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April 13: Flash Fiction Challenge

April 13Rain is misting like sprinkles from a watering can. Sphagnum peat moss is greening a different shade than blades of new grass. Buds and blossoms are near to bursting, and daffodils popped up overnight. The morel mushroom flush is right behind the yellow indicator flowers. This is spring as I think of it in the Inland Pacific Northwest, not the hot dry days we encountered in 2015.

How odd that the year it feels like a normal spring, normal is far from my doorstep.

Real estate agents and buyers poke through my closets. Our property managers continue to cheerfully tell  us we can leave…any time. I’m in no hurry to pack; I have nowhere to go, yet. The Hub leaves tomorrow for Reno after accepting a year-long contract at a Nevada airport. He’s leaving; I’m staying and writing my way through. Several magazines and clients currently have me busy, and I’m reminded that I’m living life on my own terms. It’s my new normal.

In the morning flurry of tasks — an 1,800 word article due to an editor, profiles to polish for a client and edits to make for a floundering publication — I received a great gift. Rough Writer, Lisa Reiter, sent a Guest Post for today’s prompt! Without further dithering about daffodils, duties and dilemmas, I turn the Ranch over to one of the rock solid Ranch Hands. Thanks for the offer to help!


LisaApril 13: Flash Fiction Challenge Guest Post

By Lisa Reiter, Sharing the Story

I’m a problem solver and I try hard to solve my own problems. Part of this is due to a supposition that no-one else is going to solve my predicament or botheration quite like I can myself — and a lot of the time that’s true. It’s just a lot of the time, sharing a problem, means others can help you shape that botheration until it’s more of a pussycat or just come along the road a little way and keep you company while you extract yourself from the predicament.

I’m not very good at asking for help for other reasons. Sometimes I don’t want to burden people with something that brings them down — I can’t see any benefit in that for me. Many’s the time a friend has pleaded that they would do anything so please let them. Even knowing and finally accepting this, sometimes I just never think to ask. It is because I’m a survivor and perhaps I am a survivor because of being like that.

Lately I’m learning that you can sometimes frame an issue to make something useful out of it for someone else. An old friend who is an excellent Leadership Coach, Developer, Trainer and near Guru managed to re-frame a writing task she had been procrastinating for months, package it up and sell it to me. I’ve both hated and loved it. Learned a load and I am grateful for being given her ‘problem.’

So when I saw that the Boss at the Carrot Ranch was having a bit of trouble with the stabling, I knew she’d be flying around bareback trying to keep everything going — perhaps not imagining any way in which anyone else would gladly help. It hit me — in a flash — I realised I could help with a little bit of maintenance around the place and love the challenge of writing a fiction prompt! What’s more I knew a whole bunch of others that would gladly lend a hand.

So bear with us, some weeks there’s going to be a rough ride with a Rough Writer from somewhere around these parts but probably not Idaho. I went and made the crazy suggestion that we help out at the Ranch with a few guest flash prompts. We hope you’ll join in.

April 13, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about offering to help someone. What’s their situation? What’s yours? Do they think they need help? How is it received? Could you be misinterpreted?

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


Flash Fiction by Lisa Reiter

“Call me,” I said walking out the door. I always said call me. She never did. I said it again knowing now it was an empty offer, just an exchange that eased the parting. She hadn’t long left and we were playing the game, the dance around the truth — dealing out stock phrases that were all part of the expected moves.

Call me.

She didn’t.

I knew she wouldn’t. No-one would know except me. I was suddenly afraid what that would mean when she’d gone. My guilt would define our friendship.

I picked up the phone.

“It’s me.”



  1. Charli Mills says:

    Lisa, your flash is moving and captures the essence of your post and prompt. It reminds me how frustrated I felt when Kate would never call back, nor answer her phone, texts or emails. Finally I drove over and that’s when I realized how sick she was. So I stayed until the end. Sometimes we have to be persistent. Help is wanted but can’t always be expressed.

    And thank you, thank you, thank you for reaching out with help at the Ranch! I’ll be back with my own flash! 😀

  2. denmaniacs4 says:

    Thanks for pitching in, Lisa. I assume the prompt about helping out begins April 13 and ends on the 19th or the 20th….understood…

  3. Lisa Reiter says:

    And sometimes help is needed but there’s little that can be done except being there. So glad you could do that for Kate. It’s easy to let our fears make us helpless in difficult situations and ‘run away’. I wrote this to put right my own mistake with one friend.
    Looking forward to your flash. Hope you send that article first! 😄

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ahhh, got that article turned in along with a side bar: 2,300 words, 15 interviews and 23 photos (out of 220 taken). All in one week. I think I proved I still have my magazine writing skills. 🙂 Best of all, the editor has a rental available after summer and airbnb properties for writing retreats. All I need is a little help from my friends to get through!

