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June 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

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June 10It’s almost unfair that I sit in comfortable air conditioning, sipping a London Fog from a ceramic cup and savoring a lunch of pasta tossed in fresh olive oil, garlic, basil and pine nut pesto. My best friend can hardly hold her eyes open and dines intravenously. But my daughter chastised me to take care of myself. That I wasn’t going to be any good to her, or her daughter and grandchildren. So I’ve come to my Helena sanctuary, Lattes & Sundaes.

Ironically, their tagline reads, “where friends gather.”

This would certainly be a place where Kate and I would hang out. McLeod’s was our go-to tea shop back in the day. When I left Helena in 1998, I bought an English tea pot from there. It’s now closed and this place has opened in its stead. I miss my friend and hunger for her open eyes and clear mind.

Chemo is the devil’s booze. Once it takes hold, her white blood cell counts plummet and her fever spikes. She begged me, “Don’t let them lord the rings of me.” My God, what was I to do?  I feel like Samwise Gamgee when Frodo was near collapse from his heroic journey. I want to lash out at Gollum, and she’s resting her hand on my arm, whispering, “Peace.”

I want to rescue her and I can’t. I’m a failed white knight; a first-responder arrived too late to the scene of the accident. But Kate doesn’t fret over my inability or the ineffectiveness of modern medicine. Her last coherent thought was about the rescue of dogs. She told me with that grin and chuckle I love so well, “Just who rescues whom?”

My Grenny dog needs rescuing. As I type, he’s in surgery. It took four days to find a vet to help us. I’m in Helena, Montana and my wee family of the Hub, barn cat and two dogs is faltering in northern Idaho. Veterinarians have no compassion, I’m convinced. Who would deny a seriously injured dog care due to the owners’ lack of financial resources? Well, Sandpoint veterinarians, that’s who. One finally accepted a “credit care” card we have for medical emergencies. Bastards, is all I want to say, but I know it’s crass and unlike me to swear in my writing.

I know I’m emotionally off kilter. I go to my keyboard tapping for resolution, for clarity.

What happened to Grenny is among my worst nightmares. I wrote a humorous post almost two years ago about my fears. The Hub likes to call me the “Cowardly Cowgirl.” I’m afraid of mice. I startle easy and squeal if a flying insect darts in my face. I worry over what might lurk in the woods, as from this excerpt of The Big Bad Bears of Trout Creek:

Okay, this is fun, my mind decides until it then says, hey what’s that?

“Todd, is that bear hair?” I ask, standing up as if it might still be attached. Todd comes over to the clump of hair matted among the huckleberry plants and affirms my find.

Now my eyes are like super-sonic scanners as I scope every tree, fern and boulder for the bear missing a clump of fur. Is he full or did he leave these berries for a snack, or worse yet, a snare? Torn between fleeing the scene and not being able to move, I then hear a horrible cry.

The Irish believe that a banshee wails moments before death, and it sounds as if death is rampaging down the mountain slope. Bursting out of ferns and brush, Grendel, our male GSP, is galloping and baying like a banshee. He runs past us and I cringe, waiting to hear the crash-boom-bang of an angry grizzly.”

All I can say now, two years after this incident, is how grateful I am that I was not there when Grenny did find a bear.

The Hub took the dogs fishing up the Pack River on Saturday. Grenny galloped off and Bobo stayed at the river as the Hub tied a fly on his line. He didn’t hear a banshee wail, but he did hear Grenny growl and bark followed by distress cries and yelps. He needed rescuing.

The Hub transformed into Sgt. Mills and charged the forested hillside like a soldier charging Normandy Beach. He bellowed and scared off the bear, not able to discern if it was a grizzly, but the Pack River is marked with warning signs. It’s grizzly country. He reached Grenny to find him wounded but thankfully alive and intact. The bear swiped his back from shoulder to tail, but not too deeply. Then, the bear bit off his flank, the webbing between hind leg and stomach. It’s an awful wound that no veterinarian would touch without payment in full. I’ll say it again, bastards.

