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April 22: Flash Fiction Challenge

April 22This post begins with a disclaimer: I’m not a pothead.

Yet, this morning, over buttermilk pancakes, conversation drifted to marijuana and I found myself defending pot. The Hub loves to argue; it’s his form of conversation. He listens to mainstream radio when he drives for FedEx, and what he hears fuels his arguments. He practices rebuttals, as if he were preparing for a Lincoln-Douglas debate.

I’m minding my sausages and am clearly not as excited as he is about Willie Nelson’s newly branded weed cigarettes. I recognize a strategic marketing move by the country singer and long-time supporter of cannabis. Very clever. While Washington and Colorado states — the only two in the US to legalize pot — have been hashing out how to regulate hashish, Willie Nelson has developed a line of product and paraphernalia.

The Hub fails to see this as strategy.

He’s offended, he tells me, in between bites of pancakes. Offended? I smile and ask why and he tells me of going to parties with the free-love sorts who’d smoke pot and get unsuspecting girls high. Free-love doesn’t sound so menacing, and I’m sure the girls had a clue when passed the pipe. It’s not like being slipped a date-rape drug unnoticed.

When I ask where in the world is he attending such parties — we’ve been married 28 years and I’ve been unaware — he gives me that look like I should know better. Before we were married, he says. Yes, my husband has been offended by pot-smokers for over 30 years.

He works in the transportation industry and can be random drug-tested any given day. He’s as pure as his puritan roots when it comes to illicit drugs. Maybe it’s in his genes. I can trace his father’s line back to 100% puritan English roots. The Mills are so puritan their heartbeats sound like bible-thumping. If the puritans left England of their own accord, I’m sure their neighbors cheered their going with raised pints in the pubs.

In the colonies, the Mills men served as church deacons and married women named Prudence, Patience and Mehitable. When the churches weren’t stern enough, they founded new sterner ones. The Hub’s 3rd-great grandfather wrote produce columns in an 1850s newspaper. Little was said beyond fluctuating prices and availability, but much was said against the vice of drink. And they continued to build churches and colleges until they came to Nevada.

In Nevada, they built a church and school that the Hub attended as a boy. Yet he smokes a pipe and drinks enough alcohol to have all his ancestors writhing in heaven. Talk about the kettle calling pot black.

I’m all for hemp. Hemp seeds are high in omega-3s and taste fine on a salad. Industrial hemp is environmentally-friendly and has many uses. I don’t care if an individual chooses to smoke pot or eat hemp-brownies. In fact, I have friends and family who use marijuana for medicinal purposes. It helps relieve neuropathic pain and curbs pain and nausea associated with harsher cancer treatments. Some studies even suggest that cannabis can reverse some cancers.

So why all the pot media this week? With Washington state as our stones-throw-away neighbor, 4/20 is a counterculture day that celebrates marijuana and with legalization leading to new innovations, it was deemed mainstream newsworthy. Of course, the puritan Hub had no idea that two days prior to Earth Day is Mary Jane’s birthday. I sniggered because I already knew this (please note earlier disclaimer).

What do Earth Day and Mary Jane have in common? Each rose out of counter culture movements, and both can lead to controversies. Marijuana stands on the precipice of becoming as common as a wine. And Earth Day has taken on urgency to counter the impact modern society has on the environment. Yet there are deniers of both.

In the midst of life we attempt to control, we all long to let go. Exotic trips to escape the city; a shared bottle of wine to unwind; passing around the bong after a long hike up the mountain trail; a runner’s high to counter anxiety at work; a creamy cake to quell life’s troubles; a marathon of sit-coms to hide from the unpleasantness of the world; a drag of smoke to cope; beer with friends to connect with others when home feels lonely; books to keep our imaginations focused elsewhere.

We all have vices. I drink mineral water and smoke marshmallows, to name a few.

Taking a puritan stand helps no one. I’m a Christian and I stand on my faith like a rock; I don’t turn my faith into a rock and thump others over the head with it. Where is the love in that? I know grace because I was saved by it, not because I eliminated vices. I still have them. Nor do I buy the puritan myth; no one is pure no matter how stern they look.

As writers, we can make our characters real by giving them vices that they struggle with or deny. Vices can create tension or become the basis of a twisting plot. If vices lead to excited arguments over pancakes, imagine how they can hook a reader.

April 22, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a vice. It can be part of a character or a part of the story. The vice can be the focus or it can be subtle. Think of ways to use a vice (or multiples, if you are so daring) to create a compelling flash fiction.

Respond by April 28, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Spring Camping by Charli Mills

Ramona drove through muddy ruts to reach the campground. Too early for tourists, but free of snow. A car with Washington plates was already parked. Two full-bearded young men helped her with the tent and camp kitchen.

“You boys like veggies?”

They eagerly nodded and brought over a mixed-greens salad to share.

Boys who eat veggies. She should introduce them to the twins.

“Are you Amish?”

“Vegan,” one replied. He pulled out hand-rolled cigarettes. Ramona was never one for smoking but not wanting to be rude she accepted one after dinner, and slept the best she had in years.



