March 11: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

March 12, 2015

March 11An old brick house sits on Amador Hill among twisting branches of old apple trees, overlooking preserved prairie of Minnesota’s St. Croix River valley. Inside that house is a large circle of mismatched rocking chairs in a large room by a fireplace — the remnants of hearth and home. Women typically were the keepers of hearth cooking and rocking chair councils. Even in modern cultures, women remain vulnerable to food inequities as child bearers and parents.

Just what is food inequity? It’s a lack of access to clean, fresh, healthful food. In urban centers, great numbers of people live in food deserts. Concrete covers the ground and corner gas stations sell candy bars, white bread, chips and soda. Food shelves stock what they are given — often discarded canned goods people clean out of their pantries once a year or day-old-donuts from suburban bakeries. Even if people donated garden tomatoes or kale, food shelves typically lack fresh food storage. And marginalized people often lack kitchen stoves, pots and pans.

Conversely, food justice is defined as:

“Food Justice is the right of all communities to produce, process, distribute, access and eat good food, regardless of race, class gender, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, religion or community.” ~F.R.E.E. Milwaukee

Thus the Women’s Environmental Institute (WEI) on Amador Hill focuses its mission of food justice on women, children and marginalized communities. It provides educational outreach to develop urban and rural food growing; environmental justice research when governments fail to do so; and an organic demonstration farm.  Its board gathers in those rocking chairs.

As I excitedly prepare for my own garden, I’ve had food and bullies on my mind. Not the school bully who twists arms to steal lunch money, but the city governments and developers who ignore the plight of those living in a food desert. Everyone should have access to growing food, whether it’s education on container gardening, organizing apartment rooftop gardens, establishing community gardens in vacant lots or helping rural families develop acreage for growing food.

And that connects us to the next upcoming #1000Speak for compassion blog events — “Building from Bullies.” After a successful launch of compassionate blogging on February 20, bloggers are asked to write about the anti-bullying theme on March 20.

As writers, we are vulnerable to cyber bullies. An advocate for food justice, historian and writer Michael W. Twitty, is even more vulnerable because he takes on topics that not everyone is open to discuss, such as the vital contributions of enslaved African Americans to southern cuisine. In a recent interview on MUNCHIES (if you are a foodie, this is a big deal kind of like getting a short story in The New Yorker) he brushed off the cyber bullies with humor and wit.

Micheal’s highroad attitude is at the heart of “Building from Bullies.” He gave me permission to post his Facebook status to show you the appalling bullying directed at him in the comments section of his MUNCHIES video story. Warning, rough language, but applicable to witnessing the power of his defiance by not engaging or succumbing to bullies:

“Never read the comments, but when you do…have a sense of humor and wit about you. The comments on the Munchies video are kinda predictable. One individual said “this guy needs to get his head out of his crack,” another said “this nigga done enslaved his refrigerator,” another, “he wears sunglasses inside?” “Is he blind?” “Yeah, that’s why he’s dressed as a clown.” My personal favorite was “nothing makes white people feel better than a Black person giving the ‘we’re all family speech rather than confronting white supremacy.” Not one novel criticism. Just behind the screen blather. 27,000 views though…..

Do I scare people that much? If so, I’m doing the right thing. One made reference to my cleavage….lol..fat Black gay Jewish guys with a purpose in life sure scare the hell out of people with pre-packaged identities and no ambition. I don’t care, I feel right in myself.”

That last phrase is where the building blocks are made: “I feel right in myself.” To build from bullies is to first accept what they cannot. You do not have to conform to bullies. You do not have to wear their hate, eat their wonderbread or be denied earth to plant seeds. Gather around the hearth in a circle of rocking chair solidarity and be one of those #1000Speak for compassion.

March 11, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows the bully mentality countered with a different, unexpected or kind action. Bullies can be known or incognito; Goliaths or small-minded; in-person or online. Think of ways to unplug a bully’s power. Show characters with strength and dignity and even humor.

Respond by March 17, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

As writers, we know the power of words. I was inspired by a high school student who opposed a bully’s action and started a community movement. It reminded me of when my eldest slathered my house with sticky-notes during a low time in my life. Her words built me up. I thought back to high school when my Washo classmate was bullied so pitilessly. Yet she always smiled and shared Farley Mowat books with me.  She showed me what it was to be right with yourself.

