February 3: 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.

February 4, 2016

Photo by Jenna Johnson

Photo by Jenna Johnson

What good is power?

A plane lands on the tarmac stretching across fields of corn. A man steps out from the plane bold as the name emblazoned like train graffitie. Sponsors can go jump in a lake. Newscasters can stick it. Don’t like him? Tough! And the crowd erupts. Cheers for the man of power.

Before you think my nation has gone completely bonkers, consider the underlying fear most Americans harbor without really processing what it means to live fear-burdened — iconic city skyscrapers  went down one day on every morning news station; children bring guns to school to battle teen angst; veterans are homeless; home-owners foreclosed; job markets changed and nobody bothered to re-train employees; healthcare sucks and is the law; our own government spies on us. The NSA is reading this post (thanks for the traffic boost, guys).

How did we go from a founding father with wooden teeth and a powdered wig to this man in the plane? How did we collect so many fears like Beanie Babies?

History reveals, should you peak through the dust motes of time, that fear drives people to want a powerful leader. Consider the Israelites of Old Testament. They had God. God led them out of Egypt, fed them mana and quail in the desert, poured water from rock. But after a while they pestered for a leader. You know, a guy with a wig or crown or whatever the other people had. They were scared. They wanted to see a powerful person to feel safe.

The burden of fear leads to suspicion. Fear makes citizens claim Mexican immigrants are taking jobs and adding words like taco to our pure English language. Speak English like the rest of us! Which ones of us? Um, who has the purist accent? Who hasn’t add colloquialisms to the lexicon? Fear makes us think that helping humanity in crisis will topple more skyscrapers. You look different from me! Don’t look at me! Fear makes us take privileges like hunting and target sports for granted. I have the right to arm bears! I mean bear an arm in my purse, a firearm. I’m armed! I’m scared!

Fear makes us think in unhealthy ways. God provided leaders for the Israelites, but the people still went astray. Powerful leaders, you see, don’t often ease the fear. They fan the fear-fire. Why? Because they are powerful and they know your fear already controls you so they use it to control you more. The more they control you, the more powerful they are. Do you understand why a man landed in a cornfield with his plane and people cheered?

North Carolina in the 1850s had fears remarkably similar to ones today in America. Cobb McCanles switch political party alignments like shampoo. One party was built upon the fear that immigrants were going to hurt the economy. Another party was in protest to the party it sprang from. Yet another feared freeing slaves. As the state took more and more control on its own it became powerful. By the fourth time Cobb was elected as Sheriff, North Carolina was powerful enough to dictate that academies be armed; that special taxes be paid to fund potential war; and every man of age was conscripted to muster in the militia.

I wonder what Cobb would make of that man in the plane?

Yet history claims Cobb was a bully. He left North Carolina when the state powers began to grow too large and controlling. Obviously he was not attracted to being a part of a powerful paradigm. But as a man he was confident, perhaps overbearing at times. He loved his family, although he had a mistress, too. He made right by that mistake, though, took accountability. He built, expanded, gathered and led. Why did the people of the prairie resent him after he was gone?

Maybe Cobb had power, but not the kind that the people wanted.

Was he empowered? Did he empower his children? Or did his personal power dim their abilities and opportunities? Such are the deep thoughts a writer has delving into character and motives. Writers push into fear, poke it like scientists looking for truth about matter. Writers create powerful villains, powerful heroes, clashes of power and the good ones make us think about the forces.

February 3, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that explores the question, “What good is power?” Is it a story of empowerment, or a story of a dictator? Poke around power and go where the force takes you this week.

Respond by February 9, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Temper and Threats by Charli MIlls

Cobb slammed his fist on the table. Dishes vibrated and the children grew silent. Mary narrowed her eyes. “Temper, Cobb, does not make the man.”

He rose and nodded, jaw locked, eyes smoldering. He stalked out of the house. Minutes later Mary heard the pounding of horse hooves. He’d go to her. Well, let her endure his black mood.

Sarah watched Cobb race toward her cabin. Twilight made his form shadowy as a night bandit on the prowl. He reined in his sweaty horse and began the tirade he’d been brewing.

“Tomorrow I’ll clean up on Rock Creek!”


