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.

September 16, 2015

LostOne definition of lost is, “having wandered from the way.” We wander down the wrong street, or away from our intended path of action. Famously, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all who wander are lost.”

This week, writers explore the theme of lost — what it is to be lost, get lost, to seek and to be found. A variety of stories rolled in, finding their mark. Writers can often lose their way in the great journey, but as this group of writers demonstrate, the way is often discovered again through the process of writing itself.

The following stories are based on the September 9, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone or something that’s lost.

Note from Carrot Ranch: Apologies for the late posting! My daughter, Rock Climber, who was not necessarily lost, found her way to our home Monday night and every precious moment of Tuesday was spent with her. We found bull trout, fall leaves, a lingering osprey, rose hips, a Forest Ranger, the Moyie River, elderberries, rumors of bears, Bailey’s & coffee, Scrabble and the Canadian border all in a single day. We found the heart of our family — love — a hint for the next prompt coming out today, September 16.


Lost Journey by Ann Edall-Robson

The bay horse knew the kind of therapy needed here. Muscled hind quarters was all that was offered to the woman.

The mare feels this female is strong; and only needs to clear her mind. Returning to where her soul longs to travel.

Turning away, ignoring her, all part of the subtle technique in helping the woman to look within. Then, and only then, nuzzling her to let her know she has never been alone.

These two possess a quiet vibe. A connection few welcome or understand. Support without words. A guide to the path of the lost journey.


Lost, Lost, Lost by Kate Spencer

Electra flung off the white cushion and dragged the settee away from the wall to peer behind it. Where had she put those damn keys? She automatically picked through her coat pockets a second time and checked the side table, pulled back the door mat and even shook out her boots.

“Think Electra, think.”

Frustrated, she grabbed her purse and finished scattering its contents on the floor when the doorbell rang.

“Go away,” she screamed as she jumped up and flung open the door.

There stood her neighbour, holding the set keys she’d left in the door.

“Lose something?”


Mapless by Pat Cummings

Gwen placed her handbag on the seat and backed from her driveway, looking left where the only traffic would be, here at the end of the cul-de-sac. She had left herself precisely enough time to drive to her weekly Ladies League luncheon. Many of the ladies no longer drove, but Gwen loved still having her license.

A honk behind her shook her reverie as Gwen pulled into the space in front of the restaurant. Suddenly terrified, she stared out the car window. Why was she here? Where was she?

She pawed through her purse seeking clues, or a map.


Lost by Ula Humienik

The sun warmed Lucy’s skin. She heard birdsong. The grass underneath felt moist from the morning dew, even though it was almost noon.

“So where are we going?” She heard Dave in the distance.

“I don’t know. Does it matter?” she replied, eyes closed.

“Well, we’re not even sure where we are. The GPS isn’t working.”

“We’re here enjoying sunshine, listening to birds. If we don’t know where we are, then it doesn’t matter where we’re going, does it?”

“You’re not helping matters.” Dave looked stern.

“Just lay down on the grass and enjoy the moment, Dave.” She smiled.


Back Country by A. R. Amore

The nurse handed him the morphine drip controller. “Be sure to use it,” she said and touched his head. What could he remember? Everything was fuzzy and dim. He ran his thumb over the red button, his hand wrapped in soft gauze. He and Shelley were in a tent. They were sleeping. His right arm hurt, and the pain made the recollections faint shadows. No one had mentioned Shelley to him. His right hand vibrated with pain. Looking down he saw nothing extended beyond his elbow, the bed sheet a flat mountain-less plain. He pushed the red button, hard.


The Scent of the Past by Geoff Le Pard

Penny ran into Mary’s bedroom. ‘Mum, where’s that green scarf?’

‘Where did you put it?’

‘It was, like, April, mum.’

‘There’s that red one…’

‘It was Grandpa’s.’

‘It’s only a scarf.’

‘It’s all I have left of him.’

Mary held her daughter. ‘There’s all that’s in here.’ She tapped Penny’s head. ‘You never lose that. You might think you’ve forgotten what he looks like, but then you smell something – tiramisu and he’s there pulling that face.’

Penny laughed. ‘He hated that. He said it was like eating dung.’

Mary nodded. If only she hadn’t lost her faith in him.


Assisted Living by Pete Fanning

DeCarlos settled on the porch as the summer sky squeezed the day pink in the horizon. Right on time, the old man shuffled down the walk and wheezed into the metal chair.

“Evening Spyros,” DeCarlos said, offering a candy bar.

A small, satisfied grin emerged. Two lazy swats at the bugs before reaching out for Decarlos. His yellow, papery skin—splotched with freckles, bruises the tint of hard-boiled egg yolk—contrasting with the brown, wiry thread of his own arm.