***

Velma’s Requital by Charli Mills

Students thronged the hallway tight as Kokanee. Velma pressed a path to her locker covered with sticky-notes.

“Velly has a HUGE belly!”

“Go back to the rez!”

She plucked each note, words stinging like bee bites the long bus ride home to her reservation.

Mother was cooking beans. Grandmother hunched on the floor, shelling pine nuts, and Velma snuggled against her. No words were spoken, just the aromas of home and fellowship of family. She decided what to do. She’d show them.

The next day with a hall pass, Velma fastened a sticky-note on every locker.

“You are loved.”

###

 

You May Also Like…

111 Comments

  1. Sarah Brentyn

    “You are awesome.” <3 This flash is spectacular.

    (Be back to read the rest of your post as I always enjoy the intros.)

    • Charli Mills

      I like that sticky-note, Sarah! Thanks!

      • Pete

        I second Sarah’s comment. Enjoyed both the post and the heartfelt tale. You are beating ths compassion out of me one flash at a time!

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks, Pete! We’ll rock the compassion! 😉

  2. Annecdotist

    Fabulous, Charli, on all levels. I’m so ashamed that in this rich country people are having to rely on food banks. I didn’t know that the compassion blogathon had moved on to anti-bullying, but I look forward to that. Your flash is ace – I think sometimes when people from minorities are bullied it can partly be down to envy of what they’ve got, alongside the fear of difference. It also reminds me of one of the compassion blog posts (can’t now remember whose it was) – not quite bullying, but a child who felt left out when the Valentines cards were being passed around, and the mother suggested SHE make one for everyone in the class.
    While I mull over my own response to your prompt, wanted to share this lovely story from a recent news report about a young woman’s response to the mugging of a disabled man in her locality:
    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/04/fund-to-help-mugging-victim-halted-as-donations-reach-330000

    • Charli Mills

      Food banks are so poorly equipped to feed people in need. I worked with several in Minnesota to get healthier and more consistent donations. Then I started both an education and a community garden where I worked. All the food from the education garden and any surplus from the community plots gets donated to a women’s shelter and a school children’s summer lunch program. And I was a founding member of an urban agriculture center that works with recovering drug addicts and new Americans in a spectacular several acres community garden and education center. Much of my writing career has been writing about healthier food production, organic farming and access to fresh food. Food justice is something I’m very passionate about! No one should go hungry or be expected to live on processed junk food.

      That’s something I hadn’t thought about — envy of minorities. I had hoped my flash expressed a young person’s call to action based on how she felt loved at home even if her family (and reservation) was marginalized as different. Instead of a parent suggesting a solution, the teen came up with it. Thanks for the link!

      • Annecdotist

        Thanks, Charli, I have seen some of your references to your work in this regard and, the more I learn about it, the more impressed I am with what you’ve done. You’re so right, tinned food is all very well occasionally but I think sometimes people use donating as an opportunity to get rid of the stuff they wouldn’t eat themselves.
        Yes, I did see that side of your flash too, with a secure base in her family the girl was able to find her own solutions to problems outside the home. I imagine some of the bullies would have wished for a similarly supportive family life, but it would have been unbearable to admit it, so they belittle her as a way of bolstering their own sense of self.

      • Charli Mills

        I’d like to meliorate the world through words and free kale! 🙂 The garden can be healing for both the bullied and bullies.

    • Charli Mills

      Anne, the compassion bloggers/organizers seem to be updating on their 1000 Voices for Compassion group on Facebook. Do you have a personal profile? I think you can request to be added by going to the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/306227992909657/

      • Annecdotist

        Thanks, Charli, I do have a Facebook account were I add my posts, but I don’t think I use it properly as I never seem to be able to connect with other people. For example, when I click the link you’ve given here it just takes me to my own Facebook page. Some time I’ll master it but, at the moment, twitter seems so much easier to use.

      • Charli Mills

        Hmmm…you could try looking up the group: 1000 Voices for Compassion. Do you have a page or a profile (or both)? FB can be a bit tricky to navigate.

    • TanGental

      I hadn’t thought about envy

    • TanGental

      Sorry that went off too quickly. Envy? Interesting. I have wondered at how the Scots and Welsh are clear on their identity and how they get grief for wearing it so boldly from the less easily defined English. Maybe that is an envy in not being sure how to define yourself.