It takes a special person to feel compassion for a dog. It takes a resilient person to rescue one.

I’m proud of my daughters who both worked jointly to rescue a dog deemed unadoptable. The Radio Geek and her hub, the Geologist now have a family of two rescue dogs (the two goofs in my car trunk in the photo). Back when I was still drafting Miracle of Ducks, I started my first ever blog (I had no idea what I was doing!) and wrote, Felting Ilya. It’s a story of dog rescue.

And that is what Kate offered us for the prompt this week. She has the biggest heart for animals and even worked with rescued grizzlies. As she hallucinates, she tells me that animals are walking through her room. It seems appropriate. She expects to be greeted by her departed loved ones and the animals she rescued and said she’d be waiting for me beneath a big oak tree in heaven, reading Tolkien. It better be a massive tree. She has rescued many.

June 10, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an animal rescue. It can be a typical dog or cat rescue from the pound, or helping a critter less fortunate. Go where the prompt leads you.

Respond by June 16, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Doc to the Rescue by Charli Mills

Ramona irrigated the dog’s wounds with hydrogen peroxide. He huddled on the bathroom floor, his brown eyes woeful. She’d called every vet in the phonebook and the answer was the same, “No. Payment due in full.” Only one man offered to come. She found the strange dog wounded in her barn. Those darn twins left the doors wide open, again. Never mind. She’d deal with those two truants later when they returned. A knock at the door, and Ramona rose to answer it.

“Thank you for coming,” she said to her new MD. At least he cared about animals.

###

The Twins Find a Dog by Charli Mills

The twins played among pines, leaping from one bough to another.

“Shh,” said one twin to the other.

A soft whimper rose from the base of a Ponderosa pine.

“A dog! Mama would love a dog!”

Gently, the twins prodded the dog to stand. He quivered, his nose detecting nothing, but feeling compelled, he walked until he came to a barn. Slowly, doors opened and he entered to find a blanket draped over hay. He collapsed in a heap.

The twins hung out in the lilac bush outside Mama’s window and sang her awake. “The barn, Mama, the barn.”

 


114 Comments

  1. Such a full post, again. So full of so many different feelings and emotions. I imagine it’s a bit like a mirror for you right now. I hope I can do justice to Kate’s prompt. Sending love and hugs to you and Kate, her family, and yours with your precious Grenny . ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Sarah says:

    Charli, what a time for you. I am glad you are able to appreciate Kate’s humor, even though I’m sure you have mixed emotions about what the future holds.
    And Grenny! I am glad to read (from Facebook) that he was in surgery. I hope he recovers well. I am so glad you found a vet willing to do the surgery.
    Because of your love for animals, I’m going to ask you to spare a thought for my neighbor’s dog, Bernie. Bernie and his sister have been my neighbor Carla’s life purpose after her son died in a car accident seven years ago; Bernie is very ill right now and the vet referred them to a specialist.
    I am thinking of and praying for Kate and for Grenny this week, and all the ripples and waves they have made in peoples’ lives. Peace to you.
    My flash will have to wait, I hope to do well and don’t write well in the evenings.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Sorry I couldn’t participate last week! I had a great idea also, my middle name being Rose! 😦

    Loved reading your post this week, as always! My heart tends to go out to animals far more often than humans…

    Eager to jump back on the wagon this week! I had an amazing, albeit heartbreaking, experience a few summers ago with a homeless woman. I met her at the dog park where she would take her 2 golden retrievers, one of whom had recently had a litter of puppies. I felt worse for the poor puppies than the woman, but ended up helping them both out. I brought her a few bags of groceries (non perishable items that would last her a while), and bought some dog food for the mother dog, and some puppy chow for the little ones. I still think about those pups all the time!!

    http://thewordyrose.com/2015/06/11/paying-it-forward/

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ah, indeed you have the perfect last name! Animals share a special place in our hearts. People who care for animals are more compassionate in general, I believe. It’s hard for homeless people to part with pets. They need love and companionship more than most, yet have no resources. So many pets ended up abandoned after the housing crisis in this country. How kind of you to help. It would be hard not to wonder about those pups! At least you did something and that’s a lot. What a beautiful flash you created from that experience!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Thoughts and prayers to all who are suffering — humans and animals.

