmered giblets and garlic to make stock for tomorrow’s gravy, roasted butternut squash for the wild rice and deviled the eggs.

That leaves roasting the turkey tomorrow while we munch on veggies and eggs. While the turkey sets I’ll mash the Idaho potatoes, whip up the gravy, heat the side dishes and set out the cranberries. Pour the wine, eat and pause until pumpkin pie will fit in the belly.

I’ll miss not having my children around the table, but we welcome new friends tomorrow and will swap photos with the kids to share our meals across the distance. The Runner is roasting a game hen, the Radio Geek is fixing pork steaks with blueberry bbq sauce and the Rock Climber is tending bar for elk hunters. An interesting mix to share.

The obvious would be to post a prompt on food or holiday feasts. But sometimes the obvious doesn’t spark creativity. So I was giving some thought to what makes our minds leap and often times it is putting together two dissonant ideas. It’s more intriguing to see where something like holiday feasts and prison bars leads our thoughts.

November 26, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using two objects, people or ideas that don’t go together. Anything random like wine and gasoline; the Archangel Michael and Marilyn Monroe; granny and rehab; horses and church bells. Then write a story about your two dissonant picks. Use your two objects as the title.

Respond by December 2 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here.


Guns and Apples by Charli Mills

The sweet smell of rotting apples wafted across the meadow on west slanting rays of sunshine. It was late afternoon and time to start dinner. Ramona shifted her prone position in tall grass to ease the pain of old arthritic knees. The VA had more paperwork for her to file before theyโ€™d pay out widowโ€™s benefits. The last can of pinto beans was simmering on the stove back at the house. Something had to give, and soon.

A breaking twig snapped. Dry leaves crumpled. The buck had come to eat apples. She steadied her dead husbandโ€™s rifle for provision.

Guns & Apples

Guns & Apples


  1. Sherri says:

    Love your flash Charli. Wishing you and your family and friends, near and far, a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving. See you soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. That flash fiction of yours was just awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Fabulous flash. As opposite as apples and guns are, they manage to converge. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Irish Baileys at Dawn

    It was still dark outside as she pulled on her boots, climed out the window and trudged up the hillside. Her coat was threadbare; despite the nip in the air she didn’t care. Nothing could compare to the chill in her heart. She had stared wistfully at the bottle of Irish whisky for most part of the night: too scared to touch it- lest she….
    The call had come: a bolt out of the blue. He had found another, her fiancรฉ. Apparently irreplaceable. Which made her what exactly? No matter. She sat at the apex now, waiting to toast the dawn.

  5. I’m beginning to think that you are not real. Or maybe you are actually two people (twins?) How are you participating in NaNoWriMo, writing daily updates, setting flash challenges, writing flash, compiling everyone’s flash, reading and commenting on other blogs, and cooking meals that don’t go from freezer to microwave?

    I don’t understand this.

    Happy Thanksgiving. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. paustinelf says:

    Chari, I am totally amazed how you are able to convey an immediate picture in my mind of this poor widow’s plight, using only apples and a gun as your prompt. Great photo too. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for stopping by and reading! It’s a little trick I play with my mind to get it jump-started. My husband picked the apples and had cleaned one of his long-distance competition rifles, leaving it by the apples. So I decided to see what I could pull together. You have a Happy Thanksgiving, too!

  7. Sarah says:

    Charli, your description of Thanksgiving makes my stomach rumble, even with the taste of pumpkin pie still on my tongue. I hope you had a lovely day and dinner with friends.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha! Oh, I think I might still have whipped cream on my lips, too! It was such a lovely day and fun to share food with new friends. Hope yours was good, too!

  8. Sarah says:

    … and I’ve come back with a post! This may explain why I haven’t written in here the past few weeks more than any excuse I could make up.

    • Charli Mills says:

      No excuses are ever need! I love it when you can write with us, yet I know that we all have priorities battling for our attention. I’m off to read your post!

