April 15: 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.

April 15, 2015

April 15She points to the ceiling of the porch. “Look at that lath!”

I do, and see tiny strips of wood forming the ceiling. That must have taken a craftsman long hours to arrange and nail each individual piece. More impressive than sheet-rock that’s slapped up in a hurry to get a house up fast. My gaze lingers now that I know what to admire.

We open the door that’s propped shut by a heavy stick of carpentry wood. Old carpet is peeled back to expose polished hardwood. No one has to tell me to admire that detail. Our steps echo in the large room that once was Elmira School. Chalk boards line both the front and back wall, and for the first time, I realize that the wood had once been painted school-bus gold and trimmed in dark red.

“Those globes are original.” Now she’s pointing to three huge lights that suspend from the ceiling. Original? That would make them over 100 years old. No, it had to be later. Sandpoint didn’t build its first Powerhouse until 1910 and it would not have electrified Elmira, 17 miles north by the time this school was built. But she knows her architecture and continues to point out to me why this schoolhouse is worth preserving.

I think the schoolhouse is worth preserving to honor its service to education and the community that once learned how to spell and add on those chalkboards. The history needs preserving, too and the swell of an idea is pressing at my mind. Yet she is the one to voice it.

“You’re a writer. Have you collected stories from living students?”

That’s how I preserve history. I nod and agree that it’s a good idea, and I even imagine placing an add in local papers. She suggests a reunion and I tell her that I think the school-grounds are a perfect setting for Elmira community residents to gather for BBQs and horse-shoes. She agrees, enthusiastically, and now I’m certain I want her to be my neighbor.

Outside she points to a cement pad now covered in peat. “I bet that was to play four-square.” We laugh about how children today play with the red rubber ball but have no idea of the original game. “They just kick it around,” she says.

“And hopscotch,” I add, remembering the fun of that game when our second-grade teacher taught us to draw the squares and numbers. I can imagine this place returning to life. I’m so compelled by this stranger’s visit (she’s returned a second time so now we are friends) that I spend an entire morning at the Elmira Schoolhouse noticing details I had missed. My photos and story are at Elmira Pond Spotter.

I hope she buys the place. She will nurture this old building, and along with another neighbor, we can nurture this scattered community.

Nurturing is the April topic for the #1000Speak project, and writers at Carrot Ranch have been exploring the topic in various ways. We considered the consequences of harming our environment in “The Day the World Turned Brown,” and explored how we can recover from devastating moments by inserting a semi-colon to continue the story in “The Story Doesn’t End.” Officially, April 20th is the day for any participating #1000Speak writers to post in unity with one another.

This week we are going to consider what it means to nurture neighbors or neighborhood. Is it important to gather with neighbors for coffee or BBQ? What does it mean to save a neighborhood relic like the Elmira Schoolhouse?

April 15, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about nurturing a neighborly relationship. It can be a next-door neighbor, a neighborhood critter or a neighborly place like a schoolhouse or community garden. Show what nurturing looks like for characters or places involved.

Respond by April 21, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Welcome to the West by Charli Mills

Viola graduated from normal school in Wisconsin, class of 1909. She assisted a teacher her father knew back home. Most of her students were children of neighbors she grew up with. Viola craved something more wild. Her father winked, though her mother fussed when she announced her appointment out west.

A strong wind battered the train as it pulled up to a remote rough-hewn platform. Whistles blew and Viola stepped off to face strangers. A man approached her, doffed his hat and introduced her to the small crowd gathered.

“Howdy, Neighbors! Welcome our new schoolteacher!”

They smiled and cheered.

###

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100 Comments

  1. paulamoyer

    That story is so cool, Charli! My grandmother graduated from a normal school in Oklahoma in 1914. Here’s my flash:

    Pacing Polly

    By Paula Moyer

    Jean saw her in the store every Friday. “Pacing Polly.” Skinny, gorgeous white hair, she paced the aisles, yelling to someone no one else saw.

    But Polly had good days. So Jean held out hope and greeted Polly every Friday. Most of the time, “hello” got a glare back, more pacing.

    Then one day.

    “I need some objectivity.” The voice from behind startled Jean. Polly’s eyes were blue and lucid. “I got this as a gift.” A wrap-throw combo. “What’s it for?”

    Jean explained. Polly flashed a radiant smile.

    Next Friday, Polly paced. Jean hoped for another good day.

