January 13: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

January 14, 2016

January 13I’m looking for my fairy tale ending, holding on for my Fairy Godmother or even hoping fairies show up and wash the dirty dishes in the sink. I don’t believe in fairy tales, although a part of me wants to. My inner child perhaps?

Yesterday, thanks to a gussied up Google home page, I learned it was the 388th birthday of Charles Perrault, the Fairy Godfather of the literary genre, the fairy tale. Not being much of a fairy tale aficionado (princesses hold little appeal to me), I had thought the genre began with the brothers Grimm. Evidently, Perrault made simple folk tales fashionable at court and the fairy dust honors go to him.

If it is a simple matter of a courtly bard sophisticating folk tales, I might want to argue that the fairy tale genre is older than Perrault. Certainly the Lais of Marie de France, who was possibly the illegitimate sister of Henry II and abbess of Reading, could qualify as making stories of love and fables of animals popular at court in the 12th century. What of the stories of King Arthur or the folk tales of the Celts? Where do we define “fairy tale”?

Folk tales, or stories of cultural tradition, have been with us since the first telling of the rising sun or acknowledgement of a spirit world. What if the only thing that separates us from other species is our desire to tell and hear stories? Do ravens have tales? Do wolves howl bedtime lullabies? Do whales use sonar to explain the creatures in boats above the demarcation of water? According to scientific studies, human brains are hard-wired for stories. And a story is defined by people in a predicament and how they do or do not escape. Stories are how we learn what is accepted and acceptable in society. Stories are also where we push those limits and explore why we accept or reject what we do. Stories allow us to perceive the predicaments of others, sparking empathy and compassion.

What is a fairy tale but the simple formula for a story that has always been with us — it begins with the familiar “once upon a time” and ends happily ever after. The Disney franchise makes gazillions off of fairy tale princesses, and has even evolved fairy tales over successive tellings through the medium of movies. Ballet is another medium for fairy tales with epic dance interpretations of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia and the Nutcracker. Fairy tale motifs are even used in literature to create either realistic fantasies or to give realistic stories fantastical elements. Today, the villain might win over the princess as the genre evolves to consider new predicaments and outcomes.

As a child, my favorite fairy tale from among the Walt Disney versions was Robin Hood. I had the book and the record which I played over and over, listening to the songs and voices to imagined pictures in my head. It didn’t seem odd at all that Disney’s Robin Hood was a red fox, or Little John a big brown bear. For fairy tales, we suspend reality.

Only now does it occur to me I might have developed a bias against the profession of sheriffs because clearly the Sheriff of Nottingham was a big bad wolf. Subconsciously, did I think Cobb McCanles might have been the bully history describes him to be because he was a sheriff? Yet, my research into the profession expands my understanding. As a sheriff in antebellum North Carolina, Cobb had to be tough, but also smart. He had to hold himself to high standards and be accountable to the highest government in the state as a tax collector. He was accountable for those who didn’t pay their taxes, and he had to provide exact amounts when he collected. Often, he had take people’s property if they refused or couldn’t pay taxes, which could have put him in dangerous situations.

It’s interesting Cobb would have held a position that required enough popularity to be elected four times, yet be unpopular for what he was tasked to do. He was a big man, a sporting man who wrestled in the skull and knife duels of his time (think 1850s MMA), and he was self-righteous, believing himself to be an authority by his position. He lived large in life and probably created many silent enemies. None spoke out against him until he left the politics of North Carolina which had taken a direction he couldn’t uphold. He left for Nebraska, but must have carried with him that sheriff’s demeanor. Was he the big bad wolf?

The fairy tale that evolves from the 1861 incident at Rock Creek finds a hero in another — Wild Bill Hickok. In fairy tales, typically you can only have one hero. History answers, yes, Cobb McCanles was the big bad wolf and Hickok the dashing hero who saved the day. Consider this passage by historian, William E. Connely:

Wild Bill and McCanles were both men of destiny — strong, fitted to stand in the forefront of the advance of the frontier, to hold the lead of civilization into new lands. By his courage, his intrepidity, his iron will, his marvelous achievement Wild Bill won fame. By his strength of character and his tragic death McCanles won fame. One was the knight of the Middle Ages strangely out of time. The other was the freebooter with the daring to take what he wanted regardless of consequences.

Both will live on history’s eternal page.

Think a moment about the idea that we are hardwired for stories. Not logic. Stories. The stories that emerged to explain the incident at Rock Creek read like fairy tales with the knight overcoming the freebooter. The community needed a story to make the incident acceptable. And obviously, the American culture at large wanted heroes, and the Wild West was ripe with fairy tale potential.

Problem is, we’ve accepted the tales as history. It’s near impossible to sift all the stories for facts and come up with the “real” story, but like those who tell alternative fairy tales, Rock Creek  is a novel to offer alternative considerations, busting the myths of western  villains, heroes and happy endings. The women involved were more than princesses on the sidelines.

While I wait for my own elusive fairy tale life, I continue to move forward, making headway against what feels like strong winds. Finally, the VA has submitted a formal document for my husband’s PTSD. I have to take time out of my packed schedule to sit in meetings with his advocate. Monday went well, and I felt some measure of validation, if not exhaustion. This will take time. Everything I’m doing at the moment will take time. I should be a monk by the end of it all. On top of everything, my head cold of a month ago decided to return like some medieval plague and dormant health issues decided to flare. I feel like Prince Charming, fighting the dragon, thorns and vines that hoard the prize.

Never do I feel like Sleeping Beauty. The disappointment of fairy tales is not that they aren’t real, but that the men are the ones who get to fight for what is right, for what they want. The women are sequestered and always waiting on songbirds to clean up their clutter. No wonder they are beautiful — they have time to coif hair, apply powder and dress with consideration. I look a hot mess these days, but I am the fighting prince, no sulking princess. I’ll author my own damn fairy tale in this life and one day up hold the elixir I get from writing, researching, reading, discussing and ultimately expressing what that all means. In a story, of course.

January 13, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) begin a story with, “Once upon a time…” Where you take the fairy tale is entirely up to you. Your character can break the traditional mold, or your ending can be less than happy. Elements of fairy tales include magic, predicaments, villains, heroes, fairy-folk and kingdoms. How can you turn these elements upside down or use them in a realistic setting? Write your own fairy tale.

Respond by January 19, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


No Happy Endings by Charli Mills

“Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who were grieved…”

Sarah listened to Jesse read from her favorite book of fairy tales, their shared birthday tradition. Jesse now 18, and Sarah 89. Satisfied, Sarah dozed. Wasn’t she young once?

The young prince, fired for a gay adventure, set off for the woods. He rocked Sleeping Beauty in her cradle. Black hair like his, blue eyes like hers. The prince smiled. Don’t grieve…don’t grieve…

Sarah woke in her chair. Jesse finished the tale, smiling over the happy ending. Sarah knew better. Sleeping Beauty died in the woods.


Ranch News: Story selections and assignments for the Congress of Rough Writers Anthology Vol. 1 are underway. Notifications began yesterday and will continue as Editor, Sarah Brentyn, and I finalize the needs for each book section and analyze reader feedback on first-year material. Teams are assisting with editorial, education or publishing considerations to make this a collaborative effort we all can take pride in it’s quality and value.

I’ve launched a new weekly e-mail. This is not directed at writers here, necessarily, but you are welcome to follow. It’s a new tool for securing readers at Carrot Ranch and for our collective books. I will feature one Rough Writer and his or her book each week in the newsletter, giving each a turn at publicity. I will also feature three flash fiction. Don’t let the word “popular” put you off or turn on your competitive radar. Basically, it’s an editor’s pick as to three flash that go well together and can attract new readers. Once I train the monkeys (Mail Chimps) it will include a few other fun features. Again, the intent is to build up readership now that we have a solid base of writers and participants at Carrot Ranch.

There’s still time to enter the contest:

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest

Our team of accomplished judges are patiently standing by and awaiting your submissions! Other than the judges, this contest is open to all Rough Writers and beyond. Please spread this contest if you can help out. It’s a great cause, only $15 to enter and a $250 first place prize with prizes for second, third and an overall grand prize randomly drawn from all who submitted to any of the 4 Paws for Norah Contests. You can use the icon to share and link back to the Contest Page.

In personal news, my first article is featured at the new and gorgeous Go Idaho magazine. It is subscription based but you can read up to two articles free each week and there are social media buttons below each article to share. Please tell me what you think of A Stone Castle in the Rockies.

In two weeks, Carrot Ranch goes live at the Library with Wrangling Words. The attempt is to build a similar supportive program for rural literary writers in northern Idaho.

Thank you for all your support and participation at Carrot Ranch. I hope we continue to grow, connecting to readers, engaging more writers, discussing process and stories, collaborating to the benefit of us all. I feel like I’m echoing Margaret Meade when I say, never underestimate what a small group of passionate writers can do with words.

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  1. Sarah Brentyn

    Wonderful! All of these projects. And I absolutely love this prompt. ???? Be back to read fully – I should be sleeping. (Not like your Sleeping Beauty, though…)

    • Charli Mills

      I was wondering if fairy tales might tempt you! 🙂 Off to sleep with you! You’ve been busy!

  2. Sherri

    Prince Charli, you’re my hero, that’s all I’m saying for now <3

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Thanks, Sherri, I rather like that fairy tale title! <3

  3. Sacha Black

    As always an awesome post – and what a lot of projects I don’t know how you aren’t drowning, let alone finding time for Rock Creek.

    I have mixed feelings about fairy tales. I can’t help but love happily ever after even though I know its a load of tripe!!

    So this weeks firmament was a little harder to write. I am finding now, that I need to write lots around it and snippet things out for this as the characters are beginning to grow clearer as is the plot, so condensing them into something that actually resembles a story in 99 words is, hard, shall we say!


    The Firmament #3

    “Once upon a time, we all live happily ever after isn’t going to happen Lexi, people are going to die.”

    “I know, Luke. I know.” Of course I knew. If I was willing to die for our freedom, then everyone else would have to be too. But, did that mean I wanted their blood on my hands? Obviously not. I just hoped the sacrifice was worth it.

    I yanked my hair into a ponytail, frustration seeping into my scalp and taking residence in my forehead. Knowing it, and being able to do anything about it were two different things.

    • Norah

      That’s so true: Knowing it and being able to do anything about it are definitely two different things!

      • Sacha Black

        Thank Norah – it’s one of those horrible truths but hopefully it will be all worth it

    • TanGental

      hey, this is very good; great imagery in the past para

      • Sacha Black

        Thanks Geoffle that means a lot to me – this is another story that is demanding to be written. God only knows when. You’ll not believe where it came from… The flat earth theory… *snigger* that’s a true story too! ????????

      • TanGental

        You always said they’d stimulate ideas… Can’t fault your approach.

      • Sacha Black

        Lol that I did! Joking aside though, I really do appreciate the comment especially from you ????

      • TanGental

        You’re a talented and varied writer, Ms B. Always a pleasure to read you…

    • Charli Mills

      Well, my internet won’t work at all now and I’m officially drowning! At least for the moment, I’m also swilling at a pub (drowning sorrows?) so I can compile the flash! I love that you are finding a connection to the Firmament here as it seems fair exchange for what you did to me on your website! And I agree with what Geoff said both about your imagery and being a pleasure to read.

  4. julespaige

    I was not going to be last this time! 🙂


    Cinderella hauled ass. And lead the donkey too. Once
    she was freed of the yoke of her Step-mother she did
    not immediately marry the Prince. While handsome
    enough, he was a bit of a player. And she wanted to
    sign a prenuptial agreement that if he strayed she could
    take him through the wringer. Well of course the King
    and Queen weren’t to happy about that. So they politely
    asked how else they could reward their diligent servant.

    A private island with good weather for crops, chickens,
    a cow, and a good horse. It was a done deal.


    See the post here:

    • Annecdotist

      I was always convinced by the ending of Cinderella – much prefer your version.

    • Norah

      Perhaps the prince might be worth putting up with after all! 🙂

    • TanGental

      Cinderella the feminist lawyer – now that’s a different take but vey believable

    • Charli Mills

      Not last, Jules and brilliant story!

  5. julespaige

    Continued success with family matters. Little Miss has been under the weather too. No going out this week. We’ve been getting a lot of snuggle and reading time in.

    I forgot to start with ‘Once upon a time’, but I think it still works. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      It works! Besides, the prompt is always “where it leads.” And I aughed at the double meaning of the opening! Hope Little Miss feels better and all the best with improving family matters! I’ll be late getting out to your actual website post (dumb internet).

      • julespaige

        No worries, the net is – and we have to live with it.
        Just like some family…(or not… at least not with the distant as in distance ones XD
        Little Miss did seem better yesterday. Though it is a tad too cold to go out. We are expecting some big snow Friday. But it could also pass us…again.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for joining us this week!

  6. Pete

    Prince Charli, the hot mess of Carrot Ranch Kingdom. Great post Charli, I was chuckling at that line. Keep up the great work!

    Okay, I bring two this week. One from me and one from my son, who will be three next week. His is practically verbatim, because he tells it to me every night at bed time. I must say, he’s got a gift for the dramatic. We’ll call it…


    Once upon a time there was a boy, and he had a riding lawn mower. He was mowing in the woods one day when he saw….The Abominable Snowman! The boy went faster, but then he ran out of gas.

    The Abominable Snowman was nice, and he helped the boy get to the gas station. But after he got gas, THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN STARTED CHASING HIM!

    So the boy had to go even faster….in an airplane. But then he ran out of gas. And The Abominable Snowman’s mommy put the snowman in consequence because he wasn’t being nice.

    The end.

    Mine is from the only fairy tale I’ve ever written, and yes, I’m very much aware that I’ve been upstaged…

    Cold Cuts and Fairy Dust

    Once upon a time there is this lame freshman play, Gypsies and Fairies. And because the lead gypsy is Lani Andrews, an inspired sucker snatches the opposite role that no guy wants to touch.

    Fairy. As in wings and wand and this glittery vial of fairy dust. The boy tosses his props in my—er, his locker on the way to football practice because it’s not a conversation he wants to have with teammates.

    In his rush some fairy dust falls into his cleats and he’s screwed because, well, glitter and all. Instead something magical happens.

    He becomes unstoppable.

    • Annecdotist

      Yay, Pete, both of these are fabulous – and what a treat having your son tell you such a marvellous bedtime story!

    • Norah

      “Tell me the abominable snowman story again! Again!” They scream. You have a budding writer on your hands – talk about understanding story structure. Gorgeous!
      Yours is pretty good too! 🙂

      • Pete

        Yeah, he keeps me listening for sure Norah. Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Pete, you have no idea how accurate that is this week! 🙂 I’m continuing to fight the thorns, vines and dragons. Oh, yes, totally upstaged! You should be proud to pass along the story-telling gene. You have a bard in the making! Thank you for sharing both!

    • Pat Cummings

      Wonderful! I love it that “Cinderella” is looking for work, not a husband…

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for finding value in the challenges! I was thinking in the beginning that it would help me with creativity (keeping the channel open) but I’ve been surprised to discover that flash can be a workhorse for so many things as you mention. Rock Creek is because of exploring an idea and then characters in flash. It’s even been valuable in revision. Thanks for joining in!

  7. Kerry E.B. Black

    Hello! I hope I’m doing this right. This is 99 words (not including title and name) for the 13 January challenge.

    Lucky Fiver
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Once upon a time, an impoverished eighteen-year-old found a discarded five dollar bill. He put the cash into his hole-riddled jeans. Throughout the day, he patted his hip to be certain the money hadn’t fallen out. At lunch, he ignored his growling stomach. “I’ve plans for this money, and it ain’t buying mystery meat.” Through classes, he jotted numbers whispering through his mind. After school, he ran to the store to purchase a ticket. “Can I stay to watch? No t.v. at home. I wanna cash in fast.” The clerk condescended, then choked with surprise when the boy won.

    • Pat Cummings

      How topical! It certainly is a modern fairy-tale (mostly fictional, in other words) to gain wealth through winning the lottery…

    • julespaige

      In the States we just had a few big winners with our latest historically large jackpot. I only got a small cut by matching the power ball number.
      Whoo who! $4 – wanna share a cup of coffee?

      I hope your character can get a new pair of pants, well if he wants 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Kerry! Oh, yes, you did it right. Basically, find a way to share. If you have a blog, I’m happy to link to it. That’s a fabulous modern fairy tale!

    • Charli Mills

      Great take on the fairy tale! What’s more majestic than a monarch to save the day?

      • Oliana

        Exactly, makes our wings flutter 😉

  8. Annecdotist

    Charli, I’m writing to you from Robin Hood country – the Major Oak where Robin and his men were supposed to have hidden is just a few miles down the road – so I’m not sure if people round here think of that as history more than a fairy story!
    I’ve also read that we’re hard wired for stories, although I’m not sure where that comes from. I think there’s a lot of evidence that we look for causality and meaning (though as you say, not necessarily in a logical way) which is perhaps what stories are fundamentally about.
    But another great post as ever, though sorry you feel in need of a fairy godmother – I think with all your impressive projects, you’re probably taking on this role for others instead of yourself. But indeed, I do see you authoring your own fairytale rather than waiting to be rescued, working rather than sleeping life away.
    I think many of the earlier fairy stories were less happy than the Disneyfied versions of later years, so I think your excellent flash fits perfectly. I’ve amused myself by going for a more conventional one, or is it ironic? Whatever, I’ve enjoyed the prompt which also give me an excuse to prattle a bit about fiction as metaphor for our own stories:

    • julespaige

      I like your ending. Sometimes even misfits fit.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Anne, I had no idea you lived so close to Robin Hood country. What I thought a fairy tale as a child turned out to be history. But I wonder how much of the history was adapted to fit a fairy tale kind of story. Yes, many of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales were indeed grim as original tales. I think it was Perrault who is credited with “sophistication” and “happy endings” following that once upon a time. Yes, I imagine the hard-wiring goes deeper and would be an interesting topic for a psychologist to examine. As for fairy god-mother, let me be that to others because I know how tough it can be without one. 🙂

      • Annecdotist

        Not sure how true to history the story of Robin Hood actually is – and sure someone like you would have great fun separating fact from fiction.
        Yup, you are a fabulous fairy godmother, but don’t forget even fairies need to take a break sometimes to attend to their wings.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jane! Good to read you again! 🙂

      • Jane Dougherty

        Thanks for the prompt 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you back at the ranch!

      • writersdream9

        Thank you.

    • A. E. Robson

      Nice to see you back. I hope your character find her once upon a time, again.

      • Ula

        Thank you 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I agree! Great to see you back, riding the range! I’m glad I could tempt you with a fairy tale. 😉

  9. A. E. Robson

    Life sometimes presents us with fairy tales we have no idea we are participating in.

    Fairy Tale Castle
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    “Whatcha doin’ Mom?”

    “Writing a once upon a time fairy tale about a little girl and her horse.”

    “What happened?”

    “She didn’t want to grow up. She was so happy on the back of her horse. Running wild and free across pastures and through the trees. The barn was her castle surrounded by her kingdom known as Mother Nature.”

    “And then what?”

    “Alas, she married her Prince Charming who had his own castle and pastures.”

    “Is that picture of your old horse?”

    “Hey, we have a barn and pastures.I think your story’s about you and dad.”

    “Could be.”


    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes, so true! I loved this fairy tale because, for a brief moment, it transported me to the back of my horse, running free across the pastures in the shadow of Silver Mountain. Thank you for that moment!

  10. Norah

    I’m going to be very naughty here, Charli. When I’m reading or listening to people I often finish their sentences in my head before their words are out. I completed your prompt with the words “Write your own damn fairy tale. I’m writing mine!” You’re sure to be more polite to us readers than that! 🙂
    Thanks for the link to the article about being hard-wired for stories. A story to explain makes any information more comprehensible, I think. The stories that you weave around the story that you are writing help make it make sense to me.
    I’m pretty sure you have expressed disagreement with Connely’s understanding of history before. His descriptions do seem rather biased. I guess history is just a telling of somebody’s or something’s story. We meed to understand that history is always presented from someone’s point of view. I think the thoroughness of your research will make for a very plausible, and probably far more accurate, history than many that are presented. I congratulate you for you persistence in uncovering as much as you can in presenting your version. Others would claim expertise with far less work, knowledge and understanding. Is that part of your womanhood? Having to work harder, be more thorough and do a better job to even be considered an historical author? In her response, Anne referred to an article that talked about the drudgery stage that was important in the development of princesses in fairy tales. Your ending too, you are writing it, will be the happily ever after. You are not waiting for it. You are riding towards it, arms open, ready to embrace its rewards. You are your own knight in shining armour coming to rescue the child within who is now proving anything is possible. I’m sorry to hear about the dragons and thorns that are attempting to hold you back, but you will defeat them. Persistence and determination will out!
    Your flash fiction creates such a clear picture of the strong bond between Sarah and Jesse. What a lovely tradition they share. But the end – there’s no happy ending there. Your own story will be different.
    Thanks for sharing news about the anthology, the contest, your article in Go Idaho magazine (I will read it, I promise!) and your writers groups in the library. Best wishes for them all. I very much appreciate the efforts you put in for all of us. You are amazing! If anyone deserves success, it is you!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I love when you are naughty, Norah. I’ll have to catch up with your post later to fully appreciate where you went this week, but I like that what inspired you was write your own damn fairy tale! I knew you’d be interested and add to the conversation on hard-wiring in relation to stories. But you also nailed me with an accurate description — “Having to work harder, be more thorough and do a better job to even be considered an historical author.” I think this really speaks to my experience as a girl, as a woman. That the things I wanted to do (cowboy, career, writing) I’ve always felt I could have done better if I were a man. I know that reflects my upbringing, but I hadn’t realized how much it still followed me. Time to accept I’ve researched enough. Thanks for leading me to that self-insight. Got to type fast…pub closing soon…my only connection to internet at the moment!

      • Norah

        Those things you felt you could have done better as a man come from the way we girls were/are treated. In my experience it seemed that boys were validated – the sun shone out of the sons – simply by being born. We girls had to prove we were worthy of the effort of giving birth, and generally couldn’t even hope to do so as we didn’t have the essential bits. I know this is far more true in many cultures than in mine, but it exists nonetheless. I’m pleased I helped you reach that insight. Yes. You have researched enough. Yes. You have written a powerful story with characters as real as any you’d meet in “real” life. Yes. You have researched deeply to weave truth into fiction to validate the lives of those who went before. No. You don’t need to do any more to validate yourself. You were valid from the moment of your birth. You are you. You are worthy. There is nothing else to prove.
        I laughed when I read your phrase “pub closing soon”. I was thinking of publishers. Publication date must be closing in soon too. You’ve got readers a-waiting!
        I am sorry to hear about your internet problems again. Technology can be sooooo frustrating, but I really can’t imagine life without it now.
        Look after yourself. 🙂

    • julespaige

      Around these parts there was a huge jackpot. So the media got caught up in it… one of the stories was how at least 10 folks who won big lost big too. Seems sometimes when you win, well you loose not only your money and the things that matter but your common sense as well.

      Your story is right on point with the news!

    • Charli Mills

      Ed would! I was counting on him!

  11. Pat Cummings

    My flash this week is Bedtime ( http://goo.gl/t47fpA ), because that’s when the “once upon a time” happens for us first…

    • paulamoyer

      Great minds think alike, Pat!

    • Charli Mills

      Once upon time…reminds me that it is time for the Little Ones to Go to Bed so Mama Can Write (true story).

  12. paulamoyer

    Great idea, Charli, and congrats on the publication! Like Pat, I think “bedtime” when I think “fairy tale” because of my dad’s bedtime ritual with me:

    The Knight of Calm

    By Paula Moyer

    “Once upon a time, when all the great trees in the forest were still quite small …” Jean lay in bed, waiting for Daddy’s next words.

    It was like this every night that he did bedtime. “Tell me a story,” Jean would beg. And then he would begin.

    But the story was always very short. The topic may be a princess, a knight, an overgrown forest. No matter. Soon Daddy’s breaths lengthened. The voice rose in pitch but softened.

    Moonlight drew Daddy’s profile. His eyelids fell. Nxxx – the snore.

    The door opened. Momma’s voice. “Honey, come on to bed.”

    • Pat Cummings

      Love the twist! It’s true; the bedtime story puts us to sleep even if we’re telling it…

      • paulamoyer

        That it does, Pat!

    • Charli Mills

      I love the lines, “No matter. Soon Daddy’s breaths lengthened. The voice rose in pitch but softened.” That just plants me in the scene! Wonderful to see you back at the ranch! 🙂 <3

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Charli!

  13. Jane Dougherty

    Couldn’t resist. Here’s another one for you 🙂

    Once upon a time the world was dark, and people lived in fear of things that went bump and things with sharp teeth and claws. A little girl sat in a corner out of the way of blundering feet, listening to the mutterings and the scufflings, waiting until she was big enough to help the people get over their fear. On her sixth birthday she decided she was big enough. She felt her way around the room until she found the place, then she reached up high, as high as ever she could, and she turned on the light.


    • Pat Cummings

      Brava! To you both…

      • Jane Dougherty

        Thanks Pat 🙂 One smart kid!

    • Charli Mills

      Two! What a great tale — so poignant, then funny. Thank you, Jane!

      • Jane Dougherty

        Glad it pleased 🙂

  14. rogershipp

    When Frogs Could Fly

    Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived two flying frogs.

    Free-wheelin’ Fredrick and Voluptuous Freda frolicked and fluttered instilling fright and fear.

    Even lions, baboons, and falcons were in awe of them.

    These callous, winged-rulers hoarded flies and fruits- sometimes even fish- from all the kingdom.

    The familial swamp creatures sequestered themselves to find a fitting way to overthrow the freakish tyrants.

    Assassins- leafcutters were dispatched. Carefully spiking the castle with an airborne fungus- frog wings were soon ant fodder.

    Hence the saying… If frogs had wings, they wouldn’t bump their butts on the ground.

    (99 Words) https://rogershipp.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/when-frogs-could-fly/

    • Charli Mills

      Wonderful fairy tale, Roger! Very imaginative!

      • rogershipp

        Thank you!

  15. Norah

    Hi Charli, I’ve posted mine. It’s rather ordinary this time. http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-Ec

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Norah!

  16. udosdottir

    Trying to get back into writing after taking a break for a couple of months in which I just couldn’t find the time, not even for fiction as short as this


    Usually I don’t count the title when counting words, but this time it was essential, and so it is 99 words including the title “tsunami” this time.

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you back! We all have our busy seasons when time is a precious commodity. The word count is up to you! The constraint is what pushes the creative response.

  17. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Hi Charli, this reminds me of a wonderful tale I read maybe a year ago titled “the good mayor.” A modern day fairy tale. For me the fairy tale was difficult to come summon up but finally.
    It is interesting that you wonder whether your sheriff bias came from your Robin Hood loving days. I guess you have found that there is no black and no white. Just varying shades of grey.
    Your flash is so sad. The old Sarah really makes me want to cry.
    I have put on my list for this week, write a dog and boy story (small typo – you have put Norah instead of Noah) and get to your magazine. Both sound awesome. Great news too that the anthology is coming on well and the weekly email is a great idea. What is the point of writing if you don’t have readers.
    I feel quite buoyed when I read all that you (and Sarah) are achieving.

    • Charli Mills

      The old Sarah makes me cry, too and is why I wanted to write Rock Creek. So much not evident in the “histories.” You are right, there is no black and white which is where fairy tales reside. Oops! Thanks for alerting me to the typo! Ugh…I seem to be full of ’em!

  18. Lisa Reiter

    Skidding in at the deadline with an ironic little offering.. given the various threads this week where we’ve discussed whether your fictioneers really dislike memoir as much as you protest!
    Lisa x

    • Charli Mills

      Well, I’ve been bumped offline! Thanks for contributing!

  19. Sherri

    Hi again Charli, I hope your internet woes are getting sorted out, but I’m guessing in the meantime Starbucks are doing very well out of you for coffee 😉 Until I can get myself sorted out with writing/blogging, I’m going to post my flashes here, but I do hope to start doing them as posts again very soon as I do enjoy doing them! Back to Rock Creek, from my earliest memory of the Wild West, I think of Wild Bill Hickock as the hero. I remember when I first visited your blog and started reading your historical shares how amazed I was to discover and learn so much I honestly had no idea about, not least of all Cobb. Your flash is wonderful and powerful and has me closing my eyes and rocking in my virtual rocking chair, an explosion of emotions rumbling away. Loving all your writing, here and in Go Idaho, everywhere. I need to get my flash written for the competition. Thanks for the reminder!
    Well, here’s my flash. Hope the ‘bad’ word isn’t offensive to anyone, please change it if so (my original word was ‘jerk’ but somehow it didn’t feel like the word ‘she’ might use…) As you can see, I’m in no mood for sweet fairy stories any more than you, ha! However, I absolutely adore Robin Hood and it’s one of my favourite Disney movies too. That and The Great Mouse Detective (oh, and The Rescuers!!).
    Get well Prince Charli my hero 🙂 <3

    Unhappily Ever After

    Once Upon A Time they had been happy: Prince Charming, riding in on his white horse Lamborghini, saving her from going-nowhere-fast.

    He had dazzled her with his glossy, black hair, deep brown eyes and penthouse suite in New York.

    But now the suite was her jail and Charming her captor; disowned by her family, her friends gone, clothes worn only he approved to cover her bruises.

    “Well fucker,” she whispered, “I’m no longer blonde and I’m sure as hell no Rapunzel. Our fairy tale’s gonna turn grim…”

    She smiled, cocked her pistol and waited patiently for Charming's grand entrance.

    • Lisa Reiter

      Love it! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I’m thinking one day we will watch Robin Hood together! Ugh, internet woes continue, the bartender wants me gone! Galloping on! Love your flash!

      • Sherri

        I would love that! Thanks Charli…but I hope your internet problems are getting sorted… <3

    • jeanne229

      The “f” word is absolutely essential here. Love this modern-day twist on what was always such a sappy tale. And love your courage!

      • Sherri

        Thanks for the validation Jeanne, ‘Jerk’ just didn’t cut it did it? Flash brings out a side in me that makes me want justice…Charli’s Wild West stories are making me want to Cowgirl Up and wrangle a few rattlers …more than a few, not least of all the ones assailing our friend at the moment…<3

  20. katespencer17

    When I read about ‘once upon a time’ and ‘fairies’ the thought that came to my mind was ‘where is my house cleaning fairy’? You know, the one that magically shows up, waves her wand and abracadabra my house is not only clean, it shines! Alas, my fairy tale ending had me roll up my sleeves and cleaning this weekend. 🙂 It happens sometimes. I’m taking a pass as I jumped over to Compassion, writing about the Gift of Forgiveness. Charli, I can’t get over how many exciting projects you’ve launched for this year! Kudos to the work you and Sarah and the group are doing on the Anthology. I checked out the first weekly email – it will surely attract the readers!

    • Charli Mills

      If you find that house cleaning fairy send her to Idaho! <3

  21. lucciagray

    Hi Charlie! Sorry I’m a bit late.
    Thanks for a great prompt and flash, Charlie. I absolutely agree with you that fairy tales are mostly sexist, unrealistic, and often pass on dated (and partial) cultural values. I wonder why it’s mostly men who told the stories? Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll, Wilhelm Hauff, Charles Perrault, Alexander Pushkin, Carlo Collodi, and I’m pretty sure the Arabian Nights weren’t written by a woman!
    History is no doubt told by the victors, and fairy tales by men. It has left the women with the losers.
    I like to think/imagine things are changing and women’s voices are heard at last, in some parts of the world, in some sectors of society. Sadly not enough and not everywhere. It’s an ongoing struggle for equality, in which every mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, son and daughter must participate.
    Here’s my flash:
    Once upon a time, there was a little girl, who loved listening to stories of knights in shining armour, princes and fairy godmothers in faraway places, who rescued beautiful princesses in distress.
    Years later she discovered that knights, princes, and godmothers needed saving, too, so she became a teacher and told her students stories about people who needed help, and how ordinary children who aren’t princes, princesses, or fairy godmothers rescue each other every day, in small ways, like saying; NO FAIL ‘Next Opportunity! It’s your First Attempt In Learning!’ and this isn’t the END because ‘Effort Never Dies!’

    • Charli Mills

      Victors are often men, and I agree that much was written by women! Thanks for joining in! I’m scrambling because the pub has closed!

  22. jeanne229

    In under the wire again, though I see you’ve already sent out the compilation. And speaking of that….hmmm….strange. Perhaps there really is magic in the world….My iPhone says it’s still January 19, 9:35 PM. But your last post says it’s already January 20, 3:22 AM! (My those rural Idaho pubs stay open late.) Some strange spell has beset your Internet indeed 🙂 Anyway….wonderful post again. So rich. So honest. So skillful the way you weave your thoughts around a theme. And I am utterly abashed at the example of industry you put up for us all. You are a wonder woman. Here’s my small effort. Off to finish reading the others now.

    • Charli Mills

      The internet is really messing with time on many levels! I’ll get this added, Jeanne. Thank you for staying inspired and inspiring in return. 🙂


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