  9. […] idea is to write exactly 99 words around two miss matched words. ย Get over to The Carrot Farmย for the rules and a better […]

  10. Happy belated Thanksgiving Charli. I can tell by your comments above that although your children weren’t home you still shared their Thanksgiving in a way. Your food descriptions make me feel as though I too have partaken although at this point we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.
    This was an interesting concept. On coming back to your excellent flash I found I had chosen one of the same items as yourself so I am going off to rethink. I wasn’t happy that my flash was flash and I think i’ll turn it into a larger piece so I will return.
    I’m with Sarah as well – you are wonder woman with a pen in your hand.

  11. TanGental says:

    Good to see new Rough Writer’s vieing for a place in the saddle next to you. Rather irritating though how God they both are at day one when the rest of us have had to struggle up for air with you waving from the surface. And you are a marvel, however modestly you migth poohpooh it. And not in the Churchillian sense either (of his rival in the Labour Party, Clement Atlee, Churchill said ‘A modest man with a lot to be modest about’). Sorry, rambling. Must be jet lag. I’ll go and think flash….

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha! You are speaking jet-laggian! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I was happy to see new writers saddled up and ready to go. That’s a Churhill quote I didn’t know! I like the modesty of Buffalo Bill Cody. He could ride as well as his Rough Riders, but didn’t need to prove it. His purpose was to preserve what those riders could do. I hope that’s the sentiment here. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yee-haw, none the less!

  12. Pat Cummings says:

    Mine is “Peaches and Rock” at

    Also, Consarn You, Charli, for having such an tasty challenge it pulled me away from my NaNovel!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for stopping by the ranch for some word wrangling! It’s meant to be small enough to not be too distracting from bigger works. Keep going on that NaNovel!

  13. […] Dissonant (Write a story using two ideas, people, or objects that don’t go together.) Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch I used an online Random Word Generator This gave me: “Lipstick” and […]

  14. I couldn’t think of anything so used an online Random Word Generator. Yup. It gave me: Lipstick and Radar. O_o Okay… Here’s my attempt with those two words.

    • Annecdotist says:

      How sensible, Sarah, never even occurred to me that there was such a thing as a random word generator (don’t know why, the Internet is full of nice surprises).
      Hurrah for your clever flash โ€“ lovely

      • I didn’t know about these things, either. There are a bunch of them, actually. I only turned to the computer out of desperation (after following my husband around the house for an hour asking him to give me two words that don’t go together–that didn’t work). ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Thank you!

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s clever! Now I’m going to go see what you managed with Lipstick and Radar! Before I read, I’m going to tell you that my mind to the leap to an office using a radar gun to pull over a woman who applies lipstick before rolling down the window…now let’s see your idea!

    • TanGental says:

      So well crafted, Sarah. I wish I could make mine so crisp. One day *sighs*

  15. Annecdotist says:

    Loved your Flash, Charli, but found this challenge harder than I expected โ€“ too much freedom means too much rope to hang ourselves, perhaps? Was going to try for the clichรฉ “chalk and cheese” but couldn’t get beyond a single sentence. Other ideas that sprung to mind turned out to be too obviously connected. However, I’ve managed via my current WIP, latest novel review and Lisa’s bite sized memoir challenge to bring you (drum roll please)
    Questionnaires and Cigarettes
    Thinking of you on the last day of NaNo. From my fleeting glimpses of your daily word counts, I’m sure you will have surpassed the target and, if not, still made fantastic progress with Rock Creek โ€“ hurrah for you!

    • Yes. This prompt was difficult for me. It also gave me “too much rope…”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I love your flash and am fascinated by the post itself. I need to find some uninterrupted time to read that through more thoroughly.

    • Charli Mills says:

      If the freedom of word choice was challenging, you certainly applied your own constraints to tie it back to your WIP, a book review and Lisa’s prompt! Well done! Questionnaires and Cigarettes certainly sounds intriguing.