  3. lucciagray

    Wonderful flash, Charlie, very moving. Velma was so insightful. It’s so easy to respond to violence/abuse with more violence/abuse. The spiral must stop, but it takes a special person to do that.
    At my previous High School (I now teach adults) I was in charge of a peer mediation project with volunteer students. It was often tough, but it was worth it to watch 14-year-olds convince each other to voice their feelings, accept, forgive, apologise, and finally hug or shake hands (when it happened, which wasn’t always).
    On the other hand, there are underprivileged families in all parts of the world. Many families in Spain, where I live, are able to have regular meals thanks to local charities and government institutions. Many of my adult students, especially immigrants and those with no basic education, and therefore unemployed, are counting their pennies for every meal.
    I’ll be thinking carefully about my flash to honour such a sensitive topic. Thanks for your prompt:)

    • Charli Mills

      A peer mediation project sounds like a powerful way to teach teens, yet I’m sure it is not easy. It’s not common to stop escalating the spiral, but when one person does, the whole dynamic changes. You say that families in need get regular meals. That’s my biggest issue with American food shelves — they do not provide meals, only day-old bakery items or processed, canned food. That’s not a meal. It sounds like Spain does a better job of taking care of people’s needs. I hope you find your current teaching a rewarding job. There’s nothing better than giving a person the gift of literacy; all other needs seem to hinge on that. Education, basic education, is so important! Thank you for what you do!

      • lucciagray

        I do sometimes feel I’m more of a social worker than a teacher! I teach them very basic English. I also teach adults who are trying to pass university entry exams. I sometimes miss teenagers but they were driving me crazy. It’s quieter working with adults. I love it! There’s still a lot to improve in Spain in social welfare too, but I always think people want jobs, not food. Unemployment is too high.

      • Charli Mills

        Jobs, especially trade-skills, have diminished greatly here. Sandpoint is only about 7,000 residents, yet it’s estimated that 1,000 are out of state working the oil fields because they can’t find work at home. I agree; people want fulfilling jobs that provide, not handouts of food. Another reason to support community gardening. It’s not a paying job, but peple work to grow their own food and there is satisfaction. Oh! I can imagine that teen energy would get wearing after a spell. 🙂

      • Annecdotist

        It’s probably changing, but I think Spain has a much healthier attitude to food than either the USA or UK. At the school where my friend works, both students and staff are served a healthy three course meal each day. It’s starting to improve a bit again in Britain, but for the past couple of decades the emphasis – even in places like hospital – has been on cheapness rather than nutrition.

  4. Jeanne Lombardo

    Very thought-provoking indeed Charli. I have recently become very interested in community gardens and the power they hold to reconnect urban, and even suburban, people to real food, to natural processes, and for the way they can help assuage the isolation and alienation many people feel. Interesting, too, how you connect the theme of real food to bullying. One spontaneous thought is that the giant food corporations subtly bully us with their adds, trying to convince us that we are not “cool” if we are not stuffing ourselves with junk and guzzling down sugar laden, health-compromising sodas. Adn for the way, as you point out, they monopolize whole areas of cities. Like Lucia, I will go away and digest this for a spell, and think about how to work it into a flash. Oh, and loved your flash here. Beautiful contrast between the sterility of a school hallway that encourages anonymous cruelty and the love and warmth of hearth and home…and of course the way Velma redeems not herself but those who have harmed her.

    • Charli Mills

      Community gardens are incredibly empowering to all involved! One that I was part of developing used a permaculture design called a mandala and each plot was a “keyhole.” They are meant to be human-scale in that a gardener can reach the plot from the keyhole path in the middle. It also creates a community of gardeners in a circle. I just can’t say enough good things about urban and suburban community gardening! Such a good point that you make — corporations bully people to be cool and consume products that are not healthy. New Americans struggle with that. They end up in city centers with no access to grow food like they might have grown or found at markets back home and they buy the lie that Coke-a-Cola is good and is a status symbol.

      • TanGental

        We are seeing more community gardens here. One of the members of a club I help run has been part of setting one up in a derelict open space next to her block of flats and won a local award. Such a good thing too.

      • Charli Mills

        Glad to hear that, Geoff! Community gardens have so much potential!

    • Annecdotist

      Good point, Jeanne, I’d say this is definitely bullying when it comes down to the level of the advertising directed at children. What a crazy world where the kids with healthy stuff in their lunchboxes are teased by those guzzling crisps and fizzy drinks.