    My animal rescue story is a little backwards, but that’s the way my brain works sometimes.

    http://edandednastories.blogspot.com/2015/06/role-reversal.html

    Liked by 7 people

  5. Pete says:

    Man’s Best Friend

    Max didn’t like her scent. She was a vegetarian for starters, she wasn’t a sports fan and didn’t watch television. Even still, the man was hopeless.

    Eight years of blissful chin scratches and now…her. Max had to act. Before the emasculation was complete. He’d been there.

    He nosed a mouse onto her pillow. He marked her clothes. The leather shoes were a treat.

    It took a week before the ultimatum came down. Max steeled himself, head cocked with faithful intensity. The man looked from dog to woman. They left to discuss it.

    When the man returned he had steak.

    Liked by 9 people

  6. mj6969 says:

    My heart and spirit send you light Charli.

    I am amazed at your resilience and the way you are still able to find something beautiful and lovely – even to almost chuckle at – during this very trying time with your friend Kate – as well as your family – and all the – okay – I have to stop here – because – well – you can fill in whatever stream of swear words you’d like – misadventure with the bear and vets.

    Oh how this makes me fume.

    But like you – I will try to find something beautiful and lovely and peaceful in all of this.

    Your friend Kate – she is one amazing woman – and clearly, Charli – so are you.

    Thoughts and wishes to you both – and your family and 4 legged ones too.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, MJ. All light penetrates the darkness! Sometimes I think it would be easier to give in than to be resilient, that if I sought an easier path I wouldn’t have such a hard time…and then I think, BS! I’ll take the rougher road and live as fully as I’m capable of living. Laughing helps, a lot. We had a good laughing day yesterday. You know you have a friend with a twisted sense of humor when she delights in calling the florist shop to order flowers for her own funeral. She was asked, “When will you pick these up?” She said, “I’ll drop by and let you know.” 😀 We are now giggling over things I think others avoid ever speaking out loud. The nurses are convinced we’re both nuts! Which is what we tell people anyways — we were two nuts destined to share the same shell. Yes, Kate is amazing. I just reflect her glow. I told her I was scared and she gave me a four word prayer to say after she goes when I feel scared. Then she pinky-dealed me on it! Thank you for your uplifting words!

      Liked by 5 people

  7. Pat Cummings says:

    I’m not sure who is being rescued in The Cobra Strategy at http://goo.gl/GGUoon

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jeanne229 says:

    3:30 a.m. in Finland; can’t sleep; feeling detached from my life. Haven’t written anything in a week. What to do? Sneak out to the lounge and catch up with the goings on at Carrot Ranch. Very moved by your post, Charli, by your transcending your fitful, off-kilter state to share your thoughts and feelings regarding your friend’s journey. Your experience with Kate brings back the bald and awful pain I felt at my impotence when a favorite cousin died. But what grace, too, in that love that has brought you together at this sad juncture. You are there for her. That is everything at this time. What a profoundly sad but beautiful thing to share her passage. And in light of all that is going on, what a great prompt this week. How awful for poor Grenny. Pondering rescue now….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I understand that feeling detached from one’s life. I was going to come home, but decided to stay longer. I drifted from my own shores of normalcy and complacency, but so glad I chose the rougher waters as long as I could. I’ve been following your Finland photos on FB and I’m touched that you’d sneak out to catch up with the ranch! It’s been rambling wild this week, but I’m back to my wrangling and feel stronger from my time with my friend. And Grenny is happy to have me “poor baby” him. I’m so sorry that you went through this with a beloved cousin, yet it is a profound experience and I don’t believe a writer can write fully unless willing to live fully. Thanks for stopping by while in Finland!