  1. Norah says:

    What an interesting post here, Charli. I particularly like your thought about our attempt to control life, and at the same time to let go, or release. I was surprised that only two states have legalised marijuana. I thought it may have been more than that. Its use is not legal here but there has been a recent push again by some for its use for medicinal purposes, as you describe. It is another product that divides communities and opinions.
    I really enjoyed your flash. I’m wondering about the vice – camping in spring? Being vegan? Smoking pot? ☺️ I hope Ramona fares well!

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think it’s interesting the way media divides communities and opinions because they know how to get people riled. Get the people riled and they’ll watch, read or click. It used to be politics, but now everyone has a divided opinion about anything. People can justify vices, or call them something else. Some can use a vice as an excuse to shame others. If something can be deemed unhealthy, someone will attack it and someone else will defend it. It’s a rich topic for writers! If Ramona and her new friends do not have a permit to camp…veganism can be an unbelievably hot button topic, probably because it is not “the norm”…and I think Ramona might have found a cure for all that ails her.

  2. 😀 Love the story here. I can picture this conversation so well–what a visual. (Great flash, as always, too.) OH, I think the Rough Writers are going to have a bit of fun with this one!

  3. Annecdotist says:

    I smiled all the way through this post, Charli. This is certainly a topic to get the Rough Writers arguing and the creative juices flowing. And marijuana is perhaps the truck most likely to evoke a range of responses. Is it merely a way of relaxing, less harmful than the tobacco it’s often inhaled with or the alcohol which is more socially accepted? Does it help ameliorate illness (the cancer you quote and I’d heard of it being helpful for MS) or does it trigger it (some evidence that skunk is a factor in psychosis)? Or is it, like so many vices, a business opportunity, an attempt to control?
    Well I loved your flash – Ramona has decided she can trust the boys because they eat their veggies, not even querying what’s in the cigarette! Or are they being good neighbours and doing her a favour, ensuring a good night sleep? Or does she even suspect what might be in it and turns a blind eye?
    Looking forward to seeing where this prompt takes your followers. No idea what I’ll do with it, but of course that’s all part of the fun. The MC of my possibly-second novel does enjoy a joint every now and then, but he has another vice which is much much worse.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I did read the conflicting two lines from the American Cancer Society that warns of marijuana causing paranoia and anxiety, then in the next line extol the drug for treating both! Ramona might like what she smoked as much as she likes boys who eat their veggies. It made me think what a fun story it could be — an elderly widow growing pot to supplement her veteran’s spouse pension. Perhaps your next MC needs to unwind from his other vice. 🙂

  4. […] In response to Charli’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: Vice […]

  5. Marigold says:

    What a hot topic! Great prompt again this week Charli. I went in a hm a more negative direction I guess? Here we go:

    They expected it to be exciting since it was so forbidden. To be fair, the drinking was fun, but only to a point. Dehydration was a bitch, which made you her bitch.

    Cigarette smells lingered in their clothes and in their hair. It smelt nice at first, but the novelty quickly lost its lustre. Ash was ash, and vomit was vomit: the facts could not be sugar coated.

    Halfway through, one washed their clothes as the other booked a room and their train tickets. Trading one coast for another, they left schoolies behind to go swimming and bushwalking instead.

  6. Deborah says:

    I just stumbled across your blog and Flash Fiction and the Rough Writers. Love it! Working on the challenge!

  7. A. E. Robson says:

    Wow Charli! What a topic for this week’s prompt. Could be anyone; and that’s what I found to be so compelling in your words.

    Desperate Hell

    The dark side. That’s where he presided now. A place that took away the pain and guilt. A home for justification intertwined with everything he had been trained for. 

    His duty filled with dangerous adrenalin consorting with life on the edge. That’s where he had been the day he had been shot. 

    The incessant pain in his leg. The pills he couldn’t get enough of directed him to this life.

    This fraudulent, intimidating existence was taking over. Time was not on his side. He was sinking deeper into the iniquity. Desperate to find help or end up in hell.

  8. Sherri says:

    Well Charli, my name is definitely not Prudence but I wonder if I share just a hint of your hub’s puritanism (is that a proper word?) when it comes to cannabis use. My American GI’s drug use caused huge problems between us (me convinced that old MJ is a gateway drug – contencious this, I know, – and also hated the way it fired up his paranoia (and that was before talk of skunk and its links to schizophrenia back then) and made him act) and personally, I just can’t stand the smell of the stuff, but his constant use and efforts to try to get me to do the same, gave rise to some pretty crazy, and yes, funny at times misadventures (all in the book, ha!) so your post strikes at my heart in an even more personal way than usual!!!!
    But I fully accept the fact that although pot did nothing for me (but smoking cigarettes was just fine, of course…) there is a huge difference between smoking hash through a hole in a coke can if a bong wasn’t available (the good old 70’s), smoking the odd joint, and using it for medicinal purposes.
    And then, wouldn’t you know it, I am having to do a constant swivel as my 22 year old Aspie daughter engages me in endless conversations about the benefits of cannabis. Making it clear, she doesn’t smoke anything and can’t handle two beers without getting sick (but we won’t mention those wild years between 13 and 15, and thank God she got it out of the way early but she was un undiagnosed Aspie desperate to find her way back then) she is forever telling me of her research about the use of cannabis for medical purposes, not only for cancer but also for helping those like her who suffer from debilitating anxiety and the way the brain works differently in those with Asperger’s (with studies to back up neurological differences).
    No wonder she was so desperate to move to Colorado last year 😉 I am going to show her your post and I know already what she will say: “See, I told you Mom!”
    She is a wise old soul and challenges my thinking is a lot of ways, which I just love. But as I listen, nod my head and ponder all of the medicinal benefits despite still, like your hub for over 30 years, hating pot, I carry on in my old ways, drinking wine and bubbly, hypocrite that I am…which she tells me does more harm than smoking any joint 😉
    Love your flash, had me laughing for lots of reasons – ‘Are you Amish?’ ‘No. Just vegan.’! Best night’s sleep and all that… Your post and your flash is smokin’ Charli, in more ways than one!