  5. lrconsiderer

    What a smashing idea 🙂 I love how you’ve come up with a way to get people more involved 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for stopping by! Literature is a vital component of a healthy village — it can help us explore different ideas, read other perspective. Stories can reflect back to us what is broken and characters can offer people encouragement to change or grow. I’m glad that a literary group can be involved in the compassion movement!

      • lrconsiderer

        Me too! I want to take part – is the idea that we post the flash fiction on our blog, or here in comments?

      • Charli Mills

        I’d love to have a flash from you! Either or both. Some writers are bloggers and build a post around their story; some post fiction on their writing blogs; others post only in the comments. I post all the stories on the Carrot Ranch FB page individually and then as a collection every Tuesday. I’ll do a #1000Speak blog 3/30 and re-post the compilation. The collection takes on a dynamic of its own and last time we did #1000Speak it was a powerful collection of stories!

    • TanGental

      Welcome Lizzi to the mad rodeo world is the high running world of Charli Mills. Generous prompts and classy support from everyone’s mother. Do join in!

  6. Sacha Black

    I love Velma’s values. Love the haters. It really is the only way. I hope my son can grow up with the same values. I am trying to teach him compassion and love. One day when he is maybe 6 or 7 I want to take him to the soup kitchens on Christmas day before he opens any presents, so that he can help others and understand how lucky he is. Beautiful flash. Really beautiful. Mine is far more cheesy I’m afraid. 🙁

    Once A Politician Always A Politician By Sacha Black

    Had I become what I hated? All for an election?

    I gazed at the broken body of my opposition, on the floor beneath me. A trickled of red oozed from his whimpering mouth. I smiled.

    “I win, Franklin. Fair and square.”

    Tugging at my leg drew my attention away from the floored politician. Golden locks and porcelain skin were frowning at me.

    “You’re a bully, Mister. A mean old bully.”

    “No. No.” I said frantically shaking my head, “You don’t understand little girl, he’s a cheater.”

    “Didn’t your mummy ever tell you? Two wrongs don’t make a right, Mister.”

    • Charli Mills

      I’ve known families who have made it a tradition to do acts of charity before they celebrate a holiday. I think you and your family might enjoy getting involved in starting or helping a community garden! 😉 We all need those human connections! And your flash is sharp! You even demonstrate the skewed, narcissistic thinking of a bully more worried about his image than the bleeding opponent on the floor. The child is wiser than he is by far!

      • Sacha Black

        Ah really? I have been thinking I would like to do something charitable on holidays. Not sure about gardens… the only plants I can give alive are orchids, and thats mostly because you neglect them! lol. That being said my partner adores the garden and would be fantastic at it. There are some allotments in our village too actually and one is run by a charity that runs a coffee shop and they grow their own food and sell it – its all vegetarian too which is ideal for me 🙂
        ‘sharp’…? ohh thank you 🙂 🙂 big grins, I was worried it would be right, you get such fantastically thoughtful submissions. The political slant came from the fact we have a general election right round the corner, and I also happen to work in local government!

        Great flash challenge once again. It’s surprising actually, how once you have done it a couple of times, it gets easier and easier to fit a story into just 99 words, I was terrified the first time that I would never be able to keep to 99 words. Now its actually kind of a challenge to see just how much i can put into the story!!

      • Charli Mills

        I think you’ve found the 99-word “sweet spot”! After a while it impacts other writing, too (in good ways). The challenge is creative so you begin to think of creative ways to use words, express character attributes, use dialog, build tension. Sounds like that community garden might be a good family involvement if you can contribute orchids! 🙂 Mint is an edible you can plant and ignore! Good luck with your general elections. Does the UK get worked up into a frenzy like the US?

      • Sacha Black

        for some bizarre reason I didn’t get a notification of your comment starting the 99 word sweet spot… -weird sorry I wasn’t ignoring you! hmm thats a good question though – I guess SOME people in the UK get worked up into a bit of a sticky political mess – the media included, but ‘people’ in general, meh – our turn out is never that good. I love a good political debate though, so I usually get a bit more vocal than i should given the job I am in!!

        Just to let you know I have posted my challenge entry here: http://sachablack.co.uk/2015/03/16/writing-challenge-entries/

    • TanGental

      Interesting take Sacha given the political context. I fear, three months out, this is prescient of all we have in store. The hectoring and bullying already is sickening in what could be the most defining election for 20 years. I love it.