Hang tight on this prompt! It’s an important issue to explore. I promise something cute an furry next week. Also, please spread the news of our expanded contest and prizes:

CR extended deadline

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  1. Norah

    Power is an interesting thing, Charli. Do they only have power because we allow them to have it? Rising up against that fear and power is difficult. The lessons you are discovering and exploring in Rock Creek are important ones. Seems no matter how much progress we make in some areas, we stand pretty still in others. How do we empower the masses to be not swayed by the glib fear-igniting talk of those with a thirst for power? Education. Education is the answer. It provides the power that comes with knowledge. You add to that with your insightful posts. I’m sure you can already guess where I’ll go with this one.

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Couldn’t agree with you more Norah although will education stop the fear – I know some very well-educated people who are caught up in believing the fear mongering that our politicians and media put out to the people.

      • Norah

        That’s all too true, Irene. No, I don’t know what will stop all the fear.

      • Norah

        Not at all! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        You have the formula, Irene!

    • Charli Mills

      Power of knowledge through education! Yes! Makes me think how vital it is that we truly educate and not just train our next generations. What good are test scores if one cannot problem solve, think critically or be creative? A chilling idea is that the control of education might be like the control of fear. What good is power if the people can’t think for themselves? Well, the one in power might like that idea…! Thank you for extending this idea, and I look forward to what you will share with us.

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. I like the way you extended the idea yet again. Your question, “What good are test scores if one cannot problem solve, think critically or be creative?” is the important one. I think those in power like us to be automated non-thinking robots – keeps them in control.

      • Charli Mills

        Dual controls of fear and ignorance.

    • jeanne229

      Ahh education. Norah you have opened a can of worms here. Made me think of the Enlightenment philosopher, educatior reformer and champion of women’s rights, the Marquis de Condorcet (he killed himself waiting to be beheaded) who wrote a famous treatise on the future progress of the human mind. He believed that all you had to do was to open up universal education to the masses, that once equipped with knowledge people would naturally gravitate to what was in their best interests. Now some 200 years later, it seems we cannot pay some people to go to school..literally! And educated people are of course dangerous people. I agree with you that is is NOT in the interests of (some of) those who rule to have a population that thinks critically about the issues. Hail to the teachers!

      • Charli Mills

        Not all minds are open, perhaps. Hail to the teachers who open those doors!

      • Norah

        Now I have to admit this is an area in which my education is lacking. the Marquis de Condorcet is unfamiliar to me. I shall have to check him out. What you have written is quite intriguing. I guess even the best education cannot equip us with all the knowledge we need to make the best decisions, but at least it prepares us more than no education. And you’re right of course, danger lurks in many corners, even amongst the educated. Thanks for adding your voice with these important points.

  2. Sacha Black

    Power is an interesting one, power can make or break people. Usually it begs more questions too, like right and wrong. That for me, is usually what underpins power. It is always what you do with power that defines who you are and how good of a leader you are.

    The numbers for the Firmament will look weird. I have written a piece for next weeks writespiration so you are missing a number.

    But, a shock is in store for Lexi today…

    The Firmament #7

    Sharp prickles traced a line down my spine. Why was father entering the presidents office? They were enemies, not allies.

    My heart galloped into my stomach. Father was moral, upstanding even. He would never agree with the president, or want to keep us inside the Firmament. He was my hero.

    But the knot of doubt in my stomach swelled. I pressed my ear against the door, barely able to hear for my heavy breath.

    “Jonus, it is imperative you stop your daughter. She cannot be allowed to get out. Understand?”

    “Absolutely, Sir.”

    I ran hard and didn’t look back.

    • TanGental

      Suitably nasty and creepy, Sacha! Having a good day a work, eh?!

      • Sacha Black

        On a course! *yawn* yay for my iPad!! ????????

      • Sacha Black

        Ps thank you

    • Charli Mills

      So true — what one does with power defines one’s character. It’s hard to stand by and watch a powerful person persuade good people with fear. Numbers are fine! I intentionally don’t number scenes or even commit to chapters because who knows where I’ll shift them. Not to mention I don’t think lineally. I have a kangaroo rat mind. 🙂 Great scene for Lexi! Really builds a new layer of tension. And, you rock the sexy verbs! I had an Writing Prof who taught us to select “sexy” verbs instead of adjectives.