    • Charli Mills says:

      I figured if the topic enlivened pancakes, it would set a spark for the writers! I’m so innocent — I had no idea you could make a bong out of a coke can! LOL Anne would know better, but I do believe that individuals respond differently to mind-altering drugs. All the research your daughter has done might be true for many, but not for all. I know someone who takes it to relax and do yoga, yet I do yoga without it and feel just as relaxed! Like you, I have a happy spot for bubbly and I really do enjoy the social aspects of going to town to have a beer with the Hub at the local brewery. I’ve carefully noted that the more excited I get with conversations at the pub, the faster and more I tend to consume. I’m not sure what that social link to consumption is about. In a way, we all self-medicate whether by consumption or activities, which has roots in our vices. Maybe we do know ourselves best. Maybe we are our own worst enemies. And while my mind is so full of marketing tactics at the moments, I can’t help but think that when you have your manuscript ready, an essay about pot would be a great piece of PR. Thanks for getting my corny joke — Are you Amish? No vegan. 🙂 We’ll all have smokin’ flashes this week!

      • Sherri says:

        I like it when someone gets a joke in our writing, and I’m not so sure that happens with some of mine…although I’ve noticed you’ve picked up on a few so I think we must have the same sense of humour 😉
        That’s a great PR idea of yours, thanks for that Charli! Interestingly, I’ve thought many times about writing on my blog about this subject, especially as I’m so deeply immersed in my 70s world with my GI at the moment, but somehow the timing hasn’t seemed right and I’m learning to go with my gut…at last, ha! Because his drug use weaves its way through a big part (but not all) of my book, I have decided to keep quiet for now (wanting to go the traditional publishing route, as you know). Your marketing skills are such a boon for us here, I so appreciate you sharing them with us! Timing is so very important isn’t it?
        As for my daughter, yes, she as well as my boys know well my strong views against any drugs, so she presents her arguments for cannabis as a medicinal aid backed up with plenty of research facts and figures. I tell her she should be a lawyer, ha! She said she would never smoke it but would definitely take the pills if they were offered to her by a doctor as she is convinced that they help anxiety issues. But I don’t see that happening here in the UK anytime soon and I’m not sure what I feel about it even now…
        So much great discussion! And I know just what you mean about the faster consuming thing when socialising…another drink? Hey, why not!!!
        I can’t resist sharing this with you which I immediately thought of when I read your Amish/Vegan joke. I don’t know if you ever watched those corny but hilarious (to me anyway!) Austin Powers movies? I think it’s in the first one and he (Mike Myers) is in Vegas on a spying mission, dressed in his ‘normal’ attire of swish 60s frilly collars and sleeves and a bright red trouser suit with flares, the lot. He is in the bathroom washing his hands and a big, burly American stands next to him, gives him the once over, and asks, somewhat bemused, “Are you in the show?” And Austin Powers, smiling back, replies, “No! I’m English!”. Cracks me up, every time 😀

      • Charli Mills says:

        You have good intuition– go with your gut on timing! Timing is important, but we can regroup if something is poorly timed. Pot is an emotionally charged word so save it for when you are ready to make a splash with your debut novel or catch the attention of an agent. :–) Your daughter has done the research and she’s probably seen the pills that extract a particular element in cannabis specifically to treat anxiety, but cannabis can create terrible anxiety, too. Maybe the pill extraction is more stable; maybe it depends upon the individual. There’s no medicinal use of cannabis in the UK?

        Ha, ha! Oh, yes, I love Austin Powers! The second movie was the best. I laughed until my sides ached! We proudly own the DVD collection. 😀 Now that you mention it, the Amish/Vegan is in the same vein as that scene!

      • Sherri says:

        Thanks so much Charli…and I love the way you put it: “…when you want to make a splash with your debut novel…” I rather like that idea of making a splash 😀 But yes, timing is so very important.
        So far as medicinal use of cannabis in the UK, here’s an interesting link I found: It is not considered as medically therapeutic in the UK (and still a Class B illegal drug) except for MS and then strictly monitored. Made for an interesting read, I thought.
        Haha! Now would that be The Spy Who Shagged Me? Love those movies. See, told you we shared the same sense of humour!! 😀

    • Gosh Sherri, more similarities. Glad those days are past and I am just as much against drugs as you.