“It’s nice to be home, David.”

“Yeah,” Decarlos said, figuring he’d give him a minute before walking him back.


Love Lost by Christina Rose

Months before my birth, she left us.

I never knew this woman, compassionate and loving, the heart of our family, glue that kept them all together. She never got to say goodbye, honeymooning in the Alps, no one could reach her. Years later, watching Di’s funeral, she wept. Reminded of the mother she lost, the confidant she would never have again.

He waited. For 25 years, filling the time, missing his true love, the light of his life. Once lost, they lay together now. Oak savannas keeping watch as the seasons turn yet again. Cycle never waiting, always moving.


Lost by Sarah Unsicker

For days, she felt like a child at a birthday party who had been blindfolded and spun so many times she didn’t know where the target was.

She inched her way into the unfamiliar territory, crawling her fingers through the darkness. Evaluating faces of friends for clues whether the friendship stood strong. Grieving the loss of an old life as she wholeheartedly embraced a new one.

As she felt her way through the darkness, she wondered whether the blindfold would ever come off. She found a guide, and discovered her support. Slowly, as through a mesh, the blindfold disappeared.


Far From Home by Charli Mills

Mary ignored the nighttime twaddle of unfamiliar sounds while she nursed the baby. After three days on Nebraska Territory ruts, the children needed no coaxing to bed. Even Monroe who tried to act older, curled up in slumber. Settling the babe, she shivered. Not cold. Lost. She craved North Carolina. Longed for home and hearth. Ached for her husband.

Wagon canvas lit up bright as if struck by morning sun. But it was still dark of night. Curious, Mary pulled back the ties to see outlandish hues of green and pink undulating like stars gone mad in the heavens.


Lost by Anne Goodwin

Shouldering his haversack, my dad strode off. I followed through woodland and moorland, on muddy paths and sheep-cropped grass. He didn’t stop to help me over stiles. He didn’t pause to admire the view. He didn’t wait when I pulled off my wellies to smooth the wrinkles from my socks.

Feet throbbing with every step, I scrambled up the slope. Through misty eyes, I scoped the terrain. When at last I spotted him, he didn’t wave or beckon me across. Ankles twisting on the uneven ground, I limped through the heather towards him. I was safe, but not saved.


Before GPS and Cell Phones by Jules Paige

Directions are not like recipes. If you want to get somewhere
you have to read the map and know how to use a compass
rose. Where the sun rises and sets and how to find north.

Didn’t help when they painted or changed buildings. Or when
one crosses state lines because they can’t get off the highway.

Getting the feel of the newest neighborhood and where the
streets go, only gets better with time. Say about twenty five
years or more? At least that’s what Maggie thought. Having
a full tank of gas helps.


Flash Fiction by Erika Wassall

I thought I dealt with this already.

But deep wounds leave scars. And I fall again.

Will I ever stop being able to be brought down in an instant?

A moment’s reminder and my breath freezes in my throat, my mind lost in fear, grief and pain.

At least now, I know it passes. I know happiness still exists. Someday this will be something that happened TO us, not something that broke us.

Time heals all wounds. Bullshit.

Today, in moments lost, I take comfort in knowing that I will be whole again. Someday.

Perhaps, for now, that’s enough.


A Loss and a Win by Ruchira Khanna

Aisha slowly opened her eyes, and bodies around her expressed joy as they thronged her bedside.

“How are you?”

The patient raised her eyebrows as she looked around her bed with curiosity.

After a few irregular breaths and flickers as if trying to get an answer to that question she replied irritatingly, “Who are you ?”

That query made everyone take a few steps back from the bed.

Aghast at first but relieved that she has lost her memory thus giving her a new life, and leaving behind the images of the horrible incident that made all shiver with fright.


King Street Station by Deborah Lee

Same bus stop bench, different day.

Traffic choreographs itself. Buses fart, horns blare, an argument approaches and fades as a couple walks by. Over the parapet, in the tunnels, a train clangs as it shuffles up to the platform.

A train. Quiet. Away. Being rocked to sleep, able to sleep.

She hates this city. Oh, she’d wanted to be here, she’d thought, but reality has been harshly different. She’s been trying to live someone else’s life.

Leave it all behind. She has the money, just enough. A ticket. Home. Just go.


Lost by Sarah Brentyn

She ran a brush through her daughter’s hair.

“Mrs. Nevins?” The door opened a crack. “Do you need anything?”

“No, I’m…” She looked at her lap. “Silly me. I’ve left the elastic on the table. Could you reach it?” She pointed to the sparkly, green hair band.

“Of course.” The nurse stepped in, grabbing the elastic and handing it over the bed.

“She loves this bright color. What do you call it?”