    • Charli Mills

      I love that teaching allowed women a profession before they even had a right to vote, plus it could be a chance to have adventures out west! Your flash is poignant, watching for lucid moments, forgiving the bad days.

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Charli. One of the biggest challenges I face at work gauging “Polly” when she’s in my selling area.

      • Charli Mills

        She’s found a compassionate neighbor among the aisles and turn of days.

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      I had a Polly when we had a shop. Those good days were great. Made the other days easier to take for the Polly as well as the staff.

  2. Norah

    I really enjoyed reading about the schoolhouse, Charli. I love to think of the students who passed through those doors and the teachers who helped them with their learning. How differently things would have been done back then, and how short their school days.
    I love the sound of the reunion and the sharing of stories; and of your collecting the stories together to weave the tale of the schoolhouse and the community.
    How will the visitor become a neighbour? Will she live there if she purchases it? I wonder what that would be like? Picturing the schoolhouse as hub for nuturing the community has great appeal. Sometimes the sense of community gets lost in suburbia and the bustle of city life.
    I particularly like your flash. I can picture the young schoolteacher arriving by train and being welcomed by the small community. I guess the picture is helped by having seen many similar scenes in Westerns on TV or at the movies when I was growing up. It is also something from my past too (though not that long ago!). My second posting was to a small country school. I arrived there by train and was met by the school principal. I hadn’t thought of the similarity before!
    I’ll give your challenge some thought. It is an interesting one. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      The visitor wants to buy the schoolhouse to live there. I think it would make a wonderful community center to gather us neighbors spread out in the forest and hills of this small valley. I guess that’s what this schoolhouse did at one time! Wow–I had no idea how similar of an experience you had to my flash! I actually had Todd’s great-grandmother in mind. 🙂 What was it like to teach in such a posting?

      • Norah

        Is it the intention of the visitor to use it as a community centre as well as a home? That would be awesome, as long as it didn’t encroach too much on your precious writing time. 🙂 I wasn’t in the school for long – just one term I think, but there were lots of interesting experiences. It wasn’t as small a school as yours at Elmira Pond. There were four teachers. I taught years one and two. They were quite a mixed bunch, and it was a looooong time ago. I’ve have to try to conjure up some memories. Thanks for asking. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I’m the one with designs on the schoolhouse as a community center! Considering how much time I garden, bird watch and BBQ, neighbors are welcome to join me. I tend to be protective of my writing space. I had (a writer of all people) stay with me for a few weeks and she asked, how can you stand to write all the time? 🙂 I guess I chose the “write” profession! Four teachers…that must have felt cozy! What a way to start your profession. 🙂

      • Norah

        I’m so pleased you chose the “write” profession, and it sounds like the community centre might work out just to your liking. You are good at roping in the things you need! “How could you stand to not write?” must be a question that could be asked of a writer.
        Cozy? Hadn’t thought of it that way! 🙂

  3. Marigold

    What a sweet story. By the time I got to grade 7 everyone was using whiteboards and complaining about them. I always thought chalk writing was pretty (I’m not sure why – traditional instincts?). I love hearing about community history. I hope the schoolhouse is kept well!
    Here’s my flash for this prompt 🙂

    https://versusblurb.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/flash-fiction-neighbourly-garden/

    It was the first summer she’d noticed the little garden hadn’t been tended. The flowers were still managing, but the ground was cracked and the leaves had begun to dry. It was always a highlight on her walk, and she’d always wondered who tended to the strangely well-kept garden that sat outside the old apartment block.
    So the next day, she came back with a watering can. The day after, someone had tipped fresh soil around the flowers, but it hadn’t seemed properly tilled. She smiled and came back with trowel and fork to finish what her neighbour started.

    • Charli Mills

      This possible new neighbor would restore the place. The chalkboards are amazing! I’ve never seen ones as large as in this schoolhouse. I feel like I get to know a community through its history. It’s fun living next door to a historic place. You beautiful flash reminds me of the nurturing we can have for one another in the silence between our places. We woke up one morning after a bad snow storm, fretting over how to shovel so much and our driveway was completely plowed, yet no one took credit for it! It’s a good feeling to live among those who notice others kindly.

    • susanzutautas

      I love your flash Marigold!

      • Marigold

        Thank you Susan!

  4. paulamoyer

    Great flash, Marigold!