      We all make mistakes out of fear or not knowing how to respond. That we learn from them is how we grow.

      • denmaniacs4 says:

        I admit I have a bushel of stuff to learn. All the time. Take care.

      • jeanne229 says:

        Kudos to you an your finished article Charli. And wow! The bonus of a possible rental too. Moving beyond the fear is the first step, isn’t it, to growing. Excited for your next move!

  4. jeanne229 says:

    I so love this idea Lisa, and what a wonderful gesture. Even more, it’s a great evolution of the community, a great opportunity for the Rough Writers to participate on a different level, to generate ideas for the others. And I love this prompt. I’m afraid I am on the other end of the theme now. Need some help at a critical time and can’t quite bring myself to ask for it. So very timely. Perhaps in writing a flash on it, I will find some answers. And excellent flash. So perceptive. Those hollow phrases…uttered to reduce awkwardness, not to help. Love the resolution here.
    Your comment, too, Charli… so perceptive. Silence is so often articulate. If we just listen….

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes, Lisa just nudged us to the next level at the Ranch! I find that writing is often an act of problem-solving, too and I hope writing a flash can help you find your answer.

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      You’ve said it yourself, Charli agrees and if these things come in threes (is that a UK wives tale ?!) I’m agreeing! Sometimes writing answers down to questions I’m asking myself is a good way to sort through my head. Of course I don’t necessarily do it when I should and then it sometimes leaks into my flash fiction! Hope it works 😀

  5. Lisa Reiter says:

    Yes absolutely – ends 19th – I can’t edit that from here.

    CHARLI ! Yoo hoo !

  6. denmaniacs4 says:

    Union City

    The sun slunk low as we entered the simmering heart of Union City.

    We proceeded to Henry Taylor’s Stable and dismounted.

    “Aggie, I have a man to see…”

    She looked at me anxiously.

    “No,” I said, “not that man. Not yet.”

    She nodded. “I have appreciated your companionship, Clancy. I had best seek overnight shelter.”

    The Banker had advised me that Hank Taylor was principled.

    “Mr. Taylor,” I asked the short, stocky smithy.

    “At your service, sir….Ma’am.”

    “Could you suggest suitable accommodation for a woman?”

    “Mrs. Taylor provides such,” he said.

    “Could you direct Miss Runacre?”

    “My pleasure, sir.”

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      Hi Bill
      This is a lovely take on the prompt. An unspoken plea for help being passed like a baton to the right person.
      Nice to meet you, sir 😀


  7. ellenbest24 says:

    A super take on the prompt Lisa. A kind generously given offer of help to Charli. Thank you for helping and keeping the challenge going.

  8. Lisa, what a gracious and thoughtful act to not only offer to help Charli, but to actually put it to action and so quickly. Most of us were still stunned by the Charli’s news, but you acted. I love the prompt subject and your flash captured the sentiment of ‘don’t wait to be asked, just do’ perfectly; it’s what true friends and family do. And my heart goes out to you Charli- but the pioneer spirit lives in you and that means you’ll find your way through this ‘bump in the road’.

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      Thanks Kate. The idea had been brewing a few days when I’d noticed Charli had been offline for a while. I then had one of those lucky early mornings when I woke way too early and just lay in bed for an hour listening to the dawn chorus. In my mindful state I’d half written this post before I got out of bed.

  9. Well done Lisa for taking action when seeing what I at least saw but did not see a solution. You’ve already got me with my thinking cap on. Hopefully Charli this might help you find time to breathe. I have not read your flash Lisa as I wait until I have done my own before reading any others.

  10. Norah says:

    How wonderful, Lisa, that you saw a way to help from afar and reached out that hand in friendship immediately. That is the true spirit of the community that Charli is gathering. What amazes me is that you have managed to it with all you have on your busy plate. I couldn’t even think of it.
    Your flash is great. It reminds me of situations in which I have let others down by my inaction. Your example here is something we can all follow and learn from.
    I love the thought of you thinking up this idea and post as you listened to the dawn chorus. I often find that those half-awake, half-asleep thought meanderings bring inspiration. It needs to be captured immediately though, before it escapes and finds it way elsewhere. I’m pleased you lassoed it. I’m looking forward to responding.