      Like

  9. […] week’s Carrot Ranch Prompt brings together two of Charli’s loves: her childhood friend, who suffers terminal cancer, and […]

    Liked by 2 people

  10. A. E. Robson says:

    Animals that let us into their lives give us a unique (forever) gift.

    Stormy Rescue
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The lightning illuminated the night as the thunder cracked overhead and water poured from the sky.

    Ten miles from home is where he found her. Muddied ground was all that was left of the pasture floor beneath her shaking body.

    Tangled vines of ferocious barbed wire encased her slender legs. Head down and exhausted, sweat poured off her body, mingled with rivulets of rain and blood.

    Easing his hand down the mare’s shoulder, the wire cutters reached their target.

    Stitches, some poultices and TLC would make things right for the mare.

    How she got here would have to wait.

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/stormy-rescue

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Hope you are again on the upward journey of the rollercoaster. Its a hard ride to be on and am sending love to you both as you travel it.
    Hope Grenny is well on the mend. The very thought of finding a bear is terrifying.
    Kate is right in her question – who rescues who? The amount of devotion that a dog gives you in these circumstances is massive and the way they fill your heart with joy and purpose is certainly giving more than we could ever give back to them.
    Mine this week
    http://irenewaters19.com/2015/06/13/99-word-flash-fiction-animal-rescue/

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Norah says:

    Charli, what you are going through just tears me apart. I think that you are able to write about your feelings and experiences, to share with us, is a wonderful thing. The senselessness of the suffering is overwhelming, but Kate’s acceptance of it is remarkable and inspiring. I feel your frustration at being unable to heal her ills. I felt a similar frustration, a feeling of helplessness, when my sister was ill. It still saddens me when I think of it today. Life can be so unfair. I hope indeed that Kate finds a huge tree with wide and spreading branches.
    I sense too your frustration with Grenny’s situation, and with Ilya’s. (Thank you for linking back to that one.) How can they not feel compassion. How can they let Grenny suffer? The dollar rules the world. I do remember reading the story of the almost-Grizzly encounter previously. What a brave man your hub to scare away this one and save Grenny. I do hope he will be okay.
    I love your two flash pieces, that you have told the situation from Ramona’s perspective, and from the twins’. I love to see this intertwining (the twins are in there!) of their ‘lives’. I’m so pleased that Ramona’s MD has compassion for her and the dog.
    Thinking of you Charli and sending hugs your way for you and Kate and your families. Take care of yourself and each other. 🙂
    And thank you to Kate for this prompt. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Life is unfair, yet it is in those worst moments that we discover the value of living. I’m understanding your sadness at losing your sister to illness. I hope you had some memorable moments before you did. Kate has certainly gifted me with many. Grenny is on the mend and the Hub has regained hero status once again. All who know him chuckle and believe he is capable of scaring off a grizzly. He’s a softie at heart but can be an Army sergeant at bark. Thank you for your hugs and words, Norah! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        There is truth in your words. We never now the time or place so we have to make the most of every moment! There is never one that we can get back. I’m pleased you have had many special moments with Kate. Our love goes out, through you, to her and her family.
        Pleased to hear the Hub has regained his hero status. It’s not a good sight when the halo slips! Glad Grenny is healing too. Take care. N xo

        Liked by 1 person

  13. paulamoyer says:

    First — oh, my, Charli. The update on Kate is almost too much to bear. So beautifully written. Then your flashes. I’m starting to be on Team Ramona and Team Twins. And then the story of Ilya. On my way soon with a flash.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. paulamoyer says:

    Here’s my flash — a broad interpretation of what it means to “rescue.” Dogs just want to have fun, too:

    Play-Date Rescue

    By Paula Moyer

    Jean and Chuck chatted with Leo when he and his guide dog, Honey, stopped. Leo often kissed Lucy, their Lab.