      Thank you. I have surpassed the 50,000 word mark. But most important was writing a lynchpin scene today. While I am far from being through, NaNo WriMo helped me write the less “fun” and less developed scenes. So I’m glad to have slogged through and reached the fun parts which I’m excited to write. Hope all has been as fruitful with your WIP, too!

      Now I’m off to read what you’ve accomplished with your post!

  16. rllafg says:

    OOPS. I have a small glitch in this version that I thought I had corrected. Am submitting the corrected version below. You may dock me a letter grade.

  17. rllafg says:

    Confidence and Fear by Larry LaForge

    He was the envy of friends and foes alike. Wagner seemed in absolute control at all timesโ€”comfortable in his own skin, as they say.

    The crowd waited in the Grand Ballroom with great anticipation. His name would be called shortly, and Wagner would accept the nomination.

    In a remote bathroom in the hotelโ€™s back corridor, Wagner hunched over the toilet. Sweat pouring from his forehead, he heaved almost uncontrollably, making sure his expensive suit was out of harms way. He had perfected the technique.

    Less than thirty minutes later, Wagner wowed the audience with his brilliant acceptance speech.

    The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine:

  18. Georgia Bell says:

    Great flash, Charli. Guns and apples make perfect sense in this context, although I would have been hard pressed to think of a connection before I read your story.

    Here’s my contribution for this week’s flash:

    Perfect Happiness

    She rubbed a thumb over her chapped knuckle, her manicured hands thawing from the cold. The woman who sat across the aisle from her smiled warmly and nodded, before returning to her crossword. Ellie stared at her, noting the wisps of hair straggling from her bun, the scuff marks on her boots, the frayed cotton bag tucked beside her full of knitting needles and yarn. Her stomach twisted with an envy she could barely contain. How could this disheveled woman be so content, so at peace, when Ellie had worked so hard to be perfect and was so miserable?

  19. Pete says:

    Great flash, Charli! Sticking with the apples:

    Dustinโ€™s phone buzzed just as he snuck underneath the yellow light.
    โ€œWill you pick up some apples?โ€


    โ€œYeah, the kids want apples.โ€

    โ€œOn Halloween?โ€


    โ€œOkay, got it.โ€

    Inside, Dustin remembered that he wanted to repaint the window sills. After a quick detour he found an open register.

    โ€œYouโ€™re like, serious?โ€ the young cashier said. The sun angled into the store.

    โ€œIโ€™m like, what?โ€ Dustin asked. The woman behind him snickered.

    โ€œYou should call the cops.โ€

    Dustin turned to face the woman just as the girl held up his purchase like evidence. โ€œRazor blades and apples, on Halloween?โ€

  20. […] In response to Charli’s prompt for the 99 word flash fiction […]

  21. Norah says:

    Hi Charli, Your Thanksgiving dinner sounds amazing! I am very impressed by your cooking prowess. Your new friends are very fortunate to sup at your table. I love the way you are making the most of the distances between you and your young ones this year – and each in a different place with a different way of celebrating.
    This is a great prompt too. It has given me a lot to think about. I’ve written my flash. Now just need to to write the accompanying post. Easy, eh? And before this time tomorrow!
    I really enjoyed your flash. The venison will go very nicely with the accompaniments, though not quite up to your standard (cooking, not writing), tasty just the same.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Norah! Turns out my neighbors have great cooking prowess, too! And they introduced me to spicy dill pickles that were so good! I look forward to what you’ll serve up!

      • Norah says:

        Thanksgiving is not part of our tradition here. It sounds wonderful though and so great to have a day for being thankful.
        We had a delicious lunch at work today though, to farewell one of our colleagues who is going back to the classroom next year. Everybody ‘brought a plate’ (of food to share). I took mango cream pie for dessert, and the others took amazing first course dishes – there was chicken and ham, baked beetroot and feta salad, and a delicious pumpkin quiche. Yum! I was very thankful for it! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills says:

        What a great phrase–“brought a plate.” I love a good pot-luck! Mango cream pie??? Oh, my! If you’ll share, I’d love that recipe! Everything sounds so delicious! I think of Thanksgiving as a grand harvest celebration which I think most of our ancestors celebrate when the crops are successful and the community had food to share.