  5. Sherri

    I really love your flash Charli!! I can just see Viola’s father winking while her ‘mother fussed when she announced her appointment out west’. Viola has the same determination that my grandmother had when she announced to her may-as-well-be Victorian mother that she wanted to go to London to be a nurse. And that’s exactly what she did 🙂
    I can see Viola standing there on that wind-blown platform, holding her hat with one hand and her small suitcase with the other, smiling in relief at her friendly welcome 🙂
    This is exciting news about the schoolhouse too and a new neighbour/friend for you…I’m catching the steam train, heading over to Elmira Pond to read all about it.
    Great prompt too. Time to put the neighbour from hell back where he belongs; our neighbours now are pure gold and so indeed, the story continues…

    • Charli Mills

      Nursing and teaching was a road out of a mundane life, I think. It really sparked my imagination when I read a Superintendent’s report of schools in Idaho in 1910. He talked about the beauty of the remote Panhandle and how proud he was that they could pay to attract quality teachers from the east and central states. That made me think of the teachers and why they might like to travel west for an appointment! Those women like your Aunt had spunk and fortitude! You are going to have to catch that train one day — just fly into New York and hop on Amtrak! In fact, Amtrak offers a writing/riding residency: http://blog.amtrak.com/general-faqs/. Now time to write about the pure gold neighbors! 🙂

      • Sherri

        Oh Charli, at last reading your wonderful reply! I feel like I’ve been the proverbial Horse With No Name out in the desert, but now I’m back at the Cheers bar where ‘Everybody Knows Your Name’ , such is the warmth and welcome of your fantastic community <3
        And I am completely wowed! This Amtrack writing/riding residency sounds like my dream come true. Hubby and I always say if we ever won the lottery, we would take a trip on the Orient Express and across the Rockies. I've travelled on trains so many times here in the UK as a major form of public transportation, but once and only once, as part of a school trip from our country school to London when we had 'tea' on the train in the dining cart, with fresh linens, tea cups, sandwiches and cakes. I was about 11 and I adored it and have always vowed that one day I would take a long train trip, always wanting to sleep on one.
        I used to dream of those Amtrack cross-country trips…and now you've given me something to seriously think about, I honestly had absolutely no idea such a thing even existed!!! You amaze me with your knowledge, you really do, thank you so much for sharing this 🙂
        And yes, I loved that part you wrote about the Superintendent's Report. Can definitely see the attraction for those teachers. And your excitement in finding it!
        Back in a flash my friend 😀

      • Charli Mills

        Sherri, I’d be waiting at the platform in Sandpoint if you took up a residency on Amtrak! I’ve only had one train trip but I loved it so much that I can’t wait to be able to travel by train some more!

      • Sherri

        Let’s do it!!! And then we can write a book about it, seriously!!!

  6. Ula

    I’m so excited about this prompt. I have an idea and I will continue with my story from the last two prompts. Yay!
    Charli, how you do it is beyond me.
    I’m already dreaming of coming out to visit you. From what you write, you live in heaven (at least for me). I love nature and wildlife. This time of year is so magical for that. We went for a family walk with the dog today and I stood for a while under a tree trying to figure out which birds were making which noises. Nature has been exploding with color here lately and it is intoxicating. Currently, in addition to the greens, there are lots of yellows and whites. The magnolia buds will open within a few days so soon we’ll have some pinks and purples.
    And now I think back to my story and the sad dry world they live in and all that they miss out on because nature has been destroyed.
    I love the story of the schoolhouse. I hope it gets preserved. I’ve always dreamed of living in an old wooden schoolhouse. There’s something wildly romantic about it.

    • Charli Mills

      Isn’t it wonderful when the world opens up to buds and birds? I’m not good at identifying birds by sound, and get excited when I can! I loved your Magpie poem; they are fascinating birds and we have them out west, too. Enjoy those walks. I’m also intrigued by the history that’s so deep where you live — “walking on bones of ancestors” resonates with me. I have an open guest room for writers so anytime! 🙂 Glad this works into a continuation of your flash story.

      • Ula

        Charli, the city I live in, Bialystok (in north-east Poland), was predominantly Jewish before 1939. My apartment is in a refurbished administrative building next door to a textile factory that used to be run by people of German descent, I believe. There is a park now where there used to be a Jewish cemetery. There are still buildings that remember those times; the people are mostly gone. Those that survived are now in Israel and the US. The biggest population of Bialystok Jews is in NYC. I feel the weight of history here and we literally walk on the bones of our ancestors.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, wow. It must be with such reverence you walk through that history, through that park. The stories of our past have a sacred feeling to me, like we are the caretakers to carry those stories into our future. We never escape history and it can be a gift to embrace it and find its insights. What an incredible place to live.