    “Honey spends so much time working,” Leo said one day. “Her harness is on the minute we leave the house. She needs time to be a dog.”

    Jean and Chuck were puzzled. Be a dog?

    “Could we go with to you to the dog park and let her play with Lucy?”

    The afternoon meet-up happened on schedule Lucky – no other dogs. Harness off – zoom! Chase! An hour later, she and Lucy licked each other and crashed, paw on paw.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. paulamoyer says:

    Charli, FWIW, Lewis ran into that same situation when Lucy was attacked(Chihuahua surviving an attack by a pit bull). Payment up front demanded. The receptionist, when faced with the lack of funds, said, “If you’d like, I can put her down.” Lewis did not “like.” We helped with that (the owner paid us back) and Lucy recovered in full.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      It is heart-breaking to watch a pet suffer and I have no idea what kind of steel-plated heart it takes to deny care to an injured animal. I’m glad Lewis did not like that awful suggestion and that you were able to help!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. rogershipp says:

    Second Chances for Everyone

    Alvin giggled as the charcoal gray Shih Tzu backed unto his hind legs and pawed the floor and yelping every time Alvin went to pet him. “Mamma,” Alvin gleefully squealed. “He’s so cute. Why won’t he let me pet him?”

    Mamma’s piercing blue eyes met the all-knowing eyes of the lead instructor. “He recognizes Alvin’s condition. Doesn’t he?”

    “I believe so,” nodded the instructor.

    Alvin suddenly tripped and fell to the ground. The puppy wasted no time running to his side and gave a resounding yelp.

    “I think this is the one we want.” Relief washed over Mamma’s face.

    https://rogershipp.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/second-chances-for-everyone/

    Liked by 7 people

  17. Charli Mills says:

    Thank you for wonderful stories and supportive comments this week. My apologies for the lack of interaction. After spending the morning with Kate, I’ll be heading home tomorrow and catching up on all that had passed by these two weeks.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. […] I am posting a Day three photo and story in response to the challenge set by Geoff Le Pard, and responding to the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an animal rescue. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Norah says:

    Hi Charli,
    My animal rescue story can be found in here. http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-sY
    Thinking of you. Take care. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  20. A Gift

    Hiding beneath the roots of a grand gum, she heard the tiny sobs.
    Her charge had been playing outdoors again. Did she hurt herself?
    The fairy, wings tucked away, peered through grass above. She could see the side of the little girl, hands cupped, tears dripping onto dusty clothes. Something hung out of her fingers.
    Should she let her cry? Her heart ached.

    It was still so warm and so soft too.
    Why wasn’t it moving?
    Something buzzed past the little girl.
    Her palm itched and she opened her hands.
    She gasped as the mouse looked up at her.

    Liked by 5 people

  21. […] Mills has prompted us to a story involving a rescue […]

    Liked by 1 person

  22. TanGental says:

    http://geofflepard.com/2015/06/16/dog-tired-i-need-a-cat-nap/ Here you go Charli. You’ve done a grand job with both your flash and we take out hats off to you for your support for Kate. I’m a total soppy for pets in general and dogs in particular. So the harrowing tale of Grenny and the Grizzly real hit home. Sorry about the vet problem. Here they have a duty to treat animals to ensure no suffering but that would most likely mean offering go out the dog down which is hardly the solution wanted. But it does all come down to money wherever you go which is such a pity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • paulamoyer says:

      Good flash, Geoff!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      We all do what we can for those we love. I believe that option is available here too, but it’s not a just one. Grenny & the Grizzly will become legend in our household. Amazing that he did not get killed. I mean, he actually barked and growled at a grizzly! No one does that! We all just surrender our bear bells, inhale our bear mace and fill our Depends. I wish I had a way to show the swipe he dodged, but it’s barely discernible by sight. You can feel scabbed punctures on the front chest, trace faint scratches in a swath as wide as his body and even see peeled hide on the tip of his tail! How that dog ducked that swipe is beyond reasonable explanation. The bite could have chomped him in half, but all the bear got was a flap of flank. Though it resulted in surgical repair and 25 staples. No way we’d put down the dog that survived the bear! Maybe we need to take the dog panning for gold or searching for leprechauns. He’s that lucky. As for Mary, this flash reflects her inner struggle and it’s an interesting look at the frustration we can feel at others trying to rescue us and yet feeling helpless to rescue ourselves or even a hapless fledgling.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. plaguedparents says:

    Charli, That story about your dog really pissed me off! When something needs doing you get it done and worry about the money later; I’m with you — Bastards! Here’s my flash…

    Something hit the ground hard behind me. A baby squirrel fell from a nest in the tree. His siblings looked down. “You guys are in trouble,” I said.

    He lay still looking quite dead. I turned to get my rake to dispose of his body, and he moved slightly. Noticing me watching, he went back to being dead.

    Fill a basket with leaves; put him in the basket; place it on a branch in the tree as high as possible. Momma will bring him home.

    The next morning the basket was on the ground; four heads filled the nest.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you raising the banner for the bastards! Yes, I was ticked. We once had an emergency with another dog and he was seizing in the doorway of the emergency clinic but before anyone would approach him they asked for my method of payment! I recall thinking at that time, what if someone couldn’t pay? Now I know.

      Terrific flash and a clever rescue with the reward of success.

      Like

  24. […] to Charli’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Her theme was “Animal Rescue”, as always in 99 words or […]

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Fit for A King

    At my elementary school’s annual harvest festival, it went without question that I went home with two things: a cake and a goldfish. Inevitably, the cake was dry, and the goldfish would die.

    Not Ben. Eerily enough, I anticipated Ben’s departure with each passing day beyond the typical fourteen-hour grace period of every other visitor to what was now Ben’s home.

    6 years later…

    Ben picketed for more space. I scooped him up from the ground and gave him a tank that was fit for Midas! A lively shade of gold; he swam a new tune.

    14 hours later…

    Liked by 2 people

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

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Late to the party (and didn’t bring any wine). So… Might have missed the fun this week. Regardless, I couldn’t help write one about this prompt. Cheers, all.

    https://sarahbrentynflash.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/saved/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pat Cummings says:

      Looks like you got lucky, Sarah! I think Charlie is still on her way home…

      I liked the reverse rescue here! Isn’t it great how the large dog is assumed to be a guard animal? (Even when they’re sweethearts and less likely to bite than a chihuahua.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks. A reverse rescue…I like it. Yes, I almost didn’t put a breed of dog in the flash because people assume things about larger dogs that aren’t necessarily true. I’ve seen some mean little dogs. Just saying. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes, Sarah, I’m a day late and a bottle short of wine it seems. 😉 Home now and can *almost* say, “Caught up!” So glad you were inspired!

      Like

      • Not you! I meant that I was late for the due date but couldn’t help write one about a rescued animal (or, as is turns out, person). I don’t know how you’re doing it all but try to take it easy. I’m glad you’re home and hopefully resting. Thinking of you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        This morning, after I watered my flowers and kitchen gardens, I sat on the lawn with Bootsy and watched hummingbirds sip nectar from winter vetch (a fodder crop that spreads like sweat peas with purple flowers). I’ve known organic farmers to plant it as a cover crop and it was probably seeded in the pastures of this ranch for cattle, but I had no idea that pollinators liked it so much! I’ll count this flower staring and pondering as rest. It did me good. 🙂 Hope you are well, too!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds divine. That’s the kind of break I love.

        Liked by 1 person

  28. Annecdotist says:

    Sorry I couldn’t make time to add to this great collection, but just want to say thanks for keeping this up amid all your other pressures at this time and I’m pleased to hear that you were taking care of yourself SO IMPORTANT as your daughters have said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes, it is. I really wanted to stay and although I feel the want to be with Kate and her family right now, I also know that the time I’m spending in my garden and writing is reinvigorating me for when I do go back.

      Like

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