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      Hi Norah – I am going to die if I have to take another complement – what do you know about teaching people to accept them? Help me with that if you can!

      (Only slightly joking y’all – not successfully cloned a Charli head yet and doing my damnedest to keep up here with comments so I’m not seen to be neglecting my watch. The pressure is on!) Lxx

      • Norah says:

        Just accept every honest compliment. Smile, and say “Thank you.” 🙂

      • Norah says:

        PS I’m pretty sure you can’t die from inhaling too many compliments.
        I wouldn’t mind having an opportunity to test the theory sometime though! 🙂

      • Lisa Reiter says:

        So kind and wise! Laughing at ‘inhaling compliments’ ! My mind was working overtime to see them as gases 💨

  11. I love this. A true community. Always knew it was… 💕

    Great prompt. Be back in a flash. (I’m so sorry. That just slipped out.) I’m with Irene. I don’t read other flash until I’ve written mine so… Talk soon, lovely!

  12. TanGental says:

    Well ladies I’m stunned. Take a big bow, Lisa and just suck up the compliments (not complements btw, just to bring you down to earth!!). Grand idea – if you want/need to roll this out Charli, just holla. And neat prompt and neater flash. I wonder if, with a different promptor in charge I shouldn’t park Mary and try something else? What would you prefer, deputy buckaroo?

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      Oh gosh, I’m more chief sh** shoveller but sounds like you’d like an excuse for something new? The ultimate challenge would be to keep a story running through all guest posters (I think there’s something hatching in the hay loft) – a bit like an extended game of consequences!

  13. julespaige says:

    Thank you Lisa…
    Helping out when appreciated is A1 in my book.

    Charli – take it one step at a time. As long as ‘they’ aren’t pushing – don’t rush.

    Here’s my piece of fiction though I think we’ve all been caught between similar rocks and hard places:


    Della was new to the area. What better way to get involved
    than to volunteer to take over a concession stand that helped
    raise funds for the local sports club. What she didn’t see was
    the vicious side glances as she was unceremoniously dumped
    with all the paperwork, stocking, display and pretty much
    manning of the booth single handedly for the whole season.

    Della put up with it, but was happy when her son decided that
    physical sports weren’t his forte. Tied in a neat bow, at the end
    of the season, she said her good-byes without any regrets.


    Here’s the link to the post:

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      The best thing about all this is it’s making me visit new people! Get out of my comfort zone (I’m a bit of an introvert at times) – What an amazing flasher you are – anyone who hasn’t visited should pop across and be amazed 😀 And I spot a trick with your post link I hadn’t ever considered – simple as it is, why haven’t I ever tried that! 😉

      • julespaige says:

        Always good to meet new folks 🙂
        I’m a tad slow this week. Busy being outside and spring cleaning and all.

        Not sure which trick you mean. But if I can help let me know 🙂

  14. julespaige says:

    Lisa – your flash is brilliant. How often do we say those empty pleasantries?
    I remember meeting a gal in the grocery store. I told her to call me…and she point blank said, no. I’ll wait for your call. Needless to say – neither of us has.
    Though awhile back she did e-mail me for help. Which I gave. And then the silence returned. Such is life.

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      Thank you. It is so easy to have that bystander apathy but so difficult to bear the bystander guilt. To be reactive or proactive when you’re not sure of the response you’ll get. Always tricky.
      I forgot to say how much I like your flash too. After years helping to run school PTA (does that translate? Patent Teacher Association..) events, do the accounts etc etc I am totally with Della. No more for me – I’ve done my share of helping there!

      • julespaige says:

        I did school volunteer help, Cub Scouts, library aide, choir… for years.
        Stick a fork in me I’m done. I’ve learned to say the magic word; ‘No’.
        Just because there is some value to a group or its’ activity doesn’t mean a single person has to do everything without support. Or be part of a group that isn’t a good fit for the person volunteering.

        I was just talking to a gal who belongs to a group (a national one that really does great charity work) that locally has a secretary/treasurer and maybe one other person – they are still hanging on. The local Chapter is basically non-existent. But there is just so much one or two people can do.

        What just makes it all the worse is not feeling appreciated. Never mind cliques as a child, adult cliques are worse. However that said,
        being part of Carrot Ranch is such a huge blessing! The support and energy is really quite fabulous!

      • Sherri says:

        Ahh..I hear you Jules and Lisa, me too, did all that. Isn’t it nice not to have to do it anymore. We paid our dues! And Jules, also about cliques, they make my blood run cold. I get a scent of one, I run a mile. So, so thankful for this amazing community 🙂

      • Lisa Reiter says:

        “Stick a fork in me, I’m done”! Brilliant.
        All these organisations and events that run on thin air and good will!

  15. Great prompt and flash Lisa, how thoughtful. Those are big shoes to fill and you wear them well! Here’s mine, about help being a two way street.

    Mr. Melvin

    People said a lot of things. That our neighbor was crazy. That he’d tried to burn down the city library. When Mom had given me the monumental, don’t-talk-to-strangers speech along with my key to the apartment, she’d declared Mr. Melvin the strangest of them all.

    What people didn’t know was how his eyes twinkled when he spoke about Muhammad Ali, or that he could play the guitar in a way that made your worries slide right off your back. That he wasn’t crazy, just lonely, and if anyone took the chance to listen, well, they might hear something wonderful.

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      Hello Pete. Nice to meet you and thank you. I’m clomping around in these shoes like a little girl playing dress up and struggling. That Charli sure has a clone that’s gone MIA as well!
      I just love this piece and everything it says about how the mass want everyone to be the same and take no time to understand anyone ‘different’, properly. All that and everything else that makes the world and a person a special place if you stop to look at it through a young person’s eyes. ❤️

    • Love this, Pete.

  16. Sherri says:

    Ahh Charli – of Daffodils, Duties and Dilemmas indeed. You write on and keep doing what you need to do, how wonderful that Lisa stepped up to the plate to help round us all up while you find your way through all this and hopefully feeling all our love and hugs wrapped around you while you do. You are wonderful problem solver Lisa, I love your ‘just do it’ philosophy. Great idea for a prompt. Your flash (excellent), sent an ouch through me. I find it so terribly hard to ask for help. As for your flash, I had a friend in the States, we knew one another as young mums, both had three children, our youngest daughters were friends at elementary school, did the parties, church, PTA, field trips, volunteering, everything. And then, ten years later, when I was going through my divorce, she kept saying she would call me but never did. I didn’t try to call her either, feeling hurt. I moved away, back home to England, put it all behind me. And then, another 10 years went by and she found me via Facebook by messaging my eldest son. We made contact and she came to see me last year. We spent the day at Stourhead 🙂 I needed her help, but what I learnt was the she also needed mine. We had missed one another’s cry and for a while, it broke our friendship. I’m so very grateful that we had another chance. And what a fantastic community we have here, thank you Charli, thank you Lisa and everyone else <3 Here's my flash, so early even I can't believe it!

    Homemade Cider

    They had shared their hopes and fears; heck, they had even shared husbands. Now, as the two elderly women sat on the porch swing, a faded, hand-made quilt stretched across their bony knees, they said nothing. Only the crickets strummed their twilight song.

    “I wish I had known,” sighed Mave at long last, shifting beneath the quilt.

    Ellen rubbed her eyes and yawned.

    “I didn’t want you to worry.”

    “But you needed my help…”

    “You were busy. Anyway, Bob helped me bury him under the apple tree.”

    Mave grinned. “Bill’s good for something then. I’ll help you make cider.”

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      Oh my goodness! You’re EARLY?! I’m nearly speechless. Stone – new – turn – make up a sentence or are you clearing the decks for something bigger?!
      Fantastic that you’ve reconnected with a special friend after all that time and flotsam jostling in the water under the bridge.
      Gorgeous flash. Very atmospheric and many unanswered questions. Hope ‘he’ was a cat or dog! 😄

    • 😀 Great flash! Love these women! I’m assuming Bill was the husband they both were married to?

  17. Preshtha says:

    Hip everyone! This is my first flash so I’m feeling a bit nervous.We’ve all tried to help somebody sometime. The worst part is when it backfires.
    Read my flash at

  18. Sacha Black says:

    Great idea to have a rough writer take the reigns for a week – great idea indeed.

    You are as always such an inspiration. I can’t imagine my wife taking a year long contract somewhere away from me. But it happens all the time, like with army wives/husbands. The thing that really struck me though, was you saying you’re living for you. That is so profound so inspiring I can’t even tell you. I need to do that.
    As for the house, you know I feel your pain all too real for me.

    Here’s some firmament – I really need to outline it feel like the idea is drifting away from me and becoming a bit samey.

    “How long have we been friends, Lexi?”
    I shrugged, there wasn’t a time I could remember where Luke wasn’t next to me.
    “Exactly. So why are you fighting me on this?”
    “Because I want to protect you.”
    “That’s not your choice to make.
    I faltered. Was he right? This was my father, my betrayal, my fight. Of course it was my choice. If I went to war against my father people were going to die, I didn’t want one of them to be Luke.
    “I can’t let you die for me.”
    He grinned, “I won’t. I have a plan.”

  19. This is such an awesome group.

    Here is my flash for this week.

  20. Ula says:

    I have been checking in and I just couldn’t resist this week’s theme. Great job, Lisa. This is my favorite community.

    Here’s my contribution (I snuck it in as part of the A-Z challenge):

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      What a great take on the help prompt and thank you for being unable to resist it! I need all the help I can get around here 😀

  21. Annecdotist says:

    Great how you’ve offered to take over the reins this week, Lisa, with a wonderful, and perfectly apt, prompt to get those creative juices going. You’re setting the rest of us a fine example both in your helpfulness and in your moving flash. Who knows, there might be a role therefore you as deputy! (Although I have offered my services for the next one and waiting to hear back from Charli.)
    Giving and receiving help is a lot more complex than it seems on the surface (well, at least to me), which might account for my somewhat conflicted contribution:

    • Lisa Reiter says:

      I am getting saddle sore that’s for sure! And can vouch that giving and receiving help sure is quite complex. Really enjoying this but not in any great hurry to become deputy 🐎😂

  22. Thanks for holding the fort, Lisa. Here’s one for you.

  23. Thanks Lisa! In my contribution to your excellent story prompt, Ed lends a helping hand by not lending a helping hand:

    Continued best wishes to Charli!

  24. digbydigz says:

    Hi Charli, Wanted to let you know, I love what you’re doing with your blog. Which is why I nominated you for The Liebster Award, an award for bloggers. You can read all about it here:

    I’m not sure if you can be considered a “mini-blog,” but either way, you deserve an award!

  25. A. E. Robson says:

    Allowing for independence to continue throughout life gives us the needed sustenance to carry on. We may need help; but we adapt. We have to trust that those around us will know when to step in and when to let us go our merry way.

    The Book
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The closed book lay on her lap. How many times had she read that story to him? It was his favourite. As a lad, he would giggle when she acted out the parts. A little older, he would remind her of words she missed trying to hurry through the pages.

    He reached for the book, stopping short when she spoke.

    “Should I start now?”

    “Please, Nana!”

    The frail hand opened the cover. Blindness did not stop her. She’d memorized each page.

    A lone tear glistened on the grown man’s cheek. His son was mesmerized. Lulled by her soft voice.

  26. ruchira says:

    My take!

    First off I absolutely loved your prompt, Lisa. Sometimes, we get so attached to people we care that we forget boundaries….

  27. I found my walkabout circling it’s way back to the Ranch and its stopping to say hello again. I loved your prompt Lisa about helping others, about kindness. I find that for the most part, kindness begets gratitude, a letter tells a story, and here is mine.

  28. imagenn793 says:

    Really loved this prompt and the amazing entries made by the other writers on here! Here’s my little contribution, hope you enjoy 🙂

  29. Norah says:

    Thank you Lisa and Charli. I enjoyed thinking about this prompt. Here’s a link to my contribution.

  30. What a lovely prompt. Here’s my offering. It is called The Tea Fairy’s Visit.
    The Tea Fairy’s Visit

    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    No one should feel forgotten during the holidays, not even moms.

    Michelina slid a selection of teas beside a china teapot and packaged biscuits. A teacup’s translucence contrasted with red and green towels and Leslie’s hand-sewn patchwork cozy. She wrapped the box with flourish and signed the card “From the Tea Fairy.” She drove passed the house three times before smiling at the owner’s absence. She crept through back door with its broken lock. Feeling like Santa, she left her package. The single Mom who spent all her money on her kids would have a gift for Christmas, too.

  31. […] their wagons to help protect and support. Heeding the call by Lisa Reiter, first on the scene, to help out at the Ranch with a few guest flash prompts, a number of Rough Writers have stepped up. This week it’s my […]

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

  33. […] week’s (April 13 2016) Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge is hosted by fellow Rough Writer Lisa Reiter at Sharing the Story.   Lisa’s prompt, in 99 words […]

  34. […] that she is, Lisa saw a need and immediately assisted Charli by writing this week’s flash fiction prompt and post. You won’t be surprised to know that the theme is helping […]

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