      • Norah says:

        The “bring a plate” tradition in Australia is a great one. Everyone brings a plate of food to share. I know however that the term is not familiar everyone. A friend from Canada tells me that when she was newly arrived in Australia she was invited to a function and asked to “bring a plate”. She thought it was a bit strange, but took along an empty plate on which to place her meal! We still laugh about it!
        Maybe I’ll have to break with (my blogging) tradition and post a recipe! I’ll see what I can do.
        Continuing the Thanksgiving tradition is a good one. We are very fortunate to have so much wonderful food to eat! There is much to be thankful for! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills says:

        That’s a mistake I would make! We have attended BBQs and parties that were “BYO plate.” Meaning, bring your own plate! Too funny to show up to a pot luck empty plated! ๐Ÿ˜€ Yes, much to be grateful for, including cultural missed cues!

      • Norah says:

        I wouldn’t know what a pot luck was! Cultural missed cue indeed! Reminds me of asking you had you made a error with s’mores! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills says:

        Pot luck = bring a plate! ๐Ÿ˜€ How does pot luck sound to you, not being familiar with it?

      • Norah says:

        It sounds like a big pot of something like stew composed of all the last little bits of veges and leftovers, ensuring they all get used to minimize waste! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills says:

        Indeed it does! It refers to sharing the last “pot” of whatever you have. It gave birth to casseroles, stews and what are called “hot dishes” in Minnesota. It would certainly confuse a newcomer invited to a pot luck–you might miss the point that you are expected to “bring a plate”…with food on it!

      • Norah says:

        It’s probably important to clarify differences like this when moving to a new community. It may save embarrassment, but also a laugh or two! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills says:

        I felt like I went to another country when I moved to Minnesota! Cultural cues and traditions are so ingrained as to not be noticed. but so foreign to outsiders.

      • Norah says:

        That’s very true and sometimes it is difficult to ask when it appears that everyone else is in ‘the know’ and you wonder what you are missing. Sometimes I notice the silly sayings or expressions we have for different things and attempt to erase them. Some are particularly hilarious and I wonder where they have come from! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills says:

        Regional colloquialisms might be a fun prompt in the future! They can be hard to erase from one’s own vocabulary! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Norah says:

        Hmm. Sounds interesting. I wonder would we recognise our own local colloquialisms as being that though! ๐Ÿ™‚
        I’m at a slight advantage with a hub from Belfast. He notices a few! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. ruchira says:

    Love your theme for today…will post something quickly.

    Happy Thanksgiving Charli. Another reason for me to be thankful to have CarrotRanch around ๐Ÿ™‚

    Loved many writer’s take on this…commented on their respective sites.

    Will swing by with my take shortly…

  23. Charli Mills says:

    My apologies Rough Writers–I did not get over to post individual stories on #MondayBlogs today. I sort of melted and did domestic tasks after NaNoWriMo. Back at the keys tomorrow!

  24. […] Mills continues to prompt us with a range of difficulties to overcome in our flash […]

  25. TanGental says:

    I think I’m just inside the line ti week. Two stories too for the price of one. Chose whichever for the compilation, Charli. Your taste is impeccable.

  26. […] Mills at the Carrot Ranch has challenged us to make it so this week with her flash fiction prompt to: ย In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using two objects, people or ideas that donโ€™t go …ย Charli allowed us to choose the two items. I decided to explore a little more of my tormented […]

  27. Norah says:

    Hi Charli,
    Here is my contribution to this week’s roundup. I’ll be back to read some more soon. Thanks for the prompt! ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Hi All,

    This one nearly had me beat, but not quite. Here’s the link to my blog post:

    and here’s the flash itself:

    The Prophecy & the Pig

    โ€œGoodness me,โ€ Francesco says, once the Prophecy has broken free. โ€œIโ€™m ravenous. Would you care to break bread with me, young Merlin?โ€
    โ€œOnly if youโ€™ll share some of this glorious ham I have here.โ€
    โ€œIโ€™d be delighted, young sir,โ€ he replies, tearing his small round loaf in half. โ€œI find a nice piece of smoked Pig always grounds one to perfection after a dose of Prophetic wisdom.โ€ He looks wistfully into the middle distance, then continues. โ€œWould that we had some wine to wash it down with.โ€
    โ€œI have a small flask of mead,โ€ I say. โ€œWill that do?โ€

    Love and blessings,
    Tally ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Charli Mills says:

      You fought back and won! Cheers! ๐Ÿ™‚ So it seems, prophecies and pigs work together after all! Another terrific tale of Merlin. Thanks!

  29. Sherri says:

    Hi Charli! I know this is so late, and I’m going to blame it on the internet. Bad workman and all that…and I could not think of a darn thing until daughter came up with the title…this is what I came up with, using your advice to think fast and see what happened. Hope you like ๐Ÿ™‚

    Water and Electricity

    Mavisโ€™s eyes flew open as the front door slammed.

    โ€œGoddamit Frank, what the hell time do you call this? You were supposed to be home two hours ago.โ€

    Frank stumbled into the bathroom, grinning drunkenly from ear to ear.

    โ€œSorry honeyโ€ฆโ€

    โ€œYeah right. Hand me that towel you useless drunk,โ€ Mavis glowered as she attempted to pull herself up to standing.

    Frank swivelled to reach for the towel and lost his balance, accidentally swiping the hair dryer off its shelf.

    The last thing Mavis heard was the click of the on-switch as the hair dryer flew into the bath.

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s teamwork! And wow–see how much fun our brains like to have when we write fast! Those really are two things that aren’t meant to go together but makes for quite the dark comedy. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Sherri says:

        Haha…when you said teamwork, I immediately thought of Frank and Mavis, then realised what you meant, lol ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had fun with this, brought some playtime amongst the endless internet problems…and just after I posted over here I lost it again, but this morning so far so good. Have a ton of errands to run but guess who I’ll be calling this afternoon? And I am dreading it…was on the phone last week for almost an hour just for the email problem. Aaarrggghh…sorry..ranting again…hope things are going well your neck of the woods Charli… <3

      • Charli Mills says:

        Oh, that’s funny–Frank and Mavis, team Water & Electricity! Glad you got I meant you and Daughter! Internet issues…grrr…I’m camping out downstairs to be closer to the wood fire and I get to listen to the Hub moan and groan and more over our internet. No one to call, though…it’s just s-l-o-w! I’m warm, so all is well here! You stay warm, too! <3

      • Sherri says:

        Yes, I got there in the end, lol ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh that’s such a pain too, slow internet. Poor Hub…and poor you ๐Ÿ˜‰ We paid extra for super-duper fibre optic internet only to discover that our area doesn’t get the speeds advertised. Funny how they didn’t point that out when we took out the contract isn’t it? Because of my daughter’s upside down sleeping routine (she is nocturnal most of the time) we have internet and electricity on 24/7 in our house and she often gets extremely agitated when it goes on a slow overnight. You would think it would be the opposite. Maybe more people are up all night than we realise. Then again, when I’m using it from home most people are out at work and it still plays up. Grrrrrr…don’t get me started, I ‘m still not over Black Friday…..
        Moving on…so glad all is well with you, and you are cosy and warm…long may it remain so. Thanks Charli, will do and you have a great day…Happy Trails <3

      • Charli Mills says:

        I think we all get duped into paying for “lightning fast” speeds. On the other hand, it is faster than parcel post! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Sherri says:

        Haha…true that Charli, so true ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Charli Mills says:


  30. […] week the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch was to write a story using two objects, people or ideas that donโ€™t go together. There was quite an assortment of responses, including mine. You can read them all […]

  31. […] prompt challenge Carrot Ranch. Words selected by the Creative Word […]

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