    • lucciagray

      Ula, I was in Bialystok for a week a few years ago on a Comenius teacher Exchange Project. It’s a beautiful part of Poland. We visitied some National Parks and a Jewish village nearby which had suffered greatly during the war, I can’t remember the name. We were warmly welcomed 🙂

      • Ula

        It was probably Tykocin. So glad to hear you were treated well and found it beautiful. It is extremely beautiful here. That’s why I like it.

      • lucciagray

        It was October, but freezing (for us living in Spain) and we were invited to a ‘picnic’ with a huge bonfire where we cooked sausages etc. Lovely people.????

      • Ula

        It is usually quite cold here in October, especially compared to Spain. I dream of moving to Costa Rica. I love the tropics.

      • lucciagray

        Sounds like a good plan:)

    • Pete

      Good stuff as always Larry!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so excited for your new website. Ed and Edna have grown on me like good neighbors!

    • Sarah Brentyn

      I love the cycle of nurturing you’ve created here.

    • Charli Mills

      I continue to learn about that schoolhouse. Like you, I would have loved attending school in one — especially if Laura Ingalls was the teacher! Your flash reminds me of the heritage land trust in WI where a farmer can deed his land for agricultural use only in the future.

  7. Pete

    Cage Free Kids

    They ran along the creek, a twig snapping gust of pants and giggles bound for the nearest refrigerator. Jacob led the way, lurching to a stop when he saw the police car. Mrs. Morton, his new neighbor, jabbed a finger at the boys. The officer waved them over.

    “Where are your parents?”

    They stood heaving, their mud-speckled legs tattooed with briar whelps and mosquito bites. Jacob finally piped up.

    “At home.”

    “What are you kids doing out all alone?” Mrs. Morton asked. Jacob glanced at Tyler, then to Keon, whose water-logged shoes left dark imprints on the asphalt.

    “Playing.”

    • Charli Mills

      There’s so much embedded in this flash. Humor — just playing, officer. Yet, it seems kids no longer have such carefree times to run among the briars and muddy creeks. However, there always seems to be a Mrs. Morton in the neighborhood! I hope she gets accustom to the wonder of kids just playing!

  8. Sacha Black

    this happened today, how could i not use it? be back later to comment and give you a link:

    The Friendship Time Couldnt Break by Sacha Black

    I hated conferences. Too many people, too much small talk. I leant against the wall headphones in, hoping for peace.

    Our song was playing in my ears, a reminder of tarnished memories, a friendship lost. We were both wrong. Both proud.

    “Sacha,” she waved, icy recognition flooded my body.

    I froze. I’d been the one to hold out an olive branch. She’d snapped it.

    But it was a friendship time couldn’t damage. If I put my arm out, I had to forgive. Forget. Nurture the friendship back.

    Sometimes the universe brings you together for a reason.

    “Shell…” I smiled.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a great image — “I’d been the one to hold out an olive branch. She’d snapped it.” Isn’t it amazing when these encounters occur? We’d prefer they didn’t, but there they are. The title itself is full of healing sentiment. Great situation to turn into a flash!

      • Sacha Black

        Thanks Charli – I actually said it to her too – I held out an olive branch and you snapped it. Was a very surreal meeting.

        I’m going to head over to see those photos you draw such wonderful pictures for me and I want to see if I’m right. I hope she buys it because I love restored buildings such a fusion of old meets new. 🙂

    • Ula

      I love this, Sacha. The snapped olive branch is a great visual. Friendships are something I have a hard time giving up on and so I know that feeling of hope.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        I second (third) that the snapped olive branch is brilliant. Glad you’re nurturing the new/old friendship.

  9. plaguedparents

    Here’s what I came up with. some really interesting stories so far…
    I too, loved the writing of the school house.

