March 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

March 3, 2016

March 2Mr. P would ask, “Have you read the Iliad?” I’d shake my head no. If I had my way, I’d have stayed lost in the Little Woods or the Prairie. Eventually I found my way from  Laura Ingalls to the diary of a girl who died among the Donner Party. I’d seen wagon ruts, knew about the granite walls where you could still see scrapes from the wagons hoisted up impenetrable box canyons, and I often read my library books in the back of an old Conestoga abandoned along Pleasant Valley Creek.

But Mr. P wasn’t having any of it. He sent me through Greek mythology, introduced me to classics and quizzed me on each book. I couldn’t escape this Apache. Yes, he was Apache–a scholar, a poker player, the husband of one of my school teachers and he worked for the county in a little modular office set up next to the stout library built of rock. He knew how to lure me. “Want to know where you can find arrowheads?” My eyes lit up. Yes! The catch was, read another classic.

And so I did.

For some reason, these books failed to capture my imagination until I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yet what intrigued me about Dracula was what kept me going back to the library for Laura Ingalls. It wasn’t just the stories, but the authors. I wondered at who Laura was behind the page as much as on it. For some reason I can’t explain, I was curious as to why Bram Stoker would write such a story. So I wrote a story about Bram and how he liked history and mountains and found himself researching Vlad Tepes in Romania.

I was 12 or 13. It was after I discovered writing stories. My first constraints were given to my by my 7th/8th-grade teacher who also made me run long distance for physical education. Where I lagged in running, I excelled in spinning stories. I wrote three pages. He said write five. I wrote five and he said write ten. I suspected he was training me like in PE–run half a mile this week, one mile the next.

In 8th-grade I was running five miles and turning in 15 pages a week. I dropped the running but never the writing.

Fast forward through my life and other mentors flash in and out of memory. I can tell you what each library was like wherever I lived. In St. Paul I discovered the History Center, where a humble library sat upon three levels of historical archives. Here I learned to walk in the shadow of classics that mattered most to me–historical fiction. I secretly dreamed that one day I’d finish a historical novel.

Now it’s the path I walk (not run) out loud. I’m writing historical fiction, revising my first draft, poking at the idea for my second. With my contributions to Go Idaho, I’m firmly set to join Women Write the West. This is my dream and I would not have it if it weren’t for the libraries in my life, and the people who pointed me to them. When was the last time you visited your library?

Libraries are more than a container of books. As writers we should be attached to our libraries like a baby to mama. They comfort and nurture us; they help us grow and learn. The Library in Sandpoint is as amazing as a star. It twinkles among a swath of other diamonds that make up the night sky. I have one, you have one, every community has one. And like stars, each one is worthy of wonder. May we never lose our wonderment for libraries!

Yet, what do you do for your library?

I know what East Bonner County Library District does for me. Books. They have old favorites, new fictions. It was upon The Library shelf I discovered, I Was a Revolutionary by Andrew Malan Milward, a collection of short stories rooted in history and place, weaving in and out of time, genders and ethnic identities. It opened my eyes to threading shorts in a long way. I can check out seeds from my library! Seeds! I can also deposit seeds from my garden.

When I do something for The Library, I get something in return. I became a volunteer and I get supportive and informational monthly meetings with chocolate. I host Wrangling Words and get support for building a local writing community. I put up posters and I meet people and get coffee. I make posters and I get invited to a design workshop. And did I mention, this is all free? I get to grow and learn as I did in school. Learning is life-long at the library.

In 1909, Fairbury Public Library become one of 69 Carnegie libraries in Nebraska 48 years after Cobb’s death, two years after Mary died (in Fairbury) and one year after their son Monroe met Wild Bill Cody. Monroe would tell the western entertainer his version of events at Rock Creek that eventful day when Hickok (Cody’s good friend) shot Monroe’s father. Today, Fairbury Public Library is the repository for genealogy in Jefferson County where Rock Creek was located. And yes, I’ve been to that library. It’s the photo for this week’s challenge.

Appalachians are often thought of as uneducated. Yet, Cobb was highly educated and so were his sisters and brother. His father was a school teacher. Cobb introduced one of Jefferson County’s first schools, paying a teacher out of his own pocket to teach his children and others in the area. I wonder if he would have had a personal library. Sarah was also literate, but Mary and Nancy Jane were not. Literacy didn’t seem to get a woman further in life during these times. And many northerners (Yankees) made poor assumptions upon hearing a southern accent, thinking a slow drawl meant an uneducated mind. How wrong, yet these biases still stick to the annuals of history.

Literacy is a great equalizer, and as Mr. P tried to impress upon me, a foundation of books builds an open mind.

March 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a library. You can honor the libraries in your own experience, dream about libraries of the future or explore a community without one. Bonus points for discovering something you didn’t know your library offered. For example, my library offers organic and heirloom seeds.

Respond by March 8, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Northern Assumptions by Charli Mills

The stranger scuffed his boots when he entered Rock Creek Trading Post.

“Howdy, Ma’am.”

A lanky freighter, Sarah thought. He favored one leg and his left arm hung limp. “Good day. Supplies are low until spring mud recedes.”

“Well, I don’t think you’d have what I need, anyways.” He touched the brim of his hat.

“What’s that, Sir?”

He grinned. “A proper northern library.”

“I see. Follow me.” Sarah opened the backdoor to reveal shelves of books. She grabbed one, handing it to the stranger. “I hope this isn’t beyond your grand intellect.”

It read, Tom Thumb’s Picture Alphabet.


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  1. Annecdotist

    I never tire of posts in praise of public libraries – or even the quirky private ones – but rather short of time right now as I’m off to talk about my book this afternoon at a nearby library! Let’s not forget how supportive libraries are of writers also. And I loved the last line of your Flash – so much in that book title.

    • Charli Mills

      Libraries are supportive of writers which is why we should support them! I’m enriched by my volunteerism at my library. Yay! Happy to hear you giving a talk at your library today. Wishing you a good crowd!

      • Annecdotist

        There were about 10 people, which I thought was good, and some had already read my book. And there was CAKE – that was definitely unexpected!

      • Charli Mills

        Cake! That’s a Library Bonus! Every time I host an event, the Adult Education Director brings oranges, cookies and tea. Wow, so some people showed up having already read your book. That’s great!

  2. TanGental

    How fascinating. I will write of the link I feel with you in this post. We share a sepulchral love of libraries. Such a cheesy grin on my face at the thought if my life in libraries! I’ll be back

    • Charli Mills

      The library love is coming out. Maybe this was a timely spring bloom post! 🙂

  3. Lisa Reiter

    And didn’t we first meet Geoff, Anne and Norah at The British Library?! Wish I had a picture of us there for a little memoir!

    Meanwhile the most bizarre side thing to this is that I can see this post if Charli’s in my WordPress Reader but not yet via her site via my internet browser. I didn’t know there was a delay across the airwaves like that!?

    • Charli Mills

      Simply reading, “The British Library,” I get chills of excitement! I get a different set of chills reading the post anomaly. My website crashed last Friday. I am hoping it is well and just a fluke of delay or maybe a need to refresh the browser.

      A little trick my library taught me (from the design workshop): search for the British Library images in Google. Click on Search Tools and select from the Usage Rights drop down box, “labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification.” That will bring up all the images you can use in your blog post!

      • Lisa Reiter

        Thanks Charli – I will investigate that. A twist on the truth been brewing all day!
        Meanwhile all looking as it should now at the ranch. Earlier if I chose the galloping flash, today’s prompt came up in the right hand list of posts but it wasn’t showing on the home screen. Just bizarre – but I guess it must be to do with how often content gets refreshed across the pond. No idea why it wouldn’t be instant! Those days of mainframes updating overnight have surely long gone?!

      • Lisa Reiter

        Just tried that. We don’t get those options unfortunately 🙁
        I’ll see what else I can come up with. Shame I’m not in London before the deadline!
        (Feel free to edit /delete these comments should you wish!)

      • Charli Mills

        We often say it’s the “Idaho Effect” as we seem to lag behind!

    • TanGental

      We did. Norah has a picture of us by that floating bookshop I think! Not sure if we took one in the library

      • Lisa Reiter

        I don’t think we did unfortunately – Doh!

    • Norah

      Yes we did, Lisa. It was a fabulous venue in which to meet wonderful people. No photo but many fond memories. We do have that photo taken near the floating bookshop, though. 🙂

      • Lisa Reiter

        Yes, I have that one 🙂
        Ironic we forgot to get one in a library! Xx

      • Norah

        Doh! And all the other places. I think we were too excited about meeting each other. Or maybe that was just me! 🙂

      • Lisa Reiter

        Ooo! Thank you. I’ve done something a bit sideways though.. As usual! You’ll have to wait 😀

      • Norah

        Oooh! Now I’m intrigued. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for adding the visual, Norah!

      • Norah

        After posting it, I wasn’t sure that it added anything to your explanation, Charli, so I hope you don’t mind. I thought I should have been able to get a link to put the image straight into the comments box, but couldn’t see how late at night. I know there’s a way. I think Lisa did a post on it last year! 🙂

      • Annecdotist

        Clever, Norah, but one day I want to take one inside of that enormous four-storey wall of books

      • Norah

        And maybe even open a couple of tomes, if just for the photo! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I echo that want, Irene! One day I want to meet you all beneath a four-story wall of books! And Norah, yes, your link was helpful so those who are visual would know where to look.

      • Norah

        At least we can meet frequently online. Yay for the internet! 🙂

    • Pat Cummings

      Serves your reader right, I say, for reading, but not comprehending the sign “Private.”

      • Jane Dougherty

        I like your reasoning, Pat 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      The fact that we all love libraries is what makes your flash even creepier! I have a button that reads, “Libraries are where shhh happens.” This is quite the shhh…!

      • Jane Dougherty

        And then some 🙂

    • jeanne229

      I am quite sure I would have at least rattled that door handle. Loved this flash! Magical…

      • Jane Dougherty

        It’s basic curiosity. Without that, you can’t begin to be creative 🙂

  4. denmaniacs4

    By a very small coincidence, Charli, yesterday was my last day volunteering at our Island’s small Community Library. It was fun for me for over ten years but it was time to do other things, of which there is always plenty waiting in the wings. Here is a somewhat out of date link for the curious.

    In any case, here is my flash contribution to this weeks call.

    Speaking Volumes

    Two hours into our morning promenade, Aggie Runacre and I reached the road to Union City.

    “I’m enjoying the company, Aggie. It’s a comfort to leave the lonelys behind for a spell.”

    “I’m never lonesome, Mr. Dobbs. Always have my Harriet.”

    “Your horse?” I guessed, though her old Morgan looked part mule.

    “Hah,” she chuckled, “Old General Grant here keeps me company, but I meant this…”

    She hauled out a book from her saddle bag.

    “Uncle Tom’s Cabin. A mite tattered, I confess. It and my Bible are my…travelling library. You got a book, you’ve always got a friend.”

    • Pat Cummings

      There is ALWAYS work for a willing volunteer!

    • Charli Mills

      What a terrific library you have and congratulations on 10 years of volunteer service. Funny that it was your last day yesterday! I love the “Wall of Shame” and how it backfired due to islanders who found status in being listed. 🙂 What a great traveling library! I think it’s no coincidence that books fit in saddlebags so well. I’m really liking these characters.

  5. Pat Cummings

    My library discovery happened in middle school, though not in the school library. The Call of Telstar is at

    • denmaniacs4

      I enjoyed this, Pat. Nicely done.

    • Charli Mills

      I didn’t know about libraries until we moved when I was 7. I used to think it was a castle, made of stone and filled with magic transporters.

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        and it was, indeed, just such a place!

  6. Stephanie Slater

    Fifty Shades of Embarrassment

    “I have that book – Fifty Shades of Grey? I’ll give it to you when I’ve read it!”

    My mother is talking about her latest find from her condo’s book exchange table.

    We’re surrounded by family – including my squeamish sons – so how do I tell her that:
    a) This series has an “eyebrow-raising erotic storyline” – and;
    b) I’ve already read them.

    Yes, not to be ignorant of a cultural juggernaut, I borrowed Fifty Shades from our community library. You can, too – or from my mother. You can be the one to tell her I’ve already read it!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Stephanie! Your flash made me laugh! clever take on the prompt, and as our library often says, they don’t judge what other read either. 🙂

  7. Oliana

    What a great post!! I love libraries and lately I have been looking to where I should move to retire. One of the key issues are to be near a public library where I can have a selection of books in English as well as in French.Living in a French province I grew up in towns with little to no books in English so but as a child I had no choice where I lived…I do now. I love libraries…used to spend hours with my grandson as well. And we would take out over 10 books between the two of us every two weeks. I miss those days. Maybe I could volunteer to read to youths when I retire too.

    • Charli Mills

      I think when we live in smaller communities we have a greater appreciation for the big world libraries open up to us. My library has a free language learning program and I was thinking how I’d love to work on my Spanish or French. Amazing that I have the opportunity! I hope you find a place with a wonderful library!

      • Oliana

        I think you are right…coming from a small town where books were mostly in French…I felt in heaven visiting the city. My kids when they were little would literally sit on the floor at book stores too enjoying so many books they good understand. Yes, I will make it a point to have library close by.

      • Charli Mills

        What an image, your children on the floor in bookstores reading! That’s why we need books!

  8. Sarah Brentyn

    Love the story of your mentor. ??????

    I cherished my little library card when I was a kid. Now I’m all grown up and…still cherish my card. My kids have their own cards and it’s so cool to watch them searching shelves for favorites or something brand new to try. Your flash had me laughing out loud. ????

    • Charli Mills

      I can picture you and your sons searching shelves. Libraries can be like a treasure hunt! I’m having so much fun as a volunteer because of all I get to learn. I’m glad my flash came through in that last line!

      • Charli Mills

        For a staunch defender of the rules, you write a lot about rebellion…:-D Loved this story, and the kick to want to know what happened!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Interesting… I do that.

  9. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    By coincidence I have just signed a petition to save our National Library and Trove (a fantastic collection of collections such as newspapers) from proposed funding cuts. For any Australian only 26 more signatures are needed and we definitely need our library. I love libraries whether it be our state of the art university library where there is hardly a book to be seen (a real change from the libraries of Fisher at Sydney University of the past) to council run libraries to the Mitchell library in Sydney. For me growing up they were the internet of my childhood and I loved the hush amongst the volumes. I was also lucky in that my family had a library as did my father’s side of the family. I can’t imagine a world without books but unlike many I am happy not to have to hold a volume in my hands as long as I can read it I am happy with an electronic version which our library also provides. I’ll come back when I have thought of my 99 words for the week and comment on your flash then.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m surprised to hear of funding cuts and closures of libraries! I’d sign but I’m in the wrong hemisphere. I hope all goes well. Private libraries fascinate me, too. Do you still have books from your father’s family? For my love of books, I don’t hold them as well as I once did. Having a Kindle has (no pun intended) rekindled my reading. Our library also offers many electronic downloads, including books, audiobooks, music and movies. I appreciate my library. Great comment about libraries being the internet of your childhood!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Both my great uncle and my Father collected first editions so there were some quite rare books in amongst them. We could choose what we wanted to keep. I got the dictionary which is the larger of the two books shown on the table. My brother took the family bible which is next to it. I kept the Joseph Conrad collection. We were away in Vanuatu at the time so it was difficult to make a choice. One book which I would have chosen (it used to haunt me as a child as it sat on the floor to ceiling bookcase in my room and the picture on the spine gave me the creeps) Mum kept so I will get it at some point. My brother would have taken some but I don’t know what. Most went to auction.
        Your flash this week was surprising both in what the man wanted and then in Sarah’s response and probably also in the fact that they had a library in what I probably think of as the wild west.
        Mine this week

      • Charli Mills

        That family library must have been something to experience as a child! Difficult to break up and see it go to auction but unless one has the space it would be hard to take all those books. Cobb McCanles and his family were well-educated. I imagine (because I have no evidence) they had a personal library because of the remote area where they lived. They were not people to be without books. One thing historians gloss over with barely a mention is that Cobb started a school once his children arrived. He even paid for a teacher to come out. He had to have some books. Perhaps I’ve exaggerated it in my WIP but it is plausible. That flash is actually a condensed version of Sarah Shull meeting Hickok for the first time and his biased northern surprise that the “southerners” running Rock Creek Station are literate.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, excellent! It’s like the excitement over getting more than one book at a time from the library. 😉

      • Jane Dougherty

        Your prompt has finished up in seven installments 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        A full library! 🙂

  10. A. E. Robson

    Our library offers so much more than the cherished books on its shelf. It hosts workshops, and is a place for the Writing Group and Book Club to meet. The Author Series introduces writers from across the country through free informal wine and cheese evenings. Children’s groups meet here. There are big chairs near the fireplace to relax and read your favourite book or magazine. The online book requests are the modern technology version of books being available by mail order. My how times have changed.

    Between Scholastic book orders available through the teachers of the two room schoolhouse and books that could be ordered by mail, a library-less town became a breeding ground for a reading addiction.

    Mail Order Library
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Was today the day the parcel would arrive? The one from the library in a city far away. The one that would have six books chosen from the list provided. The one that nourished a young girls’ appetite for written words.

    She would have three weeks to read them and choose the next six books. At the end of their stay, they would be lovingly wrapped in brown paper, tied with string and taken back to the post office.

    In about ten days the young girl’s anticipation would start to build. Was today the day the parcel would arrive?

    • Charli Mills

      Your library sounds like a hale and hearty center of your community. I especially like the idea of a fireplace reading nook. Good that they are supportive of writers, too. Oh, you reminded me of the Scholastic book orders! That was amazing, too. I really like your angle on the prompt and how life-changing books can be to a child.

  11. Kerry E.B. Black

    Here’s my response to this excellent challenge. 🙂

    Good Friends
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Sarah shifted in the chair, making herself as comfortable as tight muscles allowed, and reached for the first stack of books. She struggled against rebelling arm and hand muscles to place colored price stickers on books donated to the library. She smiled remembering loved stories and favorite authors. When Sarah’s volunteering time ended, the librarian retrieved the stickered books. “Thank you, Sarah. These books will bring in some needed cash to keep this place running. Sorry no one else showed up to keep you company.” Sarah took in the surrounding titles. “Actually, I wasn’t alone. Good friends were here.”

    • Charli Mills

      Such a caring attitude the volunteer has toward her friends. I could easily picture Sarah working away despite the effort it was for her.

  12. writersdream9

    I love your challenges, Charli!! The background and the inspiration is all right here. Then we get to read your work which is always a treat! Thanks and I will get going on my response!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Carol! I’m happy you find inspiration here!

      • writersdream9

        You are welcome!

    • Charli Mills

      No surprise that writers have a memory or two regarding libraries. Clever, title and message in Mary’s serial this week!

  13. julespaige

    a good yesterday
    (haiku series / reverse haibun)

    so much more in store
    recordings, programs, art, books
    at the library

    ‘Sing and Sign’ we hear
    familiar songs and two
    different farm books

    a lost chick helps us
    counting; another, a goose
    finds a place to nest

    Grama gets a new
    library card, barrows books;
    and then buys some too

    full morn uses up
    the Little girl’s energy;
    quiet afternoon

    Our local library is fairly new. On a good day –
    I could walk to it. I am now in their system.
    I didn’t know they’d be taking my photo. Most
    Fridays I take Little Miss for free programs.


    Our local township library is more or less brand spanking
    new. I helped build it. With monetary contributions as well
    as books. I also buy books from the Cafe (book store) every
    time I visit. When the library was still an annex in a trailer
    behind the police station, when my children were younger –
    I was a volunteer. Our library has programs for infants to
    elders. Rooms to rent, and places for research. Quiet nooks
    and the silo room that has a door that can close where most
    of the children’s programs are held.

    See the post here:
    a good yesterday

    • Charli Mills

      Wow, what a commitment to your community to have been involved in the building and maintaining of your library. It must feel good to visit! I like the line that all the book activities lead to “quiet afternoon.” And the surprise at getting your photo taken for your card!

      • julespaige

        I didn’t hammer any nails… But I did that – hammer nails when helping to build some of those three day children’s parks.

        I had a library card, but hadn’t used it in a while. So I had to get a new one. Almost like going to the Doc’s, I had to sign a privacy form. And state who else besides me could pick up books that I might ‘order’. I’m surprised they just didn’t photo copy my photo ID.

      • Charli Mills

        I once photocopied my Montana Drivers License and discovered that the holograms set into photo IDs don’t copy well. I had a grizzly bear’s rump shadow my face! So good that you support your community in many ways. It’s what makes community.

  14. Pete

    On my lunch break I shuffle past girls with baby carriages, teenagers against a brick wall. I keep my head down. Classical music tumbles from speakers above, at odds with the cigarette butts and litter.

    The usual noise inside. People on computers or browsing the DVD’s. An argument near the bathrooms. I plunge into the aisles of LEH —NAE.

    There’s a boy crouching. The man behind him, Dad I assume, hovers. Points.

    Something about his effort—concern—lifts my head. Makes me smile. I check out into the sun. Hopeful.

    If I hurry I can get a chapter in.

    • Charli Mills

      Hopeful. That’s essence of a place that still has a library! Your flash makes me feel like it stands in defiance to the decay of social ignorance, putting forth its classical music and upholding its Dewey Decimal system. Only in a library would one recognize aisles thus marked! Great flash!

    • Charli Mills

      It doesn’t muddy the waters at all, Pete! I hope the Ranch can be a place where we can expand upon what we write and share other works we each have. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pat Cummings

      I just had to share this link on Google+ today… We are in the process of customizing our own LFL, so this tale rang ALL the bells!

  15. wildchild47

    Great prompt Charli 😀

    Libraries – sadly far too many are of the dying breed on the cusp of extinction – but for me, they are miracles spaces of magic.

    • Charli Mills

      Libraries are so vital and I hope we can share the magic with those who don’t realize it!

      • wildchild47

        very true …. regular and frequent visits to libraries should be “mandatory” for all children …and adults …. and I’m not one for too many “imposed rules and regulations” …. 😉

        Libraries are not mere book repositories … they are the spaces of dreams, hopes, wishes, information, social interaction and gateways to the infinite possibilities and potential that can awaken us all …. in so many inspired and inspiring ways …. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        We need such space to dream, don’t we?

      • wildchild47

        yes! 😀

  16. Norah

    Great post, Charli. Two points strike me most:
    1. May we never lose our wonderment for libraries!
    2. a foundation of books builds an open mind.
    It is a sad thing that many libraries are closing and that many schools are losing their teacher librarians. Here in Queensland many schools can decide what staff they will employ, and many are deciding that a teacher librarian doesn’t offer as much as an administrator or data collector. It is very sad. There is more to being a teacher librarian that buying and arranging books on the shelves. A teacher librarian inspires children to try new genres and authors, targets books to children’s interests and enthuses children through read-aloud and storytelling sessions. Nobody in a school knows books, readers and children the way a teacher librarian does. I think a teacher librarian should be the first staff member employed in any school. Construct a welcoming library (and I’m not referring to a building) and education will flow from there. Your Mr P. is a great example of what this means.
    How wonderful your 7th-8th grade teacher for stretching your running legs. I wonder is that teacher still around, aware of the benefits you, we, have reaped. It would be wonderful if teachers could be told of the value they add to the lives of others. The ripple spreads outwards – it has traveled the world many times over.
    I was interested to hear that Sarah was literate but that neither Mary nor Nancy were. How lucky we women are to live in a time and place where women are encouraged to become literate and make a contribution to society.
    Hahaha! Love your flash. Sarah knew just how to put the boot in and give him his comeuppance. Well done!

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, I took heart at your suggestion that I reach out to my inspirational teacher, especially after reading how skewed schools are at valuing bean-counters over those who enrich children’s minds. I’ve not been back to where I grew up in over 20 years. It took me quite a search to find Mr. Price. Evidently he and his wife moved across the border into Nevada, where he went back to teaching. Sadly, I found out he died in 2011. The best I can do now is share his obituary to say yes, he was the best teacher I ever had, too:

      • Norah

        What a lovely tribute, Charli. You weren’t the only one of his students to think him the best. What an inspiring educator and what a legacy he has left behind. We reap the benefit of his contribution to and through you. Thank you for following up on his story and sharing it here. I’m very touched.

      • Annecdotist

        Hurrah for you trying to find that teacher, Charli, and sorry you missed him.

    • Charli Mills

      I spent many hours in mine and even had a favorite desk for research. It was quiet and full of books.

    • Annecdotist

      Ugh, so true. I wanted to have a book launch at the university I attended and at which my novel is set. (Including a scene in the library, forgot about that for this prompt.) of course, I knew I’d had to pay, but it had gone so upmarket it was unaffordable.

      • Charli Mills

        Makes me curious to go back to my college and see what changes have taken place. We always had a commons area and the bookstore had the coffee shop. Hopefully not the library!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes they are and I think they’ll evolve with us and our technology as centers of community and life-long learning. Thanks for sharing your flash!

  17. rogershipp

    Unseen Wealth
    “$26.29, sir.”
    “Excuse me?”
    “$26.29, sir.”
    Are my books overdue? Why do I owe this money?
    The usual, sir.
    The usual? Usually, I walk into my friendly neighborhood library, politely return my books, and browse the New Books selections in hopes of discovering a new author. Then, I peruse the mystery shelves for books to check-out on this visit. Nowhere in that scenario does there occur a “$26.29, sir.”
    Under-appreciated facilities, sir. A new audit revealed, people usually think that they get with they pay for. Since extending our financial accoutrements, we have seen a 37% uptick in patronage.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s one way to express the value! Maybe librarians should say something like, “You saved $75 checking out these items today.” 🙂

    • Annecdotist

      Sad truth, Roger, people value things they pay for. Strange though that it’s often hard for people to translate that into the privilege of paying taxes.

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! Hope you will join us again with your imaginative writing!

  18. Lisa Reiter

    Such a joyful post. #Libraries would make make a nice meme for sharing how they look and what they do and share!

    However, I’ve failed to resist the dark side calling 😀

    • Sarah Brentyn

      We love the dark side here. ????

      • Lisa Reiter

        That’s just as well! Every time I resolve to do something positive, romantic, upbeat! Honestly and then 9 times out of 10 this happens!

    • Sherri

      I’ll be over to read Lisa…chasing my tail, but then that’s typical. For some reason, lately I haven’t had the dark side ‘urge’…strange, as that’s what usually happens…I’m getting worried, lol 😀

      • Lisa Reiter

        Don’t worry Sherri if you haven’t caught that tail. I can see you another time. Leave of absence granted ????

      • Sherri

        Thanks Lisa, that’s kind, but I will get there! xx

    • Charli Mills

      #Libraries is such a great idea! That’s okay; to let the light in, first you need to write the dark out! 😉

    • Charli Mills

      One day I’d like to hop on the train in Sandpoint and visit Seattle! I’ve seen so many beautiful little libraries, I’m due for a big one. 🙂 Hope Jane likes libraries, too…

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Hi, Hugh! Good to see you here. And that’s one hell of a flash. ????

      • Hugh's Views and News

        Thanks very much, Sarah. I enjoyed participating for the first time. I may be back.

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Hugh! So happy to see you here. We welcome all sorts — mean will fit in like a spunky mare. 🙂

      • Hugh's Views and News

        It’s great to be here, Charli. Thank you so much for the very warm welcome.

    • Charli Mills

      Really liked the message in your flash and I think it says much about the importance of community hubs and safe places open to the public. Great photo from your recent presentation at your library! I love the way readers showed up to meet you! Great validation for an author!

    • Charli Mills

      Where I grew up, my county had the smallest population so we had a bookmobile, too. But I lived in the town with the one county library! We have one here in north Idaho and it comes within four miles of my house. I can order a book from my library and only have a short drive to pick it up rather than the longer 20 mile drive.

  19. Norah

    Thank you for reminding me that I have access to a wonderful library in my neighbourhood, as well as in my home. Perhaps I should start borrowing, rather than buying, again. But then, what good would that do to we authors? 🙂 Here’s my response to this week’s challenge.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s the distributors that have a choke-hold on books (ownership, availability and income). Distributors even control indie authors. I won’t go into a soapbox tirade on the subject (yet) but distributors charge libraries exorbitantly to carry print and digital publications. What libraries need to maintain their budgets are people to use their services and facilities. I wouldn’t swap borrowing for buying, but I do borrow more books now just to skim for research (to see what new authors are doing or how popular books construct openings and endings). I also use the inter-library loan program for historical research or to get out of print books. So I say do both! Buy and borrow!

      • Norah

        Great advice, Charli. You have certainly made me think again about borrowing books. It would help keep me up to date. Everything seems to come down to the bottom line – money – doesn’t it? We need a new way of prioritizing things.

  20. ellenbest24 here is my crack at the flash, This will be the second one I’ve completed but the first time I have entered. Thank you for the opportunity. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Ellen! So good to have you cracking at the flash and wonderful you can join us this week! 🙂

      • ellenbest24

        It takes courage , time and self belief to press send. ???? of which I found a bucketful yesterday.

      • ellenbest24

        Ha ha ! I am thoroughly enjoying them. Thank you.

      • Charli Mills

        Yes, it does! And I hope you find that this is a place to honor the courage it takes. 🙂

  21. roweeee

    Thanks Charli for another great prompt which sent me running through all sorts of corridors, twists and turns during the last week. I was sorely tempted to set some sort of action in Sydney University’s Fisher Library. The reference side was known as Fisher Stack and all sorts…good and bad were rumoured to happen up there. I don’t know how I got onto the subject of my Old English Sheepdog, a troubled rescue dog. It is a struggle to know how to respond to a troubled pet long term but what about people? Something to think about. I don’t pretend to have the answers but if we kept asking questions, perhaps we’ll get there oneday.
    xx Rowena

    • Charli Mills

      Isn’t it wonderful how the mind works? The constraint shuts us down, gives us a barrier, a problem. And then the mind rebels and goes into problem-solving mode, running down corridors and leading us to unexpected places. That’s one of many reasons I like flash fiction! So of course, it lead to a troubled sheepdog. 😉

      • roweeee

        So true!

  22. paulamoyer

    I love libraries, too, but for some reason, my mind went to the metaphorical:

    Abnormal phone call

    By Paula Moyer

    Every time her sister hung on her, Jean fought the urge to diagnose.

    What was her illness? Bipolar disorder? If so, which mood phase? Or was it paranoid schizophrenia? Early dementia? Borderline personality? Whatever it was, wasn’t right.

    There. The phone rang. Yep –Meg’s number. With a rock in her stomach, Jean answered, as always.

    As always, the conversation started out normal – Meg’s voice was calm, even, actually pleasant.

    Then it started. The yelling. The swearing. The inevitable hang-up.

    Jean wanted a whole library of psychiatry textbooks to identify what had happened on the other end of the phone.

    • Lisa Reiter

      Ha! Nice twist and use of the prompt 😀

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Lisa@

      • Sherri

        I agree…great flash Paula 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Sibling might require such library texts! 🙂 Great take on the prompt, Paula!

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Charli — I am thinking that in the 21st century (with cell phones and unlimited long-distance plans), the call from the crazy relative has become a new archetype to which many of us can relate.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Well, I hope if you see my number tomorrow, you won’t think your crazy Sister Mom in Idaho is calling! 😉 Just want to pass along celebratory wishes!

  23. Sherri

    Hi Charli! Well, this is the first chance I’ve had to read your post, and I love it, of course! Libraries are the best, but I hang my head in shame. I’ve joined mine (make a point of it wherever I’ve lived), but yet to go. What’s with that? I really need to, and have been wanting to…got my library card and everything…so no bonus points for me with the ‘extras’… 🙁 Duly chastised…
    I thought of libraries here and in the States, from the one in Los Angeles, the British Library (reading comments above, some, will have to return for the rest…), to the mobile library that I used to love as a girl when it came to our village, and to the tiny one in the 500 population rural community I lived in California. Oh, and the school library of course! So many stories I could think of, and you know, every one a happy one. Some funny too. I loved making sure my kids all had their library cards, we made it a regular outing. How great to have seeds at yours 🙂
    But what spoke to me was how, when I first moved to California and didn’t know a single sole, it was through taking the kids to storytime and mother and me at the library, as well as just to check out books for them and me, that I made really good friends. Other mums, like me, with children the same age. Strangely, one in particular I lost touch with. Seasonal friends for that time in my life…as it sometimes goes…
    Love your pic, what a grand library indeed! And of course your flash…love the book, haha! I can see his face now! But what an amazing story about your mentor Charli, wow. You were meant to write weren’t you?
    So sorry I haven’t had time to join in here, I see I’m always straggling 🙁 I’ll try to do better. Here’s my flash, hope you like <3

    Friends of the Library

    Standing across from the school room, Jessie waited alone for the rush of children. The other moms huddled nearby in two’s and three’s, chatting, nodding, laughing. Jessie wondered how long they had all been friends…

    “The teacher told me to give you this…” Her son flapped a piece of paper at her as soon as he escaped through the open door.

    ‘Weekly Storytime at the Library’ read the flyer. ‘Volunteers needed.’

    The following week, Jessie read to the pre-schoolers and smiled at the woman who thanked her afterwards asking, “New here?”

    Twenty years later, they were still best friends.

    • Charli Mills

      Your reflection and flash both show one of the greatest super powers the library can bestow upon us — that of friendship! Like you, I love libraries, have so many experiences and stories but really had fallen away from going. With kids grown and books easily retrieved on my Kindle, I’d pop in for free movies. Then, like your character, I volunteered! The magical doors opened again. Thanks for galloping in on a busy day! Hope you get everything done!

      • Sherri

        Your volunteering inspired me Charli…as you do in so many ways… 🙂 <3

  24. jeanne229

    Libraries! What a wonderful prompt. Like you, I hear the word and a reel of images begins to play. Just loved hearing your early experiences…having a Consestoga wagon as a secret reading place would have compelled me to earn your friendship anyway I could, just to sit there with a book by your side. As a girl I loved our small library in Sunnyslope. It was in an old two story house, which in itself was a thrill….the smell of old wood and books….magic. I carted my kids to the library when they were young, once spoke at a city hall meeting against the closing of the public library located at he high school (we won), and still go from time to time. We can get rid of some of the bean counters and not notice any difference. But a librarian….that loss can’t be measured… Will be back to browse more stories.

    • Charli Mills

      We could have had fun, reading together in the back of that wagon! It was so tall (or maybe I remember it tat way because I was young, and short). I think it is still there, but who knows in what condition. I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books so much because she spoke of the decaying items I saw, growing up in what was once an old mining camp. I really do agree about the bean counters, they might tell us how many beans we can add or subtract, but they never have the recipes for bean soup that feeds our minds, hearts and communities.

  25. plaguedparents

    Really enjoyed this one.

    When we bought our first house in Providence, RI we had a fantastic neighborhood branch of the public library that was closed for a while due to budget cuts. This sent a pitiful message to the already marginalized in the urban neighborhood… Why is it the first things politicians take from the poor is their books and their arts… maddening…

    • Charli Mills

      Books are the first thing we need to share on the margins of society. I like the many creative ways we can do that. But this reminds me more than ever to support our libraries!

  26. jeanne229

    So lamentably late again, but bearing the rewards of having met the challenge.

    A Free Man

    The Protective Custody yard wasn’t quite solitary confinement. He could hear inmates in the other cells. Could call out to them. One hour a day he stretched in the barren exercise yard. The rest of the time, it was the eight-by-ten cell. Time seemed to stop.

    Except when the book cart rattled by. Beats me, he thought, how a prison can have such a fine library. The Brothers Karamazov, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Vonnegut. Joseph Conrad. It was the only thing keeping him sane. The only thing reminding him he was, where it counted, a free man.

    More at:

    • Charli Mills

      Got it, Jeanne! I’ll be back in the morning to comment. Thanks! 🙂

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks for joining us at the Ranch!


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