  9. The prompts just keep getting better!

    The vice in my story — to the best of my knowledge — is completely legal in all 50 states in the US.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha! Without even reading your flash, the possibilities of Ed & Edna have me giggling (and no, I just have water at my desk). A legal vice? Oh, there are so many!

    • Hahaha! 😀 Love it!

    • Pat Cummings says:

      Great, especially the swift retreat from “old wives tale”! And by the way, when I had a knuckle repair surgery done (bunions), the therapy included “routinely stressing the knuckles to avoid calcification while healing” —i.e., knuckle-popping!

    • jeanne229 says:

      Completely legal yes, and a great social skill 🙂 My parallel is whistling in the car. You probably come closer to the melody your way!

    • TanGental says:

      that was excellent; beautifully pitched.

  10. Pete says:

    The Talk

    I sat across from her at the wobbly formica dinner table, working at the peeling laminate as the fan rattled in the window. Reo Speed wagon whined over the airwaves as she sang along with smoky breaths.

    It was with a heavy tongue and without a trace of regret that she began. Of how my father fled when she got pregnant. I lifted my eyes from the scab of dried ketchup on the linoleum floor. My lips parted, lost somewhere between a gasp and a question. She picked up the clear bottle, sloshing its glittering contents.

    End of discussion.

    • Charli Mills says:

      This flash says so much in the mother’s endeavor to hide and blame. The details seen through the child’s eyes is a powerful technique to show the setting, tone and unspoken angst of both characters.

      I’m reading a memoir right now about a women who grew up with an alcoholic mother and step-father and despite the love they professed for their children, both adults were chained to the bars and booze and forgot to feed them.

    • Geez, man! Ouch. This is bloody brilliant. I really hope you’re planning a collection of these. Excellent.

    • Pat Cummings says:


    • I love the way you have given us such a high definition of place. The place was sad, her tale sadder, her life with the bottle even sadder and the saddest part was the child, the innocent in all this.

    • jeanne229 says:

      Ouch indeed. Very evocative setting. Pitch perfect details. Carries the punch of a much longer piece. Painful.

      • Pete says:

        Thank you all for the comments. When I wrote it out longer, it had a slightly more positive setting which obviously didn’t make it through the edit.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Pete, your comment makes me think how often authorities get only a “flash” look at a family’s situation and with a few missing details can fail to see what is positive.

    • TanGental says:

      wow Pete, so good. Loved ‘cab of ketchup’ ‘sang along with smoky breaths’

  11. Sacha Black says:

    *rubs hands and cackles* i’ll be back!

  12. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

  13. Okay… Here’s my contribution to this week’s fantabulous prompt:

    High Life

  14. Pat Cummings says:

    What better vice for a writer (and reader) than mine? Trunks Full of Them is n my blog at —and it’s good to be back after a week of downtime as I caught up with ghost-writing a memoir on Club NaNoWriMo!

  15. Deborah says:

    Hello! This is my first try at this, and it’s fun! (Based just a little bit on real life.)


    “You’re late again.” I stop in the doorway. “I smell weed in here.”

    She shakes her head no.

    “I know what I smell.”

    “I had my window open all night,” she protests.

    “Awful warm in here.”

    “I cranked the heat.”

    “Weed is a lot less bad for you than booze. But if you’re going to toke, go outside.”

    Raised eyebrows, sideways smile: Did my mother really just say I can smoke dope?

    “Get to school. No more truancy hearings.”

    I thought I was resigned to everything. Magenta hair. Piercings. IUD. But this is the first lie I know of.

    • susanzutautas says:

      It’s like your character just won the lottery 🙂 Great flash!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Great use of dialog between a mother and daughter. It actually conveys many struggles beyond vice. Ah –you’ve discovered the fun of flash! Welcome and thanks for your contribution!

    • TanGental says:

      Love the anxiety this creates. The seeping doubt, the reassessing going on. Good stuff.

    • Norah says:

      Ah, the rebellious teenage daughter . . . the items may differ, but the list is the same! 🙂

    • jeanne229 says:

      Could so relate. I find it ever harder to play the wise mother when the twenty-somethings in my life have all the answers to life…. dialogue hits very true…

  16. You’ve let the cat out amongst the pigeons with this one Charli. I have to say I’m with Sherri on this one. I don’t believe marijuauna is a harmless drug and would warn all that think of smoking it that the side effects are not that pleasant. My ex husband was also heavy user of the evil weed and as I did not have children I too partook. Not to a great extent as I was working but enough to get a lasting short term memory loss. My husband however had severe psychological disturbances as a result and as a result of his psych admissions I discovered that this is not an abnormal rare occurrence but rather more common than we would like to think. Drug induced schizophrenia is possibly the worst it will get. For my husband it was severe paranoia and with that came a lot of aggression which I don’t care to recall as I was on the receiving end of much of it.
    I have no problem with marijuana being used for medicinal purposes and possibly if tiny amounts only are used it may be okay. Me I recommend staying off it totally unless you have cancer or intractable pain.
    Writing vice is going to be fun and will be back with my piece.