    Roses
    by A.R. Amore

    Stooped in the garden, mulching the fourth rose bush, an elderly woman appears outside my wrought iron fence. “Excuse me,” she says. “May I have a rose?” Looking up, I tell her absolutely and cut several red blooms, shearing off the thorns then handing them to her. “My father planted those,” she attests, “after he built this place in 1918.” She clutches the roses close to her nose, inhaling and then shuffles out of sight. Her daughter arrives, breathless having just run around the corner. “Mom, wait,” she yells. “You found the house.” Still kneeling, I offer another rose.

    Here is the link: http://wp.me/p5u9VI-a0

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! What a beautiful story of neighbors crossing paths over the years of time. I love the the rose are still growing, well tended and carefully shared. Great flash!

    • lucciagray

      Wonderful flash, I love the line ‘My father planted those’, various generations living in a house and getting to know each other… I was thinking of something along those lines, too 🙂

    • Sarah Brentyn

      This is lovely.

  10. A. E. Robson

    Great stories. Great group. I am very pleased to have found you.

    Ivor Oaks
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The old schoolhouse located at the edge of the hamlet of Ivor Oaks was surrounded by oak trees and grain fields.

    The windows in the building had been boarded up to protect the flawless six-square glass frames. The walls were solid and the roof had the look of a well loved patchwork quilt. The light from the open door revealed the smooth, well worn, original wooden floor.

    Restoration funds had been procured. At the project’s completion, the Ivor Oaks Art and Cultural Retreat would be nurtured into a sanctuary for artisans to gather together to create and inspire.

    Linked to http://www.annedallrobson.com/blog

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to the ranch, Ann! I love this vision and the idea of a “sanctuary for artisans.” Thank you for joining us this week!

      • A. E. Robson

        Thanks Charli. I am looking forward being here and taking part.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m glad to hear that!

  11. Ula

    Here’s mine. I’ll add the link later.

    The Ceremony

    I’d say the ceremony had begun as usual, but there was no usual anymore. We all met in the abandoned concert building we’d been working hard for several weeks to restore best we could. The heat was merciless to the wood, but the paint made it look almost new. When Daniel and the rest of our neighbors arrived, the ceremony began.
    Alan, our next door neighbor, got up on stage and spoke. “Welcome to our new community center. This is where anyone can come for advice and support, where we will divvy rations, and we will meet every week.”

    • Ula

      I thought it might take me longer to post, but here it is: http://wp.me/p1VeFf-mA

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Ooh, a bit Dystopian? (Or am I reading into things again?) 😉 Still. Great flash.

      • Ula

        You’re completely right, Sarah, very dystopian. Thank you.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        I thought it so. Excellent.

    • Charli Mills

      There is something almost akin to last rites, this gathering for a ceremony in an abandoned concert building. Just the idea that circumstances would degenerate to the abandonment of arts is chilling. This ceremony rises out of the ashes yet I don’t know if it is for the greater good or greater control. Good story!

      • Ula

        You’re raising some good issues I hadn’t thought about.

        I recently got into the show The 100 and that is exactly what the show is about this friction between control and greater good.

        I guess it’s something we experience every day unawares. How many decisions are made for greater good and how many for control we will never truly know. And I guess the world isn’t so black and white, so often its about both.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        So many YA novels I’ve read focus on this greater good vs control issue. The Dystopian society is always about looking back at how we destroyed the world and how it is “fixed” now. Makes for a great read. Also, makes you think about those grey areas Ula’s talking about.

      • Charli Mills

        I can see the power in writing a story that exposes those decisions. What is The 100?

      • Ula

        Charli, it’s a show on the CW. I guess since the audience is fairly young it’s like YA. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2661044/ The second season ended recently.

      • Charli Mills

        Without a television, I’m lost as to all the new programming! I can’t even stream. Well, that sounds exciting! You’ll have to tell us more about it!

  12. lucciagray

    I’m too independent to appreciate some types of curious neighbours, but they often mean well, and tend to help out a lot, especially in Spain, where I live. Something similar to this flash happened to a relative of a colleague of mine. Heartwarming 🙂

    Chipping in

    ‘Where are you taking that roast chicken and the cake you baked?’
    ‘Down to Dolores.’
    ‘Stop meddling. It’s none of your business.’
    ‘But he’s done it again.’
    ‘He’ll be back.’
    ‘Not this time. It’s been over two months.’
    ‘She’ll sort it out.’
    ‘How? She’s got three children under eight, and she’s unemployed.’
    ‘She can claim social security.’
    ‘She has. She gets 400 euros a month and she has four mouths to feed.’
    ‘Do you really think we can feed four more people?’
    ‘Just once every two weeks. It’s our turn today. The neighbours have all decided to chip in.’