      • Sacha Black

        this is so weird Geoff – I posted a response to your comment too but for some reason when I came to post the link there were no follow up comments from me to you or Charli. humph. Anyway – thanks for the comment. and saying you liked it 🙂 I think its probably reflective of how the political scene is behind closed doors…

      • TanGental

        the wonders of word press!

      • Charli Mills

        Or the mysteries of Word Press…

      • TanGental

        True

  7. Sherri

    Wonderful message, wonderful flash Charli. Even in today’s world, taking the higher road is always the best way. Velma is a shining example of that, I want to give her a huge hug 🙂 And how wonderful of your daughter to do that for you. You have great kids, but then they learnt from a great mother.) I could write so much about this with the bullying my daughter has experienced, but as I read Michael Twitty’s last words of his post, ‘I don’t care, I feel right in myself,’ and how your outrageously bullied friend taught you to feel the same way, I am heartened knowing that despite the many challenges my daughter faces in every day life, and even though she would like very much not to have to deal with the constraints that having Asperger’s puts upon her, putting it mildly, she really is ‘right in herself’. I truly am a better person because of her. So much to think about for this flash prompt and also for the blogging against bullying post. Btw, my mum volunteers for the Food Bank and tells me that it is growing busier every day…

    • Charli Mills

      I think that feeling “right in herself” is a a reflection that someone significant sees, loves and accepts who she is. We don’t always get it from family, but we do need to experience it. You create a safe harbor for your daughter and she’ll continue to grow in her sense of who she is. That topic might be one you want to post for March 20. Do food banks in the UK have capacity to store and distribute fresh food? Sorry to hear it is growing busier.

      • Sherri

        Oh Charli, after what happened recently (which I’ll tell you about in an email) your words couldn’t have come at a greater time, so I thank you greatly for them. You are very wise, my friend 🙂 And yes, am thinking about Friday’s post…
        No fresh food in the Food Banks here sadly, or atleast I don’t think so, my understanding is it’s all packaged and tinned but will check that with my mum and get back to you…

      • Charli Mills

        Hope all is well. I like the word “tinned” although not the food from tins! Unless they are smoked oysters… 😀

  8. Pete

    Bystanders

    “Hey Oreo cookie!”

    They lined the school hallway, cat-calling and pointing. She walked between the lockers—between them. Too white for her black classmates, too exotic for her white ones. Her gaze hardened. She cursed her olive skin. Her green eyes. Her frizzy, untamed hair.

    “Beautiful! Oh just look at those features!”

    She hit the runway, a shield of apathy guarding her steps. They marveled at her staggering beauty. They sold eye contacts and hair products to mimic her look. She was a natural, with no formal training. She just knew how to set her eyes above the crowd.

    • Pat Cummings

      Great insight – that being bullied can have positive results, and leave us with the ability to “rise above” praise and criticism alike!

    • TanGental

      Great Pete. A shield of apathy. Great line. Feels like she’s won a pyrrhic victory here

      • Pete

        Thanks guys and Tan, you’re exactly right, at least after I looked up what pyrrhic meant!

    • Charli Mills

      This makes me think of Anne’s point that often the bullying of someone different has ties to envy. You did a great job in the writing to show the bullying, the beauty, the irony of success and the ability she developed to hold herself aloft from it all. Great flash!

      • Annecdotist

        Oh, yes, dual-heritage people are really scary to the bigots and racists. Instead of seeing the achievement of integrating two cultures or whatever, we try to tell them they don’t fit anywhere. So glad she rose above them in this story.

    • rogershipp

      Of two worlds and belonging to neither. A topic in school should eb “how to Stand on Your own- Alone”. That sometimes needs to happen more often than our anti- campaigns.

      • rogershipp

        My computer glitched to send before proofing… sorry!

  9. Ula

    I love this week’s challenge, Charli. Your flash is great as always. Velma has such a great response/reaction. Makes me wish I was that smart when I was younger.
    You have given so much to think about in this post. I’ll let all this stew in my brain and then hopefully I’ll have a flash to share.

    • Charli Mills

      I know that feeling — wishing I was smarter or braver when I was younger. I’m amazed when I see wisdom and strength in someone young. It took years to develop in me! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Good point about the difficulty of holding to principle in a conversation with coworkers. Bullying comes in many forms and it’s often difficult to stand up to office bullies.