    • Charli Mills says:

      It’s ironic how substance use is often recreational, to relax or avoid worries, yet can lead to the very things it was meant to escape. It’s a fine line between use and abuse and is usually drawn differently by different people. I once worked as a bar maid in a busy Montana pub and I used to say that nothing will make you avoid the drink more than being the only sober person in a room full of drunks. I suppose the same could be said for any drug. That’s why I think there is a social aspect that’s powerful to instigate partaking. No one wants to be the only one sober so you either leave or join. Scary to think about the psychological damage. I hadn’t heard of drug-induced schizophrenia and that’s disturbing and it must have been a difficult season for you. I guess when I think of the stereotypical pot-smoker, I think of the giggling, laid back sorts that are too dazed to be violent. Again — the importance of literature to tell the different stories and possibilities. Thanks for sharing! I look forward to what you write.

    • TanGental says:

      Powerful point Irene.

    • I’ve never used dope myself – never felt the inclination or need. I don’t mind a bit of alcohol now and again and I joke that I can get drunk on the sniff of it!! What I really get drunk on is the joy of socialising with family and friends – others read my behaviour as a “two pot screamer”!
      I work in child protection. I’ve seen so many parents in denial of their drug use and the impact it has on their capacity to care for their children, both physical care and provision of basic needs. Too many innocents are caught up and damaged by adults’ misguided priorities.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Oh, Ruth, I’m reading a really tough memoir right now about a woman’s reflection on the neglect of her childhood because her mother drank. It’s frustrating for me to read because her mother never saw the neglect for what it was. I can imagine the heart-ache and horror you must see. That would be sobering. Yet, I love that you say you “get drunk on is the joy of socialising with family and friends.” That’s a wonderful gift. And, please explain a “two pot screamer” 🙂

      • Working where you do you would see many things that impact on innocent children. Drugs including alcohol is probably the one which is most visible.
        It is a wonderful state to be – to enjoy the world and life without the need of drugs. For the last three years I don’t even bother with alcohol. I simply don’t need it and it is nice not having to worry about who will be the designated driver.

      • Charli, a two pot screamer means someone who gets drunk very quickly on very little alcohol.

      • Sherri says:

        I’m glad that Charli asked the question and thanks for answering Ruth, as I had no idea what a ‘two pot screamer’ was either!

  17. susanzutautas says:

    Love how you came up with a prompt for this week 🙂 My pain management doctor told me that he would help me get a drug card to use pot if things ever got that bad. He also told me if I was going to smoke pot to make sure I did in a vaporizer.

    I bet Ramona did get the best sleep in years!

    Here’s my flash for this week.

    • I’m so out of the loop here. I hadn’t heard of a drug card or using marijuana through a vaporizer. It makes sense, of course, now that you say it. Here’s to you never having to do that (because things won’t get that bad). <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      The Hub is helpful in sparking ideas! I hope you have an excellent pain management doc. I had an aunt who went through chemo relatively pain-free and I had a friend who wept every time she thought of chemo. Pain management is so important and despite the lingering questions of what will happen with legalized pot in WA and CO, I’m glad it’s available medicinally. I wonder if Willie Nelson brands vaporizers? 🙂 Thanks for your flash!

      • susanzutautas says:

        I am handling the chemo pretty well except for some of the side effects that are a pain in the rump 🙂 I was on hydromorphone for a year but that was for the pain I was experiencing due to the nodes in my neck area. But they’re all gone now 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        I’m so happy the nodes are gone! <3

    • Norah says:

      I hope things never get that bad for you, Susan. 🙂
      Great flash!

    • Sherri says:

      Loved your flash Susan. I tried to comment on your blog but it didn’t go through, sorry about that.

  18. guidaman says:

    Reefer Man by Phil Guida
    It was no secret that Fat Jack was packing. Anyone who knows Jack knew that.
    Jack’s mission was simple, that of making everyone a little happier and himself a little richer.
    That was back in the day when you could buy a dime bag and all the weed had exotic names that none of us innocents had ever heard of.
    His visit to the party was welcomed by most of the crowd especially when several joints were being passed around lighting up the room with laughter and song.
    We all became Hippies forever at that moment;
    Jacks mission accomplished.

  19. […] This was written for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

  20. Ula says:

    I’ve had a tough and busy week. I didn’t want that to prevent me from taking part. Here is my link:
    I will return later in the week to read and comment.

  21. Norah says:

    Alcohol – cure for everything by Ruth Irwin

    Young and beautiful, an island girl. She had watched the four strangers enter the bar – a fellow islander, two from the orient and one of pale tones.

    Her big brown eyes displayed the heartbreak she disclosed to the pale one – a tale of betrayal, regret, love lost and longing for it to return, pleading for advice on how to win him back.

    Alcohol fuelled her courage to gain the attention of a handsome young man behind the bar. His shift finished. She smothered him forgetting the stranger’s advice and “rumours” about herself that had lead to her earlier heartbreak.

  22. Annecdotist says:

    Interestingly, after my initial enthusiasm, I struggled with this one. Here’s my attempt
    Although it doesn’t seem much of a vice, I still don’t want any of you getting the idea that it’s true (or, failing that, don’t tell my neighbours).