    ****

    I’ll be posting on my blog tomorrow.

    • Charli Mills

      Neighbors around here can be fond of their seclusion and often post no trespassing signs. There is one about a half mile away with a camera mounted on a sign that reads, “Smile. Your on camera.” One of these days he’s going to catch me on camera with a paint brush correcting, “you’re.”

      Your flash is a tender example of chipping in without interfering. It is a kind gesture, but also a life-affirming one that says, “you matter.” Beautiful story!

    • Charli Mills

      Guilty to say that Sunday’s entertainment was on the pond with the hooded mergansers flapping it out and now Mr. Hooded has not returned in a full day. I do believe he’s abandoned Lady Merganser who is hooting mournfully (or, perhaps that’s joy). As the Pond Turns, now I tune into Mary’s drama! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I had fun interweaving the two blog posts. Not something I usually do. It’s spring and we’re feeling creative, right? 🙂 Your flash is a good lesson in soul nurturing!

  13. Norah

    Hi Charli, I’m here with my post about an early learning caravan. Thank you for the opportunity to write about, rather than just think about, it! Best wishes. http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-rl

    • Charli Mills

      An early learning caravan — I’m going to go learn something new, Norah! Thank you! 🙂

    • Ula

      I like your flash so much, Sarah.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Aww… Thank you! 🙂 And thanks for visiting the reef and staying to swim a bit.

    • Charli Mills

      The reef is the new cool hang-out for flash fiction!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Thanks, Charli. 🙂

  14. Sarah Brentyn

    This schoolhouse, as described in more detail over at Elmira Pond, so reminds me of the one in the book-turned-movie Holes by Louis Sachar.

    • Charli Mills

      Loved that book! I was always reading my kids’ books (still am, actually).

  15. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Charli I have gone off on a tangent this week and written to the word not the prompt. I don’t mind if you don’t include it in the compilation this week as I have perhaps been a bit negative and a bit unnecessary.
    I liked you and your neighbours idea for the old school house. I will be off to visit Elmira Pond as soon as I have completed this comment. The nurturing of an idea and bringing it to fruition, in the process bringing the community together is great.

    • Charli Mills

      We’ll enact the cabaret rule: *most* anything goes! Each writer is to follow where the prompt leads and it isn’t always the likeliest path. You speak of memoir and I learn much about that craft from you, more than I ever knew. I think literature in the broad sense of the production of writing, gives us opportunity to explore different perspectives. You made me think of the word nurture in a different light. I think of growing something from a beginning and giving it life. Thank you for sharing your response (and I love the Amos Oz quote) and being true to your writer’s inclination to the prompt.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Thanks Charli. I think all these perspectives is one of the joys of the Carrot ranch. The other joy is your understanding and guidance. I never know where I am going to be taken each week but its always down a track of adventure going where the writer’s inclination takes me. Glad you liked the quote – I loved it.

      • Charli Mills

        Creativity can feel vulnerable, especially when we share so publicly. That was one intention for Carrot Ranch — that it be a safe place to express different ideas and explore creativity. I find joy in multiple perspectives because it broadens my experience and thinking!

    • Charli Mills

      I’ve seen a few post but had not actually followed the coffee share virtual neighborhood. It is so true that a simple cup of coffee can be so nurturing of neighbors. Thank you for pointing out the thread to me!

  16. tallypendragon.com

    Hi Charli, and ALL Ranchers,

    Sorry I’ve been an absentee for the past few weeks, haven’t been too well, but back now … I loved your post on the schoolhouse, Charli, it’s what prompted my offering for this week, and I hope the nurturing of a new kind of community rings as loud and clear from it as did yours:

    Vanda’s Vision

    “Wow, this vision of yours is pretty special, isn’t it?” Brian soothed as they walked back across the precincts of Glastonbury’s ruined abbey. “Would you tell me about it?”

    Vanda continued: “It’ll be a visitor attraction. One where visitors will experience how a medieval monastery worked on a day-to-day basis, and feel how it was to live the experience. But so much more … a centre of learning, for all ages … archaeology, history, and spirituality. We’ll give people the understanding of it all, while all the time entertaining them beyond their wildest dreams, and rekindling a real community.