“I’d say ‘neon’.” The nurse paused. “I’m calling Dr. Nate to get your meds, okay?”

“Can I finish braiding her hair before the medicine makes her leave?”


Lost and Found by Larry LaForge

Ed rose at 6 AM and followed the coffee aroma into the kitchen. Edna had been up nearly an hour. They sat silently and sipped.

It was a Monday morning like no other.

For the first time in 38 years, neither had to rush off to work. But, inexplicably, the anticipated joy of retirement was muffled by anxiety, uncertainty, and even fear.

They were lost.

But not for long.

Edna opened the newspaper, holding up an insert: Affordable Coastal Living. Ed’s eyes lit up as he envisioned a little hideaway near the sea.

The adventure was about to begin.


Luck and Loss by Jeanne Lombardo

I’ve read that lightning strikes Earth 1.4 billion times per year. I have never been struck.

I’ve read that in 2012 669,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year, the bulk of them young adults aged 18–25. I wish I could say my son was not among them.

One of these phenomena may have more to do with luck than the other, but still I might ask, “why not me?” or “why my son?”

Whatever rules The Way Things Are, he is lost to me these days.

I am lost too. But still I search. And search.


There Is No I In Team, But There Is An I In Fight by Dave Madden

The I in team has been lost in my psyche as a diehard fan of MMA.

When I claimed fanfare of mainstream sports, I never staked claim of a particular team to fanaticize; individual players, individual efforts, and individual achievements always gripped my attention.

Each season’s kick-off, first pitch, or jump ball pushed my sensibilities out of arenas and into steel cages. The lock behind me clicked a switch, altering my perspective.

The I in fight: blurs borders, spotlights styles, packs powerful personalities (and punches), and individualizes intensity from bell to bell.

If it huddles, it muddles my captivation.


Lost Virtue by Irene Waters

“Stop it.” Katrina struggled against the man who pushed her to the floor. She could hear her friend and the male she was with grunting with enjoyment.

“I said stop. Stop! I don’t want to.” The man pinned her down and her tiny frame was no resistance to the man intent on pleasuring himself.

Spent, the man collapsed, ignoring her. Sobbing, Katrina crawled away, longing for the cleansing shower although nothing would make her whole again. She felt dirty, used. She’d saved herself. For what?

Katrina inhaled deeply. She had choices. This wouldn’t destroy the rest of her life.


Take That Writer’s Block! by C. Jai Ferry

On day 158, I rolled out of bed as usual, took a shower as usual, and wrapped a towel around my wet hair, turban-style, as usual. I poured a glass of the same iced caffeine I’d been drinking every day, put on the same sweats and t-shirt, and sat down at the computer to start my daily routine again.

Like the previous 157 days, nothing happened. I stared at a blank screen.

I finished my caffeine, walked to the kitchen, pulled my not-so-dripping-wet hair into a ponytail, and sawed off six inches of dead ends.

And then I wrote.


To Grandma’s House by Norah Colvin

Bub’s buckled in, away we go.

Mum’s going to work, we can’t be slow.

Down the street past the green painted door.

Past the house with big number four.

Stop at the curb and look each way.

Off to Grandma’s, hip-hip-hooray!

Quiet past here so the dogs don’t bark.

Left at the corner and cut through the park.

Up the hill, past the posting box.

Open the gate, give three big knocks.

Hugs for Grandma waiting for us.

Wave to Mum as she boards the bus.

Go inside for milk and toast.

Days with Grandma we like the most.


Monster Dream by Paula Moyer

Soon after Jean started dating Charlie, it happened. The dream.

A monster was chasing her, gaining on her. Faster and faster. Then there she was in the corner. Again. She opened her mouth. Nothing.

She tried again. Nothing. Oh, if only I could scream, she thought furiously. Someone could find me and help me. The horrible, huge monster loomed over her. Her mouth was silent.

“Jean, wake up.” Her father called out. “You’re having a nightmare.”

All over. For now.

Scientific: the REM sleep phase paralyzes.

The bigger truth: Jean was losing herself. Charlie took everything. Even her voice.



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  1. jan

    Such imaginations!

    • Charli Mills

      Every week I’m delighted by the variety of imaginative responses!

  2. Ula

    Wow! That’s a lot of flash fiction.

    • Charli Mills

      A brilliant flash from around the world this week!

  3. Norah

    I am so pleased that the Rock Climber, who wasn’t lost, found her way home to love and be loved. No worries about being late posting – your promptness and attention to task always amazes me anyway. (I had to hesitate writing ‘promptness’. I hadn’t thought of your being prompt with the prompts, and their responses, before!)
    Well done. Another great prompt and compilation.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I like the play on prompt and promptness — it’s all practice. 🙂

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