  23. […] Charli Mills prompts us to write about a vice […]

  24. TanGental says:

    You have me in your vice like grip Charli

  25. Sherri says:

    I’m posting my flash here again this week Charli. This subject has me wanting to write so much as a preamble and I know I won’t be able to do it justice right now. The next couple of weeks will be disjointed for me and I wanted to get a lighter post out today after a longish absence from regular posting, so (and don’t fall off your chair!) here is my flash on a Monday!!!
    Despite all the talk of cannabis, this is what came to my mind (and yes, this is a BOTS). Love how your prompts get us talking, thanks again!

    Father Knows Best

    “How much longer do we have to wait?” moaned Julie as she kicked out at the dashboard.

    “Here she comes now…” blurted Tim from the back seat.

    “You kids okay?” asked Sue as she handed them bags of crisps and bottles of Vimto.

    “Sort of…” mumbled Julie.

    Sue turned away, hesitated, then gave her freshly lit cigarette to Julie. “Don’t tell your father…”

    Julie pretended to inhale, chin jutting. Film star cool.

    “Hope Dad won’t find out,” said Tim, copying his sister.

    “Don’t worry little bruv, he’ll be too drunk to notice by the time he drives us home.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      A Monday arrival is most welcome! This has sparked many discussions and experiences. I hope the next few weeks go well for you. <3

      A powerful BOT in a flash, and shows how blurred the boundaries become when parents are not in control of their vices. Scary to think the driver won't notice the smoke due to drunkenness…the driver! Thanks for sharing this!

      • Sherri says:

        Thanks Charli! I knew yesterday would be a ‘lost’ day but couldn’t miss out this week! So many stories where this came from…when I think of all those times my dad drove us home from the pub along those country roads, no seatbelts back in the 70s. Yet, even with all of that, it was my dad who was ‘old school’ in his ways, thinking he was acting as a proper father should, not wanting to face up to the impact his drinking had on us and the danger he put us in. My step mum was a closet alcoholic who let us smoke and drink. Pleasure island. Needless to say, my mum knew none of this until years later. Wild times, it’s a wonder any of us survive the things we do. Yet here we are, sharing our stories, telling it like it is 😉 <3

    • Norah says:

      Oh Sherri, This flash is so sad, especially so when there is evidence of similar neglect everywhere. Unfortunately father doesn’t always know best and his children are abused, neglected and unsafe. I saw evidence of this myself just the other night – Sunday night – the night before school the next day, and at 10 pm a father had to be asked to collect his children from kids’ corner and leave the premises. (No children under 18 allowed on the premises after 10 pm. I hadn’t thought about how important that requirement was for meeting the children’s needs.) He was reluctant to go, as if his rights had been violated. Then there are others who don’t even put their children into the kids’ club, they leave them in the car. Too many instances. So sad. Such injustice. How wonderful the cycle was broken with you! I hope the next couple of weeks go well. 🙂

      • Sherri says:

        Father definitely didn’t know best, you are right Norah! But I think for a lot of us growing up in 60s and 70s Britain, waiting in the car for endless hours while our parents drank in the pub was a rite of passage. And mind-numbingly boring. Although obviously in mine and my brother’s cases, it was a regular occurrence when we stayed with my dad. In that regard, losing his driving licence after driving his lovely red jag over the neighbours roses after driving home very drunk from a party one night was a mercy for all concerned and he never drove again. That is so sad about the kids’ club, breaks my heart as it does yours. I just don’t understand any neglect of children, it enrages me in fact. Why have children? Why leave them and hurt them so? I can’t stand it.
        The cycle did end with me. I remember saying to myself at a very young age: “The buck stops here”. Although I probably went too far the other way, and way over-compensated 😉
        Thanks so much Norah for your kind wishes, things are getting better slowly… 🙂

      • Norah says:

        Oh, Sherri. I do feel for you. We would be expected to laugh at some of those experiences if we saw them in a movie, but they are no laughing matter. Ula mentioned something similar in a comment on my blog – that she couldn’t see the humour in a play she was watching. Everyone else seemed to but she was disgusted. I guess it is never funny if it has happened to you, or someone close to you; or goes against your beliefs.
        I’m so pleased you made the decision that the buck would stop with you. I wonder what helped you reach that place. I made similar conscious decisions too. It was difficult fighting against the learned practices. I think over-compensating is the lesser of two evils, if it could be called an evil at all.
        Look after yourself. Take care. 🙂

      • Sherri says:

        I don’t really know what made me come to that point Norah. I suppose like a lot of young people, at the time, I wanted to do all I could to make things different, better. Even if that meant over-compensating 🙂 Thanks so much once again for your kind, heartfelt words. You take care too and I hope you have a lovely day (or night I should say for you, right?). Been great chatting with you today 🙂

      • Norah says:

        It is always a pleasure chatting with you Sherri! 🙂

      • Sherri says:

        Ahh, thanks Norah 🙂

    • Great flash Sherri. Probably alcohol is the most harmful of all the substance abuses. Certainly it wrecks lives as well you know. And to think one cares that Dad doesn’t realise the kids are smoking when he is going to be irresponsible enough to drive them home when he is too drunk to notice that they had been smoking.