  10. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Charli you’ve done it again. Wonderful lead-in. I’m sure you have us all thinking about food desserts and fired up to write on the 20th March. You are quite right that those that need it most are the ones that can’t access good food. we saw this in the shop. Without transport they could not travel to the supermarkets where they could buy more effectively with the meagre amount of money they had to spend. Instead they would buy one good meal and unhealthy stuff for the rest of the week.
    Your flash was superb. You almost had me in tears. Putting a sticky I love you on every locker was a wonderful way to deal with the problem. I’ll return to read the rest and put in my contribution.

    • Charli Mills

      Exactly what you saw is what happens in these areas where people lack the transportation to fresh food markets. The Twin Cities in Minnesota and Milwaukee in Wisconsin have both created wonderful grass-roots solutions. It’s such a shame that the unhealthiest foods are the cheapest. Thanks!

  11. TanGental

    Oh Charli, dear Charli another twitch of the moral compass and you point us the right way. Vella is a super creation. And the general point is a splendid one. Off to torment Mary…. Mahahahaha

    • Charli Mills

      Run, Mary! Hide! Actually, I think early in your stories about Mary, she had a rough edge, such as her lack of compassion for her half-brother. Penny has been a rock of compassion throughout. All your misery upon Mary is polishing her into a finer example of her self, perhaps?

      • TanGental

        nearly ready for you to find out…

      • Charli Mills

        …the tension builds…

  12. rllafg

    The Video by Larry LaForge

    The kid climbed the steps of Precinct 14, opened the oversized metal door, and approached the front desk officer. “I’m here to turn myself in.”

    “Huh?” the cop replied, scratching his bald head. The kid extended his trembling arms, hands together, waiting for the handcuffs.

    The cop froze.

    “I didn’t know,” the kid said. “I thought it was just fun. Then they showed the video.”

    “What?”

    “In kindergarten class today.” The kid sobbed. “The bullying video.”

    “Huh?”

    “I’m real sorry. I didn’t know it could hurt people. When I get released I”ll never do it again. Ever. I promise.”

    *****
    The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine. http://flashfictionmagazine.com/larrylaforge100words/2015/03/14/the-video/

    • Charli Mills

      Poor kid! But they say, early intervention has an impact. I just hope the Prescient doesn’t put him in a “scared straight” program. The bully video was scary enough.

    • ruchira

      Kindergarten…gosh!
      this story was enveloped with so much innocence and love

      Great take!

    • Annecdotist

      That’s lovely, Larry, I hope the police showed compassion and applauded him for admitting his mistake.

  13. Ula

    Here is my flash for this week: http://wp.me/p1VeFf-ia
    I’ll be posting more of a back story for March 20th #1000Speak. This was such a difficult flash, but it is a great prompt.

    • TanGental

      great, positive flash; loved the curvy figuring hugging dress – one in the eye for her detractors.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s great, Ula! I’m so glad that we connected after the last #1000Speak event!

      • Ula

        Yes, I love that I found you and this blog. I love these weekly challenges. I plan on being a regular.

      • Charli Mills

        Yay! Glad we could rope you into writing with us! 🙂

    • ruchira

      Self Love…no matter what!

      Loved your take, Ula

    • Norah

      I couldn’t seem to respond on your blog, but this is a great flash. People find it so easy to criticize, many spending their whole time looking for things to “bitch” about. women seem to cop far more for their appearance than do men, as if their appearance is all that matters. I’m pleased to see the strength and self-confidence in your character.

  14. rogershipp

    APPRECIATING SELF-DEPRECIATION

    It was no secret.

    Everyone knew.

    It’s just they thought it was funny.

    “Whoops… I spilled some water on my new blouse.”

    “Whoops… I there’s some lint on the shoulder of my sweater.”

    All because I had stumbled while leaving the auditorium and fell into his arms: Lance, our star quarterback. He had caught me. The room had gone quiet. And all I could think of to say was “Whoops…”

    The basketball players were the worst.

    Tonight’s game against Lincoln High could change everything.

    I continued to type the headline for the lead story. “Whoops… Lincoln Falls in 2OT.”

    https://rogershipp.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/appreciating-self-depreciation/

    • TanGental

      made me smile Roger…

    • Charli Mills

      There’s such a delicate balance with self-deprecating humor. It can become a shield for protection. It can also relieve tense moments in social situations. Great flash!

      • rogershipp

        Thanks!