    … and here’s the link to the post:

    http://wp.me/p4rcRJ-q7

    Brightest of Blessings to you ALL,
    Tally 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you back on the ranch! Hope you’re feeling better and on the mend. I love this vision and often think about how spectacular this place will be. It’s the grown up version of Norah’s learning caravan — a place that educates, entertains creativity and fosters community. Blessings to you!

      • tallypendragon.com

        Thank you, Charli … yes, a lot better than I’ve felt for the past few weeks! I just hope the Doc’s got the medication right now.

        It works on so many levels too: for instance, it’s the place I go to in my meditations when I need somewhere inspirational to keep me afloat. So, it seems it’s already doing its appointed work 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Hold on to that vision! I might join you one day in meditation. 🙂

  17. Annecdotist

    I don’t like to dump my entry and run, as there’s so much great stuff to read here, but it’s midday in the UK and, though I know I still have a few more hours, I don’t like to miss a deadline. So here’s mine, with a book review and flash about neighbours – the novel I’m reviewing, Tim Winton’s Eyrie, certainly fits the criteria for #1000Speak but I’m afraid my flash is a bit naughty:
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/-when-good-neighbours-become-good-friends-eyrie-by-tim-winton
    Hope to be back again before the real deadline.

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Hee. Love it. I felt badly but I nurtured a neighborly friendship in a “naughty” way, too. We can’t all be flowers and sunshine, Anne. <3

    • Charli Mills

      Naughty flashes spice things up! I’ve had an in and out day all day. I almost posted these early, and now I’m posting late. Ah, well good stories to come back and read. Some new writers this week, too. I’ve been following the discussions on your post, too. I’m fascinated by what’s going on in Irish literature.

  18. Sherri

    Here’s my flash Charli, not quite the story I thought I would write, but thinking of the nurturing of ourselves when living with the after-effects of trauma, and thinking of recent events and the sense of utter relief in the aftermath. Posting it here today as I’m still trying to get back on track 🙂 Thanks again Charli for another great prompt!

    Sanctuary.

    A loud thump shattered Carrie’s sleep.

    Cold fear seized her racing heart as she swiped in panic at the bedside lamp, sending it crashing as her baby wailed into the darkness.

    Carrie raced to his room as Bumble bolted across her feet, black tail spiked like a Christmas tree

    Damn cat…

    Relief, like a hot bath, melted Carrie’s terror when, as she flipped the light switch, she saw a picture frame knocked to the floor

    Cuddling her baby in the soothing silence, Carrie breathed again.

    It wasn’t gunshot; nobody was on their roof.

    Safe at last, in their sanctuary.

    • Ula

      Oooh, I really enjoyed this. I wonder what it is Carrie is hiding from. I could feel all the emotion. Really great.

      • Sherri

        Thanks Ula!! Carrie had some awful neighbours, forcing her to move away but now she is in a new, safe home…although still jumpy…

    • Charli Mills

      Cats have great timing, and you used it well to cross the path of your story’s pacing. Panic and sanctuary hint at deep fears and while it doesn’t reveal the story in full, it feels complete and safe at last.

      • Sherri

        Ahh thanks Charli. I wanted to put in more about the actual neighbour bit, but I hoped it would be complete in that sense. I thought of Bumble as a cross between my Eddie and your Bootsy…and the name came to me in a flash, how about that 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Aw, Bumble! We’ll have to include Bumble in our train story. 😉

  19. jeanne229

    Damn! Prevaricated too long about getting this flash posted on my new WP blog or just posting it here….and missed the boat. This is late but hoping that at least it can live in the comments here. Oh, and seems certain creatures are more neighborly than one would assume…

    A Visitor on the Verandah

    The first arrived, a slip of night on the verandah. A sunset flash of carp trembled between sharp teeth, then disappeared. “Meeer,” he said.

    At first he lived outside, lapping his milk among the morning glories and cyclamen. When the wine-colored maple leaves spiraled down, she let him in.

    Through the winter, she loved him.

    In spring, three others appeared.

    In summer, the end came.

    “You’ll have to get rid of the cats,” the university president’s secretary said. “It’s Sensei’s koi pond . . . ”

    And she’d thought herself lucky to get that apartment overlooking President Nonaka’s garden.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s okay! I straightened the path and posted your story with the compilation!:-) Such a beautiful story and imagery, ending with triumph and a bit of humor. Cats can wrangle hearts. Thanks for sharing this!

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