      • Sacha Black

        Fear as a motive is a disgusting abuse of power that only cowards use. Which is kind of ironic really.

        Haha thanks for your words Charli if only I knew what a verb was! ????

        See, I’m not like Geoffle I don’t have an endless memory filled with the accuracies of a lifetime, BUT, one memory I do have is of my English teacher giving us a lesson on description and descriptive writing.

        He told us to always use premier league words (the premier league being the best most famous football league in the UK) these words are expert words, they most accurately and vividly describe what you want to say.

        Then he made us find examples, and then explained which words were championship words (the next league down) which words were league 1 division 1 etc etc etc

        It was a great analogy and one that’s stuck with me. Might even be worth a post now I think about it ????

  3. TanGental

    The true users of power for benefit are the ones who give it up willingly. A rare breed. Some reason WP ate my carrot follow so I’ve clicked to come back on the orange diet if you are wondering.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a good point, Geoff. Few want to give it up once gained, but true benefit of power is shared. Ha, ha — maybe WP likes nibbling carrots? I did see that follow and thought, well, it’s about time! 😀

      • TanGental

        I am now slightly paranoid who else it might have eaten. I mean I’d forgive it Sacha given how much stick she gives me ( got ta love that woman) but who else?!

  4. Pete

    Great thought provoking stuff, Charli. I’m just a working class hero, with nothing to add politically! I’m going to continue with last week’s prompt (with a link if okay?) because I think it fits here, at least on a local level.

    Mom Takes on The Man

    Mom lowered the microphone. Thoroughly outnumbered and undermanned, her posture was impeccable.

    “Councilmen, preserving our history is a civic duty that we owe to our future—”

    “Mrs. Hawthorne, while we appreciate your—“

    “Mayor Wainwright, I believe I have the floor.”

    “Uh, yes, very well.”

    For twenty minutes she let them have it. About Mega More, low-wage jobs. Traffic, pollution, natural history, Appalachia. The mayor squirmed through it all.

    “Uh, yes. Thank you Mrs. Hawthorne. Now, if there aren’t any other speakers, then I think we should vote. All in favor?”

    All five hands rose.

    Mom’s shoulders dropped.

    Full story here: https://lunchbreakfiction.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/the-dinner-debates/

    • Charli Mills

      Working class heroes make the best kind (easy to be a hero when you’re already heroic). You have penned a great one here, too. I’m really liking this story, and seeing it through the eyes of her son. Terrific title and visual at the end — five hands raise and her shoulders drop. Off to read the fuller story.

    • Annecdotist

      Oh, I’ve been there with Mom, Pete, but the one thing I failed to recognise at the time was that at least I’d tried. Sometimes the best we can do is make space for different views, even if they can’t change much.

      • Pete

        Right Annecdotist, and that’s the heart of my story, a boy learning that very lesson. Well that and how to stop a bulldozer in its tracks!

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Great flash Pete. Yes at least she tried despite the futility of it. Know how she felt and you captured it perfectly.

  5. Sarah Brentyn

    Power. Wow. This is a biggie. What good is power? What power is good? Who has it, who wants it, how will they use it, how far are they willing to go? How is “power” defined? So many questions. So many different situations in which power can be used or abused. Whether it’s on a large scale or very small scale, this is a huge issue to tackle.

    • Charli Mills

      Thoughtful reflection on how the flash fiction inspires your writing, too! I like how you include editing in the creative process because sometimes I forget that, but when I recognize it as a continuation of control over the words, over the story, it feels less daunting. Great killer instinct!

    • Pete

      Great flash Pat, creative and oh so true!

  6. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I agree with Sarah and Norah. This is a huge topic. Looking from the outside I have come to the conclusion that sometimes a strong powerful leader is needed as anything less will allow a situation to develop that is far worse than the power they wielded. Tito (a benevolent dictator held Yugoslavia together and Saddam (although nasty, gave the common people a good life with religious freedom, keeping all the tribal rivalries under control) both immediately come to mind. Trump, I have to say. we are watching with our jaws dropped wide at our surprise at his popularity. I will be fearful if he is elected.
    I love your explanation of Cobb’s power. I have not yet read your flash as I don’t read any until I have written my own. I’ve missed the last couple as am fixated on writing which does not allow me to deviate from it without losing my flow. Hope to be back this week. Glad for the same reason that the competition has been extended. If I can’t get something written for it by the 31st March I think I’ll be suicidal (figuratively speaking).