    • ruchira

      Loved the title, and the story was amazing…awesome take Roger 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ruchira! I believe writers write best in an encouraging environment and I hope that’s how you feel at the ranch! 😀 Cafeterias on the other hand, can be intimidating places for students. I used to sneak outside for lunch in high school!

  15. Norah

    Charli, I was supposed to be writing this morning but I have been ambushed by your post. Your description of urban spaces as food deserts gave me pause. It is definitely wrong that so many people do not have access to adequate and nutritious food supplies. I love the idea of community gardens and the use of derelict spaces for growing food. You have mentioned some here. I was looking for a link to an article I read about an abandoned high rise parking lot being used to grow vegetables but couldn’t find it. 🙁 This food bullying by governments is a good match for the bullying of children in school, trying to make everyone fit the mould.
    I like your prompt – to include a kind action as a response to bullying – it focuses on the positive rather than the negative; and you have done this so well in your flash. Velma’s poise and dignity, an aspect of knowing self and being loved, is admiral. Her strength will carry her through many aspects of life. What a wonderful solution. It reminds me a bit of the “Billy Jack” movie from many years ago.
    As usual you have elicited some wonderful comments and responses already. I usually like to write mine before I do too much reading, but couldn’t resist today. Or was I just procrastinating?
    Anyway, better head back to the drawing board (writing board) now. I’ll be back in a while with my flash. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I was likewise highjacked by your post on the origins of symbolic success! I think the grown sheep have been trained to herd the grown five-year-old-failures into deserts, thus perpetuating the myths of success. There are so many ways to break free of the sheep pens! I’ve heard of successful parking lot food renovations, and know that people have come up with creative solutions for urban farming. I even knew of a “truck farmer.” Literally, he grows food in soil that lines the bed of his truck! I was once told by the school district that they didn’t want us to come in and plant seeds with their classrooms because most of the children lived in apartments and had no land to plant their seeds. That was the year we introduced the school district to container gardening! We bussed those kids to our co-op and held several hands-on activities. We have to push back at the sheep herding mentality! Ah, it’s not procrastinating when there are good stories to draw you in to reading! 🙂

      • Norah

        You’re right, Charli. It definitely wasn’t procrastinating. It was a worthwhile diversion. It was on the agenda anyway! I just changed the order of proceedings! 🙂
        I am very impressed by your generosity, Charli, and your community activity. What a wonderful contribution you make. So many of our blogging friends are fully engaged in improving the lives of others. What wonderful role models you are. I love the way you have that ‘can do’ attitude and turn the negatives into positives, findings ways to make things work: innovative and resourceful, that’s you!

      • Charli Mills

        Thank you, Norah! Good words to hear today! 😀

  16. Norah

    It’s just me, back again, this time with my flash: http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-pP Thanks Charli 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      That was speedy! 🙂

  17. Annecdotist

    I came back just now hoping I could quickly post the link to my flash and move on, but there’s so much of interest to read here. Not just the marvellous array of responses in the 99-word stories, but in the depth of discussion that your post has prompted.
    I’ve drawn on the food-growing theme dovetailed with a couple of novel reviews for my contribution
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/farming-the-story-soil-by-jamie-kornegay-plus-holy-cow-by-david-duchovny
    Thanks for another fruitful day at the ranch.

    • Charli Mills

      Indeed, another fruitful day and I look forward to what I know will be a rich fruit basket on your blog. I’m glad you took the food-growing theme, too. I’m hooked on your book reviews and enjoy those immensely.

  18. susanzutautas

    I know our food bank here in our community is always looking for food. There are donation spots all over the little city but they usually don’t have very many donations in them. I think what we need here are community growing spots or gardens where people could grow food to donate or use for their own needs.

    Here is my flash for this week.
    http://everythingsusanandmore.blogspot.ca/2015/03/the-bully-and-quick-thinking.html

    • Charli Mills

      It’s empowering to grow food. What’s that saying? Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life…I agree! Community gardens really contributes to the needs of any community. Wow…scary that your flash is based on a true story.

    • TanGental

      scary, Susan. Never can be too sure, can you!

      • susanzutautas

        One of the scariest times of my life.

  19. lucciagray

    Here’s my take on stopping bullies in their tracks!