      • Sherri says:

        Thanks Irene! Yes, the dangers of alcohol are well documented. Yet, despite my background, I still drink and enjoy it but of course in small doses! Getting drunk out of my mind on Bacardi at 19 taught me to know my limit and to this day I can’t stand the smell of it 😮 The drinking culture in the UK as you know is huge. I am glad I’m not an alcoholic, it would be inredibly hard to keep off the stuff here when socialising. I take my hat off to you giving up everything the way you have. You will see in my reply to Charli how my dad lived in deep denial, and still does actually. Then again, he struggles with bad memory loss, hardly surprising that…

      • The drinking culture in Australia is huge also. Roger left the UK in the 60s but he sees it as quite different to Australia. In the UK he says the pubs are social places and people don’t tend to overdrink. In Australia people tend to drink with the intention of getting drunk. I think you may have moved a bit in our direction and we a bit in yours.
        Denial is a huge problem because while you deny you can’t get help for the problem you think you don’t have.

      • Sherri says:

        Yes, my dad never accepted that AA had any use as he knew how to ‘beat the system’ and manage his alcohol in ‘his way’. That’s interesting about the drinking culture in Australia. It has definitely changed here for the worse. In fact, I noticed a huge difference from when I left in the mid 80s and returned in 2003. Yes, there a lot of pubs where people go to drink socially and eat (eating out in pubs is the thing to do now whereas in the 60s pubs rarely did food, unless you can call a pathetic sandwich and a stale sausage roll food…not forgetting the crisps and pork scratchings of course!) but our towns and cities are full of young people out of their minds drunk, spilling out into the streets at the weekends in the small hours. When Tony Blair instituted what he thought would be a ‘meditteranean drinking culture’ by allowing round the clock drinking laws, he was naieve to say the least. Although recent studies show that it is the middle-aged drinking at home who are actually drinking the most. Young people might go ballistic at the weekends but stay off the stuff in the week. Go figure…

      • I just think it is sad. I wonder if the drinking culture is changing in Europe also. I had thought that in France at any rate it was taught so early to be a part of life but not as a drunk that perhaps it doesn’t happen there but who knows. Perhaps the entire world is trying to drown its sorrows. Lets go for that walk instead. Still raining here cats, dogs and a few other animals. <3 🙂

      • Sherri says:

        You got it Irene…no drowning of sorrows here. Raingear at the ready, wellies on and extra-strong brolly for all those falling animals 😉 <3

      • They are now dropping like flies…..

      • Sherri says:


      • Charli Mills says:

        That’s interesting, Sherri, about the studies and the shift. Doesn’t surprise me that it’s the middle agers staying home and downing the most. And, what — I had a vision of English pub food being tops! 😀

    • TanGental says:

      Sad little tale Sherri. Nicely done

    • jeanne229 says:

      Wow looks like alcohol could be a flash of its own. So many of our experiences intersect here. I like to drink. Drank too much at some points in my life and glad I learned how to handle that. Enabled my ex-husband who lost everything to it. (A Londoner who liked nothing better than to meet up with his mates on the way home from the City.) My dad was a hard-drinking man, raised on a farm, fought in WWII. When we took cross-country trips so he could help harvest up in North Dakota, he used to carry a case of miniatures in the trunk and stop now and then by the side of the highway to down one. But he was a responsible husband and father, one who stood by my mother as she deteriorated over twenty years from rheumatoid arthritis and took up the slack at home when she could no longer cook or clean. I don’t begrudge him the comfort he found in his beer and a bump. And I think my siblings and I have good memories now of hanging out at the VFW Club on Friday nights while my parents downed a few in the bar. Maybe we were lucky not to get hurt running around wild as we did, but we learned resourcefulness and independence. Times have changed. We all worry about children’s safety. But parents are imperfect, complicated people with their own struggles. And children always, sooner or later, understand that they make their own choices….

      • Sherri says:

        There’s a lot to be said for learning that resourcefulness and independence, no doubt about it Jeanne. As with your dad and your ‘not so bad’ memories, I remember many crazy times with humour and wistfulness rather than sadness and regret. I also remember the wonderful first ten years of my life before my mother left my father, when my dad took me for walks in the woods and told me stories and tucked me into bed and taught me to play cricket and find bird’s nests. My dad never physically hurt me and I’ve always known his love for me. Your dad showed his love for your mum as a caring husband and looked after you and your siblings, his family, and I think having these positive influences despite their drinking helps insulate us from the not-so-good times. It gives us a great deal of reslience growing up, whether we asked for it or not. But of course, we are left with a legacy of thinking we can be a ‘fixer’ – your alcoholic ex-husband, my drug addicted first husband. And of course, ultimately, we learn that that never works.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Good point about alcohol being it’s own prompt! I might let us all go dry for awhile before we hit the literary booze. Thank you for sharing your experience. It reminds me of my “good” grandfather who always got the bad rap for his drinking. He, too was a WWII vet and drank hard, but provided well for his family. Later in life I got to know him better and he was a writer, too. He left me his unpublished work and hoped I would one day finish it for him. One novel is based on the underground casino that he devised while working as an Marine guard to Admiral Nimitz. He’s my ideal of an imperfect person that I loved.

  26. ruchira says:

    I loved reading about your hubby’s family history 🙂

    Loved the prompt, and attached is my take!

    • Charli Mills says:

      They built churches and colleges across the country and then settled down in Nevada (of all places) to farm. It’s a curious history to me, but I can still see the puritan imprint. 🙂 Your flash has me chuckling! That is such a modern vice!

  27. […] Respond by April 28, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. All writers are welcome! Check out the other stories here. […]

  28. lucciagray says:

    I have only one vice, and it’s fairly recent, but quite obsessive.
    To find out more, read my flash!

  29. […] Tonight she has a million anxieties about tomorrow. This scene was prompted by this week’s prompt at Carrot […]

  30. Four of a Kind

    Glossy cards vibrated across his fingertips; Jack sat stone still, knowing.
    “Ok,” he said, “Call.” He pushed six stacks forward going all in. He had run that table nearly all night and was up 1500, but he wanted more. Playing the full boat on the board – a pair of kings and three nines – he held the fourth nine. All locked up, he thought. His opponent turned two kings.

    Hours later he still hadn’t called Cheryl. Barely breathing under heavily desperate cigarette smoke, his hands shook dialing. Ringing. Finally, her voice sleepy, “Tell me you won.” But no words came.

  31. Sarah says:

    I’m glad Ramona got out to go camping. I hope she enjoyed it (despite the chemical-induced sleep).

    I turned to Kate to discuss vices this week. Anxiety, overeating and escape are normal parts of life, but they can quickly take over if not kept in check.

  32. […] week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has been talking about vice. Her article is about the not-so-pleasant type of vices. As usual, I like to be the contrarian and […]

  33. Norah says:

    Hi Charli,
    I’m a bit later this week. I hope I’m still in time. Thanks for the challenge.

  34. […] up the wonderful Charli Mills with this weeks […]

  35. paulamoyer says:

    Been busy being a “beta reader” this last week, but here’s a flash:

    A Hidden Vice

    By Paula Moyer

    2 a.m. Jean’s husband, asleep, knew nothing about their accounts, the money they didn’t have that they needed till the end of the month. He didn’t know about Jean’s eBay purchases, either.

    But Jean did. It kept her up tonight as it did most nights.

    She googled for a credit card offer, one with a low-interest promotion. There, 0% interest for the first year.

    Type, type, type. Social security, income. Type, type, type. Submit.

    Approved. Enough money to transfer the high-interest balance from the old card and have cash for the next two weeks.

    Whew. Home free.

    For now.

    • TanGental says:

      oh dear a vice that is really very real and very destructive; neat flash Paula

    • Fantastic. The heartbreaking line for me is the “cash for the next two weeks.” Really a very taut story; I can feel it all.

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s a gnarly vice akin to the gambling. The “type, type, type” works so well in this flash broken by the info commonly given. That’s clever! Good to see you at the ranch!

  36. georgiabellbooks says:

    Late. Late. Late. But wanted to to join in nonetheless.

    She didn’t know how it started. And after awhile she stopped caring. All she knew was that she needed it far more than she ever thought she would. Near the end of the day, her thoughts wandered eagerly towards the distraction and gently, she prodded them back to the present. Until the dishes were dried and put away. And the floor was swept. Then she poured herself that first drink and did what she’d been waiting to do all day. Closed her eyes. Thought about his hands. His words. The broad muscles in his back. His smile. His smell.

    • TanGental says:

      very powerful and loved the ending as we follow her drifting mind to her vice(s)

    • Very moving. Great imagery. It’s amazing what we can do in 99 word ain’t it. Well done.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Never too late! Not only am I on the tail-end of time, but I’m not good at telling time! Thank you for riding like the wind to get your flash here! I like how the character sinks into her relaxing moment and it isn’t the drink in hand that has her memorized!

    • jeanne229 says:

      Missed this earlier. Glad I came back. Delicious! Love how you created the deep need to know with that one first short sentence and delivered a really satisfying conclusion. Still thinking about those broad muscles in his back 🙂

  37. jeanne229 says:

    OK under the wire as usual but here is mine.

    The Damage Done

    The truth flashed.
    “Were you scoring back there?”
    “Yeah,” he admitted.
    They sat in her car. He opened his palm. A sticky black ball the size of a pea lay there.
    “What is that?” she said, though she knew.
    “What do you think?”
    She should be indignant. Furious. But she hadn’t seen him in two months.
    They entered the restaurant.
    “I’m sorry,” he said. I need to go do this.
    “Are you feeling sick?
    He walked away.
    The waitress brought their food.
    Diners chatted and laughed.
    She waited.
    Imagined him in the stall.
    Her beautiful son.
    Shooting up.

    • TanGental says:

      wow, what a story; I didn’t get the relationship until the end and to have that alongside a normal meal is so awful. Wonderfully written, Jeanne

    • Ouch! Like Geoff said, the story against this setting made the punch-in-the-gut that much worse. Well done.

    • I agree with Geoff and Sarah. You really caught me off guard at the end. Expected the “girlfriend angle” but didn’t anticipate the voice of mother… Well done.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, this brought a sting of tears to my eyes! At a restaurant, I once saw a beefy cowboy sitting with his meth-emaciated brother and I thought how seeing them together must knife their mother in the heart. Meth, heroine — they snag and don’t let go of the body. Beautifully, powerfully written.

  38. paulamoyer says:

    Th anks for the likes on the credit card story, everyone. More later!

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