    • Charli Mills

      Interesting, I hadn’t thought about the powerful dictators that had benefits to their countries. If one can stomach to look at Nazi Germany with the eye to technological advancements and organizational skills, one could almost admire what they built. Yet, power has a destructive side. One glimmer of hope stateside, is that Trump LOST the Iowa caucus. That’s significant. All my own head-scratching over his popularity leads me to believe he has tapped into the fears we don’t talk about and brings that false sense of safety, kind of like an overbearing father with a foul-mouth. Cobb aligned himself with the most powerful in his county, but left when he no longer agreed with that power. He took on his own, but he often used temper and intimidation to push his plans. Keep writing! You are doing good to stick with it! The only killing involved is aptly described by Pat. 🙂

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Power is something like corruptibility. When you don’t have it you can take the moral high ground. (you being used not as you but as a generalization). I like to think if I had power I would use it for good and that I couldn’t be corrupted. But never having been in a position of power or where people want to corrupt me I have no true idea (only an idea of how I would be ideally) of what could make me be tempted and if I would give in to temptation. Until there you just can’t tell.
        Glad to hear your Trump news. We have a politician like Trump (Clive Palmer) who is a nightmare but got elected I believe because he was soemthing different to the political parties that everyone is disillusioned with. He got in but he won’t get in again. President of the USA though is something that you can’t laugh about. Serious world damage can be done in a term.
        I’ll look forward to Pat’s piece. 🙂

      • jeanne229

        Ah yes, my ex-husband’s mother used to wax nostalgic for Franco’s Spain because he made the trains run on time. I love the idea of a benevolent dictator, since sadly democracy seems to fail us when politicians equip themselves with psychological insights about humans and crowds and messaging. Plato envisioned such a desirable leader as a “philosopher king.” (He also considered democracy “mob rule.” And John Stuart Mill spoke of the “tyranny of the majority.”) Sadly “power corrupts.” And as you pointed out Irene, we are left with a Saddam or a Tito….an iron fist ruling over a population that will forfeit many freedoms for security. As we have done here to some extent after 9/11.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Democracy certainly doesn’t suit the entire world. I don’t know what the answer is but a benevolent dictator is better than some options. Plato may have been right with a philosopher King but then he wanted to banquish the poets from the ideal city. Perhaps there is not solution. Interesting your take Jeanne on life after 9/11. I feel the same has happened here that actions of the government are now accepted without many questioning them. I guess it boils down to fear.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m liking that idea, Larry!

  7. C. Jai Ferry

    I struggled through the wind and snow and finally made it back to the Carrot Ranch — yay! And I’m even a few days early for the deadline (yeah, don’t get used to that one).


    • Charli Mills

      How’s that prairie life treating you? Ready for spring, yet? 😀 Here you are early and me straggling in under the fence. Good to see you back on the ranch!

      • C. Jai Ferry

        Oh I am dying for spring…but then once spring gets here, I will be pining for winter (or something else). Grass is always greener…

      • Charli Mills

        I know that feeling!

  8. writersdream9

    When I saw the badge for this one, I almost walked away. then I read and read and came to see a possibility. I believe that the definition of power needs to be changed and our investment in it, also. Fear is the gripping force in our world right now and these are in my opinion, terrible times. In little villages, though, all over the planet there are souls that know. Perhaps not through universities or degrees but through truth and spirit. These souls will possibly be our leaders. I hope that day comes soon because materialism has imho, destroyed our humanity. Thank you, Charli for this wonderful prompt and for the great comments I just read. Here is my offering.


    • Charli Mills

      I’m glad you got past the badge! When I saw this photo on a journalist’s Twitter feed, I was struck by the display of power and the thoughts about it bubbled out. I do promise something cute and furry next time! Yes, Carol I understand where you are coming from in regards to materialism. I just interviewed a 77 year-old woman about transient working in Idaho as a generational issue, not something new. She was so frugal and focused on things like family, education, work, home. Her home is still humble yet it was pleasant and very clean. When did we become fixated on having “things”? She has little, yet she managed to raise, shelter, clothe and educate three daughters through boom and bust times. What she recalls as most memorable was community and how people stuck together because they needed one another. Maybe that’s what materialism does — makes us think we need things more than people. Thanks for contributing to the stories and discussion!

      • writersdream9

        My pleasure!

  9. Sherri

    What good is power indeed? Great question, I just wish I had the answer. In some ways, power is only possible when others allow it because of their fears, looking for a way to feel safe again. Misguided power. Trump a perfect example of that. But in others (Moses is a great example), a true leader is needed, and that kind of power, God given, is one that leads to leadership, justice, community and safety. Perhaps Trump thinks he’s a modern day Moses? Great comments here. Again, I love your flash, I really ‘felt’ Cobb here, his overbearing manner showing his anger yet belying his growing helplessness. There is a lot of power in thumping a fist on the table. I have a strong memory of my dad doing that one Christmas. Showing power in a moment of anger, yet fearful of losing control. And so others suffer, afraid of what might come next. Interesting that Cobb left when he did. I think that tells so much about his character. You know him inside and out, I love that and the way you’re inside his head and bring him to life through your writing. Another thought-provoking prompt Charli, hope to do it justice…

    • Charli Mills

      Moses was the leader God chose, yet he protested the position. I think Trump is more like the arrogant Pharaoh who enslaved the Israelites. Trump might think he’s “leading” but eventually even Moses divided his power of leadership. Can’t see Trump giving up a nugget!

      Yes, I think I crawled inside Cobb’s head and got lost! 🙂 Thanks, Sherri!

      • Sherri

        All very true. And I know one thing, Trump isn’t likely to see a burning bush anytime soon…
        I hope you’ll keep crawling around there Charli, I love it when you do!! <3

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! No he isn’t! And I’ll keep crawling, but need to find an exit. 🙂

  10. jeanne229

    I am going to come back and read the contributions on this very timely prompt. But appreciated your thoughts here Charli on power and its connection to fear. Not a Star Wars fan, but out of that behemoth of a franchise came real words of wisdom in the voice of Yoda: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Alas, too many people do not pay attention to history…where fear has so many times empowered monsters…I could go on, but I’ll end for now with appreciation for your flash. Power and women…now there is another rich vein to tap!

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, wise Yoda. 🙂 And, yes, history reveals so many incidents of empowered monsters. You mention women and power, and that is another level of complexity. Too often women have been discounted, or give away power in order to control or be secure with the powerful men they are with. We’ll have to tap that vein another day!

  11. Annecdotist

    Brave of you to tackle Trump on an international blog, Charli, but I so agree that people look to strong leaders (regardless of what nonsense they spout) because they’re afraid, and sometimes those fears are quite ordinary things that the devious leader can build up. In Britain, we now have the other side of the coin with Jeremy Corbyn elected to the leadership of the opposition Labour Party. His left-wing position is a breath of fresh air for those of us who have despaired after twenty years of a left that’s afraid of socialism. For others on the sort-of left he is scary because he’s not the kind of leader we’re used to and, because of those inherent fears, might make Labour unelectable.
    When I studied organisations and leadership, one of the most important lessons I learnt was that leadership is a reciprocal relationship, in which followers also have responsibilities to take their authority and remain open to scepticism while lending their support. All too often we project great power into our leaders and delude ourselves that they will find the answers we need.
    Your historical project gets more and more exciting, with another great flash. In mine, I’ve returned to the power to decide where sanity lies, another potential force for healing that can have the opposite impact. But the story I’m telling subverts that in an ingenious way:

    • jeanne229

      Left a response to your excellent post on your blog Anne. You brought up a crucial issue here: “the power to decide where sanity lies.” Society in large part decides who is sane and who is insane. But it is not as if that is a static determination. In centuries past people who heard voices may have become priests or led a great army to battle or inspired the building of a cathedral. And with the power to determine something to integral to an individual’s life comes the possibility of abuse. Your flash illuminates this conundrum. Whose writings present the “truth” of a person’s experience, the “objective” psychiatrist’s or the subjective author of her own thoughts?

      • Annecdotist

        Thanks for your supportive comment both here and on my blog, Jeanne. I couldn’t agree more how what is deemed sane changes over time and is thus socially constructed. Re: voice hearing, there are now lots of people living with this without it being dismissed as mad, although it may be an inconvenience, and something they need to learn to manage. I’ll be posting a review hopefully later this week of a novel set in an asylum about 100 years ago which touches on this theme, and might interest you.

    • Charli Mills

      I have to admit that by putting this post out, reflecting on the power/fear connection, I do not feel so irritated when I see things like a Jeep in town with a back window customized to plead, “Trump, save America!” There seems to be many shifts occurring politically. Interesting, about the role followers have. In a way, we all have power — to give it up, to discern, to hold on to it. Power to decide where sanity lies, now this will be interesting!

  12. katespencer17

    Your post Charli just inspired me to no end! You suggested we poke around the question of power and see where the force took us. The force took Eloquently Kate immediately to love – the Power of Love. I pinned your post to mine as I reference it. I have my second post and flash ready to go as well. I’ll post those tomorrow as I’m giving my first post a chance to make some reader rounds. So stay tuned, there’s more to come. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Aw, to the power of love! Love conquers all! You were inspired and had much to express, eloquently as usual. 🙂

  13. Oliana

    What a thought provoking prompt! I really enjoyed your introduction on the power of fear and how unfortunately some leaders and “would be leaders” like Trump gain the attention of many. Your response to the prompt is great…your post and story make the reader think long and hard about this “power”.

    • Charli Mills

      It helped me process why so many were following Trump. Honestly, when I first heard he was running, I thought it was a joke. Then I thought it was a publicity stunt. Then I was just puzzled. But I saw that photo and it helped me connect power to fear. In a way, it still is a publicity stunt but so many are honestly swept up. I like what Anne Goodwin had to say about followers having accountability, too.

  14. Norah

    Hi Charli, here’s my contribution this week http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-F9
    After almost two years of responding to your challenges (are we having a party next month?) I’ve finally thought to ask – is it easy enough for you to get the flash from our posts, or would you rather we put them in here? 🙂 Have a good week. xx

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! We should have a party! If you have a post, I go and read it so it’s easy for me to grab it there. I visit all the blogs as I read and post each flashon the Carrot Ranch FB page because it formats each one and is quicker for me to grab from FB for the compilation. Get your party hat ready! Thanks for asking! You have a good week, too!

      • Norah

        Ooh! I’m getting excited! Hats and party whistles at the ready! 🙂

    • jeanne229

      Loved this flash Norah! So imaginative and true. Reading, the real super power!

      • Norah

        Thanks so much, Jeanne. Much appreciated! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      It’s one of those simple solutions that seems too difficult to enact. But with power of determination…Yes, much for all of us to think about!

  15. Lisa Reiter

    This was SO tricky Charli. I wanted to answer all the questions you raise above but fear I don’t know the answers and unfortunately not enough time to explore my thoughts or do your eloquent post any justice at all.

    So I had to “write what I know” although ironically having lots of knowledge on this one doesn’t leave me feeling very powerful ????

    “Knowledge is Power” http://wp.me/p45xAV-zb

    • jeanne229

      Great flash Irene. You have a wonderful command of dialogue. And such an effective way of showing the vulnerability of one who may come off simply looking like an abusive bully.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Thanks Jeanne. That compliment coming from you means a lot to me. I love your description of scenes which I struggle to do where I do enjoy doing dialogue particularly in a flash as you can impart so much more information.

    • Charli Mills

      Cleaning up on Rock Creek was meant to be Cobb turning his frustration into action. He discovers he doesn’t have the power he thinks he does. Mary, ah, yes, Mary. Both women lost their center of power when they lost Cobb. I think the revisions are coming along well because when I put a scene into flash, I have a better sense of the characters and stories compared to when I started out using the flash to figure out the story and characters! Thank you. I’m off to read!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Poor Cob. Yes that was the way I took it then thought maybe there was an American/Australian difference in meaning. Sounds like a transition that means it is nearly there.

      • Charli Mills

        The hardest scene for me to write was his last one. I’ve rewritten it many times, but finally found the right touches which makes it all the more tragic.

  16. julespaige

    Different times call for different ways of dealing with life.
    Somethings though do not change.

    Parental Effectiveness

    We weren’t sure why Mrs. Nasty thought she could
    teach sixth grade English. She expected eleven year olds
    to behave like college Freshmen. One day the Reading
    Teacher got complaints from the students who the two team
    taught. Our child was absent that day. The next day Mrs.
    Nasty reamed out all of the children for whining, telling
    them they had no right to challenge her methods.

    We’d dealt with her with before. Our youngest had stress
    issues and we weren’t going to put up with her theatrics,
    again. – We used parental power to pull him from her class.


    Most folks are unaware that as parents they must be their
    child’s best advocate. Most schools do have a booklet labeled;
    Parental Rights in whatever school district they are in.

    ream /slang : to scold or reprimand severely (usually followed by out).

    See the post here:
    Parental Effectiveness

    • Charli Mills

      Sounds like a teacher who feels out of control in her own classroom. Parents can stand up for their child. Although a parent could abuse that right, too. Interesting how power can be a grab between those meant to raise and teach children.

      • julespaige

        Some say it takes a community and teach to raise a child… Some say parents don’t do enough (these days – insert any generation). And others expect too much from the teachers. Teachers shouldn’t have to be babysitters and police too.

    • Charli Mills

      Lots to discuss this week on power; lots of perspectives will make the compilation interesting!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s quite the pairing!

    • jeanne229

      What an evocative image, the flowers and the wedding photograph. Perfect metaphor for marriage I think, the steadiness and … intransigence… of love in the chaos that threatens the very foundations of our lives.

  17. A. E. Robson

    The power of calm. It rips the wind from any sail.

    By Ann Edall-Robson

    He was screaming. Ranting and raving into her head set about a box.

    “This was my wife’s birthday present. It was supposed to ship today. You’ve ruined everything.” He yelled.

    When he took a breath, she asked if there was anything else.

    “Ahhh, yes, how are you going to fix this?”

    “I am going to give you the tracking number of your wife’s gift that was shipped this morning.”

    “It’s already here.” He bellowed.

    “Sir, could you check the label again?” asked the calm voice.

    “Oh. . . it’s for me.”

    “Have a nice day sir,” answered the calm voice.



    • Charli Mills

      Love this: “It rips the wind from any sail.” So true and well expressed in your flash!

    • jeanne229

      Like Charli, I loved that opening quote too, Ann. Perfect for the flash. And great doing the dialogue for the whole thing.

  18. roweeee

    Charli, I’ve popped along a bit late to join in the challenge but I went to see “Matilda the Musical” on Sunday and it really looked at the abuse of power through those farcical characters. It also really drummed home that just because you’re small or a kid, you can still make a difference. That’s another aspect about power…standing up against its abuses.
    Here’s my post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/matilda-the-musical-if-youre-little-you-can-do-a-lot/
    xx Rowena

    • Charli Mills

      Rowena! Welcome to Carrot Ranch! I’m on the tail end of time here in Idaho so most who think they are late usually aren’t. 🙂 I loved the movie. Didn’t realize there was a musical. Great messages in that story. Hope you’ll join us in a challenge, I enjoyed your post!

      • roweeee

        Thanks Charli. I wrote a piece for the challenge a few months ago. I must remember to pop round. I get Geoffle’s efforts and leave it a bit late.
        Being in Australia, I am on the front end of time and can end up waiting for you lot to wake up LOL. I was quite frustrated signing on for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. I wanted to get near the start but my day had almost ended when their day started. I did manage to get number 37. That way I can find myself on the list. CU soon xx Rowena

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! To make matters worse, I’m often one of those late sleepers! But that’s because you can catch me online around 2 am. 🙂 You did well, 37 is not bad.

    • denmaniacs4

      Jane, thanks for the post. Sounds like a good flash site.

    • jeanne229

      Great flash Jane. What a perfect protagonist for the theme of power!

    • Charli Mills

      We allow sliding under the fence here at the ranch. 🙂 Good to see you back, Jane!

  19. denmaniacs4


    The sky blackened. Clancy Dobbs hadn’t heard night’s soft rattle. Asleep in the saddle, barely hanging on, he fought the urge to slip down and curl up.

    He knew he was close to Union City, knew that Brace Caldwell was waiting.

    “I made that mistake once,” he’d admitted to the Banker from Union City. “Caldwell should be rotting in grave.”

    “Well,” said the Banker, “Some good folks, some not so good, are rotting in theirs…because you let Caldwell get away.”

    Need to rest, he thought. And then…the lights of Union City glowed from the valley.

    Tonight! Sleep!

    Tomorrow! Death!


    I do have a blog, http://www.engleson.ca, and in the future I may post their. Just stumbled out of bed and found your site.
    Power…so much of it misused.

    • denmaniacs4

      Make that “I may post there.” Better grab a coffee…

    • denmaniacs4

      Okay, it was rushed and “rotting in grave” seems to be lacking something. “His” is implied. Probably I would add “his” and
      change “because you let Caldwell get away” to the punchier “because you let Caldwell abscond.” There, that’ll do ‘er. 99 words and counting…well, not!

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, yes,, this is the fun of the constraint — tweaking those 99 words! I got your changes for the story in the compilation.

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Bill! I can’t tell you how excited I got when I saw you wrote a western flash. 🙂 One of the draws to writing about the west is the magnified tensions between those trying to take power from those who felt empowered to settle on the frontier. Makes for interesting stories.

      • denmaniacs4

        I am very happy to participate, Charli. I tend to write nourish tales with an occasional dabble or two of humour writing. I have only written a few western flash but am drawn to watching westerns as comfort films and look forward to the opportunity to ramp up my old west flash…

      • Charli Mills

        One of the (many) fun attributes of flash fiction is that you can switch up genre, try new styles and be inventive. I hope you continue the western, though. Now I want to know…what happens next?

  20. Sherri

    Hi Charli, I’m galloping in again by the skin of my hooves. phew! A different take on ‘power’ hope not too far off the beaten track. I thought that power is good when it has the element of surprise – the good kind, of course 🙂 Thanks again for making me think, and ponder, and write… <3 http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2016/02/09/the-power-of-surprise/

    • Charli Mills

      If you go where inspiration leads you, then you are on the right path! Thanks for pondering and writing! 🙂 <3

  21. paulamoyer

    I had several scenarios going through my head before I settled on this one, Charli.

    Hi, Rough Writers! Will read your flashes later!

    By Her Own Authority

    By Paula Moyer

    How did she get here? Jean married Charlie and, as agreed, she went to church with him. Now here she was – in this sect that demanded women’s silence in church. 20-year-old Jean did a slow burn.

    In the Bible study class, another young woman was there with her church-member husband. The preacher went on about “unbelievers.” Really? Not just cousins in one family?

    The woman cried. The preacher persisted. “You’re a sinner!”

    “Stop.” Jean felt the word escape her mouth.

    “Quit being mean.”

    The preacher resumed. So did Jean.

    “Stop.” Finally, silence.

    Jean savored the power of breaking rules.

    • Charli Mills

      Great choice, Paula! There’s power in breaking those rules that unfairly bind.

    • paulamoyer

      Beautiful flash, Jeanne!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for coming in, the fence is always easy to open or crawl in under the wire. 😀


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  3. Power of Love | Eloquently Kate - […] Mills’ talks about the control the power of fear has over us in her post from February 3, 2016.  …
  4. You’ve got the power | Norah Colvin - […] at the Carrot Ranch Communications Charli Mills is talking about power and has challenged writer to in 99 words…
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  7. Power Shifts: 99 Word Flash Fiction | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) - […] response to Charlie’s prompt where she […]
  8. Power To Add | TanGental - […] over at the Ranch, is worried about power. Its use and misuse. I once had what was oft times…
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  12. The Tornado and a Vase Full of Flowers | Eloquently Kate - […] suggested to the Carrot Ranch Community of Rough Writers on February 3, 2016 that we to poke around the…
  13. Power and Light – the beginnings | The Curious Archaeologist - […] was inspired to write this story by a prompt, ‘What good is power?’ from Charli Mills, via my brother.…
  14. Microfiction: What price power? – Jane Dougherty Writes - […] A 99 word story for Charli Mills’ flash fiction challenge. […]
  15. The Power Of Surprise | A View From My Summerhouse - […] good is power?’ Charli asks in her excellent pre-amble for this weeks flash fiction […]
  16. Power: Getting It, Losing It, and Regaining It | Jeanne Belisle Lombardo - […] before Charli Mills put out the prompt on power last week, I had been thinking about the theme. I…

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