    “What’s this?”
    “It’s apple pie. Don’t you like it?”
    “I like the chocolate cake your mum makes,” she shouted gobbling it up. “Bring some tomorrow, or I’ll kick you again till your legs turn purple.”
    “She’s working double shifts this week, so she hasn’t got any time to cook.”
    “Make it yourself.”
    “I’m not allowed to cook when mum’s not at home.”
    “Find a way if you know what’s good for you,” she warned.
    The following day, I watched her swallow greedily and whispered, “I won’t tell anyone what exactly you just ate if you stop bullying me. Deal?”

    Although I never recommend provoking bullies, sometimes standing up for yourself is a feasable alternative.
    When I was thinking about bullies, I remembered the novel, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, who tells the moving yet humorous story about how some black servants were often bullied by some of their white employers, and how they struggled for basic civil rights. A similar episode takes place towards the end of the novel.

    • Charli Mills

      That made me laugh! Sounds like a clever deal. I might become a cake bully, though. We are trying to reduce our sweet tooth at home and I haven’t baked in three weeks — I’m about ready to tackle someone who does bake! 🙂 So I’ll keep this story in mind… Standing up for oneself is an important action. Good point and great flash! I love that book, The Help!

    • TanGental

      Loved the Help and love the flash, Luccia.

    • Charli Mills

      Mary is turning out to be refined after all. 🙂

      • TanGental

        She’s been under strain…

  20. jan

    Such a lovely story and blog. Having worked at food banks and soup kitchens, it’s so important to give people their dignity. After all, it can happen to any of us.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s so true, Jan. Dignity is as important to serve up as soup! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  21. tallypendragon.com

    I can’t believe I forgot to post my flash on Carrot Ranch!! I soooo hope it’s not too late because I’m such a silly old goat …

    Look at That Stupid Girl

    It was like a heat-seeking missile searching out its opportunity, calling in all the attributes of hatred in its wake. She couldn’t be sure if The Woman understood the alchemical process that was happening inside of her, was aware of this hostility and was consciously driving it, or if it was controlling her. Vanda could feel it pulling Silver in ways that must surely be hard for her to ignore, and she certainly didn’t want to give The Hostility any more reason to turn its enmity in her own direction than she already had. She just smiled, sweetly.

    It’s about Vanda this time, Merlin’s best girl. And here’s the link to the post on my website …

    http://wp.me/p4rcRJ-pG

    Brightest Blessings to ALL, as always,
    Tally 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Just in time! 😉 And you did well to tie bullying into your story!

  22. Julia D

    This really happened…

    I can’t remember what she’d called me, but I answered in no uncertain terms, “If you have anything to say to me, meet me after class.” She did, along with all of our classmates. I trembled, realizing that courage is difficult to summon.

    I opened my mouth to speak and said, “Maybe your little friends aren’t afraid of you, but I am!” Wait. That’s not right. Each word dripped with a fury fueled by months of bullying. Maybe she never bothered me again because she hadn’t understood, or maybe she thought I’d gone insane. Either way, the bullying ended.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Julie! Thanks for stopping by! Baffling the bully might have worked, but I think the fact that you used your voice to speak out against her behavior did the trick. Good for you! And thanks for sharing your story.

  23. Rebecca Patajac

    Oh, it auto-links! That’s handy 😀

    Such wonderful stories already, I can’t wait to read the rest.

  24. Charli Mills

    Some blogs have pingbacks! I happen to see it before you came over here to post in the comments. 🙂 Amazing story.

  25. Charli Mills

    I like that! 😀

  26. Rebecca Patajac

    It’s a great function, it helps to form communities and keep people connected. Perfect for the Carrot Ranch 😀

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Internal Monster | Love a Literary Life - […] soon as I read that Charli’s CarrotRanch.com, March 11 99 word Flash Fiction prompt for the #1000Speak initiative was “Building from Bullies”…
  2. Flash fiction: She’s Got Style #shortstorysunday | confessions of a broccoli addict - […] This flash fiction piece was written for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. […]
  3. Bully for you! | Norah Colvin - […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less)…
  4. Writing Challenge Entries #2 | Sacha Black - […] Charli’s prompt this week was: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows the bully mentality countered…
  5. 99 Word Flash Fiction: The Drummer | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) - […] In response to Charlie’s 99 word flash fiction prompt: […]
  6. Bully for you #1000speak @1000speak | TanGental - […] Charli Mills has challenged us this week to deal with a bully. March 11, 2015 prompt: In 99 words…
  7. Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: Ways to Unplug a Bully’s Power | Rereading Jane Eyre - […] Here’s my take on stopping bullies in their tracks which I wrote for